Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Still Waiting...

Waiting… most of us don’t enjoy it. But for anything to be born, to be mastered, to be overcome, there must be a time of waiting. The Lord is good at letting us wait on Him and sometimes when I think one thousand years are as a day to Him, I can’t help but get a little concerned about some of the things I’m waiting for. I could go through all the clich├ęs, we wait because God is perfecting us, there’s something to learn, we’ve made some bad choices or it’s just not our time. Ok, I get it. But the part of me that forgets to call on Jesus must confess, sometimes waiting stinks!

I’ve been waiting almost two years for something. For a promise of the Word of God to be made manifest in my life. (LOL, no it’s not getting married). Actually it’s relief from a medical condition I’ve been struggling with. I know I have the right based on the Bible to expect Him to heal me, and I think I have the faith. But wow, it’s been two years.

Two years, waiting, on something so tiny and easy for God to fix. And I keep hearing, “His grace is sufficient, it’s just a thorn in your side, keep the faith.” But how do you keep the faith when the something you’re waiting for directly interferes with what you believe you’ve been called to do? What do you do when you’re waiting and it seems to be getting worse? Well either you buck up and believe or you waver and doubt.

I’m gonna tell the truth and shame the devil right now, I’ve wavered and doubted. I’ve been thinking deep down inside in that place where I don’t want to confess to anyone, that thing is never going to end. Doubt has just about broken me. And then I wonder if I’m called to do what I’m doing and I wonder if this is God’s way of trying to tell me to quit and then I wonder if He’s even listening at all.

Welcome to my world – the world of the truth of the Broken Box. So I tell the Lord these things and I demand to know, – “Jesus are you even listening?”

And then, something amazing happened, a small thing, but amazing to me. A few weeks ago I had been in the car and heard the most beautiful song for the first time, one of those songs I wish I wrote. It was gut wrenching, the type of song you hear and know it was written about your entire personal life. The type of song that breaks you down and causes you to weep before God. I made a mental note to look the song up and then promptly forgot about it. Several weeks later as I sat in the car frustrated with my waiting process, I whispered in mind, “I wish I could hear that song right now, how did it go?” 2 minutes later the intro filled the car – “I want a heart that forgives, lives and let lives, totally free from the pain of the past, I want a heart that loves everybody, even my enemies…” and I knew God heard me, I knew He heard my prayers.

Later that same night I forgot my GPS in the car – something you do NOT want to do in a public parking garage in New York City. I was halfway to the front door of my apt. building and had to turn around and walk back. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but it was freezing! And walking back to the garage in NYC is not like walking across the street, we’re talking a true hike since we live in this huge housing complex (like over 100,000 people huge). Not only did I have to walk back to the garage, I’d have to walk around the front because I had a visitor’s pass and no key to go in the back entrance. And did I say it was hike and it was cold, and I had on my “cute girl shoes?”

I thought to myself, it would be so great if someone opened the back door and I could get in that way. And at that exact moment, some nice young man opened the back door and held it for me, even though I was still across the small street that separates the back door from the playground that you have to walk through before you even get to the back door… did I say it was a hike?

And again I realized, God you hear me.

I wish I could say that after knowing that God heard me, on these tiny things, that He showed up and did a mighty work on the big thing that I’ve been waiting on.

The answer is no.

I’m still waiting on healing. I’m still on occasion fighting discouragement. I know that He hears me but I still don’t understand why He hasn’t moved in my situation.

But I do know this. This is where the rubber meets the road with faith. I either believe or have a temper tantrum and give up because I can’t have it my way. I either believe His word, which says, Psalms 32 verse 8 - “He will guide me along the best pathways for my life” or I don’t.

Somehow, this has to be the best pathway for my life. I don’t like it. I don’t understand it, but I’m determined to walk through it. I won’t give up, I’ll ask for prayer, I’ll battle being discouraged. I’ll get in every prayer line, I’ll speak health and life to my body, and I’ll quote the word over my life.

I will wait upon the Lord and I will renew my strength.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New E-zine - The Calling!

Hey Loved Ones!

