Overcoming Thoughts of Defeat

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV)

Through the years this verse has given me comfort and strength. It’s a reminder to hold on tight to my faith during personal trials, and to keep going after crashing and burning professionally. During the darkest periods of my life it would bubble up and out of my spirit, and I’d pray until I felt steady again. Does that make sense?

There was a period as a young adult when I stopped going to church, and foolishly told myself it was because for the first time no one was forcing me!  As the deacon’s grandkid, I was raised in the Baptist church. Sunday school, midweek service, baptisms, communion…you name it! So when I moved out on my own and had the choice to please myself or continue following God let’s just say I did not choose God, and my new “all about me” persona had the uncanny ability to say the wrong things, hurt feelings and cause offense. It bled into all areas of my life and drove my friends and family crazy!

The decision to return to God and never look back occurred in a new church I  attended sporadically.  A visiting pastor called up parishioners toward the end of service. I watched him from the back of the sanctuary as he began to pray and speak words of encouragement. Thinking back on that day, I remember feeling so defeated. The pastor gently called me up and began to pray with me, and said close to my ear:

“Don’t be discouraged daughter. God will bless you with another child.”

I lost my collective mind. Who said I wanted another child? We already had four: a baby, a toddler, one in kindergarten and the oldest in second grade! We were so broke, and lived paycheck to paycheck. Money problems started arguments which had our marriage resembling the movie Fight Club. What was this man talking about? As I looked at him I began to cry, no correction, I started wailing. AT THE ALTAR. God was so unfair and this pastor was crazy. I hid that word in my heart, because I couldn’t mentally or spiritually comprehend it at the time.

My out of character response that Sunday deeply affected the regular pastor too, because he and his wife began to spend more time with our family. They prayed with us and checked on us more often. Women in church reached out and I made new friends. My family started attending regularly and eventually I joined the choir. With time and through faith my defeated thinking became clearer and more focused! Many of my family relationships and friendships were restored, and professional success followed self-discipline and mentorship. But the biggest surprise of all? Ten years after the pastor’s prayer I delivered a bouncing, baby girl!

Today I KNOW I am a blessed woman of God. Despite too many medical procedures, an adamant doctor who repeatedly told me I was infertile, and a third who would perform emergency surgery to rule out cancer, our daughter arrived healthy and right on time.  She is my gift, a masterful centerpiece in a jeweled crown God sent from heaven. When I held her for the first time God firmly placed in my spirit that “this is the fulfillment of my promise. NOTHING can EVER separate you from My love!”

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 (NIV)

Love and blessings,

CED

Photo credit: http://www.Pixabay.com. Free for commercial use.

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

 

The Dailey Dose – Happy Leap Day!

Leap

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Leap right up onto the mouse’s shoulder #5; Huzzah!

Happy Leap Day Friends! Today in social media circles it’s all about living out today with extra kindness, but are we really relegating goodness and mercy to such little importance that the spotlight only shines on them one day every four years? Is grace so insignificant it’s a gimmick assigned to #DayitForward?

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.  Galations 6:9 (New Living Translation)

I believe we were created to be a blessing everyday. That’s why we get such an emotional boost when we’re kind to others, and especially when we bless someone generously. Put it to the test today: see what happens when you genuinely smile at someone and say hello. Don’t worry about looking foolish!

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Say cheese! XOXO for my sweet #3

Take it one step further and suppress the urge to capture acts of kindness on social media.  Be a private Good Samaritan!

“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others…But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:1,3-4 (New Living Translation)

Blessings today and everyday,

CED

Note:  This is the final edition of The Dailey Dose, which was a 90 day trial blog running from December 2015 through February 2016. Thank you everyone for all your constructive feedback and support. Did you enjoy a blog in particular?

The Exceptional Life would like to introduce a new biweekly series. Weeks one, three (and five) will feature Thankful Thursday and Saturday Scripture posts, and weeks two and four will offer Monday Musings and Wednesday Wisdom. Enjoy!