Living Is Enough

Hey there. 

It’s been awhile since I last posted. Life and insecurities got in the way and convinced me that a couple of posts a week weren’t a really impactful way to make a difference, and I slowly stopped using this platform. But God, being who He is, isn’t going to place gifts in us and then allow them to remain stagnant and unused. Shoutout to Kathy, who stopped me one day at church, looked me dead in the eye, and said “remember how MONTHS AGO I told you how well you write and how you needed to blog and you told me ‘I actually have one that I need to revive’? What’s happening with that?” That very same day, I came home and renewed my domain. Kathy, this post is due in large part to you. Everyone needs a little spark re-ignited from time to time. Thank you for sharpening my iron!
This post is actually about the power of words that don’t come from me. Sierra, this post is in large part because of you as well. 

So I have (refuse to say had) this coworker named Sierra. I am convinced that there are a few roles in every place of business that employees slide in and out of at will. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but you have the watercooler prince(ss) who knows all the comings and goings. There’s the unsung hero, who does superhuman things with the time and space and opportunity that we are actually all handed–they just leverage it well. There’s the cheerleader, who sincerely believes that


As a character foil to the cheerleader, there’s the negative Nancy (or Nathan maybe, if it a guy. Nate? Nehemiah? Whatever.) NN can find the awful in everything. There’s the slacker, who has perfected the art of doing the least and retaining gainful employment. And so on, and so forth. In this scenario, Sierra is the unsung hero–the dream team all in one petite teacher package. She collaborates, she plans, she does, she supports, she does more, etc. She was intimidating (to me, anyway) for the first half of the school year because she seems to have it on LOCK. 

She is pursuing other opportunities now, which means it is going to be really surreal to walk past her room in about a week and not see her in there with the lights low and computer open, preparing for the day. I could always count on a chipper “Morning!”  from her as I called out hellos while walking down to my room. Sierra has done a lot for the school I am a part of and everyone in it, but one thing that I doubt she knows that she did is relieve so much of my anxiety about joining a new school. 

Since I last posted, I became a teaching fellow at an all girls middle school, and it has easily been one of the tougher years of my life professionally. There were–are–many days that I don’t feel like I know what I am doing. There are some really challenging kids, and for someone that is used to winning kids over, there are more than a few that I still can’t figure out. Am I working with these kids well? Am I supporting my co-teacher? Am I being the right mix of loving and firm? Am I friendly? Am I communicating to these kids that I may be friendly but I AIN’T (yes ain’t) your friend? Am I leaving no doubt in my administrator’ mind that she made the right choice in taking a chance on me? Most importantly, am I representing God to the best of my ability? I don’t walk around balancing a Bible on my head to improve my posture, but I am definitely open about my faith and how it guides my thoughts, actions and opinions. It can be a lot. 

One of the last days before spring break was one of those kinda days. I’d gotten frustrated with my resource block and had taken come back to my room at dismissal to fire off a few emails and head to my own classes, and I honestly would much rather have gone home and dove under the bed until the next day. I opened my laptop and I see–a letter. From Sierra. 

If you don’t know, words of affirmation are my love language. Keep your trinkets, keep your flowers, PLEASE KEEP your cards where you only sign “Tim” and keep it moving (such a waste). But to take some good old fashioned notebook paper (or stationary) and write me a note makes my day on a good day. On a not so good day, it was everything I could have hoped for. Before I even read the letter, I thought to myself, “this is going to make you cry”. And my soul said, “yup, and that good cry is going to reset you so you can finish your day.”

I was ok until I got to this portion:


Cue waterworks. I truly think that within that letter lies the highest compliment that someone, especially a person of faith, can receive. It affirms that yes, I am doing this work with intentionality and excellence, but also that I AM MAKING MY FATHER PROUD WHILE DOING SO. What more could I hope to achieve?

I was talking to a friend later about how I boohooed like a fool at work, and she said something that I thought was pretty on point:


“Living is enough”

What I took from that goes back to the passage in the Bible about spiritual gifts; 1 Corinthians 12 says “4. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9. to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10. to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

There is a metaphor later in the passage that reads that we are all parts and pieces of one body doing different functions for the Kingdom. Folly would tell us that if we aren’t preaching, then we aren’t doing anything, but that simply isn’t true. I am serving my community and my God by showing up to work every morning and honoring my coworkers and my students. Someone else serving by preparing food, repairing vehicles, taking care of the earth or guiding people to financial freedom. Living–purposeful living–can be enough. Please remember that–please hold ME to that if I ever internalize the lie that blogging isn’t a ministry and a way to serve God in and of itself. Sierra, thank you for the timely reminder. Blessings in your next steps!!!

Go To The Source

Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the LORD. “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb? ” says your God. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭66‬:‭9‬ NKJV)

Hey beautiful people!

     My mom has been sick these past few days with an upper respiratory infection. It’s crazy though, because it seemingly came out of nowhere. All of Friday, she was fine, woke up at midnight Saturday with her throat in fire and spent the rest of the weekend stuffy and hoarse, only leaving the house to go to urgent care. 

     I called her after she left the doc yesterday, and as she told me that she got a diagnosis of pharyngitis, I expressed surprise at its progression and then ended my statement with “well at least you got some good drugs to knock it out!”.

     Her response? “They didn’t give me any drugs”! I was flabbergasted. How could these doctors see the same congested, scratchy and sore throated woman that I did and not offer her relief? “Why did they not give you meds?!”, I demanded. 

     Mom said basically, that what she has isn’t going to be made better by an antibiotic–it has to run its course. She did mention that they offered her a lidocaine gargle solution that wasn’t going to make her better, per se, but would mask the discomfort while her immune system was fighting the good fight. In the words of mama, “I wasn’t paying good money for mouthwash!”

