Why Worry?

what-me-worry-715605“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:25-27)

A lot of things are going on in my life right now; of utmost importance are my mother, MaDear, and her health. And then, there’s a bunch of other things that can take a number and get in line behind her because I don’t have time to deal with them now. Wait for it … here he comes again – my long time companion. Ah, worry – why do I cling to you so? Why do I keep coming back to you again and again when you have proven that you are not helpful and mean me no good? Why do I let you torment me?

God sent this Word to comfort me one night, as I was cataloguing my problems. It sounded something like this: “And then this happened and then that happened… and how am I going to do this? And to top it off I still haven’t done that!” My feet were slipping and I was about to give in to despair. He said, in the face of all my problems, “But you’re still here. I love you.” Well that brought my list of issues to an abrupt end. I was warmed by that thought and dwelt on it as I drifted off to sleep. Even after everything that had come to plague me, I had survived. It hadn’t defeated me. Oh yeah – and the other part, too. He loves me.

I’ve had so many problems in need of my immediate attention lately that I was past being overwhelmed. That night I just gave up, threw my hands up in the air and said: “Lord, I don’t know what to do. I’ve done all I can. I put it in your hands. HELP!” And that’s when deliverance came. AFTER the surrender. I woke up the next morning, about to reach for my not-so-good-buddy Worry, and God said, “Don’t worry – it’s my job to take care of you!” I see now that I was trying to do too much in my own power and taking ownership of things I didn’t have any control over. I was frustrated because I couldn’t control them. And I was letting it beat me down. Like any parent that sees a situation is about to get the best of their child, God stepped in.

After a harrowing day, things began to look up. Issues were handled, some without even so much as a whimper, some after much battling. The day after was much better and things began to fall back into place. God was fixing it. I rejoiced in the revelation – it’s God’s job to take care of me! I knew that He was doing just as He said. I resolved going forward that I would try to stay in my lane, do the things I have been called to do and let God do what he does best.

Be blessed,


Short People


“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.” Luke 19: 1-6

I woke up this morning thinking about short people for some reason. I ran with it, thinking that God must have something to say to me on the subject. I recalled the story of Zacchaeus, a physically short man, who was elevated in social stature when Jesus called to him. I’m sure he must have felt physically taller because the Master singled him out. I imagine him swelling up with pride and his chest sticking out as he straightened his posture and raised himself a few inches. But by the end of the passage, Zacchaeus had been raised spiritually, as well. His height had increased. He was no longer short.

I had a dream once, of a short man of my acquaintance. I didn’t know why I dreamed of him, for at the time, there was no love lost between us. He was not one of my favorite people. In the dream, I heard a voice say, “He is short.” And I woke up wondering about the dream and thinking to myself – well, that’s no great revelation! Everyone knew that he was short. But then, the realization came to me: he was not just short – he was SHORT. Not just diminutive physically, he was a man who had fallen prey to small thinking. He didn’t see the big picture and how his actions impacted others or even, his own future. He couldn’t fulfill the full potential in his position of influence because he failed to grow. Although he was a man resentful of his height, he didn’t see that he had opportunities to increase in other areas. The problem was not his physical appearance. He wasn’t just short, he was short sighted. He had fallen short of his potential.

I thought of that man today, as my thoughts dwelt on Zacchaeus. When the Master lifted Zacchaeus, he realized that here was his opportunity to not live as a short man any longer. He jumped at the opportunity – seizing that moment to declare: “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke 19:8) When Jesus called Zacchaeus down from that tree, he was calling him back from that life of greed that caused him to live a dishonest life. Sometimes when we feel like we have been shortchanged – in whatever area, be it height, weight, looks, money, position, etc., – we feel a sense of entitlement. Like life owes us something and so we are justified in taking what does not rightfully belong to us. Likely Zacchaeus had been using his position of influence to harm people financially. He was in a short place, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Then Jesus came on the scene and gave Zacchaeus a chance at being a different person, to live a different life, regardless of his stature. He offered forgiveness and a way to start over afresh. Anew. The people who were witness began to mutter against Jesus. They wanted to keep Zacchaeus in that short place and bind him there forever, a prisoner to his past. (I’m sure we all know people like this, well-meaning religious folks. But don’t look too far – it could be you, LOL!) That Jesus, a prophet and man of God, would reach out to someone so despicable, so deplorable, so obviously a sinner was unimaginable. But Jesus responded with this: “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:9-10) Salvation was for Zacchaeus, too. It was especially for him, and for all of us who once were, and still now are lost. Especially for us.

The call to Zacchaeus is the same for us. Increase! Grow! Rise! God is calling us. He’s saying don’t become stagnant spiritually and stay in that same place. Go beyond what you have become. Don’t let our physical limitations define us because that is not who, what or even all that we are. Don’t let our mental squatness continue to stunt our spiritual growth. Let those of us who are short in stature, spiritually and mentally, those of us who have fallen short, got the short end, or just plain come up short, learn and grow and rise to the full heights of the destiny to which we were called. And while we’re at it, reach out and encourage others to do the same.

Be blessed,


Wild Thing!

