Seeing God In The 99’s

Over the past few weeks I must admit distraction has followed me everywhere. Rather than sitting at the laptop writing blog posts,  or jotting  thoughts for the next book, I answered every phone call, engaged in too many projects, took on impromptu work assignments, and went on every outing distraction sent my way.  Why? Because maybe like some of you reading this, the thought of taking the next step forward to where God is saying “Go,”looks further than your feet can stretch.

typewriter

After weeks of daily battles unlike any I have ever engaged in, I fell on my knees and confessed to God the source of my (intentional) distraction. How, I asked Him do I walk forward if?…. then, I listed them all. Every single doubt. Every single what if. Every single thought of loss or hurt I believed would surely come.  As I raised the list of distracting thoughts before God, these words lifted from the pages of scripture : Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:6-7

And that was it.  I kicked distraction to the curb and took the first steps – which led me to a local mall I had not visited in over a year. The store clerk in the shop I went to, let me know it would be about 45 minutes before what I purchased would be ready, so I walked the (near empty at 1:00 PM on a Saturday afternoon?) mall. I noticed a huge entryway into what appeared to be a museum. I walked in and was quickly greeted by James C. Horton, the owner of the Sights & Sounds Black Cultural Museum.

Names, faces and places of time gone by, covered the walls and filled tables below. There was so much to see. I picked up slave trade relics, deliberately touching every clang and clasp of rusted handcuffs that at one time shackled the wrists of men and women who may have been family members, and a neck collar small enough to fit a child’s, attached to a thick, weighty, steel chain. Early photographs and historical writings of Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, and The Emancipation Proclamation, pulled me forward.

Sights and Sounds Museum

It wasn’t until I reached the Buffalo soldiers and  Tuskegee Airmen walls that I saw the children and teacher at the table. They eagerly colored, while answering the teacher’s questions: “And what were some of the jobs of The Tuskegee Airmen? Yes. That’s right. And Norris Connelly, what did he do?” What a lesson those young people were getting, I thought.  A few minutes after reaching the teaching table,  the teacher jumped out of her chair with: “He’s here. He’s here. The Tuskegee Airman is here. Here he is kids.  Here comes Norris Connelly.” I halted my steps and looked at the kids’ and teacher’s excitement as two men wheeled in Norris Connelly donning his Tuskegee Airman cap and jacket. I too became giddy and walked closer to stand by the students.

Norris3a

Before long, the teacher and James C. Horton asked me to shake Mr. Connelly’s hand, stand next to him, get in the pictures, etc., etc. . Oh my, oh my! What had I walked into? Within minutes, the handful of us there, including (yeesss!!!) Tuskegee Airmen historian extraordinaire: Zellie Rainey Orr, author of “First Top Guns,” were talking, laughing, taking pictures for and with each other and thanking God for what He had done in the lives of Americans of African descent.

Zellie

Ms. Zellie and I shared a conversation that I will not post here, but will let you know resulted in us embracing, encouraging one another, laughing and dancing at knowing what a blessing it was that God directed both of our steps to the gallery that Saturday morning.   I purchased a copy of her book – “First Top Guns.” She autographed it and asked Tuskegee Airman Norris Connelly, who is 94 years strong, to also autograph it. She mentioned being amazed that he added “99th squadron” to his signature.

TheBlessing

As I prepared to leave, James, the owner / curator, walked over to me and mentioned, “I am often asked why I don’t invite hundreds of people to visit on the weekends.  Let me ask you a question,” he continued.  “If there were a few hundred people here, would you have stayed?” I shook my head no. I would have walked the periphery of the museum, then left. He said, “That’s what I thought.  God will send who He wants to be here.”  With that, though I wanted to stay in the gallery longer, I was free to “Go.”

After returning to the shop to get what I’d gone to the mall to buy in the first place, I had one other stop to make – to pick up a few vegetables and pieces of fruit. I decided to go to Publix rather than The Farmer’s market – a choice I knew would hit me hard in the pocketbook, but the store was right across from the mall and I couldn’t wait to get home and tell somebody about the God moments I just experienced.

Standing at the register, looking into the shopping cart, and seeing that, as what oftentimes happens – too much stuff landed in it, I considered taking some items out, but needed them all, so removed nothing. The cashier rang my total. I looked at the register panel. It read. “99.” “Is that my total?,” I questioned the cashier. “99? Even?” She replied yes, and asked if I’d like to play that number. No, I thought. No, I don’t need to play that number.

There is no amount of money or luck that can compare with the conversation me and Ms. Zellie had, getting an autographed copy of “First Top Guns,” Norris Connelly’s (a member of the first class to graduate from the Tuskegee Airmen program and go overseas), inscribed signature – including 99th squadron, then seeing 99, again, as the final answer of the day.

TheReceipt1

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” Psalm 139: 7

There is nothing – nothing – nothing, that compares to God’s display of love, special revelation and confirmation of His presence in our lives. Honor Him.  Love Him.  Obey Him.  Abide in Him.  Walk with Him in the midst of your battles.  Go where He tells you to go.   The reward will be seeing Him in your 99’s.