     I agreed with her, but I sat up in the dark this morning and what I heard in my heart is, how many of us are using some kind of numbing agent to mask the pain that we are really in rather than deal (or let God deal) with the issues at hand? See, just like that lidocaine gargle solution wasn’t actually going to do anything about the viral infection that caused my mother’s pharyngitis, the things that we cover ourselves in to mimic healing are just as seductive…but at the end of the day, they are just as ineffective. Just like that mouthwash would wear off and reveal a throat that still hurts, the sex and the drugs and the cutting and the extra shifts at work and the time spent with the wrong people and the bottomless glass of alcohol all wear off and reveal a heart and a soul that is still hurting, if that’s what you call yourself trying to mask. 

     Love, I don’t know what you are going through out there in the universe. I don’t know if the family that you thought you knew has become largely absent. I don’t know if the weight of your shame or insecurity or resentment or loneliness has crept up on you in all of its enormity. I don’t know if you feel like there are parts of your personality that are a fluke and that don’t serve you well, but what I do know is that your pain serves a very real purpose. So does my mother’s, so did mine, etc. 

     In the most basic physical case, isn’t pain a sign of something wrong in the body? Pain doesn’t ordinarily just occur. There is a disorder to the regular functioning and pain is your intricate system’s way of letting you know to stop and examine. In my mother’s case, this is a woman with an immense work ethic, and this upper respiratory thing is causing her to take the first few days of the week off from work–something that she never ever does. So maybe this was her cue to rest. 

     Wouldn’t the likewise be true in the soul sense? Pain is a sign that something isn’t going right. Something in the intricately crafted purview of your spirit and your heart isn’t functioning, and the Lord will let you know. Masking that pain rather than finding things to go numb really is just participating in the age old lie that if you ignore it, it will go away

In the scripture that is at the beginning of this quote, God is saying to the Israelites, a people in much pain, that He would deliver them, and He did so using the imagery of a mother in labor–aren’t the allegories in the Bible cool?! Anyway, we’ve all known someone in labor. Even if we haven’t, it doesn’t take a scholar to know that that joint HURTS. 

  

     The pushing, the opening…that pain is a signal that the body is preparing to push through new life. God is telling the Isrselites that He wouldn’t see this pain happening, a pain that was the indicator of a new thing happen—He wouldn’t bring them to this point and leave them stranded. There was a delivery in process.

     I’ve heard many a mom say that after the tears and pushing and expletives (ha) that when they gaze down into the eyes of their baby, it all instantly becomes a distant memory. As a person with a very low physical pain threshold, I don’t know if I believe all that, but I do know from experience that when you finally make it out of your situation, when you lean into the pain and wait for the breakthrough, what comes after makes you understand the pain if not appreciate it. 

  
So I’d encourage you, like my mom, don’t pay for or run toward things to mask the pain of your circumstances. Run toward the Healer. Cry and scream and grit your teeth as much as you have to as long as it means that you don’t go numb. The comfort is coming. 

Be blessed, 

StephTheScribe

One More Day One

Hello beautiful people!

  
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Have you ever been so full with words…yet not know what to say?

So much has happened. Personally, but globally as well. There have been moments of great joy, but also of a pain and confusion that transcends conversation. In my own life, I have seen Hebrews 11 come to pass; God has shown that having extraordinary faith and believing Him for big things isn’t a lost cause. I decided to search for a new job: despite my deep love for my school, I needed more. But the fear of a new start tried its best to stifle my joy when a new opportunity did in fact come around the bend. 

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

As we try to grasp faith with our fingertips, we see the world in the clutches of what feels like madness. Last week we saw several more people of color die at the hands of law enforcement. Conversely, we saw something like 9 LEOs become the target of what seems a sniper style situation, with 5 casualties. As a country, we are reeling. As people of color, we are raw, hypersensitive, hoping and praying for someone to say the one thing that will ease the pain and solve the confusion but also silently pleading for them not to say the wrong thing from deep within their privilege that will wrest the already straining cap from the pressure cooker. Those on the opposite side of the color line are angry, confused, scared of looking like the monster by the door, and for the most part it seems like a continuation of the usual. It is difficult to maintain faith while dealing with the same things that our parents and grandparents did. 

“Come, Lord Jesus…come”

I’d been searching for a way to articulate everything and failing miserably, but this morning I had a bit of an epiphany when I went to check out a health center near me. 

I ended up joining and  posted a picture of the membership key tag that they gave me with the caption “Day One”.

  
Immediately after I posted it, I sardonically thought to myself, “this is like your fifth Day One, kid” 

The thing is…that’s true. I lost something like 70lbs about 5 years ago, and have put most of that weight back on. I’ll jog for awhile and stop. Swim for awhile and stop. Attend Zumba for awhile and…you guessed it, stop. 

But guess what else? Having 5 Day Ones isn’t a bad thing. A Day One signifies a fresh start, and the amazing thing about loving and serving the God that we do is that He is the arbiter AND the author of our second, third, and eighty sixth chances. 

  

The scripture at the beginning of this post comes from Lamentations, and the part that sticks out to me is “therefore I have hope”. 

That’s HUGE!!!!

Whenever, literally whenever we feel like we have strayed all the way off track, whether it be personally…

I talked to my ex when I know there’s nothing good back there…

I didn’t guard my soul like I should have…

Whether it is professionally…

I’m not doing what God has called me to do…

I’m choosing to be like my coworkers instead of like Christ. I don’t want to be weird…

Or even on a global scale…

All of the tragedy I’m seeing has left me angry at my fellow man…

We have this precious ability to go to God, declare that we need Him more than ever and come away charged and knowing that in Him is freedom and a fresh start. 

