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The Day of Atonement – Entrance by the Blood (Part 3)

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The Bible Philes

Abraham Heschel refers to the Day of Atonement as Judaism’s holy of holies in time.[1] This day is the most sacred day of the holy calendar. It occurs on the 10th of Tishri, the first month of the civil year and the seventh month of the ceremonial year. A day of fasting, it stood between the two great feasts of Pentecost and Tabernacles. It was on this day that all the sins, transgressions, and iniquities of the people for the entire year were covered over. It was on this day that the high priest entered the holy of holies with blood on his hands.

Jesus Christ died that we might come alive to God. He suffered the banishment of heaven that we might bask in the presence of Almighty God. It is only by His blood that we are able to enter in to the holiest place and…

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Thankful Thursdays

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I am learning to be content and to live fully, no matter what. I am currently reading Ann Voskamp’s book, ‘One Thousand Gifts’. She has found the often illusive secret to living a life to the full for the believer. When I am battling some crazy life circumstances I get shifty and really want out. I just want to sit down and wait it out and then I will … whatever -live the life, dream the dream, work the plan. But, it always seems just beyond my reach. Then I reach down deep and declare that I need a big old dose of Jesus come quickly and it lasts sometimes for a few hours and others mere seconds. I cannot remember at the moment how I stumbled upon her book but I am glad I did. I am intrigued when others share their journey experiences and help other navigate this often rutted road we travel. 

It is amazing to me when I have read a scripture passage and memorized it and still fail to fully see grasp all that is there in plain sight. One of my favorite books of the Bible is Philippians. Right there in the fourth chapter and beginning at verse 11. I sail through the familiar words… I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (12) … I have learned the secret of being content in any and ever situation… (13) I can do all things through him who gives me strength. Now you probably rushed through it as well but Ann implored me to turn around and look. I mean really look. She called to my attention to the fact that this contented life is a learned behavior. And I love the way Paul peppers this scripture with words like any, every and whatever. Those words just turns over all the rocks in the garden leaving no hiding place. So now that I have to learn this behavior of being content, and brother Paul is inspired and adds verse 13 because he apparently knew me! Yep, only through Christ will I be able to have this behavior/heart changed. Voskamp presses onward to dealing with joy, thanksgiving and grace and this is all masterfully packaged up to page 39. I needed prayer and a three hour nap when I got to this, “thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life”. After my nap, I move a little further and realize that she really, I mean literally became thankful in all things and she begins to number them. Now at first I thought, aw cute. But now I’m sensing her transformation as she writes her thankful note to 243, 244 and 245 on page 55. I flipped further back in the book to see if she actually made it to 1,000 and I AM NOT TELLING! I will not spoil it for you but I will share my gifts every Thursday right here on this blog. Each Thursday will be Thankful Thursdays. I am not merely looking to make a list but to indulge in His perfect grace and goodness. -the one who gave and continues to give all. 

We Remember

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September 11, 2001, we -Americans, remember when terrorism arrived on our soil in such a brutal and forceful manner. This event caused us to unite, embrace and converse. But, we are a nation who quickly forgets tragedy; and as we gradually head back to the ebb and flow of our lives as before. No longer being transformed. But today, after mass racial tensions across the nation, hurricane Harvey (Houston) and currently hurricane Irma (state of Florida), we remember but will we allow ourselves to be transformed for the good of mankind long termed? 

I had the opportunity to visit the Pentagon last week and visited the 9-11 memorial. Just as few pictures to share. Please view them and remember …

Value – Connecting With Others

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I have had the blessing of leading a team of approximately 60 people including departmental managers, vendors and maintenance personnel. After six months I reflectively looked back at my goals and accomplishments and found that I was not making desired connections and had not helped anyone move closer to their desired potential in a measurable way. I was managing business well -streamlining processes, training and developing employees to improve company standards … blah, blah, blah. I could not tell you a single thing about most of my staff. No idea what their interests, family values, desires, dreams, plans, or anything outside of their jobs. My job is what I do and not essentially who I am. It was my job to drive profits and manage well. It is my purpose to serve and lead whoever God sends to cross my journey of life. Here is a group of sixty people and I have neglected to reach them in a way that is meaningful to them.

The goals for the next six months were:

-pray for them, their families and their jobs

-connect with each department head everyday, whether by word or deed or touch

-take a break when other employees are in the break room -be accessible

-acknowledge birthdays

-be mindful of employees who walk or bus to work, especially when weather is bad

-see who is reading what, potential readers, book club?

