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The Reset: A Poem of Restoration during the COVID Crisis by Michelle D. Jackson

God promised us many things.

A life of glory and merciful meaning.

Purpose, love, and righteousness.

Peace, grace, and selflessness.

He granted us abundance that far reached what we could embody. He blessed us with the power to rise above sickness, hurt, and melancholy.

He gave us his most precious thing, His love transcended in an earthly being.

He loved us so much He left to the world a priceless deed, the life of his son, His only seed.

And now, in the wake of what we can not control, God performs the most sacred role.

He does just what He said He would, He renews, restores, and protects the poor, humbled, and spiritually good.

Through the uncertainty of a sickness we struggle to cure, God resets the world, creating a new, blessed universe, holy and pure.

Our sinking earth ravaged by ego and greed, now has a fighting chance to succeed.

Starting with what He loves most, God fights to unify the family with His heavenly host.

Then seeking to end what is destroying our earth, He uses a virus to remind us of our godly worth.

Replenishing the sanctity of things we can not comprehend, God empowers our fears to bring us back to where He intend.

He reduces pollution while we debate climate change, using His strength to break us out of illogical mental chains.

Seeing to the elderly, who created the path for which we follow, God promotes them to a heavenly home, while our pride fall to an earthly bravado.

Those who die, die strong with fearless faith, as a reminder to the living that death brings God’s ultimate grace.

He has put in motion, The Reset.

A time of prayer, redemption, confession, and reflection.

A time to reconnect, reassess, and redress.

A time to rekindle, remember, and reminisce.

A time to learn to love again with complete fearlessness. A love that doesn’t require touch or feel or tenderness.

But one that consumes the heart and reverberates from six-feet apart.

What may appear final, is far from the end. Only God controls how this world will ascend.

No sickness, no greed, no leader-less land, will destroy what is safely secured in God’s hand.

So stay-in, stay strong, believe what God says is real, but never give up on His power to heal.

Embrace The Reset. You know in your heart it’s time to start again. To put what is important first and make God’s love and kindness transcend.

By Michelle D. Jackson

Well Done

A Message from an Overachiever with a Restless Heart for God

So often my friends and colleagues ask me, “Do you sleep?” This question is understandable because I can sometimes appear to be constantly working on a new project instead of enjoying my life. Therefore, I always pause before answering because I don’t know if the person is applauding my effort to accomplish my goals, questioning my ability to find peace and contentment in this life or if I look tired and weary from my work. Either way, the question ultimately leads me to think about Christ and his time on earth.

In only 33 years, Christ healed the sick and fed the poor. He counseled people in need and taught those who sought knowledge and understanding. He worked miracles that changed lives and fought for what was right. He loved people who didn’t love him back and he sacrificed his life for our sins. In 33 years on earth, Christ accomplished more than I or anyone could ever accomplish.

So, do I sleep? Yes. Comfortably. Because the things God has asked me to do with my time on earth is worth the sacrifice. It’s worth the long days writing, running my business and nonprofit, and taking care of my family. It’s worth the hard times when I’m unsure of myself but refusing to quit. Don’t misunderstand my work ethic or the work ethic of people in your life like me. I have an amazing life that I want to live like Christ. I’m just focused on one thing, and one thing only – hearing God say to me, “Well Done!” Then I will rest with him in peace for eternity.

Michelle Jackson is an entrepreneur and nonprofit leader and author of fictional novels The Heart of a Man and From Darkness to Night. To learn more about her work, visit http://www.authormichelledjackson.com.

What I learned from Hamilton The Musical

1st Morning Thoughts

To say I waited patiently to see Hamilton The Musical is an understatement. From the moment I realized it was the story of the American Revolution set to rap, I was sold. Despite the fact I couldn’t make my way to New York to see it on Broadway, and I wasn’t sure who the heck Alexander Hamilton was, I desperately wanted to see it the very second it hit the stage.

Fast forward a few years and the play is on tour and headed to New Orleans where I live. My husband surprised me with two tickets for Christmas and boy, was I excited.

An hour into the play and I realized how much Hamilton’s life was like my own. I too am in search of greatness or at least real goodness. I’m looking for ways to make a difference and leave a legacy. And most importantly, I’m trying…

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What I learned from Hamilton The Musical

To say I waited patiently to see Hamilton The Musical is an understatement. From the moment I realized it was the story of the American Revolution set to rap, I was sold. Despite the fact I couldn’t make my way to New York to see it on Broadway, and I wasn’t sure who the heck Alexander Hamilton was, I desperately wanted to see it the very second it hit the stage.

