Saturday, October 29, 2011

Your Calling

So many times we wonder what we were put on this earth to do. What is our calling? We search and search for it all over but we just can't seem to figure out exactly what it is that God wants us to do. Well, there are some people that are blessed enough to figure out their calling and thus live a fulfilling life doing what God meant for them. However, there are also a lot of people who die and never figure it out. Attached is a message from my pastor to us. Hopefully it will shed some light on this complicated issue:

A Word From Pastor Ted:

A calling is something you discover, not something you choose. The word vocation comes from the Latin word for voice. Discovering it involves very careful listening. People will sometime speak about choosing their calling, but a chosen calling is an oxymoron. The whole idea of calling is taken from Scripture, where time after time God calls someone to do his work. The whole idea of a calling is that there is a Caller and a call-ee. You and I are the call-ees and God is the Call-er. God equips the worker and assigns the work. Michael Novak puts it like this, "We didn't give ourselves the personalities, talents, or longings we were born with. When we fulfil these gifts from beyond ourselves-it is like fulfiling something were meant to do. The Creator of all things knows the name of each of us, knows thoroughly, better than we do ourselves, what is in us, for he put it there and intends for us to do something with it. Something that meshes with his intentions for many other people. Even if we do not always think of it that way, each of us was given a calling by fate, by chance, by destiny, by God. Those who are lucky have found it". I pray that you continue to see how God is guiding you in your calliing.

I will be the first to say that it took me over forty years to figure out what my calling was. And sometimes you can have more than one calling because God can give you more than one trait that you can use for the better good. One of my callings is writing. Another one of my callings is managing projects. I know those two are callings but I feel in my gut that there is something else I am supposed to be doing but can't quite put my figure on it. Oh well, it will come to me some day, and if it don't I will just use the other two gifts I have received from the Lord. Have a blessed week.

-Pastor Ted, in Toni's viewpoint

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On line School

I have been at Fort Hays for two years now, and let me tell you, this is an awesome school. The staff is always available to handle your questions no matter what department, and if you leave a voicemail message they have always called me back. I am married, this is my second marriage, and I have six beautiful children...the first five were all girls and the last one was a boy. And no, I did not intentionally get pregnant with my son. After fifth child I did not want any more children. However, the Lord stepped in and low and behold I became pregnant with my son. it was a boy. My husband of course was thrilled to have a little man around him now, and they are clones. My son tries to stay strapped to my husband's hip. My first three girls are 25, 23, and 19 and were by my first husband, however they have a step dad in my husband, so more love to go around. Besides, he lives out of state. My three babies are 6, 10, and 12. They are all extremely smart, every one of them and my seventh grader made the cheer leading team. We were thrilled because there was so much competition, but when they gave me the break down sheet of the total cost, which they did not reveal to me until the day we picked her up from tryouts, I almost fainted! But they were only trying out at this point so we would not know for a few days if she made it or not and needed to come up with the money. But, of course, the smartest girl in school, my beautiful and tall baby she made the team. Last year she made Valedictorian and received the highest achievement trophies in all subjects..Because they do so well in school, we allow them to participate in one or two extra activities, but it is so expensive. for her to be cheerleader, I almost fainted! I had no idea it was that expensive. Now she also wants to try out for the step team, which is another few hundred dollars, but something has to give because my ten year old wants gymnastics lessons and my son wants to take up karate and all of them need swimming lessons. Can you say, "Broke because of my kids? My husband keeps telling me to relax because God always pulls us out of jams and is always right on time with His help. We are active church members, I am on the PTA Board at my daughter's middle school , and am Room Parent for my son who is in the first grade and his sister is there as well and she is in the fifth grade. Besides, we are supposed to allow the children to specialize in anything or even try out out on anything because we are in scholarship mode. They all make straight A's but to get into a good college you need more than a 4.0 average. They were in girl scouts and I was a Girl Scout Troop Leader until I became ill about two years ago. Lastly, you should know that I have a very, very rare Cancer called VIPOMA. I am in and out of doctor offices and hospitals and there is no cure. Because it is so rare, only one in ten million people get it, they really are not focusing on a cure for it. I realized that when they told me that all they can do is "make me comfortable" and "take the edge off " my pain. It is excrutiating because I already have very bad back issues and the VIPOMA which is usually in the pancreas . So I hurt all over until I can take my medicine and it kicks in. I am only telling you guys about the cancer because I spend so much time in the hospital. But now I have a Sprint mobile card so hopefully I can still log in and complete my lessons on time. Well, as you can see I am long winded. I hope to make friends with all of you and good luck to everyone!Right now I am being seen by some specialists at the John Hopkins Cancer Research Center in Baltimore. I live in Atlanta, so it is very difficult getting the money to travel there. Okay, I will stop talking now. Good Night