Join me as I declare that this world is in dire need of a Day One….and yes I know that Earth has had many, but we are in need of another. And that’s ok. 

We are in need of a Day One faith in our ability to be agents of change.

In our ability to see people like He does.

In our willingness to trust that in all of this madness God’s name will be glorified regardless. It HAS to be. It hasn’t failed yet. 

Whatever your Day One is that you are facing, please don’t go into it feeling like you are undeserving of another one. Gods entire word is predicated on Him doing whatever to bring you home. You and I–and this world–are so worth it. 

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe 

#PhenomenalWomanWednesdays: Giving a Word in Season

  

Hey, beautiful people! 

Have you ever heard of the term “rhema”? Rhema, or ῥῆμα in Greek, basically means “a thing said or an utterance” Often, you’ll hear Christians mention something being a “rhema word”, and that carries with it the heavy implication that it was a word in season, delivered right on time. Rhema words are often startling ( at least to me) because they hit right to the target of what I am dealing with or what was weighing on my heart. Rhema, in my opinion, comes directly from the Holy Spirit. 

  
All good, but what does that have to do with today’s post?” you might be wondering. Well, the person that I asked to guest blog today, is someone that I feel like the Holy Spirit centered right smack into my life right when she needed to be there. Our sisterhood, our friendship is what happens when you hear God speak and you act on it! Around January of last year, God highlighted Derricka and I just heard, felt in my bones that she was someone that I needed to get to know. She was going to be that true covenant friend–chasing God, encouraging me to keep on chasing…y’know, someone that filled many different roles. The only speed bump there was the fact that we never really interacted before.  I’d always seen Derricka around church, and we’d exchanged pleasantries but that was about it. God and I had a real frank conversation, one in which I told Him that I didn’t appreciate the idea of walking up to this woman and looking every bit of a stalker or a fool while saying “God told me we should hang out” (Note to self: Great Christian pick up line. Save for later. Joking. Holiness is still right *in my churchmotha voice*) God, in true Godly fashion, used His James Earl Jones voice (what I imagine God sounds like) and said DOOOOO ITTTTTTT. Not only that, but He kept putting us in situations together, as if to say “I’m giving you every opportunity to do what I told you to do.”

Long story short, I swallowed my fear at the possibility of mortification, and I did it. And because–duh–God won’t call us to do anything that is going to harm us, it has been incredible. Derricka’s entire presence in my life has been a Rhema word. She is timely, and yet she is timeless. She has a knack for calling/texting/emailing right when it’s necessary. She has spoken into my life in SOOO many areas, and God has used us both in crazy awesome ways over the past year and a half. Derricka has ALWAYS had a right on time word, thought and presence, and I have no doubt that what she has to say will bless enormously!
  
1. Jump in, jump out, introduce yourself! What are three things that we don’t know about you?

Oh, hey *insert smise because if you know me, you know I likes to smise*. My name is Derricka and I am a lover of LIFE. *insert finger-wagging theologians who have Matthew 10:39 locked and loaded* Yes, I LOVE life, and all that it entails. Everyday I have a clean slate and get to partner with God to shape it into something beautiful. How awesome is that? Plus, I only get one (on this side of eternity) So I may as well enjoy it, right?

 Can I just say, God is so timely. (If my blog isn’t enough proof for you, make sure to hop back to Joy’s post for the last #PhenomenalWomanWednesdays post. It’s so good!) No detail is too minor or too major for God and that brings me comfort. One of those things being the gift of Steph. I like that, “the gift of Steph”. It has a nice ring to it.

 Steph and I met at DHC about a year ago. I saw her in passing as she visited with Mama Karen (that’s my nickname for her mom. That woman is amazing.) I probably said “hey! Thank you so much for coming!” in passing. But never had a conversation with her. One day, she slid into my DMs and the rest was history! (In all seriousness, God laid it on her heart to reach out to me, and boy am I glad that this woman is obedient.) Steph is the “too good to be true” in my life. I have never met someone so selfless, so genuine, so empathetic to the needs of others. Her strength is quiet but fierce. She’s the friend that reminds me of the vision God had when he handcrafted me, and is ALWAYS there to remind me of such vision when my sight is blurred by the frustrations of life and my own attempts to self destruct.

So, three things people don’t know about me:

1. I cannot watch a situation where people are embarrassed. Whether it be in a t.v. show, a movie, in person. Seriously, my stomach turns in knots and I have to change the channel or walk away. I can’t stand to see people be humiliated. I’ve always been that way and still am to this day.

2. I LOVE assembly lines. Yes, where person A does their part and hands their contribution to person B. Person B does their part and hands it to person C, and so forth. Everyone does their part, every part is important. Everyone gets to operate in their gifts and the task gets done easier with less burn-out. I seriously get goosebumps when I get to work on a project “assembly-line style”. Can’t you just smell the synergy?

3. I have a slight obsession with Cheez-its, gummy bears (not worms, bears), and french fries. It is always a test of the heart when someone asks me for some, of any of these, and I have to make the decision to share and have less of these, or not share and feel like a jerk. These really are serious decisions for me. Like my countenance changes and everything lol. Pray for me, please?

 2. What is your biggest testimony right now?

My biggest testimony right now is that God is so stinkin’ faithful. I hear of God’s goodness all the time. I even see it in the lives of those around me. Sometimes, I start to wonder when God will do “that” thing in my life. But when I take time to connect the dots of my story. The fears He is delivering me from. The generational curses He is ending with me, the undeniable favor that follows me closer than a shadow…I must say, God truly is faithful.

