Do You See What HE Sees

There are some who consider me to be conceited. To them I say, “So!” Ha! Seriously though, while I am not really self-absorbed, I do consider my reflection to be a pleasant view. Thankfully, my place of employment is made of LOTS of glass – walls, doors, partitions. There is glass EVERYWHERE! These glass structures double as mirrors. Yay me! The point is coming. Bear with me.

Rigorous boot camp routines are currently boosting my overall wellness while shedding away unwanted pounds. It should come as no surprise that I admire the progress of my shape by viewing my reflection in doors and walls while at work.  Every now and again, I’ll look beyond the glass to find someone smiling or waving at me.  Yep. They mistakenly assume that my gaze is for them. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the point: It is not to be assumed that two who are looking toward the same thing are seeing the same thing. Perception is shaped by perspective.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18)

The sound to which you respond will influence sight. It’s guaranteed. If someone shouts, “Look,” your heads turns in the implied direction. You see what they see. If I comply with my trainer’s instruction, my body will continue to come into alignment with the workout’s purpose. Those who walk in the direction of the Lord’s voice will see the manifestation of His promises. The Prophet Amos asked, “Can two walk together, except they be in agreement?” (Amos 3:3). In the same regard, two will not see the same thing if they are hearing the same sound.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. The NKJV words it as, “Where there is no revelation, people cast of restraint.” When we lack insight regarding God’s will for our lives, we lean unto our own understanding. Those who peer into their future without having first received a word from the Lord may be looking where He’s looking, but they definitely aren’t seeing what He’s seeing. Sight preceded by a godly sound produces life-shifting vision.

I have committed this quote by the late Dr. Myles Munroe to memory: When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do. Revelation eliminates wrong turns and dead ends. It directs us in making moves that make sense. My trainer’s voice dictates my workout. My Father’s voice orders my steps. Visible progress is the byproduct of audible instructions that have been obeyed. My dear friends, receive the revelation; walk in the righteous direction; experience manifestation. You are a child of the King. Not just any road will do.

Dreams of a Mother

A mother helps her son and daughter out of the tub after bathing them. She dries the daughter off first because she is old enough to dress herself. Meanwhile, the son who is standing nearby fills a pair of rain boots – a pair much too big to be his own – with water from the tub, inserts his feet, and begins sloshing around in the water. The sound catches his mother’s attention. She immediately makes him dump the water and delivers three quick swats to his backside.

As his tears subsided, this conversation unfolds:

Mother: Why do I discipline you?

Son: To be mean?

Mother: (with a smile) No, it’s not to be mean. I discipline you because I love you. Do you think your daddy is a good man?

Son: Yes. (not understanding the correlation)

Mother: Okay, then. I discipline you so that you will grow up to be a good man like your daddy.

This isn’t a movie scene or a book excerpt. The mother is me and the little boy is my son – only I’m currently single and childless. The Lord usually speaks directly to my heart, but every now and again He gives me a dream. This year has brought a turn. Dreams are becoming more common.

I have ALWAYS wanted sons. Seriously – always. Two out of three of my Cabbage Patch dolls were boys! If asked, my closest friends can tell you the name of my future firstborn son. I have dreamed of having a son for years but oddly, for the last three months, I’ve literally dreamt of having a son. He was an infant in January and February’s dreams. The month of March introduced him to me as a toddler. Although I won’t go into the details of the other two, each one has been extremely vivid and packed with revelation. The more they replay in my mind, the more understanding is received.

Will you be patient while I make him a good man?

Ok, Holy Ghost! God has a way of posing questions that will stop you in your tracks. He asks in a way that causes you to look inwardly. It is no longer about what the next person is or isn’t doing. What will you do with the divine insight afforded to you? For me, the question at hand is if I am willing to fall back and trust His perfect timing versus trying to force forever love to manifest in my life.

I discipline you so that you will grow up to be a good man like your daddy. Most sincerely I confess that I would never want to be in fear of my son becoming like his father. What happens later is a result of right-now decisions. Above all else, my desire is that my son would grow up to be a mighty man of God with unwavering character and humility. My hope is that he would emulate his father as his father reflects the Father. Yep, that’s what I want.

12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:12-19)

In Jewish culture, it was the father who would decree the blessing over his son. It was also the sins of the father that would rest on the sons from generation to generation. As the father was, so would the son be. Thank God for Jesus! It is by His Blood that we are made free from generational curses and positioned to receive eternal blessings. Spiritual adoption liberates us from who our bloodline would have us to become. By it we are able to be precisely who we were created to be. Let that set you free!

