Monthly Archives: April 2012

Embracing Yo-Yos

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
EMBRACING YO-YOS


photo source

Up and down.
Up and down.
Sometimes, life seems very yo-yo-ish.

But I recently realized that I resist the yo-yo.
I don’t like the up and down.
Most days, I wish things would stay, well, just up.

There’s a reason I love the weather in LaLa Land. Remember that song? “It Never Rains in Southern California” by Tony! Toni! Tone!? [Side note, I just pulled up the video and realized I know the actress that’s in it. Such a small world. I’d post the link, but the video gets a little racy for my readers on a Monday morning.] Anyway, the song is almost true. It hardly rains out here. That means that the majority of the time, it’s sunshine and blue skies, or “80 degrees with a breeze”, as I like to say. I love it! UP!

But no rain also means that 1/2 way through the summer, most of the grass along Hollywood Freeway is brown, we are more susceptible to brush fires that wipe out whole neighborhoods, and our water bills are massive because we’re all running sprinklers to keep our manicured lawns green. Rain is not so bad when we put it in context.

We need sunshine. We need rain. We need ups. We need downs. That’s the ebb and flow of life. That’s definitely the reality of the entertainment industry. And ministry, for that matter. Sometimes, things are up. Sometimes, things are down. Some things, I have no control over. But I can choose my response in each situation.

Which brings me to a passage I read this morning in my quiet time.

Don’t ask me how I got to 1 Peter from 1 Chronicles, but I ended up in 1 Peter 5 where Peter breaks down the attitude of those who serve the Lord. This is what he says:

Today’s Meditation
1 Peter 5:5-7

5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

DOWN?

Peter encourages us to choose the attitude of humility toward one another and toward God.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like I’m choosing the down of the yo-yo, yes? Does anybody else feel that way? Like humility takes us down?

That’s exactly true.
That’s exactly what God is saying, “Choose the down.”

This has nothing to do with depression or sadness. I’m not suggesting that God is saying choose to be down and in the dumps. That’s not it. This scripture says for us to choose humility instead of pride. It’s an attitude shift. It’s choosing to honor God and others before ourselves. It’s embracing last instead of first.

Or in my case, embracing rain.
EMBRACING YO-YOS.

Because here’s the good news:
When we humble ourselves under God, He lifts us up in due time. He lifts us.
We can cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us.
Whatever we’re stressed about, He can handle it. We don’t have to worry.
Our part is humility, which is hard, by the way. Tried it lately? How’s it going on your end?

Let’s see if we can choose humility today.
Let’s see if we can embrace the down of the yo-yo.

If I can find a yo-yo to match my outfit, that might even be better!
Or one that lights up like the one in the picture above?!
Maybe one that sings or pays some bills?! That would be pretty cool,
Naima

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What-Do-Who Fun!

WHAT-DO-WHO FUN!
NAIMA LETT, D.MIN ABD | HOLLYWOOD CHRISTIAN BLOG


© NaimaLett.com/blog

What a wonderful week diving into purpose! Sounds like you’ve had a good time too.
So let’s end on a high note! Let’s have fun!

How? Let’s play and create our What-Do-Who statement!

This should be fun. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s about you. It’s YOUR What-Do-For-Who statement aka mission statement! It should make you smile.

And if you already have one, dig it up. Dust it off. Is it still relevant? Are you using it? Are you filtering what you do on a daily basis through its grid?

Just 2 simple questions, Fam:
1) What do you do?
2) Who do you do it for?

We are all designed to fulfill purpose. It doesn’t matter how young or old we are, or if we’re working or retired, we know that we’re created to make a difference.

GREAT EXAMPLE

My beautiful grandmother in Georgia retired years ago, but she still has purpose and gets things done. Each day, she has routines. One day is grocery day. Another is for the house. She loves and cares for her family. She cares for her German Shepherd. She serves through missions. She’s got a clan of sons, daughter-in-laws, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews and she doesn’t miss one birthday. She’s intelligent and sharp and funny and encouraging. At almost 90 years old, she knows that she is still making a difference.

MY WHAT-DO-WHO

If the Lord tarries, and I’m still on this side of heaven pushing 90, I hope to still speak truth in love so that nations are set free. That’s my what-do-who.

It lines up with my gifts, personality, and how I’m wired. When I started telling people my personal mission statement, NOBODY was surprised. Why? Because I was already doing it. It is who I am. It’s what I do all day every day without anybody telling me to do it. It’s my purpose on this earth. I help people see truth and live free. It doesn’t matter my profession, vocation, or location, that’s what I do. When I was single, that’s what I did. Since I’ve been married, still doing it. It spans my life.

I was born candid. I never knew it was different until friends started telling me I was the one person they knew they could ask a question and I’d them the truth. I’m thinking, “Well, doesn’t everybody tell you the truth when you ask a question?” :=) Apparently not.

Shortly after I graduated from college, the Lord spoke to me during my quiet time through His scriptures that He put His Word in my mouth. I simply wrote, “Yes, Lord” in my Bible, and I knew from that moment forward, I was called to ministry. It was simple. No fan fare. I made a life-long commitment to speak God’s Word, the truth, while in my pajamas in my bedroom. God was faithful. He sent countless servants, men and women, to confirm His calling and gifts and help stir me along the path.

