Obedience is what it was all about!

Have you thought back over your life seeing moments with clarity and you know, without a doubt, it was a God-Moment? This particular story has been on my heart all week. I’m sharing my story purely as an encouragement to anyone who feels like you feel you are out of Options, you say YES when you want to say NO or Believing the wrong voice, the voice that says “Don’t try…”

God’s plans

We never know God’s plans for our lives. I never thought I would play the piano, and a deaf person would clap for me. I hope my story shows what happens when you don’t buy into what others say. And you say YES when you want to say NO!

I know some great and gifted pianists. Pianists who I could listen to all day. A few are educated pianist/musicians. Others are able to hear the music and play it as if the composition belongs to them. But whether educated or not, they are gifted. They feel the music as it resonates within their heart; it flows through their fingers to the white and black ivory keys. Watching them play is a work of art! Their whole being is invested in each note they play!

My mother and my aunt were attempting to live their dream of playing the piano vicariously through me. Living their dream was hard, if not impossible. They thought I could play, but I didn’t. It makes a huge difference when you don’t think you can! When you hear your peers criticize you and say “she plays too loud,” that doesn’t help either. Nevertheless, I played as little as possible in church but at home, I played for my own stress relief and enjoyment, and I suppose I wanted to make my mother and aunt happy.

No-Way-Out

What happens when you see no-way-out? What happens when “NO” is not an option. This what happen when I was asked to play for a church in Ohio. I could see no-way-out of it. My mother and aunt knew and asked, “Darlene, are you going to play for the church?” What was I going to do? I felt like the cards were stacked against me. Me? Minister of Music! Why? I would have to start reading music again. I would have to make time for practice. Oh, and don’t forget rehearsals; dealing with members of the choir. I shouldn’t be doing anything with Minister in the title. This was no easy task. I’m not crazy; I knew I could not do this on my own. But God!

Prayer of URGENCY!

Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t always sought God for answers. I can and could say “NO” easily. But in many ways this wasn’t a normal situation for me; my options were all played out. In spite of my own self-will saying, “you know you don’t want to play” I prayed. I remember the prayer as if it was yesterday. I prayed “God if you will help me, I will play.” It was a simple prayer of urgency for me. I believe my prayer was His will because He stayed with me. For six years, I gave my best in service to God and the church. However, the time for change came and the position ended; I was moving to California!

Moving to California!

Moving to California! WOW! People begin to ask me all sort of questions, and one was are you taking your piano to which I answered: “Yes for my own mind’s sake.” I knew in my heart, I would not play for another church. But I need my piano. Little did I know I was on my way to where God would reveal His blessing.

Blessing Revealed

Holidays away from home are different. You begin to create your own idea of holiday traditions. You make new friends and thus; new holiday traditions are born. This particular Christmas season, I was invited to spend it with friends. Great food along with wonderful conversation continued through dinner and on through the time when everyone gathered in the living room. Many discoveries were made about each guest, One of those discoveries was that we had a maestro among us. A young man had earned his doctorate in music and was writing an orchestra piece which in time he would direct.

We all wanted to hear him play. He sat at the piano, his hands placed gracefully on the keys and his fingers floated over the black and white ivory piano keys. It was beautiful. I was excited to hear someone of his caliber playing. The piano was out of tune and he still made it sound wonderful. As he finished and begin to move away from the piano, my friend said, “Darlene now you play for us.” She gave me no option to say NO! She didn’t leave room for me to say anything! So without grumbling, I sat down at the piano and played. I finished playing and I heard the clapping of hands. But to my surprise, my friend’s mother was clapping too. She was deaf so why was she clapping. I turned to look at my friend. She and her mother were signing. My friend said, ”you played loud enough for her to feel the vibrations of the music through the floor.” Loud enough! Did I hear her right? I played loud enough! I was excited and relieved. I played loud enough for my friend’s mother to enjoy the music. I was blessed to see how God brings His plans together. He is incredible!

What my struggles were about

Today I ask myself is this? God wanted me to be obedient. He didn’t ask me to stop playing loud or tell me I played too loud. He wanted me to give to do my best for Him and the church. He would do the rest.

