Sundays With Rae

a blog for women by a woman who is trying to get her life together while still loving Jesus

Extraordinary Love

One of my favorite things to talk about are relationships. Perhaps it’s the marriage and family therapist in me but I could literally talk abut relationships all day (and now I’m realizing that at one point in my life, while in school, I did). I’m grateful I’m surrounded by couples willing to discuss the ups and downs of being in a committed relationship. I’m grateful for the men in my life who don’t sugar coat anything and for my other single ladies who are out here with me, trying to navigate this territory. Call me a hopeless romantic and maybe even crazy but I believe we’re all capable of extraordinary love. God loves us with a perfect love, so much so, He gave His only begotten Son. Every day, come what may, He chooses us. Every day, if we allow Him to, He’s perfecting us so we’re able to share this love. And from this thought, the questions I’ve been asking in my recent conversations about relationships are: are you experiencing the love you’ve always dreamed of or at least working towards it? Are you experiencing extraordinary love?

Extraordinary love will look different for everyone. It will feel different for everyone. For some people it’s being showered with kisses every day. For others it’s being able to pour out your heart and soul without fear of judgement. While others it’s being able to worship together whether at home or at church. And still some others it’s tagging each other in every funny meme they see. Maybe for you it’s all of this or none of this, but whatever it is, I pray you’re experiencing it in your relationship. I pray you experience butterflies sometimes and you have more good days than bad. I pray you laugh from your soul every once in a while. I pray you’ve grown more spiritual than you were before you met your partner. I pray you go places and see things together. I pray spending time together isn’t a burden but a memory worth creating. I pray that even when you’re mad, you always remember you’re on the same team. I pray that apologizing becomes easier to do and forgiveness flows like a river. I pray you don’t just talk a lot but you communicate effectively. I pray you’re playing an active role in creating your own happy, your own extraordinary love.

Too often we fall into relationships because it’s convenient and we find ourselves waking up every day hoping extraordinary love will just appear. We hope our partners will sense what we need without us communicating those needs. We hope our partners will fill a need they weren’t created to fill. And sometimes we’re too afraid to let go of a love that isn’t extraordinary. We think this is the best we deserve when in fact, God has so much more. Extraordinary love is a choice and we have to actively choose it. A couple who had been married over 20 years told me that after you say I do on your wedding day, you have to commit to saying I do to that person every day for the rest of your life, which is to say, I choose you. So before you take that next step, be sure the extraordinary love is already in full effect.

I’m not just waiting to be married, I’m waiting for extraordinary love. If you’re single and desire to be married, hopefully that’s what you’re waiting for. And if you’re married or in a committed relationship, hopefully it’s what you’re experiencing. If not, I hope you get the courage to believe that not only do you deserve extraordinary love, but you can have it, if you’re willing to do your own work and let God help you create it.

Matthews 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

My cousin continuing her extraordinary love (July 2019)

God’s Expectation

All my friends who are pursuing and currently working in the film industry are the same. Every project they do, they give it 100%. Every. Project. It doesn’t matter how big or small or how much they’re getting paid (or if they’re getting paid at all), they always give it all they’ve got. They stay up all hours of the night to see the vision in their heads come to life. No matter what the expectation is, whether low or high, they always set the bar just barely within reach because they always want their work to be the best they could do. I believe this is how God calls all of us to pursue life. The work we do shouldn’t just meet our expectations, but it should be what God expects of us; our very best.

I’ve told you all before, I’m lazy. There is just no other way to explain it. Most things I do, I do just enough to get by. Enough for someone to say, “that was pretty good,” and even if they don’t, at least they can say I got it done. I’m aware it’s a very mediocre way to live life but it usually leaves me more time to watch TV (don’t judge me). This has served me well up until now. I’m in a season of my life where I’m asking God to do some pretty BIG things. I mean things I’m scared to say out loud but I’m crazy enough to believe Him for it. As I was praying about some of these things, God asked me if I’d be willing to meet His expectations. I literally paused because I knew my answer should be yes but I also knew what this “yes” meant. What’s BIG to me, is little for Him, but I know what I’m asking requires me to live a less mediocre life. It requires staying up all hours of the night. It requires being uncomfortable sometimes to get the job done. It requires showing myself friendly (Proverbs 18:24). It requires obedience, when sacrifice seems like enough (1 Samuel 15:22).

For someone like myself, who is in their winning season, God’s expectations have to become my expectations. There is no way around it. I can’t take shortcuts. I can’t half do it. Everything I do, I have to do my very best even if no one else expects it of me because all I long to do is meet God’s expectation of me.

Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

June 2019

Remember

HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY!

