Sunday, April 09, 2017

The King of the World

If you've read my blog for any period of time at all, you know how much music speaks to me and leads me to worship.  Today is Palm Sunday, so I figured I'd think on the King of the World a little.

I'm doing a Bible Study called "Anchored" and I am really liking it.  It talks about and dives into 7 anxiety relievers; God's Sovereignty, God's Love, The Holy Spirit, God's Word, Obedience, Prayer, and Eternal focus.  I'm on chapter 4, which is about the Holy Spirit.

This week is Holy Week, where we relive in many ways the events that preceded Jesus' death.  It's both a glorious and a deeply sad time for Christians.  It's hard for those of us who love Jesus to walk through those final hours.  But it reminds us of how loved we are.  And, it reminds us that the Holy Spirit was sent as our helper; "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you." John 16:7

As we go through our days of triumph and our days of sorrow the Holy Spirit is always with us.  We just need to look around and see how God orchestrates things for us.  That quiet voice that brings you a scripture, or a word when you need it.  That quiet voice that whispers watch this or watch that. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in our thoughts, our beliefs, our desires that we lose sight of what's really there for us.  We take our eyes off of the Trinity and that is when we give into anxiety.  I struggle with this a lot.  Following my cousin's death (and a couple of others that were around the same time) I have a lot of fear inside of me.  I am definitely making progress, but it is still there.  It's there when I hear sirens and know one of my loved ones just left.  It's there when I watch my kids struggle with their own demons.  It's there when my husband puts on his bullet proof vest and walks out to work.  It's there when I lose my cool and yell at the kids before they go to sleep.  It's there when I should be sleeping, but I'm not.  Experiencing a deep loss like this reminds us that we are here temporarily.  And while I know in my heart that God's plan is for me, and that He is Omnipresent, I trust His plans completely, I just wonder how much they will hurt.


When I give in to anxiety I am allowing my eyes to be off of the King of the World.  It's a completely natural and human thing to do, but I know that when I begin to be fearful I need to look to Him for His Peace that Passes All Understanding.

"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" Romans 8:15

So, I leave you with a reminder, if you ever fall into the trap of fear and anxiety like I do:




King of the World

Natalie Grant
I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I've designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world
Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I'm strong enough
When you're the one who made me from the dust
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world
Oh, you set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to me
And you're holding on to me
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget you've always been the king of the world
You will always be the king of the world

Love, Semalee

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sprinkle Forgiveness Around like Confetti

Have you seen it?  It's a very popular meme:



I was sitting in church on Sunday listening to the sermon.  I was, to be honest a little distracted for whatever reason.  My mind was swirling with words.  God was speaking to me both through the sermon and in addition to the sermon.  The sermon was entitled, "Do you Really See Me?".  Father Bruce was talking about how God sees us where we are.  He sees us for we are.  He sees us for who we are to become.  He does not think with limiting thoughts like we do, but sees us through the lens of who we can become.

Then our Pastor asked a question: "Does the Christ in you see and experience the Christ in me?"

Whoa.

How many times do I respond in pain or anger, hurting someone with my actions or words?  Sure, they hurt me, and deeply, but the greater sin here is that I let my pride say it was ok to respond shortly, or bluntly because I was speaking the truth.  No matter what they have done to hurt me, intentionally or otherwise, I should not be allowing my pain to do the talking. 

Pain fuels anger.  Pain is important, and righteous anger is one thing, but it also has a tendency to cloud our judgement, fueling pride that our actions are somehow justified because we are hurt.

Does the Christ in you see and experience the Christ in me?

The Lord spoke to me during the sermon, telling me that I need to make amends to those who I have hurt.  He said their part in it has no bearing.  I am to simply apologize......

That I need to Sprinkle Forgiveness around like Confetti.

Then, I was doing my bible study this morning on Anxiety, and I read this:
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.  The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him" 1 John 3:1

One of my issues is that I often feel misunderstood, particularly by my family who are not believers.  And I am.  And it is often hard for me not to take it personally, and have it affect my own feeling of self- worth.  If my family thinks this of me, I must be etc....  But the thing is, they WILL often misunderstand me because they do not know Christ who is in me.  It is my job to do what the Lord tells me to do (sprinkle forgiveness around like confetti) and pray for their salvation.  But it isn't my job to try to convince them of who I am.  They are not seeing with open eyes.  And not just my family, but my friends on social media and in real life.  Why do I look to them for validation, when the one I should be looking to is God.  It is God who gently prompts me to act differently and to be the person He knows is my potential.  No man on this earth knows that, and I need not look to them for direction.