Admitted to the 8th floor at Romans Hospital

This is one of those times I was admitted to the 8th floor at Romans Hospital room number 28 where God performs His most excellent, and exciting procedures for His pleasure and glory!

What is God urging you to do? Are you willing to obey His voice? What will you miss if you don’t obey? What will someone miss because you are not obedient?

 

Prayer

by

Thomas Merton


My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you

does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that, if I do this,

You will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always

though I may seem to be lost

and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Equipped to Create a Lasting Impression!

A brand is defined as a toolbox of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company from competitors and create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.

Uniquely  Branded by the GREAT I AM!

1 Thessalonians 5: 9-11 (MSG)

God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.

Philippians 4:13 (NASB)

I can do all things [a]through Him who strengthens me.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)

For I know the plans that [a]have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Psalm 56:8 (MSG)

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.

Revelation 7:17 ESV

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Psalm 23:4 ESV

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Romans 12:2a (NIV)

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

BRANDED BEFORE BRANDING BECAME POPULAR

 

All verses were taken from The Bible Gateway

Taking advantage of every opportunity to Validate and Encourage God’s people.

 

Was there ever a time you needed to know you matter? Was there a time when an encouraging word would be welcomed?

I don’t know about you, but I have experienced both, a need to know I that matter, and a need to be encouraged.

The following are examples of what some children and adults are hearing or head and experiencing while growing up:

  • You will never be any good.
  • You are just like your daddy no good.
  • Girl you are just like your mamma, and she was no good.
  • You are mean and evil just like your daddy or your mamma.

I am sure individuals who have heard these words probably feel as if their lives do not matter. These are harsh degrading statements in any language. Validation does matter and is a basic need in our lives.

Validation is a basic need

Validation is one of the basic needs that we all have. Where food nourishes the body, validation nourishes the spirit and heart. We need to know if who we are matters. And we need to be recognized as a valuable human being with something to offer in the eyes of others.

There are people, young and old, STARVING emotionally because they don’t feel valued, recognized, or that they matter even a little bit in the eyes of others. And who are the eyes of others? The others could be gang members, after all, they call themselves a family.” The others could be negative thinking people, never seeing anything good. The others could be those who resemble our family members who we needed to know we mattered and we continue to try, and try, and try harder to get what we need to fill that deep and basic need that says “I do matter.” So how can we find the answers to these questions?

Asking, the risk of all risks

Asking is a huge RISK. Asking “Do I matter?” “Did I do a good job?” “How can I improve?” Discernment is important here. “Who can I ask?” ” Who can I trust to tell me the truth?” ” Who will be honest yet remember I am just dust?”

God’s examples from Scripture

God provides us with great examples to follow in the relationships between Jonathan and David, Barnabas and Paul. These are the two relationships that come to mind.

Jonathan’s love for David was deep. Jonathan played a significant role in the relationship between David and his father, Saul.

Jonathan was honest in all his communication with David and Saul. He tried to be a peacemaker between Saul and David. He intervened for David. He protected David. He encouraged David. He risked his life for David. Jonathan affirmed David as God’s chosen King of Israel while his father Saul was still King. Jonathan gave up his legacy to become the future King of Israel! Jonathan gives meaning to what it is to encourage and validate another human being.

Barnabas and Paul

Barnabas“…a respected leader of the early church was nicknamed ‘son of encouragement.’ He supported, encouraged and affirmed Paul when others wanted to cause harm. Barnabas travels with Paul on his first missionary trip which was a risk for both Barnabas and Paul during the early church times.

Both Barnabas and Jonathan were supporting, encouraging, edifying, affirming and so much more.

Most encouragers are compassionate with words of encouragement. They may offer options to help make what you do better. However, the encourager must be careful that their words are filled with truth, not rote or sounds manipulative, but continues to motivate which lines up with God’s word! So what does God have to say?

Biblically speaking

Biblically speaking how we encourage and edify one another is important to God. We know this because He gives us instructions about encouragement, and what it looks like to encourage, and edify one another.

Ephesians 4:29 ASBV

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Encouraging and affirming others is important. We are often faced with challenges and need to hear a wholesome word from someone. Solomon affirms, “Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (New Living Translation, Proverbs 16:24). No one wishes to be devalued by others. Proverbs 15:4 reminds us that “a soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.” In other words, what we say could destroy one’s morale and I don’t ever wish to be guilty of that. The Word is clear that what one sows, he shall reap. Putting myself in a position where I may be subject of reaping similar consequences.

