“Little Becomes Much”

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http://www.npr.org/2014/11/21/365433685/if-we-left-they-wouldnt-have-nobody

If you haven’t,  please listen to the story above. 

I am so grateful for these young men. No, there wasn’t one of my family members in the facility, but it could have been. Isn’t it something how GOD can use something in your past that the devil meant for evil, to help someone else!?!  Miguel Alvarez talked about how his parents had abandoned him. He remembered how it made him feel. That was the reason he couldn’t just leave the residents like the other employees had.

These men, one hired as a cook and the other as a janitor probably thought they were hired just to do that job, but at just the right time GOD equipped them to do the job of a whole facility from the doctors on down! These men were put there for a purpose.  This wasn’t a job they just happened to get.  GOD had a plan. All they had to do was be willing and able.

You may not be where you think you should be in your life and it is keeping you from doing what GOD wants you to because you don’t feel qualified. Did you know that my GOD is a qualifier! ! GOD doesn’t need your degree our your money in your account! He used a cook and a janitor who helped more people than they probably know. He is waiting to use you in that job that you feel is just a dead beat job and is not going anywhere. Work that job like you own the place! Maybe one day you will!

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is blessed to give than to receive.
Acts 20:35

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Psalm 138:8

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.   Colossians 3:17

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

 

“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”

I was talking to a friend not to long ago about my living with lupus, and the subsequent complications due to lupus. Growing up I had a plan for my life. I knew I was going to go to college one day. I planned to become an english teacher, and a part-time journalist.  I would get married  to a wonderful man, have 2 children, a girl named Lillian and a boy named Brandon,  travel the world and retire on some fabulous beachfront property where I would spend my days surrounded by all things that I love. None of my plans involved lupus, however the Lord had other plans for me.

I never planned to end up in Huntsville, Al. I am a Cali girl, from Riverside Ca, and I wanted to attend a state school. I knew that my family would not be able to pay for my education.  Oakwood College  ( now University) was an option, but not necessarily the highest on my list of possible college’s. Oakwood is a small  historically black Seventh Day Adventist school in Alabama. However, regardless of my plans, in the late summer of 1996 I was packed and ready to go to Huntsville.  I would have never imagined what the Lord would allow me to go through.  If I had known I would have run far away from Huntsville and Oakwood, and been unable to handle what the trials he would allow me to go through to save my life.

I grew up in the church. My mom became a Seventh Day Adventist when I was 3 or 4.  I can’t remember exactly when, but I remember her receiveng bible studies in our living room. I remember their was an evangelistic tent effort that happened to be right next door to our home, and I can still hear the sound of the preaching through our windows at night.  Once my mom joined the church, she became very active.  We practically lived at church! I knew right from wrong. I knew bible verses, and could sing all the favorite hymns. I was baptized in my tweens, and thought I knew who GOD was.  The thing is I knew who GOD was, but I didn’t really KNOW him.  I had heard what he had done in the bible, but I couldn’t say I could see what he had done in my everyday life, or those around me.  Even though I “knew” him, I never saw his hand on my life, and how his only plan was to save my life, so he could save my soul.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school. I could have stayed home, and attended a school in the city, but for some reason I was not aware of, I boarded that plan that August of 1996 to a place I wasn’t sure about, and really didn’t have plans to be.  I was traveling far from home, to a place that would become my new home; the place that would prepare me for his show of power in my life.  The “Oakwood Experience” isn’t anything that can really be put into words. It is more than the music or the history.  It is a community of believers that become like family.  It was here that I began to “know” who GOD was.  I craved to see him work in my life.  I have many testimonies of how he provided a way when there wasn’t any.  There were times I would get calls to show up for pictures for scholarship winners. I was too  afraid to ask to many questions in fear they would think they had the wrong person. One time I did ask another recipent and was told they all applied for their scholarships in the financial aid office. I knew I had not been to the financial aid office to apply for any type of scholarship! Actually out of all the scholarships I received I NEVER applied for them.  I wasn’t a super fantastic student. I surely wasn’t one they would hand out scholarships to without me applying first. Many times I would be told that I needed to go home because I didn’t have money to clear.  I knew that was not an option. I didn’t have any money to get home, so I had no choice but to stay and pray the Lord made a way. Sometimes I only ate once a day because that is all I had unless a friend would smuggle food out of the cafe for me.  One day I was in desperate need of money to buy books.  I had gone a long time without buying books. I did all I could by writing excellent notes, and borrowing from my friends.  It worked out because we were pretty much taking the same classes.  The problem came when I started taking classes for my major. Most of my friends were biology majors not English or education majors.  I  remember one time I was $40 dollars short of what I needed for a book. I was walking to my bible class. Usually at this time I was never alone.  There were always other students either going to, or coming from class.  This day I didn’t even notice I was alone. I saw something out of the corner of my eye blow across my feet.  I looked down to see 2 crisp $20 bills. You would think all of these miraclous miracles would be enough for me, but it wasn’t.

