Psalm Challenge Pt 1

My mother and I have long soul-searching talks. She said what if we knew each Psalm’s first verse. Those verses are the attention grabbers in the Psalms. The Psalms are a collection of songs in the Bible. Most of them were written by King David. Famous Psalms include Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd and Psalm 121: I will lift up my eyes unto the hills. So this challenge will be done in four parts. Since there are 150 Psalms the first three parts will be done in 40 psalms at a time and the final part will be 30. I hope that this challenge inspires you and that you can think up a challenge of your own that will enrich this life we have here on earth. Live it to the fullest and in abundance.

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Who is God to you?

My quest for a deeper understanding of a Higher Power is taking me on adventures I never thought possible. I continued my sojourn of visiting different churches featured on the Anglican Barbados Diocesan Calendar. This month I went to the St Leonard’s Anglican Church. Also I continued to wrestle with the identity of God when a good friend of mine encouraged me to read a book called The Shack by Paul Young. This book was so riveting, for at times I was unwilling to read the next page as my preconceptions of religion and faith were challenged. Finally on this journey, I realised that when God is all you have, you have all you need.

Shackover

First off, my visit to the St. Leonard’s Anglican Church. This building has an interesting history. Here was once a church ravaged by a fire, and the people rebuilt it. The traditional Anglican churches in Barbados look like a cross from a bird’s eye view. This church was made to look like a circle, symbolizing a continuum, no end no beginning just perpetual being. My connection to this church is through my father. In the beginning of his priestly ministry, St. Leonard’s was one of the churches at which he served. It was like a home coming as I remembered the church as a little girl playing with the other priest’s daughters while our fathers had meetings in the church hall and as a teenager when our Youth Group visited churches at festival Youth nights. This time around, the connection perpetuated as one of my father’s protégés, recently became the priest in charge of the St. Leonard’s Church. She moved back to Barbados after serving at the Holy Trinity Church in St. Lucia. Coincidentally the service we went to visit was celebrating Trinity Sunday, where the focus was upon God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

 

When Rev. Dr. Sonia Hinds delivered her sermon, the central theme was: Who is God to you? Our way of perceiving who God is, reflects our perceptions which are influenced by our thoughts and value systems. Everyone perceives God in their unique manner. For instance some perceive God as male, father and provider. Whereas for others, based on their life experiences may have difficulty experiencing that if their situation with father, male and provider was not a positive one. This is true for the protagonist of The Shack, Mackenzie Allen Philips whose father was overtly religious and abusive. Yet through his journey of life “Mack” as he is affectionately called in the book, perceives the Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a very unique way which challenges the readers of this publication about their own perception of God, religion and faith.

The Shack examined  relationships as humans experience them and hold them up to the relationship experienced among the Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We should strive to model our daily relationships with our children, our parents, our spouses and our friends in this manner. In order to honour our relationships, we need to limit ourselves. By doing so, there is the element of freedom which can only be achieved through trust and obedience to one another, especially to God who exists in each and every one of our relationships. When we trust God enough and believe in the surety of His goodness, then we will be protected because we are loved by God. Submission is the key characteristic of real relationships, even when the choices made by either party are not healthy or assisting their personal development. Submission becomes second nature as God becomes central in your relationships. Women and men need to turn to God and do away with the ideals of control. Women are wired to believe that a man can give them identity and demand that he meets all of their needs and that is far from the truth. Men are wired to believe that the works of their hands give them power over all. Yet these ideals obscure the real core of relationships. We are worthy of God’s love at all costs.

Let the power of forgiveness work its healing within relationships. Ask for forgiveness and risk it all on the path of honesty. Whenever you mess up in relationships, and believe me it is bound to happen, ask for forgiveness again. God has a way of making even those mistakes turn  out to be good and phenomenal for the final outcome. God is always there even though your heart breaks and the pieces of your life seem painful to pick up and reassemble. Remember that true love does not fear and it never forces. So enjoy the beauty around you: the beauty of creation, culture, nature, art, love, music and laughter.

I know how I see God. As a constant companion for me in this journey of life, He is all I have and He is all I need and that’s all that matters. So the question remains: Who is God to you?

