**This is a message I delivered for Women's Sunday at New Jerusalem MB Church in Hollywood, Pastor Michael Anderson, in 2011. I came across it today in search of something else. And thought I would share it with you. Tell me what you think.***
God’s ways are not mine nor does He think anyway remotely to the way I think – I have learned that in some difficult ways because of my keen ability to be hard-headed. God’s methods of teaching are also not something we can research and fully comprehend until He puts you in the very operation that He is performing. He will not always provide anesthesia – so we will occasionally feel pain. He will not always provide pre-surgery counseling – so we will find ourselves undergoing a procedure that simply is. Yet, He is able to wonderfully purge of us every toxin that we’ve ingested, that was infused and that was born of hell.
If I read the move of God correctly, this past week and quite honestly these last 36 or so months I have been engaged in a series of divine surgical procedures. These procedures are what I have come to know as the valleys we must experience. These valleys come to show us what we’re working with. These valleys are not warm, fuzzy, welcoming places as you journey through them. If I share what I have experienced from my season in the valleys, I can tell you that there are times when you will wander into caves that sometimes touch the outskirts of valleys; then there are times when in this cavernous place, you will realize that one turn has taken you into a pit, within a cave in the valley and there you are - deep into those matters that run deeper still in the valleys. I, in fact was so deep in that pit, in the cave, in the valley this past week that I emailed and called a friend of mine and said HELP! I NEED AN INTERVENTION. I am not feeling like I can get out of this valley. I submit and honestly believe that the valley does not come to see what you feel like, but to make you cry out long enough to get bold enough to move on – whether you feel like it or not.
I sat on my porch one morning reading the word, specifically James 1 : 2 – 3, the King James version says: 2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. The New International Version, the version I read that morning reads: 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
As soon as I read the passage, I heard something – I heard the Lord ask a simple, bold and quite honestly confounding question for me. What does a trial have to do with a valley? This question baffled me. Part of my reading that morning was in preparation for this occasion, so it seemed to me that when I moved to this passage I was in a perfect place to study and learn about these valleys of life. So imagine my surprise, when I am asked what does a trial have to do with a valley? I read that scripture several times in those few minutes, surely this was a trick question. Aren’t they synonymous? I felt like Ezekiel – what do trials have to do with a valley – Lord surely you know.
I carried this question in my mind and in my spirit for a couple of days – the answer evading me. Surely, since verse 12 of that same chapter says: 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. – a trial and a valley must be the same thing. Why then would this question come at such a time of preparation, and why did the answer not come with it? I sent text messages to a couple of friends, I spoke with another and they offered wonderful observations – yet that certain something that clicks when it is the just right thing - did not happen.
I needed that answer because I had an assignment. I needed to share the power and the truth about the fact that the valleys come to show you what you are working with. So I pondered my valleys or perhaps my one expansive valley experience. If I could identify when I entered this place I would have to say it is when I stepped away from a 24 year career in radio. I did not expect to step into a valley or I probably would have remained disobedient and afraid of my faith and stayed where I was. Surely, none of us would purposely step into a valley when we understand it as a dark, dreary and even death-laden place as described in the 23rd Psalms.
But I believe that is in fact what happened, I stepped into a valley and learned immediately that the valley will teach you that the first step you cannot see may not place you into a comfortable place. The valley will show you that you must work with your reality, understanding that your reality in the valley will become more about who you were born and destined to be than who you are. I stepped into a valley that found me staring into the face of a hard and life-changing medical diagnosis; only to be told while dealing with that diagnosis that my Type 2 diabetes was out of control. Then within months I would find my right arm tormented with the pain of shingles; the appearance on my arm baffling doctors who said it never appears there. I recognized it as an attack because I am right handed and it is that hand and arm that I rely on so much. I would find myself back in the emergency room a few weeks later after my students at the women’s detention center, said, “Teacher E you don’t look good.” The diagnosis in the emergency room left me shaking my head, “Your diabetes level is fluctuating wildly and you have pneumonia,” they said. “We’re going to keep you for a couple of days.” I rested my head on the billow, feeling each ounce of oxygen being released into my body through a slim tube inserted in my nose.
That bit of news would not even prepare me for the weeks ahead when an exam would reveal a lump in my breast and I found myself faced with a biopsy and remembering that breast cancer had visited my mother twice though it never beat her. But God is faithful and through each thing - what the enemy hoped would sit me down, kill my creativity and stifle my purpose only made me more determined to get up and keep it moving. Satan clearly did not get the memo about my stubborness. The valley will teach you that death will come looking for you but when you move in God, not even death has to kill you.
In this valley, I found myself in Atlanta just before Christmas after dealing with the medical challenges, standing in a hospital room with my mom, my aunt and my son – praying as doctors took my uncle who had suffered 3 major strokes in as many days off of life support. Only to come back to South Florida and be told my son and I had one week to leave the place we were staying. Valley. But God is faithful and while we had to leave a neighborhood we had grown accustomed to, He still provided a safe place for us to land.
