Have a little faith

When people are new to any situation, be it a job, a relationship, a church, they are leery of sudden changes or abrupt movements that could cause it all to come “crashing down.” I was thinking about this while at church this morning, listening to the pastor explain to the congregation how we are moving to a new location next weekend. I knew about this move and am completely fine with it. I had to stop, however, and think about what it would be like for someone completely new to hear these words. Someone who had been out of the church for months (years) and just came to service for the first time because they received a postcard in the mail. Or someone who had always hated church and didn’t really want to risk getting hurt (again) but decided to come today just to hear a good word and receive some kind of hope. I thought about what this move would sound like to those new ears, and it literally made me smile.

You see, as my pastor always says, we aren’t a church defined by a building. We don’t lose our identity simply because we are moving to a different location. What makes us God’s church is the people! And I smiled today trusting God to continue to send more people, and to give peace to those who are already sitting in the seats. God just asks us to have a little faith, and He can perform miracles from our small amount of trust! Isn’t this reassuring?

Just have a little faith… just because we are moving doesn’t mean God isn’t!


The many names of God

It’s powerful to pray to and praise God in all situations. What has really proven to me to be even more powerful is calling on God’s individual names as I pray, knowing that the part of God I am speaking to is the part I need to rescue or comfort me. My professor put it like this, “When a child is injured, she doesn’t need the disciplinary side of her mother to show up, she needs her nurturing side to come and comfort her.” I’ve prayed to the many names of God and felt powerful as I am saying the Word right back to the Creator. I challenge you to try it!

~This is a comprehensive list I found online~

Jehovah’s Name
Exalting the Name of Jesus Christ
“If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me.”

• Jehovah – The Lord – Exodus 6:2-3
• Jehovah-Adon Kal Ha’arets- Lord of Earth – Josh 3:13
• Jehovah-Bara – Lord Creator – Isaiah 40:28
• Jehovah-Chatsahi – Lord my Strength – Psalm 27:1
• Jehovah-Chereb – Lord the Sword – Deut. 33:29
• Jehovah-Eli – Lord my God – Psalm 18:2
• Jehovah-Elyon – Lord Most High – Psalm 38:2
• Jehovah-Gador Milchamah – Mighty in Battle – Ps 24:8
• Jehovah-Ganan – Lord Our Defense – Ps 89:18
• Jehovah-Go’el – Lord My Redeemer – Is. 49:26, 60:16
• Jehovah-Hamelech – Lord King – Psalm 98:6
• Jehovah-Hashopet – Lord My Judge – Judges 6:27
• Jehovah-Helech ‘Olam – Lord King Forever Ps10:16
• Jehovah-Hoshe’ah – Lord Saves – Psalm 20:9
• Jehovah-Jireh – Provider – Gen. 22:14, I John 4:9, Philip 4:19
• Jehovah-Kabodhi – Lord my Glory – Psalm 3:3
• Jehovah-Kanna – Lord Jealous – Ex 34:14
• Jehovah-Keren-Yish’i – Horn of Salvation – Ps 18:2
• Jehovah-M’Kaddesh – Sanctifier – I Corinthians 1:30
• Jehovah-Machsi – Lord my Refuge – Psalm 91:9
• Jehovah-Magen – Lord my Shield – Deut. 33:29
• Jehovah-Ma’oz – Lord my Fortress – Jer. 16:19
• Jehovah-Mephalti – Lord my Deliverer – Psalm 18:2
• Jehovah-Metshodhathi – Lord my Fortress – Psalm 18:2
• Jehovah-Misqabbi – Lord my High Tower – Psalm 18:2
• Jehovah-M’gaddishcem – Lord my Sanctifier – Ex 31:13
• Jehovah-Naheh – Lord who Smites – Ezekiel 7:9
• Jehovah-Nissi – Banner – I Chronicles 29:11-13
• Jehovah-Rohi – Shepherd – Psalm 23
• Jehovah-Rophe – Healer – Isaiah 53:4,5
• Jehovah-Sabaoth – Lord of Hosts – I Sam 1:3
• Jehovah-Sel’i – Lord my Rock – Psalm 18:2
• Jehovah-Shalom – Peace – Isaiah 9:6, Rom 8:31-35
• Jehovah-Shammah – Present – Hebrews 13:5
• Jehovah-Tsidkenu – Righteousness – I Cor 1:30
• Jehovah-Tsori – Lord my Strength – Psalm 19:14
• Jehovah-Yasha – Lord my Savior – Isaiah 49:26
• Jehovah-‘Ez-Lami – Lord my Strength – Ps 28:7
• Jehovah-‘Immeku – Lord Is With You – Judges 6:12
• Jehovah-‘Izoa Hakaboth – Lord Strong -Mighty – Ps 24:8
• Jehovah-‘Ori – Lord my Light – Psalm 27:1
• Jehovah-‘Uzam – Lord Strength in Trouble – Is 49:26

