My Trip to ‘Clybourne Park’

Scene from “Clybourne Park”

My acting career got off to a great start this year. I booked a play in February! Performing in the Tony award winning play, Clybourne Park, was an honor and a treat. I worked with a seasoned cast and wonderful crew. Most importantly I gained experience that I will apply in future roles.
And thank you to Shari Barrett at Broadway World for the great review.

“Ruthenna Porterfield, whose facial expressions express her disdain to a tee without having to utter a word.”

Check out the full review by clicking here.

Cast of Theatre Palisades production of Clybourne Park

A Repo, A Friend and The Beach

I had to tell a friend about my car being repossessed.

My goal was for no one to know of my situation. I was more comfortable with dealing with this on my own. However, I needed to get the contents out of the vehicle which included a toddler size car seat that belonged to a client. Then I had to return the car seat to a client. I could not carry all of these items while traveling by bus. This meant I needed help. So I called a friend.

“Two are better than one…If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV

It was easy to mask the issue at the beginning of our conversation. I simply told her what I needed to do but did not tell her why. She began to probe with questions and concerns. This was not out of nosiness. She just needed a few details in order to plan her day accordingly. I averted as much as I could but eventually had to be transparent. She listened with an empathetic ear. Then she responded with a suggestion.

She was happy to help but did not want this task to be the event of the day. So, she said she would take me to do what I needed then we would go do something to get my mind off of things. She had a few ideas but settled on a picnic at the beach. The purpose was not to dismiss the serious debacle I was in. She wanted to provide a moment of clarity. She did not want sadness, shame and disappointment to be the highlight of my day.

The next day she arrived with a blanket, a picnic basket full of goodies and a small tent. She was not somber. She came in with a smile. She was ready for the day. It was infectious. We drove the near hour to retrieve my belongings from the vehicle. We arrived a bit early so we went to a grocery store to pick up a few more items for the beach. Then it was time.

I was expecting to see the car once more but I was told to wait in the front where my belongings would be brought out. After a few moments, the man emerged with a large brown bag and two car seats. I looked through the bag then loaded everything in my friend’s car.

At this point, I was expecting the sadness and shame to set in. Somehow, I was not feeling either. My friend asked what I was going to do now. I really did not know. I just knew I was in a crazy state of peace. I felt like a burden had been lifted. We drove to my client’s home to return their car seat. Then we headed for the beach.

Great conversation made another hour long drive go by quickly. We talked about work, our dreams, aging, knowing and not knowing God’s plan. We shared details of our lives that brought us closer. We encouraged each other. The day was becoming more beautiful with each passing minute.

We arrived in the late afternoon. There was a nice breeze and about an hour left before sunset. Then she pointed to a very steep cliff and said our destination was just over those rocks.
“Uhh. What now? You want us to climb that?”
Yes, she did. The task seemed second nature to her. I, however, had never really hiked anything in my life. I saw people going ahead of us. Some were clearly children.
“Trust me,” my friend said. “The other side is so worth it.” She forged ahead encouraging me that I could do it. So, I took the challenge.

Slowly, but surely, I made my way over the rocks, through the paths and up the cliff. It was not easy. I was holding a bag of food in one hand in a folded tent in the other. I slipped a couple of times. There were moments I wanted to turn back. I kept hearing my friend say, “The other side is so worth it.” She was right.

The small, secluded beach on the other side was beautiful. I stood in awe of the sounds of the crashing waves. We were not able to pitch the tent due to a couple taking wedding pictures. I enjoyed getting a peek into this highlight of their lives. The sight of her beautiful gown seemed to fuse into the rippled foam of the waves.

We turned to hike back down to the original shore. We found a spot and settled in for the sunset. We ate sandwiches and snacks. I walked the shore line. I allowed the soft, cool sand to massage my feet and tickle my toes. I took in the fresh sea air. I looked out at the ocean and saw my first whale sighting. It was a family of these amazing mammals, swimming to their next destination. I thought about the massive butterfly migration I had witnessed, earlier this year. I was fascinated by God’s creation. I was reminded of how He said they live and move.

