5 Random Thoughts

  1. On this Valentine’s Day with snow falling in unforeseen places, I imagine God is reminding us He is in charge, we need to Imageslow down or he will slow us down, and we need to love Him as He loves us. And His love is real, unconditional, and limitless.
  2. Rocky relationships. When one person falls out of love, the other person knows the relationship needs repair or it’s over. Often times one person, him or her, holds on without trying to mend the crack, heal the wound, take a look in the mirror, hear and listen. Meanwhile, the other person’s heart has to be strong enough to say good-bye, knowing God will mend the crack, heal the wound, change what you see in the mirror, and open your ears.
  3. When God tells us to obey, should we obey the commands that make us feel good, or the ones that stretch and mold us or should we obey all his commands even when they seem unreasonable?
  4. Steve Harvey is a funny man, but he’s letting God use him in a mighty way. Steve is raising the bar for relationships. For ladies: Be ready to walk away if you’re not getting what you want. Sometimes change is inevitable, if the person is that important. Know that when you walk away, he wasn’t the one and God has something better. For men: Take your wife out to dinner, surprise her, write her a letter, help out around the house. If she’s not your wife, well “put a ring on it” and make that change. Be careful, you’re not dating out of your league. Simply speaking Steve is spilling male secrets, and it’s contagious.
  5. When God specifically puts up roadblocks, why do we keep trying to create a detour or another plan?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 Lessons Learned on the 30 Day Prayer Journey

  1. When you think someone needs to change, it’s usually you that needs to change.
  2. Even when you love someone, sometimes you have to let him or her go; this is a result of change.
  3. God wants complete obedience, not hollow obedience.
  4. The Holy Spirit connects the Family of God on all corners of the earth.
  5. Walking by faith means you will fall and stumble and makeImage bad choices; if you trust God, when he picks you up your vision will be clearer and you will stumble less and grow stronger.
  6. When you trust God, He will request the unreasonable, despite the consequences. Here you must return to # 3.
  7. You can’t have a relationship with God if you don’t spend time with Him in worship, read His Word, pray, fellowship with his people. Let’s face it; you can’t have a healthy relationship with anyone if you don’t spend time with him or her.
  8. Not everyone wants to hear about God and his goodness, so you must heed Jesus’s advice “…quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way; in other words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:12-14 NIV and The Message).
  9. God is waiting for us, all we have to do: ask, seek & knock. Perhaps, a glance at #3, 6, and 7.
  10. You can’t embark on the faithwalk without adversity and suffering. God is testing us. Do we only love Him when it’s all good and rosy? Do we scowl and pout, turn our back when stuff gets tough and makes us uncomfortable?
  11. Be thankful for everything.
  12. Wake up everyday and look for the smallest miracles; be grateful. Thank God for the ups and the downs.

I’m back…and it’s time

ImageOne month has passed since I’ve last posted; not because I haven’t had anything to share; I have. I wanted to discuss the tricycle; metaphorically the tricycle represents friendship and the triune God. I aspired to share what it means to label people. I was at an event and noticed it wasn’t until I was introduced as a board member that others reached out to shake my hand. That reminded me of how many times, I’ve been introduced with a label rather than: “This is Angela.” That’s who I am. I also had the inkling to write about fellowship. The discussion evolved with a friend, she wanted to know what was fellowship. Then just last week, I thought ah, attachments. I’d had an idea about how hard it is to let go. This notion was inspired by one of my students. When he saw me get out of my car in the parking lot, he later commented, “Looks like you’ve been in a car derby.” I laughed. He’s right. Even my daughter says the same. I’m attached to my car. We have memories. It’s reliable. It’s loyal. It’s paid in full. I’m not even looking for a replacement. And from attachments, I knew for sure I would spin a post about socks. Can you guess what socks represents? Relationships. My eldest daughter and her best friend were the impetus to this discovery. One young lady doesn’t wear socks, while the other wears mismatched socks. As I listened to the chatter, I realized their socks illustrate their relationships—girl boy stuff. Just a few days ago my daughter answers my text, proudly and loudly: “I don’t need socks.” I’m always wearing socks. I’m attached to my socks. My feet need to be warm or I’m cranky. After careful self-reflection, I’m letting go and replacing those relationships. Self-reflection was another blog post. Looks like I have lots to keep me busy writing and you reading.

However, through the weeks of not posting, thinking about posting, wondering what to post, I’ve decided that’ it’s time for prayer. My reading material has consisted of prayers by poets, writers, teachers, saints and others. Did you know a scholar discovered Flannery O’Conner’s prayer journal? I need a copy of that. It’s one year in her life young adult life—20 years old—while a student in Iowa. The topper was an email about prayer. That’s when I knew it’s time for prayer. We all need prayer for encouragement, patience, discovery, teaching, learning, working, relationships, friendships, attachments, fellowship…just plain old living and breathing. 

