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Two Equals One

Within the United States we set aside this day to remember a courageous man that lead the Civil Rights Movement, in the 1950s, in heroic proportions. He was a man that chose to face hardships and deep ridicule to help create a place where all human race could exist equally free.

Martin Luther King Day is day that always a thought provoking day for me. What is seen is the fact that my skin is a beautiful shade of mocha (thanks mom and dad) and yet I seemingly carry two worlds within this one universe.

These two worlds at times externally may appear different and yet internally to me, they are the same. Joined by love that lives by the very blood that courses through my veins. The two worlds woven together with a welcomed and inseparable bond.

I am not black.

I am not white.

I am not two parts but a whole.

I am not merely the shade of pigment expressed for all to see.

The internal far outweighs the external burden one often carries. In greater clarity…character and an external position of the inward man should be our first and initial gut reaction when looking upon ourselves which will inevitably reflect upon others.

I am a daughter.

I am a woman.

I am loved.

I am me.

Today as you venture into shared space with other humans, ask yourself, “What do I first see?”

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

Have a joy filled day!

Love That’s Near

As I opened the heavy outer metal door to my apartment, my face was instantly greeted with the awareness that the chill of winter was quickly creeping in on us.  Living in the mid-west, winters can be bitter and fiercely cold. This day wasn’t that type of coldness but it was enough to stun my still sleepy self.

Although I was tempted to return back into the safety and warmth of my blankets inside, I braced myself and walked out into the chilly morning with the door slamming quickly behind me.

As I am walking out of my humble abode, as I typically do throughout my day, I struck up a conversation with God. I started with the usual, “Lord I invite you into this day,” and that is where the conversation abruptly turned. Every step I made on the pavement toward my car was a simple, yet divine, new revelation of the God’s (Yahweh) heart. He quietly said, “I want to be your day. I am your day. I am your awake time and I am your sleep. I am everything.” Those words are simple and yet they offer profound truth.

God encompasses us fully and completely, that is the benefit of being known in true Beloved Identity in Him. I realized at that moment I don’t have to re-invite Him into a place that He never left. We don’t have to continue to ask God over and over and over again to come and be with us, when He is with us always.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matt 28:20b

We can walk in assurance that He has and never will leave us. I believe that there is this unsaid pressure from the Christian arena that says that if you are experiencing doubt, haven’t done your morning devotions (PS you can break free from religion’s mandates and do your Bible study at night as well. There is no set rule in God’s kingdom on when to seek Him, it just says, “Seek Him.” ….ok, I digress…),  and haven’t followed the 5 step program to getting closer to God, that He sees you as not measuring up and doesn’t want to be as close with you and somehow found another address to live at for awhile until you start acting “good” again. My friends, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Where could I go from your Spirit?
Where could I run and hide from your face?
If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!
If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there!
If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!
Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
your strength will empower me.
It’s impossible to disappear from you
or to ask the darkness to hide me,
for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night

Psalm 139: 7-11 TPT

You will just have to face the hard truth, you cannot escape God. He loves you, right now. He loves you in this exact moment. Yes, in this moment that you just yelled at your husband. This moment that you just screamed at your kid. This moment that you are finding it hard to forgive. This moment that you think you can figure this life out with God’s assistance. This moment of dishonoring. This moment when you want to take matters into your own hands. This moment where you are seeking other things to fulfill you (friends, relationships, food, shopping, sports, social media etc….) other than God.

Yeah, He sees you and is already well aware of what is going on, it is no surprise to Him. He isn’t mad or angry. His constant motivation is to love. He always desires us to be so aware of our Beloved Identity that our life response is to live solely from that belief.

We don’t have to earn God’s love. It’s not about if we do “A, B, C and D” that it will somehow move Him to love us more or that we now have stepped back into a place of receiving love BECAUSE we have done our “duty.” We can never earn something that is free.

When we grow in, and become so aware of our Beloved Identity, we can freely walk in His unconditional love that no matter what we have done or haven’t done, His love remains consistently the same.

So don’t let shame and guilt take over and spread the lies in your mind that you are missing out on a level of love due to something you did or didn’t do. You are worthy of love, period. I implore you, don’t let the heavy weight of religious rituals press you into a proverbial corner because you have been “bad.”  News flash, God isn’t up there keeping score on your day.

Now, for the record (and all of the religious spirits that may be squirming), I will say this….even though God’s love never changes and is consistent, there may be times when you feel “distant” from that love for several reasons: comparison, un-forgiveness, jealousy, pride, selfish ambition, outbursts of anger, rage, gossip…(etc…). Notice I said, “feel” distant. You really aren’t distant in proximity it’s just that there is something that has become an impostor on your true identity as a beloved son and daughter. Of course acting out on any of the reasons I mentioned above are not advisable and definitely reap some pretty crappy consequences when utilized, but knowing that those things are not our true nature as Beloved causes true grace to be exposed in our hearts to quickly remind us who we are. I don’t know about you, but I am thankful for that constant IV drip of grace!

So, as we enter into the beginning of a fresh new year, remember:

•you’re worthy of love

•you can’t escape God

•God is ALWAYS near

•you don’t need to earn something that’s free

•Grace can bring us back to reality of Beloved Identity

Happy New Year!

2020 is going to be a great year!

Have a joy filled day!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that another year has gone by. So much life happens in 365 days it is hard to sometimes encapsulate all that has transpired.

This past year was a year of beautiful and trying growth. It was a year of greater awareness of who I am as a Beloved Daughter of God. It was a year of new discoveries and new friendships. It was a year full of the unexpected, good and the not so good. My faith was challenged to the very core.

I was able to travel to Austin, TX, Florida and a few other in-state vacations with family and friends. It has been a wonderful year of adventure and exploration.

But if I am honest amidst all of the wonderful things, life still happened. This year has also been one of the most challenging years. I have had to walk in a level of grace that I wasn’t sure I would be able to maintain, but God. I can say today, with all certainty, that if it was not for God in my life the hard things would have snuffed the very breath out of me. And I can say with absolute surety that the dear close friends in my life are truly the real MVPs! The late night calls, the plethora of “HELP!!!!” texts, embraces, words of encouragement, words of hard truths and their consistent love through the process is nothing I take for granted! Friendship is an invaluable gift!

If you’re reading this and you don’t have these types of friendships in your life, I implore you to make that investment this year. It is imperative in life to have solid friends that surround you no matter what (and I’m not talking about blood family, although they can be friends as well). There is just something about being vulnerable with good friends that can bring an element to your life that often exceeds your expectations. I would not be the person I am today with my dearest friends. You NEED iron to sharpen iron. (Side PSA for my girls: all you girls reading this that are looking for a significant other or talking to a guy and he doesn’t have any guy friends, um, red flags!!! Not to sound harsh but ya probably should walk (ok, maybe run) the other direction). All I know is friendships in my life are a non negotiable, it is imperative! Friends that love you no matter what are vital! Get one, or two, or three!!!

I welcomed in the new year with a community of friends that I am so thankful for. I shared with them that I am not into New Year’s resolutions at all. I am don’t feel I need to succumb to the pressure that I have to be something more or better because the clock strikes midnight ushering in a new year. I am of worth and value as I am, right now. I don’t have to perform or do things to make me more lovable or accepted. Life is a journey and we get to take it one day at a time. Believe me, as long as you have breath, there will be opportunities for growth all year long.

So today I get to look back on the past year and say, “Wow, girl you have done well and come so far…THANK YOU, JESUS!” I get to look back and know that the past doesn’t have to carry into this new year. The new year is a like a new book. Today is the first page of a new chapter. I am looking in great expectation and hope for all that the ink of life will pen in the fresh pages and chapters ahead.

My story is just beginning…

•This year know you’re enough, right now.

•This year know that anything is possible.

•This year know last year doesn’t hold your future. Your future is now.

Have an amazing hope filled year!

What Time Is It?

In the past several months my mind has been pondering the essence of time. All throughout the day we are checking our watches, the clock on the wall or our cell phones to see what time it is. We set alarms on our phones to be sure we get up in the morning and don’t miss out on that important Monday meeting. We use a paper planner or the calendar on our phones to set a plan for our daily lives. We plan for a day, a week, a month and some plan out a full year ahead.

I have mentioned it on another blog post that I am not a huge lover of a planned schedule. I feel so confined with a time budget that it makes me itchy inside. All you extreme planners you can stop cringing now because that is not what we are going to be chatting about today.

I was driving in my think tank and this question rose up in my noggin, “Do I value time?” The question stopped me dead in my tracks. Whenever a question like this drops into my soul I know I am about to go on a little thought journey, and I wasn’t wrong about my assumption.

There are 1,440 minutes in a day, um, that is a lot of minutes! Seriously y’all, that blows my mind! I know I typically don’t ever think of the amount of minutes there are in a day because I am usually just concerned about how I will get all the things I need to get done. I freely assume that time will just be there for me.

Time can be a friend and a foe. Time causes those in grief to feel even more distant from what was lost while still having to carry the pain as a reminder. Time, when encapsulated as a whole event, can make us say things like, “I had a great time!” We love when time is on our side. We love when time seems to be good to us. We love time when it allows us moments to share with others.

Time is a precious gift. Even in our greatest efforts, we cannot control time. Time is sweetly given, but it cannot be manipulated or cajoled.  In the Bible King Solomon was right to say that there is an appointed time and purpose for everything. We are born at the exact time we were intended to be. We are living because God has divinely given us, time.

God sees time from a whole different perspective. In the realm of God’s kingdom time doesn’t exist the way we think of time. Earthly time is different than God’s time. A day to him is like a thousand years.  Think of this…..through every generation God has remained the same, He has never changed and never will. Time cannot change God (MIND BLOWN), that is so reassuring!

He doesn’t worry about time like we do. We tend to think that if something hasn’t happened yet (our life timeline and our schedule) that it is too late or it is never going to happen. We tend to define our whole lives on time and what we have or have not accomplished (ie: start a career,  buy a home, find “the one,” have kids, travel, open a business, end or start something later than we should have etc.). But I want to challenge our thought process on this. The way I see it is, every day and every step of our journey is ON TIME.  You haven’t missed out on something because it didn’t fit your time line or come into the confines of social expectations.

God doesn’t think linear in the realms of right or wrong.

Most all of us have a routine, something that we are familiar with that brings us comfort and creates a safe mental space that allows us to feel we can take on the day with confidence. We make great efforts to try and maintain this familiarity so we can feel that we are “ok” or doing the “right” thing in this thing we call, life. Routines bring consolation that we have things under control and, in relative theory, will eventually obtain the reward for our continuous efforts. Even with our greatest effort to “be good” and “do right” we have to remember that things within the time of you being good or right can be altered in a moment with the invasion of interruptions and unexpected happenings.

Just remember this, God isn’t routine. He is not confined to routine or our earthly time. He never does things the same way. He is constant, yes, but he is not a method. He is not restricted by time.

I have been wondering what it would look like if I truly gave God full reign over the time he has given to me. To really view my earthly existence as the precious gift it is. To let time lead. To honor time. To not think of it as an endless commodity that I get to do whatever the heck I want to. To respect time, eternal time. To not see time as a means to my own end.

To be so aware of time that it changes my perspective of what we hold on to and what needs to go. That it changes my perspective of how I see the world, through the lens that this life is truly not about me.

Once a minute goes by that’s it, you don’t get it back. I am learning and choosing to make every minute count.

What do I think about? What do I dwell on? Who do I invest in? Who do I help? Who do I serve? Who do I encourage? Who do I make time for? Who do I take time out for, even if it isn’t convenient? Who do I need to go to and make things right? Who do I need to show kindness to? Who do I need to call? Do you say things like, “if I can only have ‘this’ THEN I will be fulfilled and feel better about who I am?” You get the idea…these are just a few questions to get your mind thinking about what can get our minds percolating on the treasure of time and what we are choosing to do with what we have been given.

Lately I am being reminded to ask myself, “How am I being intentional to do well with all the time I am have allotted in a day?”

Time is only eternal in God’s kingdom. That we would live and love with this eternal perspective here on earth.

Time allows us to be present.

Time is a gift.

Time can be a friend.

Time is a foe.

Time is grace.

Time is new mercy every morning.

The time is now, to do.

Praying you find peace this season walking in the awareness of eternal time.

Have a hope filled day!

Til next…. (ahem) time! 😉

What’s In Your Cup?

I like bubbly water! Cold, carbonated water is absolutely refreshing to me. I like regular H2O also, because, well, nothing can quite quench your thirst like water can. Oh, and don’t think that I would fail to mention my absolute love for coffee! I generally like my coffee with no cream or sugar but from time to time I like to mix it up and have fun with a healthy flavored creamer or steamed coconut milk.

