Friday, December 16, 2011

Sometimes It Hurts So Bad: A Sonnet

I'm waking, thinking, and wondering why
The sun rose breaking the day like a splash
I am still thinking of our sad good-bye
Light of day makes the tone seem oh so brash
I wish I could run from my thoughts today
The pen and my journal are leading me
But alas I hear the voice of Yahweh
Telling me: you are not bound you are free
I greet the day as a fountain of hope
My heart is full of gratitude and grace
No longer walking life on a tightrope
I have found the "me" in me to embrace
This truth I know: sometimes it hurts so bad
Sometimes is not always, that makes me glad

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Walking By Faith

Last week I heard one of the most profound messages about what it means to walk by faith. Pastor Jim Laffoon, a phenomenal man of God, delivered a prophetic message on faith while sharing the reality of his own family's fight for health and healing. I was reminded once again about the true meaning of walking by faith. It is in the uncertain and trying times when it seems that nothing is as it should be. The days when it takes a literal act of God to keep your mind from slipping out of your right ear because to think is to embrace a seeming unbearable pain. But God.

There are so many things in life that we didn't see coming around the corner and when we are pleasantly surprised we don't even question it. Truth be told, when we are in a long stretch of living the "good life" we may not even remember to offer thanks to God for His grace and mercy. But when the trials come we are quick to cry out to the Lord for guidance, comfort, and relief. This faith walk requires us to know and trust that our God can do anything but fail even when it seems like everything is failing in our lives. Our faith requires us to keep pushing, to keep believing, and to keep walking.

Walking by faith is a choice. We must choose to get up, look up, and reach up. The only way we know way we are made of is how we walk through the trials of life. God takes us from glory to glory and elevates us once He knows He can trust. Will we crumble in the face of adversity or will we stand on the foundation of an unshakable faith? Will we give in to the temptation to succumb to pressure and let life knock us out? Or will we stand? Or will we allow ourselves to be molded into the warrior world changers that we were created to be? Will we take this faith walk one step at time relying on our father to strengthen us for the journey?

I love the Message Bible translation of 1 Peter 1:6-7: I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

Three keys to practice when walking the faith walk:

1. Remind yourself of the last time God moved on your behalf. This will help fuel your faith for the current giant you are facing. In Exodus 3:7-8 it states: And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them...

2. Study God’s word because you may be missing out on key instructions and it will also boost your faith. We see in Romans 10:17 that ...faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

3. Keep your mind on eternity. I know this is hard one, but if we believe that God is in control and we believe that His word is true then we can take comfort in Hebrews 12 :2: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Expand

A few weeks ago the plants around my house were beginning to look very dried out and sad no matter what I did to maintain them. After a few weeks of this watering and pruning Tango, I knew it was time to re-pot the plants. Now I am not the best with plants, I just happen not to kill them (mostly), but I don't claim to be a green thumb or anything.

I have always been intrigued by the similarities between plant life and human life. The need for water and nourishment; how we both thrive in light; the growth and the discovery that there are parts of us that we can live without (as a matter of fact we tend to become stronger when certain things are cut away). I could go on.

So when the time comes for re-potting a plant (or expanding in area of our lives) and the parallels are even more relevant:

1. You must know when it time to re-pot or the plant will actually begin to die. The roots will begin to grow in circles, the leaves will become brown, and the soil can no longer support the root system. We must also know how to recognize when our time has come to expand beyond our current situation or we too run the risk of a slow death. Think of time when you stayed somewhere beyond your season. How did it turn out? Did you become physically or emotionally sick? Did circumstances FORCE you out? Could this have been avoided if you had re-potted yourself as soon as you began seeing the signs?

2. You must not choose a pot that is too big when you are re-potting the plant. This is the "Goldilocks Principle". The current pot is too small, there are other pots that are way too big, but you must find the one that is just right to move your plant to. When a plant is re-potted in a pot that is too large the soil absorbs too much water actually stunting the growth of the plant. The same goes for us; when the time comes we know we need to move but where to? We must not make the mistake of jumping into jobs, relationships, etc that we are not prepared for. Seek out the guidance of the Creator and you cannot go wrong because He is the one who knows the plans he has for you. Momentum is important but incremental steps are necessary for maximizing full growth in life.

