Monday, April 8, 2013


Recently, I was trying to make a point and relay a life lesson to my kids by telling them the legendary fable of the monkey who wouldn’t let go. But by the end of the story, as I was making my point, it dawned on me that the fable was more for my benefit than theirs. The tale goes a little something like this:

In a certain village in India, there was a pesky and mischievous little monkey that was relentless in raiding goods and causing problems amongst the villagers.  After countless attempts to catch him, someone thought of a new tactic of using a large jar filled with peanuts at the bottom.  They placed the jar in an area where they were sure the monkey would go.  As expected, later that day, the monkey curiously approached the jar and eagerly reached his hand in the jar to grab the peanuts.  However, after grabbing a handful of peanuts, the monkey couldn’t remove his clenched fist, as the neck of the jar was too narrow. With his hands still clenched around his prized catch, the monkey struggled to break free from his trap. But because he refused to let go and release the peanuts he thought he couldn’t do without, the villagers staking out the scene captured him and carried him away, still clenching the bait that reeled him in.

Have you ever found yourself at times like that monkey, relentlessly refusing to release the objects of your desire and holding tightly to those things that keep you captive and trapped? The key point to remember is that the monkey was never trapped!  All he had to do was LET GO… to RELEASE the grip of his clenched fist around the object that kept him from his freedom and enjoyment of life.

Often, we are so blinded by our own desires and false perceptions that we too become trapped, enslaved by a life that is not God’s best for us. Because we refuse to release our grip on something we desperately want, we lose the freedom and abundance we were intended by God to experience and enjoy. If John 10:10 is true, that Jesus came to not only give us life but give it more abundantly, then it’s probably safe to conclude that we can’t get to the “more abundantly” part if we are busy holding on to stuff that blocks the flow of freedom and abundance that was originally designed for us.

Recently, I came upon a chapter in Anita Carmen’s book, Making Sense of Your Life, that asked another one of those profound questions that I love. The chapter title alone, “Release Plans That No Longer Work,” resonated enough with me that I immediately started taking mental note of the "stuff" I needed to release to receive God’s best and to be God’s best.  However, what caused me to stop and re-evaluate was this zinger: “The question is, when you are working with a wrong plan, will you have the courage to give it up?”


Well, as fairly competent adults, we typically know when we are “working with a wrong plan.” That’s not the problem. The heart of the matter is whether or not we have the courage to give it up?

We naturally gravitate and cling to what is most familiar, even when we intellectually know it’s not what is God’s best. Even if it puts us at risk, we cling to the familiar because it has become our “safe place." We become comfortable in this safe place because at least it is predictable. We lack the confidence and faith that gives us courage to venture onto the right path, because we don't know what’s around the bend.

Our so-called safe place is only the delusion of our imagination, deceiving us into believing that although we continue along the same unproductive path we've always taken, we are "walking in faith” that change is ‘a coming.

However, we have to have the desire, courage and faith to let go and release those things (draining and unfruitful relationships, negative habits and behaviors, destructive lifestyle, corrupt thinking, entitlement mindsets, negative self perceptions, resentment, forgiveness, unrealistic expectations, the list goes on….) in order to receive something better.

Matthew 11:28-30 reminds me of this when Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This verse reminds us to LET GO of all those things that burden us, that wear on us and give us stress, and RELEASE them to the only One who is equipped to do anything about them. For when we do release them to our Heavenly Father, then we receive in exchange His easy and light load.  

Sometimes, it’s not a wrong activity, behavior or path that we are involved in that needs to be released. As social human beings, we are relational; and most often the thing we need to release are false perceptions and unrealistic expectations from people we know. Too many times we stress out because someone didn’t respond to us in a certain way we would have desired for them to respond.  

Whether it is a spouse, parent, child, family member, friend, co-worker, pastor, church member, we have to be diligent  about RELEASING people from not doing, responding, reacting or behaving how we think they should (even when we are sure our way is the best way).  Sometimes people don’t respond in ways that make us feel validated, respected, desired, cared for, understood, wanted, needed or valued. Because of this, we allow our emotions to keep us captive, even though most of the time it is unintentional on their end. We automatically assume and make interpretations and accusations that they don’t love us, don’t like our ideas, aren’t supportive, don’t care, aren’t interested, don’t appreciate us, don’t value us... and so on. We create all kinds of stories in our heads, all because someone didn’t respond the “right” way.