Resurrection Sunday (April 21, 2019)

Today is the day we celebrate not only the man who died for us, but the man who rose with all power in His hands. And for that, I’m forever grateful. Various scriptures tell the story of the empty tomb and how an angel met the women who came to anoint Jesus’ body with sweet spices; but in Luke chapter 24, it says the angel reminded them of what Jesus said about His death and His resurrection and they remembered (verse 8). Their rememberance was enough for them to believe.

God has told us many things concerning our lives and we’ve forgetten. We become sad about our current situation because we forgot what is to come. We sit at an empty tomb crying over a conquered grave. And unfortunately, when someone brings it to our remembrance, it’s not enough for us to believe. The women at the tomb didn’t need to see Jesus to know He was alive. They simply remembered what He said and believed. In that same chapter, when they told the apostles, the apostles did not believe. Those who walked and talked with Jesus, who probably knew him better than anyone else, did not believe; they did not remember. They wanted to see for themselves.

Don’t be like the apostles, be like those women. Let remembering what He said be enough to believe what He’s done and is going to do.

Luke 24:8 And they remembered his words.

Everyone’s Happy but Me

November 2018

Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is on the way. Everyone’s excited about the food, gifts, and family getting together. Everyone’s happy, but you. If you’re being honest with yourself, it’s not just this time of year that leaves you feeling this way. You wake up with it and it tucks you in at night. Maybe it came about after a loved one passed or it started off as a random sadness that never left. Whatever its origin, its presence has taken over your life.

I have been in that place and at times desperately tried to get out and other times simply accepted it as my reality. You feel powerless to your own emotions and even if you were given control you wouldn’t know what to do with them. You have been in this space so long it feels like home. And in a sick, twisted way it’s comforting. Happiness and joy are strangers to you and you don’t have the energy to become familiar with them. I have good news! This does not have to be your forever. It may very well be your right now and even your tomorrow, but not your forever. So, what to do while waiting for your morning?

Pray

Everybody has told you to do it but you don’t want to. Or maybe you do it, but it doesn’t seem to help. Do it anyway. And I don’t mean the “fancy” prayers you hear in church. I mean the ugly, truth-telling prayers that you only want God to hear. I didn’t want to have a conversation with God but countless times I told Him, “I can’t do this” (“this” ranged from getting out of bed to going to work to smiling) and I told Him how upset I was with Him. It was all I could say and it was all I needed to say. Eventually God showed me that I could do “this” and He wasn’t scared of my unpleasant feelings. In the midst of our sadness, we often times don’t have a lot to say to God or rather what we deem to be constructive things to say to God, but it’s important that we say something, keeping the line of communication open.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing

Confide in Someone

Maybe you’re not a talker, maybe you don’t want everyone in your business. Be careful because your silence can kill you. Whether it is your best friend, your parent, your sibling, your pastor, talk to someone. Emotions are heavy and they become heavier when you carry them by yourself. A lot of times those around us don’t know what to say, but you telling someone calls out what you’re feeling. It’s not a secret you have to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. It is where you are in the moment and it is okay if someone else knows that; it is helpful that someone else knows that. Whoever you confide in should be someone who builds you up, not makes you feel bad for feeling how you’re feeling. They point you back to Jesus and remind you who you are in Him. They know how to give you space while checking in with you. They may not be able to solve all your problems, but a listening ear can help you get up the next day.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Seek Professional Help

When do you need to seek professional help? When you’re ready. I did it as a last resort and wish I had gotten help earlier. My heart had been so broken, I wouldn’t even let God pick up the pieces to put it back together. I talked about it with family and friends, but I was still too fragile to do anything about it on my own. So when I had enough, I sought professional help. I didn’t go to a Christian counselor and I honestly can’t tell you why (yes, I can, I went with who my insurance covered), but after reading my counselor’s website and reading about her approach to problems, I felt like she would be a good fit for me. If this is the step you want to take, I encourage you to do the same. Do your research and find someone who will be a good fit for you and if they’re not, find someone else. Talking to a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, life coach, or whoever you decide to talk to doesn’t make you crazy or weak. If you decide to take medicine, that doesn’t make you crazy or weak either. Whatever route you decide, remember all your help comes from God so whoever is doing the helping should be pointing you back in His direction.

Proverbs 19:20 Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. (NLT)

Get over it. (You can’t)

Just pray. (You did)

It’s not that deep. (It is)

You’re being extra. (You’re not)

That was 10 years ago. (It feels like yesterday)

Why can’t you just be happy? (You don’t know)

Pull it together. (You tried)

If it were that simple, you would have done it already. Whatever you are feeling right now is a very real feeling but it’s not who you were created to be. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14). You are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). God is always with you (Isaiah 41:10). By His stripes are you healed (Isaiah 53:5). This is your truth. Feelings are fleeting, they come and go, but what God says is forever. Everyone else may appear to be happy, but trust that your joy is coming in the morning. As you go through this holiday season and the new year rolls in, believe that you will be happy too.