Fast forward a few years and the play is on tour and headed to New Orleans where I live. My husband surprised me with two tickets for Christmas and boy, was I excited.

An hour into the play and I realized how much Hamilton’s life was like my own. I too am in search of greatness or at least real goodness. I’m looking for ways to make a difference and leave a legacy. And most importantly, I’m trying hard to never miss an opportunity to change the world for the better.

Everything about the play was right, including the cast, music, and message. Meaningful and heartfelt, I left the theater with a new understanding of who Hamilton was and why he’s important to our history. But I also learned a few other things:

1. In life you must take your shots. There’s a new song I heard called ‘Shot Clock’ that’s growing in popularity on the R&B/Hip-Hop scene. It reminds us that just as in the sport of basketball, you only have a definitive amount of time to take a shot and make the goal. Life is no different. Hamilton took advantage of the opportunities he was offered. Despite being the son of an adulterer and orphaned at a young age, he grew into a strong and determined leader who played a major role in the Revolutionary War, the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, and the creation of our federal treasury system. He made mistakes – he shot a few airballs – but in the end he didn’t let his past, his fears, or his failures stop him from making the BIG moves.

2. Know who will tell your story and care about what story they will tell. Hamilton lived an amazing life despite his arrogant and womanizing ways. When he died, he left behind a legacy that wouldn’t have been properly told without the love of his wife, Eliza, who overlooked his flaws to support him before and after his death. His story is so fractured yet beautiful that it resonates with people who thrive to live honest, authentic lives. Eliza, like many of us, was left with the responsibility of passing along his legacy to the world. She knew his real story and understood the importance of sharing it. A life poorly lived doesn’t leave a great story to tell; nor, is it an inspiration to the people we leave behind. It is a badge of honor to live a good life and to inspire people you love to do the same.

3. Jealousy is the enemy of success. Although Hamilton wasn’t always kind to his political rival, Aaron Burr; Burr was portrayed as an accomplished man consumed with envy and jealousy. He was always one step behind Hamilton, but he could never catch up. Burr waited for the opportunity to eclipse Hamilton’s success without realizing that standing in another man’s shoes doesn’t make you The Man. I will not debate who was right or wrong (or dispute the accuracy of the play), but Hamilton’s success often appeared to be at Burr’s expense. Because of this, Burr killed him in a duel. Leaving a legacy for himself of a man who failed to stand on his own because of his devious desire to bask in the sunlight of someone else’s achievements.

4. Seeing the world through a prism of light is growth-in-action. When racial issues are at the forefront, we often find ourselves searching for the politically correct way to characterize our differences. But when we stop talking and start using our creativity to show, and not tell, how beautiful our multi-cultural world is, we can turn the page on racial disparities and change how we connect and honor each other. Hamilton uses a diverse cast to tell the story of the American Revolution. Hamilton and George Washington’s characters are played by actors of Asian-descent, and Thomas Jefferson is played by an African-American. This is a wonderful example of how adding color and flavor to the story creates a memorable piece of art.

As you can tell, I loved the play. The rapping was on-point. The story was compelling, and Hamilton and his wife were great examples of what we can accomplish when we accept that our lives are not our own. I believe that our lives are gifts from God and He wants us to build a world we all can live and thrive in.

Congrats to the cast on a wonderful show!

He Called Me ‘Momma’ – The Testimony of a Mother in Waiting 

1st Morning Thoughts

I saton the edge of my seatduringthelastchurch service oftheyearstaringat theoversized crossabove thebaptismpool. Painstakingly at peace,I’dturned off the hundreds of undone tasks that ranthrough my mindbefore entering the sanctuaryandhitpauseon the demands the world had thrown at my feet.I was present and without distractions. Surrounded by myloving husband and twelve-year-old son,I was readyto be engulfed in the word of Godandunusually giddybecauseno matterthe difficult times thatcame my wayduring the past year,the cross– the very one Christ carried formy salvationthrough the streets ofJerusalemhad beenmyrefuge,and I was thankful.


As thepackedchoir bellowed the second verse ofthe song…

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He Called Me ‘Momma’ – The Testimony of a Mother in Waiting 

I sat on the edge of my seat during the last church service of the year staring at the oversized cross above the baptism pool. Painstakingly at peace, I’d turned off the hundreds of undone tasks that ran through my mind before entering the sanctuary and hit pause on the demands the world had thrown at my feet. I was present and without distractions. Surrounded by my loving husband and twelve-year-old son, I was ready to be engulfed in the word of God and unusually giddy because no matter the difficult times that came my way during the past year, the cross – the very one Christ carried for my salvation through the streets of Jerusalem  had been my refuge, and I was thankful.

