Meaningful Living in the Hashtag Age

Posts tagged ‘family’

You Are A Masterpiece


It dawned on me this beautiful Sunday morning that over the years God has been working to get me to a place where I understand the true purpose for my life. So many times I’ve visited the graveyard to say goodbye to a friend or family member. So many long, sad walks back to my car wondering if that person, who is now with God, fulfilled their earthly purpose.

This journey to live on earth takes us through many peaks and valleys. We struggle with understanding who we are, our mission, our purpose and why God chose us. We see people who appear to navigate life with such ease and grace, and then we witness the fallen – those who struggle with every turn. 

We all have a story; we all have fears, but do we know and accept God’s purpose for our life?

What I am more and more convinced of is that the God I serve whose imagination is as wonderful and brilliant as a bright and sunny sky and as massive as the roaring sea, has molded each of us into a unique piece of art, a masterpiece.

Once we accept that we are God’s greatest work, we can live in His purpose for our life and fulfill our destiny.

You were never meant to be like anyone else. You are an original. You are the first and the last. Your purpose cannot be defined by anyone but God. Your wins and losses are all intentional paths on your personal journey. Every experience was created to help you become the person God wants you to be. 

You are a masterpiece!

Accept it. Live in it. Love with it and be blessed.

Michelle Jackson 

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The Wait

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Have you ever played the game Red Light – Green Light? If not, here’s how it works: first, all the players stand side-by-side in a single line facing the person (let’s call him/her the ‘leader’) responsible for giving the ‘red light’ and ‘green light’ commands. When the leader, who is standing at least 15 feet in front of the players, gives the ‘green light’ command everyone must rapidly move towards them. But when the ‘red light’ command is given everyone must stop immediately, assess where they are, then wait until the leader gives the green light command again. The player who reaches the leader first wins the game.

As Christians we often find ourselves in a real-life Red Light – Green Light scenario. Standing side-by-side with people who we perceive to be in competition with us and vigorously working to reach what we assume to be the higher echelon of life.  The journey to reach our goal is filled with stop and go commands given by God that we cannot control or change. And the wait, as frustrating as it can be, is often a period of retrospect that allows us to assess where we are, re-think our strategies for reaching the goal-line and decide whether the journey is worth the wait.

When the green light is given, we are encouraged to run our fastest in order to leave our competition behind. Society teaches us that being first is a noble quest, even if it requires pushing and shoving to get ahead of others. But in Matthew 19:30, the Bible states, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Earthly rank does not translate into heavenly rank. And although I believe that being first is not a sin, our focus must remain on God and His destiny for our life.

The most difficult times are the red light, or waiting, periods of life. Throughout the Bible we are taught that patience is a virtuous attribute and the power to wait on God is rewarded in the end. But the fear of never achieving our goals coupled with faulty thinking that God is not with us during our waiting period creates anxiety and uncertainty along the way. Whether we are waiting on an improved health report from the doctor, the healing of a drug addicted child or help with a struggling marriage, the red light periods of life are our most difficult.

In my darkest hours during my waiting periods, I often reflect on Psalm 30: 5: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. God often uses the transitioning from night to day as an example of how hard times will evolve from darkness to light.

God blesses the waiting period. He stands in the mist of the awkward silence that threatens to make us believe that He isn’t there, and He whispers hope into our ear. Often, we cannot hear Him because of our fears, but God is always in control. He doesn’t leave us in the coldest moments nor does He blow away in the highest winds. He is our rock and our fortress.

The waiting period is a time of triumph. It is during this period that we do our bravest work. We learn to stand still and to believe that daylight is just over the horizon and darkness is not eternal. When we wait – patiently – we learn how to run our fastest without trampling others and to appreciate the journey.

Gods timing is not our timing and His priorities are not our priorities. Therefore, when the green light is on, we must take what we learned during the red light periods and approach our journey with consideration and love if we are to reach the pinnacle of God’s expectation for our lives.

