Welcome to ZZCLAYTON.blogspot.com

It's funny how life affords us such wonderful experiences but we typically allow them to pass us by without sharing them with the world. Some of my experiences are life-altering, some are hilarious, some are disappointing, but I am committed to sharing them with YOU! I am encouraged by your feedback, so please comment. Thank you, and welcome to My Many Magnificent Moments!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

This Flesh Ain't No Joke!!

Lord you said to lay aside EVERY weight and sin that doth so easily beset us (Hebr. 12.1). To me, that means to give up ANYTHING that prevents me from achieve greatness in You. Anything that comes between me and holiness, righteousness and Godliness. It may seem like a little thing, but even social media can get in the way...more often than I'm comfortable admitting. 

The deeper I get into this book on Spiritual Disciplines, the more I realize just how undisciplined I am in my everyday life. I kinda' think that's the point: to shine the light of Truth in my life and expose areas of darkness, where sin lurks. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that social media is evil, but any activity, object or desire can become a stumbling block if we don't keep it in balance with our spiritual disciplines. For example, I often find myself completely engrossed with "catching up" on my Facebook timeline instead of doing my evening scripture reading. Literally AN HOUR will go by and I won't even notice it. But if I were in my Word for an hour, how much more of a benefit would I receive from that?? The Word is life-giving and will rejuvenate me from a stressful day at work and with my kids. But WHY do we (or I, in this case) freely give myself and my time to such a non-beneficial, often just straight "foolery" producing activity? BECAUSE MY FLESH WANTS IT! This, my friends, is the answer to most of all discipline problems we have.

Some folks blame EVERYTHING on the devil. We give him waaaayyyy too much "shine" as my young people say. I've always been taught that we have three enemies: The world, the devil and our flesh. For me, the world is not such an obstacle because I learned at a young age to hold my worldly possessions very loosely. In my maturing, I've grown to keep a healthy perspective on worldly gain. Fame and fortune is not my goal or aspiration but I know that it is God who gives me strength to get the wealth, gives me favor, gives me promotions and who continually blesses me and my household. TGBTG (to God be the glory). However, I believe social media addiction is directly connected to the world as it pertains to this topic. I read that there is an actual clinical diagnosis called F.O.M.O. or "fear of missing out". We MUST stay in the know about our favorite celebrities' goings on and the latest Gospel artist's scandal, etc. Shame on us for even being enticed by that mess. We should be praying rather than posting. HA! That will PREACH, right there!!! 

Listennn...The devil was DEFEATED over 2000 years ago (Gal. 3.13)! The only power he has over us is when we forget who we are. We are the blessed seed of Abraham (Gal 3.14). We are a royal priesthood, a peculiar people (1Pet. 2.9). We are MORE than conquerors (Rom. 8.37). We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8.17). We are overcomers! The devil tries to play in our minds to make us doubt these things. That's why we must make sure we put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6.11) and cast down every imagination or thought that is not consistent with the Word of God (2Cor. 10.5).  Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, He has given us power over the devil. The Word says that the devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1Pet. 5.8). Every single word in this scripture is important because it doesn't say that the devil IS a lion; he's "as" a lion. Which means he's fakin' it till he makes it! The devil already knows his fiery future but he's going to try and take as many souls with him as he can. Also, he is "roaring" to try and scare us, but as I like to say, if he's roaring THAT loud it's because he ain't got no teeth!!! Pardon the Ebonics but it's just that simple. LOL! The Bible says to resist the devil and he must flee (James 4.7). Period.

Ooohh but our flesh. This flesh of ours is enmity against God and, by extension, against the various spiritual disciplines we are to practice in order to become like Him (Gal. 5.17). It is our flesh that allows our bed to hold us hostage when God wakes us up in the wee hours to commune with Him. In turn we miss out on the very thing that will give us strength to overcome our desire to hit the snooze button tomorrow morning. It's a cycle that can only be broken by denying our flesh some things. 

When we deny our flesh by fasting, by cutting off the boob tube, by disconnecting from social media we weaken it. At the same time, we must feed our spirit by replacing those flesh-fulfilling activities with Godly things. Read a couple extra chapters in your Bible during the time slot that your favorite tv drama airs. Go to bed early and rise early to meet God in prayer at dawn (Psalm 63.1). Make it special by sitting outside on your porch or deck. Listen as the birds wake up, watch the Lord paint the sky just for you as the sun's first rays shoot over the horizon. Or if it's too chilly, drive to the waterfront and sit in your vehicle with nothing but the shore in your view. Play an instrumental worship cd and begin to give thanks for God's creation! These moments strengthen our spirit and put us in tune with God. It is in those moments that God has our undivided attention and can speak to us, give us direction and download creative ideas and strategies for our lives. 