Toni Braswell

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kill Them With Kindness

You can get more with honey than with Salt
Kill Them With Kindness

Last Sunday we had one of the dynamic, engaging and most spectacular Methodist Pastor that I have ever had the priviledge of hearing preach… Reverend Walter Kimbrough. From the time he steps onto the stage until the time he closes the bible and the preaching part of the service is over, he will have you so mesmerized with his message and the way he delivers it that you don’t want to take your eyes off the pulpit even to take down a few notes. Nevertheless, I was able to gather a few as I feel it is very important to not just listen, but to also take notes and embrace and understand the message the preacher is trying to get across.
We were very honored to have Reverend Kimbrough speak at our church on Sunday because as you can probably guess, he is busy, busy, busy. However, because my pastor is a mentored of Reverend Kimbrough’s he takes time out of his busy schedule every so often to give us a word. I have never been disappointed by any of Rev. Kimbrough’s messages. They just seem to just naturally flow out of his mouth and right to our ears.
In this particular Bible Reading and message, he focused on the words written in Kings2 6:8-23. What I got from the sermon is that first of all, when there are more of you than there are of an opposing group, why would you worry about them hurting you? If you actually outnumber them and are in the majority, you have practically nothing to worry about. Unless, you are fighting a fight you should not be fighting to begin with. You see, sometimes you will be somewhere you should not be, doing things you should not be doing, and that could cause you to lose the fight.
During that time, there were a lot of fighting among different groups and different cities. You can kind of compare it to the fighting that goes on today amongst not only countries, but among different religions, different schools, different cliques at school, and dare I say, even sometimes among church members. Thank God we do not have that problem at our church. I have been a member of this church for about two years and I have had the pleasure of watching its attendance. Now, we have grown by 28% and we are still growing. The word is out; Leland Qwest Methodist Church is the place to be!
Sometimes you will be asked to do something that you feel in your bones is wrong, but you do anyway because your superior told you to do it. Therefore, for fear of losing their job, they do as told. In essence, they are like robots. They don’t use their own minds and own brains, they just wait for orders and do as told. This may surprise you, but there is a higher power than your superiors. If you are asked to do something that you know in your heart is unethical, then you need to pray to your Lord God for guidance. I like to think of things this way, will what I have been asked to do or will do be yet one more thing I have to explain to the Lord at the Judgment Gate? I know he forgives our sins, but that doesn’t mean we should just go around and keep committing wrongdoing even when we know it’s wrong just because we don’t want to get fired and we know He will forgive us .
Something else I wonder about too is this, how long is my “good deeds” list compared to my “you should not have done that” list. I sure hope to God that my good list is a lot longer than my bad list!
Once you develop a close one on one relationship with the Lord, you will become more aware of what you should and should not do. He tells you when to go and when to stay away. As you grow in your one on one relationship, you will receive revelations numerous times and you know that it isn’t just a dream or just a thought that popped in your head because you have cultivated your relationship with the Lord and you now know how to listen out for him. Sometimes we do not get our blessing or make mistakes because we were too busy talking to the Lord and asking for things instead of just waiting to hear his responses. One word that I hear a lot when I pray sometimes is “Be Still”. At first I had no idea that it was coming from him or what it meant but overtime I learned. Basically it means “Be Quiet, Listen, and do not act yet”. Great advice.
Did you know that sometimes God will send you your enemies directly to your path even though you may be trying to avoid them? The question here is, “What are you afraid of”? As long as you have that connection with the Lord, you have nothing to worry about. God always has your back. When you see those people in the hall who does not like you, don’t turn your head----smile at them, ask them how they are doing-show some compassion for them because they obviously need Jesus. Turn the tables, treat them like a friend….a friend with a big “caution sign” on It, but treat them with sugar. Who knows, they may have thought you didn’t like them, or it could be some other silly reason, but as a Christian, you ignore all that talk behind your back. You try to win them over for one reason and one reason only; you want them to see what being God’s child and having a close relationship with him will do. They may think you are crazy because they know you know they don’t like you, but that’s their issue…not yours. As long as you do what you are supposed to, all will be well.
Well, that’s it for now. All of the information above was thoughts, ideas, and some were even direct quotes from the awesome Reverend Kimbrough himself. Let me also add, that although this particular blog entry focused on our guest speaker, Reverend Kimbrough, I still have to express my love and admiration for my pastor, Pastor Ted Rollins. He has done a lot in changing meand some of my ways. Pastor Rollins and the church congregation that has reached out to me (you know who you are) has helped me in my journey to obtain a close relationship with my Lord. I came in a lost and slightly confused babe, and now, even though I have this rare cancer, I have not lost my religion. I believe that even the cancer may have brought me closer to the Lord. All I know is, I pray all the time now, I listen for him to speak to me now, and I try to get my children to participate in church activities. My husband and I are also active members and have been for two years, although because of my illness we are not able to attend as many meetings or outings or volunteer work we would like.

