Birth and Growth

Concept, model, product, and launch. Each step requires an open, pliable mind with the ability to envision a future that has never existed before. It is an exciting yet frightening place to be. It works completely on FAITH and PASSION. I have had many of these beautiful opportunities in my life. There is another name for this process that most people would completely understand: LABOR and DELIVERY or the even more emotional name BIRTH.

It is amazing how one word creates an emotional response. BIRTH. When I think of that word, I feel queezy. I remember the feeling of being an expectant mother. I remember the confirmation of conception. A baby was more than a thought or desire now. The model was in the process of being built. I remember counting the weeks and understanding the growth that was happening inside me. What an awesome miracle! I was growing something that was a part of me but would one day live independently of me. Isn’t this true of any new creation–not just of human life?

I am experiencing the next step in this growth experience now. Allowing my baby to grow and be empowered by people other than me that I trust to care for it. You may think I am referring to a child, but I am actually referring to a post-secondary bible school. Can I confess that I have a lot of the same feelings that I did of leaving my child with someone other than me? It’s actually quite an interesting experience.

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Thank you to Pastor Lorna Burch for her work on developing a beautiful logo/shield for us.

How It All Started

In October 2015, I was approached by my pastors (River of Life Church), Raymond and Lorna Burch, to oversee the creation and development of a post-secondary bible school to serve the southeast Georgia region. It was only a glimmer in their eyes at this point. I accepted the call and went to work to create what would be one of the most significant contributions of my life to date. Southeast Georgia Bible Institute (aka) SEGA Bible Institute (or SEGA for short) became a reality. With a vision of “Building the Kingdom & Equipping the Called” in January 2016, an extension campus of Life Christian University (LCU). SEGA began with a passionate core of 19 (17 in-class myself included and 2-distance)  students with a heart for ministry and desire to grow in their knowledge of God and His Word.

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As Campus Director, birth has occurred and now my baby is developing. Crawling, walking, and soon to be running. I remember each stage clearly. Every step was new territory because I had never built a school before. I had never contributed to the lives of 20 (including the instructor see above) in a way that would have a long lasting spiritual impact. Even as I type those words, I shutter to think of just how BIG that is, and I feel so grateful to be called for such a cause.

2017 grads

Holy Spirit reminds me that even as big as I felt it was for year one that we are now in year three. Of the 20 people (including instructor see above), a few students moved on, but the remaining begot others. In year two, we added 19 new students to the roll (see below).

2017 SEGA

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Of those a few moved on, and the remaining (see above) again begot 24 more students for a total of 44 students (and 3 instructors – 2 with LCU Bachelor of Theology degrees; 1 with LCU Master of Theology degree; 1 Campus Director with a Master of Organizational Psychology/Consumer Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and an Advanced Diploma in Theology from Southeast Georgia Bible Institute/LCU). Wow, I just realized that means there are 48 people involved in our school (students, instructors and campus director). We’ve grown 250% since year one.

Sharing Responsibility and Control

This is where the discomfort begins. Of course, growing to this size required me to begin empowering others to work along side me in the school’s development. It is impossible to grow and stay the same. You will implode. When your project/baby begins to grow, you have to make a decision. Am I power hungry and have to have complete control over everything myself? Or do I love my project/baby so much that I want what is best for it, which is to empower trustworthy people to help me continue to grow it even further?

The first step was pretty easy. The host pastor’s and I started an Admin Board for our school of students from various levels and school leaders who together handle planning, school promotion, and decision-making. We have three students earning ministry practicum by ensuring a video is recorded their class for those who may want to review the video again or who may have been absent. There is a student earning ministry practicum for rendering, uploading and maintaining the video for all of our classes.  There is a student in each class earning ministry practicum for providing administrative  services to their class, and one (maybe two) who I am grooming to be able to double for me one day. Right now they are providing school-wide administrative services and overseeing the operations of the school during class hours.

Trusting the Process

All of that delegation seemed easy enough until it was time for me to walk out the front door for the first night. Now, I am taking a role of pastoring our students through their school journey, which does not require me to be there beyond the kick off of classes. It was time for me to allow those who share my passion to do their part. I felt like I was leaving my baby for the first time with a sitter. I did all of the things that a parent would do in that situation. I offered to be available by phone or text if they needed me. I left a comprehensive list of things they may need to refer back to since they were new. I checked in many times throughout the night. It really is so strange how closely this parallels the parent experience.