We can change the course of our relationship with that person -- and even our entire life -- if we find the courage to RELEASE them from the emotional obligation we place on them. This doesn’t mean we are to be naïve and not learn from situations; it just means we don’t allow situations to consume us and emotionally keep us captive. And once we can do this, we release ourselves from the emotional torment and captivity to unfulfilled expectations that NO person will ever fulfill…at least consistently and persistently.

As mere humans, we weren’t created and designed to fulfill every emotional void or need for others. The only person designed to carry that load is our Heavenly Father who said He came to not only give life, but to give it more abundantly.   

So as tempting as it is NOT TO, we have to RELEASE ourselves from the stress, anxiety, hurt, anger, bitterness, disappointment, entitlement, expectations, fear and doubt of holding someone else accountable and responsible for our joy, peace, success and freedom in life. When we genuinely and humbly release others, we release ourselves, and then we are able to receive God’s grace, freedom, peace and abundance that He desires and freely grants.

Sometimes you might find yourself trapped by plans that no longer work, to emotions and unrealistic expectations that keep you swinging like a pendulum, or to habits and behaviors that keep you stagnant and unproductive in a place that’s less than God's best. You might be carrying a heavy load, a burden that keeps you weary, weak, never satisfied, always looking for more, but never truly finding it.  Like the monkey, you keep your hands clinched on that “prized catch” that quickly reveals itself to be bait that was a set up, used to lure you in... bait that keeps you bound to an empty attachment that ultimately keeps you emotionally, physically or spiritually captive and trapped to an area in your life that only Christ can free you from.

Remember, once we enter into His grace, we find that all along we were never trapped. And like the monkey, no matter how tightly we clench our fist, all we have to do is have the courage to... LET GO!

~ CleRenda McGrady

Monday, March 11, 2013

Jump out of the Fish Bowl and into the Sea!

I was recently talking with an associate who kept referring to certain people as having “goldfish bowl mentality.”   I didn’t quite know what it meant, although I assumed having “goldfish bowl mentality” wasn’t a positive attribute.  However, I dare not ask her to explain what it meant because I didn’t want to suddenly fall into that category! 

So instead of asking, I checked it out for myself.  Supposedly, goldfish have horrible memory! To the point that they supposedly forget what they saw the last time they circled their fish bowl.  Hence the expression, “He has a memory like a goldfish.”  If goldfish have no memory, they have no working knowledge of the past and certainly no capability to plan for the future.  Although I am clueless on how true that belief is, it does make for a thought provoking story line in the tale of “The Goldfish in the Bathtub. “ 

The tale goes something like this:

A woman decided to clean her goldfish bowl and transferred her pet goldfish into her large bathtub that was filled with a few inches of water.  Assuming the goldfish would take advantage of this new found freedom and enjoy darting back and forth from one end of the tub to the next, the woman was quite amazed at what she saw when she returned for the fish.   Instead of the goldfish eagerly lapping to and fro, the fish stayed in one corner of the tub, circling in an area no bigger than the space of the fishbowl! 

Instead of enjoying the freedom the woman made available to the fish, the fish opted to stay in his familiar territory.  

The tale captured me and provoked me to ponder.  How many times do we stay in our familiar territory?  How often do we stay in our comfort zone of what is predictable and familiar?  Like the woman who made the entire tub available for the gold fish, our Heavenly Father opens up and makes available a world of opportunity beyond what we can imagine for ourselves.  However, like the fish, we stay in our safe, comfy environment, circling, moving, and yet never arriving. 

I wonder what kept ole Goldie from venturing into what must have looked like a vast sea to him, compared to his small miniscule fish bowl?   We probably share a similar answer to that which keeps us from venturing out beyond our own comfort zones.  What keeps us from moving forward with God’s best in our lives?  What allows us to accept limits in life that keep us in our tiny and comfortable corner of the world, fearful to step beyond the imaginary boundaries where those sabotaging voices and self-defeating mindsets hold us hostage?  

