This Message Brought to You by the Letter H… for “Humility.”

Sometimes you are right. Sometimes you’re wrong. Sometimes you’re somewhere in the middle. What matters is how you handle the situation, and I fail at that occasionally. I’m so big on showing grace and mercy, and there are times when I fail at that, too.

My fault lies in being far too quick to want to discuss things, without first having my own heart settled. I immediately want to make contact and unload. That’s been something I’ve been working on for years (as long as I can remember, really), and it’s a process. It’s important to be assertive, but not accusatory. I was called “diplomatic” this past week. I strive for that, but what I really want is to be someone who speaks out of love and is able to make people feel that, regardless of the situation. What I’ve learned, about myself, is that familiarity can really lessen my ability to put on my “diplomatic” filter. The more I care about someone, the quicker I am to let them see that side of me. That’s not right. I need to be better.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • When everything in your being screams that you’re right, evaluate your priorities anyway. You might find that an apology is worth issuing.
  • Sometimes being convicted by the Spirit can make you feel like a flea-covered cat in a bathtub. You want to immediately jump out and run, but it’s probably somewhere you need to be in order to come out clean, healthy and given a new start.
  • And the **big** one:
    There is an extreme lack of communication, and a division happening among Christians. If you don’t believe it, take a step back and look at what we’re giving priority in our lives. Flags, gender, sexual orientation, yard signs, Hulk Hogan’s thoughts on race, etc. NONE of those things have to do with spreading the love of Jesus. Not a single one of them. It’s causing people to lose sight of their common ground and fostering dissonance among those who should be working together to spread The Message.  If you don’t think this confusion and anger is rooted in spiritual warfare then you are missing a very big part of the picture.

I was hit in abundance this morning with news about family health issues, LE issues, financial issues and so much more before I even got out of bed. It caused me to not use my best judgment and I fell victim to that third point. DON’T let those wounds stay open. You can’t fix them, but you can man up and acknowledge your conviction. Or, you can run from it.

Do your “time” and learn through self-reflection, or understand the idea of a spiritual warrant. The truth is, it’ll find you regardless.

Pray for me to be better about this. I need to perfect that skill to be the best Christian, wife, mom, leader, business owner and friend that I can possibly be. Also, pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who might not understand my third point, worldwide.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.- Proverbs 31:26

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.-Galatians 6:10

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus -Philippians 2:1-30

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. -1 Peter 3:8-9

And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. -1 Timothy 5:10

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. -Galatians 6:1

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. -James 3:8 (isn’t it wonderful that we aren’t expected to tame it, but that it’s in God’s hands?)

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Reflecting on Lexington and the CDS Conference

So, in case you didn’t know, I’ve been in Lexington since Sunday night for a conference with the Community Development Society. I was surrounded by academia, and people who were professionals in this area.

This conference was international, and I was blessed to meet people from all over the world. Ghana, Scotland, England, Canada, Asia and many more. All within arms reach. I did a lot of listening to people. The cool thing was, everyone who was there was passionate about something. If you asked them about their projects, they were excited to tell you. I entertained a lot of ideas and opinions. Many of them were starkly different from my own. Sometimes I left inspired, but other times I left discouraged.

I sat at a table at Smithtown Seafood, listening to new acquaintances from Iowa, Alaska, Maine, England and Lexington. The older guy from England, Charlie, spoke about his adventures in community development and was very inquisitive about ours. He also had a fantastic accent and seemed to enjoy listening to American accents and dialects as well. What eventually came out of him, however, was jarring. He began talking about an insightful, intelligent, academic researcher with whom he’d done work. He went on to say that he couldn’t believe someone as smart as she was a creationist.

“I just assume everyone at these events is a progressive liberal,” he said.

I found this attitude to be common among my new counterparts. Without inquiring, many made it clear they had no empathy for the Christian belief system. Furthermore, they were very interested in one individual from Washington and wanted to hear more about her mosque. I enjoyed listening to her talk, but I found the contrast in acceptance to be even more intriguing.

My adventures continued to a small round-table, wherein I missed my last session of the day. I was caught deep in conversation with an individual from California, and 2 from Vermont. I like listening to other people’s ideas and views. I venture to say, even when you could not disagree with someone more, there is still some sort of common ground wherein you can reflect on your own ideas and develop them. Sometimes, it’s because you understand why  you believe the way you do.  The mayor of the Vermont town represented had various ideals that were in great difference to mine.  Mostly, when it came to the topic of police officers.

