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Monday, December 19, 2011

Why me???



The more I talk to people, the more I hear the words, “why me?” Why me tells me a few things. First, it tells me that people are suffering and are in pain. They want to know why out of 10 billion people on planet earth, they were the ones chosen to deal with such pain.

Secondly, when people ask, “why me” it tells me that people are in a state of feeling sorry for themselves. They’ve past the point of motivation, and perseverance and all they want are answers. But none of us are in positions to really tell someone the answers to their “why me?” We can help them reflect back on their lives, deal with their pain of the past and point them toward the truth, but the only person who has the answer is God.

I was in a place a long time ago where I would ask, “why me?” I was so very pathetic. I felt sorry for myself and was angry at God for giving me a life filled with people who hurt me, deceived me, conned me, lied to me and abandoned me.

Furthermore, I was taught “do unto others as you would have people do unto you.” So why all the pain? It made no sense to me and as far as I was concerned, the scriptures were a lie and that line was some pious attempt to get me do right!

It wasn’t until my brother Arnold, who died of cancer said to me, “Tori, I don’t ask, “why me,” I ask, “why not me?” My brother suffered from pancreatic cancer that spread to his lungs. Even while dying, he encouraged me and made me see that life is never about us. When he said, “Why not me,” he was saying, “who are we to question what God has allowed?" But I was too blinded over the fact that my brother was dying. I couldn't comprehend.

Years later, I got it! Years later, my “why me” turned into “use me.” You see, Rick Warren, says, “Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts. So, you will never, ever, ever, hear me say, “why me?” Instead “use me.”

If my pain can help heal a broken heart, restore faith in a fractured marriage, offer hope, encouragement, lift and help give life to a situation that was dead years, ago, use me! I’m a willing vessel. I now know that it’s not about me….my story is for someone else. Your story is too. So instead of asking, “Why me,” ask yourself, “why not me?” Prayerfully, you’ll arrive at the place where you will say, “Use me.”

Friday, December 2, 2011

STOP


Driving home from work this evening was surely an “Aha” moment. I happen to be one of those commuters that no matter which route I take from my workplace, there is a ton of traffic. This time, instead of becoming impatient with the traffic, I decided to adjust my radio to a louder volume and enjoy the ride. Somewhere along my route, a car pulled in front of me. It was one of those driving school cars with the name of the school properly propped up for advertising purposes. I didn’t pay too much attention as I was busy deciphering the skills of the new driver. Beside the driver was the instructor who must have motioned to make a right turn into a shopping center. I was at a light and was once again able to notice the skills (or lack thereof) of this driver. The driver approached a stop sign and came to a complete stop. He then put on his left turn signal and made a left turn.

As my light turned green for me to proceed, I did so wondering if the instructor was growing impatient with the driver for coming to a complete stop. I mean, after all, it was past 5:00 p.m. and this instructor probably wanted to go home right? I even laughed silently as I imagined the instructor thinking out loud, “come on kid, just ease up to the stop sign and proceed slowly…no one ever really stops!” I also imagined him thinking, “If you stop, that is a second or two that is a pure waste of my time.” Imagine that?

How many times do we just proceed when we should stop and look both ways? Imagine the number of times we could have saved ourselves from a ton of pain and hardship, had we just stopped and looked both ways? The signs of life are there for a reason. Our signs can come in the form of a person, a word or song, but we rush right through them believing that the danger that lies ahead is for the other person, not us. While this young driver had an instructor coaching him to make the right decisions, informing him when he made the wrong ones and explaining why he should always stop and look both ways, I wonder if we have these kinds of people in our own lives or are we rushing through life, never looking both ways and never willing to listen to correction.

I’ve learned the hard way that if we want to get to our destinations sane, whole and healthy, we will have to sometimes come to a complete stop and look both ways. We may also require correction and discipline and while it may take an extra second or two to get to where we are headed, the end result might just save our lives.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eyes wide shut...