For years, I created and traveled one-woman plays about women of the bible to share the truth of God’s Word. Shattered Silhouettes was the first one, and it was all about living in truth. Notice a theme? It’s clearer to me in hindsight.

The more I performed the Word/Truth, the more people asked me to teach the Word/Truth. So I went to seminary to learn all I could about the Word/Truth. Afterward, I was called back into the entertainment industry, and I brought truth to the camera and stage as an actress, writer and producer. My husband and I moved to LaLa Land with our production company, and we started a ministry to help artists find their purpose and follow their dreams without losing their faith. It’s all about helping others live in truth.

My pastor, at that time, recommended I get a doctoral degree in, guess what, preaching i.e. sharing God’s Word/Truth, and he referred me to the program he was finishing up at Talbot School of Theology. That’s how I became the first woman in their preaching program. I had no idea. Then, the Lord called my husband and I to start Hope in the Hills, where (you guessed it!) each week we share God’s Word/Truth.

Wrote a book and making a series called Confessions of a Hollywood Christian. Guess what it’s about? Helping people live in truth and freedom. See how the mission shows up in all I do?

So, I speak the truth in love so that nations are set free. That ‘nations’ reflects my heart for diversity. Our church looks like “We are the World”. The Lord has taken me to every denomination, age, gender, culture. He’s made me sensitive to nations and particularly sensitive to artists.

Does this help? Seeing how my WHAT-DO-WHO has played out?

RECAP:
On “purpose”, we got Clear Why We’re Here.
We Built Backwards.
We asked What Do You See?

Today, we’re defining our mission and how we help others. Mission statements explain why we are here, our purpose. Yesterday, we saw another way to put it is, “What’s wrong with the world and how we want to fix it!”

Jesus announced His mission early in ministry when He went home to Nazareth. Almost got Him killed. We explored the passage in depth in “What a Homecoming!”

Entire passage – LUKE 4:14-30
Excerpt:

16 He (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

JESUS’ WHAT-DO-WHO

Look at how many WHAT-DO-WHO statements Jesus unpacked from Isaiah 61 about Himself:

What does He do? Proclaim good news. To who/whom: The poor.
What does He do? Proclaim freedom. For who/whom: The prisoners.
What does He do? Recover sight. For who/whom: The blind.
What does He do? Set free. Who/Whom: The oppressed.

YOUR WHAT-DO-WHO

Your turn!
What do you do?
Who do you do it for?

Have fun.
Scribble all over your computer or paper. No hindrances.
Let the ideas pour out until one really connects in your soul like a home run.

If you get stuck, ask your closest friends or significant other. Ask on Facebook. Or Twitter. Ask people what they think you do best, ask them how you help them and others. Give them permission to be honest and see what they say.

Awhile ago, my husband and I were both working in our office, and I asked him, “What do you think I do best?”

Without even looking up from the inside of the computer he was fixing, he said, “Speak your mind.” My interpretation: Speak the truth.

Your WHAT-DO-WHO is obvious because you’re probably already doing it.
Writing it down in a statement, though, ensures that you keep doing it.
Write it. Make it plain. The world needs you.
We need you to do what you’re born to do for whom you’re called to do it!

Hey, post yours. Don’t be shy!
I can’t wait to see.
I LOVE THIS!

Your fellow WHAT-DO-WHO-ER,
Naima

PREVIOUS POSTS re: PURPOSE:
1. Clear Why You’re Here
2. Build Backwards
3. What Do You See?

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What Do You See?

[RE-POST] October 16, 2012
DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
WHAT DO YOU SEE?


source ©marketinginprogress.com

What do you see?
What’s your dream? What’s your vision?
What insight has God given you?
How will you impact our world?

This week, we’ve been exploring life’s purpose, vision and planning.
First, we got Clear Why We’re Here.
Yesterday, we figured out how to Build Backwards.
Today, we ask “What Do You See?”

This question has to do with vision.

Brett Duncan from Marketing In Progress breaks down the difference between mission and vision statements (as seen in picture above). Brett says:
Mission = “Why are you here?” or “what is wrong with the world and how do you intend to fix it?”
Vision = “What will the world look like after you finish changing it?”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had vision. I could see things afar off, believe that they could be achieved, and figure out how to get from Point A to B. Single-minded. Laser-focused.

I credit my parents for believing in the omnipotent, unlimited power of God and creating an environment for us growing up in which my brothers and I could dream and believe anything was possible – anything! My dad, as a teen, was the first to integrate the high school in his city. My mom, early 20s, integrated her nursing admin career. Those two blazed a whole lot of trails, so we never thought that “seeing” and “making things hap” were strange.

Imagine the true game-change that would occur if we raised a generation of young people who believe in the power of God and who believe through Him, anything is possible! “World peace” would not just be a tag line at beauty pageants. Cancer cures would actually get released and not buried by pharmaceutical giants who profit more off disease. And our economy could be revolutionized.