 I always felt that I was set to fail. From a young age, I was constantly reminded of how chubby I was. I had “nicknames” like ‘Fat Legs’ or plain ole ‘Chubby’. Talk about your confidence builder. I was never able to finish anything I started in life, for one reason or another. Ballet, basketball, swimming, cheerleading, band. The only things I started and successfully finished were the things that I felt obligated to. School, and my chores. (I REFUSED to get a whoopin’ for not finishing cleaning the bathroom because ‘Proud Family’ was coming on. Learned my lesson, and it only takes one time.) I was bestfriends with the “popular girl” and wasn’t sought after by guys, asked to hang out, or anything. I was the really smart girl who stayed home on Saturdays to get a head start on next week’s homework, while people were at the movies or the go-go’s. (It’s a DC/MD thing. You wouldn’t understand.) My college career was a story of relocation, nomadism, and idolatry. Senior year, I would have been fine to just CRAWL across the stage. But God…

 He has used my lack of confidence to help me identify with other “pretty girls” who don’t feel so ‘pretty’. I remember those feelings of inadequacy, rejection, dejection, and can easily speak life over those fears. He has used my inability to finish things to give me a sense of accountability, responsibility, discipline, and consistency when it comes to completing projects and fulfilling commitments. Being “popular” was cool at that time, but being the girl who stayed home studying on Saturday nights earned me amazing grades and got me into every college I applied to. Every fear I have had about being like “that” parent, with “those” tendencies, God is showing me that He made me unique and that I DO NOT have to accept everything that is given to me. (Let that sink in). YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT EVERYTHING THAT IS GIVEN TO YOU. You do not have to accept criticism grounded in ill-intentions. You do not have to accept bad habits passed down from parents. You do not have to accept the fear of failures that others have. In His own ways, in His own timing, God is undoing every hurt and redeeming these scars. Beauty for ashes.

 3. What is your favorite Bible verse and why?

 I actually have two favorite Bible verses.

 2 Samuel 7:28 (NIV) “Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.”

 This is one of the first verses I found when I began to intentionally look for promises from God. It’s stuck to me ever since. God’s Word is His covenant. This verse literally says that His Word is trustworthy. The second part really gets me “…to your servant.” As a servant of God (what an honor), I am entitled to His promises.

 Numbers 23:19 (NIV) “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”

 I use this verse to back up 2 Samuel 7:28 whenever I am believing Him for something. “God, you promised me that in due season, I would have _________. You are not a human being that you would say something and change your mind or not act on it. You do not promise something and not fulfill that promise. I can rest as I wait on you to move…”

 4. What is life teaching you right now?

Right now, life is teaching me total dependency on God. Remember that idolatry I mentioned? I was in a relationship with a guy that I made my god. I was willing to relocate my life for him at any notice, except that tugging I felt in my heart from God, and knowing I would miss my church family too much. My church has played a MAJOR KEY in my development in all areas of my life.

 After we broke up, God had to undo the ties and remove the longing for him, and replace it with the longing for Him. God was/is teaching me to believe in Him and wait on Him for the things I need and desire. My job, my car, my home, my grad school (surprise! I’m finna be a student again lol) I had to submit these desires to Him. Ensure that it aligned with His will for my life. Ask with crazy faith that He do it. Trust that He would do it. Then wait…Every single thing I prayed for, I got. Was it exactly what I thought it would be? Absolutely not. What is better? Most definitely. For the things I still long for, I am submitting my requests to Him, and following these same steps. The process ensures 100% chance of success. But with that, I am also learning that God’s “good” is ALWAYS better than my “good”, even if I don’t see it or understand it. So if what I asked for doesn’t happen how I wanted, or at all, I STILL win. (insert Young Jeezy adlibs)

 5. What does being a Christian woman mean to you 

To me, being a Christian woman means being a woman who walks closely with Jesus. She understands that sure she could have a ‘good’ life without Him. But choosing a ‘good’ thing over a ‘God thing’ is never wise, or fulfilling. I want to be a Christian woman who takes control of her emotions because without His peace and instruction, my thinking is irrational and act on impulse. I want to be a woman who is a fighter. Praying over EVERY situation. From what to eat for lunch, to how to have a hard talk with a wayward family member. Being a Christian woman is a woman who simply knows that life sucks without Jesus.

Incredible as always, Derricka…she never ceases to amaze me and I’m confident that something that she had to say that was a Rhema word for you as well. 

Be blessed!

StephTheScribe

#PhenomenalWomanWednesdays: The Art of Joy

Hello beautiful people!

I’m back at it again with another edition of Phenomenal Woman Wednesday. Have you ever had that friend where you couldn’t exactly remember the moment that started it all, but you realized that the intertwining of your life’s has changed the fabric of time? That sounds incredibly dramatic, but there are people who are movers and shakers, and there are others that are shifters. Joy SHIFTS. 

  
I met Joy through attending Destiny Harvest, and she quickly became irreplaceable. She has taught me how to love my heritage a bit more, speaks vision into my life, and encourages those giftings that God has placed on my life that were lying dormant beforehand—honestly, there might not be a Paper, Ink and Jesus if not for her. I have been writing since my early teens, and I went through a stage where my writing reflected my mindset. My poetry could be dark, angry, and sarcastic–it dealt with my fractured relationship with my dad, my singleness (and resulting lust), and my interactions with the public in unhealthy ways and became a tool for revenge moreso than an avenue for His peace….once I decided that I didn’t want to live like that anymore, I was at a loss–how was I supposed to use this really dynamic thing in a way to give God the glory? I stopped sharing and creating out of pure fear that my best wouldn’t be good enough. I stopped writing, and Joy was one of those God-sent agents of change that convinced me to start up again. She even took my stage name–Birthwrite–and refashioned it, because He makes all things new. 