Psalms 27:13-14   I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Isaiah 40:31   but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Lamentations 3:25   The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Micah 7:7   But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

This original article was published in the July 2016 issue of The Mount Christian Magazine.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel.

 

Looking Up: My 2015 Resolution

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Over the next 24 hours millions of people will set goals for the New Year. Typical resolutions will be a laundry list of positive changes like weight loss, spiritual growth and financial stability.  Most goals will be realistic and achievable and others will be too whimsical to set in motion.

But the idea of leaving one year behind and diving head-first into the next is refreshing. It’s a chance to start over, to get life right and to forgive yourself for the mistakes of the past 365 days. It is the finish-line for wrapping up unresolved issues and the starting point for reinventing your life.

This year, I’ve decided to take a different approach to setting my personal and professional goals. Of course I plan to eat healthier, love harder and seek peace in everything I do, but my primary goal will be unlike my goals of the past.

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The First Thirty-Nine

Check out my latest blog post, The First Thirty-Nine.

The First Thirty-Nine

A few months ago I celebrated my fortieth birthday. Unlike turning 35, I wasn’t concerned about getting older instead I embraced the change and welcomed the big 4-0 with opened arms. I was excited, I must admit, because I’d heard that 40 brings new opportunities to get life right and the boldness to forgive yourself when you can’t.

In the midst of my excitement, I decided to share a piece of what makes this new start in my life so wonderful. So brace yourself, here’s a peek at what the first thirty-nine taught me:

  • Connecting and staying connected is worth the work. As we get older, we often get consumed with the redundancies of life which leads us to isolate ourselves. Our families and our jobs create immediate needs that we feel we must focus all our attention on. We cut off people we care about because we don’t have time and we fail to nurture new relationships unless they help us in addressing our immediate needs. But it is important to stay connected. Pencil in time to catch up with your friends and family. Go out for drinks or coffee. Knock on your neighbor’s door to make sure they are okay and meet someone new. Staying connected pulls you away from living an isolated life. And giving and receiving love and support is the life-line for spiritual and emotional wholeness.
  • Ridding your life of unhealthy relationships is tough but life-changing. As much as we need to stay connected, we also need to learn from our interactions with others who and what is worth investing our time and energy into. Life exposes us to many characters. Some are good, healthy and nurturing and others drain us of the power and energy to get things done. Conduct an honest assessment of the people in your life and move away from those who keep you consumed with their issues without considering your needs. Relationships are give and take. If you are doing all the giving, at some point, you will be depleted. So seek healthy relationships and see your life improve.
  • Your health is definitely your wealth. Last year I lost 30 pounds. Surprisingly, it was much harder to lose the weight than I thought it would be. I spent weeks learning to live on between 1200 and 1500 calories per day. I cut my dairy, sugar and bread consumption to next to nothing. I learned to love the bland taste of water and ate more protein that I had in years. And let’s not talk about carbs. I ate them sparingly, if at all. My journey may seem extreme but it had to be. I was determined to get my weight under control and in the end, I was beyond elated with the results. Hard work and dedication does pay off. I’m healthier, my self-image is better and I’m finally more conscious of what I eat. Life is good.
  • Success has to be strictly defined to be properly pursued. All my life I wanted to be successful. It was the one thing that drove me to go to college, to pursue my career, to publish my first novel and to work hard at every job I’ve ever had. Being successful at whatever I did was worth the journey until I began to evaluate what true success really meant to me. For some, success is having a high-ranking title and earning wealth. For others, it is doing something meaningful and worthwhile for the greater good of mankind. But no matter how big or small, YOUR definition of success should drive you.

For me, success is finding peace and happiness in all my endeavors in spite of titles, money and power. It is waking up early on a Saturday morning and writing something beautiful that no one will ever see but me. It is looking at my image in the mirror and loving all that God has created. It is sharing myself with those I love and learning to move away, gracefully, from those I can no longer support. My definition of success is finally achievable and that’s the best lesson of all.