What if we see our lives like an NFL team strategizing to win the Super Bowl or an NBA team gunning for the Championship? (Side note: the Lakers are shaping up pretty good this year, Fam. Just saying.) Olympic champions visualize and “see” themselves on that podium with a medal thousands of times before they actually get there. Every Academy Award winner dreams and sees themselves winning before they ever walk down a red carpet in guy or girl Spanx®.

Whatever we see is usually where we end up.

Vision.
What do you see?

Imagine our own lives if we shifted to a place where we approached each day with vision and uber faith in God like, “I have nothing to lose! If I succeed, great! If I fail, great! I’ll learn something.”

Vision. What do we see?
God asks that question of some of His prophets, who, by the way, are called seers. And they see all kinds of things.

Jeremiah 1:11-16
Twice, God asks Jeremiah, “What do you see?”
Jeremiah first sees an almond tree branch which represents God watching over His word. Then Jeremiah sees a boiling pot which represents the disaster coming upon God’s people because they honor other gods and worship the creations of their own hands. Every time I read this passage, my heart breaks for my industry. We have a constant compulsion to worship what our hands make. Help us, Lord.

Amos 7:1-9
God asks Amos, “What do you see?” and shows him locusts, fire, plumb lines. What in the world is a plumb line? Glad you asked. I looked it up. It’s the line that a weight is hung from to determine if something is perfectly vertical. I imagine it functions similar to our modern level device that we use to straighten paintings and photos on the wall and make sure they are perfectly straight. So Amos says he sees the plumb line and God says He’s going to set a plumb line among His people. He’s calling them into account for their living.

Zechariah 4-5
Boy, did Zechariah see some stuff! Gold lampstands! Flying scrolls! A woman in a basket.
I love Zechariah’s response: “What is it?” he asks. “What are these?”
The angel’s response is hilarious to me: “Do you not know what these are?”
No! We don’t know what these are! Flying scrolls? What is this, man!
How Zechariah is supposed to get “Not by power, not by might, but by My Spirit” from two olive trees is beyond me, but we’ll go with the flow.

The point is that God gives His servants visions in order to help bring messages to His people.

I’d like to propose that our vision, your vision, when you really tie into your purpose and why God created you and put you on this earth at this time, is so much bigger than just you. Your vision, our vision, is meant to help others.

That’s why I identify with the picture above. Vision is what things will look like once we’ve figured out what need God wants to use us to meet on this side of heaven.

What need do you meet?
What problem are you uniquely built and gifted to solve?
Everything that has happened to you in your whole life has specifically qualified you to do something that nobody else can do quite like you can. What is that?

If you have some time, tinker with these questions.
If God asks you, “What do you see?”, what would you say?
What vision has He given you to help His world?

Upgrading to 5D, or is it 6D now?
Naima

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What-Do-Who Fun

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Build Backwards

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Build Backwards

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
BUILD BACKWARDS

I remember shopping for our first home.

My husband and I visited countless neighborhoods, one of which was brand new. A model house and a few others stood opposite the welcome gate, but the rest of the street bared empty plots. To get a clear picture of our options, we were shown blueprints. If we wanted a house built in that development, we had to pick the blueprints and the contractors would build backwards from our choices.

I don’t know a house that’s built without a blueprint.
I don’t know a successful business that’s built without a plan.
I don’t know a goal reached that wasn’t first a goal set.

We’ve started talking about life’s purpose, vision and planning.
Yesterday, we explored getting Clear Why We’re Here:

Thanks for your messages and feedback through the blog and social media. It’s lovely to hear from you and I’m glad this one, in particular, stirred you.

Today, we’re going to start the process of building backwards.
We want to figure out the end and work backwards to the start.
We want to dream about the finished house, then develop the blueprints accordingly.

So, we have to start with purpose.
Knowing our purpose is paramount.
Purpose goes beyond profession, though it could impact our choice of vocation.
When we know our purpose, it permeates every part of our lives.
Purpose is our reason for existence. Purpose is why we’re here.

And purpose transcends seasons of life.
It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, married with young children, single with teens, empty-nesters, working up the corporate ladder, building our own businesses, almost retired, retired for years, etc. Our purpose can be done in all stages of our lives.

Ready?

The best place to start in figuring out our purpose is to ask the One who created us in the first place: God.

All throughout scripture, we see God revealing to people their purpose. The very first instance is in the first book of the Bible. When God made man, He said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth…” God created man in His own image… male and female He created them. God blessed them; and said, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth…”GENESIS 1:26-31

Men and women are made in the image of God, the Creator, and told to keep creating and multiplying family and ruling over every living thing on earth. That’s the big picture.

Now what did God specifically have in mind when He thought of you?
PSALM 139 makes it clear that He thought about us when we were in the womb. He knew us.

ASK GOD

Have we asked God why He created us?
Have we asked Him what He had in mind?

Just before Jesus is betrayed to crucifixion, He prays what has been called His High Priestly prayer to His Father. In that prayer, He says to God, His Father:

JOHN 17:4
I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.

Jesus says His purpose has been to glorify God and accomplish the work God gave Him to do.
Have we asked God how we can glorify Him and what work He’s given us to do?