In this valley, I discovered what Joseph learned about relationships and dreams – they are not always things that can be partnered. Your dreams revealed too soon and to those who were not designed for the interpretation can become an automatic invitation to be belittled, berated, disregarded, disrespected, scorned and laughed at by those you assume should support you when no one else will. It becomes an invitation to be buried in a pit in the valley. Sometimes dreamers are considered a strange breed – for what we see through our eyes – will not add up to the practical and logical thinking of many. Yet it will make sense and we will carry it in the valley, clinging to it like those stranded in a desert who only have one canteen of water. The valley will show you that you are working with a spiritual eye that sees what cannot be visualized by the natural eye and cannot be explained to those who can only see in the temporal earthly realm.
In this valley, I awoke one morning and discovered that people who have always been around, or who had been around for many years were suddenly gone. Some I let go of, but many, when I considered it - God moved and some moved themselves far away from the strange fruit I had become. This strange fruit did not taste right or fit right in typical fruit bowls anymore. This strange fruit became a very bitter and perhaps nasty taste in the mouths of some. You know when you become strange fruit, because the actions and mannerisms of others will speak louder and clearer than any words they can ever mutter. I was something that was peculiar – but isn’t that we are God-called to be – peculiar? Why would I want to start a business based on people’s vision, creativity and dreams in this economy? Why would I want to start digital magazines promoting Christ dependent on advertisers in this economy? Why would I start a publishing company for new authors who wanted to self publish and provide some traditional publishing services in this economy? Why would I walk away from a job where everyone knew my name and start over in obscurity? Why would I step away from a position with a nice paycheck bi-weekly into a valley where money would be funny, shady and often just not there? Why would I lose friends, vehicles and other material things, take blows to my integrity and my dignity for the sake of a vision? Who am I to believe that there is a reason I would spend 24 years in the broadcasting business primarily in the background, but God would decide to pull me to the forefront to speak my peculiar understanding of who He is? The valley will show you that you are working with a resolve that will stop explaining and start excelling. The valley will show you that even relationships we do not think are up for discussion can be shattered for the sake of a deeper relationship with The One who will not leave us or forsake us. The valley will show you that your brand of peculiar may no longer fit your familiar place; but your new destined realms or territory will fit your peculiar brand.
In this valley I have encountered strange but friendly; and prophetic yet contrary spirits, who introduced themselves as prophets of the Word, and divinely-sent partners to my potential. They had the answers and the methodology to bring me out of my valley place as long as they were attached. Yet God would show me the character behind the mask and the ulterior motive beneath the move. God would also show me in this valley that He could pull out of me, whatever He wanted to and what He was going to pull out was so powerful that the pretenders (or those who did not want to move through their own valley) would want to simply attach to what they could see on the other side of mine. The valley shows you that you are working with something so powerful that while you may not see it in you or on you – there are others around you that do. The valley shows you that even when you cannot see it and you do not want to feel the weight of that greatness within in your low place; it is absolutely there for you to tap into – if you work with what the valley is showing you.
Valleys show you what you are working with. Dr. D. W. Paterson wrote that we often know God and cling to God when He is the Lord of the Mountaintops, but we must remember that He is also the God of the valleys. The Bible talks about various types of valleys. There is the valley of the shadow of death, in Psalms 23:4; there is the valley known as Baca from Psalms 84:5-6: "Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools" and there are the valleys of Bear-rock-ah and Akor, Siddom, Eschol, Kidron, Elah, Jezreel, Gehennah. Each of these valleys has their own characteristic, a place to repent, a place of hell, a place of slime and decay, and others teach us a specific lesson about our walk with the Lord – peace, hope, and knowing that God is with us even in the darkest places.
I believe that when we begin to completely seek and align ourselves with the pure and sincere divinity of God, we are invited and even challenged to experience the lessons of the valleys. Before we get to the happy place valleys, we must move through some slime, some trauma, some hard places, some pits in the caves in the valleys – especially when our level of peculiarity is even more peculiar than what is Biblically normal.
Several dictionaries define valleys as:
1. An elongated lowland between ranges of mountains, hills, or other uplands, often having a river or stream running along the bottom.
2. An extensive area of land drained or irrigated by a river system.
In fact geology notes indicate that most valleys are actually full of vegetation because of the presence of rivers and streams running along them. That intrigued me, because what I then needed to realize is that even though we have come to accept the valley has a desolate place and in fact it is – and if I can be completely honest and upfront I would wished I did not have to have experienced the valleys that I have nor am I looking forward to any more difficult valleys - we must understand that the valley is more than a low place between two high places. A valley, according to the geological studies, is a place where there is lush vegetation and water and sunlight – it is a place of growth. It is in the valley that we become like a tree planted by the rivers of water. The river of the water that we truly thirst for. You remember the water that Jesus offered the woman, that water runs through the valley; it nourishes the vegetation that becomes purpose.
While there are valleys that have caves on their outskirts, there is also the river of life flowing through it, causing new life to burst through its terrain. The valley comes to show you that you are working with terrain that you must break through, a place that is as full of hope as it is desolation, and you have been blessed to know the God of the valleys; as you come to know Him as they did in First Kings 20 verse 28 "And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD."
So get back to the question Claudette - what do trials have to do with a valley? I can only share with you what was revealed to me, and perhaps my personal revelation will help clarify some things that you have struggled with as well. I cannot be the only one who has been in the forgotten places of the hard regions of the valley – crying and waiting and trusting and waiting and believing and wondering – God you do know I’m still here right?