One might say I have a drinking problem. Now, it isn’t THAT kind of drinking I am referring to so don’t go into a panic. At any given time during the day at work it is common for me to have anywhere from 3-5 drinks going at the same time. I am not sure how I acquired this talent, but I have accepted it and I don’t see me being delivered from it any time soon.

Last week I discussed the importance of allowing yourself to fully feel pain (you can read that here: I Felt That ). To not run from pain or try to cover it up with relationships, work, TV, movies, food etc. but to to allow yourself to feel the pain fully, let it have its work. Pain is an invitation, do you RSVP to it or do you just ignore it and not respond?

After I posted last week something kept coming up inside of me. My thinker was working on overload (no shocker there). I remembered a passage in the Bible that speaks of Jesus being familiar with our pain.

Isaiah 53:3 NIV

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Although this did seem to bring some comfort I was still questioning HOW He could be familiar with our pain. Then it hit me, He was crucified.

I began to think about the horrific and bloody crucifixion that Jesus endured. He was beaten and bruised and He wasn’t even recognizable due to His flesh being ripped and His face marred so badly. He definitely felt such excruciating physical pain that day- I can hardly imagine it. But as bad as this display of physical pain was I still was questioning how He could be acquainted with our emotional pain. Then the light bulb went on.

I traveled back to the night before Jesus was crucified and remembered something He said while He was praying in the garden:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

I began to wonder what was in this “cup” that He was desperately pleading for His Father to take. What was it that He didn’t want to drink? What didn’t He want to partake of? I mean he was sweating drops of blood the pain and agony He was about to face was so intense. I can recall a couple of times where I was praying so hard that the blood vessels in my face all burst! I mean it wasn’t drops of blood dripping out of my pours but it looked like a million red freckles all over my face. I had fun trying to explain that to my co-workers the next day.

I truly believe in His heart, He knew He would have to drink of this “cup.” He was about to partake of this pain of suffering. I am not a theologian, but I have a tiny hunch that the emotional pain that he felt far outweighed the physical torment and agony.  In that moment, I finally realized that He truly is acquainted with our pain and suffering. Just like me, He asked the question to God, “Ok, I know that I have to go through this but really if there was another way could we opt for that instead?”

I don’t think for one moment that He was asking His Father to let Him skip out on the whole death thing, He knew that is what He was sent to do. All the suffering that He had to do endure taught Him obedience which eventually led to the ultimate obedience, death on a cross.

He chose to drink of this proverbial cup to obey His Father. So, we too must drink from each “cup” that is presented to us in life. There are so many times I want to run from the “cup” or even try to pass the “cup” on to someone else or just ignore it completely.  If I could just share the contents of my cup onto someone else, then I don’t have to bear the burden of suffering alone.

You see what I didn’t see before now was there was something else mixed in that cup. Along with the suffering and the pain, there was love. Love is what led him to the cross and obedience kept Him there as He was clinging for breath.  I think He was perhaps asking the Father if there was some other way to show my love, can we do that? But God had a redemptive plan. He knew love needed to be shown in this way so we could taste of love when we are embracing the pain of life.

It says in the famous love chapter that love suffers long. I think Jesus qualifies for long suffering in love.  He died so we could daily remember to drink of His cup. Yes, there will be suffering and pain in this life, but it is palatable when love is present.

I want my cup to be full of love even when it seems pain, hurt, trials and suffering are getting mixed in. I want the overflow of my cup to be still be rooted in love. I am definitely not perfect in this, but I am learning and growing. It’s a beautiful and sometimes seemingly long journey.

What is in your cup?

What are you offering to others out of your cup?

If you had to drink the cup that you were getting ready to serve someone else, would it tastes sweet or leave a bad taste in your mouth?

That your cup would run over with love daily.

Until next time!

Have a joy-filled day!

 

I Felt That

Well, this post has been in incubation for quite some time. I hemmed and I hawed about when, or if, I should post this. It isn’t bad or good, it’s honesty. It’s vulnerability. It’s courage. It’s an unmasked look into what is reality. It’s freedom.

If you know me at all this will come as no shock to you that I tend to see things black and white (those who know me will get a little chuckle out of that…..no pun intended LOL!). I like to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and don’t mess with the in between.  I have definitely learned how to show grace in any given situation and how to view things from another’s perspective, but for the most part I see things pretty straight forward. Depending on how you perceive it, it can be a blessing and a curse.

Believe it or not, I actually like me. I like that I have crazy curly hair that seems to take a bagillion years to grow and I would love for it to be super long, not Rapunzel long like in Tangled, but a lot longer than it is currently. I like that I am fun to be around (except when I am hangry, run for the hills! haha). I love to see others laugh even if it is at my expense! I love that I am artistic and creative. I like that I can make people feel comfortable and at ease when they are around me. I like that people can feel free to be themselves around me (no need to put up a front, because I will generally sniff that out like an English Setter fresh on the hunt!). I like that I have the ability to see a need and desire to help in any way I can to fulfill that need. There is something so beautiful to me in helping someone succeed or accomplish whatever it is that they were doing. There is more that I could convey, but you get the gentle gist that I like who I am,  who I have become and who I am still becoming.

I assure you that me describing how I view myself comes from a healthy confidence. I know who God made me and it is ok to embrace the wonderful ways that make me, me!

There is one thing though, that I have realized in the past few months is, that I don’t like to feel.  Yes, you heard that correctly. I can see you now with your furrowed brow, that puzzled look on your face and your head tilted slightly as if to say, “did she really just say that,” yep, I sure did.

So let me start by saying this, I feel ALL kinds of things to varying degrees, pain, joy, happiness, sadness, grief, loneliness, heartache, etc. There are some things I would obviously love to feel more than others, but let’s face it, life happens and we gotta feel all the feels.

I am sure at some point in your life you have felt one of these feelings. I am going to go on a wild guess and say that you don’t particularly like the “negative” emotions that tend to come your way. Well, that makes two of us…..or should I say more honestly, “it used to make two of us.”

You see as odd as it may sound I have learned to welcome deep pain. The kind of deep pain that hurts so intensely that you feel like your physical heart is going to shatter upon the glass floor of your soul and your body is aching in agony….yeah, THAT kind of pain.

I used to run from this kind of pain. I wouldn’t even let myself feel the pain because it was just too heavy, too raw, to real. But it was in the quivering moment I inquisitively opened myself up to feel the pain, to become acquainted with it, to let it take its bloody course through my veins, I realized it was in and of itself, the anecdote for what ailed me. (yes, as I opened the door to feel the pain there were floods of tears whilst I rested in the fetal position for hours…just keepin’ it real!)

Pain brings with it the announcement that something is amiss, something isn’t quite right and it needs to be mended and made whole.  If we continue to dismiss the pain, pretend it doesn’t exist or modify our behavior or actions to accommodate our avoidance of said pain, we are ultimately delaying the healing process with a great potential for the pain to fester.

Pain has this lovely way of continually trying to get attention and make itself known. If  we continue to avoid and ignore it, it will find its way out some other way. Sometimes it is through overwhelming sadness, anger, depression, avoidance, un-forgiveness and anxiety, to name a few.

Pain is an invitation. It invites us to ask questions, to process, to grow, to learn and eventually to heal.

Pain is not a dwelling place, but a place to pass through to find healing. It is something that we can welcome, even when it is hard and seems to never want to relent. I know pain can seem to come often and stay longer than we had hoped, but don’t give up there is light at the end of the tunnel!!

Give yourself permission to feel the pain.

When pain comes, take time to process through the pain.

Do not let others shame you into thinking that you cannot or should not feel the pain you are feeling. You don’t have to “get over it” at another’s demand.

If you feel that you are stuck in the pain, ask for help. Go to a trusted and reliable friend or a professional counselor/therapist, but for goodness sake please don’t go through the pain alone.

Embracing pain shows courage and vulnerability.

I want to leave you with this poem I wrote awhile back:

REALITY

Dour is the infinite hour

Of gaping holes and bleeding thoughts.

A fierce tsunami rips through the sorrowed soul

Thrashing the heart with its ceaseless torrent.

Come swiftly, come strong, don’t delay in your pursuit.

I feel you close now, I am bleeding with truth.

I inhale, I hold my breath, I feel the sweet release.

There, there it is.

The pain that sounded the alarm is now giving…..

I exhale, life.

 

Be strong and courageous today!

 

Looking Back

In the last couple of weeks I have been thinking and reflecting on this past year. I have spent many moments flooded with tears of overwhelming gratitude and a heart of thankfulness for all that has transpired. It seems just like yesterday that I was transitioning careers. It is so surreal that it has been a full year since that change occurred and yet the volume of things that have filled this last year are unprecedented.

As I look back I see this nervous and scared girl who didn’t fully know what I was getting myself into…(ok let’s be honest, that first month I was freaking out inside and questioned daily if this new job was really for me). But as I begin to take a closer look I see a girl who was brave, courageous and willing to be marked by obedience. A girl that despite physical and mental hardships was willing to trust God. I could trust His nature and character beyond what I could sense or feel in the natural. I knew that if He called me to this new adventure He will be the one to see me through….and HOLY WOW has He seen me through!!!

The past year has brought a plethora of adventure, trials, hardships, disappointments, victories, hurts, joy, greater understanding, abundant grace, new freedoms and restoration. Within all of the aforementioned, I can assuredly say, that this last year has been a year of extreme growth.

I haven’t seen this much intensity in the growth process as I have in this last year. I don’t know about you, but when I am going through growth I don’t always see that I am actually in a growing process. I definitely FEEL the growing pains, but I am not always aware that the process is taking place.

The following phrase was dropped in my noggin this morning, “what has been germinating and growing in the darkness is about to come to light.” This sentence kept repeating itself in my mind so I knew I better give some attention to it.

Have you ever seen the time lapse of a seed planted into soil? If you haven’t, take a few minutes and check it out, it is so fascinating !!! In the time lapse you’ll notice right away something so remarkable, the first roots that forge don’t grow up, they grow down. The small seed first begins to stretch its roots deep into the soil. You’ll then notice the roots begin to stretch horizontally. Keep in mind all of this is happening underneath the soil not yet visible to the naked eye (sidebar: why do we even say, “naked eye?!” Do I even want naked eyes?! I digress….ok, back to our little seed)……As you keep watching the little seed starts to have a tiny shoot beginning to grow upward until it meets the ceiling of the soil. Then something so miraculous happens, the tiny shoot starts pushing….and pushing….and pushing…..the soil begins to break up….there’s resistance….but it keeps pushing and pushing…..the soil starts to form what looks like a mountain…but the tiny shoot keeps pushing and pushing, until all of a sudden the glorious green shoot pokes through the soil!! It made it through!!! It is feeling the light of life!

I confess, that no matter how many times I have watched these time lapse videos, I find myself cheering that little seed on, “you’re almost there! Don’t give up! Just a few more pushes and you will break through!” I am convinced this is how God views us as well!! He is constantly cheering us on!

Today it has become more clear and evident that God wasn’t growing me “up” He was growing me “down.” Like the seed in the darkened soil, He was causing my roots to grow so much deeper. Then, as we saw in the time lapse, the horizontal growth started and I got a bit excited thinking, “Yes, this must be it, I get to grow up-ward now!” But nope, false alarm we needed a root system that will help stabilize the growth needed to survive the fruit above ground……so there it lies STILL under the soil, moving its roots to the left and to the right.

That is, until this past year. I am beginning to realize this last year has been the beginning of the emerging. The struggles, the failures, the getting-back-up-after-failures, the friction, the rubbing, the stripping away, the molding, learning new muscles (not referring to physical ;)) and being stretched, has all been a part of the strategic plan.

The plan that has caused me to persevere when I felt like throwing in the towel. The plan that makes me want to continue to fight for truth in the inward parts. The plan that makes me want to yield to the process. The plan that allows me to receive/give love and grace. The plan that requires patience and understanding. The plan that hopes in what it cannot see. The plan that holds on to promises God has given, without wavering. The plan that solidifies more of who God is; faithful, provider, healer, hope, confidant, assurance and peace (This list could go on and on!).

The plan that ultimately has led me into a deeper TRUST. Trust in the One who started the work will also be faithful to complete it. Somehow I got the notion I could help Him with HIS plan! Did I not learn anything in the Bible from Sarai, Abrams wife?!?!?! Face palm.

Disclaimer: do NOT try this at home—–> do not try to control your life! Loose the grip, friends! Let go of the notions that you know what you need. Let go of what you see in the natural and look to what God is saying (whether you like it or not)! All I know is the moments I have tried to control a situation or control my life it has been a frightful mini disaster. I in turn become a hot mess thinking I have to strive to make my life happen, FALSE!!! Believe me, I am not a pro at this whole thing, BUT I have learned quite a bit about trying to keep my hands gripped over my life. The results are in: it is not a wise choice.