Thank you all, for praying for me, and for keeping me going. Thanks to Reverend Kimbrough for making me realize all of the above through his sermon. Thank you, Pastor Rollins for praying for me, encouraging me, and helping me to find my way back to the Lord. Good bye for now. I love you all. Good Night.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

He may not be there when you want him, but he is always right on time

I went to John Hopkins Hospital earlier this week and God had his hand all in it from the beginning to the end. First of all, we could not afford to go, the plane tickets were so expensive, but I was told by many doctors that John Hopkins was the best place to go for rare cancers so I knew that I needed to go...if not for me, for my kids. I want to be the one to raise them with my husband so i need to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Back to the story...The Lord stepped in and made it possible for us to afford the tickets to get to Boston. It just so happened that my hubbie had enough frequent flyer points to pay for one ticket, so we only had to pay for one ticket..can I stop here and give God praise?? Hallelulah.

We arrived at the airport on time but for some reason Keith was hurrying and walking real fast. I was having a hard time catching up to him. Well, when we finally got to the gate, I expected to sit down and take a breather because the plane was not scheduled to take off for at least another twenty five minutes. To our surprise, the plane was almost completely boarded when we arrived at the gate. We were some of the final people to board the plane. Again, I can only thank the Lord for guiding us to walk so fast to the gate and not take our time and walk leisurely. Had we done that, we would have missed the plane because the plane was filled to capacity and there were people hoping there were "late people" because they were on standby.

We arrived in Baltimore, Maryland ahead of time by about twenty minutes so thank you to the pilot. He deserved all the credit. Those biscuit cookies they served hit the spot too. When we arrived, we rented a car, because the hospital was thirty minutes away from the airport. We did not know if we were going to have enough or be in a bind for the car, but we stepped out on faith.

Here is the best part, the hotel room we stayed in was one of the best hotels in the city. We had a one bedroom suite with a flat screen tv in the living room and in the bedroom. The shower got as hot as you wanted it to, no matter how many other people in the hotel had taken or were taking showers when you were. Wait,that's not the best part. We did not have to pay not one red cent for the hotel stay! We were there from Sunday to Thursday night and did not have to pay and were treated with royalty. You see, during my gynecology appointment a couple of months ago, my usual doctor was not there so the doctor who owned the practice had to give me my yearly exam. She was reading my chart and noticed that I had a rare cancer. She wanted to know more about it, which is usual because a lot of doctors have never heard of it, so I explained all the details that I knew about it. I also mentioned that I had been fighting it for two years now and had been to another cancer treatment center in Tampa, Florida on and off for a year and a half and they were unable to resolve the cancer. I explained that the doctors were now suggesting I go to John Hopkins Cancer Center in Baltimore and she gasped. It turned out that her sister had a son with a rare cancer and since they spent so much time at the hospital seeing him, they had actually purchased the suite at the hotel that they were staying at...near John Hopkins Cancer Center. She said that sadly, the son died, but that her sister would be so glad to let someone else with cancer have use of the suite. She contacted her by phone right then and there and gave her the dates and I was all set. We were in a plush, nice, comfortable, one bedroom suite and did not have to pay anything! I need to take another moment now to say "Halleluah". Unbelieveable!

Everything just seemed to fall in place, but then the devil tried to step in. When we arrived at the hospital for my scans, tests, bloodworks, etc. at 7:30 in the morning, the staff indicated that they did not have authorization from my insurance company to see me and that unless I paid out of pocket I would not be seen by the doctors. Can you believe that?? I took out my tablet that I right down all my phone calls, names, dates, and times in when speaking with people on the phone and showed them who I spoke to, when, and that they assured me last week several times that everything was all set. We stood there arguing back and forth because the scheduler said her notes said something different! I almost fell out crying. They did not care that I came all the way from Georgia. I begged them to please call Blue Cross and get another copy of the authorization (because I knew they had received one last week) and they said they kept trying but couldn't get through. They suggested I stay another week or two to wait on the authorization and have the tests done, but I could not do that. I have small children at home I told them, but they seemed content to just let me walk out of there. Even if I wanted to stay an extra day I would not have because my children were having an end of summer camp program that all three of them were participating in and I refused to miss it. I miss so much of their things by being sick and this is one time I would not miss it! I think I cried and cried, but not out of sadness, out of anger!