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet our heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26 NKJV

The sun began to set behind the mountains. The colors that painted the sky were a sight to behold. I stood in awe.

I met up with my friend so we could pack it in. We got a good laugh as we tried to fold the tent back into its jacket. We got in the car and headed down the beach road. We passed a seaside restaurant where I recalled a wonderful dish I had in the past. My friend spontaneously turned around. We ordered the dish and caught a few last views of the ocean before leaving. On the drive home, we talked a little and listened to good vibe music.

I wish I can put the beauty of that day into words. This could have been another sad moment in the saga of this repossession. A friend emphatically said, “No!” She turned the day into a memory I will cherish for life. Retrieving my belongings was such a small part of that day. I see it only as a precursor to an opportunity to witness God’s greatness. Maybe that is part of His purpose for the whole experience.

I’m watching and waiting.

A Week After the Repo.

On Thursday, God asked for some time. I figured since I had no job lined up and no transportation to go anywhere, why not? So, I decided to spend the whole day with him. I needed some answers. This was my chance to really hear what he had to say about this situation.
“You’ve got a lot of explaining to do,” I said.
“Yes, I do,” God replied. But not about this.”

I started by fasting. Denying the flesh helps to clear the lines for conversation with the Father. And, I wanted to hear him clearly. I still didn’t have the car. My email inbox was beginning to fill with rejection notices from applications I had submitted. Obviously, the ultimatum, I gave God, was pointless. Now, what?

I also unplugged. I turned off my phone and did not interact on social media. The only person I wanted to hear from was the Lord that I love. I was ready, or at least I thought I was.

That day turned into my own, personal, one-on-one conference with the Almighty God. Though it began with all of my grievances, it became a day of unfathomable revelation.

New Insights

I started by reading a chapter in a book by Max Lucado, that I checked out of the library titled “Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives on the Promises of God.” This began an amazing day of discovery as God began to reveal new aspects of himself. Then, I reviewed old notes from past studies and devotion times. I read verses and insights that God had given me on topics like His faithfulness and waiting. I began to realize that he had already equipped me to handle this situation. This led to a new study on the temptation of Christ. Suddenly, I was having unfathomable revelations about an often quoted and sometimes misunderstood experience in Jesus’ life.

God Speaks

The new revelations allowed God to speak to me about something he has tried to get me to do for the last several years. Trust him. He explained what the word trust really means. He showed me how my fear based decisions proved my mistrust and ultimately derailed plans he had for my life. (One example he used was a moment while I sat in the finance office when I purchased the car. That was one example of several.) I was shaken most by how much it hurt him when I did not trust him. Trust is basically a firm belief that someone is who they say they are. Anytime I did not trust God, I was questioning his character. Asking God about certain things is fine and sometimes invited. Questioning his character often results in his anger. This was evident in the scripture Jesus referred to in his rebuke of Satan during the temptation. (A great explanation of the story from which the verse originates can be found here.)

Finally, God put a new mandate on my life that made losing the car almost trivial. This mandate would seem like an impossible feat, had he not given me new insight on the temptation. Sorry. He has not released me to say what the mandate is but he showed how the vision coincides with the new calling.

Intimacy

That afternoon, I walked to the park. I sat down, took my shoes off and placed my bare feet in the soft grass. I watched children swing and slide carefree. I meditated on the new insights and new mandate. When I got back, God spoke to me about the meantime period. He talked to me about what to do while I wait. I watched the full Priscilla Shirer sermon from the excerpt I had seen on Friday. It focused on obedience during the waiting period.

Then, the Spirit of God rested on me. I spent time in worship. I felt his presence radiating from every corner, off of every object. His glory was here. After such an amazing encounter with Him, I could not end with shallow thanks or a mundane prayer. I decided to do a homemade communion. I warmed some Naan. I took out a few grapes I had in the fridge. (I didn’t have any wine.) I poured a glass of water. As I ate the bread, I thanked Jesus for taking the beating on his body so that I could experience the encounter I just had on this day. As I ate the grapes, I thanked him for the blood he shed that allowed me to be in the presence of the Father as a cleansed, faultless soul.