As I headed out the door for lunch on this unseasonable warm yet fall afternoon, I smelled the fresh fragrance of pine. I didn’t think anything unusual except maybe someone had just cleaned something, but as I walked closer to the door leading to the outside of my office, I see workers moving about. That’s when I noticed that these men had just put up our office Christmas tree. Just briefly, I thought, “So, that’s what’s different...it’s the tree,” but I moved about my business anyway.

The experience in my office lobby was quite different when I returned from lunch. I had an opportunity to really look at the massive tree that stood directly in front of me. It has to be 12 feet high. It’s beautifully decorated with lights and again the smell overwhelms the lobby area. I thought, “How could I have missed something so big and so beautiful” and began to wonder about my own life, thoughts and what is occupying my time. I also began to think about the number of times something so great is right before me, yet I miss the beauty of it because I am absorbed with self.

Overwhelmed by my inability to acknowledge something that stood so mightily, I decided to share my thoughts about this with a co-worker. She didn’t notice it either! So I ask…”have we become a walking community of people with eyes closed so tightly while we focus on our own business, that we can’t see what’s directly in front of us?” Her experience was further confirmation that we on a daily basis miss opportunities, blessings, second chances and maybe even love because we are walking with closed hearts, closed minds and closed eyes.

I’m not sure about you, but this experience was a lesson for me to always consider how I walk. I want to walk upright, Godly ~ appreciating all of His beauty. I do not want to be consumed with my own stuff, and my own thoughts….I may miss something. The reality is ~ there is something great within all of our reach, but we have to get out of our own darkness and be willing to open up our hearts, minds and eyes.

Enjoy the BEAUTY of this tree that I almost missed!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Alone Again....Naturally



It’s funny, that alone thing. Some see it as a nice retreat, away from the hustle and bustle or a comforting place where no one else can enter. Depending on how you view being alone, it can be therapeutic and a place to re-energize. Even Jesus left the people every now and then to get away and re-energize. But for some, being alone is a private hell. You’re left alone with your thoughts, your failures, what you’ve lost and all of the disappointments of life. For some, it’s torture, a cycle of confusion and sadly, a place that after time, brings a sick comfort because you’ve made being alone a routine and a habit. The simple but straight truth is that we are not meant to be alone. We’re built for relationships and for whatever the reasons are that one might feel more comfort in being alone most of the time than being in relationship means that one’s soul is crying. It means that your distorted view of what might feel natural is actually very unnatural. It also means that there is pain that is so deeply rooted that you’ve lost all connectivity to the one who can restore you.

Even in our most primal state (being an infant) one cannot survive without the love and touch from others. This is the way we are made. We all have an innate sense of needing to belong and relating to someone or something, but when we're alone, there is nothing but a false existence, hungry for relationship. Even still, with the hunger pangs so explosive and so desperate, some carry with them this sense of arrogance and pride that they simply do not need anyone or anything and that they can do it all by themselves. I’m here to say, no you can’t. Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Prov. 26:12, ESV) I’m here to say that pride and arrogance is one of the highest forms of sin because it deliberately blocks God and intentionally shuts Him out! Oh how that can bring about a wrath that no man can withstand.

I'm here to say that the fortress you've built is exactly where satan wants you to be. You see, he wants you to be alone. He wants you to live this life without your armor of God, and he's happy to convince you that you don't need people. He loves your fortress because he knows that you've blocked out all of the people who can help you tear it down...even God. The bible is clear when it says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” (Prov. 18:1, ESV). So I caution you, when you get hooked on satan's hook, some things will not be reversed. It will be your life-long existence.

Like isolation and insulation should never be a consolation...Alone again…Naturally, is not natural.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Partner Up!

Statement: You've got a problem with personal accountability.
Reply: Well, whose fault is that?


