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Black Sock Revelation #MotivationMonday

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

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Praise God for a weekend of rest and renewal!


After a quick trip to Savannah to do some further study of Gullah/Geechee culture and an impromptu birthday celebration for a friend, I’m rejuvenated to finish December STRONG!


Finishing the month strong means finishing the year strong. 2017 has been a year for the books, literally. The past six months have alone reminded me God is a God of miracles who is our ever-present help in the time of trouble.There’s trouble that just comes with the adventures of living in the land of the living, and then there’s trouble we bring to ourselves. Yep, we contribute to some of our trouble.


Recently I realized that I’ve been spending too much time getting ready in the morning. More specifically, I’ve been spending significant time looking for black socks. Not only was my lack of planning causing my trouble, but also continuing this search over and over was costing time. Inevitably time always cost us money.


During my time in Savannah, I stopped into a store and purchased 6 pairs of black socks. Yep, two different styles of black socks. I was “too shame” that I had gotten so frustrated before departing that I simply put on two different socks and kept it moving. It took a matter of 15 minutes for me to solve a problem that I began to have since the weather changed.



While the purchase of socks was a simple answer to my recent troubles, it reminded me that there are other areas of our lives that cost time and inevitably money.



As I approach and prepare for 2018, I’ve started to assess what else looks like my drawer of mismatched socks.



What is it that you’ve been “rigging” and trying to make work when its season is past due?


What are you holding on to that no longer functions, matches, or will serve you where you are headed?


In what area of your life are you wearing 'mismatched socks' and masking it as having it all together? I could go on and on with the questions, but there’s some rearranging of my own “drawer” that continues. 


On this #MotivationalMonday, may you have warm feet that run to get your own “sock drawer” in order! And as always, continue to #looknlive! 





Remembering the Life of a Sistah Doc

Posted on September 22, 2017 at 1:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Domestic violence is no respector of person, and both men and women can find themselves being loved to death. A few weeks ago, I was troubled after reading a story of a young woman who could have easily been a friend. I address the possible events surrounding her death in a post published at For Harriet. 

#domesticviolence #lovedoesnthurt 

The Aftermath of Father's Day...with video

Posted on June 19, 2017 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Prayers today for all who may be feeling some kind of way after Father's Day!

To the children who have paternity questions never answered, I am #praying for you.

To the children who waited at the door or window for someone who never came, I am praying for you.

To the children who only connected your father to a child support payment, I am praying for you.

To the children who got stuck in the crossfire of adults who couldn't get along, I am praying for you.

To the children whose fathers were violators instead of protectors, I am praying for you.

To the children who knew their fathers but could never publicly claim them, I am praying for you.

And to the children whose own fathers never equipped them to be fathers and they're subsequently continuing a cycle, I am praying for you.

I pray #healing to your soul and #peace to your mind. I pray improved and #healthy #communication for those who still have opportunities to reconcile! I pray the ability to extend and receive #forgiveness. I pray for those who will consider healing through #counseling.

I pray God's #grace upon the impossible!

Amen! 

Video at https/www.facebook.com/LookNLive/videos/10104966986705769/

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The Ministry of Music: The Gift of Thomas Clay

Posted on June 19, 2017 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)


1 Samuel 16:23

And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.


It has been eight months since Gospel Musician Thomas “T.C.” Clay transitioned in a hotel room. While I was not aware of this anointed worshipper prior to his death, it was through his death that I began to learn more about the genius of this psalmist, writer, producer, who ministered throughout the country without a major recording company contract.

I was so immersed in his story, I watched his funeral stream from a Wilmington, Delaware, church. The celebration of life service was only one moment in time, as his memorial truly lives in the hearts of family, friends, artists and via YouTube. It is through the medium many of us have come to know more about this unique ministry gift who once had folks slain in a bar.

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One of the things I learned after his death is Clay was the writer of Tamela Mann’s latest hit “Change Me.” While Mann was slated to sing the song at his memorial service, a death in her own family didn’t allow that to be so. The song's newfound popularity is a reminder that it’s possible that something created during our lifetime will live on through the voice and work of someone else.

