Little by Little

“E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.” Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Right now, I’m sitting on my patio listening to the trees rustle and my neighbor’s garage open. The Sun is blinding. I’m sitting typing on my phone. My brother and nephew constantly interrupting any growing thought I might have.

I’m loving every second of it.

Last month, I quit my job. I walked out midday and didn’t look back. I screamed of victory and restoration. I screamed for joy. I screamed for freedom, which comes close to the freedom I felt the day I was saved.

One of my friends, my parents, my brother, they all asked me what it felt like, and for over a month I have been failing myself to describe what it is I feel. That quote is what it feels like. I don’t know where I’m going. I have no idea what I’m going to pass, but I know, eventually, I will get to where I’m supposed to be.

I look at the time, and I know if I were at that job, I’d be sitting in a grey cube, listening to people complain, and calculating the time in which I will be relieved. I wouldn’t have seen the Sun. I wouldn’t have experienced all the things that happen during my days now. There would be no volunteering, no serving. There would be no working my own hours and earning twice an hour what I made at that job. There would be no passion.

I’m grateful that the job I had was the provision I needed until I found the courage to step out into what is unknown. I thank that job for being what I needed it to be at that time, but my GOD, do I thank for saying, “It is done.”

So, I’m sitting on my patio, watching the Sun park itself behind my neighbor’s trees. I’m watching bees fly around my ankles. I hear my family playing basketball, and I feel it: My cup runneth over. I can only see a few feet in front of me. I have no idea what else I’ll get the privilege of witnessing, but I know it’s going to be good.

Life is not about doing what you want to do or about what you have to do, it’s about doing what God tells you to do. I was terrified of quitting because all I could think of was the bills I have to pay, but God says, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” It wasn’t until I left that I realized, my stuff owned me. I was living to pay bills and be mediocre. That’s not my intended use.

I’m not sure how or when the things I know to be true will come to pass, but I wholeheartedly believe, that they will come. I finally found the words to say, and it is a relief.

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No Limits

You choose every day. You choose what you do, how you respond, your behavior, what you wear, if you choose to dwell on what someone said or what they didn’t say. You can choose to let your life happen–only going from home to work and back again, or you can choose to be extraordinary. No limits exist for you except the ones you create. If you were to believe, honestly believe, that nothing is impossible with God, then would it matter that you are unconventional in your path? Could you then measure your successes and failures with another?

All experiences gear us up for a story. Is yours amazing? Worthwhile? Did you risk it all? Let your trials and your limitless God push you into a radical life like Jesus.

October Nuggets 

1. Salvation is for everyone. 

2. Everyone deserves a second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth and twenty-ninth chance. Everyone deserves forgiveness. No one gets to be self-righteous. 

3. Loving thy neighbor doesn’t mean a superficial love. It means if the behavior you are performing was done to you, would you like it? If the answer is no, then love differently. 

4. What you believe, you achieve. You must work to have faith of the Centurion, so when Jesus says, “You’re good,,” you know that. 

5. Once you realize who your Savior is, you’re already free from those shackles around your ankles.  

6. God has orchestrated your life perfectly. He has given you what you needed before you knew you needed it. 

7. Don’t be afraid to be honest with Him because you feel ashamed. He knows it’s there, and He wants to take it from you. 

8. You must always give. 

9. Be a fool for Jesus. 

10. Recognize all His promises—from Genesis to Revelation—and act accordingly. 

11. Don’t be afraid of your life-defining moments. 

12. Sometimes the loudest one telling you you can’t is yourself. 

13. Find one good thing about every single person you meet and tell that person that compliment. They are God’s special possession too. 

14. Love with a love that puts all other loves to shame. 

15. Those who reject the truth in public but embrace it in private need to be corrected not shamed. 

16. Dance like David. Sacrifice like Abraham. Remain faithful like Ruth. Reform like Hezekiah. Evangelize like Paul. 

17. Just do what He says. He will not force you to do it, but every single thing bends to His will, so eventually you will do what He originally asked of you. His Word never comes back void. 

18. Have a moment in your day when you welcome the Counselor (The Holy Spirit) back into your day. 

19. Know that when you are in Him, you will run and not grow weary. 

20. Seek understanding as much as you seek wisdom. 

21. Intercede on everyone’s behalf. The woman at Waffle House, your mailman, your neighbor, your distant relatives, that man you met in the park once, that woman whose car broke down at Kroger. Everyone needs prayer all the time under all circumstances. 