Our job is not to destroy, deny, or belittle another person’s worth, but we are to encourage, affirm, validate, and edify. Our responsibility is to be patient as we build up one another in truth. And this also means we will find it necessary to evaluate the negative in a positive manner. Remember we are charged to speak life not death into the lives of others.

Examples from scripture:

Can we be like the woman described in Proverbs 31-26 MSG? When she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. 
Can we help someone to change their way of thinking? Philippians 4:8 NIV says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
Can we help someone recognize Proverbs 13:3 AMP “The one who guards his mouth [thinking before he speaks] protects his life; The one who opens his lips wide [and chatters without thinking] comes to ruin.”

On a personal note

I sometimes struggle with self-doubt in my abilities and talents. You could say I am my own worst critic! But I’m learning and holding on to the following:

1.) Not to live and entertain my own self-doubt in silence. I don’t want to be tormented by my thoughts and judgments of myself.
2.) To believe my Barnabas[es] and Jonathan[es] rather than myself. It is self-defeating if I don’t.
3.) Most of all to be open to hearing the voice of God.

We need Barnabas[es] andJonathan[es] in our lives. They are important to our success in life and will help us especially when we hear so much negative feedback even our self-talk is negative at times.

In closing

Mr. Jon Bloom penned an article entitled “Make Your Mouth a Fountain of Life” on the website for Desiring God.org. What a challenge just in the title alone! But what drew my attention most are the points he included are as follows:

  • Encourage more than you critique.
  • Seek opportunities to speak kind, tenderhearted words.
  • Say something affectionate to a loved one at an unexpected time.
  • Seek to only speak words that are “good for building up,” that “give grace to those who hear.”

This is a lifetime pursuit!

 

I won’t lie!

I won’t lie, recovery, under any circumstances, is hard but the breakthrough after a long time of trudging through the wreckage of the past is indescribable.

For me, it seemed I went through storms. Storms that came back-to-back and without warning. I had to turn and face my past. I had to accept it before the indescribable came for me.

In time the raging storms started to cease. The winds slowly calm down. The air began clear. All that lingered was the scent of Jasmine, filling the air. God knew the storms were necessary for His plan. He directed the storms. The LOVE of Christ watched over me and carried me. And the Holy Spirit comforted me and urged toward a new beginning in life.

When you are going through recovery you will experience pain. Pain that feels like it is too much to bear. At times you may feel like recovery is not working. Or what is recovered is nothing but bad stuff, bad memories. But HOLD ON and believe the hope that lives and breaths within you. Hope that is the evidence of things unseen. Hope is built on a SOLID ROCK. It doesn’t trust in the frame of man. Take each step as it comes. Don’t hurry. Remember the GREAT I AM walks with you.

Recovery is filled with many emotions. At times you may feel it is not worth going through the pain of it all. It may feel like it is not working, and you want to quit. But believe me, the process does work. You may not feel any hope but remember Faith and Hope work together. They live and breath. Don’t hurry. Take one step at a time. And remember the GREAT I AM walks with you.

These are the words born out of the storms of my life!

Love Me Through the Storm.

Love Me Through the Storm.

Love Me Through the Storm.

Until the Storm is Over.

 

Love Me Through the Storm.

Love Me Through the Storm.

Love Me Through the Storm.

Until the Storm is Over.

 

If the wind keeps on blowing.

And if the rain continues to fall.

Just Walk with me and

Talk to me.

Until the Storm is over.

 

If the storm keeps on raging

And I can’t seem to find my way.

Lord take my hand

And give me hope.

Until, Until, You calm the storm.

 

Love me, Love me, Love me.

Love Me Through the Storm.

Love Me Through the Storm.

Love Me Through the Storm.

Until, Until, Until, you calm my Storm.

My prayer is that you will see the rainbow that follows the storms. You will know the Sustainer always has a plan, and purpose for life storms. I ask these blessings for my sisters and brothers Lord, make it so!

I Serve at His pleasure,

Darlene J. Harris