The parking space is still empty. But, now I am filled.

Monday After the Repossession

I sat on the steps of a random building in my neighborhood. I listened to the representative tell me everything needed to get the car back. I ended the call and began walking again. My only thought was, ‘This is not worth it.’ I still stood by the ultimatum I gave God. I needed to see his hand in this situation since I felt like I was in this because of him. So many things were going through my head as I walked down the sidewalk. I couldn’t think straight.

I walked through the empty parking space, back into my apartment and sat on the sofa. I had to make some decisions about things that affected other people. I cancelled a job I had, that required having a vehicle. I texted a client to inform them I could work but I could not travel.
“Car trouble,” I said.

I fought back tears. I began to question everything I thought I heard from God. Was I really that crazy? Did I think I had a relationship with him that I really didn’t? My entire life, particularly the last 13 years, has been based on one promise I thought he made.

I hate wallowing. So, I wanted to take some immediate steps to alleviate the situation. Then, I thought about a Priscilla Shirer video I saw on Instagram the Friday before they got the car.

Do what he’s put in front of you to do today.” -Priscilla Shirer

The first thing that popped in my head was the book I have been working on. It is an 11 year-old project that I am half way through. Recently, an email from a friend, inspired me to push through and finish it. I began working on it again but at a lazy pace. “Fine,” I said. I would spend the rest of the afternoon writing. So, I walked to the library and got to work. I finished a chapter and saved the document.

I’m still in a weird place. The most frustrating part of this ordeal is the peace I want to fight. I have no transportation in a city where it is absolutely necessary. I am not making enough money in the three jobs I have. My rent is due in a week and I don’t even have half the amount I need.
I scream at God. “And, I’m just supposed to be OK with this?!!”
“Yeah. You are,” he replies. “Because I am…that I am.”

My Car Was Repossessed…

Two years ago, around 1:00 AM, my phone woke me up. It was a text message from my neighbor. He had come home from work and heard my car alarm. He went outside to find a tow truck taking my car away. He tried to talk to the guy to get more information but he was only told to call the police department. He took a picture of the truck and attached it to the text message. I thanked him for his efforts and for letting me know.

This was not a shock to me. I had lost a major client earlier that year. Before losing the client, my income was barely covering my expenses. Now, my income was cut in half. I had fallen behind in my car payments as well as other major obligations. I knew that repossession was a real possibility but I kept hearing a promise God had made to me a year after I got the car. “You will never be evicted. You will not lose this car to repossession.” That’s a bold statement to hear. It’s also questionable. It’s one of those statements that should make you evaluate if you’re just hearing yourself or really hearing from God. I had asked myself that question a few times but my spirit was very loud and clear. YES. You heard Him correctly.

So, that night, when I walked out to my parking space, why was it empty? Well, duh. Because you had not made the payments.

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse…Prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes…” -Malachi 3:10-11 KJV

I walked back into my apartment, feeling as empty as the parking space. I sat down on my tiny sofa. My body was suddenly paralyzed with a flood of emotions. Fear, anger, frustration. I had done what God told me to do regarding employment. I gave him his tithes and my offerings. I never did it out of obligation. I gave because I love Him so very much. Yet, I had plenty of room to receive these blessings he was supposed to be pouring out. An empty parking space was proof that the devourer had come. However, the most infuriating aspect about this whole ordeal was that somehow, I knew there was no need to panic. As angry and as frustrated as I was, my spirit repeatedly screamed, “God is real! You are not crazy!”

I knew I would get the car back. Two days later, I did.

Well, yesterday morning, it happened again.

There is so much shame attached to financial hardship. This is especially true for those of us who are intelligent and do not spend money frivolously. People, like us, we hide our issues from friends and family because we’re supposed to be the smart ones. The responsible one. We don’t post false narratives about our lives on social media. We simply avoid people and situations that could lead to conversations about money. We avoid people until we have no choice but to ask for help.

