Character: Next Right

When you are a person of character, you won’t question IF you should do the right thing, because you’ll know the right thing must be done.

Character is proven in moments of difficulty or trial when it’s easier just to walk away. Character is sustained when a crisis arises, and criticisms and ridiculed may be at their worst. Character is deepened each time the right choices are chosen, regardless, the sacrifice or struggle that may be endured.

Ask yourself today, “Are you a person of character or a person of reputation (conformity)?” Do you stand alone to make the right choice, or will you bend and sway like a daffodil, depending upon the wind and waves to guide you?

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Character Screams

A man or woman of character may not be numbered with the most popular, the most fashionable or the most affluent in the crowd. He or she may very well have each of these, but these won’t be the first assets he/she will seek.

This person will have deep roots, gentle eyes, and a soul that is anchored in peace and in truth. When gossip is given, her deep roots will sustain her. When chaos arises, his gentle eyes will see purpose and promise. When the storms of life threaten to overwhelm, the depths of her soul will not be shaken, for she knows where her strength rests.

People of character draw people of strength to their side. They live with purpose, promise and even preparation for the good and the bad, never relying on carnal and material things to be their refuge or their guide. They reside in a place of security, hope and freedom.

You will not have to question if he or she is a person of character, because what they do is not impulsive; it is a lifestyle.

Character will reveal itself through every action you take. It is the one thing that speaks louder than words. When you are the most silent, your character will actually scream to the world of its existence.

… What kind of character are YOU? …

Beautiful. Classy. Timeless. What every icon should be…

paigemadisonmckinney.com/2018/12/28/my-top-5-style-icons-and-why/

To Ponder

To me, pondering is like a rolling tide, swirling in loads and loads of seashells and sand. It’s like falling back into the deep, fresh fallen snow, sinking lower and lower till you almost have to dig yourself out. It’s the billowing clouds above shifting and turning with the wind, the jet streams drawing one near while sending another away. It’s the swirling of autumn leaves as they gently fall off the oak tree and spin and twirl toward the dirt in a waltzing dancelike motion.

You see, I ponder things. I wonder. I analyze. I muse. I imagine. I postulate and theorize until all facts and thoughts are gathered and brought to conclusion, and resolution, yet, attempting to not assume, surmise or conjecture. I meditate on scriptures, contemplating their meanings for my life and the course I might take. I cherish memories and reminisce of days gone by, how things were, how they might have been, and, sometimes, even how they should have been if the outcome was less than desirable.

It makes me think of the scripture spoken of the mother of Jesus, “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) I am by no means aligning myself with Mary, as she was much more meek, humble and chosen. Yet, I think of how she might have pondered all the wonderful things about Christ, even from his birth, and I aspire to be like that. She seems to be a woman who pondered and mused the things that happened to her, to her family and to her children. She seemed to be a woman of deep thought, possibly even, a woman of few words. Taking things as they come, adjusting as she must, and living life with faith and strength through the good and the bad.

Yeah, I think I’d like to be like that, a person of that same character. And so, I ponder. I treasure. I cherish. I reflect. I nurture and cultivate the thoughts and happenings around me. I study, deliberate and reason why His Word tells me what it does. I pray these wonderings lead me deeper and deeper in my walk with Him.

So, I will ponder.

Will you?

17 Years … Have We Forgotten?

Written yesterday, on the 17th Anniversary of 9/11…

Consumed with memories today…

I will never forget the feelings as I sat on the bed in a hotel room in Cleveland, Tn, on this day 17 years ago. We were in town for a funeral, and I was holding JGrizz in my arms. He was only one month old. My mother knocked on my door to tell me what happened, and I didn’t believe her until I turned on the news. I sat in disbelief, shock, fear and grief as I watched all of the events play out. It felt like a nightmare, a terrible, never-ending bad dream.

How could this be happening in our nation, America, the home of the free and the brave? It was so overwhelming; it was almost hard to breathe. We went to The Blue Hole (a beautiful rock filled area on the Ocoee River) later that day just to try to collect our thoughts and the gravity of what this horror meant for our country.

Then, just days later, I watched with pride, honor and respect as men and women began pulling together as communities, people of all races, backgrounds and walks of life began looking past themselves to something bigger: the rebuilding, the protection, and the defense of a beautiful nation. Firefighters, police officers, welders, construction workers and so many others would come in droves from all over the country, on the backs of big rigs, stop at red lights in NY and be cheered on by the business men and women who were waiting to cross the streets to try to carry on a “new normal” workday. The builders rebuilt and mended the broken walls while the New Yorkers tried to make some semblance of understanding of their, now, broken city. Hope was slowly seeping into every crevice, chasing away the shadows, as love ones were pulled from the ruble, as small miracles were found along the way.

Everyone went the extra mile, wanting to leave no one behind. Everyone worked hand in hand, side by side, to restore the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness upon which this nation was founded. Bravery, chivalry and just sheer, raw, unapologetic guts and strength were applauded that day and each day thereafter.

