I CONFESS, a lot has been on my mind recently, too much actually. I’ve allowed the enemy to alter my perspective; see lately I’ve viewed my problems bigger than my God, instead of God being bigger than my problems. Over the past 18 months, life has been turned upside down, I mean real crazy. In June/July 2012, I had a job I loved(working to keep students in school), fulfilling my call and purpose in Pastoring a church, just been fully ordained in the AME Church, just married, fresh off the honeymoon, making the most $$$ I’ve ever made (in the smallest town I’ve ever lived in),relationships with friends and ministry colleagues, sense of calling in my life, and my first child on the way– a bouncing Baby Boy! Now, I don’t want to engage in revisionist history, life wasn’t perfect, but I was in my groove!
Well, fast-forward to NOW(December 2013), I’m no longer working that job, instead I’ve had to take jobs to put food on the table and pay bills, not currently Pastoring(I miss this so much), not currently attending an AME church(praying about this one), still married(Erica is a blessing in my life), we work hard to re-create honeymoon experiences, making less $$$ than I did when I first came out of college with just one degree, a lot of those friends/ministry colleagues I haven’t spoke to since the wedding and beyond, still called to Pastor(praying about how that looks), in an new city that I’m trying to learn and enjoy(Charlotte), and the most devastating of all this is– we’ve lost 2 children, a boy and a girl!
So, needless to say, life has been a whirlwind. However, through all of this, I’ve grown closer to God! I pray more! I read my Bible more! I love my wife more! God’s grace has been with me, through all of this! It hasn’t been easy, some days are much better than others, but I know this storm will pass over! I’d be a liar if I said, the storm has passed, but it hasn’t! My wife and I are still healing and still grieving! Tomorrow, December 11, was supposed to be the due date of our daughter Brielle! That’s going to be tough for the both of us! My wife still hurts, because she hurts, I hurt! So, the storm is still here, but it’s passing over! Not too long ago, I heard Rev. Dr. Freddie Haynes say, “WE ALL have Storms in life, we’re either coming out of a storm, in the midst of a storm, or headed into a storm.” So, pray for us! Pray our strength!
So what’s my prescription to all of this? What does God’s word say to us during these times? Honestly, the Bible says a lot of things to encourage us and give us hope, but I’m going to leave you with the action item from my devotional this morning!
Ecclesiastes 2:24(GNT) The best thing we can do is eat and drink and ENJOY what we have earned. And yet, I realized that even this comes from God. 25 How else could you have anything to eat or enjoy yourself at all? 26 God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness to those who please him, but he makes sinners work, earning and saving, so that what they get can be given to those who please him. It is all useless. It is like chasing the wind.
Ecclesiastes 3:12 (GNT) So I realized that all we can do is be HAPPY and do the best we can while we are still alive. 13 All of us should eat and drink and ENJOY what we have worked for. It is God’s gift.
So, in closing, this is my resolve…..To be HAPPY and ENJOY the GIFTS of GOD! All of this happens, through PLEASING GOD! So, I resolve to PLEASE GOD and BE HAPPY!
For an added bonus, allow Bobby McFerrin to drive the message home!
In my 26 years of living, it seems like a lot of life has to do with finding the right one! We grow up looking for the right school to attend, the right friends, the right toys to play with, the right sport to play, and the right activity to get involved in. And as we get much older life starts to become more serious and we take on more responsibility.
For some of us, this starts with going to the right college or university, the school that has the best reputation, best programs, best professors, and perhaps the best dining halls. We look for the job that is the right one as well. We want the job which pays the most, offers the best benefits, most promising opportunity for career advancement, and best work schedule. We’ve seen sports teams such as the Miami Heat or Dallas Cowboys, who seem to have all the right players and coaches to win the big one. We look for the right one when it comes to finding a car to purchase, the car with the right size, fully loaded interior, right color, best consumer reviews, right price and best financing. When it comes to companionship, we too want to find the right one! Right height! Right size! Right shape! Right complexion! Right zodiac sign! Right job! Right income! Intelligent! Yada yada yada……..you get my point.
However, as with everything, a lot of time we think we’ve found the right one, but something ends up missing. The right university ends up not being the school you thought it was, food is terrible and the weather is way too cold. The job ends up being stressful, a long commute, long hours, and just not worth it anymore. The Cowboys, don’t even make the playoffs! The car ends up being a lemon! Lastly, the person that you thought was the one, ends up having you singing, “Fall For Your Type.” They’re nothing like you thought they would be.
