Margaret H. Johnson
Author. Inspirational Speaker. Self Publishing Consultant
Be Real. Be Authentic. Be You!
"I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14
I started watching the Hunger Games Series a few weeks ago. I hadn't read the books so I knew nothing about the plot of the story but here's the gist of the series: to avoid political uprising, the Capital randomly selects one male and female child from each of 12 districts to participate in a fight to the death with one lone survivor. During the Hunger Games, these children are placed in extreme conditions with insurmountable odds against them. As I watched this series, I thought about my situation and how at times it felt barren and devoid of life.
Then I thought about the son of Jonathan in II Samuel 9 who was placed in Lo-debar. Lo-debar was a city where there was barrenness, no productivity and essentially the place of the forgotten. Lo-debar actually means "no pasture." It was a place where nothing would grow. There are times in all of our lives where we will be tossed into Lo-debar and it feels like we are forgotten. I've been there. There have been nights where I just cried myself to sleep wondering if there would ever be a change in my situation. I longed for deliverance but it seemed that deliverance was no where to be found. The most detrimental thing about Lo-debar is that there is no upward mobility. Once you are there, you become stagnant. Since nothing grows in Lo-debar the life is slowly drained from you and if you are not careful, death is imminent.
What I have discovered in my own Lo-debar is that it is a place of transition. Lo-debar is not my final destination. I cannot look at what is going on around me as an indication of what my future will bring but I must remain hopeful and look for the promises of God to become a reality in my life. All the while that Jonathan's son Mephibosheth was in Lo-debar, David was looking to restore him. He thought he had been forgotten but in the midst of feeling hopeless, plans were being made for his restoration. David found him and brought him out of Lo-debar and into his proper place - the palace.
As I sat and watched the Hunger Games, I was left with a feeling of peace knowing that in the end of the movie the main character defeated her enemies and found rest. After all of the destruction, death, and turmoil the main character faced, she navigated through her personal Lo-debar and suddenly she was lying in green pastures. As a result, I thought about my own Lo-debar experience yet I remain hopeful that my days of palace living are on the way. God has not forgotten about His children. David reminds us in the 23rd Psalm that even though we may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death, God is right there with us in the midst of our darkest hours. God is working to bring about deliverance. Yes there will be moments when you are afraid. Yes there will be moments when you have to cry. Yes there will be days when you feel like giving up. But in those times remember that God is making a way of escape for you. He never sleeps. All we have to do is navigate through Lo-debar and not become infected with the spirit of Lo-debar.
Today affirm yourself with these words: My dream is not dead. My vision will become a reality. I will give birth to my promise.
What has your own Lo-debar experience taught you?
Until next time....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be YOU!
From the time I was a little girl, my parents instilled upon me the power of prayer. I would see my mom overcome great obstacles in her life and I know it was all because of prayer. I heard sermons about prayer and read Scriptures reemphasizing what I had heard all my life. As a result I became a prayer warrior. I would find myself praying in the car on the way to work - eyes open of course! I would feel the urging to pray for people that God would lay on my heart and I would do it without hesitation. I faced battles and my first instinct was to pray.
Then when my illness left me confined to a wheelchair for the second time....I lost the fervency I once had in prayer. Even though I had prayed my way through storms before, sometimes life can knock you down so hard that you lose the zeal and thirst you once had. All of a sudden, I didn't feel like praying. I could not even come up with the words to say. How could this happen? My prayers had seen me through sickness, the loss of loved ones, financial troubles yet in what seemed like an instant, I did not feel like praying.
When I would sit in the silence, I knew that God was longing to hear from me but I did not know what to say to Him. I felt like Elijah who had once called down fire from Heaven and later was hiding from Jezebel under a juniper tree. How did such a mighty man of God like Elijah go from declaring and decreeing to towering in fear? I have asked myself that same question as it relates to my own life. I don't have a magic answer to that question but what I am gaining from those moments is that sometimes the silence is good because it gives each of us an opportunity to sit in our truth. Sometimes we can get so busy hearing ourselves talk that we don't take the time to listen. Many of us are afraid of the silence. The silence was scary for me because it was uncomfortable. I was no longer in control of what was going to happen next. I could only wait. I had to nurse my wounds and come to the realization that I was letting my situation define who God is in my life instead of letting God show me who He is through my situation.