Today, if you find yourself trying to dictate your growth process (whatever stage you’re in) I encourage you to let go and allow God into that place in your life. The moment you let go I promise you you’ll have peace but don’t be alarmed if you feel push-back or resistance. You may reach for control again, it’s ok, God sees and has endless grace for us as He woos us back into that yielded place of surrender.

Today, take a moment and look back. •Look back to see how far you’ve come. •Look back to see how God has been faithful even when you’ve wanted to take matters into your own hands.

•Look back and find, whether you were in hope or in trial, God was there and never left your side.

•He has a plan, and it’s never changed.

He can be trusted.

Have an amazing joy-filled day!

Identity

We have all been privy to defining words like, “You’re so fat,” “You’re so tall,” “You’re so gullible,” “You have an amazing job,” You’re so talented” (fill in the blank with the vast assortment of talents in this world) etc…etc…etc. This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination but I wanted to get your mind percolating to think about what we say on a daily basis. Whether it’s our internal narrative about ourselves or how we view others (good or bad) or our external verbalization toward others (good or bad).

I thinks it’s safe to say that when I started rattling off some of the defining words from above you began to wonder how you truly see yourself and how others genuinely see you. Do I really look like what they say? Am I really as talented (or not) as what I’ve heard? What if I am too much or not enough?

We all do it. We all have this internal narrative about ourselves that wreaks havoc on our souls if not stemming from a place of true identity. We seem to equate our negative views of ourselves as who we are. (Spoiler alert, it isn’t who you are!!) Conversely, we also seem to latch onto the good press that others say about us and who we are.

“I have a great job and can do it well!” “I am so gifted and/or talented with ____________!”……. awesome!! But I have a big news flash for ya, that job you’ve been laboring over is NOT who you are! That talent you have doesn’t define you and it is NOT who you are. Yes, the gift we can honor and perhaps even admire but the real value needs to be seen in who you truly are.

You are called to be a son and a daughter of Jesus, your true Beloved Identity (Beloved Identity is what I am gleaning and growing in through a dear teacher and apostle). To accept the invitation of living kingdom family life here on the earth.

Beloved Identity is viewing ourselves through the grace and mercy lense of Jesus. To know that no-thing can separate us from the love of God. We are no longer sinners with a guilty conscience, it has been washed clean! To know that I don’t have to wake up in the morning and think, “oh great, what sins am I gonna do today and then need to strive, beg, plead and work for God to love me again?!?!” That thinking is long gone, THANK GOD!!!! He loves me even if temptation gives way to doing something I know is wrong. His love doesn’t change just my perception of Beloved Identity has. When we are fully walking in Beloved Identity and filled with that relational truth the temptations will remain just that, a fleeting temptation because we have an awareness of who we are in His love and Beloved Identity. When we are filled with His love for us there is no room left for things that we once used to fill the gaping holes we felt prior to Beloved Identity.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38 NLT

Once we receive and become rooted in the truths of Beloved Identity the fruit of our lives will be the product of who we are within the relationship and inheritance we have through Jesus. We no longer have to strive to become, we already are, in Him.

Beloved Identity has been a game changer for me in so many ways. I am still learning and growing of course but it is such a beautiful thing to be fully known by Christ and His love never changes even when He sees the WHOLE me. It has been a few years since I learned that I am not what I do, but this new awareness of Beloved Identity has transformed my thought processes once again into invaluable truths. There is so much freedom in knowing that I am something beyond what I do! I’m a daughter first and foremost who has been invited into a love relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

When we are rooted in Beloved Identity it affects all that we do and see. I often share with the team I work with, “I am more concerned about you and who you are than any talent you bring to the table.” We need YOU as a person first, then the gifts and talents become a byproduct or expression of that. Jesus wants a relationship with US, not what we can offer. Although what we offer becomes an avenue to become more connected in divine relationship with Him.

It is amazing when we see who we are, and whose we are, how that affects our fruit of response. It’s because of who you are that others can glean from the fruits of your gifts or talents.

•Do you know who you are?

•Do you know Whose you are?

•What fulfills you?

•Does what you do dictate how you feel as a person?

•Does what you have accomplished or failed to accomplish dictate who you are?

•Do you strive to regain or earn God’s love after you have given way to temptations?

•Are you walking in Beloved Identity?

I leave you with the questions above as a catalyst for you to think and ponder about how you see yourself but more importantly to hopefully have you look more into how Jesus sees you. You are so loved by this beautiful Jesus.

May you daily walk more fully in Beloved Identity.

Have a joy filled day!!

Spontaneous Plan

I’ve heard it said often, “if you fail to plan you plan to fail.” I know that in and of itself this quote has merit and good intentions but whenever I’ve heard this quoted I am often met with a weighty guilt that if I don’t have a plan I am doomed to be a big eminent failure.

You see, by nature, I wasn’t blessed with the gift of a full blown minute by minute planner. I have a good friend that is gifted with this and I admire the dedication and determination in not only making said schedule but sticking to it so faithfully. I am challenged (in a good way) and motivated daily to try and be more planned out because I see how it works so well in my friend’s life. I do see the benefits of a plan like this, and I do implement them but it takes waaaay more effort than if it was my natural bend. 😉

Although I may not be good at being a goal-setting planner I absolutely LOVE to have a plan! I like to have organization and know the plan ahead of time so I can be prepared. I think it’s the bit of administrative in me and a bit of I don’t like chaos or change. So if I know the plan I can prepare my mind to administrate what the plan will look like like. I know, some of you are like, “what in the heck you don’t like to plan but you like A plan?!” Just roll with me here, it’s how my noggin is wired.

I feel loved and function best when you tell me the whole plan (cuz if you don’t be ready for lots of questions).

Now, there is a little plot twist to this whole plan thing…..ready?……What I really love most is to have NO plan or agenda at all. I guess you could call it the “un-plan plan.” The times when I can wake up slow, have a cup of coffee or be in creation in the early morning does something to me that I often cannot articulate. I feel safe within the confines of what a generous day can bring. To be flexible and go with the ebb and flow of the day (yes, I can see all of you ultra planners starting to get the planning shakes…trust me it’s gonna be ok).

I think this is why I love spontaneity so much! I love to just jump in the car and take a quick road trip or meet up with friends spur of the moment to go on an adventure. The thrill of discovering a new place, experiencing something I’ve never seen before or experiencing creation or fun activities with close friends makes my heart smile.

This happened the other night when my spontaneity tank was filled to overflowing! I felt like a kid in a candy store! There was nothing fancy about being surrounded by a plethora of cars, standing on black pavement with bright lamp posts shining fiercely. But when you give yourself permission to have no agenda and live a little whimsically, being in the moment, is the plan that turns out to be the best and most exciting plan, ever!!!

We lingered (we weren’t in a hurry for the moment to pass), we laughed (mostly at ourselves because we are pretty great) and we watched the sky turn from radiant hues of summer blue, to being filled with a display of fireworks in the near distance. Thankful for friends that indulge me and my excited-ness over simple things (ok, sometimes I probably get extra excited haha). It was one of those moments I didn’t want to end. All seemed right in the world.

For me, Summer officially started that night. It ranks up there with one of the best un-planned moments I can recall.

So, today I have lots of “to-dos,” that are on a pretty little list I made, but I know in order to “do” I need to take a moment to “be.” To sit and listen to the river flowing below me. To hear what God is saying. To quiet and reset my soul. To be still. In these tranquil moments is when I find restorative strength, mental energy and clarity for the days and moments ahead. I intentionally filled up my tank with a slow morning, filled with a bit of spontaneity. There’s a verse in the Bible that says it well……

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

When we delight in God (His creation, who He is…) His response to us is always that He WANTS to delight in us as well and bring us the desires in our hearts (even ones you sometimes don’t even know you need!!!!). Remember that spontaneity tank that I had filled?! That was a surprise tank -filler-upper and I didn’t even realize how much it was needed! To know that God delights in me (us) BLOWS MY MIND and excites me all at the same time.

So what’s your plan today?

I am continually learning what it is I need to do (or not do) to keep my tank from being depleted and re-fueled.

What are the things that you need to do to re-fuel? Here is the fun part, you get to pick and choose what re-fuels you!!

•plan to be

•choose to re-fuel

Happy Summer to you!! I know this is going to be the best summer yet!! God is always up to something good!!

Til next time….have a joyfilled day!!

What I Need

It’s often said, “Do what you love,” or “Follow your heart,” or “You be you.” I definitely have adhered to these coined phrases more than once in my lifetime and they have made my life richer and more meaningful. These are example phrases of encouragement that get us to live more fully alive and aware.

I am a huge proponent for living life in the moment and being very aware of my present reality. I enjoy taking in all that surrounds me and looking for ways God is expressing Himself through people, license plates (y’all it’s a real thing with me!! If I could tell of all the times words I needed to hear or scripture references to address something I was going through, have showed up “randomly” on license plates you’d be amazed!!!) or my most favorite expression, creation!

I get butterflies inside my tummy when God displays an incredible cloud formation, an intense thunderstorm, showers of rain or even beautiful silent rain (aka snow). Just recently He wowed me with two rare sightings in the sky; an epic sundog (See pic below) display over the Atlantic Ocean in the early morning and then a few days later a fire rainbow (sorry, for some reason it wouldn’t upload)!! I was beside myself with giddiness! He loves surprising me with what I need even when I didn’t know I needed it!!

I think there is a vast difference between having a need and being needy. Let’s just say I never want to be the needy person. Having a need, yes. Being needy, no.

The other day I was talking with a friend who was helping me process through a difficult situation. He asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks. I was stumped. I truly couldn’t respond. He asked me the question, “What is it that you want to happen?” I was shocked, didn’t have an answer. I felt paralyzed. I tried to think of an answer but nothing came. In that moment I kinda was panicked because I realized I didn’t know what I needed.

I sat on the question for a bit and some things came to mind but I was halted when I was greeted with a hidden lie that what I need isn’t important or if I expressed my need it would be seemingly selfish or deemed as insignificant. I couldn’t possibly express what I needed, innately it felt wrong. I had a fear that if I express what I needed that need would be unmet and unfulfilled. Come to think of it I think this is why, to this day, I don’t ask for specific gifts for Christmas or my birthday, because the thought of unmet expectations sounds too daunting. I am just so grateful when I do receive a gift, whatever it may be. Knowing that the person was thinking of me is more than I could have asked for.

As I was eagerly sorting through the question my friend had asked, mostly because I knew it would be the pathway to bring resolution to this difficult situation, it finally hit me what I actually needed. I needed to let go of my expectations. I needed to let go of my internal stipulations of how I wanted the matter to be resolved. This wasn’t easy, but it was definitely what I needed to do.

It took a little bit of warming up to this new way of thinking after my initial release of expectations. I could feel my heart softening and my body starting to be at ease. And wouldn’t ya know it, within less than 24 hours of me embracing and responding to my need, resolution came. It came in a beautiful way. It came on time. It came with grace. It came with honor. It came with understanding. It came with compassion. It came with care. It came with being heard. It came with needs fulfilled.

Looking back I kinda have to giggle. Here I was trying so hard to hold onto something thinking I was going to fill my own need for how I felt resolution should come, when really it could only be fulfilled by letting go. And amazingly, in the letting go, other needs were met that I didn’t even realize how much I needed. God is pretty good at this life thing!

I am still actively working on this whole “what I need thing.” To me, it still seems pretty vulnerable to say “I need _______,” especially with close friends or even family.

Although God has done a pretty fabulous job thus far at providing all I need, He still is ok with me verbalizing my need(s). We have not because we ask not.

•What do you need today?

•it’s ok to have a need

•your need is significant

•you having a need doesn’t make you too much or not enough

•It may be a need for you to communicate with your spouse on how you feel about a certain matter or even about the relationship.

•It may be a need for you to create a boundary.

•It may be a need for you to express how you like receiving love to your spouse or significant other.

•It may be a need for you to finally let go of something you’ve held on to for far too long.

•It may be a need to do something that is fun just for you.

Whatever you need to do, do it.

Resolution comes with reward.

Have a lovely and joy filled day!!!

Forget About It

I am sure you have been met with several situations in life where you have been wronged or someone did something to you that you didn’t deserve at all. You recap the situation and try and figure out if you could have done something differently so the person wouldn’t have hurt you or caused you unwarranted pain.

I have had several situations like this in the past and some more recent than others. I was hurt. I felt the sting of unbridled pain rip through me like a hot knife to cold butter. I didn’t deserve to be treated so carelessly, but it happened.