I realize this blog is very "preachy" but I promise, it is directed towards me FIRST. If you benefit from my insights then TGBTG (you know what that means by now!). As I continue to be obedient and journal my life in blog form, I pray that your life is touched by every word that I type under the guidance of the Spirit. 

Be blessed,
~ Z


Sunday, November 9, 2014

"But God Had A Plan"

Isn't it amazing how as soon as you make up your mind to do something positive, progressive and in line with your destiny, the enemy comes after your joy, your peace and tries to make you give up before you've even started? I have been feeling lost, uncomfortable and frustrated lately. To the point of developing anger issues and even cyclical bouts of depression. It has been very hard, to put it lightly. But God had a plan. Here's my story...

I've experienced this in the past (never this intensely, though) and I know it is a sign that God is calling me to himself for a greater work. This ultimately requires me to get out of (or be moved out of) my comfort zone. The last time I can recall was when I was working at the bank. I loved my job, yet I ended up hating it. I was coming under intense scrutiny because the culture of the workplace was changing and they wanted to move older blood out. Bottom line was I couldn't understand why I went from a stellar, award earning employee and manager to this stressed out, half-functioning, reactionary employee who at one point was being investigated for something I didn't even do! My world had been turned on its head because my identity was wrapped in my successes throughout my career. I was MISERABLE! I thought the answer came when I was offered a job at a smaller bank with a $20K raise...woo hoo! WRONG! I was simply running from the call. I ended up losing that job in a year and found myself home with a newly adopted child and no motivation to go back to work full-time. I needed to "find myself", as people say. But God had a plan.

During my almost 3 years of being in transition I learned a lot about myself. I was blessed to be able to do so by having many amazing, magnificent, challenging, heartbreaking experiences. I went back to school and almost completed an undergrad degree in General Studies. I started missing assignments and asking for extensions because I got burned out. At the same time I started a consulting business under the mentorship of a non-Believer (putt...putt...putt...fizzle); joined a theater company and acted in many, many productions - LOVED IT but it didn't pay the bills and took me away from my family too much, causing serious strain on my marriage; was involved in a number of singing projects, CD recordings, record releases and concerts - LOVED IT and learned a lot about vocal technique and the business side of music but I eventually had to release myself of all of that. I was just too busy. Too busy to really give the required attention to being the great wife, mother and woman who God had destined me to be. In all of this, God had a plan.

I was so busy supporting, building up and investing in other people's ministries and projects that I had completely lost sight of who I am and the ministry that God has placed within me! It was this realization that prompted me to resign from LivingSongs Music less than a month ago. I truly love LSM and everyone on the team but I finally realized the pattern that I had been in for so long. The stakes are much too high now. I MUST birth what God has placed in me. I must reach my goal. I knew God had a plan.

I believe we each have a section of the vineyard that we are responsible for growing. When I have been hanging out in everyone else's section helping them, but my section is dry and withered, that's a sure sign that I need to tune my ears to the Lord and ask what's up. The greatest delusion is that we think we are busy doing God's work, but WE'RE NOT!! God loves us so much that He allows us to run until we get tired out. Then He opens His arms and embraces us when we eventually realize that we cannot keep living like this, running away, ignoring the call. We look up and think we've run so far away from Him but He's right there with us the whole time. "I will never leave you nor forsake you". God definitely has a plan. 

Now here comes the magnificent part... Just as soon as I took the step of faith to clear my plate of all distractions, resign from LSM and utterly surrender to God's will for my life, things began to change IMMEDIATELY! Not only do I have renewed peace of mind from merely being in the will of God, but I have found a new dimension to my relationship with my Co-Pastor. I had been asking for years to be mentored for ministry but it had not happened, for various reasons. But now is the season and both parties are in holy alignment. It is a covenant relationship that I am excited for because it will be a mutually beneficial exchange between us and worth GOLD to the Kingdom. I believe God is going to do a quick work through us as we both remain obedient, humble and open. This is a key part of God's plan.

Second, my heart was pricked a while back to clean out my office. During my 3-yr transition,  I had converted our 3rd bedroom to a home office / prayer room. I was very proud of it and protected it fiercely. Over time it has become a dumping ground for our child's old toys, out-grown clothes and TONS of PartyLight inventory and paperwork. Oh I forgot, I also sold candles during that transition time! Wow!! Anyway, the condition of my prayer room was reflective of the condition of my heart...cluttered with no space for intimacy with God. I had work to do. I kept putting it off citing my lack of time to give it the attention it needed. Well, a week ago my mentor agreed to be my accountability partner as I committed to getting the room cleaned out by Saturday. Yay, I'm progressing in God's plan!