Wanted to give you a sneak peek of the new e-zine, The Calling, that launched this month. Check it out - after this month, the e-zine will only be available to those on my mailing list. So sign up for the mailing list today at www.naimajohnston.com!
Let me know if you have any questions or comments, I'm always looking forward to helping others achieve their calling! Blessings!

The Calling – November 2009 Edition
The Calling is a publication of 7thirtyseven Logos, a division of Broken Box Ministries.
© 2009 by Dr. Naima Tonya Johnston/Broken Box Ministries. All rights reserved. Feel free to use the information contained therein, but please give credit to Dr. Johnston for authorship.

Note From Dr. Nay
I am so excited to launch this newsletter! Over the last year the Lord has been clarifying my mission and helping me to better understand my purpose. Of course I am called to sing His praises, I’ll always be a Psalmist! But I’m also called to use the lessons I’ve learned, and continue to learn, to help others achieve their God given dreams! I wasted so much time thinking I could not pursue what the Lord had called me to do – but no more! And I am on a crusade to empower you to achieve the calling on your own life.

I want you to join me on Dec. 1, 2009 at 8:00pm for my first Teleseminar – Achieving Your Calling! This free seminar will show you how to move forward in what the Lord has called you to do using the, “spiritual to empower the practical!” You do not want to miss this free seminar! It’s the perfect way to get ready for 2010 – it does not matter what your dream is – there will be insight and lots of tips that you can use to build a solid foundation for your dreams! When you register you will receive my new worksheet, “4 Things That Keep You From Achieving Your God Given Dream!” To register shoot me an email at naimasbrokenbox@yahoo.com tell me what your dream is and what you feel some of the challenges are to achieving that dream. Register today!

3 Steps To A Mission Statement
Do you have a mission statement for your dream? A mission statement is an important foundational piece that you should have for your life, business or ministry. A mission statement describes the specific calling on your life and what you are going to do about it. My mission statement is as follows:

To empower, equip, and edify people to achieve their God given dreams through education, entertainment and evangelization.

How I will specifically achieve this mission is laid out in my strategic plan. A great mission statement should include the following:

1. Should tell the world exactly what you plan to do in short and specific terms (My mission statement tells you that I am going to empower people, give them the tools they need and build them up so that they know they can achieve their dreams).
2. Should clarify the outcome of those you are targeting (my outcome is that people will achieve their God given dreams).
3. Should describe the tools that you will use (education, entertainment, evangelization).

Try crafting a new mission statement or revising the one you have using these steps. I’d love to see some of your examples! Send them to me at naimasbrokenbox@yahoo.com.

The Truth of Psalm 37
We all know that the power of life and death are in the tongue, so what exactly are we speaking to ourselves? Are we speaking life by reciting the word of God to ourselves, or are we dwelling on the negative and watching nothing change around us?

We’ve been told that there is a recession in America today. It seems that everywhere we turn people are being laid off and trying to do more with less. Perhaps the recession is the Lord calling His people to move forward into the destiny that He has ordained for them. This is the time to launch that dream that has lingered in your heart for so long.

Maybe you feel like your dream can never happen, especially now with all the cutbacks, setbacks and lack of funding. But if you truly know the Lord, you know there is no recession for The One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Speak the truth of God to yourself and over your life and watch the Lord move to uphold His promises.

Your assignment for this month: Read Psalm 37 daily. Memorize and quote it to yourself every time you feel you don’t have the resources to pursue your dream. Verse 19 is especially good, “Even in the time of famine, I’ll have more then enough.” Keep a journal of how the Lord begins to move and supply in your life. I’d love to hear your testimonies – shoot me an email and let me know how the Lord shows up and shows out as you move to achieve, Your Calling!


Staff Additions
Broken Box Ministries is blessed to announce that Andrew Copeland is joining our staff as the Coordinator of Ministry Development! Andrew will be working with me to raise awareness of Broken Box Ministries programs, divisions and offerings through the mobilization of our “Street Team” also known as “The Box Breakers!” Box Breakers receive special discounts, prices, and other cool free stuff for assisting us in advancing the ministry vision. If you’d like more information or would like to sign up to be a Box Breaker contact Andrew at

In Closing!
I’d love to be of service to your church, women’s group, ministry, business or school. I am available for both musical and speaking/teaching engagements. For more information contact me at naimasbrokenbox@yahoo.com or call the office at 615-731-0178.