  
Aside from that, though, one of the biggest lessons that I have taken from observing and just generally getting to know Joy is the transformative power of a crazy, bold faith. I’m not talking about crossing your fingers and hoping that life pans out in the way you hope for. Au contraire, mon frere. No, when I say big faith, I mean the kind that wills you to take huge steps because you have communed with God and you hear His voice, and though what He is saying doesn’t even fully make sense to you, you know that with His hand on it, the plan is infallible. So you go–and not begrudgingly either. You go expectantly, just waiting on Him to manifest Himself in people, situations, opportunities, God-moments, etc. And that is exactly what Joy has done. I won’t get into the nuts and bolts, because Joy has her own testimony to share. I know personally, I am going through a season where clarity is needed and vision is eagerly anticipated, so if you are at this crossroads of life, I trust that something that Joy has to say will speak to you as well. 

  
1. Jump in, Jump out…introduce yourself! What are three things that we don’t know about you?

Hello beautiful! My name is Joy and I’ve known Steph for three years. Honestly, I don’t remember how we met but life is full of pleasant surprises and Steph is one of my favorites. I do remember where though, church–probably because I needed a ride home. Anyway, it’s one of those “right on time” sisterhoods because God knew that I needed it BADLY. I’m so grateful to have her in my tribe.

As tiny as I am, I love food and I’m a serial snacker. My guilty pleasure is online window shopping and my browser is full of open tabs of clothing that I like but never buy. There’s a special place in my heart for classic (read: old) movies. Casablanca and Gone with the Wind are my favorites. I can watch them over and over again and I have.

2. What would you say is your biggest testimony right now?

Graduating from graduate school! Columbia was the last school that I applied to AND it was after I had received rejection letters from all the other schools that I applied to. Columbia was also far better than the other schools that I applied to so I was prepared for yet another “we appreciate your application” letter. Somehow they said yes and I ended up in NYC. It was and still is a revelation of “seek first the Kingdom and all things will be added” (Matthew 6:33). I’m still learning that God puts me in places that I am undeserving of and dare I say unqualified for simply because I have my eyes fixed on Him. What an incredible privilege that is. What tends to be overlooked is this tricky space between the seeking and addition called waiting. Ah, that’s the rub! 
However, God’s timing is perfection (yes, the noun). Well, duh! It’s takes a lot to say it and then a whole lot more to believe it. Borrowed words of wisdom: “God is not slow to act, He is slow to anger.” I’m more than grateful for the second part because I’m a struggle at times and God has been more than gracious because I can get a bit foolish. But the former refutes our frustration! His timing is perfect. We live life forward but understand in hindsight. On our timeline it looks like He’s slow or even withholding which is so unlike His nature (He’s the giver of all things-Romans 8:28). I consistently have “ohhh” moments when I realize how perfectly God has orchestrated the events in my life and those around me (Jeremiah 29:11). Simply being in NYC at this time required some God time-warping (and favor). I’m understanding that this particular time and place was molded to have me in it meaning that God thought of me before the beginning of time. Nuts! So God is in no way slow. He’s a master planner so just relax and let Him lead.
3. What is your favorite Bible verse and why? 
There are so many gems in Romans but Romans 8:19 has been my daily mantra. I’ve had this verse stuck in my mind since my move to NYC and the funny thing is I can never remember the reference (unless prompted) but the idea is permanently engrained– “all of creation is eagerly awaiting the reveal of God’s sons and daughters.” Creation has been waiting for me (and you)! I want to serve others, restore hope in those that were hopeless, feeling unworthy, forgotten and unheard but most importantly, I want to do what God has sent me on this earth to do–bring His children home. There is no one else that can do it the way I do. No one else with my gifts and experiences. It’s the ultimate locker room pep talk.
4. What is life teaching you right now?
Life is teaching me how to dream and know that God goes beyond my wildest dreams. There are so many things that I have prayed for that I’m living in now and other things that I’m glad were rejected. My reality is so different and so much better than what I planned for myself. Trading my life for LIFE has been an incredible upgrade.
5. What does being a Christian woman mean to you?
Being a Christian woman means that I strive to be an embodiment of God’s beauty so much so that others are encouraged to participate. It’s experiencing the freedom that comes with choosing and knowing Jesus. It’s making the gospel the obsession of my heart and living it out.
Isn’t she fantastic? Hope that this resonated with you somehow, and I’m looking forward to stories of your own crazy faith steps! 

Be blessed!
StephTheScribe

#PhenomenalWomenWednesdays

Hello beautiful people!

Y’know, I had an epiphany lately: I know some really great women.

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Not to be flowery, sappy, “OhEmmGeeeeeee, everyone I know is awesooome!!”( who…me?), but honestly I have been blessed to find some really phenomenal women from all ages and stages of life, and to exist in this constant state of inspiration and iron sharpening iron. Some of these women have advanced degrees, and some are just starting or returning to school. Some are my age, others younger, still more are a generation apart. Some of these women, like the one I will feature below, I have known for years, and others are more recent gifts, however, the common thread that runs among them is that they all have the capability to minister. Beyond views or likes or funny pictures, the ultimate point of this blog is to reach someone who didn’t think that they were capable of being reached, and to see something here that connects with where you are or where you believe that God is taking you. It is my hope every time that I push publish that there is something here that a soul needed to see. If nothing else, know that the only requirement for your covenant friends is that they chasing Christ and encouraging you to chase Him, too.