The reality is that I have been struggling financially for years. My income just has not ever met my expenses. Thankfully, I still have a roof over my head, though I have received an eviction notice or two. Food has been in my kitchen, though sometimes it has been scarce. I’ve come dangerously close to losing my mother’s home. My only consolation has been that I do not have children in the midst of this. The thought of not being able to provide for my child scares the crap out of me. It leads me to pray for all the parents that are desperately trying to provide for their children.

I have asked for help in the past. I hated it. I felt pathetic and stupid and mostly ashamed. The friends that have helped me have definitely been supportive. They could have been God’s way of helping me through this time. That’s great. But I’m over it.

God made promises to me. He gave me specific instructions about my life that I have tried my best to follow. He has asked me to trust him over and over and over again. I have. But I feel like I have nothing to show for it but a $5 balance in my bank account and an empty parking space. Let’s not forget the fact that I have no career, no husband, no kids with no chance of having any. I’m tired of living like this. More accurately, I’m tired of living this life of faith that he has called me to live. How do you explain some of the things you do or don’t do? It’s crazy. It’s delusional. I’m feeling like,

“It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty?” -Malachi 3:15 NIV

Yesterday I walked back into my apartment from the empty parking space and did something that was probably very foolish. If it is, then call it frustrated foolishness. He said test him so that is what I’m doing. As I write this, I realize that I gave God an ultimatum. It’s crazy but I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how to believe anymore. So, I told him that he has to solve this. He has to get this car back. If he really said that I would not lose this car to repossession, then it is on him to get it. He has to provide the money to get it back. For me, this means that I am not asking any more family and friends for money. I’m not putting this on anyone else again. It’s on Him. I need to clearly see God’s hand here. I have no doubts that God can do this. The question is…Is he willing to do it? If not, then I have some very big decisions to make about my life and our relationship.

To be continued…

Living the Dream

A good friend came to visit, a couple summers ago. As usual, I spent the time as a tour guide. I think this becomes an automatic job description when you migrate to Los Angeles, CA. People come to visit and they want to see the typical sights. You are expected to take them to Hollywood Blvd, the Hollywood sign, Beverly Hills and maybe a studio lot if you can wiggle a ticket to a show. I don’t get many visitors but when I do, I don’t mind showing them around. This friend’s visit was a particular treat because I had not seen her in a long time. She had come to celebrate my birthday.

We were walking down the street to catch the metro as we talked about reaching milestone years in our lives. Then, she asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks.

“So… Do you feel like you’re living your dream?”

The question pierced me.
When I announced to my college friends that I was leaving Charlotte, NC for Los Angeles, most of them were very supportive. They said they expected me to do something ‘crazy’ like this because that was the person they knew me to be. I was different. I did things that were outside the box. Yet, as the last decade had passed, I watched those friends acquire things I desired that were in the box. I watched those friends get married and have kids. They bought homes and ascended in their careers.

Today, I felt like the only one who had done nothing in life. I was struggling financially, barely scraping by. My acting resume consisted of two community theater plays, a long list of student film roles and one small part on a fake daytime court show. I had no agent (still don’t.) I had no manager (still don’t.) I also had no husband, no children and no prospects. (You get the picture.)
I had not lived up to expectations. I had not achieved greatness. This was definitely not the life of my dreams.

The view as I walk down my street. My ‘photography’ does not do it justice.

“Hmm,” I replied to my visiting friend. She sensed my hesitation. Then, like good friends do, she began pointing out some parts of my life that she observed during her visit so far. She pointed out the beautiful view I have on the road that leads to my apartment. It is a view I see everyday as I drive back from work. She pointed out that I had just mentioned an audition that I would love her help taping. She noted that we were attending a film festival event later that evening. She pointed out aspects of my life that were very different than the life she lived but had become mundane to me. I had made light of the small strides I was making because I had not reached my pinnacle of success.