As the packed choir bellowed the second verse of the song, ‘I Got A Testimony’, my son tugged at my blouse sleeve. He asked, “Momma, what is a testimony?” A bit caught off-guard, I sat with his words for a moment before being reminded of all the wonderful things – including my son – God had given me. See, it wasn’t what he asked that made me reminisce; it was what he called me. He called me “Momma,” a title I’d prayed many days to hear, and looking into his beautiful face; I knew it was time to share with the world how God had transformed our lives.

My testimony started when the first of seven doctors told me that I would never give birth to a child; the countless nights I cried when I thought of all the bedtime stories, pillow fights, and Christmas mornings I would never share with my own son or daughter, and when I was forced to accept that I may have to give up on my desire to have a family. I felt rejected, excluded, and pushed aside. Despite my desires and prayers, God had other plans for me, and it wasn’t motherhood.

For a while, this reality severed my faith. I was different and not because I wanted to be, but because God believed I had the strength, patience, and fearlessness to overcome the challenges of infertility. However, I didn’t agree at first. I wasn’t fearless or strong; I was hurt and confused.

Being a mother was important. My mother was wonderful, but God took her too soon, and I was surrounded by caring women who were blessed to raise a generation of children. I wanted to be like them and to experience motherhood. I wanted to give back to this world and I thought becoming a mother was the best way to do it. But when infertility struck, my husband and I had to re-think how we would create our family. And in our darkest moment, someone special in our lives reminded us that it is not the blood that builds a family, it’s the love. 

What I learned during this challenging period was the importance of trusting God and not leaning on my own desires. I also learned that God gives us what we need and creating a family through biological means isn’t the only way to do it. 

God has each of us on a path  the destination is the cross, and the journey to get there is as unique as a fingerprint. Throughout our lives, we often find ourselves at a fork in the road that forces us to decide whether to walk with Christ and let him lead us in the right direction or turn away and go down an opposing path.

For years, I thought I was making all the right moves. I got married to a wonderful man and had a great career. My health was good, and my spiritual walk seemed solid. The next step was to have a child. That was the path the world wanted me to be on, but God had other plans. God selected my family to be an example to other families struggling with infertility, and to remind the world that each of our journeys are stepping stones towards his greater mission to save mankind. His plan for how we created a family was never only about me or my husband. Infertility wasn’t a burden we were cursed to live with nor was childlessness; instead, it was our journey to find and help a beautiful little boy who needed a home. A little boy like thousands of children around the country who are looking for parents to love and care for them. Our son was brought into our lives to give us the meaningful purpose that God wanted us to have.

FINDING PEACE IN THE WAITING ROOM

For eleven years I waited for God to show up in my situation unknowing that he had been there from the start. When I look back, I realize that for eleven years I’d paced the floor of the hospital waiting room anticipating good news from the doctor. While I was waiting for man to give me a positive report, God had already given me the victory. Although I wore down the sole of countless shoes and troubled myself with fear and anxiety over my infertility, it wasn’t until I stopped worrying and started trusting God that things changed.

When I stopped wanting what other people had and started asking God to give me what he desired for my life my journey took a positive turn. I walked out of the waiting room, fell to my knees, and opened my heart to Christ. And what did he do? He delivered, restored and healed.

I didn’t get the time back that I lost. I didn’t give birth to a child. I didn’t get all the answers I wanted but what I got was a son. He calls me “momma” and he loves me, although I didn’t birth him, or rock him to sleep when he was a toddler. I never saw his first steps or heard his first words. Nevertheless, I’ve now had years to hug, hold and love him. We’ve shared a million good times and expressed our happiness for finding and creating a beautiful family.

So, when he asked, “Momma, what is a testimony?” I hugged him tightly then explained that a testimony was our proof of God’s presence in our life; proof of his unwavering love and sacrifice. It’s our story of victory – we have a story of victory.

Michelle D. Jackson is the author of the inspirational novel, The Heart of a Man. Follow her on Facebook @AuthorMichelleDJackson.

My husband and I would like to thank the Three Rivers Adoption Council for helping us experience parenthood and giving us a beautiful testimony.

To download the Winter 2019 issue of The Mount Magazine, go to https://mt-ararat.org/buy-the-mount..