I love the story of Peter in the Bible.   Peter and the other disciples were cruising along out at sea when out of nowhere, a storm interrupted their rest on the boat.  Quite naturally, they were frightened.  To add to their fright, Jesus appeared out of nowhere and walked toward them….on water! Jesus told them to not be afraid, that He was there.  Peter needed confirmation, so he requested for Jesus to call out for him.   After Jesus reached his hand out and called for Peter, Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water towards Jesus!   Frightened by the storms’ wind and waves, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the storm around him.  As soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and onto the storm, he began to sink. 

Now, as I read that account, I smile about the many lessons and truths wrapped into this one story that is applicable to our everyday lives!  However, my focus is on Peter’s initial faith.  After Jesus caught him from sinking in the sea (and yes, He will catch us too when life’s storms get the best of us and we find ourselves sinking), He questioned Peter by asking, “You of little faith….why did you doubt?”  --Matthew 14:31

And so this same question holds true to you-- YOU of little faith, why do YOU doubt?

Getting out of our comfort zone requires FAITH and looking beyond the obstacles of fear, intimidation, rejection, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of not being equipped, being told what you couldn’t do and hindrances that falsely appear to be the obvious.  God wants us to “enlarge our territories.”  But in order to do that, like Peter did, we have to move on faith, not our feelings.  

We all want the walking on water experience, but how do we get there?  Again, like Peter, we gotta first step out of the boat in order to walk on water.  

So many times it is easy to stay “in the boat.” We know the boat. It is comfortable, predictable, safe and not intimidating. Although the boat may not be God’s best for us, we often resort there because like the goldfish, it is routine and we don’t have to operate outside of anything that may present itself as a challenge.  We don’t have to include God when we stay on the boat because we work on our own strength and out of our own abilities, without depending on His grace.  We also stay on the boat because we haven’t figured out the “How” of stepping out of it and walking on water.   However, like Peter, he didn’t know the “How” part of how he would walk on water.  He just knew that Jesus called him and that’s all that mattered.  

Just like in our lives, if we are called to do something that Jesus has appointed us to do, if our vision is one that He has planned for us, we don’t have to spin our wheels trying to figure out all the details of  “How.”  Once we know the “What” and are prepared to go forth in faith, God will work out the “How” in our lives.  We just have to step out of the boat, out of our comfy lil nests and just do it!  
(Ok, I didn’t say step into uninformed, foolish choices with no prayer or due diligence!)

So back to where I started.  After sitting still and really digesting this goldfish tale, it dawned on me that perhaps my associate really was talking about me!  (Oh NO she didn’t! snap, snap! ) Whether she was or wasn’t, it was still enough to bring awareness to myself that I had indeed been like that goldfish.  I too had been placed in a limitless land of boundless opportunity where greatness, prosperity and God’s best eagerly waited and anticipated my arrival.  Yet, I stayed on the other side of that imaginary line. Because of doubt and fear, I chose to stay circling the confined and bound corners of a space I knew best that was comfortable for me, which in reality was no bigger than a fishbowl.  I was circling fast, but going nowhere even faster.

Again, I ask, what keeps you in your comfort zone, not moving forth with God’s best?

How many of you are like that fish that has all the opportunity to make leaps and bounds in a vast sea of God’s best, but have chosen to stay in the corner of the tub circling behind that imaginary line?  Perhaps it’s a career or business move, spiritual growth, going back to school, a personal decision, a parenting decision, relocation, letting go, a relationship, ministry work or just plain overall decisions that bring about a better quality of life!  Whatever it is, which of you are ready to step out of the boat and move beyond your comfort zone, ditch the fishbowl and swim in the fullness and abundance of God’s infinite sea?   

It’s time for YOU to enlarge YOUR territory and boldly claim your “walking on water” experience!

Happy swimming,



Monday, February 18, 2013

You Actually Already Have It

Whewww! Now that the West has won, the MVP has been honored, star-gazing has come to a halt, party goers are recovering (or still snoozing), the movers and shakers, ballers and shot-callers have long flew off in their private Gulfstream jets and the Galleria Mall is deciding if it’s safe to re-open their doors, the city of Houston is returning back to normalcy! Although us local Houstonian’s are appreciative that our city hosted this years NBA All Star and all the amazing events, we can certainly exhale as we drive downtown in “normal” traffic and are able to get to our destinations without the fear of standstill--going no where- any time soon--traffic.