A trial absolutely has to do with the growing of an unwavering faith. Trials come so that you learn God in every area of your life – you know Him as Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rophe, Jehovah Shalom. You come to know Him as El-ohim and El-Shaddai. Trials are about building a relationship of faith with and in The Father.
Valleys are about your spirit. Valleys are about the dominion, purposed and divine empowering and in-pouring of destiny into your spirit by the Spirit. Valleys are about being infused with all things of the Spirit so that you are indwelled with an increased understanding of your holy authority and thus you follow your calling at all costs and infuse others with the same. Thus everything that has made itself at home in this place of growth must be dealt with in a season that feels like isolation, solitude and desertion. In this place where you cannot hear anything, not even The Lord, God simply wants you to be quiet in the quiet so that you can hear what the silence is saying. Valleys are the welcome mats that quickly progressing peculiar children of God must walk over in order to operate fully in the authority of their calling. The valleys come to show you that you are working with dominion, purpose, authority and power and anything less will disturb your trying to live regular self.
I do not know how close I am to the end of my valley; yet I pray, (Lord have mercy do I pray) that is very close at hand. I do not know how close you are to the end of your valley – but I do know that our valleys have come to show us that we are working with a God who can do crazy and amazing things in the valley, just like He can on the mountaintop or any other ascended place. The valley comes in fact to show you that you are already in position for your place of ascension; you need only to keep moving. Move through the pain, move through the tears, move when you’ve been like me stuck and disconnected - feeling like the valley is the only home in Christ you will ever know. Know this, the valley comes to show you that they are working on you because you are a force to be reckoned with in the move of God and because you are - there are some valleys that the enemy will drag you into, there are some valleys that he will influence you to walk into, there are some valleys you will walk into with your eyes wide open trying to avoid the valley place God has directed and ordained for you – just remember that the valley prepared by the Lord is but the removing of the toxins and tumors that can kill your Kingdom territorial advancement. And remember, death in the valley is not an option if you do not allow it to be, for He has said you will walk through the valley of the shadow of death. That shadow, that image of the valley as a low and stagnant place is all about perception, your dominion assignment and your showing up to do it is the true reality and that is what the valleys come to show you. The valleys come to show you what you are working with and who you are working with is the God of the Valleys, who can make a low place feel like a seat on His throne. Can you show your valley that you know what you’re working with, drink from the river, burst through the terrain and walk in your purpose?
What a Difference a Few Years Make!
The last few years have been some of the most difficult ones of my life. The difficulties have come personally, professionally, financially, medically and spirituality. There have been days when I've had to decide between buying a loaf of bread or a roll of toilet paper. There have been days when all I could do is stare into the face of my doctor, because I just could not believe there was yet a new challenge to overcome. There have been more days than I am comfortable remembering that I have had to tell my son we could not afford his basic needs. There have been days when getting to my knees seemed too large a task. There have been moments when there was no voice to praise or pray until something happened. I have wanted to, planned to and waited to give up - but did not.
The last few years have been some of the most challenging ones of my life. I have transitioned some relationships I did not believe up for negotiation. I have released some relationships that I thought were designed to strengthen and mentor me. I have seen relationships with some very close to me become of a troubling nature. Perhaps you have experienced those shifts and their positional noises. These noises are heard in the very edgy and mean attitude of an answered phone call. These noises are heard when your car has broken down yet again, been junked or repossessed and instead of hello - you are greeted with a myriad of reasons why you should not seek transportation assistance there. These noises come when the noise in your financial accounts don't shuffle and clang from abundance quickly when you move into business ownership. I have seen how many different ways you can be called a burden and a bother without a word being muttered.
The last few years have been some of the most spiritually stretching and rewarding ones of my life. I have had more THAT'S THE SHO NUFF TRUTH RIGHT THERE moments than I can recount here. What I have learned is that - do unto others as you would have them do unto you has nothing to do with the way people will reciprocate your kindness and sincerity; it has more to do with you choosing to live out the fruit of the spirit - even when years of compassion, giving and caring is returned with sarcasm, and, well downright nasty attitudes. Yet, when you stop crying long enough to allow God to whisper some SHO NUFF TRUTH in your ears; He teaches you the things that come from each of those hard moments to build your character and to detox your woes. Then, in His sovereign moment, God will turn the noises into praise. I have struggled with God and pouted (wow have I pouted), but I have learned to be a blessing in more than one manner to those who have rebuked, laughed at, mocked, cursed at and rejected me. I am learning to do it with a cheerful heart; realizing that I shift the impact of their negativity and increase significantly my position of being blessed to be a blessing.
I have learned that true provision has little to do with finance and more to do with internal power, spiritual gleaning, and manifesting of your faith and divinity. You see the widow in Second Kings had provision every step of the way, she, like I and so many of us often miss it. The widow had provision in her sons who were there to undergird her in a season of struggle and able to go out to gather the vessels. She had provision in her neighbors who had the vessels. She had provision in the mouth of the prophet who provided the formula and release of her anointing. She had provision in the home that she could shut the door on while her anointing was prepared. When she tapped into all of the provision already around her, then God provided sufficient financial provision in the selling of the oil until He released abundant provision in the land around her. That's a SHO NUFF TRUTH RIGHT THERE I have come to understand. I have seen God allow my body to be attacked by one thing after another in the last four years and yet, while some days have been shaky, nothing has stopped me and I am assured that healing already resides within.