I am not egotistical enough to believe that I have the lock and key on a word in season. Ephesians 4:11 mentions the evangelists, the shepherds, the prophets, the apostles, and the teachers, and Matthew 24 talks about the gospel being preached not only locally but all over. We can’t, I certainly can’t do that by myself! Today, I am excited to host my best friend Shannon. We have known each other since our first year of high school, and I jokingly used to call her my wise owl. Shannon is thoughtful, perceptive, intelligent, and she is sharing her story, her testimony, and her views below!

shannon2

1. Jump in, jump out, Introduce yourself! What are three things not many people know about you?

Hi there! I’m Shannon and I’ve been friends with Stephanie since our freshman year of high school when she tried to steal my locker in gym class. What started out as me constantly beating her in badminton (no matter what she says, that’s how it went down) has blossomed into a beautiful, life-long sisterhood and I am so grateful that God saw fit to place us together all those years ago.

A few lesser known things about me: my favorite snowball flavor is egg custard, my guilty pleasure is historical romance novels (the kind where some Duke touches some Lady on the elbow and she swoons and falls in love), and I used to want at least three kids … until I had the one.

2. What would you say is your biggest testimony right now?

I’ve recently decided to start blogging about what I believe is my biggest testimony right now: the tale of a first generation active, full-time mom to an energetic, fearless toddler.

When I think of myself as a “first generation” mom it is in the same context as a first generation college student. First generation college students enter the world of higher education with no guidance from their parents because neither parent went through the experience, and so the parents have no clue how to counsel the student and can’t really help with setting or managing the expectations of college life.

That sense of breaking new ground in the family has its own set of challenges that often makes the student feel totally alone and, to a degree, puts the student at a disadvantage compared to students of college educated parents who have likely been groomed for the college experience by parents who have “been there, done that.” In that same sense, I am breaking new ground by being a full-time, active parent because neither of my biological parents raised me.

It’s a testimony that has often been hard for me to articulate. But I am learning that it’s important to share your story even when – especially when – the story is not necessarily neat and pretty so that you (and others) can learn, heal, and grow from it. You can read more about my story at http://www.firstgenmom.com.

3. What is your favorite Bible verse and why? 

One of my favorite bible verses is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Since becoming a parent 2.5 years ago I have really come to understand what that verse means and the true depth of God’s love that one sentence portrays. I have one child. She is my world. Even when she drives me nuts I can’t think of a person, living on this earth or otherwise, that I would give up my one and only child for.

So that God would give up His one and only Son so that I could live – on earth but also in heaven with Him once I have breathed my last breath – is beyond humbling to me.

I am not worthy of such a sacrifice. And yet, knowing fully that despite my best efforts I would always fail in comparison to His beloved Son, God still saw fit to scarifice His one and only Son for me and you. How amazing is that? How much must He love us to make such a sacrifice? And if He loves us enough to give up the one thing that I know I as a parent could never sacrifice myself then we must each be so incredibly important and valuable to Him.

So whenever I doubt myself or my abilities I try and remember that our God gave His one and only Son so that if I just believe in Him that I might live eternally, and therefore my purpose on this earth (which I am still figuring out) must be magnificent.

4. What is life teaching you right now?

Life is teaching me to be patient and listen for God’s guidance. Lately, when I find myself anxiously plotting my next move and trying to jump ahead to what I think God has for me next I feel like God is blocking my moves like that basketball player in that Geico commercial. “No no no. Not in my house!” I know that what God has planned for me is amazing but if I keep trying to force my hand he will continue to block my ill-advised shots. So I am learning to wait, listen, and pray twice as much as I shoot.

5. What does being a Christian woman mean to you?

Being a Christian woman means that it is both my responsibility and my privilege to make a conscious effort daily to live and walk in God’s image. That doesn’t mean that I think I am perfect or that I have to pretend to be. It simply means that I consistently try and choose to be kind, generous, loving, faithful, and forgiving – even when it is hard and unpopular to do so.

Man, Shannon said a mouthful, didn’t she? (I knew she would!) I sincerely hope that something you saw here resonated with you, and I can’t wait to come back next Wednesday with another Phenomenal Woman!!

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe

 

Shade Intended

 

distew.jpg

Hey beautiful people!

I have been a bad, bad, blogger lady recently. Forgive me. Sometimes, it all gets to be too much…the responsibilities and the deadlines and moreover, the frustration and the resentment that comes from balancing the deadlines and never having the courage to say

this is too much”.

I had finals and projects and papers and lessons and life positively coming out of my ears, and I had to take a short break because I felt that burnout was on the horizon, and a burnt out me is no good for anyone involved. I did the stuff that I absolutely had to do, and everything else got forcibly shoved on the back burner for several weeks.

You know what? It felt GOOD. But beyond that, I did my own little Bible walk on what todo when everything is just too much. I happened upon Psalm 61. The awesome thing about Christ is that the revelations that He gives are not just for us, but for us to then pass on to others who need. I call this lesson, when giving shade is a good thing.

In our modern day colloquialism, we think of giving shade or being shady as being sneaky or subversive with criticism. Much like other qualifiers, saying “no shade, but…” really signifies that you mean all the shade in the world.

shade.jpg Mm-hmm. I see you.

But in Biblical understanding, shade is covering. And being covered is not a bad thing. Psalm 61 is like a cry from everyone who has every felt that they are juggling more than they were ever intended to:

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

We are crying out to God for a little shade. The Word says that we are asking to be led to the rock that is higher than I. This ain’t the rock that we are talking about, by the way…

rafiki_simba Ahhhhhhh za benyaaaaaa….ok, I give up.

No, the Bible refers to Christ as The Rock of Ages. So when we are overwhelmed by our deadlines, by our relationships, by our children, our parents, our families, by our health crises, by our jobs and so much more, we are called to take off running and collapse at the feet of Jesus. He is higher than we are. He is equipped to handle it. Jesus did not die on the cross for us to hang in the wind and deal with everything ourselves. Furthermore, the same Psalm has two more things that stood out to me in this season of being stretched too thin, both emotionally and otherwise.

