Just One More Step

But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.  1 Samuel 30: 10 (King James Version)

One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in 1 Samuel 30.  This story is my encouragement on days when I can’t see my way to the other side of through. I believe this story was written just for me! (smile) Please take time to read the whole chapter. I hope it will bless you as it does me!

David and his men had just come back in from dealing with those Philistines again! But while he was gone, another enemy, the Amalekites, came into the city. They burned the place down and took all their wives and children. They didn’t kill them but took them away as their captives. Can you imagine how they all must have felt to see their city burning and their loved ones gone! To add to this pain, the very men he led in battle on any other day, turned on David in their grief and wanted to stone him. They blamed him for their loss. This next part excites me! Instead of David becoming overcome in guilt and sorrow, he found the courage not to quit.

Verse 6: And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

David encouraged himself! He found the strength to push through the pain. He didn’t let the pain stop him from reaching his purpose! He then asked the Lord should he pursue the enemy to get the captives back and the Lord said, yes, pursue because you will recover all! That right there makes me want to dance for joy! In my pursuing my purpose, as directed by the Lord, I will recover everything that I lost! My God! But that’s not the only lesson in this chapter.

The men got themselves together and joined David in pursuing after their families! You heathens took my wife AND my kids – I’m coming after you, best believe that! So, 600 men struck out after them and came to a brook. In verse 10, it tells us that 200 of the men got so tired that they could not bring themselves to go over that brook. A BROOK!!! A small, stream of water…can your mind imagine that scene as mine does? They were so tired in spirit and body that they could not take one tiny step over a small stream of water. Oh my,my, my!

I know I have been just like those 200 men. So beaten up and battered by life’s circumstances that I did not want to go another step, physically or emotionally! No, Lord, I just can’t do it! I know You promised me victory, that I will recover it all, but I can’t seem to make my mind grasp around this issue of mine. So I will sit by this brook and rest and just wait to see what will happen.

The other men went with David and got it ALL back! Theirs and what belonged to the 200 that were too tired to go another step! The 400 men didn’t even want the 200 to get any of the spoils of the conquest, just their wives and children. They felt the 200 did not deserve anything because they did not go into battle. Isn’t that something?

There are so many lessons in this one chapter that I can’t tell it all! I want to encourage you to KEEP ON STEPPING as you navigate through this life we live. Yes, it’s hard, yes, there are days that you just want to give up! But you don’t know that your victory could be in your very next step! Dare to take just one more! You shall recover all!!!!

There are decisions that we all need to make as we look further into 2012. Take it one day at time, one step at a time and don’t worry! If you know that our God is with you, YOU CANNOT FAIL! I WILL NOT FAIL! There may be days when no one is around to cheer you on – actually you may feel like everyone wants to stone you. BUT you encourage yourself by whatever means you can – God’s Word, songs of praise and worship, prayer so real with God about what’s in your heart! The courage to take that next step will come as surely as you are reading this blog.

I am truly talking to myself as I am to you. Lately, it seems like the fear of the unknown is threatening to take me down. I read this story again and the message is clear.  I have to do exactly what I am telling you. Take the next step into recovering my future and my purpose. I have no time to rest by the brook. I am trusting God with the assurance that He who knows the end from the beginning, is guiding me all the way.

Today, God, give us the courage to keep on stepping over our brooks of fear, doubt, worry confusion, hurt, and hopelessness. As we encourage ourselves in You, we know we shall recover all! We praise You even now for the victory that we will share with the world! In Jesus Name we pray! Amen!

Live Today Victoriously!

Never Let Them See You Sweat

1 Corinthians 13:12 (King James Version)
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

How many times were you told as a child this famous line – WHAT GOES ON IN THIS HOUSE, STAYS IN THIS HOUSE?! I know there has to be at least one of you who can raise your hand to this one? (smile) This was told to my siblings and me and we knew my mom meant business! Let one thing slip out about anything going on in our house and you knew you were gonna get it!

While that truly is a good rule to explain to your children that some things in your home should remain private, there are times that this rule can be taken to the extreme. People learn to live behind masks, never telling anyone that they are hurting because you have to keep it in the house!

I am reminded of that line in the Dry Idea commercials in the 80’s – NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT! The premise was that you could be seen doing this and that in various stages of life, but you should never let your adversaries or competitors see you sweating. They should never know that there was a cost in looking good, delivering a quality product, or giving an excellent performance. You had to make it look easy. Showing nervousness was not an option.

These unwritten “rules” will sometimes permeate the very fabric of our lives and we learn to hide our pain because we can’t let the world see that something is wrong. We manage to crawl and push through life, going through the motions, because we don’t think anyone else will understand.

I remember walking into church one day. I had on a fairly new suit and people kept saying how nice I looked. I was saying to myself the whole time, “If they only knew how I feel inside. How mad I was at the world and myself! I feel bad! Can they not tell?”

I walked by the pastor’s office and he said, “Sis. Poole, my goodness, you really look nice this morning!” I said, “Thank you! I don’t have to look like my circumstances do I?” I did not say it in a mean way, and my pastor understood what I meant. He replied, “Whew, I like that Sis. Poole, I may have to change my message for today!”

I realized in that moment that I had a mask on that was thick. I was not feeling well that day, and everything was getting on my nerves. Yelling at the kids to get ready, etc., etc., etc. But I got dressed, put my makeup on, went to church and smiled appropriately. I had learned my lessons well that what was in the house stayed there and I could not let them see me sweat. But inside I was hurting and depressed and no outfit could hide any of it from the me nobody could see but me.