“I guess I am kinda living my dream. But it’s not what I thought it would be,” I told her. Most people don’t live life the way artists do. This is a life of pure faith. I do not have a regular full time job. My days are spent waiting on a phone call or email. Thankfully, I have a gift with children (noted in my Mother’s Day Post) that helps pay the bills. The childcare bookings I receive, allow me to stay open for possible auditions. Lately, those auditions have been few and far between. I cannot explain the struggle to family and friends because living on faith is honestly crazy. It is discouraging. It is so lonely. It is emotionally exhausting. But somehow, it is exactly where God wants me to be at the moment.

Who’s dream am I living?

I have toyed with the idea of going back to NC many times. I have told God that I could be making money and have a family by now. It makes much more sense. I could live in a house that I own, have a successful business and act in some community playhouse. I would be OK with that because at least I would be surrounded by friends, have easy access to family in Charleston and not have this overwhelming financial burden. I have asked him over and over, “Why won’t you just let me go home?” His answer remains, “Because that is not my plan for you. You are called to something much greater. And if you go home, you will die.”

Well, dern. God can be rather blunt…but he’s right. His plan is far greater than my dream. I have dreams of personal success. His vision is eternal glory. I have dreams to act with big names and win awards. His vision is to impact an industry of lost souls. I have dreams of being an example for the neighborhood where I grew up. His vision is for me to be an example of his love and faithfulness to a dying world.

I saw my life going down a certain path. That path did not include tear-filled days, paralyzing anxiety, seemingly unending financial strain, loneliness and fear. I also did not see myself turning to God the way that I have during the last decade. I did not see him as the lover, the father and the friend that I have come to know him to be. My story is filled with many plot twists that I would never have written for myself, but I understand now. My story does not belong to me.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” -Hebrews 12:2

It is impossible to tell the story of my life without God as the main character. He turned my auto-biography into a memoir. My little story is part of his greater story. He inserted himself into every aspect including my dreams. I surrendered to that, the moment I said yes when he told me to move to Los Angeles. I cleaned the slate and gave him the chalk. I am OK with this life because I know I am where I’m supposed to be. So, the answer to my friend’s question is…No, I’m not living my dream but I am living God’s vision.

And dern it, that makes it a pretty good life.

I Almost Gave Up

A couple days ago, I learned a former co-worker had taken her own life. Today, I completely understood why. I understood because the thought crossed my mind as I was driving down the freeway.

Anxiety

I had been fighting to not have an attack for a week. Every morning, I woke up and sat at the edge of my bed. Thinking. Contemplating. Trying to figure things out. All day, I battled between fear and faith. Trying to convince myself that everything is going to be OK. I constantly repeated, “God’s got this. God will take care of you.”

Then something would remind me of the very real and dire situation I’m in.
“I’m not supposed to be here. I shouldn’t be here. I’m smarter than this. I’m better than this.”

This leads to more despair and more questions.
“Did I miss something? What did I do wrong? How did I mess up so bad?” Because the reality is, I’m here because I left things to Him. I’m trying to do things God’s way and there have been no results.

I had been able to fight these questions for years. And yes, I know. The battle is not yours. It’s the Lord’s. And you should let God fight your battles. We’ve all heard the verses and church platitudes. But, when you are in the midst of a situation, those old sayings seem to be part of the walls that are closing in on you. Suddenly, I felt guilty for not having enough faith. I found myself screaming through tears, “I’m sorry. I’m trying to believe. I’m trying really hard to trust you.”
Enter- more despair.

This morning, I woke up and the week’s routine started again. I sat at the edge of my bed, thinking. Contemplating. The plan for today was a simple task. Read a book while my car is being washed. I would get something off my to do list and get a few minutes of much needed leisure time. As I drove to the car wash, I began to hear noises, inside and outside, that were reminders, again.
“You don’t have enough.”
“You are not enough.”
I tried to block them but circumstances validated the noise. The store didn’t give cash back. This store gave cash but when I got to the car wash, the price was higher than expected. I couldn’t find a parking space to just pull over, think and get my bearings. Now I’m just wasting gas. I can’t see straight. I can’t think straight. The noise got louder and louder.