Believe the Hype

Raise your hand if you don’t know how to take a compliment… ::raises hand::

Those who raised their hand, know it’s not a matter of not being grateful, but instead feeling like you’re undeserving and just not that good. My response to a compliment usually involves a, “thank you, keep me in your prayers,” with a huge dose of awkwardness to accompany it in the form of a weird smile and me trying to scurry away and hide.

It’s not just difficult for me to thank someone for telling me I’m good at something, it’s difficult to admit to myself what I’m good at. I can tell you what I do (sing, write, teach, speak), but to say I’m good at those things or that I do them well, seems like a stretch. When people compliment me, it’s not that I think they’re lying but I explain it away by saying it was just a good day. My father figure once told me that if this is my idea of being humble, it’s annoying and unattractive. Harsh, but he was right. I’ve come to realize me saying “I’m not that good,” is just another way of saying, other people are better. This is not a reflection of my gifts but a reflection of how I view myself.

I teach fifth grade, mostly boys, and one day we started talking about basketball, and they were telling me how good they were. They didn’t say, “I’m pretty good,” or “Yea, I play a little bit.” They spoke as though Lebron James had seen them play in an AAU tournament, recognized their ability, and was working out with them during the off season. “I’m better than all y’all!” “You not blocking my shot, I don’t care how tall you are.” “But you can’t beat me though!” They went on and on about how good they were and what was amazing to me was none of them had seen each other play. But that didn’t matter because they believed their own hype. They were unconcerned with someone being better than they were; they knew they were good at basketball. And to my surprise, they were.

Now if a bunch of eleven year olds can have that much confidence in their abilities surely I can, right? Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” I have allowed this fear of destruction and falling keep me from acknowledging the gifts God has given me. I have made it about me and my ego instead of Him and His glory. I imagine every time I say I’m not good at something that I know is a gift God gave me, it is a slap in the face to Him. Instead of saying “Thank you for this gift,” I say, “well, You’ve done better with other people.” It sounds ridiculous to say out loud.

Jesus, the son of God, was our gift from God. Some did not believe He was the son of God, but it did not change who He was. Even when they did believe Jesus, it was not a surprise to Him. He knew who he was. The same goes for us: we are who we are, whether anyone believes it or not, including ourselves. It does not change who God made us to be. He’s a father who gives good gifts and that’s not to be ignored (Matthew 7:11).

There are some gifts inside of us that God may not have revealed yet, but there are others that we are well aware of. Not only do you feel the breath of God flowing through you when you use your gift, but other people notice. You can be humble and recognize the greatness of the gifts God has given you. It’s not about you, but what God is doing through you. Believe the hype, especially when it’s God serving as the hypeman.

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Psalms 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit

Speaking at a convention in Nashville, TN (March 2016)

Promise Keeper

Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. As children, we spoke these words showing our commitment to whatever it was we promised. Now that I think about it, that was a pretty harsh punishment for a 7 year old breaking a promise. But when we heard those words, there was a reassurance the person would deliver on their promise.

Recently, I was talking to God about some things He told me He would do in 2017 and I was reminding Him of His promises. I went through each item, reminded Him when He said it, how He said it, provided scripture as support. I felt like someone auditioning for American Idol who had been told they were going to Hollywood, and instead of jumping for joy, they stood there and kept repeating, “remember, you said I would make it to Hollywood? Don’t forget. We talked about it earlier. Remember, I hit that high note.” You made it to Hollywood, what is there to continue to talk about? God already told me what I desire is mine, what else is there to do or say but to rejoice?

As I sit to write this blog, I realize I was waiting for God to say, “cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” I forgot that all I need is His Word. His Word is reassuring, its insurance, it’s hope, it’s peace, it’s true, and it’ll come to pass. I don’t need to add to it or allow my doubt to take away from it. I found myself telling God He didn’t have to deliver on the whole promise, if He could just do half or even a part of the promise, I would be happy with that. I became so impatient, I was willing to settle for just a piece of what God had for me. I can only imagine how God looked at me: “girl chill out and let Me do Me.”

God is a promise keeper so whatever you’re believing Him to do, keep believing, go ahead and start praising Him for it. Don’t let the devil trick you into believing it’s too late, there’s not enough money, you don’t have the experience, you’re not pretty enough, or that no one will listen. The devil is a liar and the truth is not in him; he’s the father of lies (John 8:44). If God said He would do it, know that He will because He’s not a God that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). That business, that degree, that spouse, that child, that book, that job, that church, that parent, that house, that financial aid, that healing, that loan, that car, eternal life; God, You promised. I want ALL of Your promises (2 Corinthians 1:20). And You don’t have to cross Your heart and hope to die or stick a needle in Your eye, to prove to me You will deliver on those promises. Your Word is enough because You’re a promise keeper.

Genesis 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Honolulu, HI (2011)