Weekly Meditations

"... I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. "

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)

Feb 24th 2014

Choose Life!

I’m gonna date myself here – but I’m part of the “you’ve come a long way baby” generation.  “You can have it all,” they said.  That was supposed to represent the new power our generation had – to be able to do it all, be it all, and have it all.  (Still not sure what the “it” is, but I digress.)

It was years before I realized that “having it all” was a lie  . . .  a lie that our society tells us in order to disguise the true power that lies in choice.  Stop for a moment and think about it: you just can’t have everything.  It’s not possible.  You have to choose.  You can’t eat dessert all day long and be a size 6 – not gonna happen . . .  Not unless you’re eating dessert on the treadmill.  You can’t smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, and expect clear lungs.  Not gonna happen.  You can’t catch up on your beauty rest all week, every week and expect that promotion.  Not gonna happen.  You can’t be mean and evil all day every day and expect peace, joy, and sweetness to be part of your life.  Not gonna happen.

God just didn’t set things up that way.  God says: I’m giving you a choice: life or death, blessing or curses.  It’s your choice.  You decide.  Choose your path.  Now, your choices have consequences, but you already know that.

And God encourages us to think carefully  . . .  He says: even though I’m giving you the right and the responsibility of making your own choices, I really want you to choose life.  I want you to make decisions that will lead to abundance, and joy, and peace, and health, and prosperity, and love.

Consider the choices you will face today.  What to eat, where to go, who to talk with, where to spend your time.  Then choose life: make decisions that will give you the abundant life God wants you to have.  Eat healthfully.  Be sweet.  Encourage someone.  Call to say “I love you.”  Send some flowers.  Be on time for work.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Let go of bitterness.  Laugh often.  Read more.  Be a friend.  Choose life!

The Latest

Feb 20th 2014

Let It Go: Priorities & Options

prioritiesSaw this on twitter and loved it:  Don’t make someone a priority in your life when you’re only an option in theirs.

This could be the tag line to most of my love relationships.

More on this later.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Latest

Feb 20th 2014

Let It Go: The Doing of it All

deep breathActually, I started decluttering back in December as part of my New Year’s cleaning extravaganza.  First stop:  my clothes closet.  Now you have to understand that I am a church girl.  More than that, my father is a pastor, which makes me a PK (pastor’s kid), which means I’ve been “on display” most of my life.  Combine that with my current vocation as a pastor, my public work as a political operative, and my life as a business owner, and it means having inspection-worthy, scrutiny-passing clothing appropriate for any and every occasion.  And THAT means a closet overflowing with suits, blouses, separates, and of course shoes.

It was starting to take me too long to get dressed in the morning, which ultimately meant that I wound up wearing the same things over and over just because they were easy to grab.  So, OK, I admitted to myself that some things had to go.

First pass:  anything torn, stained, or beyond repair.  No I’m not really gonna ever dye that top to a darker color just cause I love it and can’t get the salad oil stain out.  Gotta go.  This first pass yielded a few things, but not enough to make a dent.  So…

Second pass:  things that don’t fit now.  This includes things used to fit but then age happened.  Things tend to, um, shift and move as we age, and that sometimes means that jackets that used to fit are suddenly! slumping in the shoulders, or the butt on the jeans is WTH?? sagging … This pass also includes clothes that won’t fit even I lose 20 pounds.  So size 10 blouse, goodbye.  I haven’t been a size 10 since high school;  I don’t even know how this blouse got in my closet!  Really, I don’t.

Third pass:  things I no longer love, or that I can’t remember wearing.

Fourth pass:  things that I like, but that might be loved by someone else.

I know people do that “if you haven’t worn it in two years, toss it” rule.  I just don’t like that rule, so I don’t use it.  Doesn’t fit my life and all its iterations.

When I finished all these passes, I had a pretty good pile, which I sorted into (1) trash, (2) goodwill, (3) Dress for Success – business clothes for women returning to the workforce and (4) consignment – perfectly good stuff that could be resold, and allow me to make a couple of bucks for all my effort.

Felt very accomplished and proud of myself.

Now at the start of this post, I said that I began this in December.  Well, there’s the rub.  Even though I sorted and packed up all this stuff, it didn’t actually leave my house til last week.  Yes, I can see you giving me the side-eye.  This is the crux of the matter:  I had every intention of letting these things go.  Made the effort, did the work, and put a big bow on it.  My closet was emptier.  I could see and wear more of my clothes.  And whenever I opened the closet door, I felt accomplished and good about myself.

