June 2019


Pretty Plates


Pretty Plates

Psalm 92:4 (NIV)
For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
Matthew 7:11  (NIV)
11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Psalm 96:8  (NIV)
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.

Have you ever seen something so pretty, that with just one look, you knew that you couldn’t live without it?  Well it happened to me a few years back.  What’s so interesting about this, is that I have tried to train myself not to get too worked up or excited over material things.   I have learned from experience that they only give temporary satisfaction.   However, on this particular day the lure was much too strong.  My whole thought process regarding the pleasures of material things being too fleeting, went flying straight out of the window.

This is how it all got started; The company that I work for, offers quarterly prizes for those who qualify for them.   One year they offered us the opportunity to acquire a complete set of dishes.  All throughout the year you could earn a place setting every quarter until you had acquired the complete set.  I absolutely fell in love with the dishes that they were offering.  They had a colorful band that went around the outer edges of each item in the place setting, and on the banding were the words; Belief, Courage, Commitment, and Enthusiasm.  I thought that these words would be the perfect thing to see each morning, to get my day off to a well motivated start.  I thought they would send a positive message each time I ate on my pretty little plates.

After the contest was finally over, I realized that there were several pieces that I still needed to complete my set.  The more I thought about not having all eight place settings, the more obsessed I became with wanting to find them.
The thought came to mind, that maybe there were ladies in my area that worked for the same company that I did, that had extras and they wouldn’t mind me purchasing one or two sets from them.

I called several people that I knew, and no one had extra place settings to spare. I even called people in other towns.  My heart was broken!  I wanted a complete set of those pretty plates and it simply did not seem like it was going to happen.   I finally stopped my frantic search for the plates and all of the matching pieces.

One day months later,  the UPS driver that delivered to me each week, accidentally left my box of products at another lady’s house.  It just so happened that she lived in my neighborhood, but several streets over.  In his rush to get his deliveries done, he gave her my box and he gave me the box that belonged to her. I now know however, that it was no accident.   Although it appeared to be one, it was actually God’s divine intervention at work on my behalf once more.  Praise God!

When I got ready to open the box, I noticed that my name was not the name on the box.  I called the company that I worked for, and told them that I had the wrong box. I asked them if they would please track the box that belonged to me..  When they told me where it was, I recognized the name of the street.  I went to the lady’s house to deliver her box and to retrieve mine. The two of us had never met before.  She was a really nice lady, with a gift for gab.  We talked for quite some time.  After spending time having a great conversation, we decided to exchange phone numbers.   From time to time we would call one another just to say hello.

One Saturday morning out of the clear blue sky, she called and said:  “ I am cleaning out my front closet and I have several things that I want to get rid of.   I thought I would see if you would like any of them”.

What she said next brought tears to my eyes.  She said; “Do you remember the dishes that we could earn last year”?  At that moment I knew that God was working!   Trying to stay calm, I said ” yes I do remember those”, and she said “well I have lots of them, if you would like them, I will just give them to you.”   That very moment my heart was so full of gratitude.  God had granted a favorable answer to my heart” s desire.  He cared about my desire for something as simple as a set of pretty plates.

God blessed me in a way that only He could orchestrate.  From the UPS man leaving the boxes at the wrong house, to me starting a friendship with someone that I had never met before.  God was steering me and guiding me to the dishes the entire time.   When I tell you that God is Awesome, please hear me.  This story is not just about pretty plates. It is so much bigger than pretty plates.

This story is about God’s kindness, His generosity, His wisdom, His will, His timing, His guidance, and His sovereignty.  Most importantly, its about God receiving the glory that is due Him.  I could not take one ounce of credit for finding those dishes and God wanted me to be very clear, that this was a gift from Him and that only He could arrange this!   He wanted my heart to be grateful, and He wanted me to express that gratitude to Him, and boy did I ever!

Isn’t it amazing to think of the many things that God could work from something as simple as a set of dishes.  You see I also learned from this experience,  that though we may want something, God has the final say and it will be in His time and not ours.

I also learned that just as we want to give our children some of the things that they want, God does the same for us. You see I did not need the dishes, I just wanted them.  Sometimes God just blesses us because He desires to do so.

Another lesson is that He always wants more for us than we want for ourselves.  I was looking to get eight place settings and after the lady  blessed me with her sets of dishes, I ended up with twelve place settings.

Something else that this reminded me of is; just because you don’t see the blessing coming, it doesn’t mean that the blessing is not on the way. Keep trusting!

