“No” is a powerful word. It is a word that connotes Stop! Do not continue! You cannot move beyond this point! Many times when the word is used it is abrupt and has negative emotions tied to it for the person on the receiving end. Your spouse is not a child although, they may need to hear no when the next step they take can be detrimental to your family or your relationship. Consider the words “not right now” or “is there another way”. For example, “honey I want to buy some new heels”. If you tell her no, she might go into defense mode expressing how grown she is and that she really does not need your permission. However, if you say, right now may not be the best time because we have to cover this or that bill and if you wait you maybe able to buy 2 pair. I believe this will work better. She will have options to consider. When you are fighting for a healthier relationship you must consider the feelings of the one you are with. Respect is a pillar in every relationship. Words have power use them wisely!
Earlier I posted pictures of the vineyard we visited. On Monday, June 29th, Mariah and I were whisked away to a vineyard in our PJ’s in Manresa. There I learned the labor of love that goes into local wine. I have a new love for my father as the Vine-dresser and my Savior as the “Maturer or Ager”. In order for the vine to produce fruit it must be properly cared for. It must first be planted where it has opportunity to grow and be it’s best. (This is good soil-like the churches where I have served…Mt. Pilgrim M.B.C.- Milwaukee, WI, Mt. Zion Baptist, Nashville, TN, New Hope M.B.C., Murfreesboro, TN and Watson Grove Baptist Church, Nashville, TN, People of Vision Ministries and Spirit of Consecration, Milwaukee, WI). These are the places that gave me Oxygen at the Root and became my underlying life source. The Vine-dresser knew what I needed. Then as my leaves grew he did what only a Vine-dresser is skilled to do and he “Prunes”.
In the pruning process my God started to cut away from me all the things that would poison my vine and stunt my growth- he cut away dead leaves (lying, cursing, gossip, nasty attitude, a judgmental spirit and a condemning heart). He is still pruning! During this process the vine feels pain, yet the pain does not compare to the wonderfully nourishing fruit that will come from the vine after this process is complete. The fruit begins to grow, yet is still very small and bitter! It has sometimes taken the pruning process (you know correction and reproof) far too personal, making the fruit take longer to mature!
The Vine-dresser knows what to do so he carefully removes small insects nipping at the fruit and killing what small sweetness it started with. He picks each insect off individually, because each grape on the vine is special to Him. So my sweet Vine-dresser began to pick away jealousy, low self-esteem, molestation, the suicidal thoughts and the lies I bought (i.e. “you’re not beautiful”), Oh and I’m not worthy to Preach let alone Pastor, or one day have my own record label, because I’m a nobody…
Little by little the Vine-dresser begins to test the fruit of my vine as I get bigger and more mature in Him. He begins to pull my fruit and process it in various ways. He has given me opportunity to sing and write songs for some of the most beautiful relationships on Earth. He has allowed me to share my gift and love for music with many choirs, directing and leading. He has also allowed me to lead when I didn’t feel equipped, but there was a podium! He has allowed me to teach music in a school that loves me and I adore them.
How do I have so much to give when I am nothing, because He has processed me to be “Red Wine” for some, strong and bitter to the taste; but good for the health. I am processed to be”White Wine” for others; sweet and ready to be shared with friends and family.
Nevertheless, it is the final process that has been the most eye opening for me… Jesus is the maturer or the ager! See, in this process I am hidden for many years in a barrel, kept in the cellar from the damage of the elements, stored in the stillness (quietud) the quietness of the dark…off the stage and out of the spotlight where the crowd could overwhelming and inflate my pride.
He chose to age me…Lord why the failed marriage, why the closed chrch, why the closed business, why the BARENESS of childbirth, why the pain of silenced preaching, why the strain of only singing within the four walls of the church, when Is my turn to take the stage? When will I get my first acting role and in the silence I HEAR WHEN YOU ARE READY TO STAND! After 39 years I am outside of my barrel!!!!! I have 5 beautiful children that I could not be more proud of if I had given birth to myself. Two children from God (Crystal and Branford) and Three sons from love w/ Michael (Miguel, Manual and Marcus). This is the air I breathe outside of my barrel: My first Movie Role as Hettie in “Hush” 2016…Mission work in Spain, Rwanda and Trinidad/Tobago. These are the things that I had to mature for in order to be able to STAND…head held high, without Rockstar pride. I’m still a nobody in status to this world, but I am somebody great! The Vind-dresser and the Ager CHOSE ME! It doesn’t get better than that!
Many relationships thrive off of fiery emotion, impulse and passion. Add drugs, violence, lies, deceit and or selfishness to the equation and there you have a recipe for disaster! For years we remain in dysfunctional relationships that are hidden treasures to our blinded hearts until there demise. Sure there have been signs along the way, but they are ignored for fear of loss of the familiar. Fear in itself is a distorted view of reality which convinces the fearful, that it is an inevitable happening. This too is a form of dysfunction. Looking DEEPER: In the picture above to the right, one woman decides to share her supply of pills with her sister friend. Why share something that can be as detrimental as driving a car into a brick wall? Oh, in her mind she is sharing a bit of her own happiness with a person she “thinks” she loves dearly. Drink in hand coupled with pills jolts her friend into a euphoria she has never known before. However, this is only an illusion. Once the high wears off, reality will hit again and her sister friend will need more to keep her in the darkness. Her addiction to this friendship will lead her down a path few ever return from. The picture in the middle is one of a man who takes out his uncontrollable urge for domination on the woman he says he loves on a daily bases. She stays; addicted to his scent, his essence, his presence simply afraid to be alone. She convinces herself that this is the last time he will raise his hand to her. She thinks he loves her too deeply to ever hurt her again! His love is so intoxicating that she goes back time and time again. The last photo is one of a couple enthralled in a passionate screaming match! Down to their bare skin they hold on with hatred in their eyes and sex on their mind. Who wants to live like this? To the natural eye this relationship is completely absurd, though you would be surprised how many of us are in this type of relationship right now. I must admit that my “need to be needed” personality has carried me to the door step of many dysfunctional relationships (friendships, family relationships and working relationships). This is changing the more I sit and self-reflect. I evaluate what role I have played in each relationship noting that I am the only constant in every equation. Comfortable being the “super she-ro” at the end of every story nearly emptied out my measure of faith. Although, running to the feet of the Master completely naked, stripped of all my cover ups, I realized that my short comings were purpose-filled moments of testimony for God’s glory. I have been to my spiritual twelve step program and I never want to attract dysfunction again. I will be a better me, you’ll see!
Most people have an inner dreamer: the thing that looks at something in the world, saying “I want that.” We struggle with material lust or covet positions — and if we’re really transparent and superbly honest, we’ve all done it. Typically our lament is “I can’t wait until…” We’ve all seen greener pastures someplace other than beneath our own two feet. As I look around at the lives of my friends and my family, I’m convinced that we are okay with “just enough.” I know every who reads this will say “not me” but before you so quickly decide to tell a half truth, let’s all be humble like disciples around the table at the last supper and say “Lord is it I?”
I’m firmly in this boat with you. I may be writing to only myself, but I asked God to give me wisdom….so I believe that I’m not…
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