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” Daniel 4:28-30

“Good thing you’re staying humble,” my friends have remarked to me since the release of my book, Touched. But I think to myself, “How could I be otherwise?” The success of this book has little to do with me. It’s kind of on autopilot. Every time I think I’m done, another opportunity arises, another door opens. As far as the debut of my book goes, I have all that a brand new author could wish to have. Except pride.

As a child, I remember watching Shirley Temple dance across our little screen and thinking, “I’d love to do that!” Years later, I watched Janet Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes, recalling when she was little Penny on Good Times and thought, “Man! Wish I could do that!” Then there was Fame, the movie AND the television series – dancing in the streets, bursting into song at any given moment, living the dream of running towards greatness. YEAH! I wanted that to be me.

But along the way, I watched as child actors crashed and burned. I read about singers who forgot their lowly start and began to have tantrums and make outrageous demands – Cristal champagne in their dressing rooms, $100 bottles of water and such. The tabloids became full of reports on actors who publicly imploded under the pressure. Wow. I began to dread that type of success for fear of what it would do to me. I couldn’t trust that I wouldn’t lose control. I no longer sought fame and fortune. Lord, I prayed, don’t let it happen until I can handle it. Until I know it won’t change me.

Nebuchadnezzar. Now, there’s a mouthful. The jury is still out on how it’s pronounced. I’ve heard a few versions, putting more emphasis here or there, alternating between the ch and a hard k sound. But the most familiar and most fun way to say it is how I remember it as a child: Nebah-ka-nezzah. Say that a few times and see if I’m right! Fun, huh? The prophet Daniel served under King Nebuchadnezzar while Israel (really only a remnant of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi) was exiled in Babylon. The king had a disturbing dream and Daniel delivered the interpretation: one day, you’re gonna lose it! BIG TIME! I mean, completely lose your mind! Eating grass in the field like a beast, lose it! Daniel urged the king to turn from his sin and suggested he treat the poor well in order to buy himself more time. In other words, this was a certain thing. God had already determined it.

Nebuchadnezzar was a great king, but even more so in his own mind. I tend to think it was because God had given the king charge over His people. He blessed the ruler and in doing so, also blessed the remnant of Israel. But Nebuchadnezzar saw his accomplishments, his achievements as his own. He became proud. A year after Daniel’s prophecy, he looked around and took credit for everything, leaving no room (and thus, no glory) for God. Doom followed immediately thereafter. The same God that elevated him to king debased him, took his mental faculties and left him to wander as a beast in the field for seven years. That’s a long time to be lost. I’m sure Robert Downey, Jr. and many other celebrities can attest to the long road back from madness to sobriety. When the king recovered, he was careful to give God the glory. He admitted that all power came from God, who had the ability to exalt, as well as abase.

“Are you ready?” A friend asked after reading my book. I nodded with surety. “Really ready?” She prodded, again. This time I gulped and widened my eyes in response. The old fear of success and what it could bring crept in. “You’d better get ready!” Was I ready? Truly ready? Could I withstand the pressure? Would it cause me to fail? Would I exalt myself and think more highly of myself than I ought? Could I do this? My prayer from so long ago came to mind. I relaxed as the thought occurred to me: You asked God to make sure you could handle it before it came to you. And so he will. And so he has.

At the end of the day, I realize, like little Max in Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s tale, Where the Wild Things Are, I choose to return home. Not only to the familiarity of my comfortable bed and a hot, home cooked meal, but to who I am truly, at my core. Even though, like Max, I might be king elsewhere, I’ll go back to where my family and friends can keep me grounded so that I don’t lose myself. True, my friends and family celebrate me, but it is just that celebration which keeps me humble because I realize they don’t have to. Every blessing, even the support of family and friends, is not something that I take for granted. No one owes me their support. So I am grateful and I give God all the credit. All of the glory. It’s the only way I can make it through this. It’s the only way I can accept any accolade. I know that it comes from Him. So I no longer fear the wild thing I could become. I choose to remain me.

Be blessed,



Angels with Dirty Faces …


“And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,” 

Genesis 18:1-2

As I recall, he had a twinkle in his eye. Seriously. He didn’t see me watching him. His expression was full of joy over the simple occasion of drinking a cup of coffee. His features had a cherubic quality, angelic even, as his face was lit up from within. A small smile crossed his lips every time he raised the cup to his lip and took a small draw. It was the sweetest smile, the sweetest expression you could ever imagine – it just moved me. He reminded me of my mother, or going back further, my grandmother. His wrinkled brown skin creased in delight with each sip. Whose father or grandfather, I wondered, was he?

