|Posted by email@example.com on February 16, 2020 at 7:00 PM||comments (1)|
Guarding Your Heart Spiritually and Physically this American Heart Month
It is February 2020, and all across America, we are celebrating American Heart Month. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and so this month is dedicated to building awareness and encouraging Americans to take action to improve their heart health. So, in a recent meeting, I asked participants what they were planning to do to keep their hearts healthy in 2020. I heard lots of plans to get to the gym, buy and use a Fitbit, eat more fruits and vegetables, start yoga, eat less sodium., reduce stress, laugh more, etc. But, my ears perked up when one attendee said she wanted to work harder to guard her heart. Wow, this came almost out of the left-field, but it resonated with me. So, I later spend time considering how if any I was guarding my heart. Also, since guarding the heart is a biblical recommendation, I wondered how many Americans had experienced heart disease or related conditions, because they had refused to guard their hearts. Have you ever wondered this yourself? I am sure you have! If you are still with me, you might be wondering how one guards one’s heart.
I am glad you asked. In Proverbs 4:23, if read and understood in the context it is written, biblical scholars believe that this instruction is to not just guard our hearts, but to guard the godly instructions within our hearts. Not only that, but we are told that God’s instruction “is your life” and “they are life to those who find them”. A heart full of sin and foolishness does not have life flowing from it. Only when our hearts are full of his truth and love will life flow from our hearts. Therefore, to guard our hearts according to the Bible, we must guard the truths and biblical instructions God has placed within our hearts through the Holy Spirit illuminating the Scriptures. In simple terms, you do this by protecting your heart from sin at all costs.
The CDC (2018) recommended that to improve heart health, Americans should do the following: 1) stop smoking or don’t smoke; 2) manage conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc.; 3) make heart-healthy eating changes. By eating food low in trans-fat, saturated fat, added sugar and sodium. Filling half of one’s plate with vegetables and fruits and choosing lower-sodium options; and 4) stay active! Get moving for at least 150 minutes per week. You can even break up the 30 minutes into 10-minute blocks.
These are great ways to physically guard one’s heart and all evidence-based behaviors
that I work to follow each day. But, guarding one heart’s spiritually in practical terms is done by guarding the godly deposits that are there. Of course, we can see what is in a person’s heart by looking at the fruits of the spirit that is evident in their life. Yes, being patient, kind, long-suffering, and forgiving is more difficult, but this will go a long way in improving overall health and longevity, and shows more than anything else that we are guarding our hearts.
So, this Heart-month, I challenge you to consider how you can guard your heart spiritually and physically, and how you can use micro-resolutions to keep you motivated to continue the healthy behaviors your start this month, for the rest of your life. I would love to hear from you about how you guard your heart. So, send us your tips and tricks for keeping your heart healthy this month and all year long.
To Good Health!
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on January 11, 2020 at 6:30 PM||comments (1)|
Why Forgiveness is Necessary for a High-Quality Life in 2020
Welcome to 2020, a new year, a new decade, and a new you! As usual, everyone has made the typical new year’s resolutions; many are fasting and praying, some have just started retirement, and even more are anxious about going back to work again, especially after a long holiday break. Whatever state you might find yourself in, I hope that you are excited and happy to have made it into the brink of this new decade. In my mind’s eyes, it seems like only yesterday, we were getting ready for the Y2K scare of 2000, and now we have arrived on the shores of 2020. Exhilarating indeed!
But one might wonder whether we are ready for this decade with its technological advances and other promises. What will the new decade bring? How might it end? What changes will it offer to our lives? What is the role of forgiveness in all of this, and why do we even care? I am glad you asked. It is critical always to understand your “why,” so that you have a clear understanding of the root causes of an issue, and how addressing this will get you to your intended goals that you might hope to achieve this decade.