SEEK ANSWERS

These should give us some clues as we seek His answers:

* What do you love doing? What do you do that brings life to others and to you?
* What are you passionate about? Gifted in? Good at? What gets your heart beating?
* What do you talk about all the time that moves you?
* What do others say is your best contribution? How do others say you help them?
* What did you dream of doing before anybody told you you couldn’t do it?
* If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
* If you could help one group of people in the world, who would you help?
* If you could make a difference, what would you do?
* If you had all the resources, finances and time, along with God’s great big YES, what would you accomplish? How would you make a difference?
* If God asked you the one thing you wanted to do before leaving this earth, what would you say?
* If God asked you about your legacy, what would you want it to be?
* If you could sum up in a short sentence the message you want to leave on your earthly resting place, what would it say?
* What do you want others to say about you? How do you want to be remembered?

These are just a few questions to jump start discovering purpose. Even if you’ve done this exercise before, try it again. Go for clarity.

You may not have all the answers immediately, but see if you can carve out 10-15 minutes to just dream and ponder and meditate. Maybe over lunch or dinner. Take a walk on the beach or in a park. Wherever you can get a moment of serenity, try to get quiet before the Lord and ask Him for truth. He loves answering that type of prayer. And I believe He wants us to know our purpose and accomplish it.

I believe He wants us to be able to say, as Jesus did about His time here, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.”

That’s what I want to say!
Your backwards-builder that’s fierce with the long-handle paint roller,
Naima

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Clear Why You’re Here

CLEAR WHY YOU’RE HERE
© NAIMA LETT, DMIN ABD
BLOG | HOLLYWOOD CHRISTIAN

DO YOU KNOW WHY YOU’RE HERE?
Any idea what your purpose is? Got a vision? Personal mission statement? Plan of implementation?

The first time I drove cross country I was a junior Acting major at Howard University. It was January, and I looked forward to exchanging East Coast snow for palm trees and a warm breeze. I packed my candy-apple-red, 2-door Honda Civic to its roof, and set out for my semester abroad at the University of Southern California in LaLa Land.

BEFORE I HIT THE ROAD, I GOT A MAP.

I figured out the best route to travel, how much gas, where to eat, how much money, and safe cities to lodge, since some towns could get a little dicey for folks of hue after dark. Leaving from my dad’s house in the South, I knew there were some obscure towns where you didn’t want to be caught out at night. I planned my trip accordingly and coasted into 80 degrees and a saltwater breeze within 4 days.

What if I had begun my journey without a map? What if I just got in my car and drove- no plan, no money, no food, no lodging? And that’s for a simple 38 hour, 2400 mile road trip.

What if I told you I was driving cross country for the first time and you asked me questions about the trip, and I said, “I don’t know. I think I’ll just wing it”? You’d probably be a little concerned for me… or at least offer to pray because you knew I might not make it.

CAN I ASK THE HARD QUESTION?

How many times do we set out on life’s journey with no map? No plan, no vision, no clear destination. Or we have a destination, but we have no strategy to actually get us there. And then, when others (who genuinely love us) raise concerns, we say they’re killing our dreams or cramping our creativity or trying to box us in?

I’ve found my artist fam to be particularly adverse to planning. We want to be free. We love winging it; and if we love the Lord, we just say, “He’ll take care of it!” And then we look up a year later when we haven’t garnered any work and blame the Hollywood system.

A plan, in and of itself, doesn’t guarantee success. But having a clear vision of why we’re here and making a road map for the journey does make reaching our goals more likely.

Jesus has a very clear purpose. He knows exactly why He’s on the earth (John 12:23-28). And when he advises those who would be His disciples, He insists that they also count the costs.

COUNT THE COST
Entire passage: Luke 14:25-35
Excerpt:

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and calculate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ …

CLARITY

Jesus is real clear. He knows that interwoven into His earthly purpose is a wooden cross. He tells his disciples upfront that in order to truly follow Him, they also have to be willing to carry their own crosses, which might mean giving up family, possessions, and even their own lives. They could die following Him. And many of them do.

So, He says, before you take this journey with me, calculate the cost. Consider the path. He gives an example of building a tower and asks if they would begin building without first making a plan. He lets them know that if they don’t plan, they will not be able to finish.Jesus means this specifically when it comes to following Him, but I also believe this concept can be applied across our lives.

Let’s get clear on our purpose and calculate the cost. Before we build the building, let’s make the blueprint. Before we jump in the car, let’s get a map.

THE UNEXPECTED

Having a map doesn’t negate unexpected detours and potholes along the trip. Stuff happens. When my husband and I moved to LA a few years ago, the tire on our moving truck blew out a mile from New Mexico. It was 106 degrees. We had to wait for roadside assistance. We were delayed for hours. We had to readjust our schedule. But as soon as we were able to get the tire fixed, we got back on the road. We still had a destination to reach.

Such it is with life. We never expected cancer. But when we hit that pothole, hmmm… volcanic crater, we readjusted, and as soon as we could, tried to figure out how to still reach our final destination.