It was presented to me that officers are far too dependent on their weapons, both lethal and less. They should not be armed, nor should they tackle to arrest offenders who are resisting.  The correct approach, it was said, was to return to the suspect’s home when he’s back (around 8pm) with more officers and take him in. No need to pursue. I made the point that, while officers can sometimes identify suspects in small towns, large towns were a completely different story.

There were several points made that operated along the same mindset. While I found myself with a deeper understanding of the necessity of cultural/gender/class diversification among police officers, I left feeling unsettled about the views expressed by those in decision making roles for other departments in our country.  There’s a great disconnect between many who make decisions that can very well affect the life/death decisions made by these officers and those working the hours and living with the consequences of those decisions.

The trip was topped, however, with an amazing dinner with 6 wonderful wives. By the time we’d left the table, I felt connected to those I’d never met. Truthfully, however, it was very comfortable from the beginning. I’d worked with several of them on projects for PWoK, or communicated with them, for quite some time. It didn’t feel “new.”

It’s amazing how, Biblically, sharing a meal was such an intimate way to spend time with people. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed! Seeing ladies, who have never met, mesh, “break bread” together, laugh and bond over dinner was such a cool experience. I always treasure it when it happens.

Sometimes I need a reminder of why our work with PWoK is important. I have such a huge love for them and their unique challenges. I am truly the least of these, and hope I’m blessed with the opportunity to serve our families for a long time.

Oh, and don’t think I won’t preach scripture on the sidewalks and turn angry heads. I paraphrased, in a common way, 1 Peter 3:16 as someone walked by, while talking to my 6 sisters. Apparently, that rubbed this lady the wrong way.  I’m somehow okay with that.  I wish she’d come back and talked to me about it, but maybe she’ll go look it up.

I think it’s easy to get comfortable in my little hometown bubble.  It’s easy to forget that our majority isn’t the general consensus in other parts of the world. It’s easy to overlook the work that is left to be done, the need for those who don’t know what I know and the amazing opportunities that are open to us (if we’ll just take that step out of our boundaries). I was definitely the minority this week. I’m absolutely in prayer for departments that are disconnected from their decision makers, as well as those who don’t know Jesus.

Seemingly Irrelevant Decisions Can Be Very Impactful

Awesome words from Captain David Jude of the Kentucky State Police.

The Self Expression & Thoughts of David P. Jude

One thing that I have learned in my time spent as an instructor and now Commander of the Kentucky State Police Academy is how important a Cadet Class is to our agency.  Not so long ago, I started writing a weekly email that I send out to the entire agency.  The focus of the email is to keep everyone included on the activities of our current Cadet Class.  I am still surprised at the number of phone calls, emails, conversations, etc. that happen when a class is in session.  There is a certain excitement that happens statewide, I wish I could bottle that energy somehow.  When this class started in late May, 2015, I decided I would try something different in an attempt to harness the surge that occurs when a class begins.  My weekly email “Updates from Cadet Class 93” was born.  To me, the decision to send out the…

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Kentucky Sheriffs’ Boys and Girls Ranch

I had a fantastic visit this morning with the Kentucky Sheriffs’ Boys and Girls ranch. What an outstanding program, hidden away in Marshall County. I’ve lived in this area for 15 years, and had no idea (until fairly recently) that it was so close by. It’s been there since 1975! I feel, from my visit, this camp does not get enough recognition for all it does.

Many of us are familiar with Trooper Island. The KYSB&G Ranch is similar, in that it gives children (between the ages of 8 & 11) of low-income/high-risk areas the chance to receive positive reinforcement and recognition that they might not otherwise receive. I learned today that many of these children have never had a McDonald’s Happy Meal, much less 3 meals a day. At the camp, they receive regular meals and snacks.

Children are chosen by their county’s Sheriff’s office during the year, and their attendance is paid for before they ever board the bus to come to camp on a Sunday afternoon. The funding is provided by gifts/donations from individuals, businesses and organizations.

The ranch, itself, is set on 30 acres of beautiful land. I got to see an eagle’s nest, and an adult eagle on the property today. The campers have a ton of awesome activities to do. I witnessed them caring for Rosie, a miniature horse, and making some cool looking pillow cases (all of their crafts are saved for them to take home). Of course, there is a law enforcement tie-in, as well. Kids are presented each week with drug and alcohol awareness from the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department. McCracken County’s Child Watch also presents a program each week.

