Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Waiting Game

I had an interesting dream last night. I don't want to bore anyone with the details. Yet, I often wonder if my dreams are stories I should tell. That is for another post...

I woke this morning thinking about Psalm 84:11. That thought reminded me of the story of Hannah. Hannah's story is the classic waiting game story. In addition to that, there's the need vs. want subtext. Let me explain...

Psalm 84:11 reads For the LORD God is our light and protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will the LORD withhold from those who do what is right. 

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas or did you get what you needed? What we want and what we need don’t often go hand in hand. There are things that I have wanted for a long time now that apparently the Lord has not seen to be necessities in my life just yet. I know He knows what is best for me, but it is still hard to wait. And it is difficult not to look longingly at what others have received and wonder why I cannot be the recipient of such things as well. This kind of struggle is not new to any of us. And Hannah, who we read about in 1 Samuel, is a great example of how to live when what you want is not yet something God says you need.

For years Hannah had wanted to become a mother. To bear a child. To give her husband, Elkanah, a son—just like his other wife, Peninnah. Being barren was considered a disgrace for a woman in those times, so Hannah most likely felt ashamed and alone and perhaps like a societal outcast. Instead of turning away, though, Hannah took her sorrow and her request for what she wanted to the Lord. We don’t know for sure how long she waited (perhaps years)—and we don’t know the exact purposes of God’s timing in her life—but we can still learn a great deal from Hannah’s example:

1. She was persistent and continually sought the Lord.She did not give up and stop asking the Lord for what she wanted. Like clockwork, Hannah kept bringing her request to God, year after year (v. 7). No doubt her want continued to drive her to the Father and most likely deepened her relationship with Him.

2. She did not give in to ridicule or naysayers. Even when Peninnah, who was fruitful and had children, taunted her because she was barren, Hannah did not add insult to injury (v. 7). She did not retaliate when ridiculed for her condition or her faith.

3. She shared her “want” and was encouraged by others.When the high priest Eli observed Hannah praying in the temple and inquired as to her condition, she shared with him what she was asking of the Lord. Eli encouraged her and asked God to answer her request (vv. 12-17).

4. She gave back to God what he had given to her.When God blessed Hannah with a child, she did not cling tightly to him. She kept her promise, let her son go and dedicated him to the Lord (v. 11, vv.21-28). That is model faith!

Like Hannah, are you waiting on the Lord to give you something you want in your life today? A new job? Reconciliation in your marriage? Blessing in your finances? A cure from illness? To find your soul mate? Victory over an addiction? A baby? Each of us has something we want in our lives. But is up to God to decide if this is something we really need. May we continue to come to Him with joy and thankfulness as we acknowledge that He knows what is best for our lives.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Step Brown

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Friends---How many of us have them?

The weekly Alphabet Bible Study rolls on. This week, our letter of focus is F. That reminded me of my favorite song by an 80's rap group. FRIENDS: How many of us have them? FRIENDS: Ones we can depend on? Friends is a word we use everyday but most times we use it in the wrong way...

Yessir, God are times when all you need is a true friend. The key is a TRUE friend. It may take a lifetime to find a true friend but once you got one, you normally got them for life. Today, I am going to go to 1 Samuel 20. In this passage, we find David, the newly anointed king of Israel, fleeing for his life from Saul, the newly rejected king of Israel.

1 Samuel 20: 1-4

1 Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?”  2 “Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so!” 3 But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.”  4 Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”

Now, be honest. How many of you would go against your parent to help your friend? I know you're saying, "If moms is wrong, she is just wrong." Yet, when it all falls down, it's still your mom or dad. It must be hard to go against your parent. Yet, we see Jonathan sacrificing for his friend, David. Jonathan could die behind this decision. Not only that, Jonathan is giving up his right to be king by helping David. Now, I have some true blues in my world but giving up power and riches on their behalf...  *thinking*

Hopefully, we will never have to make that sort of choice. Still, it is refreshing to know that friendship are important to one's very existence. It's even more refreshing to know that I have friends in my life that I would count as sisters from different misters. Friends, I believe, would make some difficult choices on my behalf. I thank God that they are in my life. There are indeed blessings from above.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Step Brown

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Emotional Creatures

The Alphabet Bible Study goes on. This week, the letter is E. I have chosen Emotions to tackle. Emotions are a touchy subject. We are warned about those deceitful emotions and how closely we should guard our hearts.