Suicide

I had to get off the road. I decided to just go back to my apartment. As I was driving, my former co-worker popped in my head. We were college students when we met at work. We only knew each other for about a year. She would give me rides back to the dorm after late hotel shifts. I remembered how beautiful she was. More than a decade later, we reconnected through Facebook. She was still beautiful. Now, a wife and mother of two, she seemed to have acquired the life every woman seeks. She had the big, beautiful home, fancy car and lovely family.

A few Monday mornings ago, she said goodbye to that lovely family, walked out of that big, beautiful home and took her fancy car to Lake Wylie near the borders of North & South Carolina.

The Facebook post, that informed me of her death, flashed in my mind. Her face flashed before my eyes. She seemed to have it all and still could not deal. I have nothing close to what she had. Wouldn’t I be justified?

There’s no lake around to drift away from life, as she did. How easy would it be to just drive off the overpass? I could wrap this car around a pole. I could try pills again. My first attempt at 17, was unsuccessful. “Now, I’m older,” I thought, as I pulled into my apartment parking spot. This time I’d know exactly how to do it. Even better, there would be no one to find me. Right? I mean, only one person has visited me in my apartment since 2019 came in. No one checks on me. No one checks on the smart one. No one checks on the strong one. Because, if anyone is good, it’s me. Right?

Then, I remembered that I heard my phone text alert in the car before getting home. I dug my phone out of my purse. I fully expected to see a message about work today or possibly a bill collector. Instead, it was this.

My first thought was to ignore the text. My next thought was to give the same old response. “Fine.” Then I realized, I was in a battle…and I needed help. I was too weak to fight this spiritual battle alone. Another soldier had been sent to cover me. So, I responded with a desperate request for prayer. No details necessary. Just pray.

I made it through the day and am happy to write.
To be continued…

Daniel Fast Day 21- Lessons

Menu- oatmeal, spinach salad, almond butter balls, veggie pasta

I decided to read all of my entries from the diary on this last day. I looked over all of my notes. I thought about the encounters I had and lessons I learned. I noticed my theme of this Daniel Fast was really sewn throughout these last three weeks. I wanted more of God glory, so that I could be more spiritually effective in life. For this to happen, I had to come to a true understanding of the theme verse.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30 KJV

What I’ve Learned

There was a recurring phrase in my daily entries. “This isn’t about me. It’s about him.” I wrote the thought in response to various situations that occurred. I faced the statement when I had to apologize to a co-worker (Day 11). The statement popped up again when I faced the real reason I was blogging (Day 19). Over and over, God reminded me to focus on him and not myself. If I want his glory, I must do things for his glory.

Another recurring point was making time for him. I found myself in foul moods and bad days when I had not made time to experience the presence of God. Day 10 taught me something new that results being in God’s presence, particularly after you’ve repented.

“…the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;”

Acts 3:19

Knowing that I can be refreshed by God’s presence is so beautiful. This adds a new dimension to our relationship. I am moved to spend more time with him in a meaningful way. It also provides me another recourse when the day is not going like I planned or I find myself feeling out of sorts.

What I’ll Do

Initially, I did not think this Daniel Fast was going well. I just did this fast a few months ago with some entertainment industry people of faith. That fast was amazing. From day 1, I felt God’s presence. I saw God’s glory. I heard his voice. Things happened during those 21 days, that were clearly his spirit moving in my life.

Things weren’t as clear during this fast. I had to make an effort to see and hear him clearly. I had to actually seek him. I had to look at adjustments I need to make, to experience the true power of our relationship.

This has been amazing too. The truth is fasting will always bring some type of result. Denying the flesh empowers the spirit. This moves God in ways we do not understand. I understand more than I did 21 days ago. I know the powerful effects of being in his presence. I am motivated to go deeper in my time with him.

Yes, this has been worth it. Spending time focused on him is always worth it!

Daniel Fast Day 20- The Test of Waiting

Menu- orange, trail mix, almond butter balls, roasted veggies

“She got a role in a series from this.”
The words stung. I was sitting with a director of a student film as we copied the footage she had of my performance. She told me that her audience raved about my performance in particular. She said although my role was small, they could not take their eyes off me. I had nailed it. I was flattered.