There are times when the mask is needed. You have to fight through the pressures of life. You can’t give up or give in. I always had the motto for myself that if I look good, I feel good. So whether I am hurting or not, I get dressed in the morning, put on my makeup and press on. If I act as if it’s ok, after a while, it will be ok.

But there are other times when you have to let the mask go. In 2012, there are some masks that have to be cut off and left off. We have to stop pretending that everything is ok. We must deal with our issues. If you are hurting, depressed, need someone to talk to – ask for help! Don’t keep it all bottled up inside you. There is help and hope for you!

If you are tired of your life being the same old way – take steps to change it. Go back to school, even if it you do it one class at a time! As long as you are here, you can move in the direction of your dreams, one day at time. Use the new year to bring about a new you!  Finally, drop those extra pounds. Like the Nike commercial says – JUST DO IT! Don’t think about, just make it happen! Bring your hurt, depression, anger, and unfulfilled dreams to the Lord. In His presence you will find healing and wholeness.

I can encourage you, because I am right there with you. I am determined to be my best self in 2012. I am spending time in prayer, talking to God, and listening, truly listening, to Him. He knows the plans for my life (Jeremiah 29:11) and in this season, this time in my life, I am stepping into my purpose and calling. I am exercising my faith to believe that no matter the issues in my life, everything will be all right. God is in control of it all.

I am taking off all masks. I am being truthful to those in my circle. No hiding my feelings and pushing them down anymore. If I am hurting, I will tell you. If I need to cry, I will do that. And when I get blessed, the whole world will know. Truly I can sing this song – GOD HAS SMILED ON ME, HE HAS SET ME FREE!!

I am free in 2012. No more chains holding me. I am thanking God all the way for I know the best is yet to come! This year is a journey that I plan to share with you every step of the way.

I pray that each of you will join me in being your best self and allow God to lead you into that place where you can trust Him to do exceedingly and abundantly above anything you can dare to think of in your life!

Ephesians 3:20 (King James Version)
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us!

Praise God! We are Living Victoriously in 2012!

Unexplainable Favor

Genesis 32:10 (King James Version)
I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant….

My heart is overwhelmed today and I had to tell somebody about the goodness of the Lord! Favor is defined as something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for paying back; a kind act. That is what God has been showing me. Unexplainable favor. I say unexplainable because, to me, you can’t define what blows your mind!

I have to confess that I have not been the most faithful member of the flock. My finances have seem to spin out of control and I stopped giving the Lord what is His – the tenth of my income. It actually had gotten worse than ever before and I know in my heart that being out of the will of God was one of the reasons the spinning just would not stop.

In November of 2011, I was convinced that as everything else in my life was coming together, giving what I know to be right had to be fixed as well. So I stepped out on faith and with my once-a-month check, I gave God His FIRST!!! Not knowing where we would get extra money from, not caring that I had bill collectors, I wrote the check and proudly walked during offering time and put it in that basket. For the first time in a long time, I had peace that I was doing the right thing.

Nothing major happened the next day. No manna from heaven came down, but we ate every day and made it through the month. God is good! December rolled around and we got paid early and I did the same thing knowing that I now would not get paid until the end of January and it was Christmas! My kids would not understand getting nothing. We were able to do a little something and thanked God for that as well.

Here comes January and we faced a new year and new challenges! Before the holidays, my supervisor came to me and said that someone he knew wanted to help someone in need to make it through the holidays with more than toys. So he asked me for information on two of my bills. I was touched that he would think of me and humbled to know someone would be so kind. We left for the break and I really didn’t give it another thought.

This past Tuesday, I was home and going over the bills with my husband. We were a little discouraged as we realized that once again there was more month than money. We encouraged each other with the knowledge that God would make a way somehow. This day was the first day of our church-wide fast which called for us to spend more time in prayer to seek the presence of God.  The phone rang and we saw that it was the car place. We didn’t answer because we knew that we owed. I know some of you know all about that! (smile)

Well, the assistant was calling to tell me that she had just had a call from someone who paid $200 on my car which would keep it from being repossessed. All I could do was cry and praise my God for that thing called FAVOR!!!!! It took me a while to get it together enough to call and thank her for her message. She would not tell me who did it but it did not matter. I was just grateful that someone who did not know me would be willing to help. The assistant said that this blessed her heart to know there were still kind people in the world. I say that there are people in the world who have a YES spirit and follow the leading of God to help His people. And that is not all!!!

A little while ago, I called my credit card company to explain why I didn’t have the payment for this month. I was told ever so nicely that because I had not been late before now they would reverse the late fee and would not report this to the credit bureaus, and that I had until February 4th to get my payment in. CAN YOU SAY FAVOR ONCE AGAIN??!!!!!  To God be the glory!

All I can do is tell you that God is the joy and the strength of my life. He will keep His promises! He does not lie! He is my Provider, my Redeemer, my Friend, my Comforter, that true Bridge over troubled waters. I know that doing what I am called to do brings rewards that are not always about money.

Having the favor of God will take you further than anything else I know! I want to encourage you to make up your mind that in 2012 you will do what you know to be the right thing in every situation. I dare you to trust God with that problem you face. He can change things in a second, just when you think all hope is lost. He loves you and will take care of your every need. Just trust Him and even if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, God will see that and bless you in ways your mind can’t even wrap around!

I can’t wait to see what my God will do next! I am so grateful today!

Be blessed!

Live Victoriously and on Purpose!