Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My date with Jesus today...

Today, after I spent the morning praising Jesus for where I've been, where I am and where I'm going, I decided to go out on a date with Jesus today. Besides, I was hungry.

I asked Jesus where I should go and I quickly decided that I wanted Mexican food. El Chico popped into my head.

I had to go and order me some new uniform shirts, so after I got dressed I made the drive to the Uniform store on Richmond Road. I passed by the Chipotle Mexican Grill on the way, but dismissed it because I felt like Jesus wanted to bless me with El Chico today.

I asked Him, "Do you think I should go to the shelter and see if someone wants to come with me?" He said, "No, this is for you."

I argued, "I want to be a blessing to someone today."

He said, "You will. In my way. In MY time."

So, I went to El Chico and determined that I would enjoy myself in spite of the guilt.

I looked over the menu. It listed Uno through Siete on the Lunch page. Then, it had a Mucho Platter. After reading what the Mucho Platter was and considering the price, I told the waiter, "I would like a Numero Ocho. Le Mucho Platter." He grinned. As he was walking away, I asked him if he had any appetizers besides the chips and salsa he had already brought me. I thought aloud that poppers or something like it sounded great. He suggested the Chicken Jalapeno Poppers. I accepted. He suggested that he would hold the main course while I waited on the Poppers, and I told him not to bother. I would take them all together.

He kept my tea filled (and I drank a lot. That salsa was hot!). Then he brought my meal.

The waiter was witty, charming, and made you feel like you were important, even though he had several other tables he was paying as much attention to. I was more impressed with the service than the food, even though I ate every bite.

I smiled the whole time, thanking Jesus for the time to enjoy the meal, and the ability to afford it. But, I still didn't feel like I was blessing anyone. I felt a gentle nudge in my spirit that said, "Can't you just be blessed?"

I sighed and said, "I AM blessed, even without this. I don't feel half as blessed as I do when I am being used to bless others, though! You have given me so much already!"

I left El Chico after paying my ticket and giving the waiter a generous tip, and Jesus said, "You still need some pants to wear to work." So, I went to Buy & Save on State Line Avenue, and looked around. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I don't believe I am ever anywhere I am not supposed to be. So, I bought a hat and some really cheap earrings I liked. (Felt good just to be able to buy something for myself for a change...)

I took the opportunity to go to the cigarette store next door where I used to do all my cigarette business. I walked in and told the cashier (whom I'd been getting to know over time) "Hi! I just wanted to make sure you knew I was still alive. I'm still here, but I quit smoking." She said, "Are you serious?" I smiled bigger and said, "3 weeks smoke free!" "WOW!"

I left there and went to KMart, looking for pants that I couldn't find there. I found some I liked and went to the only register that was open and waited in line.

And waited.

And waited.

The lady at the checkout was waiting on a price check. Finally, the cash register next to her opened up and everyone moved over there. I figured I'd just stay where I was. Maybe the line would move sooner.

I waited.

And waited. Finally, I decided to move, also.

A lady in the line who was behind me before offered to let me have my place in front of her back. I thanked her. When I got to cashier, she asked me for my phone number. I told her. She said, "Wait, you don't have a rewards card? Why don't you get one, it's free!"

"Oh, I don't come here enough."

The cashier asked the lady behind me if she had a rewards card. She said she did. She asked for HER phone number, then started ringing my stuff up. I laughed and asked, "Are you giving HER my reward?" She said, "Sure. Why not?" I grinned at the lady behind me and said, "I'm so glad I could be a blessing to someone today!"

The lady said, "And just think, If I hadn't let you in front of me, I would have missed it!"

WOW. That'll preach!

I told them of my date with Jesus today and how I've enjoyed myself. This was the icing on the cake.

No, it wasn't a big blessing, but it felt big because of who it came from.

I love going out on dates with the Master of the Universe!

Live with Jesus

In January of 2005, I opened a beer bar on East 9th Street. I rented the old Nip & Sip building from a long time business owner in Texarkana, Arkansas, and with the back up funding from my boyfriend at the time, I went on this new adventure.