While he was consumed with his task, I took in the whole sight of him. He wore a cap with flaps on the sides that were pulled down over his ears, winter gloves and a jacket. Unlike me, he did not take his winter gear off as he sat enjoying his coffee at McDonald’s. I realized then that his clothes were part of him – not just his ensemble. He was homeless. That’s why he could enjoy the ritual of drinking coffee in such a fashion. His smile was for the warmth the beverage provided. It meant, he could come in out of the cold for a while and be visible, instead of invisible. He could be one of us, just a fella drinking a cup of coffee. For a time, I imagined, he felt quite human, again. Broke my heart, though. And I was moved to give him something. Not just something – money. A lot of it. I thought of how much I had on me (funny thing is, I almost never carry cash) and wondered how much would be enough. Fifty? One hundred? Really, Loria? He’s homeless! What would he do with such a sum? And what if someone were to steal it from him? What if YOU’RE WRONG and he’s not even homeless? He’d be insulted.

I turned my back on him as I debated my choices. Finally, I opted to give him enough money to buy a breakfast sandwich to go with his coffee. I figured it was the least I could do. I fished a few dollars out of my purse and handed it to him. He looked up at me with a beatific expression and thanked me. He went back to drinking his coffee, as before, completely enraptured.

“And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways.” Genesis 19:1-2 

I left the restaurant and wondered what had come over me. Why had he affected me so? Then, I recalled the stories from the Bible that detailed the accounts of Abraham, and then Lot, hosting angels. Was he, this homeless man, an angel? I compared my incident to theirs: Abraham seemed to know, immediately, that he was looking at no ordinary men. He pressed them to stay for a meal. He wanted to take care of them, to do something for them. As if he was compelled. Lot’s reaction was pretty much the same when he saw the same men. Come, stay with me at my home tonight, he pleaded. He knew the townspeople he lived among could be ruthless. Let me take care of you, honor you, keep you from harm, he urged. Hmmm.

Was it just coincidence that these stories occurred to me after my encounter with the homeless man? Maybe not. I had such a strong reaction to him; I would have gladly given him all the money in my purse. And if you knew me, you would know THAT is a feat! I still thought of him on my way home and wondered. Was he just an ordinary man? I wished I had been brave enough to do more. (I wanted to take him home with me!) I know, sadly, there will be other chances to give to the homeless. For the poor, as Jesus said, will be with us always. I’ve made my peace with that truth, feeling that they become opportunities for us to do good to our fellow man. To show the love of God and let it be shed abroad, in our hearts and in our actions. That the world would see the hands of Jesus in our ministering hands. Yep. All that sounds really good. But still, there was something about that man.

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

Months later, all I could remember about that day was that man. Even though I was downtown for a very important reason, he stuck with me. I needed to appear in court as a potential witness for the state against the driver of the car that struck my car and totaled it. I was apprehensive, to say the least. I felt harassed and harried about the whole procedure. Why did this have to happen to me? It couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was finishing the final edits on my book and anticipating its release. I worried about how the young man would plead – would he make it easier or harder to pursue restitution? That accident set me back physically, as well as, financially. I just wanted it to be over with, all of it – therapy, doctor’s visits, bills, recovery, used car drama – so that I could get back to my life. To being me again. These were the thoughts most prominent in my mind on that day, until I saw him and he captured my attention. Suddenly, I wasn’t so overwhelmed by my pending court case because my spirit had been buoyed by my encounter. But was he an angel? A scripture came to mind recently which further lent credence to my fanciful leanings:

“And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for thee.” 1 Kings 19:7

An embattled prophet Elijah was on the run from Jezebel after destroying her false prophets. He was discouraged. He whined about all he had done and given in his service to the Lord. He felt like he was being punished (instead of rewarded) for doing what God had called him to do. He ran until he got so tired that he stopped to rest and fell asleep underneath a tree. The angel woke him twice, providing sustenance and encouragement, to fortify him for the journey ahead. And so it is with us. I don’t think God ever intended for us to make this journey alone, without encouragement. I believe he intends to shore us up along the way, so that we don’t lose hope and give up. He sends beings, like my homeless friend, to give us strength for the journey ahead. So that we can go just a little further.

Be blessed,



A Peace of His Mind

palm pic“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands …” Isaiah 49:16

I was backing out of the parking spot when I saw another car doing the same. They didn’t see me. I stopped and breathed a sigh of relief that I saw and caught myself in time to avoid an accident. I was driving a rental car and worried that I would leave a scratch on a car that did not belong to me. But then, my fears were alleviated when I realized that I paid extra for the insurance. It was supposed to protect me against just this sort of calamity. I knew that if it had resulted in damage to the rental car, I would not be held responsible. More relief. Just then, I thought of the commercial for insurance where the little girl says that life insurance gives her daddy, “a peace of his mind.” So cute, in her case. But so true, in mine.

I’ve been having car issues of a magnitude that I cannot even begin to enumerate in detail. I will gloss them over and give the basics. I had a car accident on a Sunday morning while driving to church, through no fault of my own. The driver completely blew through a red light, rendering my Kia Optima aka the baby Jag (named thusly because of her really cool headlights, reminiscent of the classic Jaguar) totally inoperable. I was shook up, injured (whiplash) and devastated – mentally and physically. It took an immediate toll on my blood pressure, causing it to sky rocket. Therapy was needed, doctors visits, tests and the whole nine yards. All because of someone else’s error. I was thankful I was able to walk away. And that was just the beginning of my trials.