The last few years have been what they have been and I am sure the remnants may still cause some tears and some frustration - but I am peaceful in the valleys, peaceful on the mountaintops - I am content in God. The last few years, months and moments may have been some of the difficult, challenging, stretching years, months and moments EVER - but you will get through them. You will be increased in your divine power and you will be positioned for blessings that overtake even the most difficult tears. I speak it over your life and I receive it in mine. Now, let's wipe away the tears of today and be exceedingly, abundantly, amazingly peculiar people shattering every thought that comes against our purpose, our passion, our anointing and our calling! Be overtaken by your blessings today!
Hi - my name is Emily Claudette Freeman and I have some confessions to make because I am officially, finally and thoroughly sick and tired of the enemy - supernatural and natural and self inflicted - condemning me. AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! That felt good!
I should probably start with a disclaimer here and say that some of you that know me personally are probably going to look at me in a totally different light after reading this and it may be a light that grows dim. I am okay with that, because this is more about illuminating my purpose and worth by removing the darkness that inner and outer condemnation brings.
I need to confess out loud (okay writing is clearly my strong way of communicating, so flow with me). I need to confess the following so that they no longer possess a place of power, detriment, negativity, manipulation, lies and speculations in my life:
1) I have been an adulterer
2) I have been a liar and occasionally one still comes
3) I have intentionally and unintentionally manipulated situations to my benefit and been knocked the hell out by the consequences thereof
4) I have exercised numerous sexual indiscretions and have and do live with the consequences thereof mentally, spiritually and medically
5) I have family/friends that are homosexuals, bisexuals (although I really don't get that), criminals of various levels, recovering addicts and alcoholics and have other sinful things that they struggle with - I choose to love them and relate to them where they are so if they ever need a sincere, humble and non-judgmental person to confess to, cleanse or confide in - I am there. I do not walk in their lifestyles as I am fully aware that the Bible says how can two walk together unless they agree; I simply do not condemn them nor judge them harshly. Nor do I look at everything they do based on whether they are homosexual, a recovering addict, etc. I look at their character and intent and when those things do not line up - I separate self.
6) I have made some horrible and detrimental business decisions that have cost me dearly
7) I have jumped into the fire without realizing that getting burned is an option and without ever counting the cost of what happens after you (and in some instances those attached to you) get burned
8) I owe a lot of people money and nothing else, meaning I do not owe you the right to dog me, curse me, abuse me or degrade me because I do - I have learned that is the attachment to money that creates walls and so many negative things and thus the Biblical principle, "owe no man."
9) I have friends that practice Islam/Moslem, Yoruba/Ifa/Locumi, Catholic and various other faiths (none satanic) and I embrace them - for each have taught me how to understand and love the God I serve better. I have learned to apply some Biblical principles in my life based on their understanding and practice of those things through their faith. The words of the Bible have been illuminated to me beyond tradition because of their understanding and I hope I have been able to illuminate the God I love for each of them.
10) I have been ridiculed, scorned, called a failure, a fool, a poor judge of all things, not considerate, not thinking, kicked to curb and called a whole list of other things and ignored in various fashions by family members closest to me, friends who have known me for years and those who in m mind should always be there for you.
11) I have allowed my pride to block blessings, keep me from asking for help and keep me in a position of lack
12) I have been afraid of my potential and kept myself in a position of second-handedness (that's not a word is it?) because it was easier to be less than as opposed to what I am created to be
13) I want to slap the hell out of those in #10 sometimes more than I want to pray for them, but I pray for them nonetheless
14) I have wanted to tell every prophet that God has sent in the last few years to speak and confirm His calling on my life, His desire to turn my situation right side up and His absolute greatness in me - to just shut up - because I couldn't see beyond the temporal situation
15) I am a Black woman who absolutely loves everything that comes with that from every perspective and do not make apology for my muse of color occasionally showing in various areas of my life
16) I have hurt so much that in the darkest hours I have considered suicide
17) I have lost so many dear to me that I could not believe God was just
18) I have been mad at, yelled at, argued with and ignored God because I felt that there were times He had in fact forsaken me and was leaving me to wallow in my mess
19) I have walked into business and partnership ventures eyes wide shut, ignoring red flags and gigantic stop signs and have paid for it financially, emotionally, in relationships and in too much intellectual time.
20) I have made money decisions from places of desperation and fear and thus money and I seemed fierce rivals
21) I have clearly heard the voice of God and felt the nudging of His Word in my life and ignored it, like I do when my son does that thing where he says MA over and over and over again for no reason.
22) I have allowed the enemy to beat me down in condemnation from these and other things that simply just do not come to mind at the moment. I allowed the beat down in fact to become my first stream of thought and did everything through the lenses of defeat, despair, disgust and despondency that condemnation provides. I was living in failure's community yet could not understand why that same failure was abundantly prevalent around me.
