Rockford, IL Road Trip

How’s everyone doing? I know it’s been a while!

I wanted to share some pics from my road trip to Rockford, IL in September.

One day, I was looking through my AAA magazine and it recommended Rockford, IL as a place to visit because of their art museum and Japanese Gardens. I’d been wanting to use my camera (the photography classes I’d signed up for were canceled months ago due to the pandemic), so I thought I’d take a road trip and take some pictures. On the days leading up to the trip, I kept having thoughts from the enemy to cause me to fear and worry (i.e. Was it safe to take this trip, especially with these police shootings occurring? What if I get lost and have horrible anxiety?). I absolutely HATE getting lost but whenever I do, I just pull over to the side of the road or in a parking lot of a store/gas station and use Google Maps. As for the police shootings, I think it was a legitimate concern, but the Lord had already told me that I was “safe” and had nothing to worry about.

The Japanese Gardens were beautiful, peaceful, and serene! There were so many trees, plants, and waterfalls; it was amazing to see the sunlight dancing on the ripples of water (it looked white) but when I’d turn my head to the right, the sunlight looked blue! Couldn’t capture that with the camera, though.

Ugh, a spider! Not my favorite insect but I had to get this shot

I also saw these cute, plump ducks who came out of the water; one of them tried to grab a small fish that was trying to get away. The other duck didn’t seem shy about posing for a picture.

I also visited the Rockford Art Museum and saw paintings of rabbits; these were not your typical cute, snuggly rabbits and they looked like something out of a horror movie! There were replicas of birds and reptiles (not sure if they were “stuffed” or not, but they sure were creepy!) and other interesting paintings/sculptures. I won’t post pics that I took (I’m not sure if there are restrictions to posting other artists’ works) but if you’re in the area, you should definitely check them out! They have free admission for the remainder of the year.

After going to these two places, I went to a few craft stores for sewing supplies (needles and pinking shears) and a chain and pendant to make a necklace.

Overall, it was a great trip and was something fun to do in the midst of this crazy pandemic. I wanted this trip to be about me and my God—to focus on Him and not worry about anything, to trust that He was with me and would protect me, to enjoy what He created (nature) and to enjoy myself overall. I found myself thanking Him for so many things—for finding and reaching each destination safely, for having an enjoyable experience, for helping me to find things I wanted to buy, for strength, and for peace.

In these difficult times, we need to stick to God more closely than ever.

Finding Joy in the Midst of the Pandemic and Spiritual Warfare

Daffodil flower or narcissus isolated on white background cutout

For the past couple of months, I would get stressed out when I listened to or watched constant news coverage about COVID-19, numbers of deaths and infected persons, business closures, job losses, possible food shortages, etc. Even now, I sometimes think, “Wow, I can’t believe we’re going through this” because I never imagined seeing anything like this occur in my lifetime. However, things may be getting a little better–Illinois has allowed restaurants, businesses and stores to re-open on Friday. Indiana has allowed some of their stores and restaurants to open back up; this past weekend, I went to a Goodwill store in Indiana which had re-opened, but their restrooms and dressing rooms were closed to the public. All (or most stores) are requiring everyone to wear face masks and to practice social distancing, which is the new “normal” for now.

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Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos

I’m sure you all have heard about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) which started in Wuhan, China, and has spread to various countries and nationwide in the United States. People have died from it, but others are recovering. Celebrities such as Tom Hanks and his wife, Idris Elba, and some NBA players have also contracted the disease. Store shelves are empty, schools and restaurants are closed, and most people are working from home while others have lost their jobs. Events have been canceled and even the NBA has canceled its games. The Center for Disease Control is recommending that we practice social distancing and stay at home.

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Sewing Machine Blues

Frau verzweifelt an Schnittmuster

As I mentioned in another post, I had bought a sewing machine (Singer 3342 FashionMate) last summer and had been taking sewing classes. I was enjoying making different items and recently started making small tote bags. About a week ago, I started working on a tote bag and noticed that my white thread had run out, so I decided to use another spool of white thread that I purchased from Walmart. I noticed that the thread was a little thicker (the label said it was craft and sewing thread) and hoped it wouldn’t cause a problem with my machine, but I decided to try it anyway.

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2020 is Here!

So today is the first day of 2020 and 2019 is over! It seems like the year went by so fast!