I decided to buy a used car to replace mine, while wrestling with the insurance company of the party at fault. Besides the stress they put me through, I was also overwhelmed at the thought of purchasing a used car. What did I know of that? I felt sure someone would take advantage of me. Not to mention, my personal life went on as usual, piling more problems on top of the car issues. I was on medication for the blood pressure which provided some temporary relief but still saw elevation when things got especially rocky. I finally looked at my blood pressure and said, “Loria, you’ve got to get a hold of yourself or the stress is going to get you!”

The next day, I went to purchase a truck that I finally settled on. I felt like I could trust the dealer, as much as you could trust any used car salesman. On the way there, another fear popped up and I could feel the worry start up. I’ve been a chronic worrier for so long, it’s been hard to give up the habit. But this time, before it could truly sink its hooks into me, I said to my son “I’m not gonna worry about that.” And it freed me. I felt it. Deep in my soul and the marrow of my bones. No more worry. Simple words that changed my life and my outlook. I’ve said to myself in the days since, “What has worry ever done for me except make me sick? Where has it gotten me?” Nowhere. I’ve not been able to change anything by worrying.

Today, after my near miss, I had the revelation that my worries have left because I am now insured, too. I know what it is to leave that worry behind and trust that God will meet whatever need arises. And I am assured that whatever happens, he has promised to work it out for my good. Meanwhile, my car issues continued. The truck had to go back because the engine was failing. The dealer was kind enough to replace it with a car, even though I was told by a lawyer that the Lemon Law didn’t apply to me. Said car then popped a belt, just as I was beginning to love the car. The tow truck driver said to me, “You must be ticked!” But I wasn’t anymore. Strangely enough, I was at peace. It made no sense. I just saw God’s hand, working in my favor, in all of this.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Not a Pollyanna type of peace, mind you, where I walk around and pretend these things aren’t happening, but a true peace which transcends my problems. A peace that only God can give. A friend commended me on my great faith when I attempted to explain what I was going through. Not faith, I said, not wanting to take the credit for something so lofty. Trust. See, at some point, I had to give God his due and trust him with my future, based on what he’s already done in my life. I trust him with my problems because he hasn’t failed me. Time and again, he has come through for me. GIVE HIM A BREAK, my heart cried. I reasoned to myself, “What more can He do to earn your trust?” Nothing. Not one more thing. He’s earned my trust and my devotion, unequivocally. I’m safe in His hands.

double palm

Be blessed,




its alive“And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” (Habakkuk 2:2)

Today marks the culmination, for me, of a journey that began more than three years ago. I left off writing my blog and pursued, instead, writing a book. It had been in my heart to do so for years but I made excuses. “It’ll take too long,” I said to myself. “I don’t have the stamina to write a book,” I thought. “One day,” I promised myself, but truly I was procrastinating. The very idea was daunting and I just didn’t have the courage. Too many what ifs clouded my mind. My fears held me back until my son challenged me: “Mama, do you want to continue to do what you do for the rest of your life?” I hadn’t really thought about it much, but I did then, seriously, for the first time.

My son is an artist. His mind runs on a different slant than more practically minded folks. I’ve encouraged it because I think I used to be that way, once upon a time. My life events have decreed that I must listen to that side of my brain that knows how to live in reality, instead of building up dreams. But I thank God for my son because his comment dredged up the part of me that had been too long denied. “YES!” it cried, “I do want to live the life of my dreams!”  The cares of this life had crushed that part of me, that adventurous spirit in me, for so long that I hardly knew how to reactivate it.

So, I put the question to God. I was about to step into the shower one morning and I absentmindedly remarked to God (I’m always carrying on an internal conversation with Him): “Lord, I would write a book, but I don’t know what to write about.” And the answer came to me, quick as a wink, faster than I could think. It must be God, I thought. It was almost like He was waiting on me to ask the question. I obeyed that voice and immediately began to write. I thought to myself, I would like to read a book like that! The adventurous Loria egged me on, so do it! Words poured onto the pages. The characters named themselves, each giving themselves a history and a voice. I fell in love with them, even as I created them.

Along this journey, I was derailed many times. Again, those pesky troubles of the world caught up with me, time after time. Since I began writing the book, my life has been like a roller coaster. I began to put off finishing my book until my life was more stable, but there never seemed to be a better time. I finally set a goal for myself and finished the first draft within the following year. I was elated – I had written a BOOK! At last, my dream had been realized. But instead of moving on to the next level, I found myself in a holding pattern for yet another year.

Then, my son came home and spurred me on. “Mama,” he said to me, “you’ve got to finish your book! You could be living a different life!” And I dared to believe, again. I recalled that God gave me this book because I ASKED for it. I’ve long believed that we receive more from God, only in response to what we’ve done with what he’s already given us. Would he trust me with more if I were not faithful regarding the gift he’d laid at my feet? Moreover, he would be correct, in my estimation, in counting me untrustworthy. Not because I’d failed, but because I hadn’t even tried. I saw then that I had a responsibility to carry through with my end of the bargain. God did his part, I must do mine. I now had the power to make “the word become flesh” in my own life and an opportunity to emulate my heavenly Father. I could make my dream a reality.