I have released every note of condemnation and I refuse to pick them back up. What I have picked up is a new level of spiritual fortitude that assures me I am a co-heir and a partner to divinity and therefore what I speak can change the atmosphere and the universe so that what I need and what I desire come into fruition. What I have picked up is a new level of I don't care what you think; instead I care what God thinks and what He thinks about those 22 (and more) things listed is that they are cast into the sea of forgetfulness and since I never learned to swim, there is no reason for me to keep playing in its waves. What I have picked up is a new level of tapping into my calling and my greatness and expecting those actions to create whole and holistic prosperity.
There is an adage that says you cannot be healed from what you do not confess. The Bible (which without excuse is my strategy manual) says we overcome by the words of our testimony. Thus, I am making a conscious decision to open myself up to the healing and blessing of overcoming that is promised of God. I implore you - do not let the enemy keep you from confession towards healing and clothed in condemnation. Tell the enemy, all of his workers and his mental influence on you to step off; you confess what he wanted to use for psychological torture and the thwarting of your destiny - so shut-it-up! Now fill your space with words of praise, affirmations of power, scriptural notes of edification. You are in fact royalty - so stand in your power at the throne and live life without the darkness that condemnation brings and without the shame that your truths holds.
RIDE OR GET OUT OF THE CAR
Recently, a client and I were conversing over breakfast. I shared an idea with him for a book that could be used to help market the business of a friend of his. In that conversation, he shared that he was growing very disappointed with another friend who has been "threatening" to start a book for about a year now - yet continuously has excuses or hesitation about doing so.
As I cut my country gravy drenched chicken fried steak (don't judge me I don't eat it often), I said to him - "I want you to give it up now. Give up the notion that the book is ever going to get written. The interest is only there because you continue to bring it up."
He nodded,"You are probably right. But ..."
"No buts ... it ain't happening!" I assured him. "Not unless you are going to write it and right now we need to focus on getting your work and writing consistent." I went on to tell him something that I have learned and continue to learn (unfortunately) the hard way ... sometimes the potential we see in others is really not there, and if it is there perhaps it is not our duty to pull it out - but their responsibility to release it.
There is a saying that relates to the strength of friendships or partnerships - "ride or die". The term implies that whatever the connection is - it is strong until the end. That end could be riding to the moon or dying in the process. I only want to be one person's ride or die and that is God's. That may seem strange being a single mother, but I understand that if I ride and die with God - then all will be abundantly sufficient and overflowing for my boopsie (oops - son). Often when we become ride or die - we get killed in the journey because we fail to understand that the nature of that kind of relationship does not include being bold enough to tell someone to turn left instead of right, or getting out of the car all together. It simply means - you ride or die with me, according to how I do, what I do and when I do.
Almost, in a stroke of unconsciousness, we do this in so many of our friendships, partnerships and relationships. We jump into the car or feel the wind blowing across our skin on the back of that motorcycle and we begin to support and promote someone else's agenda to the point that we are more involved and invested in it than they are. We have become the ride or die sidekick. In fact, we have put ourselves into the drivers' seat on their journey and we get disappointed, upset and even angry when we realize they are sightseeing while we are navigating, estimating costs, investing everything that is needed, planning the next leg and driving.
I have done it and so have you. I have done it when it came to business ideas of friends and family, when it came to lovers and even as it related/relates to some of my clients. I pull and pull and pull and say when and when and when - I am yelling as professionally and tactfully as I can - COME ON WE ARE RIDING TOGETHER REMEMBER! What I should be doing is some serious interrogation to determine if the journey has in fact died and I should simply leave the car parked at the next exit and get out and head back on the journey mapped out for me and my companies and/or me and my life.
We should absolutely help others; but we should also understand that help must be defined and often it should be sought. When we move into an unsolicited situation we open ourselves to the possibilities of enforcing our passion into another's vision which will lead to disappointment. When help is solicited, we must then only provide what we are divinely instructed to, within the confines of what we can, so that assistance is sincere and pure. We must also understand that helping and pushing or pulling others into their destiny is also as much about God's perfect timing as it is God's perfect will and purpose - and our interference creates imperfection.
As I write this I realize I am behind the wheel of several vehicles that I can no longer drive or even be a passenger in. I have to be the big girl that I am and say, "I ain't (yeah I am liking that word this time around) your ride or die chick." I am the co-pilot in my own journey and I cannot keep taking detours to get others where they are not willingly, diligently with purposed perseverance and keen interest ready to go. So what am I saying? I am saying as difficult as it may be there are some in your familial, platonic, romantic, professional, church, business or other circles that need a hard kick with an even harder statement - ride or get out of the car! You see the other thing I have learned is those who will not drive their journey also have no problem riding on yours and providing all kinds of sharp, negative and judgmental criticisms.
Are these the passengers needed as you travel? How much more laborious and distressing your trip then becomes! You need to tell yourself in some of your relationships and you need to tell some others in your relationships, that it is time for a passenger check - and one of us needs to ride or get out of the car and it is okay because in every journey just as you embark, at some point along the way, disembarking - is always a viable option.
THE COUCH'S BEDTIME TALE
My son goes through these very interesting moments when it comes to his sleeping habits. For no apparent reason, out of the blue, he will sleep on the couch just feet away from my bed instead of his own bed in his own room for a number of consecutive days. Then he just goes back to sleeping in his room. Poof! He also tends to get very upset with me, when I open the windows and then do not take the extra time to assure I lock them after I return them to there closed position. The manly security detail aside, it is the sleeping thing that baffles me.