22. The same measure that you judge you will be judged. Do not look at someone and call them an eye sore. Do not look at someone and call them a snake. Do not look at someone and call them something other than redeemed, cherished, priceless, one of God’s special, anointed children. 

23. You always need both parents. 

24. Pray and write down your goals. Let God do the rest. 

25. Do not entertain arguments with other Christians about how you express your relationship with God. Whether those differences happen in tithing or worship, disregard it. There should not be any division in the Body of Christ. 

26. Sit and talk with your Father and your father. 

27. Don’t ever allow someone to tack on their earthly ideas to your spiritual existence. You do not govern your life by things of this world but by God and His Word. 

28. In every circumstance of your life, you are taken care of, so do not worry about anything. He makes a way out of no way. 

29. Don’t wait to give someone flowers at their funeral. Love them now. 

30. All greatest journeys begin with forgiveness. 

31. Try again. Love again. Dream again. 

I’m Right Here

My day started at 3 AM. I woke up early out of a habit that I can’t shake. By the time I was ready to go back to sleep, my alarm was going off for work. I went into the day knowing I was going to be about thirty minutes late to work because I had to put air in my tires. 

I’d practically been riding around on a flat, so my mom drove with me to a gas station to make sure my car was all set. She even helped me put air into my tires. It wasn’t until the air machine silenced that we heard all the air rushing from my front wheel. By that time it was 7:30. Not a problem, I could still be at work by 12. We dropped my car off at a service center. It would only take an hour to fix. Everything was on schedule until I got a phone call at 10:30 notifying me that my rim, not my tire, needed to be replaced. No big deal. All I needed to know was if it could be fixed and how much it would cost. Unfortunately, life rarely works out the way you want it to, if ever, which meant my car could be fixed just not by a mechanic at that location. 

I updated my mom. What was once gratitude for her giving nature turned into guilt. She had her whole day planned, and I was messing it up. She told me to call my dealership. Before I did, she started rattling off questions that hadn’t even crossed my mind. I felt my frustration growing, so I jokingly held out my phone to her, “You wanna talk to them?” 

“I’m right here.” There wasn’t anything to say back. If I needed help, there she was. I couldn’t argue with that, so I began what would be a series of phone calls and estimates and lovely holding jazz music. 

With every, “Do you mind if I transfer you?” my heart sank. I was supposed to be at work by 12 at the latest. I was actually excited to go into work for no other reason than I wouldn’t have to be at home. You can only do so much running from yourself before life catches up.

I ended my final phone call feeling annoyed and frustrated. My mom asked, “You okay, Esh?” I wasn’t okay, and I didn’t feel like lying, so I kept quiet. It was almost as if she were in my head because then she asked, “I know you’re not good, but are you okay?” 

Okay is such a relative term and it never actually means that someone is a-okay. It means that they’re present and aware of the things around them. They are moving, not necessarily forward but moving in a direction with the least friction until they’re stable enough to change direction. More than anything, they’re probably tired too. In that moment I was all of those things. “I’m okay. You ready?”

We retrieved my car from one service center just to move it to another one. Instead of going back home, my mom drove behind me in case I needed immediate roadside assistance. That’s my mom’s thing. She may not know how to do something or what exactly to say, but she’s going because, “We’ll figure it out together.” (But that’s a different post for a different day.)

The car service center was only eleven miles away. Two miles into the drive I realized I wasn’t okay. I acknowledged the circumstances around me, and I started to cry. There was little in that moment—completely unrelated to my car—that I could control. There were things that I wanted that I now had to give up for a season, so I cried. I looked in my rearview mirror, constantly wiping my face as if my mom could see me crying through the car. We were minutes out from our destination when I heard her voice echo, “I’m right here.” Again, I checked my mirror, and sure enough there she was as promised.

When the truth is spoken no matter the state of the person or the circumstance, it echoes louder than anything else. My mom’s declaration was just words to fill the air when I was disappointed in her living room, but my spirit held on to it for a later time. 

Today, the consequences of my actions and the reality of all my circumstances were staring me in the face demanding payment. Every situation, no matter the severity of the matter, had their hand out asking for guilt, shame, and regret. Every situation wanted something that I didn’t have to give. Were my circumstances less than ideal? Absolutely. Would I die from them? Not a chance. 

