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A Symbol of Victory!

September 17, 2017

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. II Corinthians 4:8-10trunk.png

Have you ever experienced a flood of emotion invoked by something you saw, a sound you heard or an aroma you smelled?

Warm sheets of salty water cascaded down my face when I was presented with my great-grandparents’ family bible and my grandfather’s old trunk.

I had seen that bible numerous times, looked at the names of family members I was never blessed to meet and felt the locks of curly hair not knowing who they belonged to.

This time was different.  My father and step-mother were moving to the south and epically downsizing. Thus they had to leave most of their possessions behind, including the sentimental stuff.

My siblings and I were invited to take the things we wanted.

I chose a dining room table and my maternal grandparents’ Golden Wheat dinnerware. Neither choice based on financial value.  I wanted the stuff linked to fond memories.  Something that would allow me to hold on if only for a moment to the past.

When my father asked me to take the bible it touched my heart.  This bible contained our family history. Births, deaths, marriages and yes, the curly locks of hair.  It somehow connected me to my ancestors as well as my grandfather whom I miss dearly.

I carefully inquired of my step-mother, “Momma, I hope you are taking the trunk with you to Florida!”. “No baby.” she declared.  “You can take it if you want it”.  My spirit found relief.

I had worried that the trunk would land in the hands of some stranger who would not know the story nestled within the wood and metal.

It is just a trunk.

But the memories etched in that antique dome top metal box proclaim a memoir of a little boy’s tragedies and an old man’s triumph.

Calvin Johnson Vaught Sr. aka C.J. was born April 30, 1913. By the time he had his third birthday he had witnessed the birth and death of his two sisters and his mother.  His father also died young, when C.J. was only eleven years old.

When C.J.’s mother passed his paternal uncle and aunt took him in.  One day a few years later, C.J.’s maternal grandmother and Aunt Sadie asked if he could come to stay with them for a while.  His uncle agreed and off they went to build a relationship with the son of their lost loved one.

As the summer began to come to a close, Aunt Sadie realized that it was time for C.J. to start school so they loaded his trunk on the wagon and traveled back to his uncle’s house. Surprisingly, when they arrived at the uncle’s house, they found it empty.  No one lived there anymore.

They took C.J. back to his grandmother’s house. Aunt Sadie had several children, one son who was C.J.’s age.so eventually he went to live with her. He and that little trunk.

Many children experiencing trauma suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder and may exhibit anxiety, opposition, and defiance. Others operate with anger, rage, resentment, hostility or bitterness.

Losing his parents and siblings, being abandoned by his surrogate parents and being passed from house to house did not become a breeding ground for mental or behavior challenges in my grandfather.  Contrary, those experiences became pressure that formed a beautiful person.  C.J. was a forgiving, compassionate, giving soul.

Aunt Sadie’s husband was a preacher and she a missionary.  Their home became the incubator for a traumatized little boy. He was fed God’s word, covered in prayer and bathed in love.

C.J. met the Lord at an early age. He experienced the grace and mercy of a loving Savior and dedicated his life to showing love to everyone he knew. I am a recipient of that love.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

I John 4:11 NKJV

It’s Not just a trunk.

The memories etched in that antique dome top metal box proclaim a memoir of a little boy’s tragedies and an old man’s triumph.

I will cherish the trunk and one day pass it on to the next generation as a testament of God’s redemption.  C.J.’s trunk will perpetually serve as a symbol of refusing to be victims.  We have victory running through our veins.  We are overcomers.

 

Do you have a symbol of victory in your possession?

What example has been demonstrated to you in such a way that you now claim the overcomer status?

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Obeying God is a Choice!

8/07/2017 by Calvonia Radford

sprouting-seed

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

Philippians 1:6

In her book, She’s Still There, Chrystal Evans Hurst proposes that the desire to do what God is calling you began as a whisper in your ear when you were a child.

I totally agree with her philosophy.  When God knitted us together in our mother’s wombs, he knew what our purpose was and he begins the process of calling us to it when we are young. Psalm 139:13

For example, Chrystal began gathering young people together when she was a teenager for a bible study.  Later in life, she created small groups for whatever life phase she was in.  Today, God uses her to gather women to learn about living godly lives.

I was an introverted child.

I was somewhat quiet and reserved.

I felt uncomfortable in crowds and the thought of introducing myself to someone made me break out in sweat and caused my hands to shake.

However, when given the opportunity to speak, rather in a classroom or a competition, I was one of the first to sign up.

As a child, God was calling me to communicate.

I communicate in various ways.  I teach Sunday school and youth group.  I lead staff meetings in a state lead agency office and I train childcare providers in groups as small as 10 and as large as 30.

During those experiences of transferring knowledge, I lose those introverted characteristics and work outside my comfort zone.  I operate in my purpose.