So, why do we care about forgiveness and what influence might this have on how we will spend the next decade. First, let’s start by defining forgiveness! Forgiveness in clinical terms is defined as “an act of deliberately giving up resentment towards an offender while fostering the undeserved qualities of beneficence and compassion towards the offender” (Freedman & Enright, 1996, p.983). But of course, the million-dollar question is why forgive
In a recent Forgiveness Circle, an Ethiopian client stated the answer to this question in a concise, but unforgettable way, that “we forgive so that we can live a high-quality life,” and I could not agree more. Forgiveness is for us and not for those who hurt us. As you might know, unforgiveness has been linked to illnesses, syndromes, depression, and all kinds of sicknesses. So, why then do we choose not to forgive? Why do we keep drinking the poison is (unforgiveness thinking that someone else will be hurt? Again, allow me to share a few reasons or forgiveness “blockers,” as I call them that I have encountered in my practice about why people choose not to forgive.
These forgiveness “blockers” are prevalent and include, pride, selfishness, self-righteousness, pompousness, and merely a belief that your standards are higher than even God’s. So, God can say we must forgive, but we don’t agree and won't. These forgiveness “blockers” continue to help us to justify a stance that robs us of joy, peace, happiness, and contentment, and effaces any desire for any decent standard of life. Choosing unforgiveness is weaker than choosing to forgive, and we know it, but often we want this option anyway since “no one has been hurt as badly as we have.” Of course, this is a lie from the pits of hell and a strategy of the enemy meant to keep us in bondage. So, let me challenge you in 2020 to move to the light and life that forgiveness brings. You can do so by taking a few steps. These steps are as follows:
First, forgive yourself, your parents, family members, friends, enemies, and anyone that has ever hurt you in your past. Nothing is worth losing peace and sleep about.
Second, know your “why.” For any behavior change to work, understanding your “why” is the linchpin for success. So, for instance, my “why” for always choosing to forgive is that I would like to live to see my oldest grandson, Luke Jacob, walk down the aisle. He is now seven years old, so I need to I MUST forgive and keep living a healthy lifestyle even to have the potential to attend this wedding. This is on my Vision Board! Only God knows if it is possible, but I am working hard to realize this “why.” But your “ why” might be different from mine, but find the “why,” and that will help with the how and what. Only then can you get to your goal in 2020.
Third, stop self-criticizing. This self-criticism drags you down and often allows us to think that we don’t deserve to be happy at work, at home, and in other parts of our lives. You are good enough to be forgiven, to forgive, and to be loved. You are valuable to God and the human race. Remind yourself of this always!
Fourth, learn to be content wherever you are in your life. For example, if you are divorced and need to forgive your ex, forgive them, and then learn to thrive as a successful single adult. The world has not ended and your best years are still ahead of you! Take some deep breaths and keep going; God always has the last say. Trust in with your dreams. Only he can take what the enemy planned to harm you and turn it around for good. Believe me; he is still doing that today!
Fifth, as you contemplate the changes that you will need to be happy, peaceful, and whole again, consider setting micro-resolutions. In other words, start with resolutions for a week, then expand to a month, later a quarter, etc. Many times we are trying to do too much, too quickly, and miss the need to make slow but steady progress towards our goals. So, try micro-resolutions in 2020. Who knows, this might be the only way to get to the goals you seek in 2020.
So, in summary, as you stare into the brink of the next decade, know your “why”, forgive, stop self-criticizing, and learn to be content in whatever state you find yourself in so that you can have the high –quality life that you so desperately deserve. Happy New year to the new you! So, what do you think? Please share with us what might be your new year resolutions, and how if any practicing forgiveness will help or hinder your progress, and any thoughts about this blog.
|Posted by email@example.com on December 17, 2019 at 8:30 PM||comments (0)|
Bullying and Racism
Bullying, whether on-ground or online, has continued to be very pervasive across America. In 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that one in five students report being bullied at school. In addition, 33% of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they were bullied at least once or twice each month. Of those students who reported being bullied, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted; 12% were the subject of rumors; 5% were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and 5% were excluded from activities on purpose. A slightly higher portion of female than of male students report being bullied at school (23% vs. 19%). In contrast, a higher percentage of male than of female students report being physically bullied (6% vs. 4%) and threatened with harm (5% vs. 3%). The reasons for being bullied, reported most often by students, include physical appearance, race/ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation.