My efforts were rewarded and the resulting effort has astonished even me. It has been quite an undertaking and I realized that I couldn’t have finished the book three years ago, because it took THIS long for me to become the person who could finish it with conviction and confidence. I am amazed and grateful to God for this vision and in wonder that he would entrust me with its fulfillment.

My thanks to all of you who stood with me and believed with me, encouraged me and prayed for me.

Be blessed,


“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  Toni Morrison

A New Dawn, a New Day, a New Life!

“He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” 

I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! (Ezekiel 37:3-4)

I juggled the package in my arms as I put the key into the slot and opened my front door. My daughter came from the kitchen, smiling, and said “Why are you home so early?” Then her gaze fell on the box, containing my personal belongings, in my hands. Her face fell. “What happened?” I raised my eyebrow in response. My face told all. She came to me, took the box out of my hands and hugged me. “This is so exciting!” I heard her say. Huh? “No,” she explained, when I gave her a look like she was more than a little crazy. “As good as that job was; I know the next one will be even better. This is EXCITING!” That kid. My kid. She is SO my daughter.

My father, a Baptist minister, used to say: Only a young fool or an old man would preach from the book of Revelation.” Whew, good thing I’m not going there today! But this scripture from Ezekiel was the basis for one of his favorite sermons, Dry Bones in the Valley. It’s a promise from God of restoration for Israel. But this morning, it became a promise for me. As I am faced with rebuilding my life again (say it with me – ONE MORE TIME!), I was awakened before dawn, pondering these questions: How can you bring life to a dead situation? How can you breathe new life into a calamity? How do you coax fire from dying embers? The answer came to me from this scripture.

When I first got laid off, I was very optimistic. I’ll get another job – just like THAT, with a snap of my fingers. It soon morphed into – “My break is just around the corner … any day, now …” I mean, how long could this last? I have FAVOR, right? As the days since I was last employed lengthened, reality set in. Half the summer with no job. The fall and into Christmas, still no job. Not that there weren’t opportunities. I’ve had plenty. Interview after interview ended in heartbreak. I’ve never been on so many promising interviews AND been rejected in all my life. WOW. It was enough to make me feel a little paranoid and look at myself asking, “What’s wrong with me?” But it’s nothing personal; a lot of people are out of work right now.

I was on a roller coaster of emotions. I fluctuated between extreme highs with every potential job (“I’ll be working within the week!”) to valley lows (“I thought for sure they’d hire me…”) with every disappointment. I went on an unintended, extended hiatus and stopped writing this here blog as I struggled with what to reveal. Some of the things I’ve written about have been pretty personal but many of them were post crisis. As a church mother used to say, “I can’t tell all but I can tell some.” I didn’t want to tell that. Not THAT. It was too humiliating. Even though it was called a layoff, it felt like being fired. True, one is kinder than the other but the message is still the same – rejection. Translation: WE DON’T WANT YOU! Getouttahere! This was too close, too personal, too soon. Plus, I thought; how do I write and not give hope? How can I write about my struggle and not show resolution?  How could I write and not say what was going on with me? I couldn’t write and not be real. For months, I sat trying to NOT tell this story. But this story cried out, Tell ME.

I’ve taught my children that setbacks are temporary and God usually brings about a way to place me in an even better situation as a result. As the song says, “Every round goes higher and higher …” While things may seem dismal, they usually work out for my good. Not usually, I hasten to amend, ALWAYS. So why the depression and the “valley lows”? Because it’s happening to me! And I don’t want it to (with the pouty lip). I don’t want it to be my time for trial, not again. But as Gandalf said to Frodo when he voiced much the same sentiment, “So do all who live to face such times, but that is not for them to decide.” No one wants tribulation. No one signs up for it. Argh.

As much as I wanted to go completely ostrich (you know, head in the sand), it came down, once again to being a role model. It took a conversation with a good friend to make me realize this. She said to me, “Loria, you are everything I’ve always wanted to be. When I think of being a good Christian, I think of you. When I look for an example, I look to you.” I was floored. Speechless. Humbled. Touched. She continued, “That’s why I believe you’re meant to help more than just me. As much as you do that for me, I know you’re meant to help more than me.” She brought home for me, something my sister has repeatedly said: It’s not about YOU.

My friend reminded me that she has watched, time and again, as I have hauled my life out of the ashes and started over. Each time, I come away from the experience as a shining example of His goodness and love. My life is an encouragement to others. So then, I must, as David once did, “Encourage myself in the Lord.” (1 Samuel 30:6) I must speak or prophecy to myself, my life, these dry bones and tell them to live again. This time I must be the role model and example for myself. I must show up for me. God chose me, for whatever reason, to go through this IN FRONT OF OTHERS. I know He will use this situation to get glory for himself and restore me.

Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall depart.” (Job 1:21) He understood a simple truth. It wasn’t his to begin with. It all belongs to God anyway, as my pastor says. Every child, every piece of land, every blessing – it’s all His to give or take away as he sees fit. Experience has taught me, He gives more than he takes. I’m confident that, in the end, I will have the job or career that God has meant for me. The one that will bless me and move me forward has my name written all over it.