One word that sums up the weekend of NBA All Star? Influence.

Yes, I know stars, celebrities, events, parties, gatherings, camaraderie, hustle and bustle are words that you thought of, and all of that is true. But yet, it all comes down to on all different levels, people using their influence to draw in others for a cause.

As I was pumping gas at an area that was very congested from all the All Star traffic, the gentleman next to me said, “Don’t I wish I had what they have. If I had just a little bit of the influence these guys in town have, I would…..”

I looked at him and smiled, continued pumping gas and soaked in his comment. By the time I had paid for the gas and was ready to pull off, his words had a chance to really resonate with me and it was as if my internal light bulb went off with the solution that popped in mind for his apparent concern. However, my fellow commuter had already disappeared into the vast sea of bumper to bumper vehicles before I could share my thoughts with him. When I thought about it, the answer to his wish was very clear! He actually DOES have the influence of “these guys in town!” And not just a little bit of it, but just as much of it! Contrary to popular belief, not only does HE have it, but I have it and YOU, Mr. and Ms. Reader, you have it too!

Unfortunately, people consider having position and influence as one in the same. What the gentleman at the gas station probably didn’t have was the position that he was coveting from the who’s who crowd in the city. However, he already has the influence, just not properly applying it.

In one of the latest books I read, “Visioneering” by Andy Stanley, he beautifully explains having a position and having influence are not necessarily the same. There is a difference. You can have a position, but not have influence. In the same token, you can have influence and not necessarily have a position.

Stanley sums it well by stating “Your influence is far more critical….than your position.” People will follow you because of your influence.

Not everyone will have the same sphere of influence. Everyone has a different assignment and a different capacity in which they are called to fulfill it. Not everyone will have an influence over the masses. Not everyone will have a public platform or global reach. Not everyone will have a household name or the appeal to win over the community. However, some of us, well actually most of us, will have a much smaller sphere of influence. Perhaps your assignment is to be the influencer at the office where you are the only cubicle that isn’t involved in drama or scandal. Maybe the influence you carry as a sports coach is to be used to make an impact in the lives of the youth that you meet with on a weekly basis. Maybe you are placed within your group of friends to be that beacon of light for those in a lonely, confused and dark world. And because it all starts with home, perhaps in this season of life, your assignment begins with influencing and impacting the lives of your children, spouse or others within your household. A statistic I heard not long ago stated that the average person will impact 10,0000 lives within their lifetime.

The bottom line is this: Our Heavenly Father gives us ALL influence. God has an assignment for all of us to complete with the influence he gives us. We all have our own separate sphere of influence that is our own territory to work. We don’t have to have a high position in life to have influence. There are many people that have high positions that don’t have an influence, or either choose not to use it for God’s glory.

The Bible reminds us that we are salt and light and that we are to “…let our light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

We can’t get caught up in the mentality of thinking “what I would do if only I had _______.” Or if I had “so and so’s” lifestyle, I could then do ________. God didn’t give us “so and so’s” lifestyle for a reason. However, He did give us our own individual lives and He watches closely how we choose to be a steward of what He has given us. And if what Andy Stanley said is true, that people will follow us because of our influence, then we must be diligent with asking ourselves, “Who is following Me?” and better yet, “Why?”

In leadership expert Pat Williams latest book, “The Difference You Make,” he says, “we all have influence, we all have an impact on the people around us and we have all been shaped and impacted by the influencers in our own lives.”

So with that in mind, do we sit in regret like the gentleman at the gas station, wishing he had the influence of others? Or do we recognize and appreciate gifts, talents and assignments that God has given us, and boldy go forth to influence and impact a very thirsty world that yearns for the Living Water that you have to give?

Who are you influencing? Who is influencing you?

Blessings & Happy Influencing,

~ CleRenda

Monday, December 31, 2012

Ending The Hunt for 2013

Ever been caught up in an amazing book that resonated so deeply and profoundly with you? However, it was that one sentence that made you stop, put the book down and sit and think about what you just read. The truth in that one sentence resonated louder to you than any other part of the book and was the catalyst for a call to action within your spirit.

