Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother’s Day: A Day of Positive Reflections With or Without a Mother

Mother’s Day without a mother doesn't have to be a sad occasion. When I was a child, in the community in which we lived, the tradition was to wear a flower to church on Mother’s Day: a red carnation if your mother was alive, a pink carnation if your mother was sick, and a white carnation if your mother was no longer alive.

Having lost my mother several years ago, tradition would dictate I wear a white carnation to church on Mother’s Day. But I will not. Rather than dwell on the fact that Mamma is no longer alive, this Mother’s Day, I will dwell on how thankful I am to have had an opportunity to have her in my life.
Mamma gave me unconditional love and taught me how to be self-disciplined and trustworthy. She taught me how to sew and cook. And Mamma understood me; we were both introverts. Moreover, she taught me about faith, hope, and love.

As I reflect on the many things for which I am thankful, faith, hope, and love are three of the most invaluable gifts Mamma gave me because these gifts keep on giving.

The Gift of Faith
Mamma taught my siblings and me about faith. She taught us our first prayers and sent us to Sunday School. One of the first Bible scriptures she taught us was to Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2). It didn't mean much to me as a child, but when I got older, I learned to appreciate the fact that she picked this scripture to focus on rather than the scripture about obeying your father and mother. When you grow up, you do not have to obey your parents, but it is admirable and beneficial to honor them—even when you don’t agree with them. Today, I use this gift of faith every day. I continue to have a spiritual relationship with my Creator, and I have taught my children about faith.

The Gift of Hope
Mamma knew how to live above the circumstances. She would redesign an outdated garment when she didn’t have the money to buy a new one. Mama would make turkey hash from the leftover Thanksgiving turkey meat and make turkey soup from the turkey bones. And she rearranged the furniture to make the living room look “new” when she could not buy new furniture. Mamma never dwelt on what we did not have. She always worked with what she had. Today, I use her gift of hope every day. I am an optimist. I can see the potential in something, and I always hope for a positive outcome.

The Gift of Love
My siblings and I laugh about this all the time: It was not until we became adults that we realized our family was probably in one of the lower economic brackets. And I thank my mother and father that we did not recognize this when we were children. Because Mamma and Daddy gave us unconditional love and provided a home that we were always happy to return to, we never missed what they could not afford to buy us. They also taught us how to demonstrate love and respect toward other people. Today, I use this gift of love every day. I try to treat others how they want to be treated. 

I am thankful for the faith, hope, and love my mother gave me. But I also loved the quirky little things she did. When she thought we needed a spanking, she grabbed her comb and chased the four of us around the house. She never did catch us. Or, maybe she never intended to catch us. Mamma loved Nat King Cole's songs. On hot summer Saturday mornings, you could hear her singing, “Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa . . . Men have named you . . . You're so like the lady with the mystic smile . . .” as she dusted and vacuumed the house. She was a beautiful woman inside and out. I thought she was spectacular--perfect, but she would be the first one to tell you she was not perfect.

Mothers are Like Diamonds
When I graduated from college decades ago and secured my first job, after buying a car, I bought something I had always wanted: a pair of diamond stud earrings. I was impressed with an ad in the newspaper: $49.00 for ¼ carat diamond stud earrings. What I did not know before I bought them was that, deep within the diamonds, they were peppered with black specks. Diamonds are formed from the immense pressure from the layers within the earth. But sometimes all the carbon doesn't crystallize, and this results in black specks. Mothers are like diamonds. They are not perfect, but they are worthy of honor because they gave us life. 

If you have animosity toward your mother, I encourage you to forgive. Holding on to grudges is toxic. I learned a valuable lesson about not forgiving from a guest speaker I had the pleasure of listening to. The man described a documentary on how monkeys are hunted. Hunters build a cage with a hole in it that is large enough for a monkey to put in its hand. The hunters lure monkeys by placing a banana inside the cage. A monkey would see the banana in the cage, discover the opening large enough for it to put in its hand, and then grab the banana. Hunters would descend upon the monkey and easily capture it because it would not let go of the banana. All the monkey had to do was let go of the banana, pull out its hand, and flee. Instead, the monkey maintained its hold on the banana as it tried to pull its hand out of the cage. The monkey’s weakness in not wanting to release the banana cost it its life. It reminds us that holding on to a grudge hurts us more than it hurts the other person. So, let go, and allow yourself to love and honor your mother, even though you may not agree with her or like what she has done. 