WHY WE’RE HERE

That was 2002. And my husband and I made a decision coming out of that life detour and the year of marriage counseling it took to put us back together again.

We decided: We might be limping. We might be crawling. God might actually have to carry us across the finish line, but we will finish this race, Fam. We will do exactly what we are purposed to do.

Every person has a purpose and should live on purpose. I’ve been called a dream pusher. I love helping folks find their purpose and follow their dreams without losing their faith.

If you don’t already know why you’re here, let’s figure it out. We’ll take some time and explore over the coming days. Maybe you already know, but you’ve hit a detour. Let’s figure out next steps. I absolute LOVE this! Can’t you tell?!

Your Exuberant Tour Guide with the leopard-print belt and safari hat.
Who says we can’t be stylish on the journey?
Naima

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Hope’s Anthem

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
HOPE’S ANTHEM
[REPOST] October 26, 2012


Hope’s Anthem, ©William Matthews/Bethel

Did you know hope has an anthem?
Like it’s own theme song?
I found out last night.

A group of dear friends introduced us to Hope’s Anthem, a worship song by William Matthews, (iTunes). My husband and I are so grateful that our fam surrounded and prayed for us and our hope. And God answered their prayers. By the time they started singing with the song, “Let hope arise!”, hope was indeed a’rising.

That’s the funny thing about hope.
It loves to rise.

Hope’s definition is the feeling that events will turn out for the best. Deep down, we all want to believe that things will get better. On a subconscious level, we yearn for that future with God when “there is no more more death or mourning or crying or pain”.(Revelation 21:3-4)

We hope in God, who has power over death itself and who raised Jesus from the dead. We’re still in the Easter season that spans from Resurrection Sunday to Pentecost, and we’re reminded that our hope is eternal.

Last Friday, I came across the following proverb when preparing the blog, There’s Hope!. It was brought up last night as well.

Proverbs 13:12
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Isn’t that so true?

The line immediately popped up from Langston Hughes’ poem A Dream Deferred in which he asks, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”

That’s the line that spurred A Raisin in the Sun, the Tony Award nominated Best Play by Lorraine Hansberry, who at age 29, just a few years before she passed away from cancer, became the youngest American playwright to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Best Play Award. A Raisin in the Sun opened in 1959 as the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway, as well as the first Broadway play with an African American director, Lloyd Richards.

Talk about giving hope to a generation!

Lorraine’s story gave me hope as a child that I, too, could write plays and screenplays. Look at what she accomplished in just 34 years on this planet.

And then, in 2004, A Raisin in the Sun was revived on Broadway and Emmy Award nominee Phylicia Rashād, best known for “The Cosby Show”, became the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play and Audra McDonald won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress. That was a beautiful night.

Again, hope for generations to come.

And it’s not just all about awards. The first time I met Phylicia Rashād during a master class workshop at our alma mater Howard University, she took time and poured into us. She encouraged us that anything’s possible. She and her sister Debbie Allen were two of the powerhouses that inspired me to pursue the BFA in Acting from Howard University in the first place. They gave this aspiring actor-dancer from Augusta hope.

Lorraine and Phylicia had to have massive amounts of hope that things would turn out for their best in order persevere in their careers as playwright and actress and to achieve things that had not happened before.

I meet artists weekly who are full of hope. They have left family, careers and security and driven out to Hollywood to make their dreams come true. Then, there comes a time when hope is deferred.

The proverb says when our hope is postponed, it breaks our hearts. But our desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

We see THE tree of life at the earth’s birth (Genesis 2:9) and rebirth (Revelation 22:1-2). Scripture says the tree of life bears its fruit every month and its leaves are for the healing of the nations.

Who wouldn’t want to bear fruit each month? Who wouldn’t want growth that heals nations? That’s the analogy being drawn when our longings are fulfilled, when our dreams are accomplished.

Happy Monday, Fam!
It’s a new week! Full of possibilities and opportunities to bear fruit and heal nations.
I pray for you too that your hope is fulfilled this week.

Need an anthem?
Hope’s Anthem is pretty good.
Go head. Worship with William Matthews.

And by all means, let hope arise.
Lett’s Rise!
Naima

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There’s Hope

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
THERE’S HOPE!


©India Arie, There’s Hope music video

What a week.
Ever had one where you got to the end and was like, “Whew! Made it!”?

Midway, I had a heart-to-heart with myself. (Yes, I talk to myself. Don’t you?)
I sounded like the psalmist:
Psalm 42:5
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

I was literally saying to myself, “Come on, soul, Hope!”

Hope is a beautiful thing.
It’s defined as “the feeling that events will turn out for the best”.
That’s what I needed. Hope.

Got hope?!

I have several projects on the grind, and this week it felt like just that – a grind! Wanted more YESes. Got some WAITs. But hope, particularly hope in God, assured me that I could keep believing that things will turn out for the best.

Need hope?

Lean in for a second. Let me chat with your soul:

“Why you heavy? Had a rough week? I get it. But guess what? We can still hope in God. We can still believe that things will turn out for the best. There’s hope!”

There’s hope.
Know how I know?

