Obedience and Destiny

Happy Sunday.

Autumn’s arrived and brought along changing leaves and cool, crisp mornings. Wait a minute! Over the summer we moved across the globe to a tiny island with two seasons, and humidity and sweltering heat play a large part in both.  After the initial sensory overload my family’s settling in nicely and embracing the opportunity to slow down.

In addition to moving, I’ve spent lots of time bringing my requests to God as the Word says we should.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

As followers of The Exceptional Life, you’ll find this and other encouraging verses because I love good news! The response to a summer immersed in prayer has been amazing.

So I brought God my laundry list of requests. Lord please cover my marriage, bless my kids, heal my body, and provide favor over my career. Sound familiar to anyone? When I didn’t sense a breakthrough, I called in the prayer warriors.  For my non-Christian friends these are like-minded men and women of faith who petition God through corporate prayer. From the season of prayer two truths became crystallized in my spirit.

First, in my spiritual walk there must be an unflinching obedience to God. Even when it’s unpopular, and especially when it’s uncomfortable. In order to gain wisdom and live a life of excellence my priorities have to be in order. In the past when I experienced setbacks, I would be crippled by discouragement, and discouragement undermines vision. God revealed there will be no shortage of critics to my dreams, so I have to toughen up and learn to stop questioning myself whenever they come around. The book of Exodus has been an incredible testimony that me plus God equal the majority, and now I quickly move forward in faith when prompted. Bad grammar, but you get the point. No more paralysis by analysis!

Second, I am called to write, speak and lead. It’s my destiny and what I was designed for when God created me in my Mother’s womb. She actually birthed three writers but that’s a story for another time. Trust me when I share that whenever we turn away from what we’re created to do, the Lord brings us right back to our purpose.

Friends, do you know why you’re here? Are you curious as to what you were placed on this earth to do specifically?  Don’t confuse your true worth with your sense of worth.  Our feelings don’t always line up with the truth. I too struggled with self-worth for quite a while. Be encouraged and seek God through His Word.  Today could be the day you pray as I did, and ask for clarity in your life.  It’s time to walk into your destiny!

Love and Blessings,

CED

Saturday Scripture – Redeemed

Israel’s Only Savior

1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV

Prayer for Today

How excellent You are Heavenly Father! Thank You for creating, redeeming and calling us by name. In the many seasons of life, and in all the unspeakable situations we find ourselves in…You are there.

Today I lift up my Exceptional Life friends and ask that You fill them with wisdom, understanding, and great comfort in knowing that as Your redeemed they were bought at a great price! As we commit to learning more of Your ways, I stand in agreement to whatever changes needed: spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Lord bless us richly as we seek to live out lives that are pleasing to You. To God the Father be all glory and honor and praise. Amen.

Blessings, CED

Photo credit: https://www.quotesgram.com

Video credit: Redeemed by the Skit Guys.  I have no copyrights to the song and/or video directly above.

I WILL FOLLOW YOU FORWARD

Helloooo Friends,

I’ve missed you something fierce, but took much-needed time away to rest and recharge with my beloved husband and precious babies.

We even managed to spend some time in our hometown and visit with friends and family. One afternoon we drove through the city and my husband asked out of the blue, “would you like to see Ivy City?” TOUCHY. This was my childhood neighborhood, and Mr. Excitement seemed truly ready to take me back there to travel down memory lane with me and our youngest daughter. Time to slam on the figurative brakes! No need for us to revisit the past Sir. It’s best summed up by:

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The 70’s and 80’s

While living in the infamous Ivy City, my growing up years spiraled into a long nightmare outside of church and school. Let’s talk seasons. The spring rains flooded the two main roads of the neighborhood with storm water, the summer heat plagued us with horrible rat infestations from inconsistent trash pickup, and winter brought everything to a standstill! There was no snow removal, and no emergency city services…the roads cleared when the sun melted the snow. We simply did without the basics.