Standing firm on quicksand

It is one thing to be strong when no forces are coming against you. It is easy to swim forward when there is no current or tide. One can often run fastest without wind resistance. There is no difficulty in smiling when others around you smile back. But how often, may I ask, is your personal life so perfect and flawless? How often do you find yourself in situations where you are met with little to no resistance at all? In short, when was the last time your life played out exactly the way you thought it would, or would have liked it to?

I ask these questions because as I bend and grow and stretch in my walk with God, His Word becomes to much more alive and meaningful to me. It’s one thing to hear a good word on Sunday or Wednesday, and to hoop and holler “Amen” and “Preach it” to the pastor because he or she is saying something that is of importance. It’s another, totally different ball game when I get home and have to face my life and truly walk out the truths I have learned. It’s one thing to hear someone say, “Think positively.” It is another thing to train myself to think positively, EVEN when everything around warrants negative thoughts or reactions.

When (not if) I am faced with adversity, resistance, and rejection, God asks me to walk forward and not falter in my steps. God doesn’t tell me to sit down, cry, think about the worst possible situation, and then run back a few steps until the path clears. As a matter of fact, that sounds ridiculous, and if a god ever asked me to do that, it would be a god I wouldn’t serve. No, in truth, the glory goes to God when we push past whatever is holding us back, when we refuse to give into our fleshly (worldly) feelings, and we make a firm decision to continue forward and rely on what is INSIDE of us, and not on what we see outside of us.

Tonight, I encourage you to keep walking. Keep thinking positively, even though you don’t have the money to pay your car note that was due last week. Keep thinking positively even though you fear you’re about to lose your job and you can’t remember how to create a resume in Microsoft Word. Keep thinking positively even though you THINK you don’t have everything you need right now. Because at the end of the day, God has equipped you with everything you will ever need, and if your thoughts focus on HIM, and not what you see, you can stand firm on even the strongest of quick sand.

A Silent Adieu

***My parents sent this to me today. It’s an essay I wrote in high school about my grandfather and it was published in a local school publication. It brought me to tears. Check it out***