Week two, I didn’t go by the school. I touched base through our class admin feed. I’m trusting everyone to follow written instructions and to learn what works best for them in their own space. I am totally okay with them finding their groove as long as that groove collects all of the mandatory data we need for our main campus and serves our students with the highest integrity and excellence. I believe I have a group of people dedicated to do just that. They are here for the same reason I am. To build the Kingdom and equip the called. What a purpose we have!

Now, I am able to exhale. There were no calls from the hospital or from EMS. My baby grew by one-fourth of a course, and now by half a course (they just ended class two as I was writing this blog post). Still fruit that I birthed, but growing in family support from my brothers and sisters in Christ who are committed to being fruitful and splitting branches off of this same tree. I can only imagine what God will do to grow us next year using the 48 that we have now. What will we beget next year?

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Coffee with Mom and Dad

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This morning, I enjoyed some coffee with my mom and dad on their farm. The weather hadn’t fully adjusted yet, so it was a crisp 34 degrees outside. The farm brush was beautiful. At this time, it’s usually an ugly shade of dead, brown, but with dew and early morning freezing temperatures, it was a beautiful, frozen white.

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The sun was rising and peeking through the pine trees, casting its rays on the frozen crystals. It was beautiful! It looked as if the brush had been covered in glitter. I tried to get a good picture, but some things you have to experience and memorize the way they made you feel when you encountered them.

As I approached the farm, I noticed the donkeys were on the far side of the property where the sun was fully 26913660_10211354558959353_1191065601_nwarming the trees and them, too. I turned into the drive and stopped to get a photo of the smoke coming from the chimney, just in time to catch dad coming out with the dogs for their morning walk.

What is happiness? Sharing coffee with people I love without the world making demands on me.  The warmth of fire in the fireplace on my face. Random conversations with those who brought me into this world. THAT was happiness to me for today.

What brought you a glimmer of happiness today?

 

Remember the Magic

grumpy-cat-clipart-bad-mood-1Do you know this cat? pun intended. If you’re in a good mood, they’re in a bad mood, or they’re always in a bad mood. It seems like happiness brings out the cattitude in some people.

Don’t let it bring you down. I recently posted a photo of my home in the snow. For some people, this isn’t exciting, but I live in southeast Georgia, where at Christmas time we are generally  wearing shorts. After the first of the year (2018), we actually had snow. I’ve never experienced snow in my home. I haven’t really experienced snow anywhere, so for me, this was exciting.

To some of my readers however, they used a not so nice word to refer to snow. They had lived in snow for years, and what was enjoyable to me because it only lasted one day, brought up bad memories to them of shoveling show and other frustrations it can bring. Too bad they couldn’t remember that first magical moment of snow and held on to that memory to share with me, instead of posting a negative comment to my attempt to share happiness.

The lesson to learn here is to always remember the magic of happy events even in the things that have become frustrating over time. Being able to remember the magic will at least help us to smile when we really want to just grumble about how frustrating that magical things has become over the course of time.

Sharing Happiness!

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted. As the title of this blog suggests, I am on a journey. My journey has continually evolved into what it is today, a pursuit of happiness. Shedding all of the stress and worry of this world and putting focus on the things that really matter in life, I have found peace and happiness. I’d like to share that with you also.

I considered going back and deleting everything from my blog and starting over, but I think it is important to maintain the information, so I can look back and see just how far I have come. I will be writing on topics that bring a smile to my face. I hope the posts will bring a smile to yours as well.

I’d love for you to share your funny stories with our readers as well. Comment to share something that has brought a smile to your face and heart lately.

The Death of the Prayer Warrior

Prayer-Warriors-NeededSince my time at the River of Life Church​, I have come to learn a lot of about prayer and really touching God through this communion with Him. We pray and make our needs known before God, and I asked in my spirit, where do blessings come from (more specifically…financial blessings since there’s no money in heaven). I know they come from God, but what or who is the catalyst?

God answered my question at the funeral of my dear grannie, Ella Taylor. As part of the service, Pastor Steve Thomas (Otis Road Church of God, Jax, FL) spoke of her fondly. He said grannie called him after having not spoken to her in about two years. When he answered her call, she said, “Brother Steve, are you ok? God called your name out in prayer today. Do you need anything? Do you need any money?” And THERE was my answer. But first, a little history.

See, my grannie was a prayer warrior. When you see that label, you may think of someone who regularly spends time in the alter in prayer, and while there are people who do have an intense prayer life that reaches God, that wasn’t my grannie’s way. Grannie prayed or was in a spirit of prayer 24/7. You think I’m kidding?? Ask ANYONE who knew her. I spent the night with her once for several days, and we fell asleep listening to 1 John on cassette tape (that will date the event). She wakes up with thanks and praise on her lips, and she went about her day as a homemaker with the bible playing on tape, or Christian music playing, or maybe total silence with her bible open on the kitchen table (marked up and falling apart), and if you walked in the house without her hearing you, you would hear her talking to God with spontaneous instances of praying in tongues, shouting, and she might even laugh and dance a holy jig of excitement at whatever the Holy Spirit had revealed to her.