What is Accountability?
~ Accountability is a divine principle
~ Accountability is God’s protection of his children

What does Accountability do?
~ Develops within us a sense of responsibility
~ Promotes integrity
~ Guards us against turning our freedom into doing something wrong
~ Sharpens our skills
~ Promotes a healthy self-examination
~ Protects us from unwise relationships
~ Promotes a Godly attitude and Godly spirit

What is an Accountability Partner?
~ One who is walking in the spirit
~ One who is trustworthy with your confidence
~ One who has Godly wisdom based on spiritual principles
~ One who gives you the freedom to be yourself
~ One who has the courage to confront you
~ One must be forgiving toward you
~ One who is an encourager
~ One who is a good listener
~ One who is sensitive to your feelings
~ One who has your best interest at heart

Reasons people avoid being accountable:
~ Ignorant
~ Fear of exposure
~ Fear of rejection
~ Arrogant, pride and they feel self-sufficient
~ They know they are doing something wrong

Not knowing is one thing...knowing is another. Partner Up!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

West Philly Woman


Street lights, row homes, hopscotch, West Philly…
Clothes lines, alley ways, barking dogs, West Philly…
Corner stores, big cars, jumping jacks, West Philly…
Barbeques, Motown, Marvin Gaye, West Philly…
Bobo’s, Ked's, Converse, West Philly…
Sewer holes, front porches, stray cats, West Philly…
Caring neighbors, lots of kids, Mister Softee, West Philly…
Mustard pretzels, Maryjane's, shoe strings, West Philly…
Scraped knees, dodge ball, water plugs, West Philly…
Paddy wagons, lightning bugs, house flies, West Philly...
Green Trolley’s, Septa busses, small streets, West Philly…
Born & raised, home grown, handpicked from West Philly…
Mad love, much respect, and Big Up’s for West Philly…

Monday, August 29, 2011

I AM~




I am NOTHING and I am EVERYTHING. You say, “How can one be NOTHING and at the same time be EVERYTHING?” Let me explain ~ I am Nothing without God and Everything with Him. Who are you?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What Will Your Legacy Represent?



Today, all of us are building a legacy and one day each of us will have our life story spoken of. We are all in a position to have some influence over how we have lived our lives and how we have added to the lives of others, so what do you represent...?

Do you represent a person who could be trusted or have you abandoned trust for rumors and gossip?

Do you represent someone who is filled with laughter or have you replaced laughter with pity-parties and your gloom and doom?

Do you represent someone who taught your children the meaning of Christ, love, integrity, character, honesty, and self-respect or did you only praise them for good grades and cleaning their rooms?

Do you represent someone who lives what they speak or are you someone who is just filled with meaningless words?

Do you stand for something of honor or do you blow in the direction of whatever sounds good for the moment?

Do you treat those given to you with love and respect, or have you used, abused, abandoned and taken them for granted?

Do you represent someone who continues to live with fear, guilt and shame or have you given yourself permission to forgive knowing Christ did long ago?

Do you represent someone who understands that freedom is a choice and every day that you live in shackles mean that you chose wrong?

Do you understand that people will look at the “fruit” you have produced and will conclude, "therein lies his legacy?"

Every day we make a choice and everyday one of them is wrong. Choose to leave a legacy that speaks to the person that God has created and grown you to be. It’s the only legacy that is worth leaving behind. Anything short of that is a legacy not worth mentioning.

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's too late...



There are so many missed opportunities and missed loves. We have spent so much time on the non-essentials in life versus focus on what is important, meaningful and long lasting. We chase the cars, the money, the homes, the vacations and the dreams that may never materialize all the while, losing family, friendships, and ourselves. We live with the hope that someone else’s success can be ours if we would just partner up with them instead of partnering up with God, praying, sacrificing and putting in a little sweat equity.

We become engrossed in the glitz and glam, fine dining and meaningless conversations. We have mastered the act of acting in order to hide our own inadequacies. At night you think, “I won, they like me and soon, I’m going to be one of them,” while really inside you know you will never be. You see, the difference between you and them is that they kept what was important first. They knew that compromising their relationship with our Master and the integrity of loved ones for a self-serving attitude never wins.

You look back on your life only to realize that you’ve been here before. Its familiarity is overwhelming and the stench burn your eyes. You have been thrown into a blinding realization that you have not advanced, have not grown and have missed opportunities and loves. The people you praised, worshipped and sweated don’t even know your name or return your calls. In fact, they run from you because your character is skewed, your choices are selfish and there is nothing about you that speaks to honesty.