I thought about my communicating when Chrystal posed a question to her She’s Still There Rescue team.

Question: “What choice will you make and how will you make it?”

I stammer as I answer her question. Not because I fail to see the seed that God has planted in me, and the destination he pulls me towards.

I see the seed.  I also see the sprouts, peaking through the soil and I feel the bloom trying to push its way through towards the sonlight.

I stammer because I know if I verbalize my choice, I will be held accountable.

When I verbalize my choice, God himself will expect me to follow through.

Verbalizing my choice, my decision to follow God is what he has been waiting for.

I know where I am now and where God is leading me.

The question remains, what choice will I make and how will I make it?  Chrystal is asking me to choose.  To make a plan to follow God.

Many years ago, God laid on my heart a passion for change in a certain demographic of people.  I have felt that burning for years and never made any significant steps to make a difference.

Today, I hear God clearly.  He is letting me know that NOW is the time.  It is time to be a part of the solution.

I have written the plan.  I have taken the steps to get it started.

“And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Habakkuk 2:2

The choice I make is to preserve.

The little girl in me procrastinated too many times and the adult girl is prone to do the same.  I choose to trudge through the muck and mire of this project an see it to fruition.

I choose to identify some trusted sisters to hold me accountable.

Finally, I choose to keep my eyes upon Jesus and allow him to get me to my destination.

I choose to tell God, “Yes!”  I chose to watch him get me to my destination.

8.7.17

Do you see the seeds that God planted in your little girl’s heart?

Have you made a choice to obey, to follow God’s path for your feet?

What barriers stand in the way of you seeing God’s plan to fruition?

What will you do to eliminate those barriers?

 

Don’t Let Your Emotions, Get Behind the Wheel!

I’m training myself to be curious about my emotions instead of putting them directly in the driver’s seat. #shesstillthere

writing prompt 7.21

When I was a little girl, my grandfather let me drive his car.  Really! He did.

I sat on his lap and put my hands firmly on the steering wheel.  With both my hands gripped tightly around that wheel, I turned it back and forth, back and forth with my eyes fixed on the desired destination.

I thought I was driving. The truth is, my grandfather was driving.  How could that be?

I knew where I wanted to go.

I stayed focused on my goal.

I had my hands wrapped around that steering wheel, turning it back and forth. However, I did not have my foot on the pedal.

I was a little girl pretending to drive.

For three decades, I have continued to pretend.  Sitting in Abba father’s lap with my feet dangling over his legs. Never adjusting my position, to put my feet on the pedal. I think I am driving. The truth is, satan is driving.  How can this be?

I know where I want to go.

I stay focused on my goal.

I have my hands wrapped around the steering wheel, turning it back and forth.  Yet, my feet are still not on the pedals.

girl driving

By ChameleonsEye   Stock photo ID: 98730344

“Jesus says in Matthew 16:24, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am” (MSG)

We all have goals.  Usually, those goals fit into God’s purpose and plan for our lives.  We have heard God speaking softly in our ears and felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit nudging us closer and closer along the route.

Although we focus on the desired destination, we refuse to press on the gas pedal. The gas pedal of truth.

God’s word teaches in Ephesians 6:13-14;

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

The truth of God’s word, who he is and what he says about his called out people is the fuel we need to accomplish our aspirations. We have to pump the pedal.

We all have obstacles that we cannot get over, hills that are too hard to climb and streams of water we cannot cross.  If we put the pedal to the metal, we can successfully arrive on time.

Satan tried to derail Jesus when he tempted him, but Jesus put his foot down on the pedal with these words:

 “And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Luke 4:3-4

Look at three of my daily obstacles and how I depress that pedal in rebuke of satan’s lies.

  1. Satan says: You are not qualified

I say: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”. I Peter 2:9

  1. Satan says: You are not good enough

I say: “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Psalm 138:8

  1. Satan says: You are not pretty enough

I say: “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

“The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor him for he is your lord” (Ps. 45:11).

Your speed bumps may not look like mine.  Nevertheless, you have your own.  Don’t let them go unaddressed.

The next time you attempt to drive, add one more step to your regimen. Put your foot on the pedal of truth.  Use God’s word to pull you over the road bumps.  He is the master at getting people to their destination safely.  Only trust him!

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God Sees Your Ugly Cry!

06/24/2017 by Calvonia Radford

god saves my tears

Hello, my name is Calvonia and I am a crier!

It’s been a secret for too long. I love to wear my façade.  It fits me well.  It conceals my weaknesses and covers my Achilles heel.  Nobody needs to see that, believe me! Most people have never seen me naked.

Naked – the state of being completely transparent emotionally and spiritually.