It was a horrific tragedy, an unimaginable crisis that brought this nation together that year, because the pain, destruction and new purpose for healing was bigger than any trivial opinion, any mindless political jargon, and any petty argument brought about by boredom and self-exhalation. Let us NEVER FORGET what happened that day and the days, months, and years that followed. Let us never be so consumed with the frivolous manic speeches of today’s media and the inessential accusations and fallacies that it takes this kind of world shaking for God to once again get our attention as a nation.

Pray now, church.

Let us NEVER FORGET.

*I do my own not possess either of these pics. Found in a simple google search.*

A Trade Off

Sometimes, I have to remember that I don’t have to continue in my weakness, thinking somehow, it’s going to magically turn into greatness. When the Scripture says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13) that’s what it meant!

I am only strong when I admit my weakness and allow Christ to rule and reign in my heart AND in my actions! I am only refreshed when I throw my weakness into His greatness! I am only encouraged and able to carry on when I release my pride and stop pretending to be strong and realize I am only strong because of Christ living inside of me!

Thank you, Jesus, I don’t have to muster up some pretend faith to be a valiant warrior when I am just a truly, the warrior is a child. Thank you for trading my weakest moments with Your strongest power! Thank you that you are able! You are faithful, and You are strong! ❤️

Like a Bomb or a Flower?

I saw this photo the other day, and it made me think about its meaning…

A flower is…

Beautiful. Delicate. Created by the Master Designer. Needs water, soil and sunlight to grow and survive. Some grow perfectly on the windowsill while others flourish in a great garden. Some attract bees, insects and spiders, but most all invite a gentle touch, a sweet smile and a deep inhale and exhale of stress relief. Some open up with beauty in the early morning hours and close up to shield their fragility as the sun sets. Some can weather the worst of storms and then be crushed by the tiniest of hands.

Flowers can represent friendship, love, jealousy and celebration. They can bring healing with their fragrance and comfort with their beauty. They can bring joy to brighten a home and peace to a grieving soul. They have even been known to bring healing to an ailing body and peace to a tearful spirit.

A bomb is…

Intense. Intriguing. Resilient and steadfast for the moment. Needs human hands to be created, moved or altered. Needs nothing to remain as it is, only a man’s touch to flip the switch. Once set, it is just as fragile as a flower under a combat boot. Some are extremely complex. Some are too simple to be described. Some are designed by madmen, while others are constructed by a genius of authority. Some are made to bring harm, while others are invented to protect the innocent and defend the weak.

Bombs can represent danger, fear, desolation and destruction. They can also present honor, courage and perseverance through the darkest of nights. They can’t bring healing, but the when used properly, they can bring deliverance from fierce enemies. They can’t bring love, but when executed with precision, they can bring guardianship against terror. They can’t bring peace, but when stored and presented with life, liberty and pursuit of happiness in the forefront, they can create almost a holy hush that no one dare to unravel.

As a woman, I will choose to be both, a flower and a bomb. Yet, the only way to be perfected in each of these is to be submitted to and placed within the hands of Almighty God. For, He is the only entity who controls the air I breathe and protects the ground on which I walk. He is the only Deity who can bring gentle restoration to the bones and a fierce security to the mind, all in the same nanosecond. Within my own strength, I can be too breakable and too dangerous for anyone’s well being; yet, with His divine wisdom, I, and all those around me, are safe within His grasp, because of His eternal love, grace and justice.

Be Resilient Like a Chicken Nugget

Friends and I were laughing as one shared the hilarious story of “slinging food” at her children on a Wednesday night on the way to church, because as a school teacher, she leaves school at 4:45, goes down the road to pick up child #4 drives across town to pick up her other day three children and husband from home, drives through fast food to get everyone chicken nuggets and make it on time to Wednesday night church! 😂 We all laughed till our sides hurt as she shared all the “mom tactics” to having children clothed and in their right minds with a dinner in their tummies, and her own self in her right mind; so, they could behave and have fun while in the evening program. One of the statements she made was, “Let me tell you. Those chicken nuggets are resilient! They bounce off windows and don’t splatter. They are easy to handle for little fingers. You can get the 20 for $2.50 and have change to spare, too!”

It was such a comical moment, and, honestly, I’m not a great fan of chicken nuggets, but our kids loved them in their early years, and that simple statement made me start thinking…

Chicken Nuggets ARE resilient! We could learn a lot from that little nugget…

1. They are crunchy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. It’s ok to have a little tough skin to survive through life’s ups and downs, but be sure to stay soft on the inside. Keep your heart humble and your soul full of grace and love. Don’t be so tough on the outside that you harden all the way through. Nobody wants to encounter all that.

2. They don’t fall a part easily. In this day and age, we’ve got to have a little strength to who we are to survive. We can be, and need to be, cushy soft on the inside to bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patient and with those other fruit of the Spirit. However, all the hyper-sensitive, can’t disagree with someone for fear of “hate speech” actually makes us a weak people and a crippling nation. Toughen up, people. Be resilient and live life full of strength and grace!