I wish I could to tell you what to look for or pay attention to when searching out the right one, but the honest truth is, we’re all in the search for our own “right one,” whether it be a career, car, house, school, soulmate, or something as simple as an outfit to wear on Friday night!! All I can say is you know when you’ve found the right one(1)!! Good luck!
- Keep God first in your life, work on your personal relationship with God, because God is the base and core that keeps everything in tact!
- Keep a Diary or journal so that you can chart your progress for the year. We all need to find moments to reflect on what we have accomplished, what goals we need to revisit and revise, how the year has going thus far 2b. Plan for war in a time of peace; when things are not chaotic and crazy, be proactive so when things are crazy, you will be better prepared. Prepare for the obstacles.
- Invest in yourself emotionally and mentally. Don’t be a bag lady or a bag man, carrying drama and baggage into 2011, leave that behind! People with drama, bad habits, bad memories, get rid of it! Mentally is key too, educate yourself! Learn something new that will help you grow and become a better person.
- Get involved in the community, church, or a helping organization. Stop sitting on the sidelines, be a positive advocate. Pay it forward and give back.
- Get your financial house in order! Create a budget!! Pay yourself first, put some money aside for yourself, at least 5-10%. Pay your tithes! Pay your bills on time and try to pay more than the minimum balance, so you can get out of debt.
- Health!! Commit to living a healthier lifestyle, look lets be real, if we’re all overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, can’t move…how are we going to live a healthy lifestyle! God did not create and design for us to be overweight and get life cut short. Some of this is b/c of our poor choices. So Eat healthy, meaning water, fruits and vegetables, and exercise at least 3x a week for 30min at a minimum. Put down the blunts, trees, earth, whatever you call it. Stop smoking, limit unhealthy consumption of alcohol, don’t eat too late, no sex or safe sex, we don’t want STD’s going around. Live Healthier in 2011
- Develop a vision and mission statement for your life! The vision is the ultimate goal, the ultimate dream, the thing that you want soooo bad to do, have, and become. The mission is comprised of the action steps that you are going to take in order to see the vision realized. We all need this because we need to have direction and a plan for our life. If we don’t have a road map, where the heck are we going!! Get organized and Have a game plan.
I’ve decided that one thing I wanted to do before I turned 30 was, blog more, so this piece will kick-off the journey. If you ever read any of my blogs, you know that 95% of time they’re meant to inspire, motivate, and encourage. So I pray that by God’s grace, my mission is accomplished. All of these are free-writes with minimal editing. Enjoy.
I was recently asked what I was grateful for, my response with no explanation was, “a second chance.” Let me explain! Last year, on November 29, 2012, my first born child, Brandon Oscar McAfee Jr. was making his entrance into the world. This was a moment that I’ve been anticipating for a long time. In preparation for my son, I did a personal inventory and decided I needed to change some habits and ways about myself, before my son would be born.
With much excitement and gratefulness, my son was born, and 41 minutes later my son was gone. Mad, Mad at God, Shock, Pain, Sadness, Denial, Disbelief, Angry, Robbed, Cheated, Confused, and Inadequate are a few of the words and expressions that characterized my disbelief on that day and the days to come.
Since that day, God has been kind and gracious to me (and my wife), which is why I belief in 2nd chances! First and foremost, I belief we serve a God of a 2nd chance! While, I still don’t understand why my son didn’t make it, I thank God that my wife is pregnant again! I thank God for a 2nd opportunity to bring life into this world! I thank God for a 2nd chance to be a father to my child! I thank God for a 2nd chance to share the gift of parenthood with my wife! I thank God for the opportunity to this time– raise a daughter. Oh, what an opportunity!
Whoever is reading this blog today, know that you have a 2nd chance! Know that God has given you a 2nd chance! Know that you have the opportunity to do things differently! You have the chance to try again! To be your best! To work your hardest! To grind like never before! To try like you never tried before! To correct your past mistakes! To say sorry! To turn over a new leaf! To be your best self! To be a better you! To do you! Embrace this 2nd chance and don’t look back! I believe in you! God believes in you! Make the best of this 2nd chance!