Galatians 5:16-17
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

It's weird to think of your emotions as your sinful nature. In essence, they are. Emotions are selfish. And selfishness is not selflessness. (Hope I didn't lose you.) When we want something, we want something. Most times, we don't care how we get it, just so we are satisfied. Emotions can be a good thing but they need to be kept in check. That's the key.

I didn't want to fill this post with scriptures. I was hoping you would pick up where I left off. There is a list of emotional desires that we should avoid. Like any good Father, He lists the feelings we should have in our hearts.

It's sad to say that we are fighting a battle within our hearts YET we know who wins. Thus, it should be easy to decide which side to fight for. But those pesky emotions...

Soli Deo Gloria,

Step Brown

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Your Plans vs. His Plans

God has so much planned for us. We have no idea. We look for crumbs under the table when He has prepared a feast for us in the royal banquet table. We wonder if He remembers who we are when He has been calling our name. We wait for Him to notice our plight as He waits for us to take His hand. He moves powerfully at our request, yet we don't even recognize the answers to our own prayers. We have trouble trusting Him fully with our future although the future He has for us is better than the one we dream of for ourselves. You have no clue. Just remember it's His timetable; not yours.

1 Corinthians 2:9 "Eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, nor have entered into the hearts of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

You wanna make God laugh? Tell Him your plans...

Soli Deo Gloria,

Step Brown

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Disobedience All Around

The weekly Alphabet Bible Study focuses on the letter, D. Its word: disobedience. It seems like an east choice. Now for the example from the Bible.

Jonah 1:1-3
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.

I know most of us know the story of Jonah. He was the dude that got swallowed by the whale and found himself in a fishy situation. Some may not know that Jonah was being disobedient when he got caught up like that. God told Jay to go one way and he went in the totally opposite direction. So God had to get him back on the right track because the Lord needed him to do something.

How many times have you gotten a word from God and you chose to do something else? Listen to that small, still voice. It's the Holy Spirit asking you to do something on the Lord's behalf. Don't make God have to use drastic measures to get your attention. Be ready...

Deo Volente,

Step Brown

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stories Abound...

Nothing is certain until it happens. These ideas will never become a reality unless I make them happen. Guess I have a lot of work to do. The first step is creating a 25-word or less summary. Leggo...

1. A womanizer decides it is time he settle down but his old girlfriend decides it is time he settle up.

2. A pill-popping magazine owner confronts her long-buried past in order to receive her inheritance. 

3. An over-achieving basketball coach aims for  her perfect season despite her imperfect players.

4. Old college friends examine alliances and differences when their 'voice of reason' dies.

5. Suffering from an empty nest, a wife longs for attention and gets it from her new boss.

6. A celebrity desires privacy but her audience only wants more.

7. When seven high school seniors need one class to graduate, they learn that their differences only make them the same. 

8. Best friends for over twenty years, two women struggle to keep their perfect secret a secret.

9. A workaholic executive invites her woman-chasing best friend home for Thanksgiving to convince her family she isn't single. 

10. A group of siblings return home to face each other and the differences that separate them.

I know some of them are corny but I can still revise. Just had to share the ideas. Any suggestions to liven them up?

Step Brown

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In retrospect...

So I've finally caught up with the yearly challenge. I'm on the sixth week and it is December 11. This prompt stuck an emotional chord with me. I am going to be really transparent with this post. So here goes...

Week 6: Start your story with, "In retrospect, I wouldn't say it was my best idea." And end it with, "And that's how I attempted to make this world a better place."