AP English 11-per 8
Descriptive essay

Wars transpired in foreign countries, lonely persons walked the vacant streets beseeching nourishment and shelter, and the eleven o’clock news delivered a new tragedy every evening. However as a grown man lay in his humid, stale, hospital room, he knew that no pain or suffering could compare to what he was feeling.
It seemed that not a visitor had passed through his imprisoning room in years: he was facing his last few days of life alone. Memories streamed through his weary head as he reminisced about the family he longed to behold. What he would not do to receive a few more years just to witness his granddaughter’s wedding or his grandson’s first home run. But death was knocking at the cold steel door, and as much as he regretted it, he had to answer.
The loud voice on the television interrupted his thoughts for a moment. He quickly swiped a bead of sweat off his forehead that he had not noticed. His hair, which was as black as the wings of a crow with splashes of misty gray, was not dampened. His slanted forehead was covered with wrinkles that depicted wisdom and age. As he lay in bed with his internal thoughts, he felt his years of acquired knowledge all useless now: no amount of wisdom could change his destiny. Pale gray eyebrows above his eyes seemed to have slightly disappeared into his pasty, olive colored skin over the years. His gentle, old eyes, still full of life, reflected the endless color of ebony. The path of dancing tear, that had trickled and dried, was halted halfway, down his oily check. A pudgy nose protruded from his equally round face. With his rough tongue, he wet his silky, smooth, crimson colored lips. In years before, these lips had spoken so many words of love, joy, and wisdom, however, now, they stayed motionless and pierced. A coal colored mustache was beginning to form above his upper lip from days of not shaving. He smiled at the thought of kissing his wife and how the stubble would pinch her delicate face. Both eyes stared blankly at the television screen. Nothing seemed consequential anymore. His petite ears listened to the drowning sound of Bob Barker’s voice as he silently fell asleep.
His body was serene as it danced with every heartbeat. A flabby neck rested below his round face. A faint green hospital gown draped from his broad shoulders, which were rested gently on the soft mattress. He had massive, empowering arms that looked as though they had bore the weight of several young children over the years. Injuries and hours of hard labor also contributed to his arm’s old and tattered appearance. His stubby, brittle hands, that felt like sand paper and contained spots of peeling skin on his palm, were settled delicately on his round, “Frosty the Snowman” like belly. An amputated leg, which was the rounded tip of a candy cane, rested slightly on the right side of his body. On the left side of his body, a bruised leg with the toes amputated was elevated by a feathery pillow. Years of pointless smoking caused his now fatal injuries. If only he could have envisioned the future, he never would have lit that first cigarette at the terribly young age of nine. The bottom part of his body was embraced by a soft, off-white blanket with the words “St. Joseph’s Hospital” fading in the left corner. Warm and comfortable, he continued to sleep peacefully.
Suddenly he was a woken by a faint tap at the door. His granddaughter entered the room and quietly halted with her back pressed against the door. They both stared into each other’s eyes, but stayed silent. He quickly looked away as an overwhelming feeling of pain pinched up and down his worn out leg. He softly rubbed it with his hand and slowly looked back up at his awaiting granddaughter at the Room 212 entry. He desired to speak to her and tell her how much he missed her presence and cheerful laugh. He wanted to express to her his longing desire to be able to walk again or simply to play a game of catch with his vibrant, young grandson, however, his lips did not move. As they anticipated a break in the silence, a strong feeling of animosity overwhelmed him as he began to feel anger toward himself and family for the anguish he was made to endure. Questions arose in his mind about life, about death, about love. His head began to fill with trepidation’s of what death would poses: a sparkling heaven or a somber hell? He looked up at his granddaughter and glanced at the single tear that was dangling from her left eye. Suddenly his vision became blurry as he too began to cry. He realized that all of this thoughts had been stubborn up until now. Each tear that fell to his pillow became a symbol of every memory the two had shared. Instances of her as gorgeous, young child, such as holding her tiny body at birth, teaching her to swim, and laying her down for an afternoon nap, dripped from his tearful eyes. He formed his lips to say her name; however he stopped when he noticed her wiping her tears. He thought to himself how beautiful she was: an angel he thought, his angel. Finally, with the elegance of an angel, she blew him a kiss in the air and disappeared.
As quickly as his fear and pain had arisen, it vanished with the flowery scent of his granddaughter’s perfume. She had answered his questions on life, and love, and death by shedding a few simple tears of sorrow. She allowed him to realize that no matter where death carried him, he could still watch over his family just as she had so silently watched over him.
Death was not be be the end but merely the beginning of a wonderful adventure, and all of his pain would subside. His now weakened arms reached for the T-bar hanging from his bed and grasped it as he raised his old body to try to catch his granddaughter before she escaped. He wished to say goodbye, but, unfortunately, it was too late. He rested his weary body back down into bed and wiped the tears form his eyes. As he drifted off to sleep, he thought it extraordinary how the two had not exchanged a word, but so much was said. He pressed his hand to his heart as if to hold on to the moment, and to say a silent adieu.

Why do I teach?

Last year at this time I was focussed on what God was speaking to me: ” move to Atlanta and trust Me.” A pretty simple message, but I struggled to believe the truth in it all. I remember trying hard to focus on my favorite part of the year: teaching poetry and Shakespeare. The end of the past 3 school years have been joyous occasions for me as this is the season I am usually able to teach what I am passionate about! Last year, though, in the midst of teaching my favorite drama (Romeo and Juliet) I received a phone call that altered the course of my life. I remember it vividly because it was the last day I saw my students last year, and it was the day my mother told me my grandfather Tabor had passed away.