When he was younger, he would do the same thing but he would climb in bed with me instead. Why does he do this? He has told me he doesn't know - he just does. Can I confess something? I love when he does it! Somehow, I feel that all is right and all is okay when I can hear that healthy (loud is a better word) snore rumbling from the couch.
There are times when the hustle and bustle of the day gets to be hectic, hellish and just plain old foolish. On those days, I often crawl into bed, a few feet from the heavenly throne and lay at God's feet. There I am comforted and I feel like all is right and all is well with my soul - even if I leave a bucket of tears there or just cry out incoherently. I wonder if his sleeping on the couch my little man's way of telling me that he senses something in me and so he sleeps near in an effort to assure me that all is okay with him and thus all is really okay with me.
At the foot of the throne, I fall asleep quickly and soundly, much the way Mr. Man falls asleep quickly and soundly on the couch. There is something about falling into slumber near our parent, near God, that makes rest a welcome activity. When you rest at the throne, I know, for I have experienced that warmth, that God comes to pick us up and place us safely in His arms. Then like He is telling a gentle bedtime story He talks to us in our dreams about those things that have felt hectic, hellish and just plain old foolish. He gives us a remedy for the moment or comfort when we simply need to face what is happening around us.
When is the last time you fell asleep at the foot of the throne? When is the last time you heard the wonderful bedtime story that only The Divine can tell you - no fairy tale, no forced happy ending - but His wonderful truth, promises and assurance to be there? What a wonderful place to find rest, where The Father can gather you into the blanket of His wings.
Goodnight my sweet one.
TURNING ON MY POWER
There are just certain songs that make us realize or celebrate different parts of our power and our significance. Those songs may change from time to time; while some will always have a lasting impact. I used to work with a guy that would laugh at me, because he discovered if he wanted to knock me off balance for a few moments all he needed to do was play LOVE BALLAD by LTD. The song still awakens the power of passionate love in me. A few years ago I discovered a track on an Anthony Hamilton CD, I think the title is PASS ME OVER, but the spirit of that song spoke to me - if I am dreaming don't wake me, don't disturb that special spiritual conversation for me. The song speaks to the wonderful power to dream in me. Finally, there is never a time, I listen to Lamar Campbell's CLOSER, that I am going to listen to it only once or listen without coming to tears. The song speaks to the power of loving God close enough to realize when you mess up NOTHING WILL BE RIGHT until you get close to HIM again. For some, your seasonal power songs may be the slamming Mary J. Blige, FINE. Or Kerri Hilson's PRETTY GIRL ROCK. Or Yolanda Adams's BE BLESSED. Or Martha Munizzi's rendition of BECAUSE OF WHO YOU ARE. Or Jonathan Butler's FALLING IN LOVE WITH JESUS. These songs ignite a certain power within.
For the past several months, or perhaps a year, I have struggled with feeling like my life was not connecting. God and I are closer now then we have ever been, and through understanding and examining Him through other faiths, I have developed a deeper intimacy as a Christian. God recently showed me something about myself and I had to laugh realizing that He (of course) was absolutely correct about the character flaw He shined His spotlight on. Then as I read the third Chapter of the Biblical book of Ephesians, I was hit right in the middle of my big old pecan tan forehead, just beneath the spot where the gray is growing in and just above the spot where my naturally arched eyebrows grow; about that character flaw and my feeling of disconnect.
I got the disconnection within when God pulled something out of my memory bank. When we were kids growing up on NW 52 Street, and then NW 177 Terrace in South Florida, there are times we would experience black outs - especially in the summer. Yet, we would not hide indoors, parents would take to their front porches and kids would play in the dark as though the streets lights were still on. We knew that while power wasn't channeling light to our street, there still was undoubtedly power that would be re-ignited. We never questioned that there was power somewhere and it would show up again.
Ephesians 3: 7 reads: of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.
Ephesians 3:16-17 reads: that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened (empowered) with might through His Spirit in the inner man. That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
and finally, Ephesians 3: 20-21 records: Now to Him who is able to exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.
Now, I'm a reader and when I read there are just lines (if written well) that will jump off the page and speak to my intellect, my creativity and my understanding. That happened as I read these three areas of verse. The things that jumped out at me all have to do with understanding that there is already a divine power within and God will do amazing things for you and through you when you work what is already in you. Seriously?
Seriously, the lines that jumped for me:
from verse 7 - the effective working of His power
from verse 16 - to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man
and while I have done the benediction in church for years, I missed the POWER of the word ACCORDING in verse 21 until it popped me in the forehead. It says He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think ACCORDING to the POWER THAT WORKS IN US.
I realized that like reactors somehow disconnect and power is lost to homes. I had somehow disconnected from the very power that God placed in me even before my birth. In the disconnect, trying to see in the dark was where I focused, instead of focusing on the truth that there is power in me to bring Light. My struggle has not been because I believed God could not handle my woes. My struggle has been that I disconnected from the power He has already instilled. With my inner power disconnected I move in only a shadow of what I am to be. When I do not effectively work His power within, then He can only do what my faith and my power give Him room to do.