-who plays sports (kids play sports)

-thanks, thank you -are great but finds other words to show gratitude (I appreciate you) but be honest and transparent, they can see a phony a mile away

Tall order and lots of moving parts but enough for me to remember to focus and connect with others. One of my teammates was mentally challenged and everyone would talk loudly to him. After watching and purposefully talking with him I found out a few interesting things about him. He was not deaf or hard of hearing, he enjoyed a military career until he suffered from a ‘nervous breakdown’ and was honorably discharged. He was married and had recently had to put his disabled wife in a home as he was no longer able to care for her. He rode a bike to work everyday and then would take the bus to see his wife. He was meticulous with his budget and lived not above his means. He and his wife loved to watch movies together and he was knowledgeable of foreign films 😱. One day I said to him, each day you come to work I want you to tell me a fact about movies I don’t know. He quickly replied, ‘that’s not fair or fun. I do the work and you reap the reward’. Stunned, I said well what do you suggest, sir? He and I agreed that he would tell me a line from a movie and the next day I would tell him what movie did it come from. It turned out to be a lot of fun and others got in on the action as well. Connecting with him in a way they had never done before. Once at the end of his shift he and I were leaving at the same time and it was pouring rain. He asked, ‘is that your car over, Miss Gwendolyn’? I said yep that’s my beast. He relied, good cause me and my bike need a ride home and your suburban can get us there. This made me laugh hysterically. We loaded the bike and headed to his home. After that myself and two others took turns ensuring that he got to and from work in inclement weather.

So you see leadership is about moving and making a difference with people. My staff began to evolve and interact with each other. They also began to find solutions with each other before involving me. Many of them had some really great ideas and you bet we used some of them. There are many experiences I could tell but that will make for one long post. My overarching point is that leadership is rarely focused on the leader. The leader reaps blessings from the gratitude and growth of those in his charge.

I need a moment …ok?

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After a long and taxing day. It was finally time to head home and relax. Per my planner, I had just enough time to grab dinner and my Mentee and be home by 6:15pm to work on the new quilt project. Getting into the car I received a text …’don’t want Chinese. Think I want those sausages in the freezer. My response text was … ok. Cool. Then text two came from person two … I think I will eat those burgers in the freezer. My response … great!
As i am getting into the groove of my ‘The History Hour BBC podcast on Nike and Sweatshops’ (exciting! I know!) and while sitting at a red light for the third cycle, in comes text three … can you bring hotdog and hamburger buns home? My response …nothing -because I am seething! They are home … I am still trying to get there. Couldn’t one of them have easily gone 1 block to the store? And then I thought, well I am out and will pass by a few stores so I can stop. Plus I was going to stop and bring Chinese anyway. So I finally text back …sure.
Still in traffic, seething (yep, I am back to where I started), tired, hungry, hot (a/c works when it feels like it) and just want to rant (let me see, which of the three gf’s will it be😊). I knew I needed a time out because an adult temper tantrum can seriously ruin a day! I wanted to pull into a parking lot and take a few minutes to get myself under control but I was still hungry, hot and tired; plus there were people waiting on buns, a Mentee to pick up, dishes to clean, laundry to wash and a project to worked on. Annndddd … I sat through another light cycle at a different light. Finally drained and had nothing else to give, I aimed for the next restaurant. Dragging into the restaurant like a zombie, I take a seat by a window and say a prayer of thanksgiving. I was truly grateful to be in a cool, bright place with someone else cooking my dinner and bringing it to me and the ability to pay for it. I still felt guilty that there were two people waiting on those buns.
As I sat there, listening to my podcast and enjoying my meal, I actually began to unwind and feel refreshed. I dared myself to look at my watch. I smiled at a few people and played with a baby that was overjoyed with life and … ordered a milkshake! Leaving the restaurant, I stopped at the next grocery store I came to and … yes, you guessed it; there were long lines and I had a pack of hotdog buns. A miracle happened -a cashier open a line just for me! No, no, not just for me. He was a manager who walked out and saw two long lines and said, ‘I can take guests on three’! Several of us made a mad dash to his lane as if Saint Peter was closing the gates to heaven and never to be opened again. I left the store and made it to pick up my Mentee by 6:15pm and was home by 6:25pm. Yes! Triumphant! And I’m feeling good! My Mentee and I walk inside and hand over the buns and head upstairs to start or quilt project. A voice stops us … ‘did you get only hot dog buns? You didn’t get hamburger buns? And, without a word, I grabbed my Mentee’ hand, turned around, walked down the stairs and out the door to the store that is one block from our house.
I didn’t say I had a perfect life but I do have a life that is worth living. So glad that in spite of my plans, the Lord orders my steps and gives rest, even when I do not think it is ok to take a rest. Oh! And that gourmet meal with impeccable service and friendly babies … guess.