Bullying can have a significant impact on children, and according to the Centers for Disease and Control (2017), students who experience bullying are at increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep difficulties, anxiety, and depression. Students who experience bullying are twice as likely as non-bullied peers to experience negative health effects such as headaches and stomachaches. Additionally, youth who self-blame and conclude they deserved to be bullied are more likely to face negative outcomes, such as depression, prolonged victimization, and maladjustment. So, bullying can have long –term effects on children and must be stopped.
Most of these data that I just provided were collected from children between 12 to 18 years of age, but it begs the question what might be happening to children that are below the age of 12. I am not sure who might be collecting these data, but a recent incident with my grandsons prompted this question for me. On a recent Friday evening trip to visit a cousin in Boca Raton, my grandsons, one seven years of age and the other 4 were outside playing with their 6 year old cousin when these bigger boys, 12 and 14, started picking on them. After bullying them for a while, the bullies then started calling the “N” word. No one know what happened next, but the bullies found themselves being beaten by the kids they were bullying.
Later that evening, as luck would have it, the parents of the bullies came knocking on the door of my relative. These parents came looking for the “big boys” who were in an altercation with their sons. Of course, no “big boys” were to be found anywhere and when the seven year old shared what happened, the parents reported being shocked to hear that their kids were bullies and even more horrified to hear about the words that were used during the bullying incident. Of course, they were apologetic, but my son and his wife are still working to counsel and support my grandsons as they process what actually happened to them on their visit to their cousin. As a part of this they have discussed how to forgive these bullies and to stand up for themselves if something like this ever happens again.
Unfortunately, children who are bullies often grow up to become adult bullies, wreaking havoc on those who are defenseless at work or in relationships. So, the quicker on-ground or cyber bullying is nipped in the bud, the better for the bully and for his/her victim. As a child who was bullied, I internalized the names and had very low self-esteem, so can only imagine what ramifications bullying might have on my grandsons and other very young children that are bullied. As we learn to forgive those who have bullied us, we must also work to end bullying in all its forms and remind bullies that they need to reach out for help since their bullying is coming from a place of hurt and need.
What are you seeing in your community as it relates to bullying? Please let me know by sharing your story.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the FFH Team
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on November 30, 2019 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
Lung Cancer Month: One Family’s Story
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2019), lung cancer is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. CDC reported that cigarette smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer in the nation, and is linked to about 90% of lung cancer cases. In fact, people who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke. Even smoking a few cigarettes a day or smoking occasionally increases the risk of lung cancer (CDC, 2019). Additionally, the more years a person smokes and the more cigarettes smoked each day, the more risk for lung cancer goes up. But, quitting smoking at any age can lower the risk of lung cancer. Interestingly, the (CDC, 2019) also reported that cigarette smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body. In fact, cigarette smoking causes cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, voice-box (larynx), trachea, bronchus, kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, and cervix, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.
November is observed in the U.S. as lung cancer awareness month and with these startling statistics, one wonders how to reduce one’s risk for this condition. So, preventing this condition should be top of mind for most of us. Unfortunately, this November, lung cancer became a reality for our family when my oldest brother was diagnosed with the disease. For me with decades of experience in public health, this was no longer a public health statistics, but lung cancer now had a face. On a recent visit, as I watched my brother cough and struggle to breathe, sadness and a feeling of helplessness washed over me. He had refused surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatment options and had one wish, he wanted to go home to Jamaica. I felted even more helpless and confused as he explained that he was 68 years of age and at peace. Unwillingly, I had to resign myself to honoring his wishes and to support him and his plans for managing his condition.
But, what you might ask got us to this diagnosis? You guess it, smoking! As the statistics showed, my brother became addicted to cigarettes and smoked for an extensive period. Like most smokers, he tried to quit several times, but never successfully escaped the addiction to tobacco. So, what now for our family you might ask? We will work hard to honor my brother's wishes to return to Jamaica where he feels that he will be more active and comfortable. We will continue to pray and fast for a miracle. Most importantly, we pray that he will rededicate his life to Christ, so that true peace can be his for all eternity.
So, what is the message for those in my family or yours this November as we work to build awareness about lung cancer? What messages do we provide for those who smoke, have tried to smoke, or are considering smoking? I am glad you asked. First, CDC suggests that you don’t start to smoke if you are not currently smoking. Next, if you smoke, call the Quitline to get help quitting. Third, avoid second-hand smoke at all cost. Fourth, lower exposure to workplace risk factors, and finally, lower your exposure to radon. While this might seems like quite a list, these are all attainable goals which if achieved can lower one’s risk for lung cancer, and provide a better outcome to your family than what we are currently dealing with in mine.