I try to wear emotional clothing at all times.  Only undressing in my closet.  My prayer closet that is. Truth be told, my husband has rarely seen me naked.

There are some emotions that I have become a pro at masking.  I understand my emotions are beautiful.  That’s the way God made me.

You’ve heard the verse we quote to boost our sister’s self-esteem. Yet I fail to speak that truth to myself.

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14

In Psalm 139, David teaches us that God knows our thoughts and every word that comes off our tongue.  He’s just that into us.

With God, I can bare it all, literally and find assurance in knowing he will hold my conversation confidential.  He will understand.  He will comfort me.

I’m currently reading Chrystal Evans Hurst’s book, She’s Still There. In chapter two, Chrystal gives a very descriptive narrative of a time when her circumstance led her to spill all her pent up emotions and cried the ugly cry.

shesstillthere1

Life can be hard! As hard as following a recipe with a pinch of this and a dash of that.

There is, however, a blessing in the hard circumstances of life.

Hard times break away the curb side appeal of our whitewashed emotions and cause that spillage that Chrystal recalled in her book.

Chrystal cried.  I cry.  You cry.  Because a moment in time will barricade us in and all we can see is what we can see.  Sorry, I didn’t mean to confuse you.  Let me explain.

Our scope of vision is limited.  We only see what our carnal eyes will allow.  But God sees all.  He has an omniscient point of view. He knows that we are going to be alright. He understands that our challenges and difficulties are too hard to bear alone.  So he meets us right where we are and wipes our tears away.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8

I was trying to remember the last time I cried the ugly cry.  I have such a portfolio of tears that it’s hard to weed through.

I’ve cried the ugly cry during financial hardships and shed salty tears over relational difficulties.

Buckets of tears have fallen from my eyes over the loss of loved ones.  And, I have mingled my tears with shower water many times during 35 years of marriage.

However, I think my ugliest cries have been over my children.  I cried when they were babies and I couldn’t sleep at night. I cried when I prayed for their soul’s salvation.  I cried when every discipline strategy I tried failed.

When my children transitioned from childhood to adulthood I cried over their life choices. I cried in prayer over their future mates, their career choices, their unborn children, their trials……….

Through my tears, God has taught and is still teaching me to cry out to him.  He has shown me his heart. God cares.  He hears me before I call.

Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

If you are living behind a façade of strength and seek a safe place to bare the ugly cry.  Run to God.  He cares and he is already listening to your cry.

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Permission to take a Vacation? Granted!

6/22/2017 by Calvonia Radfordpermission slip

When was the last time you took a vacation?

Let me think about it.  My husband and I went away for a few days in March for our anniversary.  Unfortunately, I cannot pin point the last family vacation we had. I think it was several years ago.

As a pastor’s wife, over the years we have spent too many of our vacation days attending denominational conventions and other similar events and not enough on family adventures.

Sprinkled in between those annual dates we have scheduled an occasional family trip.  Which was usually nestled in a holiday weekend so that I would not have to use all my leave time.

One of my favorite songs is The Cats in the Cradle, by Harry Chapin.  Actually, I have a love/hate relationship with the song because it pulls at my emotional strings.

The Cats in the Cradle is a heartbreaking song about a father and son who cannot schedule time to be with each other.  It addresses a cyclical dilemma, which begins with a workaholic father and then transitions into an adult son who is too busy to go visit his dad.

The phrase that rings in my ear most is “But well get together then, You know well have a good time then.”

Those lyrics pull at my heart because my children and two of my grandchildren are now adults.  I wonder how many precious moments I missed when I was working on my career or doing “The Lord’s” work. I wonder how frequently they would come visit me if their visits were determined by how much time I spent with them when they were children.

God expects us to work.  He says if we don’t work, you don’t eat.  I Thessalonians 3:10

He also created us to serve him.  Rick Warren says, we are designed to make a difference AKA do “The Lord’s” work.

“God has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do”

(Ephesians 2:10b, TEV)

Sometimes we church folk have difficulty discerning between God’s calling and man’s calling which promotes less family time.

I pray that I made time to make indelible memories with my children and deposit some nuggets of wisdom they can carry with them the rest of their lives.

When my daughters asked me to accompany them on a one week vacation this July, I hesitated.

“Seven days!  I’ve never take off work for seven days.”

“Your daddy’s not going? You want me to be away from him for seven days?  The only time we have been apart that long was when I went on a two week mission trip to Kenya.”

Then it hit me. I felt like I was struck in the head by a foul ball at a major league baseball game. Right between the eyes.

Someday is not a day of the week!

One day, my children will be entwined in life; marriage, child-rearing and the like.  They will struggle to pencil me in on their calendars.  Ouch! It hurt to type those words.  I feel the lump in my throat and the heaviness in my heart that my parents and grandparents have felt. Sometimes God calls us to enjoy life. Enjoy your family!