To Be or Not To Be

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When mentoring, I want to make sure that I am setting the example and that I am always listening and hearing my Mentee clearly. One of my mentees is bi-racial and has hair that seems to ebb and flow with the tides. It is gorgeous and shrinks according to the different levels of humidity. It can be down her back one day and up near her ear lobe the next. It is curly in some places and coily in others. But what it is not -is straight! And that is exactly what she dying to have. Once after getting her hair flat ironed to the level of straightness that she desired, she came home, showered, got her hair wet and POOF! Massive curls again! We laugh now but it was sheer meltdown then. Those massive curls were back to stay and she honestly had no idea what went wrong. Her mother, several friends, and family members have straight hair.
My girl is in crises mode. She wanted and identified with straight hair. So being as good-natured and fun-loving as ever (not), I decided to get some books and magazines on the hair struggle and come up with some ideas and new methods to battle the whole ‘black hair struggle’. After several trips to the bookstores and hours pouring over Pinterest and YouTube, my girl was still struggling and skeptical of the whole free to be natural movement.
One weekend, after getting myself ready for 2.5 days of hair preparations and re-braiding, a thought occurred to me -my example of hair was contradictory to what I was trying to get her to see. I kept my hair in braids because … I did not like my hair. The truth is that I braid it to hid it and not to deal with it. I see clearly now that she and I are sitting on the sidelines watching and sulking. So, the braids came out and did not go back in.
Did I struggle? BIG TIME YES!!! And I still do a little. But here is what I now find fun and unique about my hair -it changes! No one at work ever knows what they are going to encounter when they see me. My looks are so versatile -even I do not know what I am going to get. My Mentee is now experimenting with her hair (yes this is a process that is never done) and LOVING IT FINALLY. She stated that when she returns to school, it going to be interning to see how all the girls with straight hair get to wearing their hair perfectly straight and she will have a different style everyday. I am not allowed to show pictures of her hair yet. I will share a few of mine after the braids.

Glorious Sundays

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Relaxation, reflections and reading are all how I try to celebrate the Sabbath. I am trying to whittle down to no electronics on that day as well. For me, reading online translates into time spent meandering sites; unfocused, uninspired reads; and blogging attempts 😎. I would like to slide into Monday renewed, refreshed and rejuvenated. I have a plethora of books to indulge and plenty of paper to write on. My ultimate earthly favorite sabbath would be to be RV’ing the Blue Ridges Mountains somewhere. Just sitting at a site and sharing a bible study with complete strangers. Until then, my backyard will have to do.
My reflections today are upon the riots in Charlottesville, the issue of religion in schools in Canada and upon the apostle Paul (Acts 21 -yep riots were in times of antiquities as well) and our 4th grade discussion in Sunday school this morning. Sometimes there is so much going on in my mind and in the world until I simply must walk away from it all and walk with the One who knows all, sees all and bears all. It is heart wrenching to interact with fourth graders who are watching world events unfold in front of them as they try to understand these things with their limited fourth grade minds. Minds that should be focusing on joy, toys, games, friends and learning, are now dealing with things that could detrimentally impact their view of eternity. Each Sunday, I try to give them a couple of biblical truths that they can carry with them throughout the week. It is vital to pray for our children without ceasing. I pray that they do not worry and stress over what they can see but grow to full knowledge and understanding of what they can not see. It is in this realm of the unseen that we find the true battle, fight and victory. What we can see is only a physical manifestation of what we cannot see or what we Christians know to be the spirit realm. It is vital that we pray ‘with’ our youth, teach our youth about God’s truth. It is equally important that we live lives that exemplifies what we believe to be God’s Truth. We can not simply think that going to church on Sunday and Wednesday is enough if we live contradictory to those two days on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Our youth are smart and observant and hear what we say but -it is what we do that they will actually see, feel and remember.
Yes, I teach fourth grade Sunday school and I mentor girls of about the same age. I hope that God uses me as an instrument in their lives for his kingdom purposes. I am not focusing on the crumbling world around us but on the youth that are looking, watching, seeking, growing. Pray over and for children returning to school. Use lunch breaks to pray for our nation at large. After dinner, take the time to pray for your family, household, job, circle of influence. It is time to pray! The question is …will we?