We went and ate lunch and went back to the hotel room. I spent the day in bed sulking and Keith spent the entire day in the living room working. It just so happened that I did not schedule the trip for the one or two days the test would take. That day I missed my kids so much and I swore that if this was a bust I was done with all of these hospitals. I would just live the best I could and leave it all in God's hands. I pouted and stayed in bed that entire day.

However, The test was scheduled for Tuesday, which as you know did not happen. I had scheduled our departure for Thursday night...something just led me to do that.

The next day, Wednesday, something in me told me to call up to the hospital and speak to Virginia as she was the only one that was really sympathetic. I called her and she said that they had been trying to reach us. That not even thirty minutes after we left Blue Cross called them and gave them full authorization to do everything they needed to do. (I guess the paperwork from last week got misplaced}. I was esctatic. I asked if it was too late to come in that day and she said yes, but that I could come in and have them all done that following morning. I needed to be there at 7:30 a.m. My husband and I could not believe it. The Lord works in mysterious ways. You see, had I had the tests done on Tuesday as planned, I was not symptamatic, meaning I wasn't sick, it was a good day symptom wise. You cannot get a true reading unless the patient is acually going through "an episode". My episodes usually last three or four days, sometimes longer. In between those times I have a few good days here and there.

Thursday morning we arrived at the hospital, had all the tests and bloodwork done and went back to the hotel to nap. Had I not scheduled our departure for Thursday instead of Wednesday like anyone else would have, like I started to, the whole trip would have been a bust. But God stepped in and beat that devil at his own game! We arrived at the airport on time, boarded the plane, and had a smooth ride home. I will say this one last time, because I am in awe of His power when you turn your life over to him. You see, because I had become closer to the Lord, and ask him and pray to him to use me to do His will and help me and my family in protection and everything else, I have learned how to tell when He is guiding me in a certain way or trying to tell me something. It is hard to explain, but I did not get it before. I did not understand having such a relationship with him before. I love him and all that he has done. But His Hand Was All In This Entire Trip. I Owe It All To Him and the People he put in my path, like the nice sister of the doctor who allowed us to stay in her room. She says we can stay there as much as we like, just contact her and let her know so that she can make the arrangements.

So, that is the end of this very long story. I hope that you can understand why I am still in awe of everything that happened. I Love the Lord. God is good..All the time!

P.S. Yes, we did make it to the kids program and they were so surprised to see me, especially my son. He screamed "Mommy", "Mommy" and I was so happy to be there. Details are in my next blog (smile).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Krystal and Arthur joined my church on Sunday

When I saw them walk in, I was very pleasantly surprised. They attended once before, but I thought Krystal was totally against small churches, however not only did they show up, but they actually walked down the aisle and joined as new members. This is such a big step in our relationship. Krystal is a total sweetheart and I see so much of me in her. My son-in-law has had a positive influence on her with her relationship with the Lord. Sometimes you need that extra push to get going. I hope that she will become an active member. I am attending the women's church meeting tomorrow and the president says she has a position for me. I was once secretary, but since my illness and all my hospital stays, I have been unable to fulfill my duties. I look forward to hearing what she has in mind for me. I really want to give more of myself to the Lord.

I don't know if I mentioned it, but Krystal is pregnant with my second grandbaby. The first was beautiful Arielle and I was blessed enough to be in the room with her during the entire delivery. Krystal seemed so calm due to the spinal block she received. I was shocked at how calm she was. She didn't even start moaning until it was about time to push. I had all six of my babies natural birth so i felt ALL the pains. I could teach a class on it. I also breast fed my youngest one, my only son, until he was two years old. This grosses some people out, but I decided it was better for him because of all the ads about the positive effects it grants. I even heard that in other countries, some mothers nurse their babies until they are four or five. I see nothing wrong with it, and like abortion, I feel it is a personal decision. I have no regrets. Now he just turned six. Now if I can only get him out of my bed and into his own room at nights.....that's been a battle and I always say, "Choose your battles" .

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