My Mom and Grandmother held many conversations with other elders about the community’s heartbreaking statistics: DC’s highest birth rate at 49.4 per 1000 women, the most households led by a single mother, and the poorest residents (those earning less than $5,000). Things only worsened as I entered high school. Washington, DC was named the murder capital of the United States, and with skyrocketing unemployment and high school drop out rates, Ivy City held one of the highest crime rates in the city. The National Guard was called in to assist, and began using horrible industrial arc lamps to illuminate our streets and alleys at night to discourage drug dealing. IT DID NOT WORK. What it did was make sleep next to impossible for those living in the community. I began drinking coffee just to stay alert in school.

Through prayer, sacrifice and a tremendous amount of hard work I finished high school, and went to college. With God’s favor I’ve traveled the world teaching sanitation and public health principles to others living in similar conditions I grew up in. It’s with gratitude those dark times are behind me, and thankfulness God freed me from the fear and pain of my past so that I’m able to freely share His good news from my heart. Until that car ride I have not had a single desire to return home. NOT ONE. In my spirit there has only been an intense urge to continue forward and spread the love of Christ. When I reflect on what little value man assigned my community or its people, and how statistically my future was forecasted towards loneliness, poverty, and death,  I’m reminded of the chorus of a song that ministers to me by Israel Houghton and remind myself:

But…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos directly above

Be Blessed today,

CED

 

Social Media’s “Mean” To Me…and Other Untruths’

Hello Friends. We’re halfway through 2016, and I pray the year’s been especially kind to you. Wishful thinking?

On what I’m calling a journey towards living a more purposeful, intentional life I’ve finally embraced that while we can’t change our pasts, we can absolutely change the course of our future! About time I blogged something profound and useful wouldn’t you say?  Well sharing is caring, and with my newly acquired knowledge it’s time to “put my money where my mouth is.” Sayings like these literally make me double over with insane laughter, but I get it. Translation: put up or shut up.

In my past I’ve violently avoided social media. For all sorts of silly, zombie apocalypse, and downright bizarre reasons, I attach magical, mystical attributes to the virtual community. Well no more hiding I declared, and on April 1st aka April Fool’s Day, I created a personal Facebook page. Before the week was finished I prayed with every ounce of my being for an undo. It was just TOO MUCH! Too many tasks to complete, friend requests to accept, pages to like. Yada, yada, yada.

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Me after one week of Facebook…

THE RED BUTTON KEEPS POPPING UP! By day eight, the FB notification button had the ability to take me to DEFCON 1 (maximum readiness, nuclear war is imminent). My loving husband patiently held my hand as I looked at my computer screen in terror. Then he did something marvelous. He turned the blasted thing OFF. Bam, no more alerts, pop ups or notifications, and once again I felt empowered enough to crawl along at my own pace. From my pain I present to you, drumroll please, the top 3 myths (busted) since joining this particular social media platform:

  1. This (insert social media site) HATES me! Image result for emoji faces

    This was a biggie for me, and probably came out of my mouth every time I went to my page. Really, why are you so nosy and demanding FB? Click here, like that! I get it, but it’s going to take time to develop mastery of your program. I’m a flip phone hold out, and a letter writer. No, I didn’t say email…I write actual letters IN CURSIVE to people, lick stamps and mail them off. Plus, I’m only on your site on the weekends. Does that make me a social, social user? We’re at the end of month two, and I can say at this point I’m starting to enjoy the updates from Grandma, and reconnecting with friends and classmates.

  2. No likes equal no love. Image result for emoji faces

    The verdict’s still out on who’s more shocked by my 180 degree social network embrace: me or those dearest to my heart. Those who know me well AND embrace my idiosyncrasies are convinced they’re being catfished by someone using my persona. Perhaps it was the day I chose to say howdy to my circle. However, with all my oddities, a true head scratcher I’ve encountered has to be when one of my new friends, friend of friends, or acquaintance (whatever you’re calling me on your little drop down tab) gets angry, depressed or withdrawn because there’s not a quick enough response to one of their many, many posts. I know how you feel because you actually type out: I’m feeling depressed/angry etc. and then proceed to tell all of cyberspace exactly why you feel a certain way. Don’t you work? Oh…you’re online while at work. Get off social media before your boss finds out! Then chill out, go back and read #1. Finally, wait until Saturday for a thumbs up if you’re counting on my response. Which brings me to my final point…

