Let yourself enjoy

Let yourself enjoy the moment you’re in, the place you are, and the things you’re doing. Let yourself enjoy the life you have right now.

It’s great when you work to make life better, richer and more fulfilling. But don’t ever give up the chance to enjoy all the goodness you already have.

The more fully you enjoy this day, the better tomorrow will be. Instead of indefinitely putting off your enjoyment until some idealized time in the future, experience enjoyment at every opportunity.

You don’t need for everything to line up in a certain way in order to enjoy yourself. All you really have to do, is make the choice.

Instead of judging each situation, each person and each activity, make the choice to give of yourself. Give your joy, and make the moment truly enjoyable.

Joy instantly makes life richer and more satisfying. Go ahead, right now, and let yourself enjoy.

— Ralph Marston


The Birth Of The Hymn “PRECIOUS LORD”

Take My HandBack in 1932, I was a fairly new husband. My wife, Nettie and I were living in a little apartment on Chicago’s south side. One hot August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis where I was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting. I didn’t want to go; Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child, but a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis . I kissed Nettie goodbye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.

However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, I had forgotten my music case. I wheeled around and headed back.

I found Nettie sleeping peacefully. I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay.   But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with my music.

The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me to sing again and again. When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram. I ripped open the envelope….
Pasted on the yellow sheet were the words:

People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out.
I rushed to a phone and called home. All I could
hear on the other end was “Nettie is dead. Nettie is dead.'”

When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. I swung between grief and joy. Yet that same night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little boy together, in the same casket. Then I fell apart.

For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn’t want to serve Him anymore or write gospel songs I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well. But then, as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis. Something kept telling me to stay with Nettie. Was that something God? Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died.

From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him. But still I was lost in grief. Everyone was kind to me, especially one friend. The following Saturday evening he took me up to Maloney’s Poro College, a neighborhood music school. It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows.

I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys. Something happened to me then. I felt at peace. I felt as though I could reach out and touch God. I found myself playing a melody. Once in my head they just seemed to fall into place: ‘Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn, through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.’

The Lord gave me these words and melody, He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power.

And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.

– – – –Tommy Dorsey

For those too young to know who he is, Tommy Dorsey was a well-known band leader in the 1930’s and 40’s.

Did you know that Tommy Dorsey wrote this song? I surely didn’t. What a wonderful story of how God CAN heal the brokenhearted!  Beautiful, isn’t it?

Worth the reading, wasn’t it? Think on the message for a while.


My year of tears

My year of tears

Until recently, I was a stoic who never showed her emotions. Now they’re spilling out, and my children have noticed

Like most mothers, I have wiped away buckets of tears in my time. My daughters came into the world squalling, and they’ve been doing it consistently ever since. Through scraped knees and overstimulating birthday parties and games of Chutes and Ladders gone horribly wrong and friends moving away, they’ve always been good at letting their feelings out, secure in the knowledge that Mom would be there with a Kleenex and a hug. But over the last several months, I’ve been the one doing most of the crying. And I’ve found myself in dark new territory, caught between the imperative to set the good example of expressing natural emotions and an instinctive desire to shield my children from life’s harshest knocks.

Until fairly recently, the only time my kids saw me reduced to sobs was during the final minutes of “Up” or “Charlotte’s Web.” Then, in fairly rapid succession, I got cancer, one of my best friends got cancer, and two members of my family died. It’s been waterworks ever since. And my kids have been right in the front row for a lot of them.

The thing about going through a tumultuous time is that you don’t just cry when you’re waiting for lab results or filing out of the church at a funeral. No, you pretty much need to throw away your mascara for the foreseeable future — unless you enjoy looking like the winner of a Marilyn Manson look-alike contest. When Scotty McCreery and Tim McGraw sang “Live Like You Were Dying” on the “Idol” finale, I cried. When, after months of tests and interviews and portfolio reviews, my elder daughter got her acceptance letter from the middle school of her dreams, I cried. Flight delayed? Cry. Doctor’s appointment? Cry. Intense yoga class? Cry. Picking out Mother’s Day cards in the Duane Reade? Cry. Cat hugging a kitten video? Cry. Cry. Cry. The last time I could produce fluid this easily and copiously, I was breast-feeding.