3. Finally, once the plant is re-potted within days it can take on a new shape and an immediate transformation often occurs. I often wonder why I allowed the plant to remain in the too small pot so long. When we expand we also realize how much we were ready for that new challenge that causes us to growth and think differently. We end up having a metamorphosis and these can and will occur many times over. We literally become new in the new situation. When we expand in the right direction it is very liberating as well. I have also looked back and wondered why I didn't make certain moves sooner. We were created to rule and conquer so we shouldn't be surprised that we become stagnant when we remain in dead-end jobs, relationships and mindsets.

We must continue to expand our capacity to grow and learn to live a fulfilled life. I am stretching out in this season and I know that it is just about time to expand in some areas of my life. I am EXCITED about leaving my old pot behind even though there may be uncertainty ahead. I am prepared and ready to grow into my new space. I encourage everyone to check their pots today and make plans to expand; ask the Lord to enlarge your territory and move on into the next season of your life!

Monday, September 12, 2011

My First Half-Marathon Reflections

Well, I did it. I completed my first half-marathon (although hubby keeps saying marathon, I love that man!) Anyway, while I was running I observed so many things along the way that made the experience so much more than a run. So here we go in no particular order:

1. When I started out I saw what appeared to be four brothers: 3 running and one in an adult stroller. The able-bodied brothers were taking turns pushing the brother in the stroller. I was moved almost to tears at the joy on the brother's face as he was "running" the race. But there was equal joy on the running brothers at being able to provide this kind of experience for their lame brother. This taught me that some of our journeys are not for us; they are for the people who may never go where we go or do what do. Remember to run your race for those who cannot run at all.

2. As we started the run it was pretty cool for a September morning at Virginia Beach and many people had on layers of clothing. Luckily for me I am naturally hot natured so the cool temperature was quite a boost for me! But as the miles went by, the sun began peering through the overcast sky and things heated up pretty quickly. At that point runners were shedding their layers, just peeling the clothing off and dropping them where they landed. This taught me that when you are focused on a goal you shed whatever is weighing you down and keep on moving. Don't let baggage keep you from being able to withstand the heat, release it and keep pressing on with your eyes on the prize.

3. The run was a part of the Rock-N-Roll series so there were live bands playing about every two miles. The course we ran took us through some neighborhoods and all along the way, strangers were out on their porches waving and cheering us on. I learned that the kindness of strangers is more motivating than the fuel of "haters". In recent years many people have preached about how you can be propelled to greater success when fueled by the haters in your life. On the run the cheers of strangers who had no idea that this was my first race overwhelmed me, they did not mind the noise of the bands or inconvenience of their streets being blocked for hours on a Sunday morning. I learned that there are people who want to see you succeed just because. The sense of community is not lost.

4. Before the run started the announcer made us aware of several high-profile people who were participating along with us. One was the mayor of Virginia Beach, another an Olympic hopeful, and even a few famous runners from Africa and Romania. However one thing that struck me was that they had to do the same thing that the rest of us novice runners had done that morning: show up! While the masses out there might never have their names called out by an announcer, we all have the distinct honor of saying that we showed up with our gear ready for the run. And even though those noteworthy people ran MUCH faster than I may ever run, I ran those same 13.1 miles on that day. I learned that even though our paths go different ways (and we go at different speeds) our success is ours to gain. God has a plan for each one of the billions of people on the earth and we should not be envious of anyone’s accomplishments; just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will cross the finish line of your own goals.

5. When the runners who were not as fast (that would be me) were closing in on mile 3, the very fast runners were running toward us and they were closing in on mile eleven! Now I have to say I had mixed feelings ranging from: "wow if they can do it I know I can too", all the way to "who am kidding, they are almost done and I am not even at the half-way point!" But as our two bookends of the run came eyeball to eyeball, the very fast runners were shouting words of encouragement to us not so fast runners and giving us thumbs up as well. It was quite astonishing to me and again I was pushed. I learned that no matter how much faster you are going than others toward your goal you always have time to encourage someone else. Remember to reach back and give someone a hand.