Because in the midst of the valley, there were peaks. There was so much I could be grateful for this week, if I dared focus on the good instead of the not-so-good. Want to try it? Let’s make a list. I’ll go first:

Youngest brother celebrated a birthday. Happy Happy.
Husband aced more certifieds. Congrats Love.
Dad received excellent news. Woohoo!
Ministry’s board made things happen. Got a great board.
Several inspiring artists connected and I helped them create their road maps. Excited!
Another wonderful magazine interviewed me. Thank you.
Prepping for upcoming speaking engagements, film shoot, book release, tour.
Got life.
Health.
Home.
Clothes.
Food.
Fam.
Faith.
Love.
Purpose.
Doing exactly what I’m born to do.

Everything may not be exactly as desired, but there’s a whole lot that’s exquisite.
And there’s hope. Things will turn out for the best.

Even if they don’t go down the way we want them to, things will turn out for our best because we have a Heavenly Father who loves and knows what’s best for us. Maybe some of the things we’re asking for are not His best. Perhaps He has better, if we can just be patient. Maybe His timing is better. He is God, after all.

Be encouraged, Fam.
Get hope!

This weekend, I pray a prayer for you from the Apostle Paul, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

May you overflow with hope!
Things will turn out for the best,
Naima
CoFounder, Hope in the Hills, a bible fellowship

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Break the Law?

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
BREAK THE LAW?


(photo source)


I was 16. I had just gotten my license. I was trying to make curfew.
Things didn’t go so well.

I “rolled through” the stop sign across from the mall. Before midnight. Nobody knew. Except that really big cop lurking in the shadows waiting to catch the unsuspecting, almost innocent teen who was simply trying to get home and avoid having her car privileges revoked.

I begged. I pleaded. I threw myself at the mercy of the cop court/jury of one.
He looked up my record and saw I had no ‘priors’, so he gave me a warning.

I learned a valuable lesson:
Don’t break the law.

But breaking the law is exactly what Jesus is accused of – twice!- on the same day! – when it comes to the Sabbath.

This week, we’ve been exploring rest and thinking about the principle of the sabbath. We saw yesterday in The Rest Test that rest ain’t easy and God’s people struggle with the mandate to cease from work once a week in order to honor God and be refreshed. The sabbath observance is such an important law that breaking it is punishable by death. EX 31:12-7

Thus, the Pharisees are quick to point out when Jesus, aka the Radical Rabbi, breaks the law.

Today’s Meditation
Read below or click: MATTHEW 12:1-14

1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” 3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” 9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.


THE PROBLEM

The problem is that Jesus does two things on the Sabbath that seemingly break the Sabbath.

In the wilderness, when God’s people break the Sabbath to gather food AFTER He has told them not to, He rebukes them, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?” (EX 16:26-9)

So, why, then, is it OK for Jesus’ disciples to gather food on the Sabbath? Are they not held to the same standard? Do different rules apply to the Son of God? Does He get special treatment?

Since He is the Lord of the Sabbath, does that mean He is the one person that can do whatever He wants on the Sabbath?

Why is it acceptable for Jesus to break the law?


THE PROBLEM BEHIND THE PROBLEM

Jesus wants to address the real problem behind the problem. Jesus is after something deeper. He challenges the motives of His accusers. He is after the heart.

The truth is that the Pharisees are more concerned about keeping the law than caring for people. They are being legalistic. Jesus quotes two examples in which needs of physical and spiritual hunger are met on the Sabbath without consequence to breaking the Sabbath.

Notice, in both examples, Jesus does not say, “They didn’t break the law”.
He says, “Their actions are not lawful” and “They desecrate, yet are innocent”.

Jesus does not pretend the Law is not there. Be clear. Jesus could choose to follow the Law. He is the Law. He says that He has come to fulfill the Law, not abolish it. (Matthew 5:17-20) Jesus knows the Law.

Jesus basically unpacks the Law. He says, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”. He challenges the Pharisees to do good. In other words, care for people. Meet needs. If healing is necessary, heal. If hunger is a need, feed.

Jesus gives an example of a sheep falling into a pit that the Pharisees would rescue on the Sabbath. Certainly, people are more valuable than sheep, He concludes. He wants them to shift their hearts to caring as much for people as they do for keeping the law.


THE CONSEQUENCES aka A HOT MESS

Too bad Jesus doesn’t have a cop that can look up His record and see no ‘priors’ and give Him a warning. His little break-the-law-to-make-a-point exercise ends in a murder plot.

How the Pharisees are able to justify this is beyond me. If gathering food on the Sabbath breaks the law, certainly plotting to kill somebody is a law breaker! “Do not murder” and “Honor the Sabbath” are part of the same Ten Commandments (EX 20:8-17), yet, the Pharisees overlook the “Do not murder” clause.

It seems to me that the very people who are bringing charges against Jesus for breaking the law are eager to break the law when it fits their agenda. Talk about hypocritical.

This is a hot mess.
Hot. Mess.


BREAK THE LAW?

And the moral of the story is stop at stop signs. Just kidding, but we do need to obey the laws of our land as well as God’s laws. Let’s stop at red lights. Pay our taxes. Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Laws are in place for a reason. Please don’t go away talking ’bout, “Naima told me to go break the law”. I’m not advocating law-breaking.

