Just a Quick Note…

Good day readers:

Wow!  Today is really beautiful and I am so happy that I am alive and well.  I pray that you are too.  I hope that all of you will be attending some form of worship experience this weekend as Sunday is Easter.  I fully understand the commercial side of this day but I implore you to really reflect the spiritual side of this day as well.  I haven’t had Good Friday off in a VERY long time and I am so grateful for it.  I wish everyone could have the day off but that is for another session…lol

I am pleased to share that I was tasked with speaking on Good Friday at church.  We are doing “The Last Seven Words of Jesus”.  The beauty of this is this isn’t seven literal last words but seven last responses while Jesus was on the cross.  I will be speaking on Luke 23:43 which says, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”  As always, I will post the sermon notes in hopes that you will be blessed as I was blessed to write them.

Last week I announced that I will be having guest bloggers post to this page.  My intent is to give my keyboard to you to see what you have to say.  I’m sure someone has just said, “But I don’t have anything to say.  What could I write about?”  Well, let me be the first to encourage you by saying yes, you do have something to say and we want to hear it.  Last week, my cousin was gracious enough to be our first guest and I have two more waiting in the wings so be on the lookout.  Well that’s it for now.  Have a great rest of the week.  God Bless You

Until next time…

Guest Blog: From There to Here…

Today’s guest blog is from my cousin, Angela Flowers-Lofton.  You can follow her on twitter at @nyneshaydee.  I was so happy when she agreed to post.  I hope you are blessed by this.

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From There to Here:  A Long Road to Loving Myself and Others

In August of 1993, my boyfriend at the time told me long-distance over the phone that we were breaking up and that he had fallen in love with his best friend [a girl].  I remember that day as if it were yesterday – I cried, I told my best friend that I would never find another guy like him and that there was no way that I would ever fall in love again. 

In August of 1997, I met my husband.  I actually was going out on a date with one of my ex-boyfriends that night when I saw him and I mentioned to my friend, ‘Hey, he’s cute.’  She told him [he and her fiancee were cousins] and he began calling me and we struck up a friendship that eventually turned into dating.  I was going through a very trying personal situation when we met, and he held my hand through it.  I thought it weird that he would stand there with me when I was going through so much of my own drama, but I brushed it off and we continued to date.

In May of 2000, we got married.  There wasn’t any romantic proposal, no flowers or jewelry or engagement rings, nothing that you’d see in a movie.  We woke up one morning and just decided that since we had been living together going on 3 years, and that we cared about one another very much [notice my choice of words there] and that we didn’t want to be with anyone else, that we should just go ahead and get married.  88 bucks and a 45 minute visit to the Hillsborough County Courthouse later, that’s exactly what we did.

Well, I realized, not even 2 years in, that marriage to my husband wasn’t anywhere near what I thought it would be – instead of  bringing us closer together, it was tearing us apart.  I was young and I wanted to do all of the things that young people do and he was old enough to settle down and live a comfortable, quiet, life.  We had discussed divorce, but something happened that forced us to alter our outlook.  Actually, I shouldn’t say that – God intervened.  And maybe it wasn’t so much an intervention as it was that He had planned for it to come up when things were looking their most dire.

In 2001, my mother had passed away the day before, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, Madison.

It came as a shock to both of us – I wasn’t anywhere near ready to have another child [I had sent my oldest daughter to live with her father across town the year before] and I was now with someone that I was becoming  more and more distant from.  And he told me not 10 minutes after the two of us looked at my positive test and he said that he needed time to think about what we were going to do.

This I think was the turning point of not only my relationship, but my life. 

It would have been so easy for him to have walked away – the statistics are showing that more and more Black men wish to be less and less responsible for the lives that they help to create.  It would have been easy for him to have just gotten into the car and driven off and not have looked back, gone as fast and as far as he could.

But an hour later, he was home.  And we agreed that we wouldn’t divorce because now we had a child that would need both of us in a stable, happy and loving home.  I had a multitude of setbacks after that – we argued about my partying lifestyle, I quit my job at the post office due to a severe case of depression, we had the unexpected joy of my son Tommy in the last part of 07, we moved from apartment to apartment until we found ourselves unable to stay in Tampa due to declining financial conditions, until finally we found ourselves in Mississippi, living with my in-laws.