When someone wrongs us or hurts us I know the right thing to do is always extend forgiveness, so that is what I did. I really meant it when I said, “I forgive you,” but I somehow forgot about the fact that just because I am able to forgive quickly doesn’t mean I will forget just as easily. Believe me I WANT to forget the wrong done but our minds have this amazing thing called “memory” that we just can’t escape no matter how hard we try. Our memories are like a permanent hard drive that you can’t erase, they can be replayed anytime day or night.

Forgiveness is one of those things I have had to learn how to do. I used to think that if I forgive someone that would negate what the other person did. It seemed so counter-intuitive to extend forgiveness. I felt like if I could just hold on to un-forgiveness long enough then I could control or dictate the retaliatory pain I wanted the other person to feel, but in reality the longer I held on the more the pain increased and bitterness would set in.

I don’t hold on to un-forgivessness like that anymore, but something I am realizing and asking myself is how to deal with the incapability to forget what happened. How do we move on from the memory of said painful situation? How do we deal with flashbacks or situations that trigger memories sometimes on a daily basis? It kinda tempts me to rescind my forgiveness (I don’t ever do that but I can’t say I haven’t entertained the thought!).

I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this whole memory thing. One thing I think that has, and is, helping my mind process hurtful situations and their plaguing memories, is that it is OK to not forget about it. Contrary to popular opinion you don’t have to forgive AND forget. I would even venture to say that you shouldn’t forget about it.

I believe we need to remember so that we can learn to love who we are as God created us. We have value and we didn’t deserve to be hurt or mistreated. We aren’t at fault for the pain that was inflicted on us. By remembering it helps us to do some self care and create good boundaries. I am not saying to become mean or defensive, build unhealthy walls or exclaim, “no one will ever hurt ME again!” What I am saying is that it is good to create healthy boundaries so you can reflect love not only for yourself but for the one who hurt you.

There isn’t a magical time frame, but I will say that the memories do become less frequent and it won’t feel like a fresh scab that is being picked and is now bleeding all over again.

I’m not so sure that time heals but I do know it takes time to heal.

If you’re going through a time of needing to forgive know that it is your responsibility to forgive and release yourself from the burden of trying to make the other person pay for what they did. You don’t have to forget about it, but you do need to forgive.

One last thing, memories aren’t for keeping long term track of wrongs done. It says in the Bible, “Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.” What I believe that means is that I don’t get to keep a tally. I don’t get to keep a score sheet of the wrongs done to throw it up in their face next time something happens (believe me, I definitely want to at times….I am still a work in progress).

•Memories are not for building walls but for eradicating the desire to build one.

So, remember…

•remember to forgive

•remember to remember

•remember to love

Hope you have a lovely and splendid day!

Did You See That?

I love to people watch. Whether it’s at the mall, the zoo, the grocery store or any public place where we interact with humans, I am always observing those around me. It is fun to sit and watch the different way people interact socially. To watch moms and dads interact with their kids. To watch married couples together (my favorite is to see an elderly couple walking hand in hand at the local park. There is just something so endearing about love that has endured the test of time). To watch youth together is usually quite epic. My sister often catches me in the midst of said people watching and whispers, “Hey you’re staring again,” to try and jolt me out of my intense investigating process.

I am not sure when I started the love of people watching, it seems like it has always been a part of my story. Oh the things I have seen!!!!! I think some of it is my general inquisitiveness and some of it was when I was younger I had a deep curiosity to see how families functioned with a dad present and with a functioning married couple in the home.

After many years of watching married couples I remember contemplating why a husband would do something for their wife. I purely was clueless on the whole marriage dynamic. In my mind I was thinking, “She could have just done that herself.” I have since learned that although she could have done it herself it would have robbed her husband of the opportunity to express his love in the way he knew how. This concept was so foreign to me and still baffles me at times (in a good pondering sort of way) even to this day.

Not too long ago, as I was coming home from work I watched a young girl riding her bike starting to veer toward my car. She wasn’t in any danger as I saw her and took precautions, but what I heard next was horrifying. A mother who began to scream and yell profanity at her young daughter and tell her what an idiot she was and so stupid over and over again. The young girl road in silence with her head hung low the rest of the way home. My heart was so grieved for that young girl. I wanted to get out of my car and just hug her and tell her that she isn’t anything her mom was saying. That she is valued and loved. My heart was also so furious with the mom for saying such demeaning things! Believe me I wanted to give that woman a piece of my mind!

Then something struck me. I looked back at this mom and I was surprised by the compassion that began to rise in my heart for her. God began to show me the way He sees her, that she too is loved and valued I began to see that her heart had been hurt so deeply and she was carrying this hurt like a heavy burden. In a moment where I can assure you i was ready to criticize her through the lens that I viewed her in, I was awakened to love to see her how God viewed her.

There are so many other ways we pass judgments on people; what size they are, what style of clothes they wear, how they do their hair, the color of their skin their ethnicity, their background, their social status, if they eat sugar or carbs and the list could go on and on. We have a stereo type that plays in our mind of what we believe is “right,” “kosher,” or “acceptable.” We all too often fail to look past our shallow perceptions to really see a person for who they are as valued and loved.

I mean isn’t that how you want to be seen? Don’t you want people to view you as valued despite your outward appearance or the scars of life that you bear? In a world where we are so quick to make a passing judgement based on what we see in a brief moment, we lose sight of the great opportunity to see people through the pure lens of of Christ’s love.

I have gotten better at slowing down to reach for the lens of Love to view others as Christ does, but I admit I have more work to to do. That growth process may look different for everyone. One thing I try and remember to do is to ask myself why am I getting ready to pass a generalizing statement on someone. What was my motive or intent? Whether your estimation of that person is wrong or right it is our heart motive that needs to stay in check.

We all have a desire to be seen and to be known, to be loved for the person we are. We desire others to see the greatness in us and encourage us to move forward in growth towards our grandest potential. People want to be heard and know that their story matters, that they matter.

I want to share one more story in hopes it will encourage you that wearing the right “lens” really is so important. I was shopping at Trader Joe’s (my favorite grocery store ever!) and I hear a young kid making quite a fuss. I turn and see the kid inside a cart with his mother pushing him. Next to the cart were the shoes he had just thrown overboard and two more young kids in tow. The mom was also wearing a baby carrier with a small baby resting upon her chest. To say this mom had her hands full was an understatement. The kid was still making a fuss and you could see that the mother was trying to keep the other two kids corralled as close to her as possible. That’s when I heard the sounds of people muttering frustration that the kid was causing a scene in the store. People were beginning to give the glares and accusatory stares no mother wants to feel when they are shopping for their family. I knew she had overheard some of the comments and my heart sank. Then my need to always seek justice rose up in me. I had a choice to confront the rude shoppers making the comments and make them apologize (yes, I am that bold when it comes to making the underdog feel vindicated), or I could opt for another way. I opted for the way that I knew would bring the most life. I walked over to the cart picked up the shoes and began helping her put them back on her kid. I then looked over to the mom and simply said, “mam I want you to know you are one amazing mom. I don’t know many moms who could tackle bringing 4 kids into a store by themselves. You’re my hero. I also want to say sorry that you had to hear those rude comments.” As I finished what I felt to share, tears began to stream down her face. She looked back at me with this deep sadness in her eyes and said, “you have no idea how much I needed to hear those words. My husband passed away a few months ago and it has been so hard to do things all alone.” I could feel a lump at the back of my throat and it was inevitable, I started getting misty eyed. Here she was freshly grieving the loss of her soulmate, love of her life and father to her children and having to endure another form of pain from outsiders that did not know her story. I offered to help her shop but she said that she was almost done and was getting ready to check out. The look of relief and peace she had as I walked away was truly beautiful to witness.

I have never run into this person again, but I know that God placed me in that moment to learn to see beyond the external. To slow down and offer words of kindness and encouragement. To see outside of myself to view others with the vision of love.

I know that’s how Jesus did it, He saw with eyes of compassion and love. He saw the person first and never their sin. He spoke life into who He saw them as and called them into that new redemptive stance.

Oh that we would see with eyes of eternal love.

Oh that we would love at first glance.

Oh that we would be the eyes, ears and mouthpiece of heaven to all those around us.

• see, in love

• hear, in love

• speak, in love

•• be love ••

Until next time have a joy-filled day!!

First Impressions

I know you are familiar with that awful feeling, of nearly crippling fear, when you are about to embark on a new adventure, you don’t know what the outcome will be so you hesitate even starting. Like the feeling of anxiousness that you get on the first day of a new school and you don’t know a single soul. How about going on that long awaited job interview that you’re hoping will land you the best paying job, thus far, in your adult life. Let’s not forget the days and moments leading up to that first date and every nerve is freaking out inside! Come on, we ALL know that first impressions are so vital and we always want to make a good one! Well, I must confess, that this is my current situation. In my dire attempts to make a good impression I have put off this first blog post for days. Ok, ok, so it is more like a few months, but who’s counting?

So the time has come…today is the day…(drum roll please) that I humbly submit and  unveil my new blog! (and the crowd goes wild! …just humor me!) So, if you’re slightly curious or mildly interested, take a peek and I hope you will come and enjoy this new journey with me.

I like to think of life as a series of adventures that create one grand book. Each of us has our own story that reveals hardships, past failures, joys and successess. We are most intimately acquainted with our own story, because it walks with us like an old friend, tried and true. Our story maps out for us the days gone before us that lead us up to our present moments.

We are all in process with our stories. Yep, the elderly person, that you passed at the grocery store today that couldn’t seem to smile, has a story. The husband and wife having an intense conversation on the park bench, yeah, they have a story too.  The elementary teacher with the one student that seems to get on your last nerve and push every one of your buttons, they have story. That one friend that seems to oddly always have joy in the midst of pain and trial,  they also have a story.

In the past few years I have come to realize, and humbly confess, that I have judged many, if not all, of these “books” by their cover. So quick to make assumptions of what I perceive from my own cloudy lense. It wasn’t until I was willing to flip through the pages of my past and take a hard look at my story, did I realize that my judgements were coming from a place of me not wanting to embrace my own story. I thought if I could just keep those old chapters closed that they would never affect me, but in reality it created more harm than good. In the past year and 1/2, as I have taken the risk to open the once closed chapters of my book, I have come to see that my past doesn’t define or dictate who I am. As I have looked back on the beautiful old pages of my book, I am in awe at what I now see has shaped me ino the woman I am today. Yes, I have had to process through the many  stained or soiled pages, but no matter how long the process may have been, I know that every step I have taken and will continue to take, is worth it. I am definitely not finished with my process of life and I am excited to see and explore the new journies that have yet to be written on the pages of my story.

So, today, I am opening my book. Yep, it’s about to get real up in here! I am so excted to  share more with you in the next few days, weeks, months and hopefully years, of life’s ups and downs, smiles and frowns. With every interaction, whether in person or as you read about me on this page, I hope to always leave you with, Honest Impressions.

 

 

Communication Junky

I would venture to say that the majority of western civilization uses one of the following to talk to another human; email, Instagram, FB Messenger, Snapchat or texting. We have these lovely little apparatuses, aka smart phones, that can instantaneously connect us to one another in a moment. We can literally be anywhere (yes, I know you text in the bathroom too, no shame or judgement here) and can shoot a text or email. In most cases we can get an instant response, or at least we would like to get an appropriately timed response. Once that “ping” comes through we get a tiny rush of satisfaction that we have been “seen” and responded to. We have made a connection….or have we?

These days it is so easy to feel like we’re connected through social media or through simple means like texting. We meet someone for a moment and it is only a matter of time that we are asking for their FB, IG or Snapchat info…and if you’re wanting to go that extra mile you’ll exchange cell numbers. All of these forms of communication aren’t bad per say, but unfortunately these forms of communication can, more often than not, lead to false perceptions of connection and real relationship.

Trust me, I am guilty of spending copious amount of hours on social media. I even justify this by saying to myself, “I just want to stay connected to people.” The question is though, “Am I any more connected with that person, or personality I’ve never met, than I was before spending the evening checking up on all of the people I ‘know’?” The answer to that is a big fat, “NO.”

What I have found is that the more I scan over the cropped, filtered and edited version of people’s lives the more it can leave one empty, disillusioned and feel like you are lacking. Social media can be a good in its rightful place, but it also has this sly way of creating a space where we can begin to think we aren’t good enough, thin enough, muscular enough, handsome enough, pretty enough, significant enough, healthy enough or _____ enough (you fill in the blank). It makes one question who they are based on other’s social status (married, single, dating, engaged, new mom, or new dad…just to name a few). We begin to conjure up thoughts that usually start with, “if I only had____,” I wish was more like____,” or “I’m glad I’m not like____.” There are many more thought processes I am sure but you get the picture.

