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CONFESSIONS OF MISS INDEPENDENT

Miss independent 2

So I’m jogging at the park to the sounds of a little smooth jazz and R&B

Not my usual groove, but it goes with the cool breeze, setting the pace as R&B Artist Ne-Yo coos in my ear:

“She got her own thing that’s why I love her
Miss Independent
Won’t you come and spend a little time
She got her own thing that’s why I love her
Miss Independent
Oh the way you shine”

 “Yep”, I think. “That’s me”. I got my oowwwnnn thing. “Yep, I gotta hand it to myself – I’ve made it on my own, lo these many years”.

Now, I don’t know much about this singer or any other song of his, but at this moment, I think he has a point!

“Ooh there’s somethin about kinda woman that can do for herself
I look at her and it makes me proud
There’s something about her”

“Cool groove”, I think. “It is something to not have to depend on ANYONE. I’m proud of that. Yeah, I GOT THIS”.

Now I’m really got a good clip going, and apparently the voice in my ear agrees:

“Her favorite thing to sa, “ Don’t worry I got it”
And everything she got best believe she bought it…”

By now this ego-puffing song has me nodding along. “Yep, everything I got, you best believe I bought it”!

I think about how self-sufficient I am, and how I like it that way.

Now I’m really groovin’, with diva wrist snaps and singing along:

“No doubt, it’s somethin about her
Cause she work like a boss
play like a boss
Car and a crib she bouta pay em both off
And the bills are paid on time yeah (1) 

Like the screech a record makes when you yank the needle away, another thought crossed my mind:

It’s so easy to think we are invincible, especially when it comes to material ease. It’s easy to look around at our “stuff” and credit ourselves for every material trophy: the car, the house and everything in it.

Yes, I believe in hard work, and I’m not taking one sliver away from us single women who work hard to earn a living. It’s an accomplishment to work hard and thrive as we carry our own load. (And in killer heels, I might add!)

In fact, the Bible describes the strong and resourceful woman in Proverbs 31 as one who takes care of her household, (v. 15) one who buys and sells and makes a profit, (16), as someone who is creative, (v. 22) and constantly productive. (v. 19, 27).

However, it also describes her as one who fears the Lord, (v. 30), which means to revere the Lord. According to the commentary from the MacArthur Study Bible, (NKJV), this reverence involves a state of mind in which one’s own attitudes, will, feelings, deeds, and goals are exchanged for God’s. (2)

Even as I was listening to this song about “independence”, I knew better. You can be successful and begin to believe that your “prosperity” will never go away until something happens that shakes that security. Then we see that our “independence” is as thin as a pink slip. For me it was the dire reality of illness. Staring at the ceiling for many days during a bout of Chronic Fatigue will do that. I believe in persevering, but we can’t heal ourselves. Only God can do that. He provides the doctors and medicine, even the nutrition and strength to heal. As sure as I was jogging around, I knew He did for me.

Illness can strike, but so can job loss, or betrayal, or a natural disaster…you name it. Anything can happen in a heartbeat, so in that sense this message would apply to anyone.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps”. (Proverbs 16:9)

We may have the abilities, the confidence, the ingenuity and intelligence to accomplish so much, but who do you think gave us any of this to begin with?

“…A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven”. (John 3:27)

Think about the opportunities that seem to come by chance; it’s rare to stumble across a job opportunity by simply filling out an application directly on a company’s website, but that’s how I found my present job. I don’t think for a minute that wasn’t God’s doing.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Who do you think places us in the positions we have, no matter what they are? We all fit in somewhere to make this world go around.

“May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge” (Ruth 2;12)

Let’s praise Him in the good times, and know that He will provide in the struggles.

Have you ever thought you were invincible? What is it about human nature that makes us think we are? Have you ever experienced something that changed your perspective?

1)       “Miss Independent”, from “Year of the Gentleman” 2008, M.Eriksen, T. Hermansen, S. Smith, Def Jam Label
2)       The John MacArthur Bible, Copyright 1997, Word Publishing
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WHAT I LEARNED AT THE DECLARE CONFERENCE (aka how to travel light)

Well, my lariat is still hanging on my closet door knob;

My goodie bag is still sitting in a corner of my room

They are the subtle reminders of an awesome event I attended called The Declare Conference this past weekend. For those of you who haven’t heard about the Declare Conference, It is a gathering of Christian Women Bloggers in Dallas, TX.

Declare Conference

When I first heard about it, I thought, “So close…and yet so far”. There were so many reasons I thought I couldn’t go. By the time I heard about it, it was too late to get the lower cost ticket. I wasn’t feeling well all week, and I thought I needed to tend to an obligation at home. It wasn’t until the Tuesday before that I was so graciously sponsored (thank you, Declare!), met a great roommate, Stacie Maness, and get this…she also happened to live just an hour away, so we carpooled. On top of that, it turned out that my obligation at home wasn’t needed after all. God provides, doesn’t He?  All of the doors opened, and I was elated and knew He wanted me to go. Guess I learned at least one thing—if God wants to re-arrange the circumstances of our lives, He will!

Anyway, the conference was so chock-full of useful sessions, wonderful people, and spiritual insight that I don’t even know where to begin. I guess that’s why I’ve kept my bag untouched this whole week. All the notes and information inside represent an avalanche of resources, just waiting for my now undisturbed block of time to process it all. I’m an information junkie and I can’t wait to pour over all my notes and visit every website mentioned. 🙂

Photo0376

Pull up a seat and I’ll unpack just a little bit of the weekend. First, the tangible: Business cards with links to fellow bloggers such as  Alison, Melissa, Jessica, and Janet, (Check out their blogs, they’re really great), the soon-to-be-released book , “The Guard around your Heart”, by one of our keynote speakers, Mary DeMuth, a nice notebook/calendar, coin-purse, and so much more. We were really spoiled by the warmth and hospitality of our hostesses!

Speaking of which, one of the points they made was that they wanted to provide a conference where the technical met with the spiritual, and I believe that’s exactly what happened. What a blessing it was for me to meet leaders in literary world such as Jeff Goins and Jessica Kirkland. They were both so approachable and answered my questions about publishing; they really gave me some honest feedback and pointed me in the right direction for my writing.

More importantly, I discovered one more thing during the weekend.

I discovered that I have baggage. Well, Duh — yes, I know I just said that, but I’m here to say it again~

I have baggage…and not the kind I took home with goodies. The kind I’ve carried around for months, even years…the kind that I now see was weighing me down.

I realized this as our Saturday keynote speaker, Jill Monaco (founder of Single Matters), spoke to us about the faith and obedience she needed to trust God’s plan for her life. What was different about Jill was that she acknowledged the plight of being single and over 30. Needless to say, we older singles are the minority. I for one have been perplexed and quite frankly mortified by how quickly life has flown by. I’ve grieved my own youth like a guest I barely got to know. I was 25 one day and then 35 48 the next.

Listening to Jill, I realized that “baggage” doesn’t belong to just those who have had difficult pasts or abuse. I looked into my own heart and saw a big o’l carry-on loaded full of despair and disappointment.  I saw cynicism and regret, and for once I acknowledged the damage it was doing to my spirit. So I opened my Bible and read:

“Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)

The Psalmist pours out his heart before the Lord and realizes that the Lord is his strength and hope. Why shouldn’t I do the same? If God could control the circumstances that got me here this weekend, can’t He control the circumstances of my life in general?

I’ll admit I am still a work in progress. I acknowledge this baggage, but this is one I do not want to hang on to for long!

Thanks again, Declare, for an informative and rich weekend.