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One night while troubled, I was led to YouTube to listen to Mann’s Change Me, which resulted in hours of listening to clips of Clay ministering that song and so many more. His worship was powerful, his style reflective of his various influences, and his anointing was something I trust made the devil tremble in fear. While I’m not sure the cause of his death, it was clear that his life, albeit short, was to usher the people of God into a pure worship experience.

He described himself as “weird,” and probably didn’t comfortably fit into one genre of music. But as I watched him minister via YouTube, I am grateful for his ministry gifts and what I have learned through his death. For starters, I am reminded to live each day to the absolute fullest. Clay died in his 30s, but each performance I viewed suggested he gave his all each time he hit the mic. He appeared empty as he left both small and large stages. God wants to receive us back as empty vessels.

Watching Clay's videos, I was also reminded that some of us will have unique gifts some won’t quite know what to do with in the earth. We just don’t fit in. We make folks uncomfortable. We challenge systems. But when it’s all said and done, God made us in fear and wonder. My preaching may not sound like the most popular evangelist or pastor, but God has still placed a preaching gift inside of me. God has placed a unique gift inside of you. In one documentary about Clay, a friend and producer said he had finally gotten out of his own way. When we are trying to figure out what to do with our fearful and wonderfully made selves, we may try hard to manage God’s projects and do more mismanaging.

I am stretched to be the best Arlecia I can possibly be as I move from safe to assignment. For him, it may have been safer to sing traditional Gospel music. But was that God’s assignment for his life?

Safe is comfortable, but the assignment may go against the grain and require patience. And while I continue to work, I recognize that the world may never know my greatness. Unlike Clay, I still have time to develop and share my gifts. I still have time to continue the work God has assigned myself to do. Before night's end, the heaviness had lifted!!


Stay Focused!

Posted on November 3, 2016 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Distractions. It’s a word I find myself repeating daily. Whether I am talking to congregants or to family or friends, it seems like many are distracted by the wiles or the tricks of the enemy.

There’s always something to draw our attention away from the important matters of life. In a media-driven society, we often find our distractions through mediums such as television or social media. Whether we're waiting to see Beyonce perform on the Country Music Awards or waiting to hear about another scandal involving an entertainer or politician, it's likely our eyes are off of what's really important in this season. Are we reading about the fluctuating weight of a member of the Kardashian clan when we should really be focused on using our own gym membership? 

Just think about the distractions that we’ve all witnessed as this political season plays out. Each party wants voters to be distracted by something, whether it’s emails or tax returns. While I can understand that the behaviors of the past may dictate actions in the future, in some ways it doesn’t bring us to the heart of the candidates’ platforms and what their leadership would mean for the United States.

Since the beginning of time, it has been the enemy’s desire to sift us as wheat and keep our eyes and hearts focused on matters that have no eternal gain.

As we close out 2016 we must be mindful of things that are taking our attention away from what’s important for our spiritual lives. Most days I must repent for spending more time reading Facebook than I have reading my Bible. If we’re honest, many have found themselves engrossed in social media in similar ways. Meanwhile, something crucial to our next level gets left undone or the pile of laundry remains undone. 

Is it possible to “power down” or silence the things you know are keeping you from accomplishing that goal or dream?

Are you your own distraction?

 