It’s A Family Affair ❤️❤️❤️

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There are three of us siblings. One brother and two sisters. I am the oldest. A few weeks ago, I hosted a Shrimp Boil & Fish Fry and my sibling were in full attendance and servitude. But this is not unusual for us. We are an increasingly rare breed. We actually 'like' each other and get along with each other. There are no arguments or squabbles. That does not mean we always agree and when we were growing up we did have squabbles because kids are … well … hmmm … selfish! We all wanted our way at some point.
If we were all together with our spouses and kids you will see that there is ALWAYS laughter and food. We can also do LOUD like no other. Surprisingly, when we are in our own homes, we are very quiet people. My house can be so quiet it's spooky sometimes.
Anyway, back to the boil and fry. I invited 32 people to join us (my hub & I) this year and 30 showed up😳. We worked on the backyard tediously for weeks to get it where we wanted for our guests. There is not a lot of prep work in food preparations because this is all put together as guest arrive because each family had to bring a bag of large raw deveined shell on shrimp. This is a little tidbit my brother (the baby) did not understand. Since he and his family arrived that morning they were helping to arrange and set things up and run errands. I sent my brother to the store to pick up 4 pounds of dressed catfish and 3 pounds of spot, all wild caught -that I had ordered earlier that day. Upon this he just assumed that this amount of fish would not be enough and he proceed to buy enough shrimp and fish to feed a small country🤣. When he returned, guest had begun to arrive and bags of shrimp were piling up. I looked at my brother and husband and said 'man, we have more shrimp than we need and everyone is not here yet'. And brother simply said, I just got some extra so we would not run out. I replied, 'well, I already had two bags in the freezer and when each family brings a bag it will be more than enough. Plus I've got 5 pounds of catfish fillets in the frig'. Now he finally gets it! We still have shrimp in the freezer weeks later! Then a thought occurred to me … did he really think I would invite all these people and not have enough to feed them? Rather than entertain that thought, I settle on the fact that he saw a need (lack of something) and set out to fill that need without fuss, grandiose, or negative thought. That's ❤️.

Now let's focus on sister, she is always the life of the party. We will not be bored if she is around. That is, until she falls asleep -lol. She calls me suga mama. She texted me stating it was supposed to rain and if we needed to get a rain plan since the invitations stated that we would only cancel for a hurricane. She was right. It poured and it was awfully muggy, humid and sticky. And no one would get to use the backyard we worked so hard to prepare and use my she shed I worked to finished for the ladies. I noticed my sister sat in one room and was rather quiet and I decided not to push her by asking my 'I'm the big sister and you ain't acting right questions'. Turns out, lil sis was sick and didn't want me to focus on her but on my party. Again, that's ❤️ !
Between the three of us, we have five children. My hubby and I have three god daughters and a host of mentees. Our children returned to the area just to share in this event. When teenagers and young adults want to return home to family … that's ❤️ .
In the morning, when I rise, I realize that I am blessed.
When I look into the eyes of each of you, I realize that I am blessed. I will maximize each moment I have with each of you. I will pray for you, love you, honor you, respect you. I will not intentionally hurt or harm you with my hands or mouth. You are important to me but best of all, YOU ARE LOVED BY THE KING.

There’s No Place Like Home

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I grew up in the Mississippi Delta. We ate foods that were grown in the backyard garden. But I also have childhood memories of other foods that I must have when I go back. The first is hot tamales and the second is red wieners. I have gingerly tried to make these southern wet and spicy hot tamales but did not put forth a real effort. Since it is a dying art, I think I am going to try to replicate what my memory holds from so long ago
They are labor intensive but so worth! It is one of many things I would like my family to remember of me. This will become a part of my legacy
Now the the memory i cannot reproduce and do not need to. This is strictly an occasional treat and I am so glad I cannot get these in Virginia …
I eat mine with loads of mustard. This is only a little mustard in the picture. Lol.
It is remarkable how a smell can send a memory flooding back to the front of our minds. Some are good and some are bad. Whenever I am in one of my tight spaces I would love if the promises of God would immediately come flooding back to my memory to remind me of God's goodness and love. Sometimes I am right on point with the promises of God and there are other times when I wonder where is my faith? But I am so glad that my shortcomings does not change his love for me ❤️