Later after the bar was closed down, as my pastor was telling me about a friend of his who was opening a bar, I remember telling my pastor, "Take it from me, someone who's been there, you cannot in good conscience be a Christian and own a bar." He replied, "I wish you would tell HIM that."

But, even then, I wanted to give God credit for where I was. The reason for this is, good or bad, no matter how my new venture turned out, I know that it was in God's hands. God would lead me where He thought I should be. He would bless it, or let it die. Either way, I knew He would take care of me.

So, one of the albums I had put on the jukebox was Wynonna Judd's "Wynonna" album. On it was the target song, "Live with Jesus." It was my favorite.

Every morning when I opened the bar for business, the first song I would allow played on the jukebox was that song. Every night, as I locked the door, I made sure that song was playing.

The business didn't last, but you know what? I'm STILL gonna live with Jesus in the end!

I gave up, He never did...

Those of you who know me know that I was saved at an early age. But, you also know that I had a LOT (and I mean A LOT) of maturing in Christ to do to end up where I am now in my faith.

Back then, I KNEW what I was doing when I walked down the aisle that first time. I had already read the Bible from cover to cover and I knew what walking down the aisle meant. I just didn't know how hard it would be.

But, never once in my life, through the hills and the valleys, through the disappointments and growing pains, the mistakes and falls, did I EVER deny the power of my God to sustain me.

At a very low point in my life just about ten years ago, I found 1st Bikers Church. I had been invited by a woman that I had known for years who was struggling on the streets. I went out of curiosity.

I left that first day in tears of realization of how much I needed my Lord Jesus, and how far away from Him I had wondered. I continued to go back, though, determined to find my way back--and I believed THAT church knew the way. I had FELT Him there so STRONG.

I cried every time I walked in. I cried every time I walked out. I was SOOO Depressed, but I KNEW my Jesus was THERE.

I found myself homeless shortly thereafter. I then learned what it meant to give everything to Him. Ha! I had nothing left to give except MYSELF. But, I fell on my knees and said, "Lord, I don't know why I am here, but I know where I am going. I have nothing left. This is the lowest I have ever been in my life. I am at the bottom. I KNOW that YOU are the only hand up that's going to really help me right now. So, whatever You want me to do, I'll do. I'm yours."

A few weeks went by. We were studying Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God" at church. At the shelter, I constantly had my nose in the Bible. When I wasn't working at Waffle House, I was studying, going to church, and giving rides to people who needed it to take care of business while staying there at the shelter. (God later rewarded me for that by giving me a bus-driving job...but that's a whole other story).

One night at Bible Study, my pastor said, "If you are saved, it's because God CHOSE you (John 15:16)." With those incessant tears in my eyes it suddenly HIT HOME. I thought about that for a moment as he continued to talk. I looked up and through my tears said, "He CHOSE me?" To which Brother Gary replied, "Yes, Shonda. He CHOSE you. He as much as put His finger on you and said, YOU ARE MINE. I CHOOSE YOU." I smiled through my tears and said, "Well...THAT makes ME feel SPECIAL!" To which Brother Gary smiled and said, "And, it should."

I haven't been able to wipe the smile off my face since.

I wish I could say I didn't fall down anymore...but I can't. What I can say is I have learned (through more growing pains) that if I just turn toward Jesus, His hand is ALWAYS reaching out to pull me back up.

And, though I may still fall down at times...it doesn't seem near as far, or near as often.

Friday, August 19, 2016

11 Days Smoke Free!

I went to WalMart earlier and bought a bunch of Lifesavers. There is a reason they call them Life Savers. Trust me. They work.

However, I don't know if it's worth it. I spend as much now on junk food as I did on cigarettes, if not more. Not sure it is a good trade off financially or otherwise. (I mean, seriously, what's better about trading a heart attack from smoking with a heart attack from obesity?)

Guess I don't have to worry much about obesity, though. My pants are starting to fall off of me. Why? They shouldn't be...

Today I have been smoke free for 11 days. It isn't fun. Today, the cravings are more intense than usual. Not sure why. Could use the prayers!

