Please accept my sincerest apologies, but I will be taking a break from Ms. EV's blog for the next few weeks. I am preparing for a major conference for my music. Rather than continue to repost old posts, or to try to throw something together, I have found that it is best to take a break. My plan is to blog about my experiences while traveling to and experiencing this conference and the clarity and blessings that I know God has planned for me in this season. So, until I am back, please LIKE Elevated Values and/or Toni LaShaun Music on Facebook OR Follow @ElevatedValues and/or @TLaShaunMusic on Twitter for updates. I will miss you, but I am no good to anyone when I am spread too thin. Ms. EV
Today's featured song from Toni LaShaun Music is, "Dear God Just Be You." This song was inspired by the post below from last year. I have not recorded it yet, but just meditate on the words...
Dear God, Just Be You...11/29/2012
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had a problem, but you knew the solution was unlikely to happen? I have. In fact, I struggled with something just this week that fit into that category. I say all the time that God wants to hear all of our problems, big or small. Even if others might not think it an issue, if you are His and it is an issue to you, it is an issue to Him. So, I started praying about this problem. Stop being nosey; I am not going to say what the problem was (I keep SOME things to myself...LOL).
I knew what a great solution to the problem would be. I knew it was highly unlikely to get the outcome I envisioned, but God is able to do the impossible. So, I kept praying...the same prayer...over and over and over again. "Lord, let this happen so that my problem can go away. And, please let it happen soon." Days went by and I thought my head would explode because the problem persisted and I was pretty sure that God was saying "no" to my request for assistance.
Then, in the middle of praying the same prayer, "Lord, I just need You...," I paused. And, then I thought about it. That was the perfect place to stop. Instead of telling God how to fix my problem, I just needed to say, "Lord, I need You!" After praying that prayer, I started to feel some relief from the situation, but it still lingered. I knew that God was on it, so I added to the prayer, "Dear God, just be You for me."
I thought I knew the solution to the problem; an improbable solution, but one that would change the circumstances surrounding me. God is showing me that my circumstances don't need to change. I just need to trust Him to change me and how I view the circumstance and how I view what He is capable of doing. He knows everything. And, He knows everything we need. So, I continue to pray and I invite you to pray, "Lord, I just need You. Dear God, just be You." Ms. EV
Dear God Just Be You
Copyright © 2012 Toni Wortherly
Lord, I need You
Dear God, just be You
‘Cause I don’t know what to do
But I know You have it all in control
Lord, I need You
Dear God, just be You
Even when the storm is raging
You can still bring such peace to my soul
You are the only One
Who knows just what I need
So, dear God, just be You for me
Have you ever noticed that some of the smartest people in the world have no common sense? My honors students would flat out tell me that sometimes. And, I know that when I was younger, although book smarts came to me easily, street smarts were not my forte. I was very naïve and somewhat gullible, but I could make honor roll, so I figured that I would be alright in this world. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that it doesn’t matter if you get degree after degree from and Ivy League school or the school of hard knocks, true wisdom does not come from books or experience.
Please do not misinterpret what I am saying because there is no one more pro-education than I am. I am a teacher and I continued my education until I reached my goal of obtaining a law degree. But, more than anything you learn in school, at work, or at home, our lives are shaped by the lessons we learn. And, all of the education in the world cannot prevent us from acting like fools. Sadly, as beneficial as an education can be, some people educate themselves out of believing in God.
Whether, you are a really book smart person who lacks some common sense or you possess common sense, but not a lot of education or expertise, thank God for the great equalizer: wisdom. Wisdom is not common sense; wisdom is God-sense. Wisdom doesn’t come from degrees or experience; wisdom comes from knowing, understanding and reverently fearing the Lord.
When God asked Solomon to make any request, Solomon asked for wisdom to rule the people. Because of this unselfish request, God blessed Solomon with everything that he would ever need. Solomon was known as a great ruler and a fair judge all over the world, unfortunately, while he used his wisdom to help others, he did not use wisdom in staying faithful to God. Perhaps, that is why some of Ecclesiastes seems so depressing. I know that in my life, when I have realized that I was operating out of what made sense to me rather than seeking God’s wisdom, those realizations carried daunting and depressing weight.
If we will always seek God’s wisdom, we will never be led astray. When we do not know what we should do, there is no harm in waiting on an answer from God; there is no harm in the desire to act with His wisdom. How can the Father of time run out of time? He will never run out of time or knowledge, yet we sometimes try to box God into the limits of our time and knowledge. We will never be smarter than God. However, no matter what level of education, experience, or common sense we have, if we seek after the wisdom of God, our lives can be lived on a whole other level. Ms. EV
Why do people say, “When all else fails, try God?” I was listening to the radio and I heard a song that said something to the effect of, “When everything you have tried has failed, try God.” I mean, if you do not know God, I can understand this logic. For someone who doesn’t know God, complete and utter failure may drive her to her knees in repentance and confession. However, for a Christian (and this was a gospel song), God should be the first option, not the last resort.