As we look to build awareness about lung cancer and to reduce the number of smokers in the United States, please share your family stories with us about this or other forms of cancer, and keep my brother and our entire family in your thoughts and prayers.
Until next time!
|Posted by email@example.com on October 28, 2019 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
Violence in America: A Call to Action
Interpersonal violence, which includes child abuse and neglect, youth violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and elder abuse, affects millions of US residents each year. In recent days, however, the rate of violence seems to have escalated exponentially. In the Metro Atlanta area, it seems that daily shootings are becoming the norm more than the exception, and I am honestly now scared of watching the television.
Yet, reality and the happenings in our own backyards seem to become scarier by the hour. On a recent trip, I could not help but overhear a mother as she tried to keep calm as the doctor talked with her about her son’s condition in a Jacksonville hospital. He had been shot over 13 times between August and October and was at the brink of death. As she kept repeating “the doctors say that it does not look good”, to the myriad of callers, my heart broke for her and silent tears flowed down my face as I imagine this being my son. What does anyone do to deserve to be shot 13 times? Nothing! It seems that anarchy has gripped America. We discuss our differences with guns, we disagree with bullets, and we are seething with hate for self and others.
As I returned to Atlanta and shared this story, my colleague recalled another incident that hit below the belt. Why? This story involved a young man, just graduated and headed to college at my daughter's former High School (she graduated in 2017) that was shot to death three weeks ago after he walked out of a convenience store. To add insult to injury, the shooter returned to the scene to finish off the recent graduate. There is another story of a 14-year old that hid behind the house of a senior citizen in downtown Atlanta and attacked the individual as she pulled into her driveway to rob her at gunpoint of her cellphone. The quick-thinking senior citizen threw the cellphone towards them, and darted for the safety of her home. Fortunately, these 14 years old were quickly arrested, but imagine the kind of life they have started to build for themselves.
But one wonders, what does the home life of these children look like? Hopelessness? What factors have contributed to this syndrome? And what vision do they have for their future? What might be the role of post-traumatic slavery syndrome and other stressors in all of this? What can we do to save this generation? These are all big questions and it will take more than a blog to answer these, but given the propensity for violence in the United States and the average citizen packing on every street corner, the time is ripe for these conversations. Where to begin, so that other lives are not needlessly cut short? What is the role of forgiveness in all of this? How can we take back our streets, neighborhoods, and nation? Who is going to lead? What is the role of prayers and Christ-followers in all of this? I am afraid that I have more questions than answers, but I am overwhelmed. So, please free to join me in praying for our leaders and nation, and let us discuss our options as we try to stem this tide of violence in our land.
We need God to heal our land!
Yours in Christ!
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on September 27, 2019 at 10:00 PM||comments (5)|
What I Learned at the 2nd Annual Forgiveness and Wellness Conference
The 2019 International Day of Peace and the 2nd Annual Forgiveness and Wellness Conference have taken their places in the history books and participants are slowly returning to their lives. But alas, the outcome of the conference is just beginning to manifest itself. So, what did anyone learn at the conference and what outcomes can one expect? I am glad you asked.
The 2nd annual conference was envisioned as an opportunity to bring forgiveness allies, the man in the street, and other stakeholders together to talk about the issues of trauma and forgiveness. With the theme, “moving to the light of forgiveness after life’s trauma”, participants were in for a day chock full of sessions that addressed a variety of traumatic life experiences, adverse childhood events, racism, discrimination, etc. The conference used a variety of learning opportunities, including, lectures, roundtables, discussion groups, etc. Speakers from public health as well as from faith-based organizations came together to pour into attendees that day. As might be expected, the conference started with prayers, the peace bell, and a moment of silence in honor of a registrant who was buried the day before the event, and countless men and women across the world that have lost their lives and or still live in dispeace.