This makes me think of 2 Peter 3:8-9: “…With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” The older I get, the more time seems to fly by. There are times when I hear about a news story that occurred five years ago and I think, “That was FIVE years ago?!” Where did the time go?

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Ugly Circumstances Can Lead to a Beautiful Ending

Saying no to love affair

Today, I read the story of Joseph and the Potiphar’s wife (for some reason, this story has been on my mind the past few days). Joseph had been sold by his brothers into slavery and Potiphar bought him and had him living in his home. Potiphar noticed that God was with Joseph and caused him to prosper at everything he did; therefore, Potiphar made Joseph in charge of his property, administrative affairs, and his household.

Potiphar’s wife also noticed Joseph and tried to seduce him, but he refused, saying that he wasn’t going to sin against God. She continued her attempts to seduce Joseph day after day and he continued to refuse; he even tried to avoid her! One day, when no one else was around, Potiphar’s wife came on to him again and grabbed him by his cloak; Joseph ran away from her, leaving his garment in her hands. Since she couldn’t get what she wanted, she lied and told everyone (including her husband) that Joseph tried to rape her. When Potiphar heard the news, he became furious and had Joseph thrown in prison.

It’s interesting how when you’re determined to do the right thing, there’s someone who wants to try to get you to do the wrong thing. Potiphar’s wife was only focused on her own desires but perhaps she wanted Joseph to slip up so she could “prove” that he didn’t have a good character after all. If someone has ill intentions and you refuse to participate in their schemes, they may get angry and plot revenge because they can’t use you/have their way with you. Perhaps Potiphar’s wife was jealous of Joseph’s character and integrity because she didn’t have those qualities. Joseph was more faithful to God than Potiphar’s wife to her own husband. I find it admirable that he appreciated how God gave him favor in Potiphar’s home and Joseph didn’t want to do anything to taint that.

When Potiphar’s wife couldn’t have her way with him, she decided to punish him. Her true personality is revealed in Genesis 39:14 when she tells the men of the house how her husband “…brought in an Hebrew into our home to make a fool out of us…” It sounded like she was blaming Potiphar, but not to his face. Then of course when she talked to him face-to-face, she said, “That Hebrew slave that you brought into our home tried to rape me!” (Genesis 39:17).

Someone can falsely accuse you of the worst thing and unfortunately, others may believe him/her, despite witnessing how you have always acted with integrity. How could Potiphar believe his wife’s accusation after he placed Joseph in charge of everything in his home? He trusted Joseph enough to give him authority over all his affairs. Although Potiphar could see that the Lord was with Joseph and caused him to be successful, perhaps Potiphar was blind to his wife’s true character.

It seemed like doing the right thing had a price—Joseph refused Potiphar’s wife’s advances, tried to avoid her, and even ran from her, and yet he was still thrown in prison. However, making the wrong decisions does have its consequences. If Joseph had’ve willingly slept with Potiphar’s wife, she could’ve gotten pregnant; Potiphar could’ve been furious enough to kill him, which would have cut his future short. Potiphar’s wife could’ve still made up a lie on Joseph, especially if he would’ve tried to end the affair. Worst of all, he would’ve sinned against God, and perhaps he would’ve lost his favor and had to face God’s wrath.

But despite the serious accusation against Joseph that was designed to cause major damage, God worked it out for his good. Joseph became the ruler of Egypt and ended up helping his brothers during the famine, the ones who were the reason he was sold into slavery in the first place. Joseph was able to forgive his brothers and help them once he saw that they had changed. Ugly circumstances led to a beautiful ending. In his different trials, he was always placed in charge of others and he never used his position as a leader to take advantage of others.

I pray that if you’re in a situation where someone falsely accuses you, may God come to your defense and use that situation to your advantage. May He give you strength, comfort, and courage during that ordeal. Don’t let your circumstances stop you from doing the right thing in everything you do.

 

What in the World??

The phrase WTF written on a blackboard in white chalk letters

Today, I stopped by my local Walmart to pick up a few things after work. As I headed towards the entrance a man stopped me and asked if I could give him a couple of dollars. He explained that he found out that his mom/mother-in-law passed away and he was trying to gather cab fare (he said it was $37 dollars and he was a couple of dollars short) to get to the hospital. The man also stated that his wife and someone else (daughter? can’t remember) were sitting outside the store but may have went into the restroom. He kept saying he wasn’t making it up/wasn’t on any B.S.