I hope you join me for 30 days of Prayer: Dec. 18, 2013-Jan. 18, 2014.

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People-Oriented versus Goal-Oriented

goalMy mom and I sat at the table eating lunch. She began talking about one of her friends. Disinterested, I asked why she was telling me. As the words tumbled out of my mouth,

I wished I could take them back. She frowned. She tried to explain.  I stopped her.

See, I’m a goal-oriented person, deadlines, results and timelines. How can I help you propel your dreams, and how can you help me? If you’re not in that sphere, I’m disinterested. How much can we produce? What do we plan to achieve? Otherwise gabbing about others is gossip. As the adage goes: “If you aren’t part of the problem or the solution, its gossip.”  Proverbs indicates, “whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps things covered. Do not associate with a simple babbler” (11:13, 20:19).

Now, my mother was neither slandering nor revealing secrets, simply prattling; concerned about this person, and sharing her distress, which I knew would later disclose something I cared not to hear. She’s people-oriented, creating social and emotional ties.

God is still working on me.

I explained: “As a goal-oriented person, personal matters are not usually my concern. What is the task at hand? I focus on the goal.”

God is still working on me.

As an instructor, my aim is to lecture, encourage, coach students in rhetoric and composition. I don’t have time for excuses—my printer doesn’t have ink, Internet was down, I broke up with my girlfriend, I’m overwhelmed with other classes. My concern: when can you hand in your assignment? How can you improve your writing? I don’t give busy work every task is a building block.  It’s about production and achievement.

God is still working on me.

My heart belongs to a man that’s taking way too long to put a ring on finger. When we talk, I prefer discuss: how much money have you saved towards my ring; if we live as one, where is relocation. I want dates and schedules, what is your plan not speculation or hesitation. God is still working on me.

I realize God is still working on me because I’m learning to create friendly relations and more concern for people. Perhaps, that is why I was chosen for a few titled positions requiring human interaction, opening channels of commutation, loving others through their distress, and working with the oppressed. Only God knows how to mold and shape me. Knowing I’m goal-oriented I have to remember: We should make plans – counting on God to direct us (Proverbs 16:9).

The student: Ms. Hooks, can I speak to you about why I didn’t finish my paper?

I shake my head no.

The student: I’m not looking for sympathy.

I shake my head no, again.

Class ends, he approaches my desk. I look at him.

The student: I broke up with my girlfriend this weekend and couldn’t concentrate.

I shake my head, saying Adele the singer, recorded hit songs when relationships ended badly. Use your break up as your muse; finish the essay.

God is still working on me.

This Daughter and The Fiery Trial

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I dropped my daughter at her friend’s house and blew her a kiss goodbye. “I’ll be without you for eight hours,” I said.

“It’s like a day of school,” she said, nonchalantly closing the car door behind her.

As I watched her walk away, I thought, eight hours without her on this Saturday wasn’t like any other school day.

In 2012, on Mother’s Day my gift from her: the decision to live with her father and visit me when she pleased like her nineteen-year-old sister did. Then I was crushed, eight months later, I’m still reeling from her decision, my mother’s day gift.

Despite the signed divorce stipulation, joint custody, five days on five days off, every other weekend visits my daughter, fifteen, doesn’t visit. Her father said, “He wants to keep the peace, he doesn’t want to be the bad guy.” Her sister said, “I can’t tell her what to do.”  My best friend said, “A daughter needs her mother.”

I wept.

I couldn’t understand her reasoning, and when I asked she had no explanation.

Six months prior to her choice, this daughter did not contest living in two places when I moved out of the martial home. She showed no remorse saying, “I knew in the third grade you and Dad would divorce.” She added, “Mom, I plan to have enough clothes at both homes so I have less to pack.”

And by May, she did.

This daughter did not hid in closets or walk away when she heard her parents argue. She stood in the doorway watching and listening to us bark at each other exchanging harsh words we couldn’t take back. This daughter told me the things her father said in my absence.

I wept.

Simultaneously, this daughter was the one who believed her father did not love her. I remember our daily discourse. “Your father loves you, he just has a lot on his plate.”  “Your father doesn’t like the house messy.” “Go show your father, he will like it.” “Pray for him, God hears the prayers of children.”

I’ll never forget the Sunday morning this daughter refused to go to church. “If Daddy doesn’t go, why should I?”

My only response, “Because I said so.”