Christmas Shopping? Visit the Music & More Store at www.naimajohnston.com!

Don’t forget: www.naimajohnston.blogspot.com and www.youtube.com/doctornay

Thanks for your support! Feel free to pass this newsletter on to others and invite them to sign up to get their own!

Until next time, go out and achieve, Your Calling!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Your Calling!

It’s no secret that I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and walk away from music ministry. To go back to the safe and secure world of higher education would be no great hardship. But music and ministry are in my very spirit, planted there by the Creator of heaven and earth. Following a God given dream is a true test of faith, sometimes the money is tight, there’s a constant battle between what you should do and what you need to leave in God’s hands. You want to trust Him but ideas are popping, there is an element of fear, you don’t know when or if you’re suppose to leave your “real” job and people you count on can be fickle in their support.

I found myself ready to quit pursuing my dreams four years ago. I was tired of the struggle, the doubt, and the people who professed to be Godly who took advantage. It was all too much. I lost everything during my first years in ministry, my home, car, and many relationships because I made mistakes, was fearful, and did not know how to listen and follow the Lord’s leading. Ready to quit, I shared my heart with the Lord, He responded back to me simply this: Judges, Chapter 6.

Of course I thought it was fluke, my mind making things up! But I opened my Bible to Judges Chapter 6 and found myself confronted with the story of Gideon. It changed my entire life and ministry. In particular verse 14: “Then the Lord replied to him and said, go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I AM sending you!” The New Living Translation

Needless to say I didn’t quit Music Ministry. Rather, I got serious, in prayer and in the practical. I learned to do all I knew to do and then to stand. To trust that the Lord would lead me, I only need believe and follow. I learned to do what was in my heart, to get started with what I already had in my hand and to trust the provision and correction of the Lord. I found mentors, did research, read a ton of books, talked to a ton of successful people, went to seminars and crafted a strategic plan that caused my ministry to grow and prosper.

It’s been a rough few years, rebuilding my life and the ministry the Lord has charged me with. As I travel I meet people who share with me that they have a calling on their lives as well, that there is a dream that the Lord has placed in their hearts but they just don’t know where to begin, how to make it happen, how to overcome their fear and lack of resources.

And the Lord has placed a burden on my heart to help others achieve their God given dream – whatever that might be. Do you dream of becoming a missionary or artist, to start a ministry, a business? What is the dream that the Lord has placed in your spirit that the world needs and the Lord desires to use to advance His kingdom? I want to share with you what I’ve learned. I want to give you the tools to become and to do whatever it is God has called you to do for such a time as this.

We must remember that each of us are called for a purpose, one only we can fulfill. When we fail to achieve that purpose the people that are assigned to us suffer because we are not walking out the will of God in our lives. I’ve been guilty of it, but no more.

If you’d like to learn how to achieve your God given dreams, if you want to be powerful and impact the world for Christ through ministry, business, the arts, education, entertainment – whatever the Lord has called you to, but you need a little support, some information, a sister to pray with then I’d love to have you join me for a free teleseminar on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009 at 8:00pm.

Spaces are limited so email me at naimasbrokenbox@yahoo.com, you’ll be added to my mailing list and receive my monthly newsletter, The Calling, slated to launch next month. You’ll also receive all the registration materials for my teleseminar on Dec. 1, 2009, which will help you achieve your calling by going with what you got!

Every person that signs up will receive a free Naima MP3 and my newest digital educational tool - 4 Things That Keep You From Achieving Your God Given Dream!
It’s my heart’s desire to see you walk into the fullness of your destiny. Hope to talk with you on the Tele-Seminar.

Until then, looking forward to helping you achieve…. Your Calling!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Adventures of the Wee Wee Monster!