6. Finally, I must admit that I was running in a sea of Caucasian brothers and sisters. I felt a little out of place because I rocking out to Gospel and R&B on my iPod during most of the live Rock Band performances (the Rock music just wasn't gonna give me the lift to make it!) But in between the bands there were different groups of people cheering for the runners along the way. There were area high school cheerleaders, wacky groups of men with super hero costumes on, firefighters and many others. However one group stuck out most me: a group of African-American girls performing as a step team. They were so beautiful and they seemed to smile a little wider and move a little sharper when I came into their view. They had such a look of pride to see an African-American woman running and that pushed me to put some pep in my step as I moved past them. I learned that it’s okay to stand out in a crowd because there are times when you are called to be a beacon for others. You must stand out especially when you are standing up for something.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my run reflections. I have registered for a 15K (10 mile) run in December: dubbed the Hot Chocolate Run. I am so excited! I love chocolate and I am sure the cold weather will push me to increase my run time. Until next time....

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Weeds

I have been watching all summer as weeds have just about overtaken my front yard and today I decided to do something about it. I grabbed my gardening gloves, a few tools, and the girls and I set out to beautify our yard. Side note: not really sure why I own gardening gloves but they came in handy today. Anyway, as we began working the girls asked me which things were weeds and which were flowers or regular plants. I started pointing out the weeds and they were shocked because they thought those "flowers" were pretty. So the first take away I had this morning was that there are things in our lives that begin to replicate that which is pretty and pleasing to our natural eyes but we must be vigilant to ensure that we do lose sight of those things that need to uprooted no matter how beautiful they appear to be.

And while we're on the subject of roots, the roots of the weeds were another amazing sight to behold for me and the girls. We would dig and pull and dig some more and finally the root of weed would be discovered; sometimes quite a ways from where we had begun. The second thing I learned is some things may seem like they belong because of how intertwined they are with our lives. We must not be blinded how long a thing, a person, a mind-set has been ingrained in our lives. The truth is, as soon as we come into knowledge of what is good for us and what is not we have an obligation to ourselves to do the work to unravel ourselves from that which is literally choking the life out of us.

Finally, after we pulled and dug I realized that mulch was looking kind of raggedy so we raked up all the mulch and even in its bare state, the yard looked 100% better than it had before. The girls remarked, "why didn't we do this before?" and "it looks so much better." These comments were quite telling and also made me laugh to myself. I laughed because they became quite weary in the process of "working" with me and at some point they were off riding their bikes, however they came back at the end to remark about "our" hard work. But the revelation was that even in the most seemingly barren state things can be better. When you clear away the weeds you see the other things that need to be attended to and sometimes a complete clean slate is in order. While some of us hold onto the weeds for comfort, or because it is all we know, you will be surprised by how much better your life will be when you pull up the weeds and make room for your flowers to bloom.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What am I neglecting and why?

Well, it is so hard to believe that I have not posted a new blog in over a month! I have wanted to start a blog for so long and started off so excited however, many things, good things have happened for me in the past few months that my blog went to the back burner. I began to wonder how could something I have wanted to do for so long become so far removed from my mind and heart?

As I dug a little deeper, I realized that my blog wasn't the only thing I had been neglecting in the this season. I have not been praying the way I used to, not have I been connecting with some of the dear friends that God has placed in my life (the kind of friends I prayed for years ago). I am also going to be participating in my first half-marathon on September 4th, however I have been neglecting my training and now it is getting to be crunch time.

This week-end I took a step back to reflect on these areas and get back on track because neglect surely leads to abandonment and I don't want to abandon any of these things because they are all part of what gives me the depth and joy of life. Once I looked over the past weeks I realized that my promotion at work (to a much more demanding role) had really taken over, but that is just an excuse. I am firm believer in balance and I had to come to terms with the fact that I cannot transform that broken work unit overnight; and even if I could, the cost of my personal life's joys are much too high a price to pay.