How I treated someone, how I left someone, how I would be introducing someone didn’t matter. What mattered is that I was not alone, and that if I chose to, I could begin anew in that moment. I didn’t have to hold on to guilt, shame, or regret to pay back for my mistakes. The mistakes I made were paid for in full at Calvary. My debt is zero. In the middle of my hurt feelings, it’s almost as if Papa reminded me of His truth: “I’m right here. Let’s begin again.” 

I was reminded of the very end of Matthew, “Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be)” Matthew 28:20 AMPC. How glorious it is that God is with us perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion. Simply put, He’s always right there through all things all the time. 

I started my day off thinking I could get by with just a little air in my tires. I ended the day replacing a rim and a tire. I am a lot like my busted wheel. I needed to be reminded that there is a “Do Over” button with God. Once I accepted that He’s on the scene, everything was more than okay. It was blessed, fixed, and made new. Honestly, the moral of this story boils down to neglect. I neglected my car, which then caused me some problems, but with the help of a good person, I was able to get everything fixed. I also neglected myself, which I then went on to create more problems for me, but with the help of a good God, He was able to get everything fixed. I love when the creation mirrors it’s Creator. 

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Kind Reminders from July

1. Life is not tit for tat. (1 Peter 3:9) 

2. Your Jesus music ain’t all that loud when you can only hear outta one ear. Turn it up. Sing louder. You are praising your God. (1 Samuel 6:14-15 / Psalm 135:1-3)

3. Anything done out of hurt feelings will be instantly regretted. Forgive others, and forgive yourself. (Matthew 6:14 / Colossians 3:13)

4. Let. The. Cars. Over. Always. (Matthew 7:12)

5. A split mind is a divided mind. (2 Corinthians 10:5 / 2 Corinthians 13:11)

6. You don’t have writer’s block. You just didn’t pick up a pen. (Philippians 3:13-14)

7. If you ask for a month where your attitude is adjusted, you better be prepared for it. (Psalm 51: 10-12) 

8. You must yield to authority in every circumstance. (1 Peter 2:13-15)

9. Don’t be afraid to cry in church. We’re all going through sanctification. (Proverbs 28:13 / Lamentations 3:40) 

10. If you never seek, you will never find. As Cassey said, “How can the job call you if you didn’t even apply?” (John 16:23-24)

11. Trust God because of who He is, not what He’s done. (John 14:1)

12. Any gift from Him is a good gift. Do not doubt it. (1 Corinthians 12:4) 

13. The further you get from Christ, the more you miss the gate that protected you. (Deuteronomy 28:6 / John 10:9-10)

14. Do not be quick to cut corners just because no one sees. That two second stop at the stop sign will not kill you. (Proverbs 17:20)

15. Do not choose your way when wisdom is readily available. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

16. People mistake your serious statements for silly ones. For example, “They should empty the mall and build a Jurassic Park.” *begins singing theme song* Let them believe you were joking. (Proverbs 17:22)

17. You love to plan. You love to do lists. You love scheduling, but don’t be such a stick in the mud that you can’t roll with the punches. (Proverbs 16:9)

18. Everyone always looks a little mean or sad until you smile at them. (Proverbs 15:30) 

19. Eventually you must pay what you owe. (Matthew 22:20-21) 

20. Quit keeping track of the past. Let go of the wrongdoings. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

21. “I love you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” (John 14:34)

22. Give thanks always. Things are never as bad as they seem. (Philippians 4:4-9)

23. At some point you will have to go back the way you came. (1 Kings 19:9-11) 

24. It’s very easy to speculate what you would’ve done if you were someone in a given situation. Don’t. You have no idea of the circumstances that person is in, and most likely, you will need that person’s assistance when you’re in that situation. (Matthew 7:2)

25. If it is meant for you, it will not pass you. (Romans 8:28-30) 

26. All laments (Psalm 22) end in praise (Psalm 23). 

27. His love sometimes means discipline. (Hebrews 12:4-8)

28. Try and try and try and try some more. (Jeremiah 8:4 / 1 John 5:4-5)

29. You can do it on your own, but you don’t have to. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

30. Be truly excited for someone else’s accomplishment. (Acts 11:15-18 / Romans 12:15)

31. “He who the Son sets free is free indeed.” (Galatians 5:1)