I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘christianity’

The Blessing Tax: A Prayer Request

“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. (‭Malachi‬ ‭3‬:‭8-10‬ NASB)

It’s really a sweet deal when you think about it. God blesses you with a way to provide for yourself and your family. You give just 10% of that to your local church, they put it together with other believers who have done the same and do awesome things for the community, and then on top of THAT you get additional blessings in whatever form God sees fit for you. No sweat.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. (‭Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭23‬ NASB)

Oh. So it’s like, it doesn’t matter if I give my tithe if I’m a jerk? Is that what you’re saying, Jesus? 

I was recently listening to a radio show whose topic was tithing. I grew up in a faithful home in which I saw both of my parents tithe so it wasn’t strange for me at all to think in this manner once I started working. Make a line item for it in my budget and go from there. I’m not going to pretend it’s not tempting sometimes to say, “I could save more,” or “ermahgerd that outfit is like, so HAWT,” but by God’s grace I (typically) resist. Indeed when I trust Him and give my tithe AND keep my eyes and ears open I do see how I’m blessed beyond measure. Those speaking on tithing, however, were talking about both money and “other resources.” 

Oh, dear. My time.

You know those financial blessings of which I give 10%? Well, I work some long hours for them. There has been more than one occasion where I’ve taken advantage of my church’s ability to tithe online just so I don’t have to be physically present to worship. I Does God hold us accountable to give him 10% of our time as well? He blesses me with income, I give 10%. I’m blessed with mobility/health/time – why wouldn’t I need to give 10% The church hour adds up to a mere 1-2% a week if you take 168 gross hours or 133 “net” (a believer’s gotta sleep!) hours. Does that mean I need to take 10 hours a week to do some volunteering or church activity or – something?

I know this is an area of my life I need to work on because God wants my whole life, not just my wallet. If you are reading this, please pray that I actively seek ways to serve Him with my time. I don’t wanna be a Pharisee! Thank you kindly 😊

On Sucking and Vacuums 

I had the privilege of reconnecting with a friend from college recently. God is still using my girl Cut Short to touch my life and grow closer to Him; Mom2ECR is pictured between me and Cut Short, who is on the far left. 

After posting the above picture, I was inspired to see what was up with Mom2ECR. After catching up a bit, I shared my blog with her and was pleasantly surprised to learn she is keeping a blog herself. Something she wrote really resonated with me: 

Therefore, for Lent, I have decided to focus on the pursuit of something rather than the giving up something. Not that I will not be giving things up, but rather that I will keep the purpose of why I am fasting in mind. 

You should totes check out her blog to find out what precedes “therefore.” 

Lent is funny. Religion, generally speaking, is funny. I have often said that everyone is religious in his or her own way; the only difference in how or what we choose to worship. It is very easy to go through any tradition somewhat mindlessly, and religion is fraught with opportunities for ignorance. Some people dismiss religion for this reason, but I believe that the bad things about it are often systemic because people suck, not because religion does.

I say this to say that in my experience, the idea of giving up something for Lent can be very superficial. “I give up Coke!” Okay, maybe you don’t have Coke for 40 days. Your pancreas is grateful, I’m sure. But then what? The day after Easter you go back to life as it was? I don’t say that to minimize the effort that it took to fast from something for that time, especially if it was difficult. I don’t believe it’s my place to judge any fellow Christian for what, if, or how they choose to give up something, but what is the real point of doing so in the first place? If you are giving up something that is bad for you, shouldn’t logic dictate you probably shouldn’t be doing it the other 325 days of the year? 

That’s just it, though. We do suck at both doing things that are bad for us OR not doing things that are good for us. Like the Apostle Paul writes here: 

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (‭Romans‬ ‭7‬:‭19‬ NIV)

I think this catches everything, from how we treat our neighbor to what we choose to put in our body. We don’t just get to give up the Coke if we want to fast successfully. There must be something in place with which to replace it. Does Diet Coke count? Well, only the person fasting knows if that’s moving them toward Christ or not. I do know that nature abhors a vacuum. It is pretty difficult, if not impossible, to give up something without replacing it with something else. If I say that I’m going to give up being a jerk to my neighbor, I need to figure out how I’m going to treat my neighbor better. I can say with great confidence that the God I serve would not be pleased if I settled for indifference toward my neighbor as opposed to active malice. 

Paul writes earlier in his epistle to the Romans that all have fallen short of God’s glory. I fall short every day. It is impossible for me to lament on the state of humanity without first lamenting on my own state. Then I have to be careful not to be proud of my humility! This Christian walk business is no joke. I am thankful that my sanctification is a process and that Christ chose to die for me despite knowing what I am capable of. The Holy Spirit is working in me to remove my suck, but not without replacing it with the contrasting good quality. 

He’s pretty busy. 



Mardi Gras

Does anyone else find it terribly inconvenient to go buck wild on a school night?