So, Friday night I had a wonderful dinner with a beautiful woman of God and we talked, laughed and had great Girls Night Out! Yesterday, I bough my girls new bicycles from a real bicycle shop (something I had been meaning to do since school let out) and we went to visit the Newseum in DC (even though I brought home a few work files to review on Saturday). This morning I prayed and I ran 4 miles and now I am writing in my blog (all before church on Sunday morning).

While I am excited about the challenges in my new role at work, that is just one small part of me. I will not let neglect turn into abandonment because I know that my God is a God of balance and anything He blesses me with He wants me to nurture and cause to flourish. What gift/person/activity have you been neglecting lately? Rekindle the fires under the joys of your life and bring some balance to your world; because even though it is a cliche, we only have one life to live.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hello Fear

Fear defined: a distressing emotion caused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc, whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. I used to think fear could either be motivating catalyst or a paralyzing force. I believe this thought was born of the pop-psychology material that was a favorite reading subject of mine some years ago. Ideas were discussed about to "tap into" your fears to unlock your greatest potential in life. However once I became a Christian I began to understand anything that I did that was fear-motivated would not be true representation of my abilities because fear-motivation is basically a knee-jerk, opposite response to a person, situation, or circumstance.

I have come to know that doing the opposite of what I fear is not always the best or right choice for me. Additionally, being fear-motivated tethers us to our fears on a level that continually keeps us living short of our God-given potential; constantly avoiding opportunities that ignite fear within us while simultaneously pushing us farther and farther from very path that God is illuminating toward our purpose. Rather that being motivated by fear, we must confront our fears and seek freedom from them. The Word of God has countless scriptures to comfort us and bring us freedom from the crippling impact that fear has on our lives. Here a few of my favorites that really helped me overcome the fears that that have tried to overtake my mind and spirit over the years:

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

1 Chronicles 28:20
David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.

Matthew 10:26
Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.

When danger is present use caution; follow your instincts (discernment) as needed; but never, ever be ruled by unfounded, trumped up, "what if", unsubstantiated, fears that try to derail you from the life that you were created to live.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Got My Mind on My Money and My Money on My Mind

Tax season is in the review mirror. My insurance company called a couple of weeks ago as a courtesy to update my life insurance before my fortieth birthday (as the prices are sure to increase). There is a rare open season for our long-term care insurance at work as well. All of these things converged at the same time and have had me focused on getting my "papers" in order. I have worked hard in my career and thought I had pretty security blanket to live comfortably in my latter years, but the more reviewed these different insurance policies and spoke with a financial planner I realized I had to make some adjustments to maintain my standard of living. I also want to be prepared so that I never become a burden to my children.

The catch phrase for women my age is "Forty is the new twenty". However I believe new forty is confident, informed, and prepared. In my twenties and uh-hem, my thirties, I kept thinking that I had more time to plan for some things. I contributed to my retirement plan up the matching percentage, I had the minimum life insurance plan, and have been able to do most of the things I have wanted to do in terms of giving and travel. I have also struggled with debt at different points over the years, coming out and vowing to become a "cash-only" spender. But here and there, the credit cards have been whipped out foiling my "cash-only" plan because I thought I would deal with it later.

Well, later is here and I am so thankful that I am in a position to secure my future and God has always given me the grace to keep myself from totally wrecking my financial life. Later is now and as move into my "formidable forties" I do so with wisdom and applied knowledge. I love how the word of God puts it in Proverbs 21:20 "the house of the wise are full of choice foods and oil, but the foolish devours all he has" and Proverbs 21:5 "the plans of the diligent surely lead to plenty, but of everyone who is hasty, surely lead to poverty". I am only a complete debt-busting budget and will have all credit cards paid off within twelve months. I have an affordable long-term care insurance plan that I hope I never need but it will keep my very comfortable in the event that I do. I have completed my physical for a robust life insurance plan that will protect my investments and my family when the time comes. One final thing I must do is to have a will prepared and I will keep you posted on when we accomplish that. I guess the blog will help me be accountable!