The training sessions started with presentations that focused on why someone should come to the light of forgiveness, the power of forgiveness from God’s perspective, the impact of adverse childhood experiences and ones’ health, and ended with a session that looked at the connection between forgiveness and mental health, a forgiveness cleansing ceremony, and Holy Communion. Throughout the day, many could be heard crying, seen wiping tears, praying for and encouraging one another or just excited that they took the time to invest in their spiritual growth. In fact, our attendee that had traveled the farthest to attend the conference came all the way from New York. This was a journey of faith, but this sister had a need and realized that she could get help if she traveled to Atlanta, and so she did
Because of the excellent program and faculty, many attendees are already reporting significant outcomes from the conference. For instance, one church member reported that church service the following day was on a higher plane, and she could sense that prayers and praise, and worship were more free-flowing and to “an audience of one”, and not forced. Others are reporting breakthroughs in their personal lives and in their relationship with man and God, as they feel like they left their burdens at the conference. One individual called to report how at peace she felt, but that nothing else in her life had changed (bills were still behind and the kids were still misbehaving). However, she was experiencing an almost supernatural calm and peace that makes no sense in the natural. God had invaded many lives and the results of the conference will not be known for years to come. But we know that they will be there. Our prayers are that this “seed” will fall on fertile soil and bring in a harvest.
But what were some of the key take-aways from this conference? Again, I am glad you asked. Here are some gems that I picked up throughout the day.
• Forgiveness is a choice that you do for yourself not for the other person.
• Seeking God’s help as you forgive is critical for success.
• Physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual health are all connected to forgiveness.
• Unforgiveness is not a word.
• More than 50% of Americans have experienced one or more adverse childhood events.
• Forgiveness in marriage, divorce, after abuse, etc. is critical for personal growth and reconciliation, if that is one’s goal.
• Forgiveness is not avoidance and does not mean that one has to have a relationship with the transgressor.
• Mismanagement of money, mindless eating, self-abuse, etc. can all be symptoms of unforgiveness.
• Completing a forgiveness assessment can help one to find a place to start the journey to true healing and forgiveness.
• The church should be a center of hope, forgiveness and restoration in our community.
We can all agree that this conference was one of a kind and life-changing. But, what were your key takeaways? What differences have you already noticed in your life? We would love to hear from you, if you have a story to share. Also, if you have videos or pictures from the conference, please send those our way to our Facebook page or via email to email@example.com or send a message on our website at forgive4health.org
I am so glad that you attended the conference if you did, if not, mark your calendar for September 18, 2020 for our 3rd annual conference. Hope to see you there.
In His service!
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on August 31, 2019 at 6:45 PM||comments (0)|
Summers are made for Memories, Change and Growth
As a follow up to last month’s blog, this month, I wanted to continue my discussion about summer memories, growth, and change. Since writing the last blog, I have spent time in two countries and three states. Life has been busy! So, what have you been up to since we last talked? Have you had the opportunity to encountered old friends, meet new ones, visit new places, and most importantly, have you tried anything new? Have these experiences changed you in some way and helped you to grow in a certain area? If yes, I would love to hear more about your experiences.
On this end, I traveled once again to Jamaica to attend a wedding. Oh what fun! As I watched my nephew’s eyes light up as his bride entered the church (hours late), I was so happy for him and his son. He had waited patiently on God and had “found a wife, a good thing, and God’s favor”, as the bible had promised. Lucky boy! He had grown tremendously in his waiting and was better positioned to be a more godly spouse than ever before. As the wedding reception ended with the infamous “shoe game”, it occurred to me that the moral of the game was to assess how much the couple knew each other, but in essence, as each question was revealed along with their responses, both the bride and groom were also learning something new about each other. But, people and things change and so in a few months not only will these answers change, but the couple will have changed themselves. But, no need to worry, change we will all agree is constant! In fact, one can wisely say that where there is no change, there is no growth.
So, how have you grown this year or this summer: Have you learned to set boundaries in your relationships? Found a better way to manage your budget? Finally, getting to work on time? Managing your anger in a more mature way? Learning to be more patient with your children and spouse? If you can relate to any of these or other outcomes, you are changing and most importantly growing as a person.