This is a blog that has no deep meaning in any way, shape or form! Except for the fact that I've learned a number of valuable lessons from my dog such as:

- Be mad for a moment and then let it go

- Love doesn't care if you don't share your dinner

- Life is not meant to be lived off leash

- The love of a pet can be deep and meaningful and they never talk back

- If poop on the floor is the worse that it gets, then I've got it made

Anyway... Bianca, also known as the wee wee monster due to her use of puppy pads that once soiled she somehow manages to kick up against the bathroom wall neatly folded, has been the subject of many of my status updates. She's always doing funny things, so I started shooting some video - not very good quaility, of her and her ongoing adventures.

Since today is National Dog Day, I thought it only fitting to share this first video with you. Hope it makes you smile!







Monday, June 8, 2009

Chasing The Dream

A book, a life story, a song, has the potential to change your life. When you first pick it up, when you first read the words or first hear the melody, you don’t think that something in such a creative free flowing way can change your life forever. But it can. How many times have you heard a song and it brought you to your knees, or read a book that made you rethink everything you ever thought you knew?

I just finished reading, “No Compromise, The Keith Green Story.” I have to be honest; I picked it up because I wanted to know “how.” How did Keith build his ministry, write his songs, and become lauded as one of the greatest Christian Recording Artists of all time? That’s why I picked the book up, that’s what I wanted to know. Up until that moment I had no idea who Keith Green really was, as a matter of fact until this weekend I’d never heard him sing, or preach, and as far as I knew, I didn’t know any Keith Green songs.

I mean that might seem unusual to someone who has been called a walking jukebox, but I got saved years after he died and I listened only to Gospel Music not Contemporary Christian Music for the first five years after I became a Christian. It’s sad that there are no radio stations that really mix the two genres, so I was totally ignorant of Keith’s music. It wasn’t until I moved to Dayton and started to attend a church where I was one of two African Americans that I fell in love with Contemporary Christian Music. It is what has influenced my songwriting the most. Now I’m some crazy musical mix up – as someone once told me my musical style is, “To Black to be White, and to White to be Black.” I like to think of it as, “If Nicole Nordeman and Ce Ce Winans were sisters I’d be the middle child – LOL.”

But anyway… I can’t begin to write about the impact that Keith’s story has had on my life. I didn’t get a “how to” lesson. Instead I got a “why to” lesson. It dawned on me that in my heart is a greater dream for music ministry then I ever knew existed before. It is a dream to write songs that change the atmosphere and change people’s lives. To be so transparent, yet so free in Christ, that people will desire to know Him for themselves. To live in such victory that people can look at my life and say God can do anything and if He did it for you He’ll do it for me. That there is enough money to feed the homeless, house them, care for the orphan, the widow, use music as the evangelistic tool it was meant to be used for.

It’s easy for full time Christian Recording Artists to get swept up in the business of ministry. Seeking promotional opportunities or new outlets to share your music, writing, performing, ministering, it takes a great deal of time. We have to update our multiple social network sites so that our fans can keep up with us, we have to record new music and figure out how to move our ministry to the next level, the bigger venue, how to get the distribution deal, get the radio airplay, get more interviews, get on some major tour, get on TBN and most of us still dream of getting that elusive record deal so we can hear our music on K-Love.

And somewhere in all of this we forget – well let me speak for myself, I forget that there are people dieing and going to hell. People making excuses for living lives that are not pleasing to the Lord because they have not been able to access the power of God from the throne room of Heaven to find victory. There are people forced to make choices that have eternal complications and consequences because we sang the gospel and then had no place for them to go after we packed up our buses and rode out of town to the next stop. Or we live a life that does not mirror what we sing about and then when we are exposed other people are wounded seemingly beyond repair. It makes me ask myself, what dreams am I chasing? The spotlight or the harvest?

Have I been so busy singing that I’ve forgotten to serve? When did music ministry become more about being known and building a brand then about sharing the gospel and feeding the hungry? Why am I supposed to be looked at as a product and not as woman of God called for such a time as this on a mission to lead the lost to Christ? A book like “No Compromise” will make you rethink your entire ministry, the approach, the foundation, the why of it all.