Back to the point – Jesus was His Father’s Son. Whatever He saw the Father do, He did. In the dream, my son stepped into shoes too big for him to fill. Correction came for the purpose of guidance, because at some point my discipline will be sidelined and he will have to be self-disciplined. Metaphorically speaking, he will someday step into shoes much like his father’s and walk the path of righteousness that the Father has planned for him. I want his father’s footsteps to lead him to the Father. That’s why right now matters so much.

Will you be patient while I make him a good man?

I’ll wait. As much as I feel like singleness has ran its course in my life (annnnddd made 2-3 more victory laps after that), I will wait for the Father to do the work of the Potter so that my son’s father is one whose life produces a legacy that I will not be fearful or ashamed for my son to live out. I will wait, because my son deserves good shoes to fill. Father, I trust You.

BoxBreakOut

Shyness boxed me in as a kid. My second grade teacher recommended me for a special reading class, because she felt as though my skills weren’t up to par. In reality, I could read and quite well. However, my nerves would threaten to choke the voice out of me when called on to read out loud. Nevertheless, I entered the reading program and advanced by leaps and bounds. [In addition to that class, my aunt purchased the Hooked on Phonics program for me. Hooked on Phonics really did work for me! Ha!] Not only did I gain confidence in my voice as it relates to reading out load, this was also the time in which I found my voice. During second grade is when I began putting pen to paper as the overflow of my mind developed into prose and story plots.

Reading became my joy and writing became my passion. One of my all-time favorite series as a child was The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. In short, the series chronicled the adventures of four orphaned siblings who converted an abandoned railroad boxcar into a cozy abode. Shyness boxed me in. A boxcar became their home. Boxes. We make our home in boxes. I’m not here to carry you any further down memory lane. No, that’s not my intent at all. Instead, let us fix our focus on boxes.

Some people are dreamers. By that I mean that there are those to whom God speaks more frequently through dreams than any other way. I’m not one of those people, but it does happen from time to time. Yesterday, I awoke to snippets of a dream replaying in my mind. There were people all around – many of the faces were familiar – and their torsos were encased in boxes. Although the scene was out of the ordinary, everyone functioned as if being boxed in was normal. Hmm. Maybe that’s because it is normal.

Revelation: We are all boxed in to some degree. As we restrict ourselves in these metaphorical casings, we restrict the move of God in our lives as well. The barricades over our hearts limit His ability to move in our lives. We would rather box ourselves in than to yield to His “box”, which is His standard as outlined by the Word. While the Word may seem binding at first glance, we must break away from thinking that is fueled by instant gratification. The life lived within God-defined limits will experience a limitless life. Self-imposed no’s are rewarded with God yeses.

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (II Corinthians 1:20)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Y’all, the exceedingly abundantly will never be realized in our lives if we stay in our boxes. Second grade me was so boxed in by shyness that me – let alone anyone else – would have never imagined that a writer and speaker was in the making. What greatness is trapped inside you? Has the enemy stolen your voice, killed your self-esteem, and destroyed the hope of you stepping into greater???

Break out of comfort zones. Like, now! Do the hard things! Dare to walk in a new level of trust and obedience. Allow your faith to be stretched. Let me say it like this – surrender is the way to break out of your box. Yep. That’s it. The Spirit of God provides all the empowering grace needed escape that which has you contained. Break out of your box, boo!

Filthy Filters

Filters – we all have them. One’s filter is the lens through which life is processed. They are shaped, fixed, and cluttered by past experiences, predispositions, and prejudices. Filters dictate how we view the world and tackle obstacles. Again, we ALL have them.

Friends, take a brave look inward. Focus on your filter(s) for just a moment… or longer if needed. You see, our filters either promote safety or present stumbling blocks. They can be a reflection of freedom or prompt the perpetual manifestation of bondage. Having a filter is normal, but a filthy filter can lead to normalized dysfunction.

Now is the moment of truth: Is your filter allowing for the free flow of the Holy Spirit in your life? How very different life would be if we were to let the cleansing current of Christ’s Blood wash over our filters!

What would that look like on a day-to-day basis? If we were to truly allow the Holy Spirit to endow us with a fresh perspective, what characteristic would permeate our being the most? Love. Love? Yes. We have to take it there…

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

As if that isn’t toe-stomping enough, let’s rewind a bit.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (I Corinthians 13:1-2)

Nothing is a finite term. Nothing – not any thing; of no interest, value, or consequence; by no means; no alternative. NOTHING. Thank you, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, for making it plain.

