Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Think on These Things...

The will of God will never take you
  Where the grace of God cannot keep you,
  Where the arms of God cannot support you,
  Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,
  Where the power of God cannot endow you.

The will of God will never take you
  Where the spirit of God cannot work through you,
  Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,
  Where the army of God cannot protect you,
  Where the hands of God cannot mold you.

The will of God will never take you
  Where the love of God cannot enfold you,
  Where the mercy of God cannot sustain you,
  Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears,
  Where the authority of God cannot rule for you.

The will of God will never take you
  Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears,
  Where the Word of God cannot feed you,
  Where the miracles of God cannot be done for you,
  Where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Holy Exclamation...

I love exclamation points! I use them more often than I should. Of all of the punctuation marks, they are the most exciting. I love questions, but there is something about being able to emphatically declare, to exclaim, and to proclaim with conviction what one knows to be true. Admittedly, as my preaching professor at Drew aptly noticed, I am not the most excitable preacher. (Hello, My name is Reverend Donna and I do not whoop!) However, in my contemplative kind of way, I manage to insert my exclamation points. Exclamation points do not have to scream, but they do need to drive home the point.

Case in point. One of my favorite hymns is Holy, Holy, Holy. It speaks of the holiness of God--the perfection and purity--that is the essence of God's nature. It speaks of the majesty of God and human (and angelic) proclamations of praise. As I understand it, utterances of praise are our proper response to God's majesty. God is so Loving, so Merciful, so Good, so Mighty, so Holy, and so Beautiful that all we can do is praise. And praise, my friends, is marked by exclamation points.  So, with a heart of worship and shouts of adoration and exclamation points to boot, our hymn of the morning is Holy, Holy, Holy:

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

Words: Reginald Heber
Music: John B. Dykes

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Plain and SImple...

Sometimes, I get to a place where I have to cast off the complex, in favor of the simple. Sometimes my fancy language and eloquent speech needs to made plain. Sometimes my words fail, but I feel like I must say something. Sometimes I have to come to the end of myself--my intelligence, ingenuity, creativity, and ability to keep things under control--to arrive at a place where I fully recognize the sovereign power of God.

In times like these, I cling to the great hymns of the church--those sacred songs that have shaped the faith of our worshiping community. Those sacred songs continue to shape my faith (and theological understandings), even today. This morning, the refrain that has been echoing in my soul is: I need thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee; O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

It find it ironic that while we (as a church), have been dealing with the theme, "Moving from Tradition to Intimacy" that I have been moving toward a closer relationship with God using the disciplines and traditions of old. All that is to say, here is the hymn of the morning...

I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine can peace afford.

I need thee every hour; stay thou nearby;
temptations lose their power when thou art nigh.

I need thee every hour, in joy or pain;
come quickly and abide, or life is vain.

I need thee every hour; teach me thy will;
and thy rich promises in me fulfill.

I need thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me thine indeed, thou blessed Son.

I need thee, O I need thee; every hour I need thee; 
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

Words: Annie S. Hawks
Music: Robert Lowry

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Use What You Got...

In her song, "Think," Aretha Franklin sings, "You gotta use what you got, to get what you want..." And that has caused me to think, and rethink some things. Using what you've got speaks not only to our natural strengths, but also to notions of stewardship. In our culture of consumerism and materialism, it is easy to go out and buy what you need to make something happen, instead of pooling your current resources to see how you can work with what you have. And so, those thoughts have inspired my post for today. Let me break this thing down...

What do you want, preacher?
I want a healthy, fit, strong, and curvy body...
I want a consistent fitness schedule...
I want to be able to chase our children around the house... (when God wills, don't go starting rumors)

What do you have, preacher?
I have an elliptical machine in my bedroom...
I have a lovely neighborhood...
I have three beautiful parks and a high-school track within a 5-minute drive...
I have two yoga mats...
I have a medicine ball...
I have a set of free weights...
I have resistance bands...
(and resistance tubes...)
I have Wii Fit...
I have a hula hoop...
I have arm hoops...
I have pilates, bellydancing, and gospel aerobics workout DVD's...
I have an iPad with a plethora of fitness apps:NikeTraining, Fitness Class, Ab Workout, MyNetDiary, etc...
I have a pink and cream Schwinn Cruiser to ride around the neighborhood..
I have a jump rope...
I have a Nike+ arm band...
I have a pool in the complex for use during the summer...
I have a cramp in my finger just from typing all of this...