One final note, during my physical the doctor was amazed at how LOW my blood pressure was and it prompted me to begin researching the mind-body-spirit connections as they relate to finances, relationships, fitness, etc. I plan to follow up on that in subsequent posts. My pastor made a statement in fall of 2009 that he heard the Lord saying it was time to get low in credit and high in cash. While we have no control over the stock market, the real estate market, or the prices and the food market, we can apply Godly principles to whatever state we find ourselves in and live an abundant life. When we do things His way the word says, "the blessings of the Lord will make us rich and add no sorrow". Until next time, I pray that if you haven't thought much about your financial future that this will move you to do so.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gratitude

Seems so easy to get caught up in complaining about what we don't have, the missed opportunities, or the outcome of our choices.  Every single person on the earth has wondered a time or two, "what if?"; why didn't I"; "why them and not me?"  I think there certainly are people who have seen more than their fair share of pain and suffering in the world and it truly saddens me.  But the stories that move me to the highest levels of compassion are the ones of triumph against all odds.  I am amazed at the countless heroes who had the right to shrink in fear.  I love reading about the impossible real-life over comers like the Trisha Meili and Ruthie Bolton; I am captivated by the strength of the human spirit.

One thing that most of these stories have in common is gratitude.  Rather than accounting for all that has been lost the over comer finds a way to be grateful for what they have.  They cannot find the strength needed to heal, rise up, or break free by having a pity party.  Instead they instinctively know that gratitude is the first step to tapping into the inner warrior.  That part of yourself that knows trouble won't last always but is also grateful for the sunrise they were able to see, the breath of life, and a thinking mind.  The warrior that serves others even in the midst of their own pain, adversities, circumstances because there is ALWAYS someone doing worse than you. 

Gratitude is the cornerstone of perspective.  The perspective that gives us clarity to move forward, forgive, take a chance, fight back, to overcome!  When we live a life of gratitude we are putting ourselves in the position to attract the positive.  We become creative, we find our strength, we find out just how blessed we are, and we open our hearts to our Heavenly Father.  His word speaks over and over about the grace that He has extended to each of us.  We have the grace to endure, the grace to conquer, the grace to withstand, but we must be grateful.  We see in the word of God that we are to come before Him with thanksgiving and praise and there are no caveats listed, it is not an "if/then" situation.  We must come before Him with thanksgiving, gratitude. 

Now I don't necessarily have everything that I desire but I am grateful for my health, my marriage, and my children.  I am grateful for the ability that I have to earn a good living, the treasured friendships, and the peace I have in my life right now.  I am grateful to live in a country that allows me to openly worship the God of my choice and the freedom to pursue my happiness even though I was almost furloughed last week! (smile)  I'm grateful!  My life is full of possibility and promise and yours is too.  Please remember to count your blessings because they always outweigh your troubles.

PS- So grateful for all those reading the blog also!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Soul Excavation


Today I had a dental appointment and had to endure a "deep cleaning" and a root canal.  It was about a 3 and a half hour visit so I had plenty of time to think about how I am going to floss more regularly and brush after every meal because I never want to experience this pain again.  The drilling, the needles, the water pick, oh my!  Amazingly, I did not have any pain in the tooth that required the root canal and from the outside nothing appeared to be wrong, but the cavity was detected by an x-ray.

The root canal was pretty tough for the dentist to deal with because so much calcium had developed and hardened like cement at the very end of the root.  I actually have to follow up an endodontist in the next few days because my regular dental office did not have the appropriate tools to remove the build up inside my tooth which was tapping on my nerve-endings.  The dentist explained that it is vital to remove everything at the root of a cavity because if left in place these types dental issues can lead to major sickness and disease which could spread throughout my entire body.  He further stated it was hard to tell when or how this problem would impact me so it was best to take care of it now.

