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Live Wisely, Live Well

“…But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect – life in its fullness until you overflow.” John 10:10b The Passion Translation  Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!  Psalm 90:12 The Message “The trick is to enjoy life.  Don’t wish away days waiting for better ones ahead." Unknown It was a quiet Sunday evening. The big brown chair in my living room embraced me like two loving arms and cradled me.  I was relaxing in front of the television when the phone rang.  I checked the caller ID to see that the call was from my friend in Cleveland. We had not spoken with each other in a few weeks and I elated to hear from him. But the voice on the other end was not my friend’s.  Immediately I knew. “My father passed away yesterday morning. . .” My heart sank, and pools of tears filled my eyes. “He always spoke of you -- of how much you encouraged and inspired him.   Your friendship meant a lot to him.  You inspired him to fight.” I was stunned.  Yes, I knew he was sick.  He had been battling a rare form of cancer for well over two years.  The last time we'd spoken, he sounded better than he had in a long while. He was in a place of peace and filled with a hope and faith that made my heart swell.  I prayed  with him; we…

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Lessons from the Stylist’s Chair

“Those who watch and wait for favorable winds never plant, and those who watch and fret over every cloud never harvest.” Ecc. 11:4  “Thinking ‘Here goes nothing’ could be the start of everything.”  Drew Wagner “Are we cutting today?” she asked as I sat down in the chair. Well, at least she asked, I thought. She has been known to cut first and apologize as an afterthought.  I looked in the mirror, not sure there was much to cut. “The pixie is in style,” she informed me in a “I-really-want-to-get-my-scissors-in-your-hair” kind of way. “Hmmm… is it?” I chuckled. My hair has been various lengths and shades over my 64 years.  As a child, I had a thick mane that my mother was very intentional about growing. By the time I was in junior high school, it hung well past my shoulders. The thought of cutting it never entered my mind -- even during my “I’m-Black-and-I’m-Proud-More-Power-to the-People” Afro days.  But as I grew older, an inch or two here for the health of my hair. A snip or two there for some kind of manageable style. Then came the day when I was finally ready for the big chop.  And once it was gone, I never looked back. Long hair was a thing of the past. But I’d never had it pixie short. “I could give you a long pixie,” she said.   Long pixie? Isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron? But it’s summer, mid-June and we’re already seeing “feels-like” temps…

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A Father’s Love

I stood in the hallway as my father took the call.   He sat on the edge of the bed and listened intently, occasionally asking questions.  His baritone voice sounded calm and collected as he said, "Thank you," and hung up the phone. Then I saw my father do something I'd rarely seen.  He fell across the bed and sobbed. His only son had died. My older brother, Phillip, had been born with brain damage.  He was born deaf and with a host of other physical and mental challenges.  My parents had tried to care for him at home as long as possible, but that became too arduous for them both physically and emotionally.  It was taking a toll on their marriage my mother had told me years later. A decision had to be made that my father resisted.  But eventually he conceded, and Phillip was placed in a long-term care facility in Columbus. I listened as my father wept and realized his tears were not only for the loss of life, but the loss of a lifetime.  This was his son, the one created in his image,  the one he'd prayed for, the one who would carry on the family name, his beloved.  The love was still so strong and wide,  so deep and long, so fierce and unchanging.    The fact that they had never been able to have that intimate bond that a father desires with a son had not lessened that love.  The fact that he'd…

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He Sent Me After Glory

“For thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”  Zechariah 2:8 It had been one of the most challenging seasons of my life. Nothing made much sense to me. While God was doing some wonderful things in and through me, my life seemed rife with contradiction. What I was living and what I had envisioned for my life seemed diametrically opposed. That which God had spoken concerning purpose and destiny and my day-to-day reality seemed completely out of alignment.  I questioned some of my choices (and I think those around me questioned them too). When people asked what was going on with me, I couldn’t begin to articulate it. I was confused and exhausted. So I made reservations and check into a hotel for a couple of days.   I wanted to sleep, to write, to pray, to listen. I wanted – I needed --  to hear anything from God that might make the comedy of errors that had become my life make sense. “This isn’t the life I chose for myself.  This isn’t the way I saw things going” I wrote in my journal as I lay sprawled across the king-sized bed. “You wrote that?” my pastor asked when I shared with him about my short time away. My pastor, John W. Stevenson is a gifted songwriter. He had recently spoken and led worship at a worship conference in…

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Go For It

"... I have come with the sole purpose for you to have life in its most complete form."  John 10:10b  (The Mirror Bible) “Go for it, Deb” the text message read. Go for it?  Seriously?   I’d only been  joking when I suggested I limber up my fingers so I could play the piano for our worship team at my friend's mother's homegoing celebration. Go for it?  I think not. You see, I don’t play. Well, I do play.  I play when I need to work out harmonies for our church’s worship team. I play when notes and lyrics keep bouncing around in my head, pleading to be set free.  I play in my yellow-walled writing/prayer room to enjoy intimate times of worship,  when I need to feel God’s presence and hear His voice singing over me. I play in the privacy of my home (and some times at the church. . . when no one else is in the building). I don’t play publicly. I used to play publicly (and actually was paid to do it. Go figure).  But, I haven’t played publicly for a long time – a very, very long time. I haven’t needed to.  I am surrounded by incredible musicians whose skill levels supersede mine to the nth degree. And I am very happy to let them do what they do.  That’s not false humility; it is simple wisdom.  I know what I can do well and gladly do it. But when there are those around…

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Into the Deep

“When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  Luke 5:4 NKJV    Simon sat beside his fishing boat on the shore of the Lake of Gennesaret, the sun glinting off its calm waters. It had been calm the night before; the conditions had seemed perfect for a large  catch.  Yet, as the sun came up, the fishermen relented,  pulled in their nets and headed back to shore with nothing to show for the night’s labor. Nothing but fatigue. Nothing but more cuts and scrapes on already rough, calloused hands.   Nothing but frustration. They’d needed a large catch. But fish are elusive creatures  at times. Such is our profession, Simon thought, trying to mask his disappointment. As he meticulously inspected his nets for tears, he noticed a throng approaching the shore.  They were pressing into a man—a rabbi—and listening intently to His every word. The Man drew closer, glanced at Simon, and stepped into his boat.  “Will you launch out just a bit?” Jesus asked.  Simon rowed out as he'd been asked.  Jesus sat and began to teach the crowd.  When He had finished His discourse, He turned attention back to Simon. “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch,” He enjoined. I can only imagine what Simon Peter was thinking. After all, fishing was his livelihood, his area of expertise, and he knew his profession well—the fish, their habits, the…

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