I’m not saying that promoting the ministry God has given me is unimportant. I know God has given me a message and I gotta get it out there. The lost are not going to hear what I need to share if I’m only singing in my shower or sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring – Christ said go into all the earth – so I gotta get up and get out!

I guess I’m more so thinking about the way it’s done and the why it’s done and even the how it’s done. Any man who asks to be released from his contract with Sparrow Records (the biggest label at the time) so that he could GIVE AWAY HIS MUSIC FOR FREE TO ANY AND ALL – had a true heart for the gospel and the lost. You can’t read something like that as a music minister and not be challenged and changed.

The Lord is so funny, right after I closed the book; I put something on my Facebook status about being challenged by the ministry of Keith Green. I scroll down and someone else had just written on their status that they were listening to his music and how he was a prophet for the generations!

To leave that kind of legacy, that more then 25 years after my death people are still being impacted, stirred to bring the gospel to the lost, moving to minister and sharing the love of Christ – that’s the dream I want to chase. That’s the cry of my heart, and that’s what I pledge to do from this moment on. I’m not sure what it will look like, don’t know how my life will change, but I can bet it’ll be anything but dull – I am on a great adventure for Jesus… won’t you come along?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Called To Sing!?

Naima's book is full of wisdom from someone who has "been there, and done that!" Experience is the best teacher, and Naima's teachings will save the emerging or seasoned independent artist time, resources and heartache. This is a must read for anyone interested in a Christian music mission!
Keith Mohr
President
http://www.indieheaven.com

Are You Called To Sing?

Financially bankrupt, emotionally drained, significant weight gain, doubting the calling of God. These are the words that describe the mental, emotional and spiritual state that I found myself in three years after leaving my position as the Associate Director of Student Life at Wright State University to pursue a career in Christian music. After a serious year of reflection, soul searching and surrender, I am blessed to be rebuilding my life and ministry with great enthusiasm, faith and success. Birthed from those three years, I’ve written my first book, Called To Sing, 13 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting In Music Ministry.

Geared towards independent Christian artists and those contemplating a career in Christian music, this training manual addresses issues that many artists fail to recognize as potential problems that can stunt the growth and development of their ministries. As a minister, Christian Recording artist and the CEO of Broken Box Ministries I used my extensive personal experience as a “failure” because I wanted to assist others who are building a music ministry from the ground up and give personal insight into the many mistakes that I made.

I wanted to share what I had learned the hard way, I am passionate about helping others achieve their God given destiny and if that means exposing my many shortcomings, so be it. I’ve failed fabulously and my faith has grown despite of it, and now I stand amazed at how the Lord is using me to help others avoid those failures while also building my own musical career!

To Purchase Called To Sing Online Visit:

www.createspace.com/3374444

Naima Johnston

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jesus Laughed At Me!

Last summer I sat down to write a blog about an upcoming concert where I would be introducing my new music. I wanted to write something inspiring about how I wrote the song, Dying To Know You and how Christ is waiting and longing for those who don't know Him to come to know Him through a personal introduction by one of His children.

But as always, my plans and the plans of the Lord always seem to be a bit different. As I sat down to write, a particular incident came to mind that I meant to share but then my Aunt passed away, needless to say it never happened. I'm always finding myself in the midst of some deep life lesson based on the prayers that I pray. Once it was for patience and I was unemployed for over a year, once I prayed that I would truly know the Lord and the power of His resurrection. What a year that turned out to be, after what seemed a million bumps, bruises, and challenges, I found myself revisiting that verse and honing in on the rest of it, that I may know you and the power of your resurrection and the fellowship of your suffering! That explained most of 2005 and 2006! And here's another doozey, I asked to be content being single and we all know how that's working out.