So I pose the question again. Who can breathe new life into these dry bones? God can. He alone is able. He still sits on the throne. His arm is not shortened. He can still save and deliver. He still has an “S” on his chest. He is still my hero. He will rescue me… again.

Be blessed,



“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12

Conversation between myself and a friend on any given Super Bowl Sunday:

Friend: Which team are you rooting for?

Me: Da Bears!

Friend: But the Bears aren’t playing …

Me: Well, I’m not really a football fan, per se.  I’m a Bears fan. So I’m always rooting for the Bears.

Friend: But the Bears aren’t playing. So … who are you are rooting for?

Me: Da Bears!

At this point, my friend usually shakes their head at me and gives up. But I am a die-hard fan of the Chicago Bears, specifically, the 1985 Bears team that won Super Bowl XX. Oh, yeah! When that Bears’ defense took possession of the ball and marched down the field, it usually resulted in points put on the board.  There were some truly memorable moments from that team. Watching Walter Payton run the ball was like watching a gazelle – poetry in motion. Jim McMahon was a great quarterback AND he could take a hit! (But THAT Bears line tried very hard to make sure that didn’t happen too often.)  Willie Gault was so handsome … maybe he didn’t always catch the ball but watching him run was a thing of beauty. And the Fridge – well, he may not be much now, but he supplied a lot of entertainment back then. (Let us not forget the tight ends, Amen!) Those Bears were fun to watch. They were hard workers and they didn’t give up.

Mike Ditka once said: In life you have two types of people. You have Grabowskis and then, there are Smiths. The implication was that the Grabowski type of personality was the kind of person who would go after things, no holds barred. Pummel life – just beat it into submission. And then, there are the Smiths. These are your more passive types of people. They just kind of let life happen to them, instead of making things happen. Mike Ditka’s Bears were Grabowskis. They played hurt. They played frozen. They played in miserable weather and got the job done. We knew we were about to win the Super Bowl when it began to snow – it was like a Christmas miracle. Because what was snow to Da Bears? Bear Weather! They were amazing. They were Grabowskis. Grrrrr.

Mike Ditka’s words turned out to be somewhat prophetic, as years later, the Bears current coach is aptly named Lovie Smith. I watched their Super Bowl appearance to cheer the Bears because I thought they were another incarnation of MY 1985 Bears. Boy, was I disappointed. Not just because we lost, but because they didn’t show any of the drive and determination that I believed was typical of MY Bears. At the risk of offending football aficionados everywhere (and I am no expert, to be sure), I saw a team of ballet dancing, tutu wearing, pansies. They cried when they were hurt and couldn’t play. The coaching was, sadly, poor. The quarterback, sadly, was bad. They failed to convert their plays into touchdowns. They wore the Bear uniforms but lacked the mentality – that Grrrrrrrrrabowski way of thinking – that was needed to get the job done. Who were these people? They were not MY Bears – they were Smiths.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

By now you’re wondering, what got me to thinking about Bears?  I’ve been thinking lately of going into hibernation – you know, like real bears do. When I think of my own personal hibernation, it is a time for me to withdraw from the world and turn my attention inwards. Usually, there is a catalyst, some event that makes me think, “Wow – time to retreat and regroup!” Time to re-evaluate my way of doing things and figure out how I got to this point. Time to reflect and redirect myself if I’ve gotten off track.  Failed relationships, romantically or otherwise, typically drive me into hibernation. After you get it wrong enough times, you begin to see the problem may not be the other person.  So I need time to think about where I messed up and where I can improve.

But I read a comment the other day that got me thinking: What is really going on when a bear goes into hibernation? Do they hibernate just so they can catch up on their sleep?  (LOL!) Bears spend the summer and fall packing on pounds to get them through the winter.  The extra weight is just for sustenance – it’s needed. When they come out of their hibernation period, they are leaner – they’ve dropped what they no longer need.  Something that female bears do specifically during this time is create. While their body is sleeping, it’s also actively working on the next phase in their lives. When they finally emerge, you may see a cub or two at their side. And whether the bear is male or female, they’re hungry.

So this time, as I enter into hibernation, I’m not going there to lick my wounds but to grow and to create. I’m going there to drop some things that worked for a time, but now, I find I no longer need.  I’m going there to spend some time alone, to rejuvenate and to be healed. I have some things that I need, that I want to accomplish in my life that’s going to take some planning and dedication. I have goals that I want to reach – setting them is kinda what I do, LOL! I will use this time to refocus and repurpose my life. And like the bear, when I am done, I will be ferociously HUNGRY. I want to meet the obligations I have set for myself.

I will not only be like the bear, I will be like Da Bears in my mentality. I will attack every goal I have set, like it is a first down, marching ever across that field until I reach my goal. I won’t be satisfied until that ball sails through the posts and I can yell: TOUCHDOWN! YEAH BABY! Then I’ll do my little victory dance – maybe part cabbage patch, part running man. I will approach my goal with single minded determination to persevere and succeed, no matter the obstacle thrown in my path. I will not give up because I am a Bear  – 1985, Super Bowl XX Champion Chicago Bear, to be exact – and a Grabowski. I’m not giving up. I’m not stopping. Grrrrr….