So, God issued a directive to me to make amends with those I know I've hurt before Easter.  I will be putting my feet where my faith is and doing this.  I'd be lying if I were to say I'm nervous of the outcome.  But one thing I have learned without question in my life is that I am always surprised at how God works when I'm simply obedient to Him.

Love, Semalee

Monday, March 20, 2017

How Long, Lord?

How many times over the last year and 2 months have I asked this question?  When do I have peace?  When do the kids have peace?  The truth is, we're so far from where we were last January.  None of us are the same people.  And, perhaps, these questions aren't even fair.  As I look back over this period of grief, of pressing in, of commitment, of healing I can see God so much in the details.

But, to be here and tell you this, means nothing to you.  What I hope will mean something is the how and the why we are where and how we are.

There are some things about this journey that are still hard.  I am scared.  A lot.  I've been fighting it off for quite some time.  It isn't at all that I don't trust God.  I trust Him to make things all work out for His purpose and the good of His people.  I just don't know how much that is going to hurt.  I'm tired of hurting.  I'm tired of loss.  In the last couple of years I've said good-bye to some people that I really didn't want to, grandparents, a couple of long time friends, a pastor and friend, and in the last 14 months my cousin, 5 cats and a bunny.  I've felt like death was surrounding me at times.  It's hard not to get fearful when you feel surrounded by death.

I've struggled with being afraid of the next one to go.....  being a police officer's wife has made that harder.....

I've struggled with how to put the pieces back in place for my kids when I can't work out the pieces for myself......

I don't understand.  I'm angry at times, but most of the time I'm very sad.

I make the day to day ok.  But in my quiet moments, when I'm alone with God the tears still flow.  I still long like never before to just curl up in His lap and leave the pain of this world behind.

But God.

This has become an underlying constant theme in my life.....

But God.

I often pause in the midst of trouble to look for God now, because I can always look back and say...

But God-

I follow someone on Instagram who has been talking about the different devotions and studies she's doing, and she talked about a bible study called "Anchored", by She Proves Faithful that she has been doing.  It's all about anxiety, and approaching the Throne of God to deal with your anxiety.

I'm only on chapter 3 and I can tell you it is life changing.  One of the things she talks about in this chapter is about how God uses the storms of life to do 3 things:
  1. Reveal your sin
  2. Test your faith
  3. Drive your heart to Him
She asked us to think of a storm and assess how God used it in one or more of these ways.

I can tell you, when it comes to the storm of losing my cousin and adopting her children I think it falls to the "Drive your heart to Him" category, because the only peace I find is when I go to Him with this.  I have to believe what His word says, in Acts 17:26 "Acts 17:26  Living Bible (TLB)26 He created all the people of the world from one man, Adam,[a] and scattered the nations across the face of the earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and when. He determined their boundaries." 

It is talking about nations here, but when I read it earlier, it spoke to me in terms of people as well.  The Lord determines when we will rise and fall, and where our boundaries lie. 
I don't understand why it is that my cousin had to die.  I don't understand that.  But I have peace in my heart because I know she knew the Lord.  It sounds cliché, but it is true.  I know she had a lot of trouble in this world.  And I also know that she had encountered the Lord, and she knew what His grace meant.  I have to believe that God was with her as she died, that she wasn't alone, and that she now has that peace she looked for but never could find. 

For those of us who are left behind, we can only look to draw closer to the Lord, and find that peace that passes all understanding.

And, it is coming.  We are all becoming more comfortable with each other, and looking more forward and less backward.  Not walking away from the past, but understanding it's place in where we are, and where we're going.  And, when I watch my kids grasp on to the truth of God's word, it has such incredible healing power.

When I'm alone I often just listen to worship songs, and shut out the world as much as possible.  The more my eyes look to heaven, the smaller the difficulties here seem.

I've been in the valley.  It's a dark, and scary place.  I'm not totally out of it yet, but I see the fruit of the Spirit emerging.