For information on the museum, visit: Sights and Sounds Museum
For information on Zellie Rainey Orr, visit: First Top Guns

Tell Your Story.  Live Your Calling.

2017 Premier Production At 7 Stages

UN-SHAME ON YOU, brings the battle men, women and children across the globe, have with shame, to the stage. Shame stalks as does a thief of the night, in pursuit of lofty visions, promised dreams and inherited futures, treasured by the vulnerable. No longer able to do its work behind closed doors, shame is put center stage to wage it’s battle with love, in the lives of three residents of a suburban Empresstown apartment complex.

March 2nd, 2017 Opening Night Seats Reserved For Community Groups
For More information, contact info@unshameonyou.com

Theater-ForEventbrite

On the same unseasonably odd Friday night Imara, Wren and Tasha each come face to face with shame, themselves, strong-willed weather, and one another. Do they have the strength to evict shame and wrestle the elements of the night? The weight of what each woman confronts nudges her in front of a road paved with questionable choices.

ImaraChildren copy

New to the 2017 production is the powerhouse actress, director, writer, Silvia Mathis-Manning. We are likewise thrilled at the return of Alexis Gamble, David Rucker, and the other previous cast members. Come see why audiences count Un-Shame On You as one of the best theatrical performances they’ve ever experienced.

WELCOME BACK LOVE copy

SoundTrack Previews: Hold-On; Call Me Un-Shamed; Goodbye, Shame; Welcome Back Love

Joy In The Story welcomes the press to follow the opening and run of Un-Shame On You.Inquiries: info@unshameonyou.com. online information: www.joyinthestory.com | www.unshameonyou.com

Do you see what He sees?

It’s so easy to step around or close an eye to those who joy seems to escape during the holiday seasons.  When things are quite alright in our lives, it’s understandable that we don’t want anything coming near the happy days we love so much.  So, those that cry easily, lost a loved one during this time in a past year, or are carrying burdens we can only imagine the depths of, fade into the background.

I sometimes wonder what was in the hearts of people twenty-one (or two or three or eight) hundred years ago.  How did they handle those with flatlined smiles, weighty circumstances or outstretched hands during Christmastime?  Maybe since television, the computer or even radio were not yet invented, it was easier to not see, hear or be touched those who would dim Christmas cheer.

Oh, but wait.  Twenty one (or two or three or eight) hundred years ago, Christmas wasn’t, yet.  It was, about to become.  What, then must it have been like without Christmas?  No Christ.  No New Testament.  No once and for all forgiveness.  None of Jesus’s miracles?  No finished work on the cross.  Can you imagine?  Just for a minute?  What life would be like without Christmas?

wellwater

There are so very many reasons Jesus became one of us and walked the face of the earth He created.  He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and to quench the thirst of the parched (John 4:10), just to name two.   Jesus walked with those: whose hearts were so heavy they could barely stand up, were so shamed they only came out when they would be seen by the fewest people, were kept out of places of worship because they were unclean, and considered themselves the worst of sinners.  Jesus saw, spoke to, and touched people.

Those who are called by His name are to see people too.  To do as He did, bring Christmas to those who may not have heard the reason for the birth of The Savior of The World, or who have such heavy hearts, that only a touch will do.

Merry Christmas to you my friends.  And, to those we see.

The Gift of A Second Chance To Get It Right

Everyone can be fully and forever forgiven of everything they’ve ever done, said or thought that was against the Holiness of God. Anyone. Everything. Here’s why…

Just like any courtroom anywhere in the world, one who is proven guilty has to pay a penalty. There’s no getting off scot-free. In the courtroom of heaven, total perfection to God is required. After the first man and woman used their God-given choice to do that which their Creator warned would be harmful to them, the possibility of perfection to God was lost for all who would come after them. (Us!) 

BUT…… since God created humanity because He loves and has good plans for us, He made a way for the penalty of going against His holiness to be paid. Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity, left heaven, to walk on earth as the perfect one of us, to pay the price for us. He suffered the consequence of all of humanity’s (everyone who was born, is alive today, and will ever be born) sins against God. He was born. He died on the cross. God The Father, raised Him from the dead. It is the gift to humanity that could only be given by God Himself.

smallmanger

That gift, Jesus as personal savior. once accepted comes with the promise of a new life lived with God’s spirit Himself teaching us how to live a good, healthy, fun, challenging, exciting life. As long as we are on this earth, we will never be perfect, but we are not who we used to be and are always changing for the better.

We no longer have to look for love and happiness in all the wrong places. The God who created us has shown how very much we matter to Him! We have been freed from the heavy burdens of our sin, shame and guilt . We can lay them down at the cross of Christ and live a life of joy and utter gratitude to God for loving us so much that He would actually die to set us free…

This is The Christmas Story. The Greatest Story ever lived!  Jesus is the reason for Joy in All Stories…