Time did not stand still and everyone has moved on but you. You’ve got nothing to show for yourself and the fruit you have produced are covered with maggots. It is rotten to the very core. You never took a moment while you were on your chase to notice that you were responsible for your missed opportunities and loves.

Now, you are trying to resurrect the dead and give what was lost some life. You're trying to water it, nurture it and revive it. You have lost and you have missed the opportunity. It’s too late.

Friday, June 3, 2011

No growth in darkness ...


If the only thing that has changed about you over the past ten years is your address, then you are not growing. Anything that is alive has the ability to grow, but for some, darkness, disease, rebellion, pride, ego and evil has replaced growth. Instead, you wander aimlessly looking for everything to fill your cups. You chase money and this false sense of security hoping it will satisfy a need. You’ve been on this cycle for years and years’ believing this is the time, this is my chance and this is the breakthrough that will make all of my dreams come true. People have lost confidence in you and what’s worse is that you have lost confidence in yourself.

You’ve equally exhausted yourself either through denial, playing the victim, or your lies and you have buried yourself so deeply that you can’t find your way out. You’ve cut off, isolated and insulated yourself from the people who could help as a way of protecting your own pride and ego. And now you are left with self - but thyself is scary. You’ve sacrificed growth, happiness and freedom for selfishness, ignorance and arrogance. The high hopes that you had for your life has failed.

You then let the self-talk and voices of others convince you that you are okay, that you did nothing wrong, that you’re not responsible, but the truth is, they are infected with the same disease and they are contagious. They latch on to you because you have become easy prey. You see – when something is contagious, it immediately seeks to find areas that are the most vulnerable so it can spread itself. It wreaks havoc in your life and these parasitic attacks leave you with the twisted and distorted belief that it is better to have something toxic than nothing at all. You then return over and over to get your fix while allowing the darkness to pour even more of its venom into your soul. You are dying to a lie and allowing others to destroy you with their lies as well. You are blinded by darkness and your growth has come to a halt.

In order to grow, we must be willing to come into the light – and get out of the dark. We must be willing to break through the dirt and reach toward the heavens where the Sun // SON is. We must be able to handle downpours of rain and some dry seasons when it does not rain. We must be willing to be fertilized for added nutrients and to have our roots stimulated. We must be willing to let go of the bad seeds and cut off the infected roots. We must be willing to be repotted so that we can spread a good harvest. What is produced on the outside is a direct result of what has already taken root on the inside, so break through the darkness and allow yourself to grow - You need the SON to live.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Are we speaking the same language?



I am always amazed at those who claim to be Christians, claim to love God and boast about being humbled when in fact, we can’t give Christ 15 minutes of our day to study His word. Let me offer clarity folks….being humbled and being stripped are two very different things. Some of us have been stripped but many of us have no idea what humility feels like. I’m equally amazed at how we will study every manual that comes with our cars, HDTV’s, camera’s, cell phones and even manuals for inserting batteries into a clock, but so many people can’t give God the same study time. This is your life we are talking about and isn’t your life worth so much more than your television or cell phone? So how do you expect to learn who He is and what He requires? What’s selfishly worse is that so often, when we do pray, it is filled with our requirements of Him and our wants. It is filled with “gimme, gimme and gimme some more.” Can I enlighten you to a thought? God is not in place for your comfort and He never told us that life was about us, but when we willingly, unselfishly long for our hearts to be filled with God, He will bless us beyond belief and our cups will run over. Trust me. This I know. So, I am sorry to break the news to you, but it is not about you. It’s all about Him.

What is just as poor as always asking God for what we want are the many people who still carry around the King James Version of the Bible. Who do you know who speaks like this? As a people, in order to effectively communicate, you have to understand the language. When have you ever throughout your life used words like thou, speaketh, thy, or art so why and how do you expect to know God, what He’s like, what His requirements are and how you can be blessed if you are not able to understand what He is saying? Even a small child will cry out when they require food, and if we instead administer a diaper change, then we aren’t meeting their requirements of us because we do not understand the language. Let’s do a little bit of history here. Do you even know who King James is? I bet half of you would say no and I sure wish I could see your faces. Then let me ask you, why are you reading a Bible in this version when you don’t know who King James is and YET, you claim to know who Christ is and won’t pick up a Bible written in everyday language to understand Him better? Gotcha!