Anyone that knows me knows I am a HUGE proponent of communication, especially FACE-to-FACE. I am not sure if there is a thing of over communicating but if there is I might be a candidate! I have learned over and over again the value of communicating well. Keep in mind talking and communication are two different things. I know you’ve been in those situations where there was a whole lot of talking but nothing was being said, yeah it’s grueling. And let’s not get me started on gossip! I HATE gossip! Gossip is the anthesis of communication. Gossip kills and destroys and always comes to a vile end. No one wins with gossip, no one.

Communication as a whole has a desired end. You’re either wanting to get to know someone better or you’re maybe wanting to resolve an issue of the heart with family, friends or your spouse. Communication takes intentionality, time, understanding, a good listening ear and being a good question asker.

Communication can be really hard at times. So much so that we try and avoid it like the plague because it just seems too daunting to open yourself up to discuss something and you do not know what the outcome will be (trust me, I know this all too well). Communication can seem risky, but if you have enough value for yourself and the other person, no matter the outcome, the risk is always worth it.

Communication is a gift to give and receive. It’s all in HOW you communicate. When I am communicating I try to keep in mind the following:

•be humble

•be understanding

•be teachable

•be gracious

•be unassuming (ask LOTS of questions to be sure you are hearing correctly)

•be generous with your time

•be concise and clear

•be vulnerable

•be open…open to hear you might have been wrong

•be ready…ready to have a different outcome than you had thought

•be willing (to respond, forgive)

•be patient

•be approachable

•be honoring

•be love (love covers)

These are just a few things to think about when you want to communicate well. I know there is more ideas and there are also a plethora of practical help on the “how-tos” of communicating well (that may be another post). For today I wanted to try and awaken a place in you that is imperative if we want to live life to the full. If we want to do anything well in life it will require you to communicate. If done well, even if you know the conversation might be sucky or awkward, you still will have the assurance that you did it the right way or the best you knew how to do.

•So today, I encourage you to communicate.

• Communicate well + communicate often.

•There is never a bad time to communicate, just a bad time if you don’t.

Until next time, have a joy filled day!

That Stinks!

I don’t know why, but I was graced with a super sense of smell. My keen sense of smell can pick up every scent, fragrance or aroma, even if it is faint or in the far distance. Add to that crazy sense of smell an extreme sensitivity to strong smells. Lord have mercy when I come in contact with a pungent perfume, lotion or cologne, my stomach goes into an instant state of nauseousness. This creates a real problem when I am in an enclosed area with no place to go! I know I can’t be the only one that deals with this hyper smell dilemma!

I wasn’t feeling so well today so I needed to stay home, let nature run its course and get some extra rest to recover. I had been home all day and left only to go to an already planned chiropractic appointment (that I almost forgot about) in the early evening. On my drive home I picked up some electrolyte water and animal crackers (I read it was National Animal Cracker Day, so of course I had to do my part to honor this day..and it sounded yummy after a day of not feeling well). I drove around a bit just so I could enjoy seeing the outside world a little longer and take in the warm and rainy spring day.

I arrive back home carrying my bag of treats in one hand and my keys in the other. I unlocked my apartment door, and it hit me, my nose was on high alert!!! I winced back and scrunched up my nose in disgust because what I was smelling was the strongest stanky smell (you did not need a super sniffer to smell this jazz!!)! It pretty much smelled like something died twice and it was trying to resurrect itself! I immediately dropped my bag of goodies and went right to the nasty culprit, the trash can under the sink. I began pulling the plastic bag out of the bin as quick as I could. I reached down to tie the bag off and a thought dropped into my mind…”how was I sitting in this apartment all day with this smell without even noticing it?!”

As I finished tying off the bag and started to walk outside another thought occurred to me, “What “stinky trash” might be in our lives that we can’t detect because we are sitting comfy-cozy in life?!” It then dawned on me that it wasn’t until I left, came back and tried to open the door again that the smell was even remotely noticeable. I clearly had to get out of my current situation to notice the stink. It is amazing to me how very comfortable I was to sit in the stinky-ness, totally unaware of how bad it actually was.

How often do we sit in our own stink (and I don’t mean body odor) and we aren’t able to recognize that something smells off and we need to deal with some “trash” in our lives? Life’s “trash” can be equated with so many things; pride, selfishness, jealousy, gossip, a secret sin issue, a co-dependent relationship, a toxic friendship, _________(you fill in the blank). This clearly isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination but it gives a starting point for self examination. (*Also please know that I do not think people are trash. The verbiage “trash” is used strictly for metaphorical purposes.*)

As I took the trash out tonight I did some of my own self evaluation. I noticed that some stink was being brought to light in my own life, so I took an extra moment to symbolically throw out some of my own “trash” while I tossed out my plastic bag of trash. It was such a simple and visible act, but so powerful. It is interesting to me that once we are aware of the “stink” how quickly we want to dispose of it!

God is so rich in mercy. He is willing to allow us to smell the stink in our lives, locate the source of the stink and then at the same time provide us with the grace to remove the trash. He is forever a kind, loving and compassionate God.

•What are things in your life that you need to maybe step away from to gain a different perspective?

•Are you still opening the same door and sittin’ comfy in some old stink?

•Are you holding on to remnants, an empty shell of something that once was but needs to be released?

Be brave. Be bold. Be courageous….and take out the trash! 😉

Have a splendid day!

dreams + desires

If you have breath in your lungs you have, or have had at one point, a dream or desire. Maybe your dream is to one day own a business, have a baby, adopt a child, travel the world, get married, learn a new skill or to shed those pesky lbs.  Whatever it may be, we all have our box of desires tucked away in the recesses of our minds with the hope that one day they will surface and come to fruition.

Yes, like you, I have dreams and desires. Some have come to pass and there are some that I am still waiting for them to unfold. Sometimes I am patient in this process and sometimes I get incredibly frustrated, sad and moody (sorry to all my close friends, y’all are champs!) wondering WHY I have to learn THIS much patience!

I have tried the path of least resistance and basically told God, “Thanks for nothin’, I’ll take it from here. I’m gonna take matters into my own hands.” Ok, spoiler alert…that has never ended well, ever. I have gotten myself into more hot messes and situations that have left me empty and/or begging forgiveness due to my careless concocted plans. Even as I am writing this I am sitting here shaking my head and letting out a few giggles at the things I have done. Hindsight is always 20/20.

A couple of weeks ago I had one of those powerful, deep and intense moments that I believe was a milestone marker for my journey. I wasn’t looking for this moment, it almost seemed like this moment found me. We had just finished a worship set at our church and I found myself longing to get away (ok, truth be told I wanted to run fast and hard and hide away from the world). I didn’t quite understand this heavy feeling I was feeling but it was rushing over me so quick and hard I felt like Niagra Falls was pounding down into my soul. I was able to thankfully sneak away into my office (convenience of working at the same place the conference was) and there I fell to my knees and the dam burst with a flood of tears to follow. It’s the kind of cry that is so intense no sound could be heard but a deep inaudible cry with yet no understanding. In those moments I know it’s ok to ask questions, God knows me and is ok that I love to ask questions. So I asked, “What the heck is going on, can you fill me in?” Within five seconds I heard (not audibly but in my spirit), “Surrender. Give me your dreams and lay down your desires.”

My initially reaction was to question if I heard Him right but, due to the influx of more tears I figured He hit the nail on the head. I did still ask, “Whyyyyyyy?!?!” Being the loving and gracious God He is He said, “You can’t hold fully on to Me while holding so tightly to your dreams and desires.” In that moment I knew. I knew I had to open my tightly fisted hand. As I physically opened my hands, I told the Lord in two simple words, “I surrender.” I immediately felt drenched with so much peace and love that saturated my soul.

What happened next surprised me a bit. His response to me opening my hand was this…”I am not asking you to give up your dreams or desires I am asking you to keep them always with an open hand.” (Cue the tears!!!) It was like the light switch got turned on! I was understanding (finally) what He meant. To keep my hands (dreams and desires) open while holding on to God. To keep my heart steadfast in love with the Creator of this universe. To continue to delight in Him and He will give the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4 paraphrase). To know that He truly does have my best interest at heart. He truly wants the best for me and for the advancing of His kingdom here on the earth.

I know all of this “hands open” talk can seem easier said than done. Even in the last two weeks I have had to consistently remind myself, “Keep those hands open, girl!” I will say this, the reward of obedience is worth it, every time! Do I know the end results to anything left open in my hands, nope, but I know the One who does and from experience, He is pretty trustworthy.

• What are you holding on to so tightly?

•What do you need to surrender and hold with an open hand?

I know it can seem scary and can even be painful to release. To be honest, there is no guarantee you’ll get back what you surrendered. I do know this, the blessing of sweet surrender and having a greater relationship with Father God is far greater than holding on to something that wasn’t ever ours to begin with.

•I hope you too can know the joys of sweet surrender.

Till we meet again…have a splendid day!

Unexpected

Ok, is it just me or do the days seem to be moving at warp speed? We are already in the third month of the year!!! I feel as though it was just yesterday that I shared about my new work adventure. Hard to believe it has been a little over six months since I started my new job. Time waits for no one, but it sure does fly when you’re having fun!

I have been stretched in so many ways over the last six months. I have had to step out of my comfort zone so much I am not sure I even know where the zone starts and stops anymore! I can honestly say that when I do decide to put on my big girl pants (which is almost daily) and bravely meet each challenge with a bold God confidence, I grow more into the awareness of who God made me to be. Don’t think for a second that I’ve got this whole bravery thing figured out, because I don’t. However, I do know that each time I show up and make myself available God seems to do some pretty amazing things.

What I wasn’t expecting with this new hurried pace was that I had to be even more intentional about my time and scheduling. Before this new job I used to have an idea of what I wanted to do in a week and would jot down reminders in my calendar, easy peasy. This job is a whole new ball game and I was making rookie mistakes left and right! I quickly learned you have to plan events sometimes 10-12 months in advance!! Who does that?!?! It’s just not normal! I am so much more of a smaller scale planner and love to leave room for spontaneity.

I have been able to still be spontaneous with my personal schedule so thankfully that has kept things balanced. Although I have also learned that I have to plan ahead for my personal time soooo much more than I used to. As an ambivert the introverted half of me was screaming loudly in protest! This new planning system meant that I would have to commit to dates and times, with people, in advance, and stick with the plan! Lord, have mercy!! I can thankfully say I am doing ok with this new plan and surviving.

I’ve also recognized that, due to the sometimes hurried fast pace of the week and still getting familiarized with the job details and duties, I was beginning to lose my wonder. The fast pace crept in so quickly I was missing out on the beautiful and treasured slow moments I have been accustom to. The moments where I slow down to look up and see the sky showing off it’s radiant beauty. To slow down and be mesmerized by the way the starry milk-white frost has crystallized itself over the windows of my car overnight. To slowly walk into work just so I can get a few more glimpses of the sun kissed snow sparkling with a glittery glow.

These moments provide so much joy and delight! They bring opportunity for us to look for simple beauty in the day to day. I don’t always know what I will find when I slow down from a hurried pace, but I know I’d never see the rewards of simple beauty in the unexpected if I ignore the clarion call to slow my pace, look up, and become presently aware of my surroundings.

Have you slowed down enough recently to see the beauty in the seemingly ordinary, every day life? I strongly encourage you to give it a try. Go ahead and be in the moment! I dare you to be fully present! You’ll be amazed what you can experience or discover in the unexpected.

• expect the unexpected

• be present

• slow your pace

• see the the beauty in the ordinary

Til we meet again….seek and find!

Have a splendid day!

Year of Yes

At the beginning of every year I like to take time to hear what is on God’s heart for the upcoming year. This year I didn’t hear a whole lot of specifics but one phrase that kept flashing in my mind like a bright neon light was, “Year of YES.”

With this new mantra drumming in mind I started saying, “yes” to almost everything that came my way. Well, I quickly learned that saying “yes” actually meant that I also had to learn how to say, “no.” By me saying, “no,” I realized I was able to give more of an effective yes. This was definitely a game changer because now when I said, “yes,” I knew that I was all in. I was more intentional in my thought processes of what was best for me and if I really wanted to do whatever was being proposed. No offense to anyone that knows me personally, but there were times I said, “no,” simply because I just wasn’t feeling it. But I will say the reward of saying, “no” usually far outweighed, or even canceled out, any guilt that would rise up for not saying “yes” to the activity or thing being offered.