"The Garden"
I had all
But given up
Desperate for it
A sign from love
Something good
Something kind
Bringing peace to every corner of my mind

Then I saw the garden
Hope had come to me
To sweep away the ashes
And wake me from my sleep

I realised
You never left
And for this moment
You planned ahead
That I would see
Your faithfulness in all of the green

I can see the ivy
Growing through the wall
'Cause You'll stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul

I can see the ivy
Reaching through the wall
'Cause You'll stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul

Ohhh
Ohh, You're healing broken souls
Ohh, You're healing broken souls

Faith is rising up like ivy
Reaching for the light
Hope is stirring deep inside me
Making all things right

Love is lifting me from sorrow
Catching every tear
Dispelling every lie and torment
Crushing all my fears

You crush all my fears
You crush all my fears
With Your perfect love
Ohh-ohhh, with Your perfect love

Now I see redemption
Growing in the trees
The death and resurrection
In every single seed...




In love,
Semalee

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I'm scared to post this....

I've had some thoughts swirling around in my mind for quite some time.  Thoughts that want to come out, but I'm deeply afraid of hurting people I love.  I'm afraid of offending people that I respect.  I'm afraid that people reading this will not hear my heart, and think I have something other than loving thoughts as I write this.  So, I've avoided writing for a long time.



But, on Monday (MLK Day) my friends and I took our kids to see the movie Hidden Figures.  It was SO good.  I was very moved by the entire movie, and I will go see it again, and probably buy it.  It follows three women who work for NASA during the time of MLK and the Civil Rights Movement, a time when we were told to be "separate but equal", which we learned through history is not possible.  Many people of many colors fought to ensure that we would truly have equal rights during this time, and some even gave their life for this important cause.

Flash forward to 2016, the end of the presidency of the first Black President, and we are finding our way back to the divisions that existed then.  As the mother of 2 black children I am devastated to see the direction of our country.  I'm devastated to see the division re-emerging around me.  People of different colors looking at each other with suspicious eyes.  People of different colors magnifying their differences, and refusing to see the things that are the same.  People of different colors segregating themselves and not having friends that don't look like them.

And then- as we watched the movie on Monday there was a scene where the mom and her two kids are kicked out of the "White Library".  My 7 year old son turned to me and asked, "Mom, why did they have to leave?"  The concept of segregation is so removed from him.  I answered that back then black people and white people were separated and couldn't go to the same places.  As I watched him digest this concept I realized that during that time I would not even be able to be Mommy to my sweet babies.

"I realized that during that time I would not even be able to be Mommy to my sweet babies."


This is when I knew I had to write.  This is when I knew I had to take the risk. 

Lately I've been watching scary words come across social media and other news outlets.  Words like Racist, Misogynist, Bigot are thrown around like candy, usually to describe our incoming President, or those who support him.  Why?  Because the democratic machine that has long been used to suppress the needs of minorities has planted these words, and words like Hitler as scare tactics to invoke a fear of change. 

A friend of mine shared something on Facebook today: "I used to be a Democrat for most of my life... about 10 years ago I started paying attention and I discovered that Democrat leaders weren't interested in solving problems for minorities, they were just interested in getting their votes. Democrats are maintaining the modern day plantation by keeping minorities on urban plantations, uneducated, no jobs, and then handing out just enough government "benefits" to keep people dependent on the system, but not true freedom. The Black leaders enrich themselves by race-baiting and race hustling to stir up the masses, but deliver little in terms that benefit the community. Then I discovered that the Black community suffers from the crab-in-the-bucket mentality. If you try to leave, you are labeled a sellout, Uncle Tom, token Negro, etc. I am dedicating this Facebook page to educate and inform those open enough to hear the message. We have enough evidence in Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles for the past 50 years where Democrats have had total control of those cities and nothing has changed. The victim mentality must stop... I've never blamed anything that happened to me on anyone but myself. That also gives me the control to fix it. I hope to pass that message along to my brothers and sisters willing to listen... it's time to get off the Democrat plantation."- Anthony Thorton

Because of my support of police officers I have been told to "put my hood on and wear it proudly". 
Because of my support of Donald Trump I've been called a racist, and a homophobe.
Because of my affiliation with the Republican Party I've been accused of not caring about minorities.

It's time to stop the madness!  I think people are starting to wake up and realize that maybe the hard and fast lines that have been drawn are not true.  It's time to stop throwing words like "Racist" around like candy.  It really cheapens what that word is.