  • Dancing is mandatory! My biggest fear of getting older was losing what I call my passions for living. When I was 15, a person turning 40 seemed old, but now that I’ve reached that age I realize just how youthful I am. Forty feels like the new twenty. All my passions are still there. Actually, I am more passionate because my vision is clearer now. I still love loud rap music and dancing until dawn. I still chase lightning bugs and butterflies and I giggle like a young girl and flirt (with my husband). And, most importantly, I am still in heavy pursuit of all the wonders of life.

I hope the next forty years will be filled with opened doors and new opportunities to put all my life lessons into play. I am looking forward to expanding my consciousness in ways only age and grace will allow. But because of the first thirty-nine, I am even more excited for the ride and well-prepared for the journey.

FIND me, LIKE me, SHARE me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Michelle-D-Jackson-The-Heart-of-a-Man/157702567608080

 

Join us! Social Media Community of Prayer Campaign

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In response to the recent killing of an unarmed teen in St. Louis, my family invite you to join us in a Social Media Community of Prayer Campaign this Sunday, AUG 16th between 10 – 10:30 am (EST). To participate, we are asking everyone to do two things. First, pray on your own for something you want to change in your community on a National, State or Local level; no conference call or email will be set-up or necessary. Second, use the comment line below to add what you will be praying for so everyone can pray with you. Your comments will be a part of the Campaign Prayer List. As Christians, we believe prayers do change things! Hope you can join us because our communities today desperately need our prayers.   

The Courage to be Kind

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Me and my mother, the late Ernestine Daniel

I’m a Southerner at heart. The more I travel the world, the more I accept this fact. That may not mean anything to most people but to me it is a badge of honor and a distinctive factor for who I am and what drives me.

As an African-American, the connotation is often negative because of the South’s history. Images of civil rights leaders marching arm-in-arm and the impact of Jim Crow laws on defining race relations is what people often expect me to never forget. And I haven’t. But those experiences, even as tragic as they were, can not erase the pride I feel in being from the South.

My favorite memories of growing up in Alabama involved my family. I was raised in a small, working-class community by a single-mother. For over 30 years she worked the same job, raised four kids on less than $12 an hour and tried to instill in us a sense of integrity, courtesy and faith in God. She had a humility that you often saw in the Deep South – one that was not tarnished by the harsh realities of segregation and her own struggles to overcome poverty.

But in spite of her circumstances, my mother’s most important lesson to me was to always respect others. I often hear her say, be polite, Michelle, always say excuse me and treat others how you want to be treated.

For years it was a simple request. But as I got older my own realities chipped away at my ability to put my best face forward. I could blame a lot of things, like the four years I spent in college as the only minority in many of my classes or the ten years I toiled away in the male-dominated commercial real estate industry where I struggled to have my ideas heard. Kindness became harder to deliver as time went by.

Nice people often get left behind. In the corporate world, being kind is a sign of weakness and generosity, especially in the mean streets, can get you hurt. I learned this the hard way as I moved throughout the U.S. My exposure to new people in different situations made my mother’s ideas about kindness contrite and meritless. As a result, I became tougher and fearless; more opinionated and easily aggravated. I began to believe that it was too difficult for me to be rational when others were not.

But one day I looked in the mirror, forced myself to remember my mother’s teachings, her life experiences and the kindness she showed others until the day she died. That day, I reaffirmed within myself that my upbringing, my respect for those that fought before me but maintained a kind spirit and my desire to discover all that is sweet in this world made it impossible for me to be anything less than kind.

So in my Southern-accent I walk the halls of my job wishing everyone a good morning. I try hard to look the other way when cars cut me off on the road and I smile even when others are not. Although kindness isn’t just a southern-thing, it is my way of saying thank you to my mother for her humility and showing pride in all she taught me.

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