Anyway, earlier that year I prayed and asked the Lord to help me learn to sit silent before Him. Truly experience His presence in quiet worship. That our relationship would be truly intimate, so intimate that we could be together and not say a word. Imagine what happened next. I had some of the driest prayer times I have ever had in my life. I'd get down on my knees and wait, and wait and wait some more. Everything would be quiet, and my mind would start to wander and I couldn't focus. I'd start praying about anything and everything but then felt led to be silent. So I'd sit silent and I'd wait. I wouldn't hear a thing, wouldn't be led to move on anything, and it didn't seem like any of my questions were being answered. It didn't even seem like the Lord was near.

Then finally after a few months of this, I was once again on my knees trying to pray. It was so quiet and I was just waiting. Even Bianca sat still, lying next to me waiting patiently for her quality time. And nothing came. I said Lord I'm not getting up until I get something, until I touch you - and still nothing. Exasperated I waited and waited and big girls like me, well our knees start to hurt when we are on them to long. Finally frustrated I smacked my hands down on the couch ready to pop up and go about my day. Muttering under my breath I was so busted that it seemed like Jesus was so far away.

Then I heard it. Laughter. Not mean laughter, more of an amused chuckle. The kind of laughter a parent gives a child who is being taught a lesson and the child is having a hard time dealing with the learning. And then I knew what the laughter was and what it meant. And I began to laugh, to crack up. I laughed so hard I was bent over and could barely breath.

So what was it? Jesus was laughing because He was only answering my prayer. I asked to learn to sit in silence, to worship Him in true quiet, to learn to just be with Him. Well how could I learn this if I didn't experience the quiet? The quiet that drew out of me a deeper longing then ever before to truly know Him and be with Him. A quiet that caused me to tenaciously wait, immobile and determined. I learned at that moment that the beginning stages of intimacy are often awkward but well worth the wait if you do the work to build the relationship.

In the quiet Jesus was teaching me how to just be with Him. Not to ask for anything, not to constantly be speaking empty words just because I'm suppose to say something to worship Him. No, He was teaching me how to lean on His knee, with my head in His lap, to expose my heart, to give myself to Him with utter abandon and absolute trust. He was teaching me His peace. And so perfect is that peace.

Who wouldn't want to meet a God who loves like that and laughs when He teaches us lessons of life? He's Dying to Know You; guess there's not too much more I can say?

Want to hear the song, Dying to Know You? It's on the Fan Fav Charts at Indie Heaven! Click the banner below to visit the charts and click the stars to cast your vote for the song to help it move up the charts!






Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nashville, Afro Puffs and Singing At Home!

I never thought I'd miss Dayton, Ohio! I mean I knew I'd miss my "family" but the place itself? No, didn't really think I would, until I got to Nashville! Things I miss most about Dayton: TV night with my Pastor’s wife, Ohio Drivers, the library, being hijacked by Pastor Tim, Penn Station, my CR group at Patterson Park, my God kids - all 6 of them and one on the way... Hanging with my adopted family, Thursday night church and my bratty little brother (also known as DG2 and his lovely wife)!

My adventures in Nashville warrant a new book, and you best believe I've already started it - LOL!

Since I've been here in Nashville I have been busy and blessed - there was the interview I did with Martha Munizzi - yes, “The Martha Munizzi!” LaShawn Pace and Shari Addison were on the call as well! Check out the interview online at www.blogtalkradio.com/realtalkwithtanyawhite.

And several folks have blessed me with gifts that have made my life and work in the area a great deal easier with setting up my publishing company and attending some events I've been dying to go to! Check out www.indieheaven.com when you get a moment and support a great ministry to independant artists!

But as always, there's no place like home, be it New York with Momma and Em' or Fairborn with my peeps! So, here's some video that was taken the last time I sang at home - The City of Refuge Christian Church of Ohio. Check it out and let me know what you think.

What do I think? I think my Afro Puff is getting HUGE and I'm still not sure how long this hairdo is going last - combing this thickness is a CHORE!

I think those pants I had on were GREAT! Except I can't tell what pants they were!

I'll be posting a new blog about my adventures in Nashville starting next week so until then loved ones - keep MAGNIFYNG HIM! Blessings!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Random Life Lesson #33 Fear Is A Killer Of Faith

In The Shadow of Cancer?