I understand that I might sound preachy, but I promise that I am writing this to remind myself. There have been many times in my life that I have been faced with a situation and I tried to handle it myself. This sometimes resulted in victories that helped me to believe that I can make it on my own, which is a dangerous mindset for a child of God. Other times, I have tried to handle situations on my own and it resulted in utter failure, which led me to cry out to God to help me fix the mess I made.
I am not saying that we should not attempt to do things that we are capable of accomplishing. I am just reminding myself and you that rather than forgetting about God until we need Him, we need to factor Him in to every part of our lives. God wants us to depend on Him and turn to Him before there is some catastrophe that we cannot overcome alone. And, when someone comes to us with a problem, rather than feeling defeated and thinking, “The only thing I can do is pray,” we should victoriously claim, “The best thing I can do for you is to pray” (not my original thought, I think it was Oswald Chambers). So, rather than saying, “When all else fails, try God,” we should say, “God never fails, I will choose His way.” Ms. EV
In case you can’t tell, I love the music by the Hawkins family. One of my favorites is, “Never Alone.” So, my mom and dad were out of town on vacation last week, and I always have a little separation anxiety when they leave town, but it’s getting better. (Yes, I know I am 35 and yes, I know that’s not normal). Anyway, the song, “Never Alone,” has been on my heart today. I think that God is reminding me that even though, my parents go out of town, and they may not answer the phone when I call, He is always there. The song says, “Never alone, I don’t have to worry ‘cause I’m never alone. He walks beside me all the way. He guides my footsteps every day.”
That statement is so reassuring, and it’s in the Bible as well. He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God is with me in every moment of joy, sorrow, victory, defeat, happiness, hopelessness. No matter who in my life is unavailable, God is right by me. I don’t have to feel alone or insecure because He is there. I can’t see Him, but I know He’s there. And, on some occasions, when I am really down, I have asked Him to help me feel His Presence, and within mere moments, I either literally feel as though I am being embraced or I feel a peace that passes all understanding. It doesn’t make you crazy to talk to God when you have no one else to talk to; it is crazy to try to talk to everyone else before you talk to Him. If it makes you feel nuts to talk to Him out loud, write it down. Ask Him to hug you, to hold you, to help you know He is there. He will answer.
Being single is not easy if it is not what you would choose for your life at the time. Lately, people have been mentioning things that lead me to believe I am making it look easy to be single and childless in your thirties. Praise God that it appears that way; it is still a daily battle, but I finally feel like I am beyond my hissy-fit stage of singleness in which I constantly whine about it. I have moved on to acceptance of God’s plan because God is still faithful in the hard aspects of life. He knows what’s best for my life. What makes it easy to get to this place of security is that I know I might get lonely, but I am never alone. So, I am choosing to trust Him. Never again will I be insecure anymore…Never again. He walks beside me all the way. He guides my footsteps every day. Ms. EV
I am beginning to feel that I am being too nice. I have been a people-pleaser. I have even been a doormat. I have purposely tried to find balance between being those things and being intolerably mean because for a lot of my life I did not see that there could be a middle ground. But, apparently lately I am erring too much on the side of nice because people are feeling as though they can say and do anything around me, which is not true. As a teacher especially, it is tricky to find a balance. Please don’t misunderstand me. Not being liked by students does not bother me at all. They are teenagers and they change their minds about who and what they like as often as they change their clothes. I do have a problem when I feel disrespected.
In my professional and personal life, I try to make other peoples’ lives easier. If I have knowledge to impart or experience to share, I am willing to give of myself. Sometimes I have done this to the point of being an enabler. I also do not believe in making things difficult for no reason; however, there are some lessons that need to be learned by the person and I cannot let them have the easy way out, but other times, I choose my battles. Recently, today in fact, I have seen that the reaction by several of my students to my kindness is to mistake it for weakness. Because they are grasping for boundaries, they try to see how much they can get away with before they have a consequence. The cute part is when they act surprised when there is a consequence. I have also seen in some of my friends that because I do not cram my beliefs down their throats, they feel that they can say anything in front of me.
Jesus was meek, but He also braided a whip and flipped tables in the Temple. I do not enjoy getting angry, but I do. In fact, my usual immediate response following anger is to cry because I got angry and it saddens me. Nonetheless, anytime someone demonstrated to me that they believe me to be weak or inept, it results in me getting angry. Is it okay to be a Christian and be mad? I think so. It is how we handle our anger that is important. Humility and meekness are difficult traits to learn and they are made even more difficult when people feel that they can step all over you. I feel that this is one of the subtle sufferings of Christians. It is something that doesn’t seem like it would be innately difficult, but it truly is difficult. The good news is that I know it is not impossible. I am going to pray for God’s guidance in how to remain meek and gentle, while still showing that I deserve and require respect. I know that meek does not equal weak, docile does not equal doormat. I just need to know how to help others realize the same thing. I would love to hear your thoughts. Ms. EV
This Friday's Fusion features a performance of Toni LaShaun from the Main Stage at the Landing in Jacksonville last week. The performance features, Don't You Worry, Soul Satisfaction, and Little Sister. Enjoy! Ms. EV
I was preparing for bed the other night and my cat, Joy Bella, came into the restroom. She looked up at the counter, and then, looked at me. I pushed some items out of her way. Then, she sized up the counter again and hopped up on the counter. Her leap was so graceful and elegant. She does this all of the time, but that night, for whatever reason, I was amazed by it.