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True Love

I am grateful to wake up this morning.

Have you ever had a moment in life when you needed to tell the truth at the expense of losing someone’s trust? Should you keep it quiet in your perception to protect that person? Or is it really an effort to protect yourself? But what would happen if they found out from another person about what you did? What if they already knew what you did and were testing your integrity? They might take even longer to forgive you and the pillars of honesty and trust which formed the foundation of your friendship crumble from the undermining result of this moral dilemma.

The revelation of this secret will show how much you care and love the person involved. The action was not exactly the most trustworthy or loyal. In a point of weakness in an area of the friendship, a feeling of loneliness, a misunderstanding based on a lack of communication reveal chinks in the armour of protection. Maybe that armour was not as strong. Maybe you took off that armour while committing that act which you are considering to keep a secret from your dear friend.

Yet if that person is a better friend than you they may eventually forgive you. They may remember that you are infallible. They may hold you in their arms and sync their heartbeat with yours to remind you that no matter what you will never feel lonely again. Or the opposite reaction is that this person may walk away. That trust which you took so long to build will be shattered to pieces that may be too painful to pick up and put together again. Yet when that person lets go and when you let go of that person there is a sense of loss coupled with a sense of calm and life continues. You eventually forgive and live at peace as the positive things in life shift your perspective and you live a life of forgiveness, hope, compassion and gratitude.

My knowledge is incomparable to God’s omniscience.

I trust God to guide my steps in life. Although too often, I run ahead of God because I thought I knew what was best for me. I confess at times I have turned my back on God but I am confident that He has never and will never turn His back on me. And through the silences of life I know He is working all things out for good because He loves me and I love Him. His overarching love surpasses my comprehension. God is teaching me to reject the desires of the flesh and walk in the spirit. Letting God is a constant decision. One I must make every moment of my life.

Be grateful and know your worth. Stir up the gift of God which is in you. Some people come into your life to teach you how to let go of things over which you have no control. Sometimes you have to forget what you want, to remember what you deserve. Don’t overthink just let it go. The spirit is life because of righteousness so choose life. Be strong enough to let go and wise enough to be patient and wait for what you deserve. One of the most courageous decisions you can make in your life is to finally let go of what is hurting your heart and soul.

The secret to having it all is knowing that you already do. God is faithful and he will continue to provide, protect and guide you. He gave us the gift of life and it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living life well. Live one day at a time without anxiety and stress and with optimism and commitment to have greater blessings. God who is the creator of all things holy will put you together – spirit, soul and body. Look back in forgiveness, forward in hope, down in compassion and up in gratitude. Point out the positive and keep the peace. Continue to praise God and forgive others as God has forgiven you. Encourage each other for God is with you, delighting over you, quieting you with His love and rejoicing over you with singing.

 

God Plans For You

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Prayer is a conversation with God. You talk He listens. He talks you listen. The constant in prayer is stillness and the ability to yield to God’s will. Sometimes it feels as if your prayers are not answered so you adopt the attitude of patience and the knowledge that no matter what the answer God is always there. God is in control! He wants what is best for His children for He loves us unconditionally. He works with us to fix whatever needs mending in our lives. When we take things into our hands, when we take the reigns of control from God in troubling circumstances, we end up getting hurt. The key is to constantly and consistently surrender everything to God. Then the peace of God fills your presence as you identify yourself as who God says you are.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

I remember my grandmother doing housework and singing hymns. I remember as a little girl, my mother doing the same thing. Today my children hear me singing hymns as I do the housework. When I sing, I connect with the powerful spirits of the past and create a memory for my descendants. When I sing I search within my soul as I ask myself soul cleansing questions. Simultaneously as I cleanse my house, I cleanse my soul. As my ancestors cleansed their houses, they cleansed their souls. Your actions are a reflection of your thoughts. When a particular song stirs my soul, it makes me cry. Those tears act as a cleanser for my soul as I remember when I would have wronged someone or when someone wronged me. It cleanses the stain of my sins and hurts. This emotional release empties that blocked area in my spirit. When that area is free, it allows God to take control and fill my heart with His presence.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Let go and let God. This is so difficult to do especially when you are hurting and in pain. In order to be helped you must let go of those hindrances in life, even those things which you think may be good for you. Embrace the facts and stop creating stories from overthinking a situation. When thoughts preoccupy your life, just stop, breathe, let go and let God. Live in the present moment and stop worrying about what happened and what will happen. Focus on what is. For God is. He is on your side, supporting, guiding and comforting you through every situation and every stumbling block which is thrown in your path called life.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