Oh, if you could have seen the look on my face as that revelation slid down my face! Dude! Baby girl! - reach in and turn on your power, then work in it effectively, so that God can do exceedingly and abundantly above all that you can ask or think according to that power. I am so encouraged and I pray that my power connection is recharged, restored and re-energized because me and exceeding abundance have some things to do. What about you?
Anyone who has ever read my blogs knows that I am a very active dreamer. About two weeks ago I had the most wonderful and yet bothersome dream. I have ALWAYS been single. Sure I have been involved but marriage was never on the table. Like a lot of sisters I went through those periods of loneliness, extreme loneliness and OH GOD WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME when it came to jumping the broom and thus experienced men and relationships that were not for me.
Then, with a new Godly-encounter, I began to like me and do those things that I and me like doing together in spite of. I also became a mom and began to do all those wonderful little things that new moms do (okay so initially I failed in the remembering to feed the child dept. but I got the hang of it). The two things combined did what being a workaholic never cured - turned the loneliness into a wonderful kind of love. When I got to that comfort with self and loving my son, I never thought about marriage constantly anymore or had those OH GOD WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME moments anymore. Did I and God talk about what I wanted and needed to experience in a relationship? Absolutely. Did I spell out what I was willing to accept for me and define what was really going to impress me beyond the superficial? Yes! I was clear and very detailed in EVERY AREA and so I moved forward. I was content and am content in being single knowing this is the season for it in my life.
Oh, the dream! So first I have to confess, I have a MAJOR THING for Dennis Haysbert, the lead guy from The Unit and the Allstate commercial guy. Have mercy! In any event, in this dream, some friends and my little niece and I were at some kind of flea market thing and there was this guy there, voice like Haysbert's and about as tall, nice hands and why I paid attention to them - no clue. He immediately became very comfortable in the way he spoke to me and in what seemed like an instant was endeared to me. In this dream, my friends, niece and I hung out for awhile and he hung out with us. He and I went back and forth gleaning information from each other through a long list of questions and challenging responses. What caught me off guard in this dream is that in the course of walking and talking, in a very natural, non-thought kind of matter, he put his arm around me and I was warmly in place. That moment was so freakingly and amazingly real that I woke up feeling his arm around me and asking God, "why now?"
It occurred to me as I thought about a very loving relationship a dear friend of mine is involved and an absolutely-not relationship another dear friend was potentially entering that perhaps the dream came to tell me there is something I need to be reminded of. That is, there are still remnants of the woman that loves hard, sincerely and passionately within me and her season may be drawing near. The WHY NOW has a lot to do with several things: health challenges, growing a business that is still in its finding balance stages, a son hitting puberty HARD and preparing to go to middle school and on and on.
The WHY NOW comes from a place of knowing that the romantic in me - if I allow her will always supersede the woman that knows the Bible says to guard your heart. When the romantic shows up, I got you flowers sounds like HE'S GONNA LOVE ME FOREVER! I showered this morning and felt my skin come alive as I used Yeyefini's Mango Ginger Sugar Scrub (you should get some of this www.yeyefini.com). I laughed remembering her instructions to use it and go out in public so "that man" would find me. Why now - is never about our timing is it? It is about the fact that if we took the time to do everything we believe we need to do in order to do what we believe we want/must/need or are called to do - we won't do a thing. This is not the time to be in love or put marriage back on the list of prayers for me - at least that's what I say. Yet somehow, I believe divinity is saying otherwise and so a sister is guarding her heart and looking for that warm hug so hot it wakes you from slumber. If he does not come for another five or ten years - it's all good. For even in love, romance and passion I have learned what it is to abound and be abased.
GO AHEAD, GET ON THE PLANE
This past summer I was blessed with an opportunity to facilitate a writing workshop at the East Point, GA library. I had a great time and had the opportunity to reconnect with a friend I had not seen in years. When she took me to the airport, I was so focused on the fact that I had everything I needed with me that I did not check for any flight changes. When I approached the gate listed on the boarding pass as the flight was boarding, I was told the flight to Ft. Lauderdale had been moved to the other side of Hartsfield airport. As I headed to the new gate, I ran into a woman I just met on the train to the gates and told her our flight had been changed. We decided to go to put our names on standby after realizing we were not going to make the new flight and customer service said they would not hold it. She paused and said her kids live close to the airport and she thought it best to just call them and have them come back. For some reason I stepped into what was not my decision and convinced her to do otherwise. Long story short, she got on the next flight and I ended up spending the night in a deserted airport and not flying out until the next morning. Unlike her, everyone I know in the area lived at least 50 miles from the airport and I couldn’t see having them drive to get me and then bring me back at 5am.
Fast forward about a month after that incident, I had a succession of dreams. In the first, a younger female and I were to catch a plane. We realized that we were going to be rushed to get to the airport. I panicked but she said to me, "My father has already taken care of all our stuff there." In an instant, we were at the airport and could hear announcements for us to get to our gates. We ran through one door and a woman said, "You can't go through there you are too late." The young woman and I suddenly got separated and I found myself back at an entrance. The announcements for my name began again, "Passenger Claudette Freeman please report to your gate immediately for your flight." I tried to go through the gate again - Gate 7, but was told my flight was not there. I had to get to Gate 17. As I turned around to run there, there was an airport worker driving a couple of other people to another gate and I jumped aboard to go to Gate 17 which was literally right next to the gate where I was standing - yet I did not notice it until I got off the cart.