Be Blessed,


True Grit

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Did you know that those who appear to be REALLY strong…. are actually the most sensitive? Did you know that those who spend all their time protecting and caring for others…usually are in need of someone to protect and to care about them? Did you know that three of the hardest things to say are: “I love you,” “I’m sorry” and “Help me”?  (Recent FB post)

I recently confessed to a friend:  “I really feel that post about ‘strong’ people – it gets hard to keep up the facade at times … it tires me out. Being ‘weak’ would be so nice.” I’ve always thought weakness meant the exact opposite of my definition of strength.  So, I said to my friend, “I think I will allow myself this day to be ‘weak’ … or maybe just a few hours … okay – A FEW MINUTES! Dang it, can’t do the all-day thing … got people counting on me to be strong … heck, I’M counting on me, too LOL!” I couldn’t give in to a pity party for long. Then I thought about that word … weak. Would it really be so bad to be weak and what does that even mean?

Well, I know what being strong means. Believing myself to be strong, appeals to the hero in me. It means I sometimes say no to myself – I restrict myself and try to think of the greater good. It means I restrain myself and try to see the big picture. It means being noble and honest and of good character. It means being an example for others to follow. It means pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstrap-son! It means forge ahead and create your own destiny. Instead of playing the victim, I take responsibility for changing the situation that I find myself in – that I may have even created. It means doing what you have to do to get it done in the face of certain obstacles that would derail others’ efforts. Courage under fire.

Truthfully, I’m such a control freak that I hate to feel that any part of my life is out of my control. And I‘m so proud that it’s very hard to say, “Help me.” That, too, is weakness. But is this desire to not appear weak really driven by a need to show others that I’ve got it all together? Does pride equal strength?  Well, as another friend so helpfully pointed out, “Pride goeth before destruction…” (Proverbs 16:18) So pride is the most certain way you can destroy yourself. So then, what is weakness?

If being weak means that you are able to admit you need help and to ask for it, then that takes strength (at least, for me) because it is so very hard to do. If it means that you let down your walls and let other people in, that’s scary and takes courage to do because they can potentially hurt you. Wow. This weak thing is not as easy as it sounds. To just GIVE UP? Give up your power and leave yourself wide open, making yourself THAT vulnerable? Being weak is definitely not all it’s cracked up to be.  I guess your security can only lie in WHO you are leaving yourself vulnerable to.

Being weak before God means I will allow him to have my power. It means I will give him control over a situation. It means I will submit to his will. It means you can allow yourself to be vulnerable and put yourself in his hands, knowing he will not abuse your trust. He is not a man, so being weak before him and admitting we need help from him is not only acceptable, it’s preferred. God loves it when we come to him with our broken lives, bring him our broken messes, put it in his hands and say “Daddy, can you fix this?” And being a good parent, like I did for my children when they would bring me their broken toys, he takes it out of our hands and puts it back together, making it functional again. THERE – good as new!

Our God delights in doing this. It’s when we are at our most weak and vulnerable that God is at his best. Think about it, how much success would your child have with fixing that broken toy unless they hand it over to you? They would struggle with it for a time, trying to be independent, trying to fix it, saying “No! I can do it!”  They finally give up in frustration, throwing pride out the window. That is us. God can’t do anything until we give up and give it over to him, which requires that we admit we cannot do it alone. Then we cry, “I need help!” Oh, but he is our strength! When I say I want to be weak, I’m really saying, I want someone to be strong for me. I’m really strong for other folks – let someone be really strong for me. Someone I can lean on. Someone I can trust with my troubles.

I find myself currently in the position of having to re-invent myself … yet, again.  Shoot! Dang it!  My strength, in the past, has been dependent on those I had to be strong for – my kids, my mom, my family or friends. So when put in a similar position some five years ago, I found it in me to be strong for my kids’ sake. They needed me – I could not let them down. So, while part of me wanted to just crawl in a hole and be done with it, I couldn’t allow myself that luxury of just giving up. And part of me was afraid to just give up for fear the torrent of life’s cares would just wash me away. I was afraid to lose in my desperate gamble for freedom and my bid to begin life anew. I was determined to succeed. I NEEDED to succeed.

I’m finding now that it’s easier to show up and be strong for other people than it is for myself. For those who need me, for those who are “weaker” than myself, I have been strong.  Do I have it in me to show up and be strong for me? Thank goodness, I’ll never find out … I plan on taking the ‘easy’ road this time.  Just let myself be weak, for a change. I’ll lean and depend on God and trust that he won’t let the cares of this life carry me away.  I give my strength away and find the courage to say, “I need help.”  Time to let go and let God.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so

Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong …

Be blessed,


Village People

God said to Adam: “Don’t eat the apples off that tree.”

Adam said, “What tree?”

God replied, “That tree – in the middle of the garden. Don’t eat the apples.”

