Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Chivalry still lives

It’s Thursday and I am thankful for kindness! My thankfulness was spurred today through something as courteous and simple as a gentleman opening the door for me. 

Two gentlemen in fact, held open the doors for me as I was leaving PANERA. Let me explain why there were two men opening the doors. When approaching a PANERA to enjoy their yummy food and drinks or whatever your reason may be, you first open the outer door and step inside to what is like a foyer and then you reach out to open the inner door which leads into the cafĂ©. Today, I went there to buy my favorite cinnamon crunch bagel and honey walnut cream cheese. As I was walking toward the exit with my purchase inside a paper bag provided by the cafe, I noticed that two gentlemen were on their way into the cafe but they paused in their walk in order to hold the doors open for me-- one man stood patiently by the inner door and the other was stationed by the outer door. I said a polite and appreciative “thank you” to both gentlemen as I walked through the open doors and headed into the parking lot where my car was parked.

It was during my walk to my car that I wondered why some women, decades after the feminist movement in the U.S.A., still become offended if a man holds open a door for you. I don’t understand why because it does not take away your rights as a woman, your dignity or your respect. It in fact pays tribute to who you are as a woman because it’s the gentleman’s way of acknowledging you as an important and valued person in society. I don’t know about you, but I see it as a sign of respect.

The feminist movement was very important in regards to creating equal rights to work and pay for women and giving ladies a voice and power in the public square that they were previously denied. I am grateful for leaders of the movement like Gloria Steinem and Germaine Geer and the pioneering work they did to improve quality of life in the U.S.A. for women. I believe a lot of good has come as a result of that fearless work. However, when it comes to simple courtesies like a gentleman holding open a door for a lady, I don’t see any wrong in it and I think it’s healthy for society.

Now mind you I don’t go looking for this courtesy—I’m perfectly happy opening my own doors and I am a very capable woman who knows how to take charge and solve problems on my own—but I admit, it always brings a smile to my face when men take time to open the doors for women and step aside so the lady can enter or exit the building. I think it’s sweet! It shows that chivalry is not dead and gentlemen who are respectful to ladies still exist! So yes, ladies we are perfectly capable of opening our own doors BUT if a gentleman wants to open the door for you and treat you like the priceless jewel you are then let him be a gentleman and treat you like a lady…just my advice, take it or leave it.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday: The Power of Prayer

It’s Thursday and I am thankful for the power of prayer to change people, circumstances, moods and minds! Heartfelt, persistent prayer to God coupled with faith in action can move mountains! 

I remember a day not so long ago (like a literal week ago) when I was up against a mountain—a metaphorical mountain of the mind—called negativity. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s the feeling, the words, the thoughts and experiences that mess with your mind and disturb your soul. It’s the situations that unsettle you, it’s the memories that bother you…it’s how you feel when your thoughts take a turn for the worst. 

However, it was a conversation between my pastor and I online that helped to lift the dark clouds of negativity that had descended upon my mind. The conversation began like this: 

Me: Please pray for me, I am anxiety-ridden and feel lightheaded
Pastor: praying now 
Me: thanks I'm just really stressed out...trying not to dwell on the negative 
Pastor: don’t negative thoughts won’t do 
Me: I know but it's a lot … 

I then went on to describe everything that was weighing me down—from the reasons certain people have assumed is the indisputable truth as to why my first big break in Journalism did not work out, to the hatred people have for each other simply because of the color of one’s skin and the stereotypes that surround the superficial appearance, to feeling like there was no one to talk to who would not only hear me but understand my plight—it felt like I was all alone in my despair and drowning in negativity. 

No sooner than I typed the last word in pouring my heart out to my church’s pastor, I received a phone call. It was my pastor and his wife. He asked me, “Hi Alexis, how are you doing?” Then before I could answer he said, “We know how you’re doing and we would like to pray with you.” My pastor prayed for me over the phone and I could feel the stress being released through the tears that started flowing like water bursting through floodgates. After the prayer, I told the pastor how I appreciated it and as the conversation concluded, I pressed the “end” button on my mobile phone and was once again by myself. But now I knew I was not alone because God was there and He answers prayer. 

Life is beautiful. But life is also hard. There are days that we go through things that make us not want to go on. But there are also days that make us feel grateful to be alive. And no matter how hard or easy life may get, we need to always remember these truths: God is love. God loves you. God is eternal and so is His providence for you. What does this mean? A few simple facts: You are never alone because God is with you. If you need help, know that you can call God through His wonderful gift to us called prayer. 

How do you pray? From the heart—pour out your deepest desires, present your problems, go to God in your time of need. The Bible says in the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 4/verse 16, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” 

I love that verse because it reveals so much about the character of God. Look at these key words: “boldly,” “gracious God” “receive his mercy” and “find grace to help us when we need it most”. These words are key to your confidence in prayer because it tells us: 

1) GOD is NOT AFRAID of HONEST prayers!

2) God exemplifies grace and mercy so He will NOT kill you for entering his presence (through prayer) uninvited (Reference: It was said in the Bible story of Esther that no human on Earth, not even the queen could enter the presence of the earthly king who sat on his royal throne UNLESS they were summoned and to do so without being summoned could mean losing your life). Thankfully, the King (GOD) who created the heavens and earth, gives us an open invitation to approach His throne and hear from His Heart. 

3) You will find mercy! Translation: God not only HEARS you but He UNDERSTANDS what you’re going through and He is willing and ready to pardon your sins and help you get back up on your feet again. 

4) Here’s where grace and mercy collaborate—the Bible says we will “find grace to help us in our time of need” which means God hears your prayers, He understands your unique situation and He WILL answer your prayer according to His will (what’s best for you and others). 

The power of prayer is amazing! I have seen lives change through people who when the storms of life arose, went to God in prayer and found not only solace but answers. Now the key  to remember is, it (the answers) may not always happen in your life exactly when you wish but here’s a surefire saying passed down through the generations in my family—“God may not come when you want Him to but He’s ALWAYS ON TIME”! 

Can I get a “Hallelujah, Amen”? 

I hope this post encourages you to press on in your individual journey and to, if you have not already, seek a saving relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ (The Way, The Truth and The Life). He is your Savior, Redeemer and the Truest friend you will ever find on Earth and in Heaven.

Now you know I cannot close this post without sharing a song, right? 

I would like to share with you music by Wayne Watson, a Christian recording artist who sings the song, “When God’s People Pray.” 

May God bless you, protect you, surround you with His love and keep you in His care.



Monday, January 7, 2013

Asking God to hold your heart

You know, when I first heard the lyrics to this song "Hold My Heart" by Tenth Avenue North, I was a bit offended. 

"How DARE they talk to God like THAT?" I thought in self-righteous indignation. 

But THEN I got older and LIFE HAPPENED and after hearing this song again today, I realize that I have talked to God like that! I have been guilty of questioning him along the blatant lines of "God WHAT are you DOING?" when I just don't understand. 

Oh but don't you know, God's Word (The Holy Bible) says that God's ways are NOT our ways! Isaiah 55:9 tells us about God's mind and methods when it says (written like God is speaking): “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." 

So today was one of those days when I was filled with questions for God. But then tonight as I listened to this song, I realize that God hears me, He's right here with me and He will hold my heart and I choose to trust Him even when I do not understand.