Fish Sandwiches for Two

Posted on March 5, 2016 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (1)
Hello friends, After months of transition that continues, I would like to share this recent adventure: Today I went to this popular fish joint ready to have a Friday Fish Day. I stood in line, and talked with an older man who reminded me of my grandfather. He was getting a 6-pc to share with his wife. He only got 1 Pepsi, so no sharing there. It was my time to order. You know it ain't a real soul food joint unless you get A. a nickname and B. some attitude. I got both. The dude nicknamed me "pretty eyes," and the lady said "If I have to say next in line one more time." Well, I paid for my fish and did the happy dance as I drizzled the hot sauce on for that buffalo bam. I am walking out the door swinging my bag since it's 3 p.m. and it's my first meal of the day. And there he is... A dude is standing there asking passersbys for change to get something to eat. In the DMV this could easily be heard 20 times a day, but I try to honor food requests. I asked him if he wanted some fish. "Yes!" Dividing food always reminds me of Louise Simmons. I stopped on a bench in front of the restaurant and gave him some fish, a slice of bread and napkins. They only give you two pieces of white or wheat, and I really wanted both of my pieces. It was from a fresh loaf, but I digress. As I was fixing his napkin 'cause I didn't have a plate, he talked about another threat of snow and how he was trying to stay warm. He said "God bless" and stood there eating the hot fish. I proceeded to my car, cause the gentrifiers don't let you park too long. I looked back wondering if I should have given him some more; he wasn't hustling. The way he sucked that fillet down he was hungry. Go back, Arlecia. "But that line, Jesus? ee kowl" Well, apparently Jesus didn't care about me being cold or unwilling to get back in the fish box line. I walked back and gave him my fish box, which had been perfectly drizzled with hot sauce. "You sure?" he asked. It's fine, I'll get another one. Well, as "pretty eyes" returned she was quickly served. Once again, I checked my box and slathered hot sauce on the perfectly browned fillets. As I stood in line the first time I was thinking about this week's lectionary text and what does being an ambassador for Christ look like. Truth be told, many of us suspect we are on Gold Level ambassador status. We may think "What else do you want?" I already gave you my weekends, my REM sleep, the tithe, my social life, what else God? But what else does God want? What if he wants your perfectly hot sauce slathered fish sandwich? What if God wants your life which he then perfectly drizzles with favor, grace, and mercy? #looknlive

God's Hiring Process: A Note to Women in Ministry

Posted on June 10, 2015 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Many have inquired about how I found my recently announced position. Well, first, I had to find myself thinking outside of a box some had placed me in. I then found myself using the expensive research skills I have obtained and started investigating other denominations outside of my own. This wasn't immediate, as many previously suggested I would likely find vocational placement outside of my Baptist denomination.


Around Sept/Oct 2013, I located a another denomination's national listing of ministry opportunities. I submitted the information requested and waited. A month later, I received confirmation that the info was received by an administrative assistant at the Association level. In December 2013, I received an email from the congregation.


Throughout this process and time of discernment, I recalled the words of a divinity school professor who reminded me "Arlecia, you have a Macedonian Call." I had to go and study Acts 16:6-10. Three years after that tear-filled meeting in his office, those words and the text now make so much sense.


I share this because someone reading may find yourself going in circles. You're trying to make the one way you know work, and maybe God has another plan or way. Maybe you have spent more energy trying to enlist the help or affirmation of a human being instead of asking God for help. There will be many men and women along the way who will help you along the path, but don't discount God in all of your networking, hobnobbing, named-dropping, and the like. After folks have thrown away your cards you are still on God's mind!


As a woman in ministry, I recognize my path as a "daughter" is and will be different than the paths of sons before and after me. But instead of living in a state of lament and repeating the soliloquy titled "No one will help me!" I chose to TRUST GOD. In the midst of all of this, I came up with the idea of the inaugural Women in Ministry Fellowship. With God's help, we pray to continue that work!


As always, continue to look and live!


On Sunday, May 31, I was blessed to take this pic with two former students (yes, they are twins) who later became my sorority sisters, and were hearers of the word when I preached in Washington, D.C.

How To Get Beyond Writer's Block

Posted on May 13, 2015 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

People have often asked me about my writing process. I usually resist sharing because it's not a linear process that I can package in three of four steps. I write in what I call "chunks." For example, I am working on a sermon for May 31, and I have essentially sent 4 emails to myself with graphs that will compose the final manuscript. Before it is all said and done, I will have sent myself text messages and there will be handwritten notes on bags, napkins, and within my journal.


Essentially, I write when the spirit leads. While there are systematic approaches to writing used by various famous and not-so-famous writers, I believe a writer must choose what works best for them. There are times I have written an outline and followed it while writing, and then there are times when my "Lele Method" is employed and has yielded great results.


While the LM works for inspirational writing, it doesn't work so well for academic writing where the Spirit may be at work in a different way :)!


(Prayers for all college instructors who are now reading or have just read 20-25 pages of great conceptual ideas communicated in a stream of conscious flow.)