But there are also times when we break the law to expose hypocrisy. Jesus did. Rosa Parks did. She broke the law and wouldn’t give up her seat and move to the back of the bus, so she was arrested. That incident is seen as the straw that broke the bulldog’s back and propelled the Civil Rights movement forward.

A month ago, Hollywood’s most likable megastar, Academy Award winner George Clooney and his father were arrested protesting the Sudanese government’s slaughter of its own citizens. That arrest high publicized the abuse that is happening in Sudan.

Who would think that something as simple as the Sabbath is a law worth fighting over? But Jesus and the Pharisees have their own little showdown over this mandate to weekly rest.

If ever I have to choose sides though, I’m going to go with Jesus, seeing as He’s God and all, and seeing as He created the Law and knows how best to interpret it. He says, “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”, so let’s focus on doing good.

The Do-Gooder (except that time when I got pulled over for running a stop sign :=),
Naima

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The Rest Test

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
THE REST TEST


photo source


Did you know there was such a thing as a rest test?

Actually, there are 2 kinds. One deals with some sort of REST webservices. The other has to do with determining sleep patterns, overwork habits, stress and anxiety.

Apparently, rest ain’t easy.

We have insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and all types of disorders with fancy names.

A few years back, when my husband was going through chemo, my rest patterns got all out of wack, and I could only sleep 4-5 hours a night. My doctor ordered me to go to a sleep clinic to determine which disorder I had. They hooked me up to wires, put some gooey stuff in my hair, and observed me sleeping throughout the night. The verdict was, drum roll please, I was stressed out.

But rest is not just about being able to sleep, though that’s part of it. The formal definition of rest is to “Cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.”

The key is “cease work” in order to “relax, refresh and recover”.
Do we have down time in our weeks where we cease work in order to refresh and recover?

I’ve got to be honest, Fam. I confess this is an area of struggle. I work hard. I work a lot.

I asked the question yesterday in the entry Is It Possible?: ‘Is it possible to go a whole day without iPhone, Blackberry, cell phone, internet or cyber communication in order to rest?’ The answer I received back was a resounding “NO!” Folks are not ready to unplug. Maybe on vacation. But not on a weekly basis.

Don’t feel bad.

God’s people, coming out of Egypt, struggle with rest too, especially when it comes to the sabbath observance. When God provides manna-what-is-it?-bread-food for them in the desert, He gives them instructions to keep the sabbath, but many of them still refuse to cease work.

God provides the ultimate REST TEST.

Today’s Meditation
Read below or click:
EXODUS 16:4-5, EXODUS 16:22-30

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily”….
22 Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread… When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 then he said to them, “This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.” 27 It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? 29 See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

RECAP

The people of God grumble in the wilderness about being hungry. So, the Lord provides them with a “fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost”. They call it manna which means, “What is it?”

Part of God’s provision is that Israel can only gather enough manna for what they need on a daily basis. If they try to keep manna for 2 days, it spoils and gathers worms, except when they gather on the 6th day. On the 6th day, they are to gather twice as much because the 7th day is the Sabbath and they are supposed to rest and cease from work.

REST TEST

God reveals that all these instructions about the sabbath and rest are simply a test to see if His people will keep His commandments.

Do His people pass the test?
Not the first time.

What do they do on the seventh day, the sabbath? They go out to work and gather the manna, only to find that there is nothing there. God asks, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments?” Ouch!

How many times does it take us to pass the rest tests?

If we are Gentile followers of Christ, we’re obviously not Israel in the wilderness gathering manna and observing the sabbath in the same way. But there is a principle here that we don’t want to miss. As mentioned on yesterday, God makes the sabbath so important to His people that He commands it alongside “Do not kill”, “Do not steal”, “No other gods before me”. Exodus 20:8-11

The sabbath is so significant as a covenant between God and His people that folks who break it are to be put to death. Exodus 31:12-17: “15 For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. 16 So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

That’s pretty major, I’d say.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

So, why is it so important to God that His people rest on that 7th day? Why is it such a big deal? A couple of reasons. He says:
1) to keep His instructions
2) as a covenant between Him and Israel forever

This is about relationship.
God asks His people to take a complete rest day, holy to Him, because He Himself took a rest day after He made the world.

You know what blows me away? The end of Exodus 31:17 says the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day, He ceased from labor and was refreshed. If the Creator of the universe decided to take a day to be refreshed, surely I can find a way to do the same!

Which could be difficult in LaLa Land, I’m just saying.

Why? Because most of our world does not stop on “the sabbath”. There is still filming, auditions, meetings, business deals over golf at the Country Club. People have parties on Sunday morning. Artists I know are constantly being asked to work on Sundays. And guess what? I get it because I was too before I blocked out the time for service every Sunday.

We’re a long way from Eric Liddell, the 1924 Olympics and the 1981 Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire. Eric said NO to his original qualifying heat in order to honor the sabbath, and God honored him. But that was 88 years ago.

