Grateful to Live and Love

Yesterday as I was driving down I-20 at home, an unknown object was thrown from the car ahead of me and caused some serious damage to my truck and windshield and definitely shook me up (after looking, I believe the brownish object I saw was a brown beer bottle, perhaps empty). It was today in reflecting on my state of gratitude (because so many things could have happened that didn’t, I’m alive with no hurts and my truck will be fixed with relatively little out of pocket expenses to me Hallelujah), that I realized the first quarter of this year with the word "live" as my focus has produced gratefulness within me about where I am in life. I am not all the way where I want to be yet, but I am grateful to look at life from a glass 3/4ths full perspective (that’s usually how much I fill a cup) and I know that through everything that lies ahead, my life is still going upwards.

I realize that for the majority of my life, I was looking at life and everything that happened to me through a lens much like this same cracked windshield. I saw things as pain, punishment, suffering, and truly all things that happened, were things I brought on myself in some way or somehow deserved (twisted right). For so long my mind was under constant attack by the enemy. Knowing what I know now, I see that the devil was plotting a grand scale attack, years in the making, so that I would be crippled for years to come to become who God desired me to be. But thank God for having His hand on me and loving me enough to not allow that fate to manifest! The truth is that the devil does that to all of us. Ephesians 6:10-12 tells us that it is our minds that are the proverbial battlefield, not the physical things we face. All it takes is for the enemy to plant a thought in your head to cause you to succumb to mass hysteria in some form and his plan to thwart your manifesting God’s plan for your life is well on its way. And it worked for me for many years. I worried and stressed and cried and overanalyzed every single thing…to the point that I already talked myself out of whatever I was believing God for in less than 5 minutes sometimes. But for deliverance and healing from that, I am truly grateful. To live and be able to fight back knowing that God has already won for me is the best revenge.

I have shared with you all that my scripture focus for this year is John 10:10. I say it to myself as a confession almost daily to remind me of what I am to stand on in faith. I have truly come to understand what it means to have life to the full, till it overflows, lacking nothing. Living life to the fullest was impossible for me pre 01/01/2015. I was still so determined to control every aspect of my life. Now, I know I will do it, and manifest everything God wants from my life because I have given Him the reins to steer and lead me where He wants.

It is like God has performed open heart, mind, body, and spirit surgery on me, pouring into my heart the things I needed to give me confidence, strengthen my faith and reassure me of His plans for me. I no longer am consumed with the things that the enemy was using to keep me bound. I have moments like everyone does, but I have put out APBs for any thoughts that linger to contradict God’s promises for me. I am happy now and excited for the things that lie ahead and I trust that God has it all worked out for me. For that I am forever grateful. I have gone from mouth of the south to Selective Sally Sleuth, divulging my deepest secrets and desires to God and whoever He leads me to share with and I have gone from just being a hearer and sometimes speaker to a doer. I owe it all to God.

Living isn’t just going day to day doing the same mundane things. Living is getting in the trenches and getting dirty. It is a hands-on process. Living is faith for me…because I trust that God will continue perfecting me day to day, bringing those things that I need to work on to my attention. Living is a gift for me, and I love my life now. It’s amazing how losing friends and deepening the relationships with those I already had has blessed me. The old Marquita was deeply hurt when people left me or God revealed a need to let a person go. I now recognize that people’s transitions in and out of my life are just them making room for better and more fulfilling relationships, whether lasting for a season or a lifetime. I have disconnected from social media (I used to check them multiple times a day to now only going on Facebook maybe once a week or so) and in disconnecting, I have reconnected in a deeper way with those that count the most. It’s also truly amazing how God has used 4 little girls under the age of 3 to truly grow my once cold heart from the size of a raisin to what I believe is a normal sized heart now through witnessing and being a part of their lives. Experiencing their successes and being a recipient of their love has done more for me than what I thought any person could do. God has used the purest form of love to revive me, taking me a brokenhearted girl who looked to other broken people to fulfill my needs to someone capable of loving myself and others because God chose to love on me in an unimaginable way. Of course some of these things have been in the works for a while now, but its in seeing the fruit being born in my life that I truly am grateful to God. I no longer get upset when I cry because my tears are often of joy and laughter. He has used those tears to wash away the hurts and bring me back to life.

It is only April. I can’t wait to see where I am by my birthday as I begin a new decade. Countdown to 30 in less that 3 months!

Lessons in Integrity

The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! …"
2 Samuel 12:1-7

Thursday I received a message that dug into the depths of who I am. For several years now, I have been praying to be a woman of integrity. I am thankful for this season of reflection and unlearning and growth so I can really take note of what God wants to show me. As it relates to integrity, the lesson was two-fold: it really helped me to look at my relationship failures and to look at myself with the magnifying glass to acknowledge how I have fallen short in this area.

I learned that integrity is more than just giving the cashier back the extra money she accidentally gave you. When you think of callous and evil people we often think of people who cause wars or victimize children and women. Yet, we don’t think about the men and women behind the Enron scandal or Bernie Madoff. We don’t think about our slick-tongued politicians or even some people purporting to be our pastors for that matter. But God does.

I realized today that I am proud of the progress I have made in becoming a woman of integrity but I still have some improving to do in this area. I specifically remember situations where I have padded difficult truths with white lies (I was thee queen of telling a guy I had a boyfriend because I wasn’t interested — if you went to school in the AUC it seemed like the only way a man wouldn’t call you out of your name or get unnecessarily aggressive with you), or avoided telling someone something they needed to hear altogether (like: you have a victim mentality and I don’t wanna listen to your problems anymore or leave me alone, your prying is getting on my nerves), which caused me more hurt. I have been on the receiving end too, like people telling me they would do something and then not showing up, or being lied to about being cheated on, or one of my favorites, being called a hypocrite behind my back but smiling in my face. As I went through the questions in "The People Factor," I could really see how God has protected me by removing certain people from my life. (Honestly, the tidbit I’ve shared here does not do this chapter any justice at all…or the entire book for that matter.) I can also see how those relationships were doomed to failure from the start because the people involved, myself in particular, did not demand integrity.

The author shares the story of David and Bathsheba and the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. These are two of the greatest offenses that God personally addressed. Here, with David, He spoke through Nathan the prophet and with Adam and Eve He spoke directly to them.

As I think today, if God spoke directly to me about my own offenses, would He be pleased? Would He be pleased with you?

It makes me think about the parable of the talents. If God can trust you with a little, then He can trust you with a lot. I want God to be able to trust me with allll that He has stored up for me. Fortunately, I am grateful to see the changes He has made in me, especially my growth in the area of integrity. He has made me more comfortable having difficult conversations, and He has given me strength to accept those hard truths (about myself and others) and put on my grown lady undies to actually address those situations. I trust God to get me where He wants me so that I can ultimately be the woman He called me to be. I suggest you read The People Factor if you’re ready for an honest look at yourself and to evaluate you and your relationships. I’m grateful to say that God has me on the right track.

At the end of the day, let God make you a man or woman of integrity. Don’t miss out on God’s best by settling for less than you can give. Don’t sit on the sidelines to your life while others take from you. You do have a choice. Choose to reflect Jesus to the world as you begin (or continue) your walk of living with and in integrity.

There was a man in the country of Uz named Job. He was a man of perfect integrity, who feared God and turned away from evil. Job 1:1