Then she told me the lead actress had just been cast in a series from her performance in the film. “Wow,” I replied. “She was really good. She did an excellent job.” My heart froze for a moment.

I forced myself to be happy for this very talented young woman. I fought the strong urge to be bitter towards God. On the way to meet this director, I had just heard God say, “You’re so close. You’re so close.”
Was he just talking about the meeting place to get my footage?

To add salt to the wound, due to technical problems, I could not retrieve the footage that I had just drove 30 minutes to get in the first place! So, in my flesh, I wanted to scream, “You made me drive all this way just to hear about someone else being blessed with exactly what I’ve been begging you for??!!”

God heard my thoughts and answered, “Yes.”

My focus for last year’s Daniel Fast was my acting career. I wanted my career to go ‘further faster’ by ‘divine acceleration’ in 2018. I had heard that message by Joel Osteen the year before. A year had past and I was still waiting. Though I saw some spiritual progress in my entertainment connections, nothing had come in the form of actual roles except this student film. Somehow, I was not discouraged.

As this Daniel Fast ends, I am still not discouraged. Somehow, I have more hope and more expectation. I realize my focus, last year, was a bit vain. I was impatient and frustrated. I tried to hide it with spiritual intentions but in the end, it was just vanity. Today, I understand the wait. I am clear on how to wait.

“I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”

Psalm 130:5 KJV

Every part of me must wait including my mind and body. I cannot dwell on how someone else has received their blessing. I must dwell on God’s word to me. God made promises to me about my acting career. His promises are guarantees.

“For all the promises of God are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”

2 Corinthians 1:20 KJV

There’s that phrase again. Yes, he will fulfill his promise to me but it will be for his glory.
And isn’t his glory, what I’m seeking first?

Daniel Fast Day 19- Am I using my gift right?

Menu- Orange, blackberry spinach salad, almond butter balls, veggie fried rice

I found myself in a foul mood this morning. This can be attributed to various reasons or maybe nothing particular. Sometimes, you just wake up feeling like crap. Regardless, I knew I had to shake it. I could not go into the world with this. It could permeate the rest of my day and I did not want that.

I began going through my thank you’s but remembered what I had learned in Day 17. I read my Daniel Fast devotion for the day. I noted the garlic metaphor regarding how Christians must be mindful how they carry themselves in the world.

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one, we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life…”

II Corinthians 2:14-15 NIV

I had to fix this mood. So, I began repeating Psalm 118:24 over and over again. God had given me this day! I had a responsibility to rejoice. I had a responsibility to be glad. I thought about his benefits in Psalm 103.

“who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things…”

Psalm 103:3-5 NIV

There was his love again. It brought me to my knees. There, I began to love on him with thanksgiving. This gave way to his presence and a chance for us to chat about something.

Why am I writing this blog?
Is it for attention? For likes and comments? Is it to build my brand?
The answer is yes to all of those questions. But it’s the wrong answer.

God has given me a gift of writing. He also gave me a vision for the gift. But, I have become impatient with how long it’s taking for the vision to manifest. I started this blog to exercise my writing skill. I also started it to gain an audience. However, that is not why God wanted me to start this blog. He never wants us doing something to bring glory to ourselves. We do things to bring glory to him.

“If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power…”

I Peter 4:11 NIV

He called me out on my pride. This isn’t about me. It’s about him. God-given gifts are meant to be lights that lead people to him. He gives them to us because he trusts that we will use them correctly. I have betrayed that trust.

I decided I need to look at the purpose of my blog and book in a whole new way. I will not write to gain likes and readers. I will write to touch the one reader for whom the message is meant.

Changing my mentality regarding writing is not simple. I told God, “I really need your help to do this. I need to understand how to do this.” He has led me to do a very interesting study. I’m going to start looking at the first few verses of every book after the Gospels in the New Testament. Those verses tend to focus on why the author is writing their letter. I want to take note of their desires for the people they are writing to. This fuels the content of their writing. It will teach me how to rightfully use this gift.

I’m excited about this study. I will share my findings in future posts.
Stay tuned!