God was speaking to me the [whole] time, but it wasn’t until we got to Mississippi that I finally began to [hear] him.  I had been away from my faith for a long time and the first few weeks in Mississippi, I was miserable and unhappy.  I missed my friends, I missed the life I had back in Tampa.  But I look back on it now and I believe that God put us here because it’s much quieter and it’s much easier for me to hear Him.  Tampa had too much going on.  There were too many other voices competing for my attention.  Once we got here, and things started happening something awakened in me.  And then [thanks to Steve Harvey] I came to the realization that no matter how far away from my faith I had been, God had never been far away from me.  And that it was time to come back – after all, Steve Harvey’s often said that “if you take one step towards God, He’ll take two towards you.  And an inch closer is one more inch towards where you need to be.?

Do you know how liberating that is?

It’s like before, when you’ve got things to worry about and so many questions and uncertainties and you feel them squeezing your heart and your insides until you don’t think you have room to move much less breathe, to reestablish some connection to God, to know that he was never far from you and that he was always ready and right there to listen – I swear, it fills me with JOY.  Sure, my kids may be driving me insane, and my supervisor is breathing down my neck, and maybe it is raining outside and I have no idea how we’re going to accomplish a cross-country move but when I remember that God is looking out for me and that there is nothing HE can’t do?  Wow.  It’s like you feel so good, you want to laugh and cry and just act all kinds of fool – sort of like ‘dance as if nobody is watching’.

JOY, I’m telling you.

Now our God we give you thanks and praise your glorious name!  1 Chronicles 29:13

I wanted to look up something for JOY and post it to my Facebook page, and there that verse was.  When I started thanking God and putting things in His hands, my joy increased.  If I take my problems to Him, they’ll all be taken care of.  As I said before, do you know how liberating that is?

Something else that I’ve come to realize – we as humans, God made us in [His] image.  I’ve finally learned that when we get married, ideally we’re marrying the person that comes closest to loving us the way that not only God loves us, but God intended for us to love.  My husband has stood by me when I was at my absolute worst and lowest – he could have left me, abandoned me and never looked back.  But it is a testament to his character that he hasn’t.  We’re celebrating 10 years of marriage this year and I am so thankful every day that he is with me and that I have the chance waking up every day to be the best wife to him that I can possibly be.   I’m coming up on 35, a little older and finally, [finally] wiser.

It was a long way from there, that girl of 18 who didn’t know anything and hadn’t been anywhere, to here, coming up on 35 and starting a whole new part of my life.  And no, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world – I wouldn’t be able to be happy here if I didn’t struggle before.  Sometimes, it’s not the destination, but the journey that makes us what we are.  And I thank God for the journey.

Me Blog, Su Blog…

Good Morning Readers:

It’s a foggy day here in FL.  I hope and pray you all are safe.

Well, I spoke last Sunday and I must say that God used me like he always does.  I am so thankful to have opportunities like that and I pray that they continue for a long as he allows.

Once again, taking an idea from Scott Williams(thanks for the insight), I will start having guest bloggers to post on this blog.  My intent is to get an always fresh perspective from you, the reader, as well as give those who may not have their own blog to share some things and hopefully start their own.  I’ll utilize your skills a few times a month so get your creative juice flowing.  Here are the requirements:

  1. Your post HAS TO BE YOUR OWN WORK.  It also has to have never been posted on another blog.  You will get credit for the blog as your name will appear on the posting.
  2. Keep it positive!  To me there is nothing more detrimental than posting negative experiences
  3. If you have a Twitter, Facebook or both, you have the option of sharing it here.  Not mandatory as some like to keep things private but you are welcome to share it here
  4. It has to be no less than 500 words. 
  5. We also want thought provoking content.  We need more thinkers out here.

There you have it.  Sound like fun?  I hope so.  When  you are ready, please email your post to myzenmypiece@gmail.com.  If I select your post, I will email you a response so as to not keep you wondering…lol. 