Having this year be a “year of yes” has been more than I could have ever imagined.  I know that it has pushed me to do things I would have naturally just said no to due to fear of failure (see last post). Having overcome severe anxiety and panic, I realized that there are so many things I have had to relearn. I had been robbed of all the previous joys of life and this was the year that I was beginning to gain momentum to get back all that had been stolen from me and MORE! A simple walk in the park has now become a relearned joy. A fun road trip, that a friend and I made to our friend’s lake house, is another relearned enjoyment. You see, this was the first time being the driver for a road trip in YEARS!!! Y’all this was monumental!! I also was on a boat for about 5 hours with no issues at all! I even drove a jet ski for the first time! I would have never been able to do all of this even  a year ago, BUT GOD!

This summer has been filled with oodles of fun and exploring. I am still working on relearning some things, but God has given me the grace to continue to move forward in bold confidence.

Which brings us to August 8, 2018. Actually, we need to travel back a few weeks so I can set this up a bit better. I was talking with our worship pastor, who I already knew was planning on leaving from our church, and he pops the question to me, “Hey, would you ever consider or have you thought about being the worship pastor here?” Now, when he said this I can assure you that a thousand thoughts flooded my mind all at once! I had thought of doing something like this YEARS ago, but any desires or dreams I had were stuffed so far down I wasn’t even sure I knew what my true dreams and desires were anymore. So I was rather shocked when I didn’t automatically give a resounding, “NO,” as my knee jerk reaction. Instead I felt this tinge of life prodding me like a fire stick stokes a gentle fire. I looked at him pensively and told him I definitely needed time to process and pray about all we had discussed and if this is a direction I wanted to go.

I had no idea what an extensive process this would be! I had every emotion you could possibly think of the whole week after we talked. I had questions galore about all that this would mean and what it would entail. I also had people, that had no idea about the decision process I was walking through, unknowingly speak prophetically into the situation. Confirmations on what I should do kept coming in the most unlikely places.

I could feel my heart leaning more and more toward saying, “yes,” but was beginning to grasp the fact that if I did say, “yes,” that would mean I would be giving up the comforts of a job that I have had for 14 years. This is a job that I know very well, enjoyed and was very good at. I would have to leave friends that I have worked with for many years, which was probably going to be one of the toughest parts because they had become like family.

After a couple of interviews, the more I pondered, prayed, weighed out all my options and had several meetings with my mentor, I made the decision to move forward into this new adventure. This has been one of the biggest life decisions I have made since I changed churches in my early twenties! AHHHHH!!!! I was scared, excited, nervous and let’s just be honest….freaking out a bit!! What in the heck did I just say, “yes” to?!?!? The task ahead of me is so much bigger than me and it put a holy fear of God inside me.

The fact that God would choose to use me in this capacity is extremely humbling. I had to take ALL of my weaknesses and places I feel inadequate to accomplish this task and lay them at Papa God’s feet. I can guarantee that there are PLENTY of others that are more talented and skilled than I am that could have done this job. But there was this underlying surety, and God confidence, that came from somewhere deep within me that I knew, my obedience to God would provide the grace to consistently lean on My Beloved while He equipped me and makes ALL things possible. I was also hanging on to something my spiritual dad told me (that his spiritual dad told him), “I may not be the smartest, I may not be the most talented, but if God has called me to do this, then I am the best one for the job.”

So here I am, willing to jump on the bus for this wild and crazy adventure as the new Worship Pastor at our church!! (Still feels so surreal!!) As I said my bittersweet “see you laters” to my friends and co-workers I was given this awesome pillow (see below) that was yet another confirmation I was on the right path.

God has a creative way of helping us get out of our little secure nest we affectionately call our comfort zone. I have always hailed myself as the “Comfort Zone Queen,” but I am quickly learning that isn’t my Kingdom (God) identity! I was born for wild adventures and to embrace change! I was born to do hard things that establish and reinforce my Kingdom identity and advance the Kingdom of God! I was born for ….such a time as this!

I am so thankful I gave God my, “YES!!!”

• Give God your, “YES,” and watch Him do more than you could ask or imagine, not only in you but in others!!

Have a splendid day!

Fear of Failure

Hey, I’m back! Yes, I know, it has been quite awhile since the last time I have meandered my way on here. I started a couple of posts but they were quickly put to the wayside, solely based on the fact that I didn’t feel I was able to convey my message well. Oddly enough, me not completing those posts, is lining up quote nicely for our little chat today.

Does anyone else get those menacing little thoughts in your mind that silently scream…”you’re not good enough,” “you’re never going to measure up,” “you’re not going to do this as good as (fill in the blank), so don’t even try.” Yeah, I didn’t think I was alone in this dastardly thought process. These thoughts have been reeling through my mind for years like an annoying song on repeat. Sometimes they were subtle and other times they raised their voices like a megaphone in my mind. I am not even sure when they started but they took up residency and have set up camp in my noggin for some time.

I lived with these words for so long they had become part of my daily regimen.  I unknowingly have based all of my decisions off of these lies. Sure I would do some things here and there that would seemingly contradict or refute the lies, but for the most part these lies gripped me to the core. To be quite honest, I believed these words as truth. I honestly thought that deep down I wasn’t enough or that I wasn’t capable of doing something because I saw someone else who does it WAAAAY better than me. Um, news flash…there will ALWAYS be someone who does something better than you!!

This isn’t about me having self-esteem issues or knowing my identity. I know who I am and Who’s I am and the beautiful grace that provides. What I didn’t know, and recently discovered, is I had been dealing with this life choking thing we know as, “fear of failure.”

It was like the lights were turned on and all the cockroaches went running to find the darkness. Oh, but I was on to these little buggers now! These lies don’t own me anymore! I have found the truth that I am enough and that I can do EVERYTHING that I am called to do! I don’t have to be perfect in my endeavors. Will I fail sometimes, yep, I sure will. But it is our willingness to take a risk and face our fears that we find, stepping out becomes our greatest success.

Last but definitely not least, if you are going to take the plunge to face fear of failure in the head on, you might want to think about surrounding yourself with friends that believe in you and will champion you. Knowing that you have people on your team will make the risk more bearable, even if you stumble and fall.

I don’t have all of this figured out, but I know that my brain has been washed with fabulous truths! I have new, fresh clean thoughts swimming around in my mind that are allowing me to step off the shore into the waters of adventure.

-So, take a risk today!

-Take a step into the thing that seems bigger than you (yes even if you’re scared out of your mind!).

-You never know you can do something, until you do something…..so do something!

I believe in you!

Have a jolly good day!!

The “s” Word

Yep, I’m doing it. I am daring to plunge into the depths of one single soul. I am taking a risk to pull back the curtain of a very taboo topic for most. Yes, my friends, I am diving in to the “s” word!

The mystery word for today is, “single!” This word is widely used with various meanings. In today’s world we use it to order a specific size of our favorite scoop of ice cream, to depict a recording of one song to sell or to describe a baseball player only getting a first base hit. But we also use the word, “single,” to describe, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, as someone who is without a significant other. Ya know, that friend who isn’t married or dating and you refer to them as your, “single friend.” Yep, that’s the “single” I am talking about here.

There are a plethora of books, blogs and articles talking about being single. There are family and friends that ask a bajillion questions regarding your all mysterious and yet lacking love life. I think one of my favorites is, “are you seeing anyone?!” I mean, what does that even mean?! Uh, yes, yes I am, I see people everyday and all day thank you very much! Ok, fine, I know that isn’t what they are implying but here’s a news flash for ya, if we are seeing someone, trust me, you’ll be one of the first to know!

I’ve been single since the day I was born. I didn’t go on one date at all in my teenage years. I didn’t get asked to any dances, never attended a homecoming or prom. I honestly don’t ever recall a guy ever actually showing any interest in me at all until many years after I graduated, and even then my friends had to tell me he was interested because I was completely oblivious (he was bad news, but that’s a story for another day)! I mean why would I even entertain the thought that someone would like me at all when it was usually one of my girl friends the guy was seeking after and wanting to pursue. Yep, I was that oh so lucky girl that got to hear her guy friends go on and on and ooooooon about my girl friends. Of course I would be encouraging and listen but inside my noggin I was thinking, “here we go again with my guy friends always interested in someone else other than me.”

After years of this, one would think that I would just became jaded and cynical and hardened in my heart to the fact that being in a relationship will EVER happen at all, but that is far from the truth. Sure, I have had my moments of jealousy and nights of ugly crying asking God relentlessly, “Why not me?! Do you see me down here doing the slow crawl in the single lane?!” Of course after I’ve dried my tears and come to my senses I usually get the same reassuring answer, “I see you, I ardently love you (yes, God talks to me like Mr. Darcy, don’t hate) and My timing is perfect.”

When I first started hearing those words years ago I can honestly say I was the least bit comforted. Let’s be real, those words can’t cuddle me!! But the more I not only heard the words, but listened to the heart of the One who was speaking them, the more I became willing to put my trust in this One who has so gently whispered into my tender heart.

Through trusting Him I have learned sooooo much in this single process. I have watched over and over how God has protected me from things I couldn’t see. Usually that protection came from my dear close friends or my amazing fam. So thankful for the community of people that I get to call family and do life with. Word to the wise: if you are going out on dates with someone or showing interest in someone and those who know you, or know them, mention to you that this person is not good for you or they have some issues that are throwing red flags and ask for you to stay clear and not be in a relationship with them, PLEASE listen. Listen even if you’re mad at them for saying something! They are most likely seeing things you can’t while so close to the situation. I say this from experience and from learning the hard way. So thankful for my gracious friends and family that still love me after all the stupid stuff I have done after them flying high their red flags of caution. I implore you, don’t throw caution to the wind.

Another thing I have learned (this one is a special bonus for the ladies) is to guard your heart. My spiritually daddy told me this years ago and I didn’t understand fully what it meant until a couple of years ago (I guess I was a slow learner). Guarding your heart is simply knowing who you are, knowing your worth and knowing your value. When you know that you are a precious gem, a princess, worthy to be loved and to be fully pursued that is a catalyst for you guarding your beautiful heart. When you become solidly aware of who you are, you will be less likely to look for another to fill a void in you, but you’ll be more apt to look for the one to enhance the greatness of who you already are.

My last lil tid bit is this (for both my ladies and gents): don’t search for Mr or Mrs Right….BECOME Mr or Mrs Right. Man oh man have I gone through the crucible of becoming!!!! I couldn’t even imagine letting someone into my mess a few years ago! I guess God really does know what He is doing, shocker! Do all you can now to become the person of character, integrity, honor, trustworthiness, graciousness and forgiving that you would want to find in another. Allow the process to happen to become these things that you are seeking out in your man or woman, you won’t regret it.

Whether you are single and waiting (got my hand raised and not ashamed!) or you feel you’re called to be single for your whole life, know this, you are not less than or insignificant. You have a place and purpose right here and now. Don’t wait “until then,” to do what you can do now. I think of all the things I have done, countries I’ve traveled to, places I’ve visited and I don’t regret for one bit the freedom that I’ve been blessed with to do all of those things and more. I am enjoying living in the moment and being present.

So today, right where you’re at, love others well and live bold. Walk with courage and dare to be vulnerable. Love and be loved. Become fully single.

•Live authentically

Have a splendid day!!

Thought you may want to see the almost foot of snow we got here yesterday!

What a Difference a Year Makes

It hardly seems real, the way I feel right now compared to the start of last year. It was a year ago that I started my journey of walking out of the previous year of sheer hell and torment. I had no dreams or vision for last year but only that I could not bear to have a repeat of what I just went through. I just basically wanted to make it through the year, and thank God, I did.

I not only made it through last year but had many extremely humbling moments of healing, transformation and milestones of victory and freedom. I know you’re probably wondering, what was THAT bad that you were evening questioning your ability to make it through another year. Well, glad you asked, I am about to break it down for you. One day I will write a book about this whole loooooong journey, but this will definitely be the cliff note version so don’t panic!

Panic, just writing that word brings back a flood of horrid memories. I had struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for years. It wasn’t ever consistent but when it hit it could take a day or two to recover. Two years ago I had just ended a very emotionally and verbally abusive friendship with a textbook narcissist. This person used me at every juncture for 5 years. I saw the warning signs and my close friends also saw the warning signs but, as those of you who have been in an abusive friendship know, you don’t feel like there is a way out. The person has manipulated and controlled you so strategically, that at the moment there is a sign of getting out of the friendship they lure you back in. You’re on a short leash with a narcissist. It was a viscous and long cycle. *Let me stop here and ask….does a friend consistently make you feel devalued or worthless? Has this person little by little isolated you from every single friend you once had? Does this person praise you one moment and in the next breath speak down to you or give you verbal hateful lashings? If you answered yes to any of these questions please seek help and get out ASAP!!!!!* Ok, bunny trail over and back at it….