This is all new territory. I grew up in a reasonably stoic family. My grandmother never cried and my mother very rarely — and then only for a short duration. If you’d asked a year ago how often I took a trip to Crybaby Town, I’d have said once in a while — and even less frequently around the kids. Now? Let’s put it this way – all it takes is a slight lip quiver for my elder daughter to issue a “Mom’s feeling her feelings again” warning to everyone within earshot.

Fortunately, crying isn’t the same as being depressed — and it’s definitely not the same as being negative. Half the time, I’m crying because I’m just so goddamn happy to be healthy enough now to watch my children perform in a school play or run around the park, so glad to watch the seasons melt into each other. But the other half of the time, admittedly, I’m busy grieving or experiencing the terror of mortality, with an occasional side of physical pain. And all of the time, I know that crying represents a surrender of control, a vulnerability that can be confusing and upsetting to children. That it is a signal that all is not right in their protected world of childhood.

My daughters are lucky to have a loving circle of adults with blessedly bright-side dispositions. No matter how intense things have been, no one has checked out on them. Lunches have been made, bedtime stories told, vacations planned, and their own fears reliably consoled. We are all, throughout everything, committed to living as gratefully and joyfully as possible.

Yet my kids have seen not just me, but their father and their grandmother, moved to tears at the sudden, unlikely moments. They’ve watched the adults around them — their parents’ and grandparents’ friends whom they’ve known all their lives — with their guards down, sobbing helplessly on each other’s shoulders. We have abruptly found ourselves long past the days when the most traumatic thing that could happen to them would be to discover who’s really been filling their Easter baskets and slipping dollars under their pillows when they lose a tooth.

At times, I worry terrifically about scaring them. I have spent their lives telling them that it’s OK to cry, letting them feel safe about expressing themselves. But there is a huge gulf between their emotions and Mommy’s emotions. Mom’s job is to be strong and reassuring and tell them it’s OK. And that’s not so convincing when she’s going through a few quarts of Visine a week.

Behind my frequently welled-up eyes, there’s a woman who struggles daily over just how honest to be. Do I march out of the room and hide in the bathroom when a jag comes on? Or do I let the kids put their arms around me in comfort? Am I teaching them empathy, or burdening them with things far too big for little girls? I haven’t figured it out. I just try to be sensitive to where they are on any given day and do my best. I try to assure them that if we’re crying because we miss Grandpa, it’s actually a hell of a lot less sad than if we weren’t crying, because we didn’t.

When you have children, you want to protect them from every sorrow in the world. But life doesn’t always cooperate with that plan. Instead, mine have of late been thrown into the chaos of loss and pain and I couldn’t stop any of it. And they have learned that one of the side effects of cancer — Mom’s and everybody else’s — is an uncontrollable need to get a good cry on.

But the other day, when my 11-year-old offered to clean my surgery wound, a routine chore but one that still requires daily maintenance, I told her no. “I can handle it,” she said. I told her I knew that. “But no matter what happens,” I said, “I’m still Mom. I take care of you, not the other way around.” On this I’m very clear: The children stay children. They don’t need to fix the grown-ups.

In less than a year, my daughters have experienced a lifetime of fears and anxieties and griefs. But they also witnessed a stunning outpouring of kindness and compassion, and have experienced so many moments of pure, radiant grace. Because of everything that’s gone down, in profound new ways, we all love each other more deeply. We hold each other more tightly. And though my daughters know now, in a way I wish they didn’t have to, that the world can be scary sometimes and that moms and dads cry too, I hope they’ve learned also that tears themselves are nothing to be afraid of. They just mean we’re feeling our feelings.

Less Dogma

Less Dogma

If you have a silent spouse have you ever wondered why? One husband said, “it’s because every time I share an idea, she pounces on it and tells me how wrong I am.” His wife’s perspective was that she simply wanted the freedom to disagree when she thought he was wrong. What she did not realize was that she was striking at his self-esteem.

We discovered that if she would share her ideas in the form of a question rather than a pronouncement, he was less defensive. “What do you think about this perspective?” was very different from “I disagree with you. That’s simply not true.” Learning to share your ideas with less dogma may open the road to more meaningful conversations. It’s worth the effort. Give it a try.