Path to Peace

#1stMorningthoughts

Finding Your Way Out of the Boat

Have you gotten out of the boat?

1st Morning Thoughts

Slide1

I’ve always wanted to be an accomplished writer. From the moment I read Alice Walker’s book Meridian at the age of 13, I wanted to be an author. I love the way words exemplify the human condition so concretely. The way a good story can transport a reader from a mundane existence to another world. I love that when expended into the pages of a good book I could be anyone I chose to be and that writing allows me to dream out-loud and share that dream with readers from every walk of life.

Books are magical. Inspiring. Influential. From the heartfelt stories of a Christian novel to the powerful pages of the Holy Bible, books change lives and good writers are invaluable. At a young age, God showed me that writing was my true calling but to step into the life He pre-destined for me I had to activate…

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DISCONNECT

ARTICLE GRAPHIC 8

Click LIKE to show your approval of me.

SCROLL DOWN to learn about my passions, joys and pains.

Become my FOLLOWER, INFLUENCER, SUBSCRIBER OR FRIEND.

Peek into my SCRIPTED LIFE.

Illustrate your acceptance with FUNNY EMOJIS and EDITED GIFS.

Let’s fellowship through WORDS and PICTURES and VALIDATE each other with half-moons that turn into smiling faces.

Let’s solidify our bond with the perfect selfie and SHARE with the world the beauty of our online FRIENDSHIP.

This is what relationship building looks like in the 21st century – this is the online community we live in.

In full disclosure, I am not a critic of social media. I use social platforms daily to connect with friends and family. I click LIKE often. I watch the silly videos and search, like many people do, for the right emoji to illustrate the joy I feel at connecting with people I care about. But as a social media user and a Christian, I often wonder about the spiritual and moral realities of living in a world that expects me to build strong relationships with people by simply clicking LIKE. I also wonder if the desire to be liked on social media is indicative of our fear that God will not accept nor validate what we choose to reveal about ourselves in cyberspace that we try to hide from him during our quiet time?

Social media has changed how we build relationships and, in many ways, how we see ourselves. It is an effective tool with the capability to bring us together in a positive way, although many people misuse its power. God blessed us with the technology to share our lives with the global community, but when we do so, we should check our like-seeking motives at the door and avoid opening ourselves to pride’s destructive influence.

Satan has waged a vicious war against believers. This war is propelled by our need to be accepted and celebrated by man. Satan has tapped into our propensity to be prideful. Social media plays a role in that, but it is not the culprit. As Christians, our desire for approval should be satisfied by our belief in a living God. God expresses his love for us daily. We do not need the approval of man because man will never save us.

To be liked on social media is not the same as being liked, loved or revered by God. It is a symbol of our admiration for one another that carries no power over who we are or what truly makes us great. It is a small pebble tossed in a giant pond.

The need to be accepted is Satan’s way of forcing Christians to move further from the cross. We see it every day, on the news, in our schools and even in our homes. Children are following the misguided directions of their peers and Youtubers, who are eating Tide pods and drinking boiling hot water. Adults are turning away from the church and biblical teachings and turning towards the latest trends. Politicians are using social platforms to garner support for policies that will hurt the poor while the church struggles to maintain its influence over parishioners and to spread the Gospel without fault or distraction. Garnering the strength to move away from temptation has become harder. We are exposed, more now than at any period in my lifetime, to belief systems that contradict what the bible teaches us. We struggle to do and to say what is right, even when the word of God has not changed or ceased to exist in any way.

God teaches us in 1 John 2:16 (ESV) that the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions is not from the Father but is from the world. He also reminds us in Romans 12:2 (ESV): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

As mature Christians, it is important to be careful about what we are exposed to. We have a responsibility to the younger generation. We should work to protect them from Satan’s tricks and to help them navigate the world of social media, so they can reap the benefits of these tools without falling prey to Satan’s will.

In this new age of constant connectivity, it is important that we disconnect from the world and reconnect with God.

When I disconnect, I am at my best. Consumed with the love of my family and surrounded by my most powerful ally – Christ Jesus. Being liked and popular has its place, but who we are in the quiet moments that we spend with God is essential to the discovery of his true purpose for our lives.

Michelle D. Jackson is the author of the inspirational novel, The Heart of a Man. Follow her on Facebook @AuthorMichelleDJackson.

This article was featured in the March 2018 publication of The Mount Magazine. To order a copy visit, https://www.mt-ararat.org/buy-the-mount.

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