All things are new. Prayers are answered according to God’s will. Whatever that has been asked for has been granted according to the will of God. The fruits of the Spirit have been nurtured into abundance as God continues to bless me and those whom I love. Therefore we will continue to serve him as He leads us along the paths of peace and righteousness. He protects us from the traps and schemes of the enemy by giving us the weapons of prayer and the Word which is found in the Bible. He has given us quiet confidence which is the source of our strength.

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Miracle Workers

I am the daughter of a miracle.

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There are three types of miracles: of nature, healing and resurrection. All three miracles occurred when my mother was born. My mother was the fifth child of my grandmother. Her birth was a perilous home delivery. The doctor informed my grandmother that this child would only survive for a few days. My determined grandmother would not have it. She went to nature and clipped some herbs from her garden, mixed it into a tea like her mother taught her and fed it to her ailing child. Gradually the child returned to the fullness of life. The doctor’s prediction did not come true. My mother survived her birth.

My mother grew into a beautiful and intelligent young woman and married my father. Theirs was a happy marriage but it lacked one thing: a child. My father and mother waited 11 years before they heard that my presence was within her. They were ecstatic. The critics were silent as those predictions of a childless marriage did not come true. I was born and my parents gave me the most beautiful name which means a gift from God. Not only was I a daughter of a miracle, she gave birth to a miracle as well.

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Mothers are miracles. Mothers work miracles. Mothers envision the miracles on the horizon. My grandmother could have given up but she used the powers of nature to remedy the situation and revive her child. My mother could have given up but she used the power of faith and prayer to give birth to a beautiful and intelligent gift from God. As a mom, I am only too aware of the power of miracles as I see them in the children I interact with everyday. God has equipped every mother figure in life with the power to tap into the inward and outward miracles. Once we invite God into the situation, that is the perfect opportunity for a miracle to occur. For the mothers who have been, who will be and who are, we remember, aspire and respect the role of mother as a miracle worker not just today but everyday.

Step Up: Failing Successfully

take a step up

 

failing-successfully

Every year in our country Barbados there is an examination which holds the destiny of all children in its clutches. Some say it separates the “sheep” from the “goats” and the “haves” from the “have nots”. There we go again: labelling our children. This third in the four part series of labelling has been set aside to coincide with the recently concluded Common Entrance Examination. As soon as we see these children who are about 11 years old, we size them up according to their academic abilities or disabilities.

“That child is sleeping in the exam…you know what school they are going to…

That little one has wonderful handwriting and excellent use of grammar. They will go to a good school.

That one over there wouldn’t stop playing with the (insert stationery example here).

This child speaks well and has good behaviour.”

We are all guilty of it. All children are born with potential. God has given us these blank canvases upon which we can imprint morals and values that will condition and shape their lives. Many books have been written on the differences of children, from the gender, their learning styles and of course how to train them to behave. This article is not interested in the many findings but only interested in generating the awareness of how we label our children and the influence that has on their lives.

How we tap into the potential of a child will be determined by the strengths which God has fashioned into each and everyone of them. Of course we cannot reach that potential without the guidance of the Almighty who will determine the course of action which we as adults must take. For He has entrusted His children into our care. We must nurture their strengths in the varied intelligences of words, numeracy, athletic and nature just to name a few. These intelligences are as diversified as the children who possess them.

intelligences

Children misbehave for it was taught to be acceptable. Wherever they learnt it is not as important as how we must deal with it. Blame on parents, teachers or institutions has no place in this forum. Yet what must be addressed is the lack of consistency and security in these children’s lives and how what measures we must take to combat it. Society labels a child who is bad behaved as being unsettled and disruptive. Yet the question remains: why? We need to tap into that potential again. That God given potential is the key to progress and eventual success. These labels should not define these children. These labels should not be the stumbling blocks that frustrate the education process.