When was the last time you spoke and wrote in Greek or the Hebrew language? Here is the history folks….The King James Bible, published in 1611, was England's authorized version of the Bible translated from the original Hebrew and Greek languages into English at the request of King James I of England. At the time, other English Bibles existed, but King James did not like the most popular translation, the Geneva Bible, because he felt that some of the marginal notes encouraged disobedience to kings. So when a Puritan scholar, Dr. John Reynolds, suggested a new English translation of the Bible at a 1604 conference of bishops and theologians at Hampton Court Palace, King James readily agreed. Even though King James agreed to the new Bible translation, the King James Version was never officially recognized by the king, nor was it ever authorized as the only text permitted to be read in church. Despite this, we have taken advantage of the King James version and it has contributed to the detriment of our growth in Christ. How sad. Would you ever consider having an ongoing and meaningful relationship with someone if they spoke only in their native tongue of a third world country? No! Would you consider giving your children a chore list written in Greek or Hebrew? No! Then why are you reading your chore list in Greek and Hebrew from your Father? Elementary right? Thought so.

Now, I am not completely insensitive to those who were given this version of the Bible as a gift from dear old grandmother, your mother, your child or maybe you bought it yourself, but in any relationship it requires a true understanding, depth and meaning. In any relationship, it is required that one speaks while the other listens. You can’t hear what God is saying, if you don’t understand His language and won’t pick up the correct version to learn what He wants to share with us. And since you have this manual called the Bible, then we will assume that your intention is to understand what you are reading right? Right! When you understand what you are reading, you begin to become transformed which should ultimately lead to conviction right? Right! And true conviction causes a process of transformation right? Right! You simply CAN NOT read the Bible without it causing transformation and growth right? Right! So, it's safe to say that if you are not growing then you are stuck as a spiritual infant or could be spiritually dead.

Have you ever considered that one of the causes could be that you have a word that you simply do not understand? Another cause could be that you are not gathering with Christ-like people, who can help teach, grow, counsel and correct you and another reason is that your heart could simply be hard. Remember this…God wants us to confess it all. He wants us to tell Him when we are angry, upset, disheartened, afraid, and weary. He wants us to spill it all to Him. He longs to be closer to us and have a relationship with us. He’s God and He can handle it. When we don’t, we are not allowing Him to fill our hearts with Him and we begin to fill our cups with everything else under the sun. Sometimes it’s our jobs. We will spend countless hours at work trying to fill our cups with something that only Christ can fill. Other times it’s our children. We will become dependent on them for a love that only Christ can provide, or we may become intrusive and barge in where they simply do not want us or where we don’t belong. In other cases, we overdo it with our spouses…expecting them to fill our cups, make us happy or provide for us what they were never meant to provide. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me break to you a bit of bad news here….”You will always end up hollow and in search of someone or something to fill your cups when you don’t allow Christ to fill your cups first. Your jobs, spouse, children and material things are the overflow. God is the only one who can fill our cups. The rest is the cherry on the top.”

People, God hates sin and He will not take up residence in a sinner’s heart if they don’t want Him there. He simply will not do it. If He’s called you, you have one of two choices. You can answer or you can walk away and do it your way but let me assure you, your way will bring pain, emptiness and a hard life. Your way will cause brokenness, unnecessary tears and will leave you with a constant limp. It’s only when you are able to spill out the gunk in your hearts, can He then come in and fill it with Him. A start is your everyday language Bible. You must stay in His word and this word must be something that you can understand. Dear old grandmother, mom and your child did nothing wrong when they bought it for you, but today you require growth and healing. If you profess to be a Christian then you should be growing. If you are not growing, now is the time to start the re-examination process. That process always begins with you, Christ and His word. You don’t have to believe me. In fact you can delete my blog and never look at it again, but the reality is that the truth remains and the truth will place you on the path of complete and total freedom. Trust me when I tell you….I am a testimony to this and it makes no logical sense to choose death when you have already been given freedom and life though Christ. Get a Bible that you understand, one that allows God to speak loud and clearly to you. You owe it to yourself and you owe Christ so much more.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fear Factor