  3. I’m sorry/Not sorry.  Image result for i'm sorry emoji faces

    Dear friends, remember the #1 rule concerning the internet. Anything you post now belongs to the floating world of cyberspace. FOREVER. Remember my phobia on social media’s magical, mystical powers that I can’t explain to you in this post? You laugh at me, but are willing to spit on a Q-tip and mail your DNA off to complete strangers in a third world country who “promise” to tell you your ancestry. Hmm, I digress. Let’s just finish up by saying I can’t even to all the veiled (and blatant) posts I’ve seen threatening to unfriend folks for the most trivial reasons.  You’re telling me if I won’t: buy your product, support your dreams, type amen to what you like, or share your profanity-laced views on any and everything (straight vs. gay, weave vs. natural hair, Hillary vs. Bernie) we can’t be friends?  Again I say knock it off, go back and read #1. You are entitled to your thoughts, but remember they are your opinions and not facts.

    Let’s remember why social media was launched in the first place. So we could create, share, and exchange our wonderful information and ideas, over the internet. Using it responsibly at home enhances our ability to network in business and beyond. Irresponsible behavior may land you in the following undesirable territory.

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Be nice! Avoid being blocked from social media.

Still Friends,

CED

Featured image credit: http://rismedia.com/2015/02/12/5-ways-to-avoid-facebook-jail/

Image credit: http://images.military.com/media/veteran-jobs/security-clearance-jobs-form/anxiousbusinessman.jpg

Image credit: http://circleofdocs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/facebook-jail.jpg

 

Whose Report Will You Believe?

First, I’d like to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mommy readers waking up this morning. It’s your special day! I hope that you’re treasured today and told how wonderful you really are. I mean really…as a scientist, can someone explain to me how any of us could physically be here if it weren’t for our Mothers? As a mother, I’m all the more humbled and appreciative of my own, and can begin to understand her sacrifice.

Mothers Day 2012 (2)
Sending Happy Mother’s Day Love to My Special Lady. Love U Mom!

Years ago I attended a wonderful church in Virginia, USA and the Pastor would say in his sermon,

Whether your birth was an “oops” or planned, you were born and that’s all that matters now. The circumstances surrounding your birth are in the past, and you cannot change them! But you CAN change how you live your life today. You CAN choose how you live your life and how you spend eternity.

That’s odd I thought, because I actually knew people whose parents told them they were accidents, unplanned or unwanted. If you’ve ever met someone who’s still struggling to overcome the damage of a traumatic childhood, then you know that those warped “confessions” cause scars that run deep into adulthood, and can overshadow any great personal success or professional achievement.

So I’m sitting in church and listening/thinking… Hey, don’t judge, you do it too! Pastor’s wrapping up, but over the course of the year I hear the same things: let go of the past, make better choices, and choose wisely because response is key. Then this call and response song from my days in the children’s choir starts periodically humming along in my spirit, and the lyrics are,

Whose report will you believe?

We shall believe the report of the Lord

His report says I am healed

His report says I am filled

His report says I am free

His report says victory

-Ron Kenoly Whose Report Shall You Believe

So in usual fasion, I’d like to circle back to this subject and deep dive into it with my friends at The Exceptional Life. There are men and women who’ve overcome more bad and terrifying experiences before adulthood than any of us will experience in a lifetime. But as my Pastor put in my spirit, we are here now.  Alive, all grown up and able to make our own choices!

For some, the realization that life isn’t fair starts in childhood. As a young adult my early emotional life resembled a ship without a captain on the open seas. I felt ill-equipped and constantly knocked around when the storms of life created incredible highs and lows, and had few periods of calm. But as I sat in church God began to softly knock on the door of my heart and ask, how long will you hold onto bitterness and hatred toward anyone who’s ever done horrible things towards you? I was afraid because on my own I wasn’t strong enough to let go of those bad times and memories, but through prayer and faith I trusted my heart and mind to the Lord and completely surrendured. In my mid thirties I finally decided I was too old to hold other people responsible for my pain, and took full control of my future and destiny! Ten years later I’m still praising God everyday for setting me free from mental, emotional and spiritual turmoil and bondage.