3. They come in large quantities for inexpensive prices. Be able to give the good parts of yourself away to lots of people and don’t be too demanding of what they give back. Now listen, I’m not giving you permission to be used and abused. If you tend to be a doormat, please understand, this point isn’t for you. What I’m talking about is giving your love in a hug, an encouraging word or time spent with a friend. I’m talking about sharing laughter, making a memory or spending time with those you love. Share these things in large quantities, and don’t be demanding of a condition to be met for you to share it. People need to know you care.

4. You can’t eat just one. Be the kind of person who is contagious, magnetic and engaging to those around you. Be the sort of friend others aspire to be. Be the type of leaders others seek after. Be the person of whom others just can’t get enough.

5. They are great in just about any sauce or condiment. Diversify your tastes, your likes and your knowledge. Extend your horizons. Learn something new. Try, taste, or even listen to something different than before. You never know, you might like it, and you may even find a new friend along the journey.

Yes, It Matters

So many hurting souls, wondering if anyone cares. So many broken hearts, believing no one is there. So many desperate minds, consumed with empty thoughts. So many lonely bodies, searching for someone who can’t be bought.

Too many children losing their innocence in the mire. Too many mommas overwhelmed with competition and strife. Too many daddies forgetting where their home is. Too many elders forsaking legacy for the abyss.

They ask if their heart is worthy. They desire for more and get less. They pursue the instant pleasure, never realizing their prison cell. They seek for answers, for value, for meaning. They receive nothing but words of demeaning.

Hear me now.

I scream it from the mountaintops. I write it on the wind. I paint it in the sunset. I sing it through the waterfall.

Your soul matters to the One who created. Your heart is full of strength and value. Your mind can, by Him, can be easily understood. Your body can be full of vitality and livelihood.

Hear me now.

Yes, It matters.

YOU matter.

Penned – MG – 7/02/18

The Sweet Perfume

Over the last month or so, I’ve been trying to get consistent with walking daily through my neighborhood. I’m not crazy consistent, but I’ve definitely done better than before I started. Ha!

Our neighborhood is beautiful, and it has plenty of curves and hills; so, I feel I’m getting quite the workout, and the whole thing, all cul-de-sacs (5) included, is just shy of 1.5 miles. So, I try to make 2 loops, which gives me right at 3 miles. Woohoo!

The weather was absolutely perfect today. The humidity was extremely low, and the temp was maybe in the high seventies by the time I stepped out my front door, right at sunset, to try and get in a full 2 loops of walking before it was too dark. I asked my youngest son to go with me; so, I wouldn’t be by myself, and he wouldn’t be left home alone. So, he rode his bike alongside, while I walked. Well, to be more accurate, he rode past me and waited at the top of the hill before crossing the main road while I tried to speed walk to catch up! Lol! 😂

We crossed the road and proceeded to the other side of the neighborhood and down the hill. The sun was shining; the birds were singing, and the breeze was blowing just a bit; so, it felt glorious as I tried my best to catch up to my son who had coasted and proceeded to fly, down the moderate incline to the next cul-de-sac.

As I reached the cul-de-sac, the most beautiful fragrance reached my nose, I closed my eyes, and it was as if I was transported right back to my 5th grade year and my 10 year old self. I was standing in my front yard taking in the beautiful fragrance of the giant magnolia tree standing 100 feet tall (or at least, that’s what my 10 year old, little girl mind believed). I remember standing beside that tree, climbing way up in it’s branches and, sometimes, just staring up at it for hours, believing I was just as big and strong as that lovely green giant.

When it bloomed, we would take down one bloom at a time, bring it in the house, set it in a small bowl of water, and place the bowl on the dining room table, letting the fragrance fill the house. We would repeat this everyday, as the former flower would begin to wither, until the tree had no more blooms to share. It was glorious.

As I made my loops through the neighborhood today, I would pause beside that big lush tree each time, savoring the wonderful aroma, while cherishing those sweet childhood memories, and then I’d continue on my way to finish the tiring, but rewarding, three miles before dark. I even had my son go by and savor the beauty, hoping he would make a little memory, too.

As I finished my walk, I was reminded, again, of the sweet perfume of the beautiful magnolia tree, and I thought of several sweet friends who are walking through a tough journey right now. Their journey is hard and painful, and it even seems to grow a little darker at the moment; yet, they hold on tight to their faith, and we all hold onto the Hope, believing a brighter day is just around the corner for them.

That Hope is sweet perfume in the midst of struggle. That faith is the sweet fragrance of the magnolia tree in the midst of the sweaty, tiresome walk they are walking at this very moment. And I know, as they hold onto their faith and that blessed Hope, one day soon, this journey is going to be but a memory, with those sweet fragrances of the magnolia tree, to remind them of His grace and love in the midst of their storm. 💗

Be encourage, sweet friends. Enjoy the fragrance of beauty along this most difficult journey, and know I am here praying for you, and believing for your brighter tomorrows!