I approached the ticket counter and said, "You all have been paging me, I guess I was in the wrong place." She said, "What is your name?" I said, "You have been paging Claudette Freeman, but as you see from my ID, the first name is really Emily." She smiled, "Oh no problem, the flight has not left yet, but I’m not sure it is still on the runway, we will have to get you on board another way."
She and I walked to the runway and she turned to me and said, "Just wait a moment the pilot is going to move forward a little and then you can board." Then she looked at me very calmly, smiled and said, "You know this flight would have waited for you without you rushing to get here. All you needed to do is call." I looked at her and thought that doesn't make sense - why would the flight wait for me and why didn't I get on the flight at the first gate?
In the second airport dream I was with a cousin. We were walking towards the gates when a woman pages my name, Emily Freeman report to gate 17 for boarding. This time, I walked towards the gate and in this process I again got separated from my companion. I asked the girl at the counter was I supposed to be at gate 17- she said yes ma'am. I said but the woman I'm traveling with this isn't her gate? She said no, this point is for gate 16 and gate 17 travelers only. I walked through Gate 17 headed for the plane.
In the third airport dream, I was alone and this time I actually looked at the ticket in my hand realizing it was some type of all or special access pass. I get to the counter and the girl tells me my connecting flight does not leave until 9 that night. I asked if there was a direct flight to Ft. Lauderdale, she says yes it leaves at 6:35. I decide to take 1 instead, but she says she doesn't believe I can use the pass for that flight. She talks to a supervisor, who calls me over and says the pass will work and he explains to the young lady that the problem was she was looking at my pass from the general information page and not the main system page - the pass is good for all flights. I turned around after saying thanks to walk off towards the gate.
God taught me some very crucial and challenging things for women destined to do more than average in these dreams. First, when God is shifting, moving, preparing you for takeoff you need to learn to mind your own business. We often get some focused on making sure everyone is where we want them to be and how we want them to be, that we move ourselves out of God’s way and plan. Check the ticket in your hand. There is a reason you are flying out of one gate and others around you, even those that you have cried with, prayed with, relied on have different gate numbers – where you are going is predestined for you not them. Know that it is okay to allow them to take their appointed flight without you as well. Don’t get comfortable in what you know, I had done all the advance stuff, I had no bags to check and I printed my boarding pass. Yet, it never occurred to me to check for flight changes – I was comfortable in the knowledge that I taken care of everything and yet my flight plans were altered and delayed. In the season of preparing for a dimensional shift, don’t readily accept the first report or answer you receive, instead take it before the Father; perhaps the initial response came from general information and not the divine main source. Pay attention to where you are in God’s process, what God has for you could potentially be closer than you think.
Then God illuminated two key things in these dreams for me – the tickets or passes in my hand on each of these flights, gave me access to flights that would not leave without me. Whether you travel inadvertently or deliberately away from His assignment, know this Jonah, His Will will absolutely be done in your life and His purpose will absolutely manifest in you when it is ordained for you. The other key thing, that brought me to tears, is even with all of the access, and the assurance shown to me in each of these dreams and in God’s word– I never actually saw myself take off on either of those flights, and it was not God delaying or denying it was me.
Not boarding those flights came from a place of not trusting the greatness and gifting that God put in me. Nor did I trust the spiritual knowledge that the delicately rough season of preparation and pruning I was being blessed to learn from - was actually going to lead to something amazing as promised in The Word. I, in the midst of one thing after another, diverted my focus from Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I was comfortable and conditioned with simply going to the next level; when God is a God of dimensions, realms and territories and for me - my faith in the God in me, said oh you can handle walking through the gate – but you’re not ready to take flight. In hindsight, I realized that when I stepped away from radio, by faith, 3 years ago I stepped into my gate or talent (writing)– but God called me to move into my gifting or dimension counseling and helping others birth their vision. I, however, thought, He can’t be calling me. Yet prophetic word after prophetic word confirmed it and finally, I got the picture. That picture is wonderfully painted in First John 4, verse 15, Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” The dwelling power of God in me, is my all access pass to what He has already prepared and purposed for my life. I have to trust the indwelling and board the flight.
This morning, I believe I have finally stepped on that flight. I have come out of the background, where I excelled and said God if the all access pass in my hand is about my life touching another then so be it. It is a bit unnerving, exciting and altogether lovely. When I was a young girl, actress Sally Field played the role of The Flying Nun in a TV show; no matter the challenge, this nun would simply take flight towards a potential solution. Are you bold enough to simply take flight believing that God is truly the wind beneath your wings? Can you be confident in knowing that the Master Pilot has a flight plan just for you? And that He is able to send angels in various forms to accompany you to your destination? Can you trust the God in you enough to finally realize just how powerful it is to have all access in your hand; and step into a new yet unfamiliar dimension and board your flight? Can you really grasp and embrace Isaiah 40:31 as the living power for your life: But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Your flight attendants are waiting – are you ready to fly?
A Georgia girl that loves quiet, a good neo-Soul, R & B or gospel song, and a chilled tall class of diet cola.