It is quite possible to go through the motions of operating in our spiritual giftedness with a filter that does not permit the passing through of agape (as in godly, unconditional) love. This fact is the dividing line between playing church and being The Church. Ouch! The clothes on our bodies are not infused into our epidermis. Like the camouflaging nature of a chameleon, we are well able to look the part of The Church without being integrated into the Kingdom. Whew chile!

To be clear, I’m not judging you. As a matter of factor, I am currently taking inventory of my heart issues. There is no time to throw darts at another when your filter is littered with debris that has been tolerated for more than too long.

The Kingdom of God is founded on love and rooted in sacrifice. For God so loved the world that He… Wait. What was that He did??? Oh yes! He sacrificed His only begotten Son . The Son, in turn, fulfilled the Father’s labor of love on the Cross. Before doing so, He left us with two all-encompassing directives:  love God and love others. (See Matthew 22:37-40).

Perhaps a life well spent is one in which warped filters are sacrificed on the altar of love. Maybe, just maybe, to be Kingdom-minded is to reflect the heart and mind of Christ. Could it be that the definition of love outlined in I Corinthians 13 is to be etched into the cross that we are to carry daily?

Father, forgive us for overlooking our filthy filters. Clear our eyes and sanctify our hearts. Help us to see others as You see them. Give us wisdom to discern between weaknesses and wickedness. Teach us to love anyway, because You love us anyway. As we receive grace let us extend grace. Holy Spirit, lead the way to a life of love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Walk by Hearing

I walk by hearing. What is odd to others has become the norm for me. God speaks; I move. He speaks again, I move again. Thus goes the motion of my world.

Who knew the Bell Buckle Craft Festival was such a big deal??? Apparently the answer is everyone except me. October’s third weekend marked the festival’s 41st year of existence with over 800 vendors and an estimated 100,000 attendees. And then there was me with no clue how I would locate my friends, Amy and Nick of Sleepy Owl Bungalow, in the bustling crowd. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit operates in the practical as well as the supernatural.

Go straight. Turn left. Walk. Turn right. There they were!

Lord, I am not about to walk through all of this. Show me where they are. I asked and He delivered. Won’t He do it? Sure enough, He will! Covering acres and searching booths to find my buddies was NOT an option. The Lord provided in the form of guidance. (Catch that!) Following His lead led me straight to Amy and Nick. When I recounted my experience, Nick’s response was, “I have no doubt in my mind that it happened just as you said. That’s how clearly you hear.” My reality is both known and expected by those who have watched my movements of the last few years.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.  (II Corinthians 5:7)

This isn’t a LaToya NaShae thing. I repeat – such hearing and positioning is NOT reserved for me. All who call on the Lord as Father, Savior, and Friend are to walk by hearing. Revelation is received by faith and carried out in obedience. Faith without works is dead, my friends. Easy? No. Expected? Yes. If doing so seems borderline impossible, I encourage you to fine tune your ear in the small things. Obedience is a habit set into motion long before great sacrifice is required.

Go straight. Turn left. Walk. Turn right.

The festival was a big deal and still a small thing as well. It drew a massive crowd but had no bearing on my walk with Christ. Or did it? These directions – straight; left; walk; right – were a reminder that the will of God is specific. Step by step, He believes in guiding His children into victory. The small is not as small as it seems once the lesson becomes unpacked. Friends, walk by hearing… then unpack the lesson.

Intimacy with Christ is the key to hearing on another level. Seek Him and He will be found. Call on Him and He is faithful to answer. Ahh, that reminds me of a song….

Pull me a little closer, take me a little deeper/ I want to know Your heart, I want to know Your heart/ ‘cause Your love is so much sweeter than anything I’ve tasted/ I want to know Your heart, I want to know Your heart (Closer, Bethel Music)

Before a shift happens , a new level of obedience and sacrifice is required. Movement is preceded by sound. When God speaks, be swift to act. Hear His voice, follow His lead, and honor His ways. Understanding comes with motion. Movement by sound is the will of God for your life. Walk by hearing.

Peaceful Heartbreak

As the landscape of my life shifts I pause to reflect on how always does not constitute forever. Every relationship, no matter how rock solid, has an expiration date. The wisest woman I know shared this truth with me five weeks and one day ago. That’s not to say that a quarrel will be its demise. Life happens and nature runs its course even in the absence of bickering. Thus has been the cause of my peaceful heartbreak. I wish reality hadn’t come so soon but it has. She is gone and my world is rocked; however, I am so very thankful that she taught me to trust God with my broken pieces.