So it was two years ago I ended the friendship by just not responding, ever again. Making that decision was the hardest and best decision of my life. I felt a small semblance of hope beginning to rise. I decided I wasn’t going to talk about this with anyone, mostly because I felt so full of shame that I hadn’t heeded my spiritual dad’s advice or any of my other close friends. I just pulled up my boot straps and begin to trudge forward out of the thick dark clay I had been in.

I was doing well, so I thought. I hadn’t cried that much and I chose to quickly forgive so I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotions of bitterness rising up. But then it hit. I was at work and I began to get overcome with this intense anxiety. It felt like a brick house was sitting on top of me while I am frantically trying to push it off. The room began to seem like it was a sauna and everything became foggy in my mind. It was back and it was back with a vengeance.

That was the first day of living 24/7 with non-stop panic attacks for a full year. There was never a moment where I felt physical rest for 365 days. I slept in panic(by sleeping I mean the few hours I maybe got a night), I woke up in panic and I went to work in panic. My heart was pounding hard constantly all day. I could barely take a shower, often times having to get out of the shower and sit on the floor to talk myself into a calm enough state just to get back in to finish rinsing my hair. I went to work and had to often escape to the bathroom to do deep breathing just to make it through another 15 minutes. As soon as work was over I would drive straight home. I couldn’t really go into stores so grocery shopping was an Olympic racing event where I would go ONLY when there was no one there and mark it in my mind where I could grab everything I needed in 2-4 minutes. Checking out was a living hell!! Sweat would begin to start and my legs turned weak and wobbly and I would fidget non stop to try and keep it together. There were many times I almost walked out while the cashier was ringing me up because it just got too intense. At one point I had to have a dear friend talk me back into my apartment because I couldn’t get out of my car!!! I did nothing for a whole year, and I mean nothing. I had to say no to every invite or hangout or activity. My home became my prison.

It was the beginning of last year that things began to turn for me. I started getting into a new community of friends at church. I said yes, even in the face of knowing I was still dealing with panic attacks. I said yes to feeling uncomfortable in most situations I was put in. I said yes to singing again more regularly despite the extreme leg weakness I was experiencing. The more I said yes the more hope began to rise. I had asked God over and over for years to just take this from me, but I have grown to learn that I was in a glorious process. I was learning to see myself how God sees me. I was learning to love the girl God made me to be. I was starting to like me. I learned that God IS faithful and He has been with me through every step of this journey. I began to be more vulnerable with others and realize that it is ok to have emotions and feelings toward things. It was ok to be vulnerable and share what bothered me or what I found to be funny or enjoyable no matter how small it may seem to another. I walked out of shame into fresh freedom. I walked into joy, love and grace filled friendships that have been my constant support and cheerleaders. I could NOT have survived without the friends that God has given me, period. The days where it seemed like I was going to regress and get tempted with discouragement, when panic would come after having a few days of little to no anxiety, they were there to remind me to NEVER give up and keep relying on the Lord for strength.

I can say today, with salty warm tears steaming down my face, that I have reached the other side. I made it. I persevered. The realization of how far I’ve come, oddly enough came to me as I sat inside a movie theater on January 1, 2018. As I was watching the movie the second song began. The lead actor and actress began to sing and dance so beautifully and effortlessly. Tears began to run down my cheek as I realized that is how I feel inside. Like the free flow of her dress as she was gently whisked up and around by her lead, that is how my heart felt, whimsical and free. I was now free to to say yes again. Yes to seeing a movie with wonderful new friends. Yes to being carried up and around by dreams once buried by the pain and trials I had faced. Yes to live again. My heart is coming alive. At last I am breathing in hope and exhaling joy.

My prayer for you is that your new year is filled with hope and the vulnerability to be all you are created to be. That your past will not unjustly hold you back from your future. It’s ok to dream again.

•every day…..live authentically

Have a cheery and joy filled day!

Present Awareness

Sitting here mezmorized by the white silent rain, that is gracefully cascading down from the seamless winter sky. This wintery miracle happens every year and yet, when it finally comes, I get just as giddy and mystified by it, as if it was the very first time I have ever experienced the delight and joy it brings. It comes so gently and covers everything with pure grace. It asks for nothing, but for us to simply behold its alluring beauty. It beckons us to slow down, wait and become aware of our availibilty to embrace the moment. Are you aware of its gentle prodding? Are you available to respond to its clarion call? Are you willing to yield to its soft wooing?

The past few weeks have been quite contemplative in nature. On the outside the scurry of the season has been pressing, but there has been an unrelenting internal pull to slow down. To “be present,” is the question that has been persistently luring in my mind for days. This simple and yet bold statement has been bleeding into everything I do.

Ok, so let’s be honest, I know that I am not the only one that as soon as they hear their phone ping or see a new alert for a message, we habitually reach for the phone to see who texted or messaged us through social media. We are like Pavlov’s dogs (metaphorically speaking, to be clear, as I am not incinuating that anyone is a dog). But like Pavlov’s dogs, society as a whole, is conditioned to respond to our wireless contraptions with a just a single ding of a bell or notification. For most of us, checking our phones constantly is second nature. We don’t even realize how much we do it. And God forbid I leave my phone at home, it is like I lost an appendage!! We want to constantly be up to date see the latest and greatest on social media or be up to date on the plethora of pictures that are posted. I get it, I really do! I am the first to stand up and say that I have been guilty as charged. I mean that most recent post on social media will still be there after I am done socializing, right? The message or text that just came in can wait a few minutes for a response, right? I am definitely confessing that I too have drunk the social media Kool-Aid and often find myself in a social media haze. But the one question that I keep asking myself, that is causing the haze to clear a bit is, “Who am I being for the person(s) right in my view?” Am I genuinely engaged with what I am doing or who I am with? Am I actively listening or am I drifting off into another world of conversation with someone that is not with me at the moment?

I know that you have had those times where you are talking with someone and you get that gut feeling that although they are there with you, they’re definitely not listening. You know what I mean, that time when you were sharing your thoughts or insights with a friend and mid-sentence you see them glance down at their phone and begin responding to a text. Yeah, I thought you might recognize that scenario. How did that make you feel? I know when that happens to me it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It tends to make me less open to share with that person again. It leaves me thinking that they really don’t put a whole lot of value in what was being said or who is saying it. Now, I am aware that there are unique circumstances that an interruption is needed, but it should be the exception not the rule. Here again, I have not only been the receiver of this less than desirable interaction, but I have dished it out to others (insert sad face). I am reminded of the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Such a simple rule yet carries a tried and true lesson for us all.

It is my desire in the days to come to be more aware, aware of where I am. Am I really with the one in front of me? Do I take the time to hear what each person is saying. Do I give time to validate what the other person has shared? Not saying that I am perfect at any of the questions posed, but I want to do better. I can do better. I will be better. I am becoming, presently aware.

Hope you have a fantabulous and cheery day!!!

*If you need someone to hear you or listen to you, feel free to email me anytime! I am here for you. You matter and your life is of value and worth.

Heart Full of Thanks

Well, alrighty, here we go! So glad you’re here! I know it’s been a wee bit of time since our last lil chat, but since you’re reading this, I take it that you have found it in your heart to forgive me for my extreme lack of written expression. So without further ado, let us begin. 

In my last blog post I brought up the ugly truth about the  anxiety and panic attacks that had plagued me for over 15 years. There are so many contributing factors for the prolonged battle with anxiety but today I would like to share a little bit of my process in the past 11 months. The process of me walking out the freedom I knew I had, but my mind was so riddled with lies for so long, that I knew I had some unlearning to do. My mind needed to be renewed and filled with truth that I was desparately seeking. 

You see, in the months leading up to the beginning of this year, I thought it was normal to think about all the ways that I  could potentially die doing regular daily tasks. I had grown accustom to the fact that I had to self talk myself out of bed, every single day, for well over a year. I had to consistently convince myself that I wasnt going to have a panic attack while attempting to take a shower.  It was a regular process for me to have multiple panic attacks while at work. How I worked during those darkest anxiety and depression days still blows my mind. I KNOW it was ONLY through the grace and strength of God. I guarantee you most people never even knew I was going through daily hell.  Anxiety, panic and depression is a silent enemy. It isn’t seen like a broken leg or something that requires a surgery to fix, so many don’t see or understand the shame and pain that it carries. If I told you of all the horrid details it would be almost unbelievable. Take for instance one time last year I had a panic attack so bad that I literally had to call a friend to talk me out of my car and into my apartment. I would step out of my car, a whirlwind of dizziness took over me so I would turn right back around, open my car door and shut myself inside. I did this about 4-5 more times and After about 30 minutes And my friend constantly talking to me, I finally got out and made a mad dash to my apartment door and let myself in. It took me over an hour to calm myself down and get my heart to stop racing. 

Needless to say I did NOTHING for about 8 months last year. I forced myself to get up and go to work. I would get to work and counted down the seconds before I could leave so I could hurry home to rest from the constant anxiety I was in all day. I could barely make it to the bathroom or the kitchen area at work to heat up my lunch without having a panic attack. My legs were so weak at this point, and felt like jello jigglers, I feared even standing!!! My body was pulsating all day. I would have the sweats at least 4-5 times a day and was constantly hot. There is so much more that happened but I will spare you the details. All I know is that I would not wish any of these things on my worst enemy!!!!

Ok, although I wanted you to get a teeny tiny bit of understanding, enough about all that icky stuff, I want to tell you about the past 11 month process. I want to share why I am sitting here today with tears streaming down my face as I write this. It was about 11 months ago, after months of isolation, that I made the choice to try and become a part of a college and career group at church that meets on Wednesday nights. I did not want to go at all. The only reason I went is because the leader of the group said to me, “if you want more hugs, you need to put yourself in a place to receive them!” So that is what I was determined to do come hell or high water!!! That first night I had so much anxiety and couldn’t even stand up during the time of worship and singing. About 10 times I wanted to run out of there so fast and go back home where I felt secure isolated from everyone. I pushed through that first night and many nights there after. I am sooooo thankful I decided to push through because it is the friendships, the love and understanding  of the new friends I was making that helped propel me out of the darkest of nights.

 I am sitting here in awe as I look back at where I have been and where God has brought me to today though framily (friends + family ….yes one of my famous smushed up words!). I got to do things I love and enjoy for the first time in a long time! This summer I got to go on a camping trip with our church and slept in an unfamiliar place without anxiety! I got to walk the beaches and play volley ball and hold babies all without anxiety or panic!! I got to sing the national anthem at a minor league baseball game with no anxiety!! Singing the national Anthem was such an honor!!!  I was able to go walking again at my favorite local park, which I had to forgo for over a year due to my weak and pulsating legs. I’ve been able to sing again on the music team at church (although it has been a process as well, I have had a VERY encouraging worship pastor (aka brother/mentor) that pushed me when he knew I could do it, even if I felt like crap!) I finally  got up enough guts to go swing dancing for the first time in August and haven’t stopped since!! A new friend I just met had asked me back in February to go but little did he know the things I was still working on so it couldn’t be a reality for me to even try it at that time. My heart wanted to go so much, but I knew my body and mind were not ready. I even almost backed out that night in August and drove off but I am soooo glad I got some courage to walk into a new place alone and have so much fun!!  Dancing has provided me with anoher form of confidence that I didn’t know I needed. It has also helped me mentally to let go of things that really don’t matter and just be engaged in the moment. To slow down and have a conversation without words.  Yeah, I could go on and on about the different reasons I have grown so fond of dancing but I’ll save that for another time. I so love being part, even in some small way, of this dance community. The friends that I have made, and yet to make, make this girl smile! 

So you see, this Thanksgiving and holiday season I have a little bit more to be thankful for. So if you see me getting overly excited about seeing twinkle lights or getting to walk aimlessly through lighted streets, you’ll know why!  I am getting to enjoy life again one moment at a time. I am getting to enjoy others and be there for them more! I get to give and be in the moment with dear friends! I get to invest and help others that are hurting or need a listening ear. I get to say, ‘yes’ to things again! I am giddy about this Holiday season for more reasons than one, but most of all my heart is FULL til overflowing with THANKS to God and each and every person that has been a part of this long trying journey! These are friends that have opened their hearts and often their homes to extend a hug, love, compassion and understanding.  Thank you just doesn’t seem to cut it with the depth of gratitude I feel for each of you. My sweet Framily, you know who you are and  I love you oodles!! Xoxo 

What are you thankful for today? I’d love to hear what God has done or what others have done to help you when you needed it most. Maybe you’re feeling alone and full of shame as I often did and have isolated yourself. I’m praying for you to know your value and worth. I am praying that you will have the courage to get into community with others that you trust and can encourage you. Take it from me, isolation brings more pain. You can do this, I believe in you! 