So, what don't you have anymore?
Ok, so Aretha didn't sing that, but reflecting on all of the exercise equipment in the house has led us to cancel our gym membership. I suggested it, and hubby agreed. If I cannot reach my fitness goals with everything I have at my disposal (I'm sure there is something I left out), what good is a gym membership, especially if I don't use it? Sure, the classes are good, but now that I have Zumba DVD's, I can Zumba at home. In the past, I have successfully lost weight without a gym membership. In fact, I haven't used the gym consistently and successfully since I was 21 and actually enjoyed the meat-market feel of the gym. (You know what I'm talking about: the stares, the flirting by the free-weight machine, the dude who offers to train you just so he can get your number.) Well, I'm a grown woman now and I have everything that I need and desire at home (and I'm not just talking about exercise equipment.)

So, I'm planning to use what I got, to get what I want...

*this post could have easily been about clothes shopping as I struggle not to purchase a new dress for a wedding we are going to next weekend. I want to be beautiful, elegant, and tasteful. I've got a great dress already hanging in my closet. What's the issue? I've worn it, been photographed in it, had said photos posted to facebook and my blog, and I momentarily think my name is Beyonce so I cannot be photographed in the same dress twice. I hate the way celebrity culture has infiltrated my thinking. But thanks be to God for Princess Kate Middleton who has gracefully hit the repeat button...Use what you've got...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hush, Hush, Somebody's Calling My Name...

Hush, hush somebody's calling my name
Hush, hush somebody's calling my name
Hush, hush somebody's calling my name
Oh my Lord, Oh my Lord what shall I do, what shall I do?
Sounds like Jesus, somebody's calling my name
Sounds like Jesus, somebody's calling my name
Sounds like Jesus, somebody's calling my name
Oh my Lord, Oh my Lord what shall I do, what shall I do?
I'm so glad, troubles don't last always
I'm so glad, troubles don't last always
I'm so glad, troubles don't last always
Oh my Lord, Oh my Lord what shall I do, what shall I do?
This African-American spiritual, simply and beautifully, communicates where I am today—August 1, 2011. A year has passed since that sacred convocation of ordination took place. A year has passed since the laying on of hands. A year has passed: I have waded in the baptismal waters, given thanks at the table, and committed the dust of humanity back to the kindred elements from whence it came while spirits soared. A year has passed: There have been triumphs and trials, mountains and valleys, laughter and weeping. A year has passed and all I can do is get quiet. The Psalmist wrote, “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him” (Psalm 62:5). Hope. Aspiration. Expectation. If I am going to be prepared for what is to come—if I want to know what shall I do—then I ought to get quiet in the presence of God. He's calling my name and I've got to hush so I can hear...
And so, for the next month, I am going on praycation with Bishop Vashti McKenzie. On her blog, she describes praycation in this way:
Praycation is a spiritual discipline vacation from your ordinary prayer routine. It is a 31 -day step away the ordinary without catching a plane, boat or train. It is a journey from where you are right now to where you can be in Christ Jesus through prayer, praise, silence and study. This journey can be taken in a matter of seconds and minutes.
I invite you to take a praycation. It has been said that prayer changes things. I don't discount the validity of that statement, but more than changing things, prayer changes me. And I don't know about you, but I want to be changed—transformed—into the woman that God created and purposed for me to be.
("Hush, Hush Somebody's Callin' My Name" is a traditional African-American spiritual song. The author is unknown.)

Vision Board...

Last week, in my Monday Morning Reflections, I wrote about creating my vision board. After a week of reflection, cutting, reading articles in Essence and Glamour (glossed over the first time), more reflection, and pasting...I present to you my 2011 vision board.

For now, it sits on my desk in our home-office (you know, the one that I vowed to spend time in getting stuff done). It is two-sided. One side is devoted to my vocational goals; The other to my emotional, physical, and spiritual self. There isn't much else to say...they speak for themselves. Enjoy!