In my family, one big area of growth is in my relationship with my children. Now that they are all grown and out of the house, it has been hard as a mom not to know where they are, what they are doing, how they are doing, and how if any I can help. Truthfully, it has been a painful process to let go and move into the position of a “coach or mentor”, not the mommy who did everything for them. This has led to many restless nights, worrisome days, and anxious moments; yet, I am constantly reminded that I provided them with the best foundation to be upstanding, law-abiding citizens and I can rest in that. Spiritually, I have taught them to pray, watched each of them dedicate their lives to Christ, and lived a Christ-honoring life in front of them. So, I feel that I can now rest in the confidence that I have done my best since I have also thought them to ask God for wisdom in all of their dealings.
But back to my change! For me, the big change was that it was no longer mommy’s job to fix their mishaps; they had to learn to turn to God to meet their needs. As a good parent, I will always continue to pray for and support my children, but my biggest change this summer and year was realizing that it was now up to them and God to decide what they do, how they do, and when. Now, my role has being to cheer them along from the sidelines! That was a big pill for this mom to swallow, but I am learning to let things go, so that each child can find his or her wings. This change has been painful, gradual, but finally so freeing.
So, I would love to hear your change-story. What changed for you this summer or year? What new memories did you make? How does this make you feel? I am listening, so please feel free to share your change story.
Here’s to change and new things for the rest of 2019!
|Posted by email@example.com on July 20, 2019 at 9:50 PM||comments (1)|
Summers are made for Memories: What do you Remember Fondly about the summers of your life?
In a recent staff meeting, I was asked to participate in an ice-breaker by sharing a favorite summer memory. At that time, I shared excitedly about summers growing up in Jamaica when the days seemed long and endless, and we would play until the “peeny wallies” (fireflies) came out. In other words, until it was pitch dark! Then, no parent or guardian worried about their children’s safety as the eyes of the entire community monitored and disciplined every child. I also shared how contrary to the culture in the U.S, we would have hot red bean or other soup, and corn, rice, or banana porridge for lunch. Sharing about these memories not only had me salivating, but brought up other fond summer memories.
For instance, one that is still quite vivid was being too excited to sleep when we heard that there might be a hurricane on the horizon, or running out to pick up mangoes, guavas, oranges, or June plums from the ground after a windstorm. We all prayed for hurricanes because at that time, most of us had never experienced one. Little did we know what we were wishing for! It was a crazy wish. A big realization, as I smiled at this memory, was that even during the hurricanes, I was never scared, worried, or apprehensive about whether we would survive. I just knew we would! After all, even the Bible, in Isaiah 49 mentions the people of the islands. So, I believed then and believe now that people will always be on these islands. Fast forward to 40 years later, and my mind takes me back to the many nights of worry and fear about approaching hurricanes as I lived in the Cayman Islands. As I realized the contrast in my emotions as a child vs an adult, I wondered what caused the change in my emotions. Was I an even more fearless teenager than I first imagined? Or was I too young and naïve to understand the gravity of the situation that a hurricane could cause? I am not sure, but one word kept bubbling up, the word trust.
Trust you might say, why? I am glad you asked. I trusted the adults in my life, I trusted God, and I even trusted in myself that I had the survival skills to weather any storm. Ladies and gentlemen, my trust barometer was lower in adulthood than it was as a teen looking out at even more dangerous storms. Then we would pray, batten down the house, and trust God to deliver us. In adulthood, I had let the weather reports, the pictures on the TV, and my belief in my self-sufficiency, erode my trust in God to deliver me in any hurricane or other situation. I was so convicted that I stopped immediately to pray and to repent for doubting God’s power to deliver and to protect. He had done it before, He can and will do it again.
Summers are made for memories and up to last night I made a new one by sleeping in the Miami airport, where I met many friends who, like me, got stranded there after our flight from Atlanta was delayed for three hours because of bad weather. Despite this bit of inconvenience, my skills to survive and to keep safe made this a “new adventure” and something never to be feared again. In fact, it was instead a time of laughter and friendship as one of my new found friends jokingly asked the American Airlines representative for “a blow- up bed, pajamas, and socks” since her feet were getting cold. He laughed back and said “you are at the wrong airport”, while he gave us newly packaged pillows and blankets. In the end, it was a fun filled night!