Selah. In many psalms, you will find the word selah, and though there are several definitions out there, the one that resonates the most with me right now is that Selah was a cue to pause. These psalms were actually sung, and the selah was a note to the musicians to take a breath, and that rest was just as powerful as the song that they were singing. It is ok to pause. No, hear me. It is ok to slow down. Pausing is restorative. It allows us to meditate on the enormity of the God that is standing in the gap for us. It allows our cup to be refilled so that we are able to overflow onto other people.

Legacy. Later on in the psalm, there is a line that says “you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name”. Some people look at fearing God as a bad thing and more of a reason to not buy into the Higher Power “deal”, but when you know God, you know that that fear is really more of a healthy reverence. God is not ordinary. He knows exactly how many grains of sand there are on any given beach right this very second, but yet somehow, He knows you…too. Like, how is that even possible? The moment that we treat God and what He has the power to do as ordinary, we forget to be grateful. And we have the heritage of knowing that we have that kind of God on our side.

So what does covering do?

Covering allows us to heal. At work today, I heard one of my students ask my coteacher why she had a bandaid, and she mentioned that the cold weather made her skin split and the bandage was holding it together so that it could heal. So, so very many of us are split…by heartbreak, by pain, by family issues, by fatigue, just by LIFE. Covering pulls us together and allows us to heal.

Covering allows us to rest: We are literally no good to anyone when we are grasping at straws and running on fumes. How can we be who He has called us to be–believers who give cheerfully as we are given, with a gift that is pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing–if we aren’t even full. You know what happens when you max out a credit card….yet how many of us are operating with maxed out lives? There are penalties either way.

Covering allows us to cover. When you realize how much you have been protected from, it gives you the desire to shield other people. To introduce them to your toolbelt. To place His Word in their hands (or…on their screens *wink*) and say HEY! I have got this really good news…want to hear?

So the next time that shade is used in a negative context, stop and think that maybe the context isn’t all negative

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Perhaps, you need to rest in that shadow. And honey, that shade was intended.

 “There is none holy like the LORD: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. For there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God…” I Samuel 2:2

Be Blessed,

StephTheScribe

I Dare YOU

Hello beautiful people!

I would like to start this post off by saying that I think that I am a loving person. I have gotten this far into my twenties and deep into some really awesome sister circles by following the Golden Rule that we all were overexposed to during childhood, probably on at least one Garfield poster:

 

garfieldIronic that Garfield is being used as the moral authority.

 

The rule, otherwise known as the ethic of reciprocity, is simply to treat others the way that you want to be treated. The hard truth, however, is that people are fickle. We have the best of intentions (sometimes), but we are only human, and we battle against things such as anger, resentment, jealousy, busyness, pride, and so much more. The hard truth is that sometimes we come across someone who challenges the freeness and openness with which we thought we loved. This person may be a friend who loves you with all of your heart. It may be a spouse or significant other who arouses all of that JUNK in you, the not feeling good enough, the wanting to know their every waking move for fear that they’ve found a better option–all those things that you thought that you were done with and healed from. Whoever it is, use them when they are presented. Use them as an opportunity to refine your love and make it more Christlike. I dare you.

For me, my person is my mentee. This is us:

sisses.jpg Check out my expression. I am IMPOSSIBLY cool.

Like I said before, I would consider myself, for lack of a more adult adjective: NICE. I think I am generous. I believe deeply in family and in friendships that value quality over quantity. I was never that girl that needed everyone to know her name. I prefer meaningful interactions, heartfelt words, and creative gestures. I revel in the random and the just because. Mentee here has often been the recipient of that. Everything that I have learned in 29 years, I pour into her 20 so that she hopefully can skip some of my aches and pains.

That girl up there? She is warm, and she is funny with an infectious laugh. She is principled, and she is open hearted. She is smart.

But does she challenge the way I love? Absolutely.

She does things that leave me scratching my head. She gives people a 1000th chance who have messed her over 999 times. She makes decisions that I honestly don’t follow. And lately, this relationship has been the one that challenges my insecurity, with whispers along the lines of ‘girl, you thought you were doing something? Pssh. You’ve made no difference whatsoever.’ And its times like that where my love for her can be misconstrued and filtered through all of the crap that she has had to deal with and it comes out feeling to her like she is being attacked and judged and put down. It is then that I have to take a deep breath, step back, normally cry to my own mentors, and…inevitably, I square back up. I rejoin the fight. I remember that when I did the foolishness that I did, God welcomed me back and He didn’t even ask for an explanation of my stupidity. I show her grace, and I do so remembering that there is no way and no minion in hell that can keep me from loving her. It reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook that I related to my students at first:

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We all need to be loved. The strength and the ferocity of that love might differ from person to person, but the Bible clearly states that we are in need of some love that manifests in the fruits of the spirit.

This week, I dare you to be reckless with your love. I dare you to love on somebody that is making it increasingly difficult and to stick with them through their storm if for no other reason than the fact that Christ loved us at our most unloveable  and we can come to Him time and time again bruised, broken down and dirty from the weight of the sins that we still choose to partake in while claiming to love Him–and in return, He offers us redeeming love. Grace.

I dare you to go out of your way for somebody. To love on someone that can’t offer anything in return, not even their heart. Love on someone who is so downtrodden that love itself sometimes seems like the most hopeless of causes, and feel free to come looking for me if the very power of your reckless love doesn’t make them bloom, however slowly.

I dare you to love using the fruits of the Spirit:

I dare you to be JOYFUL.

I dare you to be PEACEFUL right in the middle of an emotional Nor’Easter.

I dare you to show FORBEARANCE–in other words, be patient when they resist. And they WILL resist. Its what hurt people do.

I dare you to be KIND and GOOD to people this week.