I was stopped in my reading tracks when I came to one little sentence in a leadership and vision book I recently read. “A hunter hunts for two rabbits but misses them both.”

At first glance, you may question what significance that sentence has and what could possibly be so profound about it. Stay with me for a moment and maybe you too will find the truth and vision in that sentence.

Throughout this past year of 2012 (and beyond to be really honest), I have struggled with having a creative mind and chased several different dreams and visions. The creativity is not what has been the problem. The problem has been a lack of real focus, direction and clarity. I wasn’t clear on my vision. Therefore, because I wasn’t clear, I had no real focus and direction. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time floundering, dabbling in this, dibbling in that, but not necessarily sticking to God’s path or the vision that has been mine to go forth on.

I love Jeremiah 29:11! ”For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” As much as I love that verse and hold on to it, I wasn’t necessarily living by it. The verse says He already has plans for me. He already has plans for you! Plans that yield a great return. However, I had been too busy creating different ones and chasing my own plans. And although some of those plans were serving Him, I wasn’t necessarily seeking Him. Big difference! I wasn’t really focused on cultivating and nurturing the ones God had already ordained and blessed for me and found myself leaving Him out of the picture.

“A hunter hunts two rabbits but misses them both.”

That sentence was so profound to me because it reminded me that when we operate outside of God’s design for us, we often do find ourselves chasing, but never capturing. Sometimes we do capture but aren’t satisfied, so the hunt starts all over again. I hold on to Ephesians 3:20 that says God will give us exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine, according to the power within us. Doesn’t get any better than that! This verse keeps me focused so I can stop chasing multiple rabbits! When I allow HIM to be center, it makes my hunt so much easier and I’m not running myself ragged on a hunt, chasing something I will never catch.

As this year comes to a rapid end and we make resolutions that will soon be broken, I think it is important that we ask ourselves a few questions. “What have I been on the hunt for and missing? What have I been chasing?” Or better yet, “What have I allowed to chase me?”

What things have you been chasing or what things have been chasing you in 2012 that you need to end for 2013?

Although my hunt has been getting clear with my vision and purpose, yours may be different. Perhaps it has been:

• chasing someone who doesn’t want to be caught

• allowing someone else to hinder your growth because you are waiting for them to “get it right”

• seeking the approval and validation from others

• fearing what others may say or think

• falling prey to worry and/or procrastination

• using manipulation and control as a means to an end

• being used by manipulation or control for others gain

• being held in bondage due to refusing to forgive an actual or imagined offense

• allowing anger, bitterness and jealousy to steal your joy and blessings in life

• attempting to live up to unrealistic expectations from others or from self

• allowing negative self defeating thoughts to derail you from God’s best

I pray that for 2013, you will seek God and get clear focus from Him as you journey into this new year. I pray that whatever you have been chasing or whatever has been chasing you in 2012 that has taken you away from God’s best for your life, you will find the strength to end now.

Many blessings, health, peace, comfort, joy, prosperity, and protection over your marriage, family, children, relationships, business and ministry. Allow Him to be with you in your hunt this year so that you may capture and conqueror all that He has for you.

Happy Hunting,


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Perfect Peace

As I emotionally sat my children down to explain the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary earlier this week and just how sad the situation was, I became frustrated with my son. As serious of a moment as it was, he kept a silly smile on his face and said to me, "Mommy, it's actually not that sad, it's not as sad of a thing as you are saying it is." Before I scolded him for not being serious at that moment, he then said, "All those kids are in Heaven now, so there is nothing sad about that." My six year old always has a way with putting things into perspective. He was exactly right....those kids are with their Heavenly Father now, in His perfect peace.

(....Tissues please....)

Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate. Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air. They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.

They were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say. They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day. "Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse. "This is heaven." declared a small boy. "We're spending Christmas at God's house."

When what to their wondering eyes did appear, But Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near. He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same. Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.

And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring: Those children all flew into the arms of their King, And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace, One small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.