So, I am working to trust God more as I believe that nothing just happens to Christ followers since He is behind the scenes orchestrating all the events of our lives. Yes, I trust Him that if He takes me to it, He can take me through it, just like He did in Miami last night.
So, what are your fondest summer memories, and what do they reveal about how your life has changed in the years between? Please feel free to share that with me.
I look forward to hearing your stories.
Keep cool and enjoy your summer!
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 13, 2019 at 4:35 PM||comments (2)|
A Reunion with the Past: Reflections, Revelations, and Results
In May 2019, I had the privilege of participating in my 40th high-school reunion. The reunion theme “Reunited and It Feels So Good” was spot on and fitting for the event. Like all other graduates participating in this event, I flew to Jamaica for this three day jam-packed reunion. The trip started with the usual jitters about the event - excitement about seeing old friends, some apprehension about reconnecting with former bullies, and other “not so nice” classmates. At the beginning of the planning for the reunion, a high school friend and her husband who live in Grand Cayman proposed that we coordinate our trip, and room together. Unfortunately, halfway through the planning, my friend and her husband canceled their plans to participate in the reunion because she had an international exam, and I was left to attend on my own. My jitters returned in full force.
A few weeks before the event, someone in our reunion group suggested that we share current pictures, and the men in the group started sending copies of their then-and-now photos. My panic grew, and after much deliberation I decided against sending my picture. “Let them see me just as I am,” I thought! Finally, the day came for the reunion, and I headed to my high school with more than a few butterflies in my tummy. My nephew drove me to the event, and while I got there a little later than I wanted to, I arrived in time to listen to introductory remarks from the current Principal. Next came the hugs from those who immediately recognized me, and the guesses from those who had no idea who I was and vice versa. The first day of the reunion was Labor Day in Jamaica and so, true to form, we picked up paint brushes and painted our school. As I painted and moved from one area to the next, I stopped to pray over the students that would sit at the tables. My mind took me back to over 40 years ago and my life on these very grounds. God had outdone Himself and exceeded even my expectations! Here I was, almost 41 years to the day I left this school, still in my right mind, an upstanding citizen, and contributing to the social capital of my society. What happened? Were the words “you will never become anybody” or other negative things said about me not true? It felt true then and it did now. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more the memory of the hurt of those words echoed across my mind. God is a redeemer. He was, and still is faithful, and despite what man’s verdict was, He had a bigger plan for me. The next two days of the reunion slipped by too quickly, and I watched as old patterns emerged, and the “halo effect” of some continued as it did during our time in high school. As we talked as a group, walked the grounds of our high school, and even sat in our former classroom, memories good and bad kept bellowing up. Finally, as we stood to honor those from our class that have died, it finally dawned on me, I was a survivor!
Did the abuse at home, school, and in life happen to make me who I had become. Did the mistreatment I faced in my life help to build empathy, compassion, and other character traits that were necessary for my current work in Christian ministry? I am not certain about anything, except that God had used what was meant for my harm for good. He had shocked even me with what he did for me over the past 40 years. The devil and the bullies had not won! As I reflected on this journey, I wanted to share some reflections, revelation, and results that came to mind as I debrief internally from my reunion.
My reflections are as follows:
• Words hurt, and although the nursery rhyme may say something else, one must be careful what we say about others. Even more urgent, one must be careful about what we write about others.
• No man has the last word! Whether you are principal, my mother, aunt, head girl, monitor, teacher or janitor, your words or treatment of a student does not define who they are or what they will become. I am living proof of the contrary.
• Parental abandonment, family abuse, or other adverse childhood experiences have a profound impact on a child and can handicap one’s future. I was crippled for more than 30 years.
• Forgiving the bully, the abusers, and anyone that hurt you in your life journey, is the linchpin for allowing God’ grace to flow in your life. The bible is true and we must pray for those who hurt and despitefully use us. Only then can we see the fruit in our lives.
• Treat each child with respect; be fair, give them all you have, since one never knows who they will become. Who knows you might be looking at a future President.
None of this was easy, and it takes a personal relationship with Christ who is bigger than all of our problems, to give us the victory.