How fitting to hear this news while I was behind my desk about to show my students the finished copy of the video we had shot the day prior. It was also the day I gave out my “End of the Year” Awards (Tabor’s Top Talents) and my gifts to each student. I started the day SO excited because my student and I had worked so hard to film our own modern version of Romeo and Juliet, and I had edited it over night and was finally going to be able to show it to them. Also, my end of the year gifts are always on point, so I was excited for each of them to read my personalized message and receive their award. What is really funny is that I didn’t want to give out the gifts last year. I didn’t think my students deserved them and I wasn’t really interested in spending time and money on people who hadn’t earned it. But God prompted me to work past all that and give to them out of His love. On this day, I found out that in giving away to my students, I had lost more than money or time: I had lost the very person who motivated me to be in the position I was in.

My grandfather, Louie Tabor, was an amazing man. I don’t have the proper words to express to you right how heavily he impacted my life. Every single time he came to our house, he would ask me to solve math problem and would also ask me what book I was reading, had just read, or was planning to read. I learned quickly that I better know my mathematic skills, and I better be reading something at all times. I adored his passion for education, and when I was faced with a decision on what to do with my own life, I realized that I wanted to experience the kind of drive and motivation I saw in him.

I became a teacher in 2006, and I remember talking to my grandfather and feeling very lost and frustrated. He always provided wisdom and encouragement, some of which I truly feel helped me survive that year. He was a humble man who knew more about life and literature than anyone I have yet to meet. I remember always wanting to impress him and wanting to make him happy(neither of which were ever hard to do). When I became a teacher, I remember hoping that I could in some way be as good a person as he was, and I often tried to incorporate his tactics in my own classroom (giving of candy, etc.)

What I have learned over the years is that I can never be my grandfather, and it’s comforting to know that God never made me to be him. God made me to be me. And this ME is still growing, still seeking, still learning every day. I have been fortunate enough to glean from a great man and to have been born into a family that instilled core values that many people don’t get. At the end of the day, however, I am myself, and as much as I want to be, I will never measure up to Lou Tabor, Sr. Fortunately, God isn’t measuring us by the same scale.

I am thinking of the passing of my grandfather this evening because I am, again, teaching a new class of 9th graders the famous Romeo and Juliet drama. I just watched the movie my students made last year and it brought me to tears as I remember all that I was going through about a year ago at this time. I was scared about moving to Atlanta, not knowing what would be ahead of me. I had lost a man I looked up to, and I didn’t know what that meant for my own future. And I was excited to see the enjoyment and wonder on the faces of my students as they discovered the true joy of learning. A veritable mixture of emotions, I think you could agree.

What I most remember though, in the midst of missing a great man, is the last conversation I was blessed enough to have with him about one year ago. I asked my grandfather is there was anything he regretted in his life, as I was personally struggling with the decision to move to a new city with no knowledge of anything but God’s will. He said something that I will never forget. “Dan, I regret not taking the chances I could have taken. I regret not going when I could have gone. I regret not doing what I felt lead to do.” He didn’t know it, but he spoke volumes to me that day. His words are forever ingrained in my mind.

So, why do I teach? I teach because I get no greater pleasure in this life than seeing an individual realize that enlightenment and education are satisfactory pleasures. I teach because God made me to do this very job, and my body cried out for it in a way that I can’t explain; it’s like I was physically made for that very setting! I teach because I get to run the show in the classroom, let’s be honest! Most importantly, I teach because one of the greatest men I have even known was a teacher, and it gives me great honor to know we share the same title.

I teacher….because….my hero taught. And that’s really a good enough answer for me.

Love you, grandpa Tabor!

Flipping the (Internal) Script

The longer I walk with the Lord, the more certain I am of this fact: God uses what we already know to speak to us. I have heard this subject preached about in several sermons over the years, and they have all been both eloquent and moving. Each pastor has taken his or her own spin on the context and made me firmly WANT to believe that God does use the skills and resources I am already familiar with to convey messages to me. However, it’s been difficult for me to believe this because sometimes I feel like God is asking me to climb a mountain without any tools at all!

One woman’s message was so heartfelt and powerful that I literally think about her and the story almost ever day. I think of her when I am imagining my future in ministry, because it was during that women’s conference (Celebration’s Shine, 2008) that God revealed a little about His calling for me. Particularly during her message, I realized a major part of my calling was to minister to women. Her name is Deborah Cobrae, and she is Senior Co-pastor at The Rock Church in San Bernadino, CA. She spoke humorously about a traumatic time when a large snake made it’s way into her home and how God provided her with duct tape as her tool for removing it. You’d have to hear the story on your own because I’m not doing it justice in my words. Suffice to say, it was funny and moving. Her point was that God used what she was familiar with to rescue her from the attack. This happens in the Bible as well. Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite, is used by God to take down Sisera with a tent peg and a hammer. These are tools she is very familiar with because she is a tent-maker. God didn’t ask her to use a bow and arrow or a blade; He provided her with the tools she used EVERYDAY to make a living. (Judges 4:17-24) He does this with us as well, and this has only become crystal clear to me in the past few days.