That’s why when I read Devon’s book (mentioned yesterday), I was floored. He was filming Karate Kid in China and when his sabbath started, he dipped from the set. He’s one of the people in charge, and he just left, turned off his Blackberry, and for 24 hours, turned his attention to God.

How does this sound to you?
Is anybody else intrigued?
Or does this all sound like gibberish?
Our Jewish fam are pros at it. I may reach out to some of our friends and get some tips.
Sounds like a challenge of biblical proportion to me!

To be continued,
Naima

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Is It Possible?

DAILY DOSE OF HOPE – BLOG – NAIMA LETT
IS IT POSSIBLE?





Happy Tax Day! Yesterday, we talked about BALANCE/REST.
Is it even possible?
Is R-E-S-T possible?

Just now, as I started writing “R-E-S“, I heard Aretha Franklin’s #1 hit in my head:
R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Take care. TCB.

She sang that song! SONG/VIDEO

Maybe we could switch up the lyrics this week to:
R-E-S-T-T-T-T. Find out what it means to me!
R-E-S-T-T-T-T. Take care. TCB-Y!

(After all, when we finish Taking Care of Business, who wouldn’t want to enjoy The Country’s Best Yogurt?!)

I LOVE seeing people live on purpose in their purpose and finding a way to share their gifts. This video definitely shows the Queen of Soul aka Lady Soul aka Sister ReRe doing just that. Even her backup singers are electric (one of which looks just like her… maybe her sister?).

And at one point, I think Sister ReRe forgets that she’s at a jazz festival in France instead of her church. Her gospel roots just take over. I don’t think she can help it. Either way, the whole stage is bouncing. I get exhausted just looking at the video. Talk about the need for some rest! :=)

Yesterday, we contemplated incorporating a Sabbath rest into our weekly lives in the 21st century. I mentioned how our Jewish fam in Bev Hills set an example by shutting down small businesses from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

Devon Franklin, Sony producer who developed Whitney Houston’s remake of Sparkle before she passed, TD Jakes’ Jumping the Broom and Will & Jaden Smith’s Karate Kid remake, is Seventh Day Adventist. In his book, Produced by Faith, Devon describes how he unplugs on Friday at dusk through Saturday at dusk. And when he unplugs, he really unplugs, like turns off his Blackberry.

Can you imagine a whole day without your Blackberry, iPhone, cell phone, internet or cyber communication, at all?

I’m not saying we have to unplug as stated above, but I think there’s a principle which God thinks is so important that He made it a commandment alongside “Do not kill”, “Do not steal”, and “Keep Him first”. Maybe God knows that we would be healthier and happier and replenished if we find a way to rest and stop working for at least one day a week.

I don’t know about you, but a healthier, happier life doesn’t always motivate me, off the bat. It should, but I already think I’m pretty healthy and things in the Lett household are not perfect, but we sure do find reasons to laugh at ourselves and the crazy things we experience in LaLa Land. So, healthy/happy, got that. Why do we need a Sabbath?

Does anybody else think like that?

Why?
Because the Sabbath rest is not just about being healthy and happy. God says the Sabbath is for Him. Let’s look at it again.

Today’s Meditation
Read below or click: EXODUS 20:8-11

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


NOT JUST ABOUT US

God says the seventh day is a Sabbath to Him. This is not just about us, Fam. God says to remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy. That holy means consecrated, set apart, devoted to the Lord. Holy means not profane or common, but sacred, distinctive.

God isn’t just telling us to keep a Sabbath and keep it holy for our health and happiness, though those are probably byproducts. It’s much deeper than that. God says: Set aside a day that is set aside to me. Set aside a day where you honor me and not just do your own thing. Not working is only a part of the equation. This could be seen as a heart issue.

The Sabbath could be seen as an outward manifestation of an inner reality. One day a week, we set aside a day that says, we depend on God. We do what He pleases. But is that really our inner reality? Do we depend on God? Do we please Him?

Many followers of Christ do take Sunday as a Sabbath. They unplug. Go to church. Focus on God. Eat a meal together with the family. Watch a football game together. Relax.

And many ministry families take Monday as a Sabbath. I saw on a website recently where a popular megachurch in LA shuts down on Monday. Office hours are Tuesday through Friday. That’s pretty radical.

IS IT POSSIBLE?

So, obviously, it is possible.
But is it possible – for me?
Or rather, do I find it important enough to incorporate into my life?

This is not about some legalistic approach to life. I’m just posing the question: What would it look like, in our house, to take a day where we say, we’re not going to work today, but we’re going to enjoy the Lord and each other and fellowship with family and eat and do what pleases God?

Is that so hard?

Is it possible to plan ahead, like we do for a vacation? Do everything that we need to before the vacation, so that when we’re on the vacation, we can actually have down time to relax and enjoy the family. Could we do that weekly? Plan ahead and do everything that needs to get done in 6 days so that the 7th day can be one of rest and re-energizing in the Lord and family?

What do you think?
Possible for you?

Truthfully, my life looks more like the never-ending swishing dresses of Sister ReRe’s backup singers. But I’m seriously considering this.

Is it possible… for me?
“Just a little bit! Just a little bit!”
Naima

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