What we fear the most we create. Fear has a way of manifesting itself in our lives over and over again. We can run from fear but we cannot hide from fear. Fear will always catch up with us and if we don’t face it, fear will overcome us. Fear shows up in different faces, places, circumstances, and situations, but it’s all the same….it’s FEAR! I’ve always been a courageous person….walking right up to that lion and roaring back. There was no way I could let anything make me cower and besides, I love the challenges because they push me and I thrive off of them. Some might call that stupidity, but stupid, I am not. When someone says “NO,” I say to myself, ”Yes.” I can’t even count on one hand the situations I let overcome me. I’ve always been a fighter and as God is my witness, I’ve always embraced situations that most would run from. My spirit doesn’t rest if I don’t face fear.

Well, at 47, my spirit hasn’t rested because there is a fear that I have not dealt with. My fear is math and now I have to take and pass a statistics class. In my earlier years, I recall changing my major in order to get away from math and it worked. Whew! Dodged that bloody bullet! Now re-read my first paragraph. It’s back! Fear will leave you stuck. You simply cannot move forward in life when you are stuck. Yes, you can fake it, play the game, act like all is well, go about handling your business but there is still this gnawing at you. You will remain in an infantile state and will never be able to grow. You can’t take on more success because you can’t get past the basics. Well, I refuse to become stale, stagnant and allow fear (math) to keep me in bondage. It’s back and so it must be dealt with.

There is good news though. You don’t have to face this fear alone…in fact, you don’t even have to do much fighting. All you need to do is trust God and walk up to this lion. Just take a step. I’ve lived long enough to know that when I face things, they fall away and not because I wished them away. Because in this lifetime, I am not alone. I possess something so much greater than my own strength and that is our Lord’s strength. Why live life fearing, running, hiding and being afraid? Our chief source of strength that enables us to withstand fear will always be the knowledge that God is with us.

We need not fear any danger from anything natural or supernatural, small or great. It is the love of God that overshadows us and gives us victory in and over all these things. Handle your business, shut that lion down, walk up to your fear and grow. You really have nothing to fear. John 14:27 - "Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."

Friday, February 25, 2011

I DON'T SMELL ANYTHING!

You know what I have observed? The longer people live in their own stink, the more they become accustomed to it and fail to even notice. When these “stinkers” have trouble getting along with people, they always think the problem is with the other person. They never stop to look in the mirror and smell the real culprit.

Pepe Le Pew, the famous cartoon skunk, serves as a great example. He never bothered to realize that it was his stench that drove everyone away. He always saw his problem as external, and he never bothered to look within. Do you know any people like that? “Sin in others I can see, but praise the Lord there’s none in me.”

GETTING HONEST

As much as we don’t like to do it, the time is now to look soberly into the mirror of God’s Word and see what He wants us to see. Is there the stench of pride, bitterness, selfishness, anger, lust and resentment hanging on your life? Are you blaming everyone under the sun for your problems and failing to take responsibility for the way YOU are reacting to your unpleasant situation?

You and I can’t control a lot of what happens in our lives, but we can control how we respond to what happens. We can come before the Lord with a humble, tender heart and deal with sin in our own lives. We can hit the showers and let God wash us white as snow.

EARTHY OR HEAVENLY

When we sin, we smell earthy. An earthy smell is a stench in the nostrils of God. But the good news is this: through the cross of Christ, the Lord has provided all we need to take the stench of our sin to Him and be made clean, pure and fresh as a daisy. It all starts when you get real and honest before the Lord. It all starts when you quit pointing fingers at others and start looking at yourself. God wants to do a work in you. You can’t change others, but you can let the Lord change you.

The choice is yours. You can soberly deal with sin or you can go on lying to yourself, pretending all is well with you and Jesus when you know deep down that there is rottenness in your heart. You can keep smelling of earth, or you can start smelling of heaven. You can get right with God, or you can continue in your charade. Which do you choose?

About vicTORIous

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I am a free spirit and an extreme realist. With God, I've encountered strength that I never knew was possible.