Go, eat your bread with joy, And drink your wine with a merry heart; For God has already accepted your works. Ecclesiastes 9:7

It is a cyclical dilemma.

So, I said yes to the invitation.  I gave myself permission to go.  I give myself permission to be away from home for one week. To allow my work emails and voicemail to fill up until it takes me two days to weed through them.  I give myself permission not to plan any church related projects.

This is a time of making memories. It is a time for uninhabited fun, quality time and hopefully some R&R.

“We’ll get together then, I know we’ll have a good time then”

 

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It is Father’s Day. Don’t forget the fatherless.

If God is a father to the fatherless and we are his children, what does he expect of us?

June 18, 2017 by Calvonia Radfordfatherless

Did you know that 23.6% of children in the United States live in a father-absent home?

Alarming?  I think so.

Significant? Absolutely. Especially since father absence is the main contributing factor for many of our most incurable social ills affecting children.  Those being poverty, teen pregnancy, violence, drug abuse and incarceration.

Born into a single-parent home, I was meant to be a statistic.  But God had a different plan.  I praise him for his sovereign will for my life.

Today is the day our nation pauses to recognize our fathers.  We turn our sentimental radars up, pull our pleasant memories to the forefront of our minds and open our wallets for gifts and special dinners. I’m not making light of the event.  It’s a wonderful occasion which we should not neglect.

Allow me to pose a question. What about the fatherless children?

Think about those people sitting near you today in worship service.  I assume you were in attendance.

Where there any fatherless in the congregation?

Where there any foster children present?

Of those children who had fathers in the home, how many are emotionally disconnected?

How many adults were silently suffering from fatherlessness?

Open your eyes. What do you see?

In my church, with an average attendance of less than 100, we have children from single parent homes (mother-led), young ladies who have lost their fathers from sudden death or divorce and children who attend faithfully while their fathers sit at home.

Today, my eyes were dilated and I noticed those adult children who had reluctantly arrived with fresh grief still salty on their lips and sat there trying to survive.

Some seats were empty.  These vacancies usually occupied by those who could not bear to come to church on Father’s day. Regardless if their father was taken weeks ago or years gone by, the gut wrenching pain will not allow them to suffer through the accolades and gift giving of the Father’s day service.

Is there any consolation?  Yes, there is hope in God.  He has promised to be a father to the fatherless. Though he sits high, he is always there to play the role of father.

“A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68:5

We can encourage our dear sisters and brother with those words.  God will wrap his arms around us and engulf us with his tangible presence.  He is at our beckon call.

“The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

If God is a father to the fatherless and we are his children, what does he expect of us?

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. ” James 1:27

What does “visiting the fatherless” look like on Father’s day?

  • Share an encouraging word or scripture.
  • Make a phone call. and acknowledge their circumstance.
  • Give a hug or pat on the back.
  • Send a thinking of you card.
  • Offer to sit with the hurting during service.
  • Provide the funding for a single mother to take her kids out for Sunday dinner.

God wants us to put ourselves in their place and do unto them as we would have them do unto us. Luke 6:31

I am not writing this post because I have it all together.  I have been self-centered more than not. Today, I repent!

Lord, I ask you to make me more sensitive to the fatherless, young and not so young. I need the prompting of the Holy Spirit so I will diligently contact others with a word of comfort and cheer.  Father help me to represent you better.  You have demonstrated for me exactly what you want me to do.  Strengthen me, Sir.  Make me a blessing.  In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen

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What is your Worth in Christ?

June 9, 2017 by Calvonia Radford

pawnshop-ring

According to Webster, the archaic definition of the word worth is “having monetary or material value”.

What exactly am I worth to God?  I think this thought is worth pondering for five minutes.

People who know me may say I am not worth a dime.  I have heard that statement in reference to other people; surely, the same has been stated about me.

I hope that my husband and my children would assess me as worthy to die for.  I know I would gladly give up my life for theirs.

A valuator can only assess property based on what he or she can observe i.e. a house or a car.  Therefore, my fellow sisters and brothers rate my worth on the external.  What they see and hear from my carnal being.

Jesus has x-ray vision.  He sees me inside and out.  He looks at my heart.  Remember, what he told Samuel when he was checking out Jesse’s boys to see which one was worthy of being anointed king.  God had chosen David because he knew his heart. Can you visualize one of those other boys trying to conquer Goliath?

Jesus’ death on the cross is proof that he thought I was worth saving.  He was willing to pay the price for my redemption.

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” Galatians 3:13

 

It’s #FiveMinuteFriday. The word prompt is WORTH. Above is five minutes of free flow writing.

5 minute friday