Buck wild: (adj) – to go to bed past 9:30 PM, perhaps in conjunction with the enjoyment of a few slices of pizza.

My dictionary isn’t the most thrilling. But I digress.

Protestant Christian that I am, this former Catholic school girl has observed Lent for many years. This season in the Christian calendar is meant to commemorate the time
Christ spent in the wilderness being tempted. The sacrifice one makes, ideally, should force a person to lean on God more. For instance, I wouldn’t give up going to the movies because I never do that. However, choosing something to sacrifice that will take the wonder working power of the Holy Spirit to do will indeed prepare my heart to observe the awesomeness that is Christ’s resurrection.

Last year, I gave up negative self-talk. I realized I couldn’t do this alone by the day after Ash Wednesday, hah! It dawned on me that not loving myself was breaking the 2nd of Christ’s commandments as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew: love your neighbor as yourself. I learned I was treating my neighbors MUCH better than I was treating myself. It was kind of nice being nice to me. Of course, human that I am, I have relapsed, but I don’t think I am quite as bad as I was before I first started. I am more forgiving of the fact that I consistently need forgiveness.

This year, I am finding that I am having trouble putting the best fuel in my body. Not necessarily because I crave crap all of the time, but because I would rather eat poorly than do the planning it takes to give myself the best. I believe it is more of my negative attitude that is problematic than the actual eating poorly. Outwardly, I may be giving up eating out and junk food, but it is really going to require that I work on my resentment toward structure in order to make this happen. I’ve often wondered how doing something good for yourself can be termed “sacrificial” if you stand to reap great benefits from doing so. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that attitudes like that are part of what nailed Christ to the cross.

I’m embracing the opportunity to grow this Lenten season – toward Christ and others as I seek strength for this challenge. At least, now that I had some cake in the teacher’s lounge. Can’t win them all.

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See all this melanin? I STILL got pre-checked by TSA. Racism must be dead: Part Two

So, I went to Jamaica and ran. The trip was exciting to me from the get go, y’all. I looked at my boarding pass and saw something I had never seen before: Pre-checked by TSA! Pre. That seems important. As I walked toward security, I noticed that there was the line for the proletariat and the line for pre-checked. Friggin’ sweet. I was through the line within moments instead of wondering if I was going to make my flight. Ah, the good life.

If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone, right? I mean, I AM darker than a brown paper bag. If you see “Lady J” on a flight manifest you probably won’t think ter…see. I don’t even want to finish the word because I want to be pre-checked again. I know y’all are watching, WordPress. Of COURSE the government doesn’t screen people based on race, sex, or religious affiliation. Because people are fair everywhere, right? Especially those with power.

I found it ironic that soon after I was in the air, I watched the video of Eric Garner’s death in sheer horror. Apparently, selling loose cigarettes warrants paying with your life. I say this is ironic because I know with great certainty that like my amazing TSA pre-check, that would not happen to just anyone. There are classes in this country that are simply more privileged than others. Who is the most uncomfortable with this? The privileged.

It’s like the feeling I got today when I was getting my nails did at the salon. My tech and I come from VERY different backgrounds. I am definitely more Hilary Banks than Florida Evans and the tech was talking about not having earned her GED. I don’t want to pat myself on the back for not having pat myself on the back, but I will say this – I understand that many things were in place for me to be able to achieve what I have. The vast majority of those things were completely out of my control – the family I was born into as well as the way my parents raised me. Yes, I absolutely have free will and I’ve made some pretty good choices. The environment was set up for me to do so. It is by God’s grace that I am where I am. If tech were to say to me, “Lady J. I could be where you are if I had had the opportunities you did,” what could I say? “Probably.” You know what I wouldn’t say? “Where you are is your fault.” I don’t have enough knowledge to say that. However, I DO know enough to know that I, Joan, am incredibly blessed.

Why is it that many who purport to follow Christ have such a problem admitting they benefit from things over which they have no control? I thought when you accept Jesus into your heart you acknowledge that there’s no way you could receive grace and mercy by your own doing. You know why some people were less disturbed by the video of Eric Garner’s death? Imma tell you why. Because some people KNOW it will never be them or their child whom the police would kill like that. And it’s not because no one else’s child is above selling loose cigarettes.

Those of you who insist you have everything that you do because you’ve pulled yourselves up by your own bootstraps seem to take for granted that you were given shoes in the first place. Not everyone gets Pre-Checked, y’all.

And perfect eyelashes, apparently.

And perfect eyelashes, apparently.

 

Like, I totally have to get over my boyfriend.

Get over (v):

To accept and embrace his presence in my life while completely quieting any foolish voice in my head.

Read more about the voices below –

To know me since my late twenties is to know someone who has been extremely focused. Focused on growth in my career. Focused on being a pianist. Eventually focused on triathlon. But it’s pretty much been the Joan Show. I thought it was a hell of a show. Wit, an interesting cast of supporting characters, enough drama to keep it interesting. What else could I need? This show could go on forever. One superstar is sufficient.