I am looking forward to hearing from you all

Until next time…it may be someone else…

The Ready, The Willing, The Able (Are You?)

The Ready, The Willing, The Able (Are You?)

Mark 14:3-7a

If we were to search for explanations for the words used in the title of this message, we would find many.   To give you examples, I would like to call your attention to some that we have found:

Ready:  Immediately available (as if to say someone had ready cash)

Willing:  Inclined or favorably disposed in mind (as if to say willing and eager to help) or prompt to act or respond (as if to say lending a willing hand)

Able:  Having sufficient power, skill, or resources to accomplish an object

There are countless other definitions to describe these words but, the ones we have listed are relevant to the Word we are sharing today. 

As we look at Chapter 14 of Mark’s Gospel, we see that Jesus’ time on earth is nearing its end and Jesus had made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  The Feast of the Passover is underway and we find, at the beginning of this Chapter, that the Chief Priests and Scribes are also we underway with their plot to kill our Lord and Savior. 

1After two days was [the feast of] the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put [him] to death.

Now we find Jesus in the town of Bethany, specifically in the house of Simon the leper.  As He sat to dine as a guest in the home, The Bible says that a woman came into the home with an alabaster box of ointment of Spikenard (An herb that is used as one of the eleven herbs for the incense in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem).  She then proceeds to break the box and anoint the head of Jesus much to the chagrin of the Disciples. 

4And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?

5For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

Jesus, as always and in his infinite wisdom replied to them, “Leave her alone.  Why are you troubling her?”  What is resident in this word is not in the fact that this particular box of alabaster may have been a family heirloom, or that even the contents of the box could have been sold for a large price of which could have benefited the poor.  The residence here is that there was a great work that needed to be done and this woman was READY, WILLING and ABLE to do it. 

We, as Christians, need to be ready, willing, and able to do works; great or small when we are able to do them.  There will come a time, as we endeavor on life’s tedious journey, when our abilities and talents, skills and knowledge, will be required of us in order for us to be a blessing to others.  Even though Mary may not have been invited to the dinner, even though folks looked at her as if she had committed some kind of financial mistake, and even though they talked and murmured behind her back, Mary did what needed to be done when the time came and didn’t ask for permission nor did she see approval from those that witnessed the event.  When we are doing the work of the Lord, and when we are being a blessing to those that are in need of a blessing, we need not worry about what’s going around us or be concerned with the chaos that we may create.  When you are doing the work of the Lord, He sees that it is a great work and will step in right on time to say to those naysayers, “STOP!! Leave them alone. 

We must be ready to do good works for the Lord and to do them when the time comes but, in addition to being ready, we must also be willing.  Mary could have easily given the box of alabaster to her sister and requested that she take care of it but, Mary was willing to anoint the head of Jesus not for recognition, not for fame and it certainly was not to get a “pat on the back”.  We have many “church folk” that WILL do something:

When their name is on the program

When people can see their name in the paper

When they are head of the committee

When they can be seen next to the Pastor

All of these church folk will do something but none of them are WILLING to do it unless there’s a cost involved.  Mary was WILLING to do a good work because she witnessed Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  That’s right.  He came in like a King.  The normal custom at that time was to anoint the forehead with just a dab of oil but when the King came to the house, Mary was willing give all that she had and do all that she could.  The bottom line is that when it comes to doing the work of the Master we have to be WILLING to give all that we have so that GOD can get ALL of the glory.

We must be ready to do good works for the Lord When the time comes.  We must also be willing to do these works so that God can get the glory.  But we also have to be ABLE to get the job done and that is not without the Power of the Holy Ghost.  Mary knew what she was doing when she anointed Jesus’ head with oil but she would have never known what to do unless the Holy Spirit got involved.  When we are ready to work for the Master, when we are willing to do the good works, and when we are able to give God all of the glory that he so deserves, it is then that we are in a position to be the most like The Greatest Servant.  The Greatest Servant:

Was willing to come down because man had turned away from God

Was willing to be born of a virgin

Was willing to cast out demons, turn the hem of His Garment into a drugstore, and raise dead men from their grave.