Before her decision to live with her father, my daughter and I did not have a disagreement or a fight. Our habits were the same: in the mornings no talking, while reading a book no talking. We played scrabble on Sundays, which we’d been playing since she was three. After church, we went to breakfast, and sometimes a friend tagged along, in which I let them roam the stores in the mall, while I graded papers in the coffee shop.

One day while playing a card game this daughter said, “Mom, when I get friends, I’m not staying home with you.”

“That’s what teenagers do,” I said.

Three months after her decision to live with her father, God showed some relationships are worth fighting for. Despite a lack of visits, I met her at the bus stop on Tuesdays or Thursdays. We went to the pizza parlor. Another time after pizza a visit to the library or shopping for knickknacks. On Columbus Day we shopped in New York City. Although we were making great strides, she did not answer my question: “Why don’t you want to live with me?” (I don’t ask that question anymore.)

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So, on this Saturday, she had been with me for a week. The last thing I wanted: eight hours without her on a Saturday knowing our only time together hereafter would be one or two hours on a Tuesday or Thursday or a shopping trip to the mall.

For some reason my suffering for Christ’s glory became a fiery trial I didn’t want to bear any longer. Yet I could understand even better Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane asking God to let the cup pass knowing God’s will be done.

As much as this relationship pains me, knowing my daughter doesn’t want to live with me, I try to absorb the words of Os Hillman, founder of Marketplace Leaders and Today God is First devotional, “When we go through a trial of adversity, we need to understand that God is performing radical surgery on our life. …not to destroy us, but to give us a new heart. God is making a fundamental change in who we are and who we will be. And, He will always reveal treasures from these secret places if we are willing to walk through the process patiently.”

Faithwalk: Relationships


Check out my new car,” she said.
I got in.
“Nice, new.”
“It’s not a luxury car, but it runs.” My friend gave me a tour of her new car.
I had been praying that she would get a new car. We’re friends, and I hear her silent laments. A new car was one of them. Ironically, two days earlier, I was driving and asked the Lord when he was going to bless my friend with a new car. So, I was just as elated as she was.
“Seems luxurious to me. Hybrid, sunroof, satellite radio, and it’s spacious.” I checked out the cup holders and varying compartments. “I shouldn’t park next to you, though.”
She laughed. “Your turn next.”
This is why I love my friend; she’s an encourager. Every woman needs a girlfriend that cheers her on. You know, like Gail to Oprah. My friend believes I can earn a six-figure salary working in New York City. She’s got big dreams for me.
Anyway, I wasn’t really in the market for a new car. My car, although it has scars and wounds, is paid in full. I can’t imagine a car payment.
My car, a white Santa Fe Hyundai 2002, and I have been through a few battles. After knocking a mailbox off its hinges, I learned to slow down. After snagging the front driver’s side on a steel pole in an underground garage, I learned not to turn my wheel to soon. After we got our first garage, I learned to look out the side view mirror. Poor baby has scratches, scratches, and scratches.
One day, my cousin visited. He said, “Ang, who messed up your car?” I looked at him and pointed at me.
Yet, I love my car, despite the scars and wounds it’s faithful through torrents of rain, snowy hills, dark nights, and long trips. And I’ve been faithful: oil changes, new tires, car washes-inside and out- new battery, and new exhaust.
Then, one day last week, my car puttered, puttered to a halt–all the lights on the dashboard blacked out. Now, I should have taken notice when two days prior the battery and the check engine light came on.
The next day, my car went to the hospital for a new alternator, and I went to Enterprise for a rental. I reserved a compact car, but left the lot in a Camaro—a free upgrade. All I can say is wow! Sweet ride. And I rode for two days like I belonged in that sports car.
My mom said, “Looks like you need a second job.”
I said, “I know, I want one.”
Upon the return of the rental and the pick up of my faithful-no payment car, I thought: it’s time to rethink this relationship and dream big for me.

Faithwalk: Is it time to move?

“You’re moving again,” he said. “You just moved in.”
“Well, a house is like a boyfriend,” she said.
“How so?” he asked.
“In the beginning it’s an ideal fit. I love the nuances, the cozy spots, the cool summer days, and warm winter nights. Then a few months, even a few years go by, and breakdown begins: flooding, ants, unmanageable lawn care, high heating bills, cold lonely nights.
“Now I still love the house, and I could put forth effort to fix it, deal with the problems, get expert help with the situations. However, if there is a way out before owning the house, (marrying the man), investing more time with the house (the man) that means run like the wind, sail on, flee as soon as possible.”
“Are you trying to tell me something?” he asked.
She smiled.

Sometimes the simple things show us the strength of our faith.