I’m just about done recording my second CD, it’s been really hard work. Who ever thinks that being gospel singer is glamorous and easy is sadly mistaken, I work harder at my ministry then I did getting my PhD! Really, it’s true. I’m excited about my new music, but still want to share my old music with the world. Every song I’ve written has a story and although the songs are old to me, there are many who have not heard them and perhaps the songs might bless someone else. So I’d like to send you a free MP3 of my song, “In Your Shadow.” Just send an email to naimasbrokenbox@yahoo.com asking for your free MP3 from the Blog Spot Offer. Here is the story that birthed that song:

I’m a New Yorker – born and raised in the Bronx, my family still resides there, but up until October of this year the Lord had me living in Ohio. On September 11, 2001, before I went into fulltime music ministry, I went to work and every person in my office was huddled around the big screen TV in the lounge. My secretary Viki gently told me what was happening, she knew that my entire family was in a four-mile radius of the Twin Towers. As I watched the towers fall I was in shock, and the fact that I couldn’t get a phone to ring on the East Coast made the moment all the more terrifying.

My brother wound up having to walk miles and cross a huge NYC bridge to get home. My cousin was outside when the tower fell; she sustained cuts but was ok. My brother’s girlfriend at the time worked at the World Trade Center, she just happened to be late for work that morning. My mother was stranded about 15 miles from home, with a river between her and home she uttered a prayer to the Lord and a woman she met for the first time earlier that morning in our massive 35 building, 33 floors to a building, 12 apartments to a floor, housing development saw her standing on the side of the road and took her home. And my dad… my dad was diagnosed with Cancer.

Some remember that right after the towers fell, Anthrax was being sent through the mail, my father worked at the post office where the anthrax was first found and had to be put on Anthrax medication as well. And even fewer people remember that several weeks after 9-11 another plane crashed in a Queens neighborhood for reasons that still have yet to be determined. That neighborhood was the one my father lived in and on the day the plane fell from the sky, my father and I were at the airport waiting for him to catch a flight home after visiting me in Ohio.

I was petrified, 600 miles from home and my world was upside down. I remember crying and praying and asking the Lord for peace. And something my grandmother said came to me, that whenever I was afraid I should read the 91st Psalm. I got up from prayer and picked up my Bible and read: “He that dwelled in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

The song poured out, like an offering to the Lord, letting Him know that even though I was I was afraid I’d trust Him and believe that I was under His shadow. Not under the shadow of cancer or terrorists, or sickness, or crashing planes.

Random Life Lesson # 32, Fear is a killer of Faith. Even in the shadow of the things we most fear, God will lead us along the best pathways for our lives, He is with us, even till the end of the age! Today if there is something that you fear, remember that the Lord is with you and you can run into His arms and find peace and safety in the shadow of His wings.

Send me an email, I’d love to bless you with the song.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Random Life Lesson # 6 Old Men Are Not Always Wise

I moved to Dayton, Ohio to pursue my career in education and leaving the church where I had given my life to Christ and friends who were more like family, spent the first three years in the strange city trying to understand why Christ separated me from every support system I had. To my surprise, I found that Christ’s reason was that He was calling me into music ministry. My start was fraught with missteps, sorrow and loss and my own low self-esteem made launching a music ministry a terrifying adventure.

Instead of casting my cares on the Lord, I allowed situations to strangle my faith and paralyze me with fear. Instead of finding comfort in Jesus I sought comfort in food. In six years I gained seventy pounds! Last winter, bundled up against the cold I arrived at church and found I couldn’t get out of my car. I had gained so much weight and with my coat on I was stuck behind the steering wheel. “This is straight crazy!” I thought, “My life is outta control, I gotta get it together.”

Thus began a journey of dealing with my past and fears, learning to submit my will to the Lord, to say no, to eat right, to exercise, in other words, learning to die to my flesh and walk in victory. Weight loss was easier in my twenties then now in my thirties, but the Lord keeps encouraging, telling me I can do this if I allow Him to fulfill my desires. Sometimes submission is easier said then done, especially after a rocking church service where I’ve worked up a sweat getting my praise on and everyone wants to fellowship at Chili’s to complete the night. But I wrestle weekly with the scale and was pleased that after a year I’d lost fifty pounds! Feeling proud, self esteem skyrocketing; I should have been prepared for what happened next.