It started me thinking about the things cemented in the depths of our souls that need to be excavated and removed at the  root.  We may be walking around looking normal and highly functioning on some level because  we've gone through our lives making adjustments based on painful experiences and disappointments we have been subjected to.  These are adjustments oftentimes result in a masking or coating that hardens over time allowing us to move forward in life as a slightly altered version of ourselves.  However, at any moment if we get bumped the wrong way the coating can shift, leaving those "nerve-endings" exposed.  Some of us are just ticking time bombs ready to go off at any time.  If we don't examine our souls and get at the root of things an entry way becomes available for the enemy to enter and wreak havoc on our emotional and spiritual well-being. 

Just like a dentist must fill in the gaps that were left behind after the root canal, we too must fill in the wounds of our soul after we remove the junk that has been building up there.  The best thing to use is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  It is important to do whatever it takes to move through a complete healing process when conducting these excavations because a gaping hole is worse than covered cement.  I pray you will find the strength to be the archeologist of your soul, rooting out the pain of the past so you can walk in total freedom and live the victorious life you were created to live.      

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Examining the life of Ms. Billie Holiday

Earlier this month, Ms. Billie Holiday was inducted into the National Womens Hall of Fame and I while I was happy about this achievement, I thought about the woman who left this world too soon.  She is a prime example of the limitless bounds for one who fully uses their God-given talents to tap into their purpose.  But sadly, she is also a tragic reminder that you must receive healing for the broken places of your soul in order to live a truly abundant life.

Ms. Holiday was born to a teen mother who sent her to live with an aunt who never gave her the proper love and nurturing that a young girl needs.  Her unique voice and song-writing ability gave meteoric rise to her fame at a time when it was hard for blacks to go any further than the "chitlin' circuit".   However, all of the acclaim could not slay the abandonment issues that I believe plagued her for her entire life therefore she succumbed to substance abuse and unhealthy relationships which ultimately contributed to her early departure from this world.

But I believe as her accomplishments are celebrated this month we should pause and examine the deep soul wounds that may be sabotaging our lives.  It is God's desire for us to live in freedom while walking out our purpose.  To have either one without the other is a tragedy.  Let us reflect this day on the cyclical drama of life that keeps us on the treadmill of pain, fear, bitterness, self-loathing and get down the root cause of the matter.  After that, you will experience true healing and deliverance so you can have the abundant life that you were created to live.


Psalm 107:19-20
19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. 20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

You deserve a break today


During my years in the AME church I practiced fasting during the Lenten season (forty days from Ash Wednesday through the Saturday before Easter).  It was usually a time of self-reflection, reestablishing a commitment to God, and gaining a deeper understanding of His resurrection power.  Since Ash Wednesday tomorrow I began thinking about the attributes of Lenten season and the significant biblical references of the number forty.  I am reminded of forty years that the Isrealites wandered in the wilderness, the forty days Jesus was tempted by the devil, and the forty days Moses was on the mount.  All of these occurrences were periods of trial and probation which resulted in renewed strength and divine guidance.   

The Lenten season is marked by fasting from certain foods or activities, spending that time in prayer, and allowing a transformation to take place where we exchange our shortcomings for God's grace.  I don't believe you have to practice Lent to experience the renewal that can come from taking a pause to examine your life to find areas that need to be "freed up."  Whether it is a negative people, an over-committed schedule, or unhealthy habits, this is a great time to take an inventory of the things that have you experiencing a wilderness situation.

Give yourself permission to "just say no" for the next forty days to determine what really matters, what activities are literally draining the life out of you, and what you just to let go of once and for all. Change, growth, and transformation are necessary to live the life that you were created to live, so take a break, recharge your batteries, and walk into your next season with clarity and focus.  Remember, time is one thing that we can't save, post-pone, or retrieve and there is no investment of your time more valuable than the investment in yourself.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Healing Power of an Ugly Cry

A few months ago my Pastor was closing out the service and as he began to pray he started by saying, "We love you Daddy" while looking up toward Heaven.  Now I know he has said this at least 100 times before, but on this day something shook me at the core.  I opened my eyes and looked around wondering if anyone else had felt that powerful jolt.  However I was all alone in my personal, gut-wrenching moment with God.  After the altar call I made my way out of church with my girls.  I do not know if I spoke with anyone on the way out or not, I just had to get out of there.  I do not know how I managed to drive home without falling apart. 