Of course, I had THEE WORST week after that conversation. My daughter developed a lying and stealing habit that had escalated to involving the administrators at her school. She wasn't doing any better at home, either. I had to address a major issue with the Dept. of Children & Family regarding our foster daughter. I had an ugly argument with my sister whom I love dearly and we hadn't resolved it yet. My husband was away at his Realtor's National Convention in New Orleans. I was exhausted and stressed out. I actually left work in tears Friday night. Topped off with a complete blowup at my daughter later that evening. I was in no frame of mind to clean out YEARS of clutter from my office by the next day! This ain't in God's plan, is it?

But Saturday I became determined to pass this first test of our mentor/mentee relationship with flying colors. I even received a midday text from her asking how it was coming along...That was nice to get. I put the girls to bed at 8:30pm and dilly-dallied until about 9:30pm when I just "womanned up" and tackled it. I made myself some Orange Pekoe tea, grabbed some of my hubby's vanilla Oreos, popped in my T.D.Jakes VHS tapes "Maximize the Moment" and got ta' cleanin'. Oh what a great time I had! Not only did I clean but I organized, I rearranged the room, vacuumed and even sorted through all of the clothes and shoes. I even did a few loads of laundry and folded them to be given away at church the next day. I went to bed around 5:30am feeling like a million bucks! Ok God, I see you!!

And finally, I am being obedient to the Spirit and journaling like I should've been doing for the last 10 years. 
Lord, please forgive me for not obeying your voice. Help me to not only be sensitive to your call but to yield to it in obedience. 
I know you have a great plan for my life.  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jer 29.11). I want to be in right relationship with you to be able to accomplish the task you've set before me and to reach that expected end. 
I desire to have a praying spirit and an insatiable hunger for your Word! Help me to be diligent in studying and teach me how to use supplemental tools such as "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" by Donald S. Whitney.
I thank you because I know that above all you desire that I prosper and have good success, so I don't have to worry about what I am "giving up" in order to heed your call. But I know that ALL THINGS work together for good to them that love God and to them who are the called, according to His purpose. (Rom 8.28). 

Love, Your Humble Servant,
~ Z

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Many Magnificent Moments: Keep It Simple & SMILE!

My Many Magnificent Moments: Keep It Simple & SMILE!

Keep It Simple & SMILE!


Sometimes life can seem so complicated. The stresses of the world threaten to "cloud out" the happiness we pursue so relentlessly. People often ask me why I am always so giddy, chipper or simply why I smile so much. Well let me share a little secret with you....


1.) Happiness is fleeting. We will never secure happiness because it is like trying to bottle a rainbow. We can only enjoy it for the moment, but cannot save it for later. Happiness is purely external. It is influenced by the right conditions, like getting some good news or finding a $20 bill in an old purse you haven't used in a while.

JOY is everlasting! It springs forth from within. Its effect is that, regardless of what happens, our hope and faith assures us that everything will be alright. We are strengthened by this joy; we are encouraged by it daily. It cannot be clouded by gloomy circumstances. That's why I smile!

2.) Life is not complicated...WE complicate it. Our lives are built on a series of choices. If the choices we make are based on a solid foundation and belief system, then suddenly our path becomes straight.
Our journey through life doesn't have to be the 'scenic route' through complicated, stressful quandaries that give us premature hypertension and chronic anxiety. We just need to remind ourselves to keep it simple.

If we trace back every complicated situation we've experienced, I guarantee that it is the result of a choice we made that was inconsistent with our established belief system...it was an exception to our rule...we ignored that little voice inside telling us not to do it. Don't worry; we've all been there! The key is to know how we got there and how to avoid it in the future. Here's a simple analogy: We will never reach our destination (where we want to go in life) if we keep changing maps (our instructions on how to get there).

Stick to the plan. Go back and examine the path that you are on. Be sure it is one that will lead you to your ultimate goal. If it isn't, then your VERY NEXT CHOICE is critical to get you back on course...It's just that simple!

3.) So, when life serves you lemons, don't make lemonade (that's sooo cliché)! Pick up that lemon and examine its shiny, dimpled, bright yellow rind. Understand what was required for that beautiful piece of citrus to grow: lots of sunshine, some rain, and some heat. We are not much different that that lemon. Yet even the fruit that we associate with unfortunate circumstances knows to stick to its prescribed plan and reach its destination! We can learn a lot from the lemon. What kinds of fruit are we producing in our lives? Okay, okay, that's another blog topic!

I hope this adds value to your experience while on your personal life's journey...it certainly has for me. If you don't remember anything else you read here, remember this acronym: "K.I.S.S.". It is the key to keeping the clouds out of your life and your pathway straight.