This Mother’s Day, whether your mother is living or deceased, reflect on all the things for which you are thankful, even if it is only for one thing--that she gave you life


How do you honor your mother? This is the story in you. Share it.


Domonique 

Connect with me on Pinterest to view creative ideas about writing:

  • Why should you write?
  • How should you write?
  • The quirks of writing
  • When should you write?
  • What is writing?
  • What is a writer?
  • In what should you write?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Secret of Prayer, Part III

Tomorrow, May 7th, is National Day of Prayer. Its purpose is to encourage Americans to look to the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men” (National Day of Prayer Taskforce, 2015, Theme and Verse). 

The National Day of Prayer theme this year is “Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day” (I Kings 8:28).

As I have established in The Secret of Prayer, Part I and The Secret of Prayer, Part II, prayer is liberating and empowering, but why should you pray?

You should pray to open the door for divine interventions.
My knowledge and experience with prayer has been based on the Bible. John 9:1-3 offers one of the best explanations for why we should pray:

“And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” 

Instead of playing the blame game, see your challenges as opportunities for God to intervene. My parents taught my siblings and me how to pray bedtime prayers, grace before meals, and the Lord’s Prayer. But one of my first heart-felt prayers was during a time when my husband and I wanted to have another child, and we could not. I called—believe it or notThe 700 Club Prayer Center. Within a month, I was pregnant. It was not until after I gave birth to my son that my doctor told me about a medical condition I did not know I had. All the doctor could say was that I was lucky. I knew better. It was because I asked God to intervene, and when He did, my life changed. My belief in the power of prayer increased. Today, I volunteer in a ministry that has a 24 hour prayer center that people can reach by phone.

Praying is not difficult if you keep the following in mind:

Pray with honesty.
One of the pinnacles of prayer is that you must forgive before you ask for what you need and/or desire. So, ask for forgiveness for inappropriate actions and thoughts and for not doing what you knew you should have done.

Sometimes you don’t even know what to say or how to say it. So, just say what is in your heart. This can be as simple as Iyanla Vansant’s prayer:

                                      (OWN TV, September 14, 2012)

Praying with honesty means that when you do know exactly what you need, be specific.

Perhaps you need a little help like I did when I called The 700 Club Prayer Center almost 30 years ago. I wasn't sure if I had enough faith. I wasn't even sure of what I should say. So, I enlisted the help of someone whom I thought could help me.


Pray with confidence.
You pray because you have some degree of belief that you will get what you ask for. So, go all the way with it. Thank God in advance. Thanksgiving is a product of believing, and sometimes it will even generate a little joy.

But, be honest. One comforting passage I have had to rely on when my belief was not as strong as I would like is about a father who asked Jesus to help his unbelief:

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:23-24

To strengthen your confidence, I recommend reading about answered prayers in the Bible and talking with people who have experienced answered prayer. I increase my confidence in God by looking all around me. The world is so exquisitely made, that I cannot explain it with The Theory of Evolution nor can I explain it with The Big Bang Theory.




Pray with humility.
Mother Teresa said it best:

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

Prayer is communication. When you talk, God listens. When God talks, you should listen.


So, here’s the third secret of prayer: Prayer is life-changing. The visually impaired man in John 9:6-8 was able to see after Jesus healed him:

When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

Because God answered my prayer, My husband and I were able to have another child. This was life-changing. Not only did we have another child, but also I was awakened to the supernatural. My life has never been the same. I believe in divine interventions. I also remind my son of how his birth came to be.

Nevertheless, some prayers go unanswered, but these experiences are also life-changing. They make you examine yourself and your motives:
  • Did I confess my sins?
  • Was I humble?
  • Was my prayer honest?
  • Were my motives pure?
  • Did I forgive?
  • Do I believe?
  • Did I confess my unbelief?
  • Was I specific?
  • Was I thankful?

Because God does not limit how many times we can pray to Him, if you believe you are in error, make things right, and pray again remembering this:

"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust" Psalms 103:8-14.

Get started with prayer by participating in the National Day of Prayer. Pray for our nation, particularly those in authority.  

Then establish a habit of prayer by regularly praying for the world, our nation, your loved ones, and yourself. It doesn't matter where you pray--the car, closet, office, school, outside, bathroom, church, restaurant--just pray and inspire others to pray.