I got the girls lunch and then went into my master bathroom and began to sob.  The tears seemed like they had been pent up for years, I mean I had sat through years of father's day services, sappy daddy-daughter movies, and even watched my own husband with my girls, but nothing compared to Pastor Brett standing there talking to God and calling Him Daddy on that day.  I realized that I had accepted God as my Savior, my Lord, my Provider, but not my Daddy.  So the tears kept flowing as memories flashed through my mind like a Lifetime movie:
  1. Living with a wonderful caregiver until the age of 5 but always feeling like something wasn't quite right
  2. Going to live with my mother and her husband after my sister was born and always feeling like I didn't belong there
  3. The ten-year old me wondering why I didn't look like anyone in my family
  4. The twelve-year old me asking God how my dad could just live his life without ever even wondering about me at all
  5. Me, at 13 meeting him and it was such a let-down.  I wanted a hero but he was a troubled man suffering from liver disease due to years of drinking
  6. Then me at 16, attending his funeral feeling nothing as he was laid to rest; I did not shed a tear
And here I am, 39 years old crying my eyes out; crying the ugly cry.  Crying for my daddy, wishing I had had a real relationship with any kind of father figure, sobbing, wailing and praying.  I cried thinking about how unlovable and inadequate I have felt most of my life.  I cried and prayed for forgiveness for all of the envy I had had over the years of other girls' relationships with their fathers.  I think I cried all of the tears from all of the times that I buried my feelings.  There had been times in my past that I thought I would go insane if I began to think about these things I am writing today.  But something happened that day.  In the midst of the tears a healing power came over me.  It was as if the Lord Himself reached down from Heaven and comforted me that day.  I started out crying about my natural dad and I ended up having a supernatural encounter with my heavenly Daddy. 

I had a divine moment that day and the word of the Lord in Psalm 27:10 became clear to me: when my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.  I thought about how He must have taken me "up" above those circumstances throughout my life so I would not be consumed by them.  In other words, I don't look like what I've been through.  So many people have difficult family relationships but I am so glad that my Daddy specializes in healing the brokenhearted.  Psalm 34:17-18 gives us hope: the righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  I thank my Daddy for His healing power and the power of His love that overtakes me.  I am the apple of His eye and He is making my latter years SO much better than my former years.  So when you see all my blessings just remember: I am a Daddy's girl!  And if you're in need of some healing don't underestimate the healing power of an ugly cry.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Start Right Now

As am sitting drinking my after dinner coffee from my Caribou coffee mug I look closely at the clever sayings that adorn the mug.  It is meant to be motivating with phrases like, "dance to your own rhythm", "follow your own heart", "make today special" and so on.  But tucked down at the bottom, sandwiched between "take all your vacation days" and "marry your sweetheart" are the words that speak life to me: "START RIGHT NOW".

I am a planner by nature, I like to set time tables and map things out and it gives me great pleasure when things get accomplished on time.  But of course life has curve balls that come out of nowhere and then there are times when there are too many plans happening at once and no matter how much planning has occurred the all of things are not going to happen.  I've been known to reassess and map again, you know, just kick the can down the road a bit.  But inevitably some things in my life just didn't go according to my plans or even the reworked, improved, re-planned, plans.  Some got shelved and life moved on.

But we're talking about starting right now and the beauty of it is that it takes no planning!  Some of the most gratifying things in my life have come from just going with the flow.  An idea occurs, a chance meeting, an unexpected opportunity and even though I didn't plan to make a life-long friend on a particular day, I started a conversation with someone and that is exactly what happened.  Are you looking for a friend? Become friendly and be open: START RIGHT NOW!  Have you always wanted to be a business owner? You don't need a 100-page Small Business Proposal to begin your dream.  Just take some small steps, enroll in a class, attend a workshop: START RIGHT NOW!