I felt bad for him and wanted to help but part of me wondered if he was telling the truth. I hesitated and asked, “Where’s your wife?” He stated that she was sitting nearby but she may have went into the restroom. He claimed that he asked a white woman who said she doesn’t help “n******.” The man also claimed that he asked a guy who had a fat roll of money and a nice car for help, but the “rich guy” pulled a gun on him and refused to help.

Still, I hesitated and asked again, “Where’s your wife?” I didn’t see anyone sitting outside. What if his wife didn’t even exist?

The man began to get irritated. “Really?! You want to wait for them to come out? Either you help me or don’t do it all! Don’t disrespect me.” When I remained silent, he yelled, “Boy, I tell you about n******! This b****….blah blah blah.” At that point, I was done and started to walk into the store. He came up behind me and said that his wife was in the restroom. I made no reply and he said, “F*** you, you bougie b****!” I turned around and said, “And since you wanna be ignorant, forget you!”

Maybe the Lord had me hesitate so this guy’s true colors would be exposed. Come on, now…do you really think I’m going to help you after you disrespected me and gave me an ultimatum? Now I’m convinced that you spun a tale, dramatics and all (cue the violins). But because you didn’t get what you want, you think you can manipulate me into giving you something? Nope. Even if I would’ve said “no” immediately, it still would’ve been a problem for this jerk.

Lord, thank you for showing me the truth via this guy’s response. And thank you that I’m learning who am I and I refuse to accept any negativity spoken over me.

Random Thoughts/Updates–What I’ve Been Up To

  • My favorite show is Death in Paradise on channel 11. It’s a mystery/whodunnit type show in the Caribbean where the detective figures out who killed who by the end of the show. I like the characters and the scenery reminds me of when I went to Jamaica years ago.

 

  • My hair has grown quite a bit since I chopped my locs off last year. I can’t believe that next month will make 1 year! Caring for my hair at this length has been waaaaay less time consuming.

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  • I’ve been longing to get back to creative activities and to find things to do so I won’t be constantly stressed out about worrying about work (I work in the social services field and things pile up. I HATE that but I’m learning to stop letting it stress me out). I took a sewing class almost 2 weeks ago and really enjoyed it! I made a pillow (see below) and bought a sewing machine because I’ve always been curious about how they work. I can’t wait to see what else I can create!

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  • I’ve also been looking for interesting events to attend/things to do. Last month, I saw Shark Tank the Musical and went to the African Festival of Life. I took a belly dance class last night which was fun! In addition to learning the techniques, it was a great workout. I have another sewing class this weekend and a painting class in a week or two. I also joined a bowling meetup group where you meet up with other people to do certain activities together. So far, we’ve done bowling and miniature golf which has been great!

 

  • I had ANOTHER setback in regards to frustration and getting mad at God because I was struggling with a certain issue (a crush on someone); I thought I was over it because I’d been through the same thing before (and God helped me before!). I kept trying to change my thoughts, use scripture, pray for help, and give praise/thanks at times, but I seemed to have only temporary relief. The thoughts would pop up repeatedly and got on my nerves. The word “deliver” would come to me but I thought “WHEN?! Nothing’s happening and you’re not doing anything!”

I thought God was playing games with me and I ranted/raved and said all kinds of things. I was fed up and started feeling hopeless again (there were other things that had been building up which led to the explosion). I didn’t want to talk to Him or hear anything from Him.

I started looking up info online–a blog post or article to see if someone else had a similar experience. I came across a blog post that basically said that when we don’t trust God/when we’re mean to Him, that hurts his feelings. I thought, “Huh? God has FEELINGS?” It was such a foreign thought to me. I never thought of Him as having feelings. Maybe I’m still thinking of Him as a drill sergeant or task master. Seeing this post written about Him struck me…I wouldn’t talk to a friend or acquaintance that way. There have been so many times I’d tell myself I’m not going to behave that way anymore. But let anger and doubt creep in and BAM! off I go.

I prayed, repented and asked God to forgive me. I want to stop getting mad at Him and blaming Him for nonsense when He’s the one who’s helped me through various situations. I’m reminding myself that the enemy’s main purpose is to cause confusion and deter me from getting to know God and remembering His promises.

Please pray for me in this area–pray that I will truly get to know Him and not have the wrong view of Him.