How has prayer changed your life?
This is the story in you. Share it.



Domonique 

Connect with me on Pinterest to view creative ideas about writing:


  • Why should you write?
  • How should you write?
  • The quirks of writing
  • When should you write?
  • What is writing?
  • What is a writer?
  • In what should you write?


References

National Day of Prayer Task Force. (2015). National day of prayer. Retrieved from http://nationaldayofprayer.org/

OWN TV. (September 14, 2012). Iyanla Vanzant's 3 personal prayers super soul Sunday. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZULiUuo9BA

Monday, May 4, 2015

How to Participate in the National Day of Prayer--May 7, 2015


The National Day of Prayer is Thursday, May 7th. Its purpose “is to mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture” (National Day of Prayer Task Force, 2015, para. 1).


                                    (BRaps, September 2, 2014)

It is a reminder of the foundation on which America was established; albeit, America has had to work on perfecting her righteousness. Over the decades, many of our government leaders recognized the need for prayer for our nation. A national day of prayer was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman, and President Ronald Reagan established the first Thursday in May as the official day to recognize a national day of pray.                                                      
                                                                                                 
This year, Dr. Jack Graham is the Honorary Chairman for National Day of Prayer.

(National Day of Prayer Task Force, February 9, 2015)


Dr. Jack Graham's Prayer for the National Day of Prayer--

"Heavenly Father,

We come to You in the Name that is above every name—Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our hearts cry out to You.

Knowing that You are a prayer-answering, faithful God—the One we trust in times like these—we ask that You renew our spirits, revive our churches, and heal our land.

We repent of our sins and ask for Your grace and power to save us. Hear our cry, oh God, and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may walk in obedience to Your Word.

We are desperate for Your tender mercies. We are broken and humbled before You.

Forgive us, and in the power of Your great love, lift us up to live in Your righteousness.

We pray for our beloved nation. May we repent and return to You and be a light to the nations. And we pray for our leaders and ask that You give them wisdom and faith to follow You.

Preserve and protect us, for You are our refuge and only hope.

Deliver us from all fears except to fear You, and may we courageously stand in the Truth that sets us free.

We pray with expectant faith and grateful hearts.

In Jesus’ name, our Savior.
Amen."                                            

(National Day of Prayer, 2015, National Prayer)


What you can do to participate in National Day of Prayer?

  • You can find an event by going to National Day of Prayer website, entering your zip code, and selecting an event to attend.
  • You can host your own event:
    • Set a goal: Do you want to pray specifically for America, her leaders, your neighborhood, your city, those who manage the organization for which you work?
    • Set a time.
    • Set a location: workplace, neighborhood, flag pole, nursing home, hospital, school, church, civic center, park, and/or correction facility.
    • Decide who will pray: Consider using Dr. Graham's prayer, inviting a member of the clergy to pray, or taking on the task yourself.
    • Announce it: Send out emails, texts, flyers, Facebook/Twitter posts, or make phone calls.
      • Get your neighborhood, church, children, and/or co-workers involved.
      • Purchase signage and t-shirts.
    • Decide on an agenda for the event (short or long):
      • song(s)
      • reading of scriptures related to prayer
      • the prayer that supports your goal
      • a word of encouragement to expect God to answer the prayer
    • Keep it alive: Don't commit to once a year. Instead, develop a community prayer outreach program with volunteers who go to nursing homes, hospitals, correction facilities, and recreation centers to spread the hope that prayer brings.
    • Start planning for next year.

How has prayer affected your life? This is the story in you. Share it.


Domonique 

Connect with me on Pinterest to view creative ideas about writing:


  • Why should you write?
  • How should you write?
  • The quirks of writing
  • When should you write?
  • What is writing?
  • What is a writer?
  • In what should you write?


References

Matty BRaps. (September 2, 2014). Cyndi Lauper--True colors. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXmaE0041Y0

National Day of Prayer Task Force. (February 9, 2015). Jack Graham on the 2015 National Day of Prayer. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OWdRxcvAyA

National Day of Prayer Task Force. (2015). National day of prayer . Retrieved from http://nationaldayofprayer.org/

National Day of Prayer Task Force. (2015). National prayer. Retrieved from http://nationaldayofprayer.org/