Unapolgetically in 2023 (Sorry, Not Sorry)

Unapologetically (Sorry, Not Sorry) But what I am now I am by the grace of God. The grace he gave me has not proved a barren gift. I have worked harder than any of the others - and yet it was not I but this same grace of God within me. 1 Corinthians 15:10 J.B. Phillips Translation    She’d answer the phone speaking in tongues! “Hello, Mother Clark!” I’d say. She’d laugh with such delight as she always did when I called, and she’d say (as she always did), “Ah, Sister Deborah! Daughter, I was just thinking about you!”  She’d barely give me a chance to ask how she was or if she needed anything before she’d go straight prophetic on me, give me a “thus saith the Lord,” pray with me.  I’d hang up, eyes filled with tears and heart filled with gratitude. I admit I don’t remember a lot of those conversations now. But there are some that I will never forget, for the words lodged deep in my spirit.   They didn’t necessarily take root at the time, but recently those words returned to me to heal, shift my perspective, change me, settle me more deeply, and strengthen my resolve. I came home from work one afternoon and called Mother Clark to check on her. She began our conversation by telling me about a segment of the Oprah Show about birth order she’d just watched. Then she said, “You are bold, full of dazzle and sparkle! Full…

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Working Towards, Striving For, or Living From?

". . . He said to me, “My grace elevates you to be fully content.” And now, instead of being overwhelmed with a sense of my own weakness, he overwhelms me with an awareness of his strength!  O, what bliss to rejoice in the fact that in the midst of my frailties, I encounter the dynamic of the grace of God to be my habitation." 2 Corinthians 12:9 The MIRROR Hello.  My name is Deborah, and I am a recovering perfectionist. Seems most of my life, I have found myself striving to be perfect—not Wonder Woman perfect and definitely not Stepford Wives perfect.  More like Mary Poppins.  You know . . . “practically perfect in every way” (because everyone knows that practically perfect is more attainable than perfectly perfect). And while I recognize in the sane, rational part of my mind that perfection is an illusion, that it is, as Anne Lamott writes, ". . . the voice of the oppressor,” that it imprisons us, I still found myself striving for, at best, the illusion. Strived to be the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect friend. Worked hard to be the perfect student, the perfect teacher, the perfect Christian.  It mattered to me how I measured up in the eyes of my parents, in the eyes of my friends, in the eyes of my teachers, in the eyes of God!   Color within the lines.  Follow the rules. Get the A’s.  Do it flawlessly. Be the best. And in…

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Read more about the article Another Good Hard Year
The concept of Victory in the new year 2023. A man stands with his hands raised up against the background of a sunset the number 2023.
Another Good Hard Year

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. Romans 8:28 The Voice Bible It’s New Year’s Eve, and I, like many, sit reflecting on the year gone by—not just 2022 but the years since we entered this decade. The decade began in ways none of us could have anticipated, and as I enter a new phase, a new year, I want to make sure I do so, having profited from all the past three years have taught me. What are the lessons learned?  What do I take with me into the new? What must I leave behind in old?  I want the coming year to be a greater fulfillment of that which the Lord has spoken to me. 2022 was what I have termed a “good, hard” year (as was 2020 and 2021). I have learned to be grateful for every “good, hard” moment. I look back and see the manifest presence of God in my life, and I end the year with an overwhelming sense of gratitude—not because I accomplished all the goals I’d set (I didn’t); not because the year wasn’t riddled with challenges on every level (it was); not because I got it all right (I  didn’t); not because of the numerous victories and triumphs (there were many). And not just because God wowed me in ways that made Ephesians 3:20 an even…

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Read more about the article Out the Boat
Kids jumping off the back of a boat into the water.
Out the Boat

We are fast approaching a new year filled with new possibilities.  The degree to which we will experience the new and all God has purposed for us depends on our willingness to leave the comfortable, the known, and do something we've never done before. It depends on our willingness to get out of the boat.  We each have a boat, a safe place.  The challenge for 2023—Get Out of the Boat.  I reshare my first (and last) snorkeling experience to encourage you... this is the year!   "Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." –  John D. Rockefeller “I don’t think I want to do this,” I announced with calm resolve. “What you say, mon?” inquired the resort’s water sports expert and my newfound friend Desmond in his lilting, rhythmic Jamaican accent. I looked him squarely in the eyes and repeated – slowly, deliberately, “I don’t think I want to do this.”  The small vessel had motored far from Montego Bay's peaceful, white-sand beaches and had come to a halt.  I looked at the water.  “I can’t do this.” “Yah, mon. You be fine.  Dere’s no t’ing to worry ‘bout.  I be in da water right wit’ you.  I not gon’ let not’ing happen to you.  All you gotta do is relax and breat’e.”  Desmond jumped into the water and bade me come. Sensing my apprehension, he said, “Take you time, mon.  You all right.  I right here.  Come on, mon.” And at his…

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New Season! Adjust and Embrace the Change!

Know the importance of the season you’re in and a wise son you will be. But what a waste when an incompetent son sleeps through his day of opportunity! Proverbs 10:5 TPT  Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. I like the changing of the leaves from green to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. I like to watch those leaves dancing on the breeze as they drift gingerly to the ground.  I like the sound of their crunch under my feet. I look forward to the sweater days, the hoodie days, the light jacket days of fall. A couple of years ago, I even invested in a new London Fog coat—my ease-into-winter garment. I like the gradual shortening of days (Daylight Saving Time disrupts my internal clock). I like “falling back” and the illusion of gaining the hour I never recovered from losing the previous Spring.  Autumn makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I want it to last. I want it to last right into Spring. And if not, then at least through Thanksgiving. So, when I woke early one November morning to sub-freezing temps, saw the still-leaf-clad branches on the trees bending and breaking under the weight of ice, and read the school delays and closures that scrolled across the TV screen, I had to readjust mentally, emotionally and physically. No easing into the idea of winter.  Winter had arrived!  I had to dig out the ice scraper buried in the trunk of the car, buy replacement…

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A Simple Response

On Christmas Eve, my pastor, John W. Stevenson, shared a wonderful message entitled Just Say, "OKAY!"  It reminded me of something I'd  written a few years ago. I thought I'd share it as we prepare to enter a new year to encourage you to just say, "OKAY!" Great acts of God are often preceded by simple acts of obedience. —Steven Furtick I was minding my business, going about my merry way, singing a simple song when I heard the whisper. I knew it was God because the idea wasn’t remotely anything I had ever considered. It wasn’t anything I’d ever dreamed of, prayed for, wished upon on star for. I knew it was God because Deborah wasn’t trying to add one more thing to an already jam-packed life, wasn’t trying to add a morsel to her already full plate. Knew it was God because not only was this something I had never done before, I had no point of reference for it…at all! But I’d heard that still small voice. And once you’ve heard it, you can’t un-hear it. You can ignore it. You can choose to disobey it. You can try to flick it away like a fly. But you can’t un-hear it. And I’d heard. So instead of doing what I’ve done more often than I care to admit. Instead of dismissing it as a whim, instead of offering a litany of excuses why I couldn’t or why I shouldn’t, instead of disqualifying myself, instead of seeking…

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