Her life was not NORMAL. She was a “be ye separate” in the truest interpretation of that scripture. She would grocery shop, but beyond that, she only left her home to go to church, which she attended every single service. My grannie did not care what anyone thought of her. Honestly, I don’t think it EVER really crossed her mind, but if I were to ask, “Grannie, don’t you think people think your crazy,” she would have said, “Darling, God is not mocked. Let them think I’m crazy. I’ll be crazy for Jesus… (shouting with excitement wooo, wooo, wooo then something uttered in tongues).

Her relationship with God was made even more intimate with her commitment to fasting (especially after the death of my papa in 2001). I am 43 years old, and my grannie has fasted MY ENTIRE LIFE. I’m not talking about turning off the t.v. for a day. I’m not talking about avoiding cake or just not drinking coffee. I’m talking about full day fasting–complete–no food–fasting. After 2001, her weekly fasting (which was usually on Monday–it was how God called her to fast, the Holy Spirit would speak to her and say, “I call a Monday” which meant, he was calling her to fast) turned into multi-day fasting. I don’t know if any of us know how many days see would actually fast toward the end. She may have confided in someone about it, but she was private about it unless something we wanted to do would interfere with her fast, then she would tell us she would be fasting, so our plans could be changed.

Fasting increases the strength of your prayer. As a matter of fact, there are some things that can’t be overcome through prayer alone. Jesus tells the disciples this in KJV Mark 9:29 when referencing the casting out of spirits “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

The point is that my grannie was a SERIOUS PRAYER WARRIOR. A much coveted member of her church. She was valued by many. If you had a need, Sis. Ella Taylor was the person to call. The power of her pray was made evident by Pastor Steve Thomas when he explained that no one had told her anything about him having a need. During her time in prayer, the Holy Spirit spoke his name. What is even more important than he spoke her name is that SHE ACTED and called him. “Brother Steve, is everything ok? Do you need anything? Do you need money?” In times when you were most desperate, wouldn’t you want to receive that call? That is God in flesh–as close as he can be–answering our prayer.

So, I will wrap up my post by driving this home, will the prayer warrior die? My grannie is at the feet of Jesus. She’s not here to touch heaven for me or Pastor Steve or Brother Larry Hall​, so who will? No one can take her place. God designed her to be unique. There’s not another one like her, but you can be God’s design of YOU. I can be God’s design of ME. I want my prayers to be effective. I want to reach heaven for me, my family, my friends, all those who I offer prayer for…so what do I do? How do I reach that level. I (we) can take lessons from her life.

Keeping in mind my grannie was 87 when she passed away, so there were YEARS of growth there. She didn’t start at 14 years old with such efficiency, but she constantly grew. This means that we need to always been in a state of growth. To grow we need nutrition, which comes from the Word. Reading it, studying it, pondering it, sharing it, praying it, APPLYING it. Our walk will show our level of comprehension and obedience. If you didn’t know my grannie and was around her for even 1 hour (maybe even less), when you walk away you would have felt the presence of God (even if you didn’t know what that was). You would have thought, wow, I have no idea what I just experienced, but there is something very powerful about it. I want that level! I’m so hungry for that level!

So it starts with submission. I want to grow, so I submit to the authority of scripture. I learn. I allow the Holy Spirit to grow the Word in me and through me. I increase its effectiveness through fasting (starting with a meal and increasing as the Holy Spirit strengthens me). I remain obedient to the Word and the bidding of the Holy Spirit. I remain in a spirit of prayer and take time to be in intentional prayer.

We ALL should seek to reach this level. Our world no longer approaches God and prayer in the same way we used to. We wonder why we don’t see more evidence of God moving. We treat prayer like a fast food drive-thru. I’ll take a healthy baby and better job please…static…crickets…

PRAYER WARRIORS NEEDED. Pastor Steve Thomas will never get that same phone call again. Not from my grannie at least. Will he or you get a phone call from someone else that God speaks through?? As prayer warriors continue to leave our world, we must be EVER diligent to take our place in the prayer circle for the healing and blessing of our families and friends. What is God revealing to you in response to this post?? Take time to pray and allow God to show you how to begin growing your prayer effectiveness.