While they do offer amenities for the children (like a swimming pool, a gymnasium, dorms, athletic fields, and a cool pond), it’s important to remember that the Ranch continues to operate by donations. Not only monetary, but tangible gifts as well. Paper products, cleaning supplies, laundry items, ice pops, socks, antibiotic ointment (other first aid supplies), pencils, crayons, bandages, bikes (for camper of the week) and Bibles are all accepted, in addition to a list of other items (I can ABSOLUTELY get you this list!).

I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to visit the ranch, and look forward to working with them in any capacity we’re able. What an amazing, positive outreach for these children. I encourage EVERY Sheriff’s Office to get involved, and for everyone else to find a way to help with items from their wish list. Thanks, Sgt. Sizemore (Madison County SO) for your time today with the tour, and to Tracy and her crew for being so hospitable.

-Brandi

PS- they totally sell t-shirts and, yes, I scored one!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/KY-Sheriffs-Boys-Girls-Ranch/84324055204?fref=ts

http://kentuckysheriffs.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Spiritual Reboot- Control, Alt, Delete

This is going to be one of those “write it as I think it” posts.  Probably would have been more effective if I’d written it as I lived it, but I’m hoping someone can relate. I can remember the day I found out I wasn’t alone.

I was saved at 6 years old.  As I walked out of Jackson Memorial Baptist Church one night in Chesapeake, VA, staring at1456509_438987809556825_1650089405_n
the parking lot asphalt and holding my mama’s hand, the world seemed to slam on its brakes.

“We’ve got to go back in. I have to talk to Dr. Peverall.”

My mama is a great woman.  I think many women, myself included, would have probably said that we’d see him next time. She didn’t do that; instead, she about-faced and we walked right back into that building.  I sat in front of his desk, and asked about being saved.a359a22396238a60b888035a0eb27f2b  We talked about Jesus knocking on the door of my heart, and I looked at the infamous painting representing that moment.

And I did it, and I lived it and life was good.

Let’s be honest…it’s not really difficult to live a Christian lifestyle when you’re 6 years old.

Inevitably, however, I grew up.  We moved around (a lot), and things did get more difficult.  I was picked on a little, even through high school, for my beliefs.  I dated the same guy for 4 years, and didn’t have sex with him. He probably caught more flack about that than I ever did. I didn’t use a lot of foul language.

I was just me.

I didn’t have a real “I was (terrible place of obvious sin and destruction), and God brought me to redemption” story. I was just normal. I remember praying for God to give me a testimony, not realizing that my life raised as a Christian was a testimony. I’ve been known to pray for stupid things.

After graduation came college, and a bit of partying.  I also got married to my wonderful husband.  Slowly, but surely, my faith dimmed.  I remember feeling so separated from God, like I’d never even known Him.  I wanted to find him, but I seemed to be behind a big lead curtain.  I prayed, I read my Bible, I visited a church…once…but, I felt alone. My husband was deployed, and I fell into a really, really deep depression. I lost sight of my beliefs and my self-value. I was ready to be done.

God, however, was not done with me. Since those things are His call, I’m here to write this to you.

I lived for years behind that curtain. I didn’t run after God as tirelessly as I should have, but I dabbled in pursuit. I still prayed, even though I felt like I was yelling at a brick wall.  I was completely isolated. Was I forgotten? Isaiah 49:15 tells me that’s not the case.  It says, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”  If I’d dug a little deeper, I’d have realized that. I think we often times picture God as a finicky toddler. If we sin, He turns away and goes about handling other things.  If we do well and listen, then He comes and blesses us.  What I now know is that’s not the way God works.

What I needed was a spiritual reboot, and it came in 2014.  In January, I finally decided this was it and I began visiting a church with a friend of mine.  As the pastor wrapped up, he did the normal call to salvation.  While I felt separated from God, even sitting in His house, I knew I was saved.  What he said next, though, caught my attention. The pastor acknowledged maybe someone was already saved, but needed a “fresh start.” A do-over. A mulligan. A re-introduction to a God we used to claim.

That was me.

I needed that.

I raised my hand, and the tears flowed. I had no interest in anyone else’s reaction to it. He was talking about me.