So, my lovely friends, slow down this season and enjoy the little things. Savor the moment you are in. Give the gift of “presence” to whomever you’re with. Tell someone, “thank you” in a special way that would mean something to them. 

 In everything, and in all situations, always find something to be thankful for. 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!! 

Yours truly, 

A thankful heart. Xoxo 

Beautiful Exchange

Hey there, I’m back! I know you missed me dearly and have been sitting on the edge of your seat for days waiting to see a new blog pop up! Well, today is your lucky day! Life has been interesting the last couple of months and on top of that I had writers block times a bagillion. There is so much I have inside to convey at times, it is hard to know what I am needing to convey next. I actually started a whole other post and decided that wasn’t needed for today. So hop on the blog bus and enjoy the reading ride!

I am sure all of us can say that we are afraid or have a fear of something. Fear of heights, spiders, small enclosed spaces, darkness, fear of failure and the list can go on and on. For me when I was a little girl I was afraid of the open space under my bed. I thought for sure while I was sleeping if my arm fell off the side of the bed that some evil monster was going to grab my arm and pull me down some dark black  hole that was cut in the floor beneath me! Yes, I had a pretty decent imagination. I was also afraid of being outside at night. Just always leery that something was “out there” and gonna get me.

Fear was a real thing in my life at such a young age.  I did grow out of those fears but there was always something that tended to linger. Something that I believe didn’t manifest again until much later.

It was about 15 years ago I was out with some friends at a local coffee shop. I remember that I had been stressing about life for quite awhile. Being out with my friends that night was, in my mind, solidifying the lies that I had mulled over for weeks: “you’re not going to ever be something,” “you’re failing at life,” “you’re not enough” etc, etc, etc. Hearing them talk about what their future plans were, who they were dating and how successful they knew they would become was the icing on the cake for my already battered up mind. Then IT happened, the craziest freakiest thing that happened.  An overwhelming  feeling came rushing over me like something was inside my body pushing me over and at the same time the room was getting smaller and smaller and things were getting dim and blurry. It lasted for what seemed to be forever but I know it was most likely a 5-10 second experience. I came to and tried to act like nothing happened but I just didn’t feel right after that. I was seemingly able to function but I just felt “off” and nauseous. Well, that was the beginning of many more episodes that would occur over the next few weeks. I didn’t know what was going. I was scared and full of fear.  Not only did I have fear while it was happening but I was fearing the fear THAT it was going to happen again. Thus began the cycle of fearing something was seriously wrong. I finally decided that I probably should go to the doctor. I could barely handle sitting in the doctor’s office. I was a fidgety nervous wreck. I finally got called back. I walked down the sterile hallway to the cold clinic room. I climbed on the exam table and the doctor began to ask me questions about why I was there. We talked for barely  5 minutes, yes ONLY 5 minutes, and she ubruptly concluded and conveyed to me, “well, it looks like you have been having anxiety and panic attacks.” I looked at her with the most confused look on my face. I hadn’t even heard of this before let alone having her tell me, after 5 minutes of discussion, that I was experiencing this! In my little mind I refused to accept this diagnosis. Surely there must be another answer to feeling like this. But alas, she wrote out a script for some meds and sent me on my way. There was no discussion of how to help me, no talk of what I could do when an episode hit, just threw meds at me like I was just another “case” she had to deal with for the day.

Driving home from that appointment I had time to think on this new information that was conveyed to me. I didn’t know the slightest thing about anxiety and especially panic attacks! I did know one thing that if that is what was going on I wanted it to stop immediately!! I wanted my life back. I pulled into the driveway of our home, walked into the house and walked directly to my room. I shut the door and I silently bawled into my pillow on my bed. When those words of anxiety and panic were given to me it was just as if she might as well have said that I am now defective and life will never be the same again. I let myself have a good cry then, being the determined girl I am I sat up and said to myself, ‘NO! I am not allowing this to define me! Whatever it takes God I want to get to the root of why I am dealing with these horrible attacks!!’ At that moment I decided, for me, I didn’t want the meds to mask the issue. So I stuffed the script for meds under my bed and never looked back. (I want to stop here and say if you also deal with anxiety and panic attacks I am in no way implying that you can’t or shouldn’t take meds. This decision is what I heard from God to do for me. Believe me there were MANY days and long nights that I wish I hadn’t heard that from God, but His grace is sufficient!)

That year was one of the most debilitating and painful years of my life up until that point. I rarely slept and when I did I would wake up in a hot sweat, my neck paralyzed and me trying to grasp for air. I couldn’t go into any stores alone and barely with another person. I remember the first time I realized I couldn’t go to the mall is when I walked into the store and the room started spinning. I had to hold on to a clothes rack to keep my sanity and balance all while making it look like I was looking at clothes. In reality I was freaking out inside and  devising a way to escape this place of torment. I finally made it out of the mall and didn’t return there or any store for over a year. In that year’s time I also found myself for about a week not able to leave my home. Yes, that is right literally stuck inside my home like a prison. I had zero energy! I could barely stand long enough to even take a shower. I made myself try and do crafts to try and get my mind back working. I felt like I was shutting down. I felt like I was just a shell of a person.

I very slowly came out of those black days and dark nights. I lost a lot of hope though  in that year,  but deep down I had this quiet  reservoir of awareness that the same God that created this universe still sees me, knows me and will never leave me. To look back now and write this out for you to read, it seems so far in the past and yet it feels as if it was just yesterday. With salty warm tears cascading my face I will say that what I am remembering even more than the dark nights and pain filled days is God’s faithfulness. His great faithfulness to come and tend to my broken heart and life that was in a million pieces on the floor of my soul. He was so gentle and kind in His pursuit of my heart. Yes, He never stops pursuing our hearts, ever. It was His constant, steady and unrelenting love that I know gave me the strength to persevere and not give up on life. In our weakness He truly becomes our fortifying strength.

Know today that you are loved. No matter where you’re at in your journey, there is a Papa (God) who is madly in love with you. You’re not alone. You’re not defective. You’re not too far away to turn around and see Papa’s loving arms waiting to embrace you. He is our ever present help in time of need. He loves you right where you’re at.

The great thing about coming to God in our weakened state is He actually WANTS your mess! Through grace you get to come to Him dirty and weak and you receive a miraculous exchange of strength and beauty. Mind boggling really to think we don’t have to do one thing to earn this exchange, we just have to come as we are.

Embrace every part of your journey. In the dark nights look for Him, look for this one that will guide and lead you where you need to go. He will navigate the path for you when you can’t see. Trust His hand and lean into His tender arms. He will never leave you or forsake you!

Slow down today to see Him. He is everywhere. See Him in your past. Look for Him in your future. Be aware of Him in your present.

Til later! xoxo

Fast Forward – Rewind

I know, I know it’s been a few weeks since you’ve heard from me. I think this second post was just as difficult, or maybe even more difficult to get out, than than the first! Anywho…I’ll stop stahling and begin…

Sometimes in order to move forward we have to look back. Truth be told, sometimes looking back can be deadly. Take for instance Lots wife in the Bible. Remeber how her little peek backwards caused her to make her big debut as a fine pillar of salt.? Yeah, I don’t think me looking back will cause me to turn into a salty pillar…although I have been known to be salty from time to time (haha!)…but glancing back will provide a fresh look at where I got my running start on this thing we call, life. It will also help set up some foundational premis for the rest of the blogs.

So, I entered this world precisely at 5:44am in the early morn. I’ve always secretly wished it would have been one hour earlier so my time of birth could represent my favorite number 444, but tampering with legal documents sounds like a bad idea, sooooo 5:44am it is. Our family was a family of three (mom, dad and big sis) until I came along, four years after my big sis was born. I honestly don’t remember much of my first 3-4 years of life. The things I remember in those early years are from stories people have told me and pictures that prove I really did exist. One of my most memorable stories, I’ve been told, is when we were making a big move, one state up from where we were, to get a fresh start on life. I was two and a half riding in the front seat of a yellow Ryder moving truck. I was given a piece of round Brachs butterscotch hard candy. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “why would you give a two and a half year a hard candy?” Believe me I have often questioned that myself. My best guess is that they were trying to keep an active toddler quiet. If you have experience with toddlers you know you will do things you never thought you’d do to keep sane! Well somehow and in someway that lil hard butterscotch candy found its way to the back of my throat and had the audacity to start choking me! Yep, that’s right I am about to breathe my last breath in the front seat of a moving truck when my mom frantically yells to my sister, “hit her on the back!” As any good sibling, looking for an opportunity to hit their other sibling, my sister obliged. With her small six year old hand , she gave my back a good hit and that hard butterscotch candy came flying out of my mouth! I’m pretty thankful that my sister saved my life that day, because I kinda like doing this breathing and living thing.

I mentioned my mom and just us two girls in the truck that day and that is because, unfortunately we were needing to make some space between us and my dad. My mom was, and is, a hard working woman. If I have learned one thing from her that would be, if there’s a will there’s a way. For me, learning that persevering attitude has been pivotal in my life and I know will continue to be. My mom was doing what she knew was best for her and us girls by moving.

That would be the first move of a few moves for the next several years. You see, my dad was an alcoholic. His alcoholism definitely contributed to us needing to move more than we had hoped. There were few times I actually saw my dad sober. He just didn’t know how to process and deal with life and that was his chosen method to escape. I fully honor him as my dad, but for the sake of “looking back” with honesty I think a few details will provide greater understanding and a better foundation in getting to know my early life a bit more.

We moved into a two bedroom  apartment when we first got to our new state and my dad showed up some time later. Him showing up wasn’t the best of times. There was just one too many moments having to watch him abuse my mom. He was usually trying to get the car keys so he could go drink and go fishing. That is when my older sister and I knew the routine to grab mom’s purse, with the keys inside, and go hide in the bedroom closet until “it” was over. Mom taught us to sing a song when he was in these drunken states that “ironically” ended up calming him. I say “ironic” because I know this song helped to bring an atmosphere of peace from Jesus. I think she also knew singing this song would help calm our little scared and fearful hearts down as well. Every time I still hear, or sing, this song memories of those days flood my mind. The memory no longer has a sting to it, but I still remeber singing this beautiful song:

*Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something  about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all heaven and earth proclaim. Kings and kingdoms will all pass away but there’s something about that name.*

That being said, I do remember this one time I refused to go into that closet! I was a five year old lil girl and I was so over this happening to my mom!  I remember thinking, “I am gonna fight for my momma!” and no sooner did that thought come I began to try and beat up a grown man! Yes, that’s right I pulled his hair and kicked him the best I could! I don’t really think I gained any victory that day, but in my lil mind I felt like I helped “save” my mom and I didn’t feel helpless anymore.    In my five year old mind, I was BIG STUFF! Haha!

Being five was a rough year for me. It was the year that I began being molested by a girl in the apartments where we lived. It happened more often than not. I am not sure how long it lasted but it was awhile. It was a hidden thing in my life for YEARS due to the extreme shame and unloveliness one feels having gone through that so you never want to share your dirty secret. I want you to know I have fully forgiven that girl and have found full healing from that awful experience. I want to stop and say this….if this part of my story resonates with you and you  have found yourself in this same situation, please know that you aren’t dirty or unloveable. You are FULLY loved by Jesus. You aren’t defective because of what was done. You can receive healing and move past the pain. It may take time, but it can happen. You are of value and worth!! …… There are a few other things during that year but I think I will save that for another time.

My most favorite memory of living in that first apartment,  besides learning how to ride a two wheeler on a huge adult bike and having THE BEST BIG WHEEL ever known to man, is when my little sister was born! Lil sis is about six and a half years younger than me and when she came home I was smitten!! I loved her (still to do) sooo much! My older sister always thought I was kissing on her too much, but she was soooo cute, I couldn’t help it! Pretty sure that started my DEEP love for babies and my strong desire to wanna eat’m up!!! Yes, every time I see cute babies (which is pretty much ALL babies) I wanna eat’m up!! I have recently learned that there is a name for this glorious phenomenon, “cute aggression!” Yes, I am happy to announce I have cute aggression and I don’t see me recovering from this any time soon!

Wow, I never thought I would have the courage to share this part of my journey, but it is time and it was right time. I am actually sitting here smiling because I know that God truly makes beauty out of ashes. Tears are now welling up in my eyes as my heart is overwhelmed with thanks that God has always been with me, yes, even as a five your old lil girl. He has never left me and will continue to walk with me through all my future days.

Today, may you find the courage to persevere. May you dare to look back so you can move forward.

Til next time! Xoxo