So here it is about fifteen years later,  and we still have those dishes.  Some of them have been broken or chipped over the years, but for the most part we still have quite a few remaining.  They are a reminder to me that God cares about the smallest things that concern me and I hope that you always remember that He feels the same way about what concerns you.   Keep waiting and trusting, and you will also get to experience a pretty plate moment!

Psalm 100:4-5  (NIV)
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 103:13  (NIV)
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;



Don’t Let Anyone Shatter Your Dreams 

Don’t Let Anyone Shatter Your Dreams 

Genesis 37:3-20 (NLT)
Jacob[a] loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe.[b] But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.One-night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” he said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!”His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.Soon Joseph had another dream, and again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”10 This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?” 11 But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant.12 Soon after this, Joseph’s brothers went to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem.13 When they had been gone for some time, Jacob said to Joseph, “Your brothers are pasturing the sheep at Shechem. Get ready, and I will send you to them.”

“I’m ready to go,” Joseph replied.

14 “Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are getting along,” Jacob said. “Then come back and bring me a report.” So Jacob sent him on his way, and Joseph traveled to Shechem from their home in the valley of Hebron.15 When he arrived there, a man from the area noticed him wandering around the countryside. “What are you looking for?” he asked.16 “I’m looking for my brothers,” Joseph replied. “Do you know where they are pasturing their sheep?”17 “Yes,” the man told him. “They have moved on from here, but I heard them say, ‘Let’s go on to Dothan.’” So Joseph followed his brothers to Dothan and found them there.18 When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”
Genesis 41:38-45  (NLT)
38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. 40 You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. 43 Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second-in-command. And wherever Joseph went, the command was shouted, “Kneel down!” So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all Egypt. 44 And Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, but no one will lift a hand or foot in the entire land of Egypt without your approval.”45 Then Pharaoh gave Joseph a new Egyptian name, Zaphenath-paneah.[a] He also gave him a wife, whose name was Asenath. She was the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On.[b] So Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt.

Genesis 42:1-9  (NLT)
When Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you standing around looking at one another? I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy enough grain to keep us alive. Otherwise we’ll die.”So Joseph’s ten older brothers went down to Egypt to buy grain. But Jacob wouldn’t let Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, go with them, for fear some harm might come to him.So Jacob’s[a] sons arrived in Egypt along with others to buy food, for the famine was in Canaan as well.Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where are you from?” he demanded.
“From the land of Canaan,” they replied. “We have come to buy food.”
Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize him. And he remembered the dreams he’d had about them many years before. He said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”
Nehemiah 2:11-20  (NLT)
11 So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, 12 I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding. 13 After dark I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well,[a] and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates. 14 Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble. 15 So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valley[b] instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate.16 The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to anyone about my plans. I had not yet spoken to the Jewish leaders—the priests, the nobles, the officials, or anyone else in the administration. 17 But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” 18 Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.

They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.

19 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem the Arab heard of our plan, they scoffed contemptuously. “What are you doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” they asked.20 I replied, “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.”

This past weekend my husband and I were channel surfing, when we came across a station that was showing 2019 Commencement Speeches.  This is the time of year that I love to listen to the words of wisdom, that some of the speakers impart to the graduating classes.  The speeches are so motivational and so full of hope for the future.  One of the speeches that really resonated with me, was from Congressman Elijah Cummings.  He told his audience about his days as a young school boy, who had to attend Special Ed classes each day. He stated that one day when he was in the 6th grade, his school counselor asked him what he wanted to become in life. When he told his counselor that he wanted to become a lawyer, his counselor said” you poor kid, you will never be a lawyer”.   He then went on to ask him ” who do you think you are”?  The counselor then proceeded to point out, how all the odds were stacked against him.   Well needless to say Elijah Cummings did go onto become a  successful lawyer and now serves in our U.S. Congress.

When I heard this speech my mind instantly went back to my high school days.  You see I was also asked by my high school counselor what I wanted to become in life.  When I shared with her that my dream was to become an Interior Designer, without asking how I came to that decision or why I thought I would make a great designer, she immediately tried to steer me in a different direction.  She asked me, had I ever thought of becoming a nurse or a teacher.
In the community that I grew up in, a large majority of the women that worked outside of the home professionally, were either nurses, secretaries or teachers.   I absolutely realize that all of these are very honorable positions.  However, they were just not what God was calling me to do with my life. Looking back I now understand that my counselor’s view of what I could become, was limited to her level of exposure. She was actually projecting her limited view of my career options on to me, without realizing it.