My life has purpose and direction now, and isn’t that what we all strive for? To live a victorious, exceptional life? Yes, there’s the occasional cloudy day, and you and I will still experience times of conflict, but these days my response to defeat and stinking thinking is this,

   …”Everything is possible for one who believes.”       Mark 9:23 (NIV)

Blessings,

CED

Featured image: My Mom and I. Washington, DC. 1972.

Visions and Dreams

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…

No, I’m not even going there except to say thank you to an icon who’s recently passed away. Thank you for a lifetime of sharing yourself with the world, and for leaving your vision of art and sound for generations to enjoy. From childhood I was captivated by Prince’s prolific songwriting and phenomenal musicianship. If you’ve ever seen him live in concert then you understand he wasn’t so much a skilled musician, but the guitar and piano OBEYED him, producing classical, jazz, or R & B scores at his command. Social media’s exploded with dedication tributes, and I’d like to share my all-time, favorite song from the album Around The World In A Day. At 13 year’s old I thought hard about the chorus, and where I was in life:

Everybody’s looking 4 the ladder
Everybody wants salvation of the soul
The steps U take are no easy road
But the reward is great
4 those who want 2 go

Everybody’s looking for the answers
How the story started and how it will end
What’s the use in half a story, half a dream
U have 2 climb all of the steps in between

-Prince, The Ladder

You wouldn’t be exaggerating if you called that period of my life a “hot ghetto mess.”  My family was literally falling apart at the seams with my parent’s separation, added to that we lost our home, and I had to leave my church, school and all my friends to start over in a new city. Crying hot, angry tears at my last bible study, our youth leader asked to pray with me. We bowed our heads as he quietly asked the Lord to keep me, bless me and shower me with His love all my days.  I still remember that prayer because of its simple sincerity. Afterwards I felt calmly reassured, and had what’s now a reoccurring vision where I’m speaking to and encouraging millions of people.  Even then God began to reveal His plan for me!

If you knew me then you’re laughing because in school I was the LAST ONE picked for anything involving public speaking.  Math club, yes. Chess club, double yes. We moved around alot, and in first grade alone I attended three schools! With a horrible lisp that made it hard to pronounce complex words, and really crooked teeth that stuck out even when I tried to close my mouth, teachers rarely coaxed me to read aloud in class. International public speaker…um, no thanks Lord.

Grandma Chelle and Crys
A Rare Smile…11 years old with my Grandma and Baby Sister.

Fast forward ten years. I played hard, and lived as self-destructively as possible. Braces fixed my visible issues, but only God’s love and forgiveness could pierce my heart and fix my spiritual brokenness. Through all of life’s ups and downs the Lord has never left me, He’s kept me and continues to bless me, just as the young bible teacher asked long ago!

CED Promotion Norfolk
Promotion Day! Tearfully Celebrating with Parents:)

If you’re wondering “but what about the vision?” I not only travel the world speaking and teaching, but also use those hard experiences from the early years to mentor and encourage other women through a local non-profit organization. Nothing is a wasted experience when we give it to God.  It seems that my tears, relationships, and embarrassments have become useful learning experiences to prepare others for GREAT success!  In the last five years God has added the most wonderful dreams to my vision, and I recount the verse:

 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;  Acts 2:17 (ESV)

Today would you consider this next question? What great thing do you dream about for your future?  Is it help overcoming personal struggles from your past, or do you dream of having your own business where you control your financial legacy, or perhaps you want to have healthier and happier personal relationships? Maybe you seek a deeper spiritual relationship, and want a sense of purpose and connectedness.  I believe that’s what Prince sang about in The Ladder!

When I was a child my problems seemed unsolvable. They loomed as big as a harvest moon on a clear night sky. Growing older certainly put things in perspective. Troubles didn’t go away, but my response to them changed dramatically. One night while sailing on the South Pacific, I looked up and there a full moon.  It was magnificent and as I stared at it intently, I imagined I was holding it between my pointer finger and thumb.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A Full Moon on the Pacific Ocean!