In retrospect, I wouldn't say it was my best idea. At the time, it seemed like the only answer. I was in so much pain---physically, mentally, emotionally. I saw no other way out. I simply wanted my pain to end. With everything I had gone through, I figured this would make it all better. So I walked from my apartment, at the time, to a hotel. I rented a room and locked myself in the room. I even barricaded the door. I really did not want to be bothered. After saying a few prayers and asking God for His forgiveness, I swallowed more pills than I ever should in one sitting and drank more alcohol than I ever should in one sitting. I don't remember anything after that. I only know what I've been told. The one thing I do remember is how much I wanted my pain to stop. It wasn't the best idea but it was the one I had at that time. And that's how I attempted to make this world (my world) a better place.

Step Brown


Great Balls of Fire.

Greetings from the lab...

Week 5: You're hosting a Fourth of July party at your house. Your closest friend is in charge of the firework show and it's a spectacular display of colors in the sky--that is, until one rogue firework misfires in to your neighbor's home and catches her roof on fire. Write this scene.

Everyone enjoys the party, the food, and the camaraderie. When the fireworks show begins, it's a sight to behold. The show lights up the night. And then...

A bottle rocket goes astray and lands atop my neighbor's house. The  small flicker becomes a roaring flame in a matter of minutes. The sky turns into red and orange waves with gray-black clouds surrounding them. With a strong south wind, the fire department could not get to our neighborhood son enough. When it was all over, my neighbor's house was a black and smoky reminder of why fireworks are not allowed within the city limits. The last thing I heard my neighbor say: "Wait until you hear from my lawyer."

Until next time,

Step Brown

1, 2, 3...

Greetings from the lab...

Week 4: You bump into a genie and she offers to grant you three wishes. What are your wishes and why?

It has taken me a while to come up with three wishes. I am still not sure what my three wishes are. So I decided to free write...

Wish #1: I ask Ms. Genie for a cure for my fears. My fear of failure, my fear of success. I have so many ideas and dreams. I realize that laziness and procrastination hinders me the most, yet, I also realize my fears cripple me more than anything. So Ms. Genie, help me face my fears.

Wish #2: I ask Ms. Genie for financial assistance. I know I am not good with budgeting and spending. I also say I never have what it takes to make money in the end--that's money in the beginning. Honestly, I think it's about strengths and weaknesses. And one of my weaknesses is a lack of financial savvy. So I ask Ms. Genie for financial wisdom.

Wish #3: I ask Ms. Genie for more time. More time to get things right. More time to make up for the time I have wasted with my fears, my laziness, my procrastination, my financial inabilities. Time to come up with a better wish. Time is the one thing you can never replace. Once it's gone, it's gone. So I ask Ms. Genie for more time.

Disclaimer: I don't believe in genies. These wishes are essentially my daily prayers.

Until next time,

Step Brown

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How They Do That There?

Greetings from the lab...

So I got a little behind with my yearly challenge. Time to play catch-up.

Week 3: Babies typically talk in babbles that adults can't understand. But one day, while at the park, you're sitting on a bench next to two babies. They start their babbling, when all of a sudden you realize you can understand what they are saying. Even more, they are plotting a nefarious plan.

One beautiful October afternoon, I decide to venture out from the lab to work on my new stage play, Statistics. Loaded with my MacBook and snack pack of water and fresh fruit, my creative muse and I head to Piedmont Park. After a short search, I find the perfect spot. All goes well until a young mother (or nanny) rolls her double stroller beside me. Twins, I assume. Not more than a year old, the little boy wears Diego while his sister matches with Dora. Nothing distracts me from my story until...

Tyler: I hate that heifer. We got to find a way to get rid of her, Skyler.

Skyler: Stop that mean talk, Tyler. She's a cool nanny.

I stop typing and look over at them. They smile at me and continue their conversation as if I am not there.

Tyler: Look, Ms. Thing must go. I've got the perfect plan.

Skyler: Not another one of your half-baked schemes. I refuse to be a part of it.