But The Lord be like “Heavenly Heh Heh Heh. Imma throw you something you weren’t expecting.” I was expecting to go out on a date or two with some joker and enjoy a night out that wasn’t related to work or triathlon. I was NOT expecting to meet someone who would draw me to my knees and praise God for His grace and blessings. I was expecting to be able to continue my life as it had been going, which was great, and now I cannot, which is bloody fantastic.

It’s also fantastically hard to admit it as well as articulate it.

I’ve always struggled with asking for help. I don’t even know which blog post to which I can link because I’m fairly sure all of them are variations on the theme of “I’m uncomfortable being vulnerable.” Now there is this amazing person who says I may call him mine who makes me want to share everything. You people are going to be so happy for me because you love me and it’s terrifying. What if I mess it up? What if he messes up and I have to kill him? What if I regret typing the previous sentence in case I actually do have to kill him?

Worst part? I am much happier dealing with these hypotheticals because it means he is here with me. He is worth it to me to work to conquer my stupid fears and ego. Because I…luu…luuu…shiiiiiiit I LOVE him. He has become way too important for me to screw up something beautiful because of my foolish pride. Everyone close to me sees how much happier I have been, and though this is a post about humility I will say am PROUD to say that I was already quite happy. I can admit that indeed, I am much happier and want to stay that way.

So I’m trying not to freak out. Because, this:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭25-34‬ NIV)

I can totes hear Christ being like, “Lady J don’t worry ’bout yo’ man, neitha. I got him. I gotchu. I should be first in y’all lives anyway. Stop trippin.” In Aramaic, of course.

Ugh. All these songs on the radio are personal for me now. He’s got me wondering what’s harder; a full Ironman or childbirth. His fine Greek ass is like feta – it makes everything betta. I used to wonder what would go through the minds of chicks who didn’t seem to be able to do anything without their boyfriend or husband present. Maybe some of them (not gonna lie, some of you are probably weak) are both strong and humble enough to understand that it’s okay to need someone to do things.

Damn. I know I’m pretty neat but this dude. He’s neat as hell. Got me tryna do even better when I thought I was doing a pretty good job. Well-played, Lord. Well-played.

Also – thank you, Lord. Again. And again. I’ve been tithing but I know you won’t mind if I put “Adonis” in the memo on the checks.

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Thanksgiving, Day 7

1. Provided that I don’t die of boredom on the elliptical, I’m thankful that I’m going to complete the challenge issued by one of the ministers.

2. The ability to go to church. There are many who wish to be able to worship in community with other Christians but are physically unable. I need to remember this when I am occasionally grumbling about one more thing on my to do list.

3. Prayer. I love that I don’t have to be at church to talk (and listen!) to the Lord.

4. Strangers. Most of them will remain that way, but I know God uses them in my life to help me grow, like in traffic and stuff.

5. Parents of my students. I am super blessed to work in a place where the vast majority of parents are invested in their children’s growth.

6. Workout gloves. Gotta protect the moneymakers.

7. The fact that I have to work fairly hard to maintain physical fitness. Some people seem like they can do whatever they want, which probably isn’t the case, but I know I can’t and appreciate it because it keeps me humble and driven.

8. The shape of my head. I can wear pretty much any style and it not be hilarious. Thanks again for the Caesarian, Mom!

9. Gas prices dropping!

10. Living a life that I don’t feel the need to escape from. So many people act a fool when they are out of work or away from home and seem absolutely miserable. It’s not my intent to judge others but dammit if you live in America and can afford to be bitching at a “Happy” Hour on a regular basis you should probably STFU and count your blessings.

That’s a wrap!

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Shoutout Series: Golden Throat

How God’s wonders never cease – my golden throated friend is a humble soprano. That’s like a little person playing center for a basketball team, or like a snowy day in Miami. It just doesn’t make sense. But Golden Throat makes it happen every day.

I met my dear Golden Throat 11 years ago at THE Florida State University. She was working on her Master’s when lil Lady J was working on her Bachelor’s and trying not to lose her damn mind. What a blessing it was in the madness of that environment to have someone like her praying for me and with me. Not unlike her boldness on the concert stage, she loves and witnesses for Christ unapologetically. How rare it is to have a true friend who practices the gentle rebuke of Galatians 6:

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (‭Galatians‬ ‭6‬:‭1-2‬ NIV)

Not that Lady J ever sins, of course. But if it were to happen, I know Golden Throat would be on it like a champ.

It sucks, because I haven’t had the privilege of her face to face company since her lovely wedding in June 2009. No matter where life has taken us, I am confident that my sweet sister in Christ will always be in my life.

To Golden Throat. Thanks for helping Lady J to do it.

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