But when time came to take that last step of actually releasing it and letting it go from my space, I just didn’t do it.  Oh I had all kinds of good, legitimate reasons.  And ultimately, these reasons took higher precedence than the urgency I’d originally felt for getting the stuff out of my house.  And then I’d turn into the office and step over the donation bags, all while patting myself on the back about my decluttering progress.  It was a total disconnect.

And then, as I nearly tripped over the bags one afternoon, epiphany!   You are not done.  (Seems obvious, I know.)  You’ve just moved the stuff to another place.  Just because you don’t see it in your closet doesn’t mean it’s been removed;  it’s just been shifted.    Sound familiar?  We often shift emotions, redirect habits, rearrange feelings and relationships just so we don’t have to do the hard, emotional, work of actually releasing non-productive things, attitudes, and people from our lives.

I sat there on the floor for a  long while, mulling over my actions and my realizations.  Then I got up, gathered the trash and goodwill bags, and took them to their final destinations.  Made an appointment at the consignment shop and made that delivery.  Clothes and shoes for donation are boxed and bagged and awaiting the reopening of Dress for Success following their renovation.  Now I’m really done.  And learned a valuable lesson about this decluttering stuff:  you haven’t let it go until you’ve actually let it go, released it, removed it so that you no longer have access to it.

Next stop:  bathrooms and linen closets.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Latest

Feb 20th 2014

Let It Go!

No ClutterI’ve been feeling a little “cloudy” lately.  Good things are happening, new opportunities, new clients, new friends … watching God bring promises to life … it’s all good and I feel blessed.  But I’m also feeling a little confined – kinda like I’m outgrowing (or, have outgrown) my present “situation” or circumstance … like some things no longer suit me or fit into my vision of myself and where I’m going.

Since that could easily apply to a number of areas:  space, clothes, people, friends, relationships, space, habits, attitudes, emotions  – I’ve decided to embark on a life de-cluttering / releasing project that I’m gonna call “Let It Go!”

Since “let” means “to allow,” naming my project “Let It Go!” reminds me that things, people, emotions, and stuff are in my space, my orbit, my situation because I have allowed them to take up residence there.  And since it had my permission to come in, I’m the only one who has the power to get it out.  It’s under my control to change.   And I’m deciding to Let It Go!

I’ve been hearing this in my spirit for a few weeks now, so the arrival of the new issue of the Oprah Magazine, headlined “De-Clutter Your Life!” was confirmation.  I’m under no illusions that this will be easy.  After all, I’m attached to my stuff or it wouldn’t be part of my world.  You’re invited to share this journey with me through this blog … I welcome your comments, suggestions, and reflections.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Weekly Meditations

"This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. "

Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

Feb 17th 2014

Mind Over Matter

Sunny day versus rainy day . . .  Busy day versus lazy day . . .   Too much traffic versus a clear road . . .  Spending your day with friends versus spending your day in – horror of horror – a work retreat . . .Isn’t is amazing how outside circumstances impact your mood?

The irony is that none of these kinds of things can really change our mood or our outlook on the day, unless we allow it.  God has given us the amazing capacity to control our own emotions, our own actions, and our own reactions.  Which means that we simply have to make a decision  I’m going to have a positive attitude and a positive disposition – And I will not allow anyone or anything – not the weather, not the traffic, not the schedule, nothing – to get in the way of my good day.

That’s the affirmation of the psalmist: “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  He makes an affirmative decision to be glad and find happiness in the day that the Lord has given to him.  He hasn’t seen all that the day will bring, but it doesn’t matter – he’s already decided to make it a good day.  He’s decided that nothing and no one is going to steal his joy that day.  He’s figured out that it’s a question of mind over matter.  If he doesn’t mind, then it won’t matter!

Now, surely there are going to be days that will make you wish you’d just stayed in bed.  And on those days, maintaining a positive attitude can be, umm, difficult.  But I’ll share my secret with you: when “challenged” personalities seem set on destroying my good mood, I repeat the refrain of the psalmist:  “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  In this way, I take back my power, insist on my joy, and affirm the authority God has given me to declare victory and peace in my own life.