I just started my lesson on Romeo and Juliet with my ninth graders. Being the fourth year I’ve had the privilege to do this, I am always amazed at how excited I get each time I explain the material to a new class of freshmen. Each year I anticipate the student’s reactions and each year I am so excited when they latch on to the text and ask anticipatory questions about what will happen next! It’s my favorite lesson to teach, by far. I don’t know if it’s because it’s usually the one lesson my students connect with on a higher level, or because I adore the language and diction of William Shakespeare. Whatever the reason, this is one of my passions!

In the midst of teaching this year’s students how to read a script, God has revealed to me that He is ready to do some major healing in a specific area of my life. The mere IDEA of this healing physically hurts me, let alone how painful it will be to actually go through it all. I’ve asked God how to even begin to walk this journey when I feel so ill-equipped and unprepared. I had no idea what steps to take or how to even start to walk, but God sent me a message, and it’s very clear what first needs to be done. I need to change the personal dialogue I have with myself. In other words, God is telling me it’s time to flip the internal script that I recite in my mind on a regular basis. It’s time to change my internal monologue from words of condemnation to words of affirmation. It’s time to start playing the leading lady in my own life and not that doughty, unloveable friend. I’ve always been the star, but I’ve never allowed myself to accept the label. It’s now time. I’m going to mentally take on the role, and my thoughts and actions are going to exude this. I’m going to start memorizing my new lines today.

Now, this is language I can understand. God used my resources to speak volumes to me. I hear you Lord, and I accept the part you’ve cast me in. Thank you for believing in me, and for knowing me so well.

For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, I want to thank you and let you know how much you really mean to me! I also want to make you aware that going forward, I plan to get deeper than I ever have before. I am going to document as much as I can about what God revealing to me and taking me through, and I hope you can handle it. I learned a while back that I am not the only one who struggles with the issues I struggle with, and my hope is that God will birth my ministry through this very blog, and people’s lives will be changed for the better because of my ability to be transparent and bare. It’s time I take off the mask and let the world see that though God blesses me every day, there are still struggles. I read in Teri Washington’s book “Taking Off the Mask” that it’s very common for we Christians to walk round with a mask on covering up the true, hurting self. Well, I feel prompted to take my own mask off and allow people who are new to the faith or who are struggling with similar issues to see that they are not alone. In my embarrassment and rawness, they can grow. That, to me, will be worth it. I just have to trust God to equip me for the journey. In truth, I am quite certain He already has!

I didn’t know You were here…

I am going to be quick as my eyes are heavy and my body weary. I HAD to share this with you though, because it was just TOO good!!!!

I am watching Louie Giglio’s sermon entitles Indescribable on YouTube as I lay in bed and the images of the universe are blowing my mind. As he’s talking, I allow my eyes to wonder around the room at my candles. I notice the glass candle holder I recently purchased looks more beautiful than ever, and I can’t help but stare as the light from the flame dances about behind the colored chips of glass. Then, in an instant, a cross appears in the vase and my breath is absolutely taken away. This glass vase has always had 2 crosses designed on its body, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen them! I’ve had this vase for weeks now, and didn’t notice the beautiful symbol of God on it when it procured it. As I stared at the vase, I said aloud, “I didn’t know You were here.” Obviously, I was speaking to God, whose presence I have been desperate to feel today. And as I am in awe of this new discover in my home, Mr. Giglio’s sermon takes on a new height as he reveals an image of the cross that was taken by the Hubble telescope of the center of the Whirlpool Galaxy. He’s shouting from the YouTube video, “God is everywhere! God’s Grace and Mercy are everywhere” literally at the same time I am staring at this cross and it hits me: God has always been and will always be here, with me, wherever I go. God is bigger than any problem I could ever have, and my God is here and everywhere, all at the same time!

Check out the sermon, it will blow your mind!