In addition to these reflections, I had a critical revelation and could see the results or outcomes that God had achieved in my life. A key revelation is as follows: God continues to be in control. We don’t get to write the script. Of course, if it were up to man, my life would not be what it is today. But for God and His grace, I would be dead. All honor and praise belong to Him!
But HE would not be God without fruit. His work is always evident and so there were several results of His involvement in our lives. Results, what results you ask? I am glad you asked. I saw and continue to notice the results of His work in my life. For example, despite the teasing, abuse, lack of self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness, God had shaped me into a wonderful human being whom He loves. Even when I did not love myself, God loved me and had great plans for me. I had no idea as I stumbled through life where He was taking me. I just knew for sure that apart from HIM, I did not have many people on my side. Of course, I have had the privilege of having children and grandchildren and can now pass on the legacy of forgiveness, compassion, prayerfulness, tenacity, and perseverance to them.
So, as I pulled back the curtains to peep into the past 40 years, I felt like someone who had died and had the chance to return, to walk back through one’s past. Of course, I was overwhelmed with gratitude; I was also hopeful and expectant. In fact, I was buzzing with excitement and anticipation to see what God would do over the next several decades. Only time will tell, and only HE knows. I am thankful that He has the final say. Aren’t you? I am a Survivor!
Have you had a reunion or similar experience? Any reflections or comments to share based on my experiences? If yes, I would love to hear from you.
|Posted by email@example.com on May 16, 2019 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Please refer to Part 1 of Pastor Emanuel Williams' Blog on The Power of Forgiveness and be blesssed by Part 2 as Jesus teaches about forgiveness.
The Power of Forgiveness
Pastor Emanuel Williams
2. The Practice of Forgiveness Taught by Jesus
A. Jesus Demonstrated His Divinity by Forgiving Sin.
(1) The teachers of the law brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus and said, “The Law of Moses commanded us to stone such a woman.
Now what do you say?” Jesus stooped down and started to write on the ground. When they kept questioning Him, he said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” When all the accusers had left, Jesus asked the woman, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared, “go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8: 3-11
• Jesus demonstrated that He had authority to forgive sin,
• Jesus, the incarnate Son of God put flesh on the concept of forgiveness and reinforced the belief that God will forgive those who repent and seek His forgiveness.
B. Jesus’ Instruction on Forgiveness.
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…………….
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly
Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive men their sins,
your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15)
(1) The petition to forgive us our debts is not a prayer for justification, since believers are declared justified from the moment of initial saving faith. (Romans 3:24 and 5:1)
(2) The reason for seeking divine forgiveness is to restore and keep open the lines of personal fellowship with God when fellowship has been hindered by sin. (1 John 1:8) Chuck Swindoll says that God promises to keep us from stumbling, but when we stumble, he promises to forgive us. (1 John 1:9) When God forgives, He also forgets.
(3) Just as it is important for Christians to receive divine forgiveness, Christians must also forgive the sins of those who offend us. Jesus gives further explanation to this teaching in V.14-15:
• If we pray for forgiveness and do not forgive others God will not hear our prayer. Human forgiveness and divine forgiveness are interconnected, and the tongue is an instrument of forgiveness.
• The Law said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,” but Jesus said, “Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.”
(4) Jesus’ Example of Forgiving Others During His Crucifixion
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
• Jesus demonstrates that God desires His people forgive others even when they do not seek forgiveness.
• Jesus’s forgiveness of those who crucified Him is an example of unconditional love that gives love even though it receives nothing in return.
(5) Jesus introduced a new concept of forgiveness that calls for his followers to seek forgiveness for their sins and to pray for those who “sin” against them
3. The Application of Forgiveness Principles
(1) Forgiveness is to be without limits (Luke17:3-4)
(2) Being forgiven is dependent forgiving others. (Matthew 6:14-15)
B. Christians should continually seek forgiveness for their sins to maintain and/or restore fellowship with God.
(1) There is forgiveness, cleansing, and fellowship with God through faith. (Psalm 51:1-17)
(2) When we confess our sins, God answers and forgives. (1 John 1:9)
C. Christians should offer prayers for forgiveness on behalf of others: Unsaved family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and members of the churches they attend.
If we are to practice Christian forgiveness, three things are necessary:
• We need to understand
• We must learn to forget
• We must learn to love