Life is Precious

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

Why does a mom—even a dad travel hundreds of miles to be at the bedside of their daughter or daughter-in-law, as they deliver their grandbaby? When an infant enters the room in it’s mother’s arms, why do people stop, stare and adore the little one? Because life means something—it is a gift of God that reminds humans of His glory and goodness.

When we look at a newborn’s feet, we see the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. When we hold their hand and count their fingers, we feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit. And when we look deep into their innocent eyes, we see the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, reminding us of His infinite existence. God’s glory glows through His divine handiwork.
Almighty God’s creation begins at conception where He instructs in wisdom and faithfulness. The Lord’s school of salvation is in session through nine prayerful months. The mother’s baby knows he or she is loved and cared for by Christ. And sin is aware of this holy force of faith in God, even as the life of the baby takes shape in the warm womb.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place” (Psalm 51:5-6).

Therefore—life is precious—because God says it is precious. It is precious at conception. It is precious through all three trimesters and birth. It is precious as a child learns to walk and talk. Life is precious when they go off to pre-school, learn how to read, ride a bicycle and drive a car. It is precious through dating, college and marriage. Life is precious in middle age, the golden years and death. Praise God, life is precious in the eyes of eternity.

So, as a child of God, praise Him for the grandeur of His glorious creation—formed in the womb and birthed with glad tidings. A spiritual life honors physical life. It’s when the spiritual life is neglected that physical life is neglected and marginalized. God-fearing people fight for the life of the unborn, the born, the handicapped, the orphaned, the diseased and the terminal. Life is precious for those who love Jesus and who are wise to His ways.

“Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name” (Isaiah 49:1b).

Do I value life, as the Lord values life? How can I humbly and prayerfully protect life?

Related Readings: Psalm 71:6; Isaiah 49:4-6; Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:14-16

Get out and stay out!

I see people from different areas, neighborhoods and surroundings in this city, who get free from drugs; alcohol; abusive relationships or other forms of bondage. The people will begin to move in a different direction and their lives take a turn for the better. However, at some point many of them go back to the place where the trouble started; they return to place where the pain began. After a short period of time, they find themselves doing the old things that they used to do; hanging with the old people they used to hang with and they go back to the same person they used to be. In some situations, we must ‘get out, and stay out!’

When you read Matthew 11:21, you see where Jesus had spoken about the judgment Bethsaida would receive for rejecting the Messiah.  The scripture tells us in Mark 8:23-26, that Jesus had come to Bethsaida, where they had brought a blind man to Him. The Word continues to say that Jesus took this blind man, by the hand, and led him out of the village, Bethsaida, before healing him. This blind man was removed from this place before he received his healing and his deliverance.

Sometimes it’s where you are and who you’re with that stops your blessings from flowing; your healing from coming; and your deliverance from taking place. Maybe it’s time to come out!

The scripture goes even further to tell us in verses 25-26 that the man received his sight, but then Jesus told him not to go back into the village. In other words ‘Get out and stay out!’ Sometimes in order for you to get what you’re seeking, and keep it, you must ‘get out of some places; away from some people; out of some environments, and away from some temptations. And once you go, you can’t go back; look back or turn back! It’s time to ‘get out and stay out!’

It all comes down to, ‘how bad do you want it?’ Look at some of the things that you have been trusting God for. Review the prayers that you have been waiting for Him to answer, and then look at where you are; who you’re with and what you’re doing….Is it time to leave? Is it time to go? Will you let Jesus lead you away from whatever is holding up your breakthrough and your blessing…… He’s reaching for your hand, just like He took the hand of the blind man. He’ll lead you out if you let Him.

But once you get out….You’d better stay out!

“And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.  And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.” Mark 8:23-26

Love somebody today who doesn’t love you; doesn’t care about you; won’t repay you, can’t repay you and doesn’t want to repay you…then you will be treating them the way God treated you…
A Bondservant of Christ
Rev Toni-Brooke Brown, Pastor
God’s Storehouse
18301 John R
Detroit MI 48203
313 867-1234