And as if He could read all the questions she had, He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad." Then He looked down on earth, the world far below, He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe,

Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand, "Let My power and presence re-enter this land! May this country be delivered from the hands of fools I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"

Then He and the children stood up without a sound. "Come now my children, let me show you around." Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran. All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.

And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight, "In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A China Experience

Finally my long journey has come to an end! I get to finally see my husband who has been gone from home for 5 weeks, as he makes Qingdao, China his new home for at least 3 more months. I eagerly grabbed my carry on bag and made my way to baggage to retrieve my luggage. As I waited for my bags, I noticed quite a few Chinese people waiting outside the baggage area waving and smiling. Naturally, I assumed they were waving to a friend or loved one, excited to see them upon their arrival. Once I got my bags and headed towards the exit area, I noticed the same people, waving and smiling, but now a little more intently and enthusiastically.

As I got closer, I noticed that although they were waving and smiling at someone behind me, their eyes were focused on what appeared to be me. I gave a slight smile and broke my eye contact from them and continued to walk towards the exit. However, once I crossed the line of the baggage area into the airport arrival area, those same people that I had assumed were smiling, waving and waiting for someone else, were actually smiling, waving and waiting for me!

Meanwhile, the excited welcoming committee consisted of a few photographers, flashing their cameras paparazzi-style, videographers filming, a journalist walking next to me with pen and pad in hand asking me questions, and a big beautiful bouquet of flowers handed to me by someone else. Overwhelmed by the unexpected group of greeters, my mind was thinking, "I'm sorry, you have the wrong person, I'm not whoever you think I am. I’m just here visiting my husband." As I was about to project those words from my head to my mouth, to my surprise I heard my name mentioned a couple times. "CleRenda, Welcome to China" came from one person. The next person jumped in, "How was your flight to Qingdao, CleRenda?" Yikes.... they are actually talking to me! They do have the right person!

To add to my twilight zone experience, in the midst of cameras flashing, video's rolling, flowers put into my arms and having questions thrown at me left and right, another person from the greeters force came from out of nowhere and whisked the cart away from me that I was pushing that had all of my luggage.... including my PURSE! For all of my ladies that can relate... you can take my luggage, you can take my carry on, and on a bad traveling day, you can even take my child, but pleeeeeeeassse don't mess with my purse! My mind was thinking, "Hey you, come back with my bags." However, because of the 17-hour flight I had just gotten off of and the sudden and quick "attack" of all the commotion that surrounded me, I was still in a daze and my mouth didn't catch up to what I was thinking. Instead, I watched a total stranger scurry off with my luggage and purse!

In somewhat of a confused state, this was a far cry from the hotel rep I was told to look out for along the curbside, who would give me a lift back to the hotel. Where was he in the midst of all this? Was there a change in plans that someone failed to notify me about?

As much as I guess I should have been flattered, I was taken aback. Again, the element of surprise totally took me off guard. If you can imagine getting off of a 17-hour flight, I'm not quite in picture perfect mode. Perhaps if it weren’t for the crusty sleep in my eyes, hair in total disarray, lack of lip gloss or mineral face powder and a crooked limp due to swollen feet that refused to budge in my boots because of the air pressure of the plane...just maybe I could have gotten into the moment a little more! Not to mention the woof of "morning fresh breath!"(It actually wasn’t that bad...I did have one of those cinnamon-y hot mints!)

With all that I aside, I let my guard down, accepted “whoever” they thought I was, joined my entourage to a parked awaiting vehicle and disappeared into the chill of the night in Qingdao, China. Destination: Hotel Hai Tian.

For whatever reason God has seen it fit for my husband to have such popularity in China over these past 15 years of his NBA career, God has now uprooted him and taken my husband up close and personal with the Chinese people and culture for this season in his life. The scene I described is not uncommon for my husband, particularly in China. However, for me, there was nothing common about it! Naturally, my gracious and kind welcoming committee knew that I was coming to visit my husband and when they saw me, in their minds they thought I was “somebody.” (How disappointed they will be when they find out the truth! ) From waiting behind the baggage claim area, they spotted me out and saw something in me that I was clueless about.