Finally, the longer I walk with the Lord I begin to truly believe that He is the only one with the master plan for my life.  He wants me to have healthy relationships, success, prosperity, and a long life doing any and everything that He in store for me.  All I have to do is believe His word, listen for His voice, and move when He says move.  Note to self: START RIGHT NOW! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dare to Dream

As I approach my fortieth birthday this year it has truly been a time of reflection and focus.  I have though about my childhood, my disappointments, my friends, my close and extended family,  and the  woman that I have become.  One thing that has not really crossed my mind are my dreams (past or dare I say present). I remember dreaming though it seems like I remember another "me" dreaming.  As I sit here typing this I am trying to search the crevices of my mind and bring my dreams back to the forefront. 

There, there they are coming into focus.  I dreamed of being a writer, a teacher, a lawyer, playing the piano, being an actress, marrying Micheal Jackson (making him be normal), moving to France, and climbing a mountain.  One dream that seemed so tangible to me as a little girl was becoming an artist.  I remember spending the summer after fourth grade drawing all kinds of pictures.  One that stands out is the album cover (yes I said album) of Stevie Wonder's Hotter Than July record.  I remember the joy of recreating the likeness of his face and all the colors of the beads.  I was very proud of myself.  I have not thought about drawing since then; I don't know where the dream went. 

But I know that it is time to start dreaming again.  It is time for me to seek God and pray for Him to stir up the gifts within me and propel me toward living the rest of my life seeing my dreams fulfilled.  I will be open to all of twists and turns of my life under God's leading.  I will be expecting some great things to come as I dream my new dreams and walk into the destiny that those dream lead to.  "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Running Like the Wind, Well Maybe a Breeze

I had a very lazy Saturday and decided to stop vegging out long enough to hit the treadmill for a run.  I have recently gotten back into my fitness routine but have no more than 3 miles at one time in last few months.  Today pushed a little further and got to that feeling of lightness and I just let my body go into it natural rhythm: arms pumping, deep breathing, back straight, and feet moving all in tandem.

When I reached that point my mind was free and began to think about how running had been so easy for me when I was younger.  I didn't have to put forth any effort at all during my years in the Army, I could just run like the wind.  It was a necessary part of being a Soldier and I didn't think much about the endurance or strength that was building in me. Fast forward to today and I am so very thankful for the natural gift of running that I have even though I am slower and I have to work hard to motivate myself to start but once I get going I can literally run for miles and miles.  On my run today I began to think about all of the things that I have to live for and how much more I want to do and see.  I know that healthy living and staying active will be critical to my longevity.  My younger self ran to check a block for her employment and I am now running for my life.

God has blessed me with so many wonderful things and I know that there is so much more to come because He promised me in Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans the I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.  I know that God's word is true and I also know that I have to invest in the body that He has given me or I won't be around for my future that He has planned.  So I will keep breezing along, running on to fulfill the plans He has for me. 


Friday, February 18, 2011

Bieber Fever: What I Learned from "Never Say Never"

So I took my girls Sarah and Jessica to see the documentary "Never Say Never" about the life and quick rise to fame of Justin Bieber.  The audience was filled with other parents of girls ranging in age from 5 up to about 16.  All of them screaming, crying, and yelling at one point or another during the film.  While taking them to the movie was the obligatory thing for a hip mom to do, I have to say it was quite entertaining as well since he is unarguably a very gifted artist.  Most importantly, I gleaned some wonderful nuggets from this young man's life:

1.  A parent must support their child's dreams.  Justin's mom was a teenager when she conceived him and though she had supportive parents the father did not seem to be a big part of his childhood.  She did not let those circumstances stop her from providing a stable home life for her son or from encouraging the budding musical talent that he exhibited even though she did not really know far he could go.  She purchased instruments for him and exposed him to musicians.  She believed in her son.  Now she has a sixteen year-old who can play at least three instruments, who