 

 

As adults we have the power to encourage our children to push past these diminutive labels. We should encourage them to use these labels as stepping stones to fulfil an even better prophecy than the one we envision and achieve the divine plans in store for them which were better than one can ever imagine. So that child sleeping in the examination can wake up and know that no matter how they perform, God will always be by their side. That little one who would not stop playing with the stationery will in turn use their imagination to innovate their dreams and invent something that will benefit us all. There are five morals of the story of the Donkey and the Well.

  1. Free your heart from hatred
  2. Free your mind from worries
  3. Live simply
  4. Give more
  5. Expect less

All of us aspire to greatness that is within. We have to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices to be aptly rewarded in the end. That is the purpose of life. That is our self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s how we shake it off and step up.

The Struggle of Literacy

Imagine a world where you don’t have to read. Stop imagining. Look around you. We are living in it. Countless people are illiterate. Countless people don’t know how to read.

literacy-sign

“Reading will become obsolete in the next 25 years.” That time period represents another generation. Is this possible? When faced with this statement, the response transforms itself into a two-sided debate, each side passionate with their supporting views. One argument vehemently proclaims it would never happen. These are the ardent literacy supporters. The other side looks at the current situation with a different perspective as they entertain the possibility and considers the eventuality of reading becoming obsolete.

In view of the rapid technological advancement, the world has experienced in the last 25 years, traditional reading requirements and styles have relaxed. Slang words like “swag” and “selfie” have become members of the world acclaimed dictionaries. Spell check and computer readers in gender specific voices do our editing and even read articles for us. With the advent of e books, the age of paperless reading has become more popular among this generation. One can go as far to say that paperless reading has improved our environment since less books have to be made and more can be downloaded onto our mobile devices and enjoyed at our leisure. Online libraries have replaced traditional libraries as books which were considered the canons of literature accumulate dust with every day their pages remain in an unturned state.

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Literacy involves the tenets of reading, writing and understanding. Each depend on the other. The recent mode of writing or messaging has made letter writing an archaic mode of communication as less people use it and even less understand it. The postal service is referred to as slow mail as person’s preference for email overtakes the traditional mode of sending correspondence. It is faster and faster means more effective. Still on the subject of messaging the omission of vowels from our vernacular is challenging the traditional forms of spelling as “good” is replaced by “gd”, “btw” means “by the way” and “gm” stands for “good morning”. There’s “smh” and “ikr” which respectively mean “shaking my head” and “I know right”. These forms of writing are used every day and make the shift to challenge the traditional spheres of writing, where they are considered to be inappropriate by a literate few. This extends to the use of emoticons which substitute words and more importantly sum up a person’s emotions.

Yet these holders of the tenants of literacy, these literate few, passionately defend their opinions that reading is here to stay. It is necessary to read for survival in today’s world and the world in the future, in order to effectively manipulate the facets of the rapid technological advances. By comparison, signs which grace our daily lives are replaced by pictorial representations of the same words. This is the case with bathrooms as men, women, unisex and wheelchair accessible facilities are communicated by their pictures instead of words. Colours such as “red” and “green” communicate “stop” and “go” respectively. Some review the paperless route of reading as a more interactive and relevant approach to reading as they champion the cause of literacy. Technology is viewed as a means by which reading and writing will become more interesting to others and banish the view that reading has become a bore.

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What if this technological advancement has a drawback? What if we are moving too fast? What if nature intercedes and creates a balance with technology? This rapid technological advancement may create friction with nature’s advancement and nature may retaliate in order to achieve its quest for balance and harmony. This brings us to our final concept, with literacy there is reading, writing and understanding working together in tandem. When there is a lack in one tenant, the others invariably suffer.

read to growA lack of reading and writing will result in a lack of understanding. Our ability to think creatively, imagine and innovate will come under attack. Degeneration will replace personal development as literacy continues along the path of deterioration. The end result will be a generation of people coming to the forefront whose skills of reading, writing, numeracy and understanding are lacking. Vision will be nullified and our human race will perish. Not if we the literate few have breath in our bodies.

So that leaves me to ask you: What was the name of the last book you read lately?