I started dating my husband in 1998. I had been in a year long relationship, and wasn’t really looking to be in another relationship.  I decided that I would spend that time getting to know the Lord better and focus on my school work.  I REALLY wasn’t checking for him!! He of  course has his version of the story that of course is a half truth, just in case it ever happens to come up in your conversation with him.  Really I wasn’t, but the Lord knew who I needed and when I would need it.  We dated for a while, and soon he became enthralled with my beauty and intellegence and couldn’t help himself. He proposed and I said yes!  The spring of 2000 I was taking 17 hours, working 2 jobs and surviving on the bear minimum. I am a worrier. I have been this way my whole life. If their is a problem, I will drive myself crazy wondering  the how, when and why. I need to find some way to fix it.  I worry about not being able to fix it. I worry about what will happen if it is not. I need to take care of it or nobody else will.  I worry about things that are clearly beyond my control. I hate to even depend on people because I feel I can do it all myself. It was no difference doing all I was doing, and trying to plan a wedding on a limited budget  for the date of August 13, 2000. I was doing a lot at the time. I even started working out.  I thought this was the reason I was so sore. I thought I was just really out of shape.  This went on for a couple of weeks until I came down with what I thought was the flu right before finals; the worst possible time.

I was in the hospital for almost 2 weeks before they finally diagnosed me with lupus. Up to this point I had never expirenced  any health issues this serious.  Here I was, flat on my back with no way of fixing anything; my health, school work, keeping my job, let alone planning a wedding.  Even though so many times GOD had made a way for me I still had to have my own back up plan just in case he decided he didn’t want to bless me. Though I had grown so much in my spiritual walk, I hadn’t totally surrendred to him, and still didn’t tottally trust him with my life.  It is crazy to look back now and not clearly see how many times the Lord had his hand on my life. I never noticed how GOD had snatched me from the web the devil thought he had me in. I mean he had set up things so perfectly to take me out even back then. I could be a drug addicted prostitute, locked up in jail, and could have died in my sin never knowing that GOD loved me so much!! The enime had fixed the deck to give me just the right amount of sadness, and to put the right people in my path  he thought he needed to excecute his plan. He even introduced me to a pimp and had him come over to my home, and made sure I was in his for a whole summer, yet he never propositioned me, or noticed the sadness in my eyes. Later I found out he had got a hold of one of the neighborhood girls who was also my friend.   We were both 10 at the time.  He probably was  betting that I would just give up, or blame GOD for my lupus diagnosis. He probably thought he had finally won, however, GOD used lupus to save my life!

Lupus is a debilitating disease. It slowly steals away everything you thought to be true. It steals your confidence, your independence, and everything you thought you had in a matter of weeks. I began to physically change.  I didn’t know who I was looking at in the mirror. My body would not listen to what I wanted it to do. Then I find out that lupus flares are related to stress.  This means, if  I worry to much, or try and do to much on my own I am in danger of having a lupus flare. Did you hear me? Me, the worrier , who always had a back up plan, who always was trying to find my own way out of situations and do things all on my own was now diagnosed with a chronic disease that has NO cure !! If I resorted to my comfort zone of doing what I needed to do and making my own plans regardless of what the Lord had in mind, was now in a situation where I had no choice but turn it ALL over to him. I had to trust him!!  I needed to learn that because he was planning to take me through some steep dark valleys, and if I didn’t learn to trust him tottally, I would have never made it out. I wouldn’t know he was a healer and a deliverer. I also wouldn’t know he had a way when I had none. I didn’t know that he would allow me to be his miracle. I also believe that if I had not been diagnosed so many years ago, in the spiritual state I was in, I wouldn’t have been ready for what he planned to do in my  life. Yes, lupus has taken so much from my life, and caused me so much pain, but I couldn’t say that if it did not happen I would have surrendered to him.  He had to strip me of all I knew. It wasn’t until then I was able to see clearly how he had his hand in every aspect of my life, holding back the devils snare. I could clearly see the times  he stepped in to let it not be. Yes, I continue to carry this burden for the past 14 years, but it does not equal what he sacraficed for me. I know he has always loved me, and even when I spit in his face, he doesn’t give up on me.  He did what he had to do to speak to me. He did what he had to do to save me.  I am now attentive, and forever grateful.

Brandi 🙂

 

 

 

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“Imagine Me”/”Flaws And All”

Scrolling down my Facebookwall today, I have seen the same picture over and over again.  It is a post baby pic of Kim Kardashin in an ill fitting white bathing suit. I know many of you have seen it as well because it seems every form of media has posted it or is talking about it.  While I admire how quickly she has been able to shed her baby weight and return to her beautiful curvy figure, I can’t help but think about the sabbatical we have had for the past 10-12 months not having to be bombarded by pics of her on  instagram in varying states of undress, and how much I have enjoyed it. She is a beautiful women but geesh! Scrolling further along, I see an article about a young girl that was found in the middle of her crowded high school cafeteria giving oral sex to another male student.  Though these articles would seem to be two unrelated stories, they sadly are very much the same.