Tyler: Well, forget you then. Cause T-Weezie don't need thee. I can get rid of her myself.

Skyler: Like you did the last nanny.

Tyler: Hey, the authorities ruled that an accident. But we can't have two accidents in the same fashion. I'll need to be more creative.

Skyler: What you need is a psychiatrist.

Tyler: Shut up! I'm thinking...

As the nanny wheels them away, I hear:

Tyler: Maybe the next time we're all napping together...

Skyler: Leave me out of it.

I pinch myself. Nope, it wasn't a dream. So I open a blank page on my MacBook.


Deo Volente,

Step Brown

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Called by Him...

I'm back with our weekly bible lesson. The Alphabet Bible Lesson this week surrounds the letter, C. Today, we are talking about being CALLED.

A little backstory is that Israel wanted a king, just like all the other countries. Talk about keeping up with the joneses (or should I say neighboring countries). Anyway, God granted their wish and they got Saul. Well, Saul got beside himself, drinking his own kool-aid. God had to put him in his place. So God sent Samuel to find a new king. God told Sammie, "Look, I know who I want to do this thang. So just go where I tell ya and pick the man I say pick."

1 Samuel 16: 7, 10-12 
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

Now, the thing about this passage is that God picked David and had him anointed King of His People when David was still a boy. David was like twelve years old bible scholars say. He was in no way a man. But God knew what David would become. God knew what destiny He had for David. God knew...

God has the power to call you what you are before you become it because He knows where and when to shake you and where to break you so He can get the gift from you that He gave you in the beginning. God has a plan for each of us. Be palatable and let the Lord have His way.

Step aside...

Until next week,

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Mariah Carey - Outside

It's hard to explain. Inherently, I've just always been strange. Neither here or there. Always somewhat out of place. Everywhere. Ambiguous. Without a sense of belonging to touch. Somewhere halfway. Feeling there's no one completely the same. Standing alone. Eager to just believe it's good enough to be what you really are but in your heart, uncertainty forever lies. And you'll always be somewhere on the outside.
Early on, you face the realization you don't have a space where you fit in and recognize you were born to exist. It's hard to be understood as you are. And God knows that you're standing on your own--blind and unguided--into a world divided. You're thrown where you're never quite the same. Although you try to tell yourself you really are okay. But in your heart, uncertainty forever lies and you'll always be somewhere on the outside.

Mista - Blackberry Molasses

I woke up Sunday morning and got a little bad news today. My thoughts say life ain't worth living and time is slowly ticking away. Don't think that I'm going crazy because these thoughts keep running through my head. I know I got to be strong and got to hold on but sometimes I'd rather give up instead. It seems like I'm better off dead.

Don't tell me how to live my life after all I've been through. I don't want to hear about your hardships because I've been there myself a time or two. Still life goes on if we just keep holding on. So many things to survive once you realize there's no such place as paradise---at least in my eyes.

Blackberry molasses is one of the things that never changes. You got to keep pushing on. The sun don't rain all the time. There's going to be some heartache and pain.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Strange Thing About the Johnsons Trailer

I know I am behind on my postings. I promise to catch things up THIS WEEK.

Aside from that, a friend asked me if I had heard of this short film. I googled it and found the trailer and the film. I will admit--this is a very sensitive subject. The trailer that I have above does not do the film service. I suggest you google the film yourself. I can promise you it will be the most interesting, yet disturbing thirty minutes of your life.

My friends who have seen it will ask, "why are you promoting this?" Promotion is not the correct word. As an aspiring filmmaker, I will give props where they are due. And this filmmaker took a very delicate subject and handled it with gusto. I am blogging about this because my subject matter sometimes goes against the grain. I am blogging about this because I want people to walk away from my work and still remember the experience. I am blogging about this because this film left an impression on me. And to me, that is what good storytelling does. Good storytelling leaves the viewer wanting more. Mission accomplished...

There is definitely something strange about the Johnsons. Google it and see for yourself.