Was ready to give His life so that we would have life and have it more abundantly

And he was able to get up on Easter Sunday morning with ALL POWER IN HIS HANDS

When we are more like the Greatest Servant we can then say just as the songwriter said:

When I’ve done the best I can

When my friends don’t understand

When the works I’ve done may seem so small

That sometimes it seems like, seems like nothing at all

But when I stand before my God

I want to hear him say well done

May the works I’ve done speak for me

Getting Ready to Preach!!!

Good morning to the best readers in the world. 

Thank you for the comments that have been given on the blog the last few days.  I want to try to make it an ongoing thing so every once in a while be on the lookout because I love to hear what you have to say. 

Well I have another preaching engagement this coming Sunday.  I am so excited it about it.  I really put a lot into what God is telling me to tell His people.  Pray with me that those who are in attendance will be receptive to what GOD says and not me.  As always, I will post the sermon on the Monday after.  Hopefully you will be blessed by it as I am blessed to write it. 

Until Next time…

Giving Up My Keyboard…To You

Hello Readers:

I hope you all had ss great weekend.  Mine went by fast considering the time change…lol

I would like to try something different today courtesy of Scott Williams author of the blog Big is the New Small (check the blog because it’s definitely worth the time).   I am turning over the keyboard to you, the reader, today.  Feel free to share your thoughts and also feel free to leve comments as well.  I would love to walk down the corridors of  your minds today so let’s get to it.

Until next time…

The Week From Hell

God Day Readers;

I hope you are having a great day. It’s a tad overcast here in FL but all is still well.

Today, I want to take a look at something that is happening this week in FL. This week, Florida students from grades 3 to 12 are taking the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). That was first started back in 1998. Well, this is a test that can make or break a child’s educational career. In other words, kids HAVE TO pass this test in order to move the next grade or to graduate from High School. Now I don’t mean to suggest that students shouldn’t be tested on what they have learned during the course of the school year, nor do I mean to suggest that educators not teacher shouldn’t do their jobs. My point is that I actually don’t agree with the test. Yes, students should always strive for excellence whether they are afforded the opportunity in school or not. They should also apply what they have learned. However, if a student does these things to the greatest degree, but are not great test takers, then all they have strived for along with the countless hours of study are in vain. Why? Because if they do not pass this FCAT, it will prevent the student from moving to the next grade, or in some cases, not graduate High School. Yes, there are preventive measures in place now to aid the student, but overall, that test can hurt you if you are not a good test taker.

There was a kid in High School, a few years back, that wasn’t the best student in his class. Granted, he could have applied himself a great deal more but, alas, he was not NHS material. Well, graduation time approached and there he was so close yet so far from earning his Diploma. Back then there was no FCAT, but the minimum requirements had been raised. Because of his grades, he had to take some exams, when most of his peers didn’t have to because, well, they did well. His final exam, English, was the last test of the day. He went in desperate and scared all at the same time. He did his best, tried to answer every single question correctly, and even went over the questions again after he had finished. He handed his test in and waited for the results. He didn’t pass! At that moment he felt the earth begin to crumble beneath him. His heart raced and seemed to want to jump out of his chest. How could he have explained to his parents that he failed and couldn’t graduate? How could he explain to his folks, who were also teachers, that he didn’t meet the MINIMUM requirements to graduate High School? Talk about fear. Well all of that went through his mind in a span of ten seconds before he heard his teacher’s voice asking him to sit down at his desk. “What is she going to say to me? I think I’m going to be sick.” She looked at him and gave him back the test. “Concentrate…Try this again.” He sat back down, and read the test over again. He found some errors that he made. He corrected those and then handed the test back in ten minutes later. Again, the pit of his stomach was erupting like a volcano. His teacher called, “Get over here.” Now what? She looked at him and smirked. “See what happens when you concentrate? Congratulations, Graduate.”

SUCCESS!!!

This is the point I’m trying to make. Educators should be allowed and have the freedom to TEACH and not just prepare students to take a test. Granted, testing used to verify what the students have learned but, the focus should be on the students’ abilities to learn and not just how to pass a test.

Until next time…

P.S. The student in this story was me…