My shipmates thought this was hilarious, but this is my perspective in life. Yes, it’s a fact that the moon is enormous, but from earth it’s so small it fits between my two fingers. In life even your biggest obstacle don’t stand a chance against a great God and His plan for your life when He says Amen.  It is finished!

 

  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (ESV)

Blessings, CED

Where Would I Be?

True confession:  I ADORE music in all forms. Jazz, classical, even movie soundtracks have earned their way into my eclectic listening collection over the years.

When asked to describe my love of music, the closest pictures I come up with are lit fireworks spilling from my spirit as instruments pour out their harmony, or the vastness of the open ocean at sunset as beautiful voices swell together in an a cappella performance. The ability to give our deepest, raw emotions “life” through song is such a great mystery (and joy) to me!  As a musician and writer, I created songs for my children as I carried them in my womb and soothed them with lullabies as fussy infants.  When they grew older I taught them their names by singing the letters and clapping their hands to the rhythm. What a great testimony that they’ve  ALL picked up instruments and sing as well. Here’s #4 at a local talent show…

After returning to my faith as an adult, and fully accepting God’s gift of salvation, I clearly remember promising for the rest of my days to give my song only to Him. Why do that, you ask?  I choose to praise and worship God for His amazing grace towards me, and for His everlasting love which covers all my imperfections. Where would I be Father, if not for Your grace?

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. Psalm 104:33 (NIV)

 Blessings,

CED

TED Talks: Nature’s Grossest Creature a Master of Motion!

Hello friends!

Enjoy a little science on this wonderful Wednesday from a fellow blogger at Why? Because Science., and learn more than you cared to know about the cockroach and its contributions to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Click link for video. Source: TED Talks: Nature’s Grossest Creature a Master of Motion!

Who knew? God knew, that’s who!

Blessings, CED

 

The Dailey Dose – Happy New Year

5-4-3-2-1… Happy New Year!  What’s your focus for 2016?

A few days ago while out walking by a pond I saw a crusty, musty old barn and silo through a clearing.  What a fantastic piece of history!  Its sturdiness and majesty amazed me.  If a few stable hands got in there and applied some elbow grease, I thought, this old place could be AMAZING!  Sadly, it just stands there unused and silent, with untapped and unlimited potential.

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Barn and silo across the pond.

Sitting on a cluster of boulders by the water’s edge, I focused on the barn.  When there was life inside you: strong horses and other farm animals along with men and women tending the surrounding land, you had such purpose and meaning.  While hauntingly beautiful now, many may only see a demolition in your future.  Who decides if you’re worth saving?

Funny to go around talking to empty buildings, but in some ways this old barn and I were alike!  My old thinking and past actions focused a lot on my physical appearance or moods.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Instead of living life using my God-given gifts, talents and abilities, I stumbled around for years wishing for lucky breaks, or worse, blaming others when my plans failed again and again.  I felt spiritually empty inside, and was self-destructive.  Thankfully God pierced right through my façade with love and kindness.

…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.  1 Sam 16:7  (NIV)

Once I made the decision to trust the Lord completely, I began to stop rationalizing all my failures and shortcomings as “that’s just who I am.” Life bloomed with possibility!  No more blindly navigating through life frustrated by unrealized plans and missed opportunities.   Now closely aligned to God’s Word, my future has stability and security.  Through my children I have both a gift and a reward from Heaven.

What are YOU trusting God for in 2016?  A new job.  Financial freedom.  Healthier relationships.  Perhaps all of the above!  Let’s agree today:

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love and kindness!  I honor You and praise You, for You are El Roi, the God who sees me.  You faithfully and continuously watch over me, and establish my steps. PC301135.JPG

Let 2016 be the year of fundamental change in me, as I trust You completely to do the impossible in my life.  Strengthen me when I am weak Lord, and increase  my faith daily. Thank you for my life God!  Use it to Your glory.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Blessings,

CED