This rather long blog that probably by this point seems to you to have no relevant point but merely a way for me to blab about how special I think I am, actually has just as much to do with YOU as me. My point? Like my Chinese friends spotted me out and saw “something” in me, when people spot you out what “something” do they see in you? Who do people think you are when they see you? As we are saturated in a culture that gives freedom and access to the world to view us up close and personal, who does the world see when they look at you? Even more so than “who” you are, when people see you, “Whose” do they think you are?

I love Ephesians 2:10! It says that we are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” If we truly consider ourselves His workmanship, His masterpiece, are we coming off as a masterpiece? Are we striving to operate in a spirit of excellence with what we do, how we think and what we say?

Colossians 3:12 also states that as “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Don’t get me wrong, I like the latest fashion statement just as much as the next person. But beneath the label, what exactly are we clothing ourselves with? It also says we are His “chosen” people. If we are chosen, do others see that in us, or do they see common?

How do we use who we are to impact others? Regardless of where we are in life, we all have a sphere of influence. Some may have a sphere of influence that consists of only one or two people at their job. Others sphere of influence may just be their immediate family, whereas someone else may have a worldwide audience as a sphere of influence. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, who do people see when they look at you, and how do you use what they see to make an impact? No where have I mentioned or suggested perfection. We’ll never see that within ourselves or others on this side of the heavens. But there should be some consistent striving and glimpses of evidence within us all of “Whose” we are.

So although my gracious and kind Chinese friends saw me well before I saw them and they surely weren’t giving me the paparazzi treatment for any other reason than because of my husband’s status; I can’t help but to wonder...wouldn’t it be great for us all to be able to respond to others in a similar manner, because we saw and welcomed “WHO” and “WHOSE” they really are, instead of what we think they are?

Who are you?


Peace and Blessings…from China


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

I must say, for it to be Thanksgiving, our 85-degree weather here in Houston doesn’t make it feel like Thanksgiving! I haven’t decided if we should be baking the turkey in the oven, or taking it outside to grill along with everything else! As much as I love warm weather, I do appreciate the chill and coolness that’s “supposed” to go along with Thanksgiving! Nonetheless, I shall not complain…. it is Thanksgiving and I have soooo much to be thankful and grateful for! One of my children asked me what is Thanksgiving. I told him it was a day to be thankful. He responded with, “but aren’t we supposed to be thankful every day?” Hmmmm…my son was onto something.

Although we put much thought, time and work into our Thanksgiving menu’s, Thanksgiving isn’t about the turkey, dressing, yams or pies. It’s not really even about celebrating a day of thanks. However, it is a day of remembrance that everyday is about celebrating thanks and being grateful for all that God has provided, even the stuff that wasn’t necessarily on our checklist of things we wanted! It is a day to remind us that “thanksgiving” is more about a lifestyle than an event. Thanksgiving is a day to remind us that even in the worst of our situations and circumstances, there is something to always be thankful and joyful about.

On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my life, health, family, friends and God’s mercy and grace in my life. For me, there is so much joy in being able to help and serve someone else who is truly in need. One of the things I am thankful for is being able to be a part of serving families in the 5th Ward community of Houston! The Tracy and CleRenda McGrady Foundation, was able to provide a Thanksgiving feast for some really awesome families at the 5th Ward Multiservice Center. We had such a blast! In addition to chowing down on a fabulous meal provided by Chef Rey of “Chef Rey’s,” we had some amazing speakers and dynamic entertainment! Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee was so gracious to come out and share an enlightening word with the youth. Recently named as the “Vocabulary Queen of Capitol Hill,” she was able to share with the youth, the importance of reading and staying focused in life and in school. In addition, Pastor Marlon Hall gave a Word that encouraged and empowered the kids. There was also a cookie station, and a book station where kids could pick out books and keep them. Body Worx was also there, giving complimentary hand massages. The families were also able to sit back and rock their heads to the amazing sounds of the band, “Renaissance Suite.” What an awesome experience!

I was thankful to be able to serve others that needed it. I was thankful to see families and kids smile and enjoy their day. Most of all, I am thankful for my son’s reminder that “we are supposed to be thankful everyday!”

Happy Thanksgiving….Gobble, Gobble!!

With Gratitude,