Helen M. (Riley) Tomlinson
02/01/1934 – 10/26/2017

Within that dash is depth and fullness and sincerity. She was much to many, but let me tell you who my gramma was to me. She was my first pastor without ever having been to seminary or shepherding a flock. She was my counselor without being credentialed. She was my go-to, teacher, inspiration, truth-giver, corrector, comforter, friend, and Wednesday-evening phone buddy. My gramma was the one to cultivate my spiritual gifts, the person to most consistently speak life into me and taught me to do the same for others. She saw me when I lacked vision to see myself. She understood me; I understood her. She loved me without condition and I returned the love. To many she was much, but she was more than much to me. I will forever be her Doll Baby and now, she is my angel on another level.

Gramma, without you there would be no me – at least not the version of me that exists today. You were wise enough and loving enough to teach me how to be without you. With every breakdown – and yes, they have been many – has come a bubbling up of truths sown from your heart to mine over these 31 years. Because of my keen ear to hear spiritually, I have knowingly been in process for this moment since December 2016. Because of your astute spiritual nature, you started conditioning me to stand through this nearly 20 years ago. That’s love.

I’ll never leave you before you’re ready. You said it. And although my 12 year old self didn’t understand at the time, I held on to your words. Thank you for being a promise-keeper. I’m ready. I have peace. I can wrap my mind around being without you, because you taught me how to find comfort in Christ. You taught me how to pull on the Word and how to have peace in the midst of the storm. I watched you do it. You cannot come back to me but someday (in the distant future) I will be reunited with you.

Every tear waters my spirit a little more, causing the seeds you have sown to take root more deeply and spring up all the more strong. Well done, my good and faithful gramma. You are surely rejoicing in your rest.

An inheritance is what you leave;
a legacy is who you leave.
Cindy Trimm

Every book I write, every speaking opportunity afforded to me is an extension of your legacy. I promise to grow and pour out all that you have poured into me. Never one to sit in silence, you died empty. I hope the same will be said of me. When your breath was limited, a wellspring of Word still flowed forth. You gave all that God gave you to give. You ran your race with endurance even when your legs wouldn’t cooperate.

I won’t buy you flowers nor will I encourage others to do so. Flowers, however beautiful and heart-felt they may be, will fade and die. You are deserving of an everlasting, life-giving tribute.

 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

In memory of my gramma, I am requesting that those who read this will join me in honoring her:

  • Purchase a Bible in whatever translation you use most frequently
  • Write the scripture reference II Timothy 2:15 on the inside cover. (This is what she used to do.) The verse reads: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
  • Take a picture of the inscription and post to social media using #HelensLegacy. Feel free to tag me on Facebook – LaToya NaShae.
  • Lastly, bless someone who doesn’t know Christ with the infallible Word of truth and be willing to walk out this life of faith with them as my gramma walked with me.

Thank you in advance to those who participate!

The Great Fall Away

In life there are movers & shakers and stagnant stayers.

FACT: Who you befriend is who you become.  Questioning your circle most likely won’t result in accurate assessments. Wise is the one who searches from within…

Do they correct me… strengthen me… cover me…propel me…in love?

Ahhh, that’s not all!

Do I care enough to offer correction when a friend veers left? Am I strong enough to stand with them in times of weakness? Is praying for those whom God has placed in my life a priority? Am I positioned in purpose and committed to helping propel others toward destiny? Do I love thoroughly… honestly… selflessly… unconditionally?

It is far easier to critique another but what do the recesses of your heart reveal?

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)

Be the friend that you hope to have. Consistency that springs forth from a place of purpose and intentionality has a transforming effect. It has the ability to shift the stagnant to fruitful and flowing – not all, but some. As you move into the place of being an authentic friend, your “true crew” will inevitably take shape.

Listen, distance will come. Separation will take place. And that’s perfectly okay. You aren’t for everyone. It isn’t meant for you to take part in everyone’s journey nor them in yours. Some connections are seasonal; they have a God-ordained expiration date. Allow it. Allow dead weight to drop off. Allow futility to step away.

However difficult the assessment may be, do it. Evaluate your heart and your connections. Seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit. He will re-position and remove as He sees fit… if you will allow. Will the process be easy? No. It is necessary? Yes. It’s not personal; it’s purposeful.