Weekly Meditations

"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. "

Matthew 5:16 (NRS)

Feb 10th 2014

Take Your Decision

Choice is a powerful thing.  The freedom and the ability to make our own decisions about our lives and our destiny is perhaps the greatest gift that God, the Creator of the Universe, gives to us, outside the gift of salvation.

In this Scripture, Jesus asks us to “let our light shine . . .”  I think that little word “let” is the most important word in this whole Scripture.  See, “to let” is “to allow”  . . .  and to allow implies permission, which means that we have a choice in the matter.

We can choose to hide our light.  To live single and solitary lives, focused solely on ourselves, hoarding our light and keeping our gifts, our talents, and our treasures under wraps and known to ourselves alone.

Or we can choose to shine as brightly as a 1000 watt bulb.  Lighting our own way, giving light to those around us, and sharing a small piece of God’s love, His grace and His joy with those who cross our path.

For many years, until his death, Wilfredo Angulo, was my church’s and my family’s “official” painter. When you booked him for a paint job, he’d bring the color wheel and lay it before you with a great flourish, and as you pondered the hundreds of choices, he’d say: “Take Your Decision.”

So what’s it gonna be today?  Will you be a nightlight or floodlight?   Will you choose the way of the nightlight?  Just enough light for you and you alone to see the way?  Just getting yourself through the day, oblivious to those around you.  Or will you be a floodlight?  Shining brightly and vibrantly so that everyone around you is encouraged and lifted just by your presence.  Being and bringing joy and peace and laughter to everyone you meet.

Take Your Decision.

The Latest

Feb 1st 2014

Beyonce, Sex, and the Grammys

beyonce 2I get it.  Beyoncé likes sex.  She especially likes sex with her husband, who is, apparently, quite adept at fulfilling her needs.  Yay!  Bully for her!

But here’s the real question:  why do I know this?  Why do I need to know that Beyoncé likes sex?  Why do I need to know Beyoncé likes having sex with her husband?  Why do I need to know what kind of sex they like to have?

This is not my business.  Or more accurately, this is none of my business.  This IS the private business of Beyoncé and her husband, and what they do, what they like, and how they like it, is and should be a matter between the two of them.

Somewhere along the way, we became a nation interested in who’s sleeping with whom and the ways in which they are “sleeping” with each other.  Sex has become a spectator sport where the players tell us the plays in advance of, during, and after the game.

What ever happened to subtlety?  What happened to mystery?  What happened to holding some things back?  What happened to leaving something to the imagination?  I, for one, did not need to see Beyoncé’s entire might-as-well-be-naked bottom on national, make that international, television.  And neither did anybody else.  And I do not understand why her husband, on stage with her — fully clothed I might add — is comfortable with her showing off her assets to the world, and as one writer put it, “[shaking] her rear end for other men’s titillation.”  See also:  The 36 Absolute Sexiest Moments from Beyoncé and Jay Z’s Grammy Performance — the writer’s commentary makes my point.

Yes, Beyoncé is a grown woman and can do whatever she wants.  And yes, she’s an entertainer and a businesswoman, and has an obvious interest in sharing her talent, preserving her brand, and making a buck.  But I’m reminded of the admonition of the Apostle Paul:  “All things are lawful, yet not expedient”  which in regular English means just cause you CAN do a thing, doesn’t mean you SHOULD do a thing.  Some things are simply better left undone.

Sex is intended to be  gratifying, fortifying, inspiring, invigorating and fun even.  But let’s not lose sight of the fact that it is also the physical joining of two  people  in a union that is, at once, mysterious, spiritual, and sacred. That makes it special.  And these days, special things are far too rare.

l am so very happy that Beyoncé and her husband enjoy themselves with each other.  But I’d rather read it on their faces than see it on the Grammys.

TAGS: , , , ,

Tina - Jul 29th @ 01:37pm

Can the people of the church say Amen!

Sharon - Feb 7th @ 03:23pm

LOLOLOL!!!! Amen goes right there!!!!

Lauren Skinner Gaines - Feb 6th @ 06:32am

Might I be the first to say Amen!!!!! Thank you for rehearsing and reinforcing the sacredness of sex. Leah, I pray that this preaching platform will be far-reaching and continuously glorify God. @lskinnergaines.

Fran Pearce - Feb 6th @ 12:47am

I'm Fran Pearce, and I approve this message!