I was taken aback initially, but then in a split second, I decided that she was not the one that would get to decide what I would become.  That was my decision, and at that moment I decided that my dream would not be shattered by anyone.  If anything, I became even more determined to become an Interior Designer and a good one at that!
I left my hometown when I graduated from high school to pursue my degree in Interior Design.  Upon graduating from college, I was very successful in this field for twenty years, fifteen of which,  I had my own Interior Design business. I even severed on the State Board of Interior Designers for a while.

I was expose to wonderful opportunities and met great people that I would not have met otherwise.  Please know that I am not sharing this story with you to brag on myself.  I simply want you to understand the severity of listening to the wrong voice.  Suppose I had listened to my high school counselor.  More than likely I would not have experienced the joy of following my passion and seeing my dream become a reality with God’s help.
This little incident taught me to really trust my intuition, and to allow myself to be guided by the Holy Spirit and not by others.  You see what I have come to realize,  is that most people mean well, but they will talk you right out of your dreams and your blessings if you allow them to.  If you need directional advice, certainly seek out the wisdom and the professional council of others,  but let God help you make the final decision for your life. God is truly the giver of dreams, so who better to ask for directions.

No one will ever understand the passion and excitement that you have for your dream to be birthed, and that’s because it’s not their dream.  It is uniquely yours.

Don’t allow yourself or your dream to be derailed by naysayers. In the scriptures above, Joseph was actually hated by his brothers, because of the dream he shared with them.  They were already jealous of his relationship with their father, hearing about his dream just added fuel to the fire that was already burning inside of them. Another example of this type of resistance was the opposition that Nehemiah experienced from those who scoffed at him when he decided to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.

Sometimes you have to quietly keep trusting God and seeking wisdom from Him.  Its not necessary for you to share everything that God reveals to you.  Some things are just between you and God.  He has a vision and a purpose for what He has planted inside of you, therefore stay connected to Him, and don’t let anyone shatter the dreams that God has uniquely given to you..

10 Important Lessons About Dreams
1.  Your dreams are a gift from God, 
and the purpose of your dreams may vary.  Some dreams are presented to you when you are sleeping.
Genesis 37:9
Soon Joseph had another dream, and again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”They may warn you, or even give you a small glimpse of what your future could be like.   Other times your dreams may be a strong passion that you have for something and you feel inspired to do something with that passion.
Nehemiah 1:3-4
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness.
Nehemiah 2:2-5
 So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.”Then I was terrified, but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?”
With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”

2.  It is not always wise to share your dreams with others. 
Nehemiah 2:11-12
Pray and ask God for guidance for the right time to share.
3.  Protect your dream from those that you know,  that are dream killers or dream stealers.
4.  Your dream will always require divine intervention to become a reality.
5.  No one can dream a bigger dream for you than God.
6.  When your dreams become a reality, share your story.  It will give others hope that some day their dreams will also come true.
7.  Dreams come true for those who don’t lose faith.. Just Keep believing!
8.  Dream Big!  God will always be larger than your biggest dream.  He can help you achieve the largest dream ever.
9.  When one dream comes true, ask God to bless you with a new dream. Never stop dreaming!
10. Give God the glory, when you realize your dreams after all, He is the Dream Giver!
Nehemiah 4:1-23  (NLT)
 [a]Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices?[b] Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?”Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!”Then I prayed, “Hear us, our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in front of[c] the builders.”At last the wall was completed to half its height around the entire city, for the people had worked with enthusiasm.[d]But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the work was going ahead and that the gaps in the wall of Jerusalem were being repaired, they were furious. They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw us into confusion. But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves.10 Then the people of Judah began to complain, “The workers are getting tired, and there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.”11 Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, “Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work.”
12 The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!”[e] 13 So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows.
14 Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!”
15 When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall. 16 But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. 18 All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.
19 Then I explained to the nobles and officials and all the people, “The work is very spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 When you hear the blast of the trumpet, rush to wherever it is sounding. Then our God will fight for us!”
21 We worked early and late, from sunrise to sunset. And half the men were always on guard.22 I also told everyone living outside the walls to stay in Jerusalem. That way they and their servants could help with guard duty at night and work during the day. 23 During this time, none of us—not I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me—ever took off our clothes. We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water.[f]