It took me about another year to get to where I felt “right” about where I was with God. Nowhere near perfect, but much better than I was.

It’s impossible to be “on fire” all the time. I think we all see highs and lows in our faith.  Some weeks, especially Sunday mornings, it seems as if the world is waiting for us to share the gospel and be who we are in the Body.  Other weeks, the oppression gets to us, and it’s easier to just stick that little light under a bush for a minute.  I get that.

However, for the droughts where you pray for the rain of the Holy Spirit, I’ve found it’s imperative to hit “Control, Alt, Delete” and get a reboot.

  • Control– I am the world’s worst about having to be in control. A good friend of mine who works tirelessly on Policea42b43bb48d4268996d73c762dc18a79 Wives of Kentucky posted a meme the other day and tagged me. It was something like this one I found on Pinterest.  She knows!! I can’t help it. I want as many volunteers as possible, but I have a vision. Not everyone sees my vision the way I do, and I’m really learning to let go. I value other ideas, opinions, dreams and input. It just takes a me a minute to let go of my original plan, and stop being such a control freak.  If I’m that way with people I can tangibly see- it’s often twice as hard with a God for whom I have to patiently wait and listen.  Oh, but what a sweet, sweet outcome it is when I finally get over myself and hear Him out. Release that control.  Get on your knees and commit to listening to God’s input.  Mine nearly always includes the statement, “Lord, don’t forget I need big, flashing neon signs and lots of ‘can’t miss it’ direction.” He’s good to me. He knows how to communicate in a way I can’t argue.  Sometimes it’s a quiet whisper, and other times it’s a shut door.  Knowing that He is using all things for good (Romans 8:28) makes life so much easier.  I’ve given Him control of the wheel, and He laid the roads. Some days it’s very hard not to take it back. It’s a daily struggle for me. Pray about it. Praise in the storms, bring your cares to Him, listen for direction and have all faith in Him to handle what happens next. Mostly, trust the one who designed it all to know how to negotiate the curves and turns. Also noteworthy, Proverbs 3:5-6 and 1 Peter 5:7.
  • Alt– On your computer keyboard, the “Alt” button is short for Altmode. Technically, what it does, is give your keys another function.  Try holding the Alt button, and hitting the number 1 on your keypad. ☺ Here, however, it means alter and altar.  I have to do a self-check at this point.  Where is my time being spent? Who/what am I making an idol before God, by investing myself in most over Him? What can I give up or reschedule, in order to set my priorities in line? Am I giving Him my time first? Am I going to Church, and making myself a useful part of the Body? Or am I isolated, because I’ve let something get in the way? Alter my time and outlook, and make sure I’m getting to the altar. (Proverbs 3:6, Matthew 6:31-33, Proverbs 16:3, John 3:30)
  • Delete– This one is hard, but walks hand in hand with the above.  I have wounded bird syndrome. I want to take everyone under my wing and help them, which means I get drained and emotionally exhausted. I’m also easily distracted by what I feel I am doing for the sake of others, and it gets in the way of my walk with God. Moreover, I am human and can fall into a temptation for gluttony (in a sense of focusing too much, or doing too much, of something). I have to look at my “alter” priorities, and start trimming the fat (1 Cor. 10:13).  Take some people off of Facebook, so I’m not constantly tied in to their issues.  Delete phone numbers of people I probably shouldn’t be wasting time on. This is even rooted in my house! What can I get rid of, so that I’m not distracted by the clutter and feeling overwhelmed with what’s here? Whatever it is, let it go, Elsa. Delete it. Donate it. Send them on their way and pray for them. Paul tells us it’s ok in 2 Timothy 3:2-5 and Titus 3:10-11. We also see it in 1 Corinthians 15:33. Show mercy when you’re afforded that beautiful opportunity, but don’t let it be what anchors you.  If it’s a distraction from your faith, then say, “adios.” Check your emotions (Eph. 4:31-32) and see what you can delete there, too.

This isn’t a one-time fix. This is a maintenance measure. This is something I might have to do two Mondays in a row, or every day for a month. Also, check to make sure other blocks aren’t an issue as well.   Is your spiritual life “plugged in?” Are you participating in what’s offered at your Church, and being a part of its growth? Are you being a light to others (“tap, tap- is this thing on?”)?

Reboot, plug in, get your do-over. God hasn’t moved.  He’s just waiting for you to reconnect.