So here's what I wanted to tell you: Stop procrastinating just because you don't have an entire page of copy in you. So often writers are discouraged when they pull up that blank document and it seems like nothing will come. So here's three things to consider:


1) Just get started. I have started sermons, blog posts, and even academic papers by just writing one sentence or word. Yes, an entire document with ONE WORD. Eventually, the page would grow, but I had to begin with something.


2) Keep your prompt, text, or assignment with you at all times. Why? I make use of "free time" to reflect on the project at hand. Instead of standing in line at the grocery store being irritated, I stand there rehearsing the words of the prophet or the psalmist. Before I walk to the car, I have received revelation. Thus, the notes on napkins or bags.


3) Give yourself time and space. Good writing doesn't just happen. Sentences have to be constructed and then deconstructed. Good writers cut, paste, and delete. Note, we cut and paste our own work and not that of others.


In the middle of working on another project, God led me to stop and write this chunk of info. I pray it is helpful to you. Oh, and don't forget to use SPELL CHECK and get an editor! Here's today's unedited contribution to the world!


If you would like to explore more of my writing journey, order your copy of

Diggin' For Treasure: Jewels of Hope When Pressure & Time Collide!


As always, continue to ‪#‎looknlive‬!




Faith on Fumes: Trusting God With Not Enough

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Earlier, I shared about not checking the weather conditions on a recent trip. Today, I’d like to share another reflection from that trip. In addition to not checking the weather, I also didn’t assess my resources before leaving home. Reality set in when I got in the car and saw I had ¼ a tank of gas for my 44 mile journey. Make that 88 miles roundtrip. I knew that wasn’t going to get it, so I went to my wallet and discovered five one dollar bills. Well, with gas at $3.10 a gallon, you know what looks like.


I am all about my gas cash discount, so I stopped at a station and put in the $5. I looked at the gauge that was now a little past ¼ a tank and said: “God, I will have to trust you to get there and back.” Even while saying this, I realized the possibility of needing to gas up on my return trip. But with limited resources, we were going to trust I had enough gas to get me where I needed to go. And if push came all the way to shove, I had an active AAA premium account. Yes, it was a risk! My grandfather, who often fussed about me having less than half a tank of gas in my car, would not be pleased. But he’s with Jesus and can’t read this!

                                                    

Well, as I drove away from the gas station and considered the limits of my fuel, I considered this wasn’t the first journey I had started with limited resources. In 1999 when I considered pursuing my first graduate degree, I recall sitting at my desk asking God how could I make the next move with limited resources. “God, I have $7 in my savings account. How in the world am I going to quit my job, move away, and go to school full time?” Whether it was FAMU’s program 400 miles away or 110 miles away at South Carolina, the resources were still limited. I had a job at a college where they paid for my health benefits. Why leave the known for the unknown? With my 25-year-old faith, I realized this is what they called a “faith walk.”


I took the GRE and in secrecy applied to the University of South Carolina. I was accepted! I moved to Columbia, worked odd jobs, took out loans, graduated, and returned months later to accept a Best Thesis Award.


While the road wasn’t easy, God remained faithful when I didn’t allow the limits of my resources to stop me from taking the journey. Before the second week of school, my department awarded me a graduate assistantship that covered a portion of my tuition and paid a stipend in exchange for service. Instead of entering in August, I entered the program in January and didn’t think I would be eligible for one. But…God! If I didn’t make the first step by applying and pursuing the degree then God couldn’t work all the things together for my good.


God already knew my limitations! But could I trust that God’s strength would be made perfect in my weakness?


What journey are you contemplating but the thought of limited resources keep getting in the way?


Is it a good idea or is it God’s idea? Trust me, when it’s a God idea, God will take the two fish and five loaves in your life and pay tuition, open the business, complete the cross country move, and perform miracles beyond what you could ever imagine! Pray and ask God how to approach the course you are being released to travel.


As for my 88-mile road trip, by the grace of God, I made it safely home with a few drops of fuel in my tank!


Signed,

Arlecia D. Simmons, M.A., Ph.D., M.Div.


Coaching Available: Are you discerning the start of a journey and can't figure out the next move?

Contact us for an initial consultation: [email protected]

 

We Shall Be Comforted

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

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