Adam called:  “Hey Eve, we got apples!”

Children … sigh! My son recently found himself in a tough spot due to some poor choices he’d made. I was concerned and worried enough to go into prayer mode for him, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Every morning, he consumed my thoughts. He was constantly on my mind. Help him, God, I prayed.  Guide him to you. Show yourself to him. Let him know his life is not his own. He has a greater responsibility because he has been given so much. Call him to you. And on it went.  I also enlisted the help of a few relatives and trusted friends to pray with me. I just wanted to be sure my son was OK. My friends and family comforted me and prayed with me and God came through for me and my son – as always. I am thankful. But just before I got the good news that God turned his situation around, I had a realization. My son was not the only young person who’d lost his way and therefore, become guilty of frustrating and disappointing his parents. The main difference between my son and others? THEY were not my problem.

“… they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” Pastor Martin Niemöller

See, I thought it couldn’t happen to us. I thought we were immune to some of the difficulties other families faced. I felt secure in how I’d raised him, the calling on his life and in how much God had blessed us. When other parents told me of their trials, I would pray with them, but I felt personally detached from their situation. “Wow,” I thought. “Look at what THEY are going through!” Such Arrogance. Now I am ashamed of my attitude. “Peace and safety,” says the scripture, is what we claim just before “sudden destruction” overtakes us (1Thessalonians 5:3). Before it personally touched me, I didn’t even THINK to pray continually for the guidance and safety of all of our young people, everywhere. I know now that was foolishness, for their calamity at some time may touch me and mine in some form. And soon we will hand our world over to them – our young people, to do what they will – no, to do what we have trained (or failed to train) them to do. God used this situation to convict me:  Loria, you’ve got to care. You’ve got to pray. This does affect you and your loved ones. You’ve got to be concerned.

“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you…” 1 Samuel 12:23

While our situation was not dire and we were not in desperate straits -THIS TIME – what if the opposite were true? Would it have taken something truly awful for me to be actively praying for a solution? Wow. When it happened to my son’s friends, I thought “Wow. Look at him – he did that to his poor mother.” And it’s true, when our kids do things that are not in keeping with what we have taught them, we look to ourselves. What did I do wrong? How could I have done this better? Is this a result of such and such catastrophe? Are they acting out? As mothers, we take this on ourselves. Even scripture says, “A child left to himself will bring shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15) Society doesn’t automatically look to the father, they look to the mother. And we look to ourselves for the blame, too.

My friend said to God (concerning her own son), “I didn’t raise him like that!” To which God replied, “Then why are you letting the devil condemn you about it?” Nobody wins the blame game – it just keeps you wrapped up in guilt, feeling badly and not being able to get past it. Haranguing and nagging the offender doesn’t help. When confronted, my own son said, “What do I do now?” That attitude helps us to move forward. Sometimes, analyzing how we got where we are helps to ensure we don’t make the same mistake again. But eventually, we
have to address the situation head on: How do I get myself out of the pickle I find myself in? And then we need to pull up our sleeves and work to do just that.

“It takes a village to raise a child.” African Proverb

When my children were small, I used to walk them to their bus stop daily. It was only a short distance away – just a couple of blocks – but it was on a busy street. For some reason, other parents felt completely safe with sending their children unattended, or so I assumed. I was quite on my high horse about it – “THOSE parents,” I thought. How could they send their children to play near a major street? Not my children, I said to myself, as I proceeded to escort them every day. Before long, I knew all the children and I was the adult presence at the bus stop. I watched out for them all.

I remember when some of those same children were doing poorly in school. I recall one girl who couldn’t read, yet she was being advanced from grade to grade. These same children wanted to form a “study club” and invited my children to participate. But I wouldn’t allow my children to become involved for fear their grades would slip, too. That was alright for THOSE children and THOSE mothers who were uninvolved and did not seem to care. It didn’t occur to me that maybe, those mothers could not do better. And maybe somewhere along the line, their children would affect my own.

It seems my neighborhood school shared my views. They were guilty of not caring about the progress of the children and foisting the responsibility solely off on the parents. They thought those families alone would be affected. They didn’t see a reason to care because it didn’t affect the student body as a whole. Except one day, it did. Our school was evaluated and found lacking – they were put on the watch list. I was sent a notice telling me that I could send my children to another school because our current school did not meet the standards. Wow. The following year – let me tell you – I received no such notice from the school regarding their academic standing. It was a humbling experience and they realized what affects one, may affect us all. Lesson learned. Message delivered.

That was a wake-up call for the school and for me, then. But now, today, it’s message returns to me. We must care when we hear stories of other children doing poorly. We must care when we hear of other parents who are struggling. We must NOT think it affects only THEM, for we could be THOSE parents – it’s only by the grace of God that we are not in their shoes. We must pray for them now, as we would our own children and not wait until it becomes our problem. It is our duty and responsibility. If we don’t care today, one day we will – because their lives may very well be intertwined with our own.

Be blessed,


P.S. I’m thankful for the joke that reminded me, even God has problems with wayward children (LOL!) and for the friend who reminded me “God is ABLE” to keep them!