I have to admit, throughout my childhood and my teens I didn’t love myself. I liked myself, but I didn’t love myself.  I had body issues, hair issues, daddy issues, clothes, money, boys; all the issues that come with growing up a little brown girl under the California sun.  I really didn’t learn to love myself until I was in college.  For the most part I was comparing myself to the other girls, (who probably had the same insecure issues I had) in my jr. high and high school. It wasn’t the Gwenyth Paltrow’s on the red carpet, or the stunning Beyonce’s entertaining the masses, or the Kim Kardashin’s in every magazine on every shelf in the grocery store check out line. Though  at the time I felt I could never have all the things my classmates possessed, everything they had, or looked like they had was some how obtainable even if I didn’t know that then.  Even in their school yard perfection they still had a zit or two, had lipstick on their teeth, or bad hair days every once in a while.  I was able to see that the “princess of the ball” was sometimes off her A game just like me.  Even though I didn’t love myself, I liked myself a whole bunch.  Liking myself filled in the gaps of my insecurities until I could learn to love who I was.

I think about my nieces and I know that already in their young lives they are already being indoctrinated about what is beautiful and what is not. Unlike me their young minds are already barraged by the flawless perfection of societies idea of beauty. Unlike me, they are not shown bad hair days, zits, or any form of imperfections. All they see are impeccable photos that have been doctored beyond recognition, or the glamorous life of celebrities that is idolized on tv or social media.  It makes me wonder will they ever learn to love themselves.  Will they ever learn to even like themselves?  Will they constantly compare their self worth to an unattainable apparition that doesn’t exist. I pray when they realize that they can’t attain this false perfection they see around them, they don’t look for it, crave it, from other means. I pray they don’t look for that love from a bottle or a drugs altering haze. I pray they don’t look for it in a boy, whose love is conditioned on what she can do for him.  I pray they don’t look for it in an addicted obsession of body dismorphia.  I pray they don’t seek attention using their body as currency. I pray they grow to love themselves and all their imperfections because they are unique, special, wonderful individuals who are carefully and wonderfully made by a perfect all loving GOD.  I want them to grow to love those things that make them different.  I want them to know they are very extraordinary girls and they are loved, because there are so many little girls who have never heard this, and so many women who have yet to believe it. By birthright, you have always been “the princess of the ball”!!

Brandi 🙂

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“For Every Mountain…”

My friend Kristen posted this on facebook. This story really touched me. Even though our diagnosis is different our story is the same.  Please keep this young lady  in your prayers.

 

(Thanks Kristen)

 

Brandi 🙂

” Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes”

I am 33 years old and to this date I have yet to have “the talk” with my mother despite the fact I have been married for 11 years with two kids.  I don’t know if it slipped her mind or she just hasn’t got around to doing it but for what ever reason I am still waiting.  ( Like I am still waiting on my purple biker shorts from the 5th grade that I paid for the material and pattern because she said she could make them, rather than just buying them like I should have done.)  I relied on the sex education class for all 5th and 7th graders, and my friends to learn the ins and outs, no pun intended, of sex and the changes that began to happen to my body.  For what ever reason we were so excited to grow up and to begin to see the manifestations of it in our bodies.

Well the time has come for me to prepare my children for the changes in their bodies. I have two boys ages 9 and 11 (12 in a month).  We had “the talk” with them about a year or so ago.  It took much coaching from me to get my husband to sit them down and explain it all.  He was so not ready, but it was time and I didn’t want them to find out in the streets like I did; especially since they are boys.  I wanted them to get the correct information, not the information Ray Ray or June Bug would tell them they saw through the key hole of their uncles bedroom door.  Ever since they were babies I have always used the correct terminology of the male and female anatomy. There were no wee wee’s or pee pee’s around here.  They knew that they had a penis, and girls had vagina’s, even though they had no idea what a vagina was.  It took many  many corrections and conversations of  “mommy doesn’t have a vagina penis” .   So my husband sat them down while I listened from the back room.  He did a good job, very quick and to the point.  I thought it best for him to talk to them rather than me.  It can already be a very embarrassing conversation.  I came out when he was done to see  if they had any questions they wanted to ask us.  It didn’t quite click to our oldest right away. when he finally understood he looked at my husband with absolute disgust and said ” Daddy, you did that to mommy!!!”  We could barely contain ourselves!!  When you think about  it you grow up with just you and your genitals, then all of a sudden your parents tell you what you will someday do with them…what they do with them. Lol!! It’s sometimes hard for us adults to even think about our parents having sex even though we (hopefully) do it all the time.

Now  my son’s are at the age where they are in the beginning stages of puberty.  Their pits are zesty to say the least, and my oldest is checking everyday to see if his adam’s apple is visible to anyone other than him.  The hormones are kicking in and so is the attitude. (Lord help me to hold out.)   Their bodies are starting to change, and girls are becoming noticeable. Before long I will have two more men living in this house…Whew, I belive it is time for a refresher course!!!

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