There are real examples in our country of what racism looks like, and supporting law and order, or a particular candidate, or party affiliation are not it.  Calling out the president for his failed presidency isn't it either....


I've had the exact same thoughts.  I SO wanted him to be a great president, even though I didn't vote for him, because he could really set the stage for future generations.  Having 2 black children, whether I agreed with him on policy or not, it was important to them that he do well.  But, in the end, race relations are back to the 60's at the end of his presidency.  People don't feel safe in their homes.  Police officers are in grave danger every single day, and murders of police officers is on the rise.  Health care costs are out of control, and more people are on welfare than before he took office.

This is not a racist statement.  It's a TRUE statement.  And it makes me sad.  It makes me sad for my children.  Blame who you want, but our country is currently riddled with all types of domestic terrorism and division.  We have people being applauded for not attending the Inauguration and  people being threatened for wanting to perform. 

What I don't understand, is how anyone can say this type of behavior is ok, because it avoids "Normalizing Trump's Behavior"...  Like what behavior?  Including all types, colors, sexes of people in the Inauguration? 

So, for me, I guess I'm called to be a light in my own part of the world.  I want Trump to succeed not because he's white, but because he's the president.  His success will lead to better things for us all.  The more we allow division amongst ourselves, the more we shoot ourselves in our own feet.  What is the point of that?  How does that help us???

So, stop saying things like "Normalizing His behavior", and Misogynist, and bigot, and for goodness sake leave Hitler out of it!  If I were a jew I'd be unbelievably offended by the way the liberals and the MSM have cheapened the horrors that occurred during Hitler's rein of terror.  We are no where close to that.  If you ask me, the bully mentality coming from the liberal side is far more like it than what's coming from Trump's team. 

As we go forward I pray for our country.  I pray we seek direction, and seek to find our common goals and common needs.  I pray we see each others' hearts, not skin color, or social status, or party affiliation, or even gender when addressing each other.  And I pray we consider the role that Social Media plays in all of this, and the trap we have fallen into with how we interact with each other in this "my way or wrong" mentality that it feeds.

In Love,
Semalee

Monday, January 02, 2017

What a difference a Year Makes

Here we are.  It's been a year.  As I look back over the past year I feel like we've all lived a lifetime, yet it also seems like yesterday.  Part of me wants to fast forward to Wednesday, as if skipping over the one year anniversary would be some magical solution that would make it easier....... or not to have happened....  Part of me doesn't want to enter into the next year because that means that it's been a year.  And if it's been a year since Bug left us, then the chances of this being a nightmare and being real life are that much more.  If it's been a year, I'm not going to wake up to realize that this was a crazy dream, but Bug's still here.  I know that none of this is logical.  I know whether it's been a minute, a month, or a year it doesn't change a thing.  The fact is, she is not here. 

And the truth is, I'm reminded of this every single day.

I'm reminded as I see the sadness in my children's' eyes when they get quiet.

I was reminded of the fact that she's gone the other day as I stared at a questionnaire asking me when my son first started talking as a baby....  I don't know that answer.  That is an answer his mother knows....

I was reminded of the fact that she's gone as I watched my daughter frantically try to control her environment and the people around her, for fear of losing another person she loves.

I was reminded as we drove into the cemetery on Christmas.

I was reminded when I got a letter from the cemetery about special events that they hold for plot owners.  I don't want to own a cemetery plot.

I was reminded as I set up my bills for this year, and one of our paydays falls on Bug's birthday.

I was reminded as I watched the sun go down tonight, marking the end of our first year without her.

I was reminded as my son watched me sleep because I was still and it scared him.  I wonder how long it will scare him to watch someone sleep.

I wonder how many times I will have to answer "I don't know" to questionnaires about various things for the kids.

I wonder if I will be able to let go of my own fear about losing someone else I love.  I see a lot of my own thoughts in my daughter when she gets frantic.

I wonder when I'll be able to make it several days in a row without crying.

I wonder when the veil of sadness will lift..... even a little.....

I wonder when it won't be so hard to smile.

I wonder when it will feel good to be happy.

I wonder how long it will take to stop feeling guilty.

I wonder how long it will be before I can truly feel like I couldn't have somehow changed the outcome.

Here we are.  1 year later.  The shock has worn off, but the sadness persists......  I had hoped I would be further along this grief path by now.