I dare you to be FAITHFUL and stay in those trenches when everyone else has said “this is too much” and leaves shaking their head.

I dare you to be GENTLE–with both the person you are loving on AND with yourself. Baby, you deserve to be loved and understood with just as much of a soft touch as they do.

And I dare you to exercise some SELF CONTROL–to not snap when they snap at you, to not give up on them when things look grim, and to wait for the glorious unfolding that happens when someone feels secure in the calm waters of you.

Let me know how it goes, darlings. I’ll be waiting.

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe

 

Serve-itude

The-best-way-to-find-yourself-is-to-lose-yourself-in-the-service-of-others

 

“Let me reintroduce myself
As a man with a cause
I’ve had a lot of time to think and look at who
we are…
And I’ve got nothing left to say but we’ve gotta carry on
And I’ve got so much left to do but I’ll start with this song…”
-“Let’s Go”, Cartel

 

Why do you serve?

This is a question that the dream team leaders at church ask us fairly often. It may be phrased as a inquiry or as a directive: think about why you serve. See, it is quite easy to be a part of something bigger when that something bigger functions perfectly. When you get to own or wear something that signifies you as part of that something bigger. When, within that something bigger, you have formed smaller and more meaningful subgroups. That’s when it is easy to serve? But why you serve, why you choose to do this thing over and over again that really is NOT about you, that doesn’t earn you a gold star, really is a crucial question when things get tight. Why do you serve on the morning when you have to be up before sunrise and went to bed after midnight? Why do you serve when you just broke up with your significant other and you’d rather not plop a smile on your face and make nice? Why do you serve instead when your place of employment is offering overtime and you have more bills than take home pay and you could really use the time-and-a-half?

“So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you” – “Do Something”, Matthew West

So often, I have wanted to apply that same rhetoric to other roles and responsibilities in my life and the lives of others, because I think that being restored to factory settings, not just “the joy of salvation” but also the joy of friendship, sisterhood/brotherhood, employment, etc is never a bad thing if it causes us to put down our cynicism and grab some gratitude. Do you see how the same logic applies?

It is easier to be a daughter when you and your parents see eye to eye, but why do you continue to be present when they are ailing or aging or simply being stubborn?

It is easier to be a friend when you hang all the time and the balance of effort feels equal, but why do you continue to be present when you can’t ever reach them and it feels like they have no time?

It is easier to be a teacher (OUCH) when your students are bright eyed, bushy tailed, positive and prepared, their parents are invested and the administration has your back, but why do you continue to be present when none of those things are true?

Why do you serve?

It is because you are a glutton for punishment? No.
Is it because you are stupid? No!
Is it because you are blissfully ignorant? NO!!

For those of us in the Body of Christ, the Bible gives a command in Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever ye do , do it heartily , as to the Lord, and not unto men” (KJV) Another version in plainer language says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.”

So why do we serve and teach and parent and befriend and all that other stuff? Because when we work for God, the whole game changes. Because living for God means that you are not bound by the whims of people who are fickle like us. If you are living for pats on the head from people as a measure of your worth, you will always feel worth a little less than you are.

We think of servitude as a bad thing, but I am reclaiming the word, making it serve-itude and using it to mean the way that we carry ourselves when we are in the thick of this thing that God is using us for. There is a quiet joy that comes from knowing that you are aligned with His purpose for your life and it is something that lack of sleep, caffeine, or anything else can temporarily flicker but NEVER blow out.

Next time someone is getting on your nerves and you really don’t understand what God had in mind when He placed you in this season, go somewhere calm, immerse yourself in His word, and I am willing to bet that a few pages worth of His redeeming love will also redeem your serve-itude.

Be blessed,
StephTheScribe

Between The Rock and a Hard Place

It occurred to me twice this week
that I ran my hand along the bottom hem of old shirts and found
a hole.
Nothing major, worth concern
Except that it was…see I’d managed to put holes in my clothes
From pathologically tugging and pulling
trying to become unseen.

We all have those things that we do without even trying
Some twist hair into intricate curlicues
Some “…like…” and “…um..”
During conversations formal and non
Not because they don’t know answers
but rather because the world taught them that to be
a woman self assured was to be dangerous.
I…I’ve tugged  on shirts and sweaters
Rarely in the past did I like the way I wore them
Clothes were nothing but a draping on a body
that I fed in shame, sadness, and boredom
Unable to speak my feelings, so I baked them away
In midnight hours
Cooking major meals thirty minutes before bed
Knowing that a healthy cutoff was 3 hours and
just as many self deprecating thoughts ago.

I stopped with the realization of how far I’d come
How much I’d come to love me since I came to love the Son
Still on this journey
Call this stuck between The Rock and a hard place
A glance backward at the hate
A look forward at how His love erases shame
There isn’t a mistake that I can make
Or a pound that I can gain
That can overshadow his Calvary
That can mimic His pain
You mean to tell me Lord
That when you hung you did so
So I’d never have to question my creation again?

What has had you stuck?
Between self harm and healing
Between subjugation and victory
Between hiding your face behind your hair and showing your face for all to see?
Is your hard place regret
Is it racing to stay so busy that you forget that you aren’t married yet?
Is it questioning His judgement
Is it doubting how much He cares
Is it getting frustrated and not stopping for prayer
Because you really don’t get why He hasn’t intervened if He’s there?
Let me remind you that THE ROCK is waiting for you
From Him comes your help
You weren’t made then forgotten
You weren’t destined for the shelf.

OH….How He loves you.

So now, if I come across a shirt
With the tiniest of holes in the hem across the bottom
They serve as reminders that the Lord of all is
sovereign over my insecurities
Not the destruction of cotton
Rest assured that whatever your hard place
The Rock is able and He got them….

Psalm 139:14