Keep It Simple & Smile!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Terrific Two's - Keeping Mommy Young!







Each Tuesday I enjoy precious time at home with my daughter, Quincie-Jade (or "Jadie" as we call her). I typically find myself cleaning my house, playing with Jadie and preparing dinner for my wonderful hubby. Today was particularly fun because I allowed Jade to help me do a little spring cleaning around the yard. She's two years old, so she likes to be mommy's little helper! So as we're walking the yard and picking up sticks and other debris, she spots an old, sun-faded kickball in the woods.
"Mommy, ball!! Ball....ball...." she exclaims and points at the ball. I try to dissuade her by saying that the ball is dirty and we can't play with it. "Ball, mommy?" she pleads with the cutest twinkle of excitement in her eyes as though she just found a treasure.

"Okay honey, but mommy has to get it. You can't go in there because there might be prickers" I tell her. She's practically leaping for joy at this point! As I start tip-toeing through the various trees, bushes, prickers and rocks to get to this dilapidated ball, I pray that I don't see any snakes. My eyes are meticulously scanning every inch in front of me before I place my foot down on the leaf-covered ground. "Crunch".....the dried leaves give way under my feet with each step. One step closer to the ball.

I had to stay focused on my destination because, of course, it wasn't a straight shot. I had to carefully plot my path around the rocks and prickers...and the potential snake! It was like I was an Army Ranger intrepidly navigating my way across the enemy's mine field. Halfway there...sweet!

Uh oh, Houston, we have a problem. Between me and the ball was what seemed to be a wall of pricker bushes blocking my path - you know, the big red ones with microscopic, razor-sharp thorns! They grab hold to your pants leg, your arm and get tangled in you hair! There was five feet of these evil bushes with their tentacles erupting out of the ground like fiery volcano lava. I couldn't see them from the yard because they blended in with the woods. What am I going to do now?? I suddenly understood why that ball was so faded...hahaha! Poor ball. Abandoned years ago by your playmate to be held against your will at Guantanamo Bay!

I turned and looked back at Jadie who had been watching me from the lawn with gleeful anticipation. The country may not have been at stake, but my daughter's happiness was far too valuable to abort the mission now. 'Operation Kickball Rescue' was in full effect! I quickly assessed the positions of the bush's thorn-covered branches in relation to the ball. I maneuvered under, around and between them using my Limbo and Twister skills. I stretched my arms out as far as I could as I balanced on one foot. My fingertips touched the ball...almost....a little more....GOT IT!

I gripped the partially deflated ball with one hand and hurled it onto the lawn (it didn't even bounce). I stood amongst the prickers watching as my daughter ran over to the old faded ball. She picked it up and turned to me with a huge smile on her face! My heart melted! She's so happy...I'm a hero, I beamed.

"Snap!" Suddenly something moved near my feet! "Agghhhhh!!!" I squeeled. In retrospect, I think it was just a twig snapping under the weight of my foot, but at the time, all I could think of was a snake. I no longer cared about prickers or rocks! I high-tailed it out of those woods so fast it made me wonder why it took me so long to get to the ball.

When I got to the lawn Jade was waiting for me. She had a strange expression of disenchantment on her face. "Where's your ball?" I asked, still winded from my sprint out of the woods. She just pointed over to the left and then walked away. Geeze, she's is so grown sometimes! As I expected, the ball was lying on the ground - rejected by Jade after she realized it had lost its air (therefore no fun to play with). I walked over and picked up the sad ball and shoved it into our trash bag. Jadie had moved on and began playing with a stick she'd found.






"Mommy jump!!! Mommy, mommy, mommy....." Jadie persisted.

"You want to jump on the trampoline??" I asked with amazement of how quickly she can become so zealous about another activity.

"YES!" she said definitively, and pointed up to the big trampoline.

"Okay, but you have to hold mommy's hand." This should be interesting!
And so went my Tuesday afternoon of spring cleaning...Saving Private Kickball and then jumping on the trampoline!!! Kids are awesome, and I'm pretty sure mine thinks Mommy is awesome too!!





Sunday, March 14, 2010

Moments of Breakthrough

Tears stream down like droplets of liquid pain

Cleansing my soul of heartache and shame

Holy Spirit fills my womb and burns from within

Activated by the soundless cries that escape from my lips

Envelop me in your love, Holy Father

I need you now, I need you now

Hear your servant's inaudible cries

Only you can dry my weeping eyes

And give me strength for the journey that before me lies

And suddenly - Breakthrough!











Hallelujah for my breakthrough!

I feel your love; my pain has dissipated

All glory and honour unto you are due

My Father, my Healer, my Strength

I love you!