I am off work today. Every time the phone rings, I jump and cringe. LOL

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Day 3: Smoke Free

48 hours after you quit: It may not be life-threatening, but an inability to smell or taste well is one of the more obvious consequences of smoking. Once you quit smoking for 48 hours, your nerve endings will start to regrow, and your ability to smell and taste will improve. You’ll soon start to better appreciate the finer things in life. Healthline.com

I don't know about that. I still can't smell the way I am supposed to, but I know it is coming. Liz offered to wash all my bedding and get rid of the cigarette butts and clean ashtrays and all that today to help me.

Everyone has been encouraging.

I woke up this morning and the craving wasn't so intense. I'm still sucking on a sucker though.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Day 2: Smoke Free!

Sigh. I have not had a cigarette since I went to sleep at 6:AM Monday morning. It is now after midnight Monday night/Tuesday morning, and I am home to enjoy my day off tomorrow.

It was hard for me at work tonight. I knew it would be so easy to go to the smoking area on break and bum a cigarette. But, I didn't.

I ate a lot of wintergreen Icebreakers, LOL. I even ate in the cafeteria at work today. When a security guard asked me how I was doing, I said, "I quit smoking this morning and I want a cigarette." LOL

The next time he saw me he said, "How's it going?" To which I replied, "You knew better than to ask how I was doing didn't you?"

As I was walking out the door to go to my car, I had to pass by the patient smoking area. I took a deep breath and said loudly, "It's SOOO tempting! I will not give in. I will not give in. ONE YEAR. I'm committed. I will not give in for one year. Then, if I find that not smoking has not bettered my life, I will go back." I am sure that by then, I will find a lot of ways to say my life is better for not smoking. I hope.

At home, at least I can keep my fingers busy on the keyboard, and my mouth busy with a sucker or a home made sloppy joe sandwich.

I went to bed at 4:00 and slept until 10:00 AM. I woke up feeling alert, but a little nauseated. And, my mouth tastes like ash tray.

I am now 28 hours smoke free. According to Healthline.com, my risk for having a heart attack or coronary heart disease has significantly declined. However, I don't feel much different.

I am still craving, but the Wintergreen flavored Icebreakers seem to take care of that quicker.

Satan is on one shoulder telling me that I shouldn't punish myself. Jesus is on the other shoulder telling me that I am not being punished. In the long run, I'll be blessed. He has the big picture. Satan just wants us to look at the smaller, more immediate picture.

I have not had so much as a puff of a cigarette in over 28 hours. At home, I have been tempted to grab a butt of a cigarette. I have refused it, however, and am determined to see this through.

I suddenly felt like laying back down. It's just as well. I figured I'd just sleep through the cravings. When I woke up at noon, I was hearing Pastor Paul Sheppard on Christian Talk Radio saying that Satan wants everything God doesn't in his Dressed for Spiritual Warfare broadcast All I could do was say, "Thank you, Jesus. I needed this."

Monday, August 8, 2016

Day 1: Smoke Free!

12:35 PM
Around 6 hours ago, I smoked my last cigarette. Since I have never read anyone's account of what happens when one quits smoking, I figured I'd write my own.

My heart rate and blood pressure should be close to normal levels right about now.

I woke up, (I'm a day sleeper) prayed hard, and yes, I wanted a cigarette. I got a candy apple sucker instead. That helped.

I am dreading going to work without a cigarette. Or, maybe I am dreading it because it will be so easy to bum one...

I have been smoking since I was 14 years old. Quitting is not going to be easy. AND, I am doing it cold turkey.

I have a lot of withdrawal to look forward to.

My roommate left the house. On purpose. She doesn't want to deal with me as I go through withdrawal. LOL. She said she'd either be gone a few days, or be asleep when I come home.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Everything is beautiful!

Every morning that you can wake up and find things to be thankful for is the start of a beautiful day. Therefore, every day is beautiful!

As I was waking up this morning, I thought about how to describe my relationship with God. Having a relationship with God is like being married to someone who's handicap makes it hard to speak or hear, or even see. I am the one with the handicap. So, we have to find ways to communicate that doesn't involve my voice box or ears or eyes. He has already shown me that He loves me. And, when He needs to communicate with me, He uses every means possible to do so so that I can understand. (Kind've like Helen Keller. It took her a long time to understand, but when she finally did, she blossomed!)