The morning after that wonderful weigh in, I got dressed, put on make-up, looked in the mirror and thought, “Girl, you look good.” I knew I was cute, feeling good, not vain, just satisfied with “me” despite the pounds still left to lose. Heading out the door I took my cute self over to Brook View Senior Residential Community where I give concerts for the elderly who always attend in great numbers when I visit. Walking in I was greeted with waving and laughing, one woman said, “I saw you on TV this morning!” Coupled with the thrill of my shrinking body and the amazement that someone was watching the cable access channel I began the concert, singing my heart out.

A skinny, elderly man on a walker came in, I’d never seen him before, but he was singing along and praising the Lord. As the concert drew to a close I gave out CDs, and gave one to the elderly gentleman who accepted it cheerfully. While chatting the elderly man asked me why my CD was called, Everything. Not wanting to drown in a past of sorrows I explained that I had been desperately in love with a man I had wanted to marry but unfortunately he didn’t feel the same way. In the midst of my crippling pain the Lord asked me if this man was everything to me, or was it Him, the one who had given up His life for me. It was this experience that led me to write the song, Everything, and it was this song that my ministry was founded on.


After giving the abbreviated version of the most painful time of my life I intended to sing one last song, but before I could begin the elderly man asked, “Did he not want to marry you because of your weight?”

Pausing to think about his question, I didn’t know how to respond, he’d rendered me speechless. At the time I was being rejected I never stopped and said, “Hey man I love, do you not want me cause I’m a big girl?” Maybe I thought it at the time but the concept of him not wanting me because of my weight seemed strange. Secondly, if I began to ponder that question, if I did not take that thought captive right then, my new self image would have smashed and cracked like thin ice breaking from someone’s weight, and I would’ve found myself cold and broken again. But that wasn’t an option; I loved myself too much at that moment to be buried by somebody else’s fatty issues if they were from my past or sitting in front of me old enough to be my grandfather.

I looked at that gentleman and said, “I don’t know why he didn’t want me. At this point it doesn’t matter.”

He replied, “You’re a beautiful woman, if you lost weight you’d be a stone cold fox.”

His words caused an uproar! Those little old ladies who faithfully attend each concert started to berate him, telling him to keep his opinions to himself while informing me that I was perfectly fine. I knew that this was a test. Was my self esteem anchored in Christ, did I see myself as He saw me or was I going to crumble because this old man implied I wasn’t good enough because of my size and I had probably lost the man I loved because I simply was to fat?

That old guy kept talking, “Skinny, just my preference.”

To the amazement of all gathered I started to laugh, “That’s your preference, but sometimes we have our minds made up about what we don’t want and we miss the blessing that the Lord has for us. I’m happy and beautiful.” That elderly man got out of there as fast as his walker could carry him. Those lovely ladies admonished me not to pay him any mind, I was beautiful and by the way had I lost weight? Bolstered by their acceptance I confided that I had but I wasn’t going tell that old man that since it didn’t matter to him, I’d lost weight but I still wasn’t good enough in his eyes.

I knew then that I was finally at peace with myself. I had passed the test and seen myself as Christ did, fearfully and wonderfully made. I came to understand that there will always be people I’m not good enough for because of their issues, but I’m always good enough for Christ. I understand now, like I never have before, that Jesus loves me just as I am and being fat, well the truth is my weight does not define who I am.

Maybe it’s true that there have been men who have not chosen me because of my weight, but if so, were they God’s best for me if they did feel like that? I deserve God’s best, as do all men and women, fat, skinny, with acne, braces, big lips, dark skin, light skin, short, tall, poor or rich. I’m finally at peace and being at peace gives me the courage to change, not so I can get a man, but change because it is what’s best for my life, ministry, health, and my relationship with my Lord.

I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right wellPsalm 139 Verse 14 (King James Version)