Because of God's omniscience, He knew that my current situation would leave me in a dry place. He also knew that once I became thirsty enough, I would return to the fountain and drink. Isn't it amazing how God uses the dry places in our life to reiterate how much we need Him! As I sat in the silence void of prayer, God was still drawing me to Him. I didn't ignore the silence but I sat in it and eventually I found my way to the fountain to quench my thirst.
The urge to pray began to rekindle, but I had to reconnect to God again. I bought a book called, Pocket Prayers - 40 Simple Prayers that Bring Peace and Rest by Max Lucado and it was life changing. I highly recommend it! Each page starts with a scripture and ends with a corresponding prayer. My husband and I use it every morning. At first that was the only prayer that I rendered to God. Soon enough, however the words began to emerge and prayer began to flow from my lips. My relationship with God has gone to a different level. This does not mean that I am exempt from ever going to that place again. It just means that now I am aware that life can sometimes lead us down a path that we never thought we would travel. Ignorance is a deadly weapon the enemy uses to keep us bound. I am glad to say that I am free today because I yielded to the lesson God was trying to teach me.
There are still times, however that I don't feel like praying and when that happens, I sit in the silence, unveil my truth and let God minister to me. He always does.
What have you learned or seen God do through your prayer life? I would love to hear your testimonies, lessons learned, etc.
Until next time....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be You.
My dog Peaches is a unique character. She chews up everything in sight and we go from moments of wanting to give her away to loving her and those endearing blue eyes. The other day my husband put Peaches in the back yard and went about the house doing some chores. About 30 minutes later, he looked out the window and Peaches was nowhere to be found. Worried, he opened the door and as soon as he did, Peaches peeked her little head out of the recycle bin. Corey took a picture so I could see the mischief Peaches had gotten herself into. She was eating the remnants of pizza that was left in the bin. Needless to say, she was throwing up much of the evening.
From Peaches' little adventure, I thought about how often I have consumed things that were harmful to me even though I had been nourished with all the right things. I have let negative thoughts creep in my mind and before long they have taken over and I am in a funk the rest of the day. I have let people speak things in my life and not rebuke them instantaneously and then all of a sudden I am angry.
We give Peaches all the dog food she needs yet when the opportunity arose for her to consume something harmful she went for it. I am learning that just because opportunities to give in to negative thoughts, emotions or feelings are around me, I don't have to consume them. I get all of my nourishment from the Word of God and it tells me who I am and what I can become.
The Bible tells us that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. This is not a one time event but it is a lifestyle. Transformation takes time. If we become lazy in the renewal process, we will most certainly revert back to old ways. That's what happened to me. I let the situations in my life control my thoughts and emotions and I aborted my transformation process. With every battle and hardship there is an opportunity to grow if you stay steadfast in the renewal. If you choose to neglect the process you could potentially get stuck and keep going around the same mountain over and over again like the children of Israel did. I think I will choose to focus on the Word the next time those nasty thoughts come my way or else I will be in the same predicament of our dog peaches - full of regrets and longing for a do-over.
What do you do when negative thoughts come? I would love to hear from you! Comment below and I will respond :)
Until next time.......Be Real. Be Authentic. Be YOU!
I love watching crime shows. The First 48 is one of my favorite shows because it depicts real life investigations into catching criminals who have committed horrible crimes. I love trying to figure out the mystery before the investigators do. Once these criminals are caught, they are interrogated and often times they confess. At the end of the show, a picture of the criminal flashes across the screen with the prison sentence that the offender received. Many times they are given sentences anywhere from 20 years to life in prison. Can you imagine being imprisoned in a tiny cell; no longer free to go as you please?