You see, Joy looked at the challenge (getting on the counter). She asked for help the remove the obstacle (my stuff was in the way of her safe landing). Then, she went for it! In that moment, I wished that I would have the courage that she displayed. Once, she knew that there was nothing to impede her progress, she jumped. When she jumps, it is as if she knows every time that she will land right where she is supposed to be.
I, on the other, see a challenge. I try to avoid the challenge or deal with the challenge on my own. I do not like to admit that I might need help. Then, even if the obstacle is removed, sometimes I still tell myself all of the reasons that I cannot or do not deserve to reach my goal. Even though I have prayer and preparation on my side, I am sometimes still afraid to take the leap. It should be just the opposite.
Because I know that God is with me, all of my leaps of faith should be effortless. That is not to say there will be no challenges once I leap. That is not to say that I should put myself in a bad position that is not the desire that God has for my life. What I am saying is that I should freely face the challenge and take the next step know that God is in control. If He is the one who told me to step out on faith and I am obedient, then there may be obstacles, but nothing will go wrong.
So, what is it that you need to trust God for today? Whatever it is, I challenge you (and me) to LEAP!!! Ms. EV
Back in the day, on MADtv, there was a sketch called, "Lowered Expectations." It was a series of vignettes featuring what seemed to be the world's most undateable people. The premise of the sketch was that you called this hotline to meet someone, basically, after you have given up on your dream mate.
Well, there have been times in my life when I have been tempted to lower my expectations. As a matter of fact, there have been times when I have been begged to compromise my standards. I am 35, single (divorced) and childless, so it might seem logical to some that lowering my expectations might yield better results in my love life.
But, here's the thing, my expectations are high because I know who I am and I know WHOSE I am. I am a daughter of the Most High God. Any man, who is meant to be with me, has to love me in the way that my Father does. And, He has to meet the standards that my Father has set. This is not a trivial matter of a list of qualities I prefer in a mate (although, I want those, too). And, honestly, as long as I have waited, I will hold out for what I desire because my Father promised me that He would give me the desires of my heart.
Furthermore, this extends beyond dating and relationships. I will not lower my expectations for God's movement as it concerns any of my dreams: marriage, family, or career. Just because something does not pan out the way I envision, it doesn't mean that I should give up on God and lower my expectations. What it does mean is that what I wanted was not the best for me and I need to press in to God and expect even greater things to happen in ways that I could never imagine because His thoughts and ways are so much higher than mine!
Do not EVER let anyone tell you to compromise, settle, or lower your expectations. God will do what He said He will do and He will BLOW YOUR MIND...hang on in there!!! Ms. EV
I got a lot of fantastic and encouraging comments last week while I was showcasing my music at One Spark. But, the comment that had the most impact, and was spoken by more than one person was, "It's about time!" The context was different each time that the words were spoken, but, even though it sounds a bit like a dig, it was always encouragement.
For some, the statement meant that they were excited that I had finally gotten up off of God's gifts and started to do something with it. I have been singing since I was a teenager and writing since my late teens/early twenties. When I got out of college, I tried to do a couple of demos with some pop/R & B songs I had written. It did not work out. A little while later, I was invited to a gospel music conference where I one of my favorite gospel artists of all time and worked with another very successful gospel artist. I made a lot of contacts, but I still did not advance in my singer/songwriter career.
A few years after that, my computer crashed. I lost all of my music, plays, poems, except for the hard copies of the music I had taken to the gospel conference. Since I didn't feel like my book was successful, and I had lost most of my hard work, I felt like God was telling me that this was not what He had for me. I quit. And, for about two years, the music stopped. Then, my grandmother passed away and I was in a pretty deep depression. At my lowest point, I thought about how disappointed she would be if I let grief take me out.
So, one night, I decided that I no longer had any excuses. I always said that no one would listen to my songs because they had no accompaniment, so I bought a guitar. I used money as an excuse for not recording, so I saved up money to record one song at a time. I used the fact that I could not get signed or published as an excuse, so I started this blog for my writing, and I copyright and publish my own music for now. It's about time!
It's about time I stopped letting excuses keep me from walking in the gifts that God has given me. It's about time that I took advantage of opportunities to spread the Gospel through music and writing. It's about time I started believing that my God is able to do just what needs to be done in my life for His purpose and glory. It's about time! Ms. EV