What’s in a name anyway.

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I remember reading one of Beth Moore’s bible studies on the book of Daniel and I found it to be really interesting when she talked about how people were named. Beth Moore explains that renaming is sometimes the devil’s blatant intent to change the entire identity of the person until the life matched the title (who the person is intended to be). God’s agenda when it comes to giving you a name, represents truth and all that is good. However, Satan and the world’s agenda represent lies, deception, and that which is false. When we constantly call ourselves other things that God has not called us, it is a constant offense against who and what God is calling us (Beth Moore). Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are four names in the bible that have within them a characteristic of God. Daniel – God is my judge, Hananiah – Yah has been gracious, Mishael – Who is what God is?, and Azariah – Yah has helped. Their names suggest to us very strongly who is the God of their lives. When the king changed their names, it was a deliberate attempt to echo constant contradictions of the truth regarding their God (Beth Moore).  Be extremely careful of the names you echo constantly to yourself, your children, or others – contradicting the truth of who you are in God, and what God calls you.

Things I was called as child that I soon began to believe because I heard them so much: You are a liar, you cannot be trusted, you are a thief, you are a whore, you are just hot between your legs, your hair is damaged, your hair is weak, your hair will not grow, I do not like you, you are stupid, you act like you are so desperate to have a boyfriend, the list goes on and on and on.  These are just some of the ones that hurt me the most, but do not assume that I was a complete angel as a child. To put these statements into context, as a child I was a little thief and would steal candy and money mostly. Also, when I was fourteen years old, I lost my virginity to a boy who was two grades higher than me. So all of the “things” I was called, with exception of my hair, were based off of things I experienced at a very young age. What hurts the most is that I can remember the entire context of when these things were said to me and how I felt at the time. At fourteen years old I didn’t really know what a whore was or what being hot between the legs meant! I slowly began to believe these new things that I was being called for who I thought I really was. It affected my life more than anyone would ever know, and even into my adult life. Things got much better when I left home for college at seventeen years old to play basketball. Basketball saved me because it started to give me new names – great athlete, strong academic student, and a person with strong work ethics. It didn’t matter if I was a whore or not because basketball didn’t discriminate against me for losing my virginity at fourteen. Basketball didn’t care if my hair was damaged and wouldn’t grow because I could play so well and fit in with every other girl on the court.

Even with basketball there to help give me new names, the bruises from years of hearing other names were still there and never healed. I was in a mentally (and sometimes physical) abusive relationship when I first went off to college. I didn’t believe I was pretty enough, I believed my hair was damaged and wouldn’t grow, I believed my siblings hated me and thought I was stupid, and I just didn’t believe I was good enough…ever. I didn’t have anyone (except basketball) to tell me any different of who I was. News flash! At some point in my life, I decided that I wasn’t going to accept any of the crap names I was given in my childhood. I think it wasn’t until I turned 30 years old, I honestly cannot remember, when I decided that I wasn’t the person with those degrading names. Do you see how long something like that can stick with someone when they do not have anyone to tell them any different?! As a child I sometimes did stupid things and made bad decisions, but isn’t that what children do? Children do dumb things and make bad decisions. So what! Adults still do dumb things and make bad decisions.

Now that I am 36 years old, I understand that I went through those things for a reason. God has still used me in many ways despite what the devil tried to use to destroy me as a young girl. Being a thief as a child was a huge deficit in developing my character, and it put me in situations where I couldn’t be trusted. Rightfully so! To whom much is given much is required, and thank God He had delivered me from that early on because He has given me much financially to be responsible for. God had to deliver me from that quickly because he had put me in positions where I had to handle the finances of others, I am a huge tither and giver, and I love to support Godly causes.

I cut my hair completely off on November 16, 2013, and tt was an out of the blue split decision. After adding up the receipts I had from wearing sew ins for about two to three years – it was over $10,000 total I spent on purchasing hair and getting the hair put in every appointment. Now how ridiculous is that?! For years, my hair received so much negative attention and mentally I absorbed it all. Constantly, daily, and it felt like the negative names were never-ending. That was until I taught myself how to do my own hair by keeping braids in it. I got so good at braiding hair that I was braiding my own hair faithfully, the hair of my basketball teammates and other girls on campus! I am so glad that God has redeemed my life 1,000 times over.  For one, black hair is expensive to get done and secondly my hair doesn’t define who I am – not anymore.

Please make the conscious effort to not speak (or call contradictory names) negative things over your children and young people; this is something I remind myself of to this day. This is something that I get to practice doing while teaching because some students lack confidence. I remind them that they are not stupid or dumb; they are very smart and will succeed in my course. I tell them that my own life is a testimony – my hair is a testimony, my career is a testimony, my charity work is a testimony! The devil will often try to get me thinking on the things I was called in my childhood to start me on contradicting the truth of who I am in God, and what God calls me. Not today devil!  God is not going to allow me to be used in any way that He has not permitted!

Quote: “It’s shame that gets us killed. Shame is the anchor, the heaviest burden to carry from the battlefield” ~Mark Lawrence

Scripture: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18, NLT)

Song: All He Says I Am (featuring Cody Carnes) by Gateway Worship

Faith to go in.

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The title of this blog came from Pastor Tim Ross of Embassy City Church in Irving, TX. I have decided to use it as the title and also discuss some things from his teachings on Faith – it’s a perfect title!

It takes so much discipline for me to learn how to trust and have that unwavering faith in that God is going to take care of everything. The knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God is going to do what He has already said He is going to do. I have to stop trying to search and figure out all of the answers. Learning to stop trying to find a way out of whatever place that I am in is a hard thing (but doable) to do. God wants to deliver me from my past and desires to establish a relationship built on a solid foundation with Him. He is the only one who can bring me out of any situation that I am in. He is going to take the “taste” of my past out of my mouth so that I can enjoy the “land flowing with milk and honey” that he has for me. Now that is going to take some unwavering faith for me to enter into the new He has for me and to enter into the way He leads me. Obedience to whatever God has called me to do will be the key.  I received a word of encouragement from a good friend today about having faith and trusting God wholeheartedly. She encouraged me to spend more time in worship, prayer, and fasting during this season that I am in. These special moments where I have free time to worship and pray, I may never get those special moments again. She stressed for me not to take these moments lightly and to take advantage of every opportunity in how I spend my free time. Ha! Talk about perfect timing for such an encouraging word! When what you know in your heart matches the encouragement that you receive from a friend.

Yep, faith will be my anchor! Yes, that’s perfect!

Quote: “My faith is what serves as the anchor and directs my actions” ~John Thune

Scripture: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT)

Song: Heaven Come (featuring Jen Johnson) by Bethel Music

The grace to be who you are.

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At one of the universities that I teach, the individual in charge wants to design a course where students would complete the course in two weeks. This two-week course would consist of four classroom meetings a week, from 8am to 5:30pm. Because this is a course that I have taught for over 6 years now, I responded immediately with my concerns of this new format. There were a lot of questions being brought up about the format of the course. I was trying my best to make it clear that I was not in favor of the structure for this course. After all of the back and forth was done, I began to ponder to myself about the responses I made to those in charge. Majority of the conversation took place by email, and there was only one other conversation by phone. Was I too harsh in my responses? Could I have been too direct or too mean? I have been in a situation like this before where I have stood my ground only to increase the level of conflict within an already stressful situation. I did not like the way it felt then because I felt disliked by the other individual involved. I did not take into consideration “how” I said certain things because my goal was to make sure it was clear what I wanted to get done. How come I cannot just sit back and let certain decisions go forth without adding to the conflict? Now back to the university story, if the structure of the course does not work or isn’t suitable, will it not serve as its own witness? I believe that it would, but something inside of me is so quick to lash back when I think something is not the way I would do it.

Giving people the grace to be who they are is easy when you do not have to deal with them. However, when you are constantly involved with the person, it is difficult to sit back and not say anything. In the university situation I should have kept my mouth shut after expressing my initial concerns with the structure, and let the other individual continue to justify their reasons for the structure. The proof is going to be in the pudding anyway, so there really is no room for additional conflict. Sometimes shutting your mouth and just being there to support is the best thing to do. Give others the grace (same grace you’ve also been given) to be who they are even if you do not agree. Fighting against it only creates more conflict. Doesn’t the bible say something about a “soft answer turning away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1, NLT)?

Giving people grace to be who they are is an area in my life that I am getting so much practice in these days. I am learning to not become overwhelmed with trying to be right and digging my heels into sinking sand. I have written an apology email to the person in charge of the course structure to let her know that I did not mean any harm. The funny thing is that in her response I could tell we had similar justifications for responding the way we did. We were both thinking in the best interest of the students at the university.

Quote: “Amidst the confusion of the times, the conflicts of conscience, and the turmoil of daily living, an abiding faith becomes an anchor to our lives” ~Thomas S. Monson

Scripture: “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing” (Proverbs 12:18, NLT)

Song: Search Me Oh God by Charles Laster II

Want to get away.

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I can remember being in a computer science undergrad course that I felt was difficult for me to grasp. I didn’t catch on as fast as the other students, so I thought, and I didn’t feel as smart as I believed the other students to be. We had an assignment that had to be presented in front of the class on interpolation (Wait, what?!). Growing up I was extremely shy, and it has stayed with me even into adulthood. So college to me, socially, was a very scary place. I got up to present my project and the smartest student in the class, I thought he was the smartest, made a smart comment out loud about my presentation that really embarrassed me. He then proceeded to ask me a highly intellectual question about interpolation that I could not answer. I wanted to crawl under the floor from the embarrassment!

I learned so much from that experience, that it has also affected the way I treat the students who take my math courses. I do my best to treat others with respect, and to not purposely make others feel stupid or try to humiliate them. There is nothing to gain in embarrassing others so that you can make yourself appear to know it all. Instead take the time to help others, and try putting yourself in their shoes before opening your mouth. Anyway, this incident did not stop me from pursuing the career I wanted in computer science and I am now a computer programmer. I did not let the ignorance of one student take me off the focus of the career I wanted to pursue. I have become a successful software developer because of my willingness to learn new things and help others along the way.

Don’t let an embarrassing or hurtful situation stop you from moving forward with your dreams and aspirations. Continue to hold onto those desires until you reach the place you’ve worked so hard to get to. Always remember to take the time to help others who were once in your same position in life. If you reap good things, then you will harvest good things. If you reap bad things, then you will harvest bad things. I heard someone say it this way; you cannot plant an apple tree and expect to harvest oranges from it.

Quote: “Follow through your dreams and anchor yourself in the vision of how you want your life to be. Be brave enough to climb to the Zenith of your potentials and possible achievements” ~Kemmy Nola

Scripture: “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NLT)

Song: You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music

Too active for my own good.

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I am usually the type of person who is organized and likes to complete things 100%.  However, if something that I am doing doesn’t keep my mind occupied, I usually quit right where I am.  I have tried so many times to begin a bible study on a topic that interests me, but things do not always go according to plan.  Instead, through the years I have found myself starting and stopping continuously!  My mind gets too active for me to sit for long periods of time, especially if I not truly interested in what I am reading.  My background is technical so I am use to spending hours working on something that I consider to be tangible instead of reading.

I believe God understands that about me and has extended much grace to me in this area.  Writing this blog will serve as an anchor for me in this area, while allowing me to research items that I can write about each week.  I am anxious to see where this goes…very anxious

Quote: “People are looking for stability in a shaky world.  They want something they can get hold of that’s firm and sure and an anchor in the midst of all of this instability in which they’re living.” ~Gordon B. Hinckley

Scripture: “Hold firmly to the word of life, then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless” (Philippians 2:16, NLT)

Song: Anchor by Hillsong