I have never been to prison but I know what confinement feels like. Being confined to a wheelchair and bed bound most days oftentimes feels like a prison. There were days where I would just lay in my bed and cry because I could not go to the bathroom on my own or fix myself a plate of food. Frustrated with my condition, I kept thinking about all of the things that I could not do. My life before this illness seemed like a fairy tale. I would try to remember what it felt like to get up in the morning and cook breakfast for my husband and kids but I couldn't. I had developed a prison mentality. No, I didn't commit a crime but I was confined nonetheless.
Sounds like a horrible place and state of mind to be in huh? Yes there are still days that I am frustrated about the things that I cannot do but I have since found a freedom in confinement. I am now forced to deal with my emotions and feelings for what they are. I can't mask them by shopping sprees or even going to take a hot shower. I can't run away from my truth. There is such a freedom in being forced to deal with your issues head on. As a result I am learning more about myself and where God is taking me even in this time of confinement.
By no means am I in a state of complacency, rather I am in a state of contentment. God will bring about deliverance in my life but it will be in His time. I cannot rush God and it won't help my situation to continue to ponder on all the things that I am unable to do. Instead I am using this confinement as an opportunity to grow closer to God. It has been a process and many days there was no dialogue between me and God. Then I started reading one Bible verse, then another. I stumbled upon Psalm 139:14 - "I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" and it changed everything for me.
No, my life is not where I thought it would be. No, I don't have all the things I desire to have, but I know now more than ever that God has not forgotten about me. In God's great plan for the world, He thought about me. He made me in His image and His likeness. Before I was formed in my mother's womb, He knew I would be in this place in 2016. What a freedom I have in this season of confinement knowing that God has a plan for me! He will turn my mourning into dancing - literally.
Until next time....Be Real. Be Authentic. Be YOU!
On May 3, 2014 I married the love of my life and we pledged for better or worse, in sickness and in health and we meant it. Little did we know that those vows would be tested so early on. In July of the same year, I suffered the loss of my mother. She died on her birthday - July 29, 2014. The grief was unbearable at times but God saw me through. I pressed on and life continued to bring ups and downs. Days of sadness, laughter and at times fond memories and hope for the future. Then on January 2015, I received a promotion on my job which would mean a transfer to a smaller town about 20 minutes away. I jumped in with expectations of putting everything into my career and climbing the corporate ladder. My plans, however did not align with what God had planned for my life.
On April 30th 2015, my life changed again drastically. I had been dealing with an illness since 2010 which left me wheelchair bound. After months of physical therapy and medication, I regained my mobility and began walking again. Then on that faithful day in April, those pains from the past resurfaced and my mobility declined and once again I became wheelchair bound. I remain in that condition at this very moment - a year later.
Through the course of this past year, I became like a caterpillar in a cocoon and I shut myself off from my ministry, my friends and at times even family. My faith has been tested yet I have never asked God why. To be honest, I really haven't asked him much of anything. Sometimes I felt like I had no voice. I could not find the words to say. God was so patient with me and as I would sit in the silence, God would say things like, "I love you", "I'm still here", and "This is not the end." As the months began to linger, God showed me that just because I am in a wheelchair my life is not over. I still have a purpose. Through my struggle and through my pain, I can be a light for someone else.
I am learning to trust God with my whole heart again. I gave God some things in my life but others I just held onto. I forgot how to lay them at His feet. I have suffered loss and am enduring pain but my joy still remains in tact. God is continually showing me that I have to endure the tough times to get to where He wants me to be. I may have visions and dreams of what I want my life to be but at the end of the day, my life is in His hands. His purpose for my life will come to pass. I am now yielding completely to His plan.
This blog post signifies a new start. An opportunity to share my truths as I see them. No fuzzy sayings, no sugar coated play on words. I want to encourage each of you to go along the journey with me. This is my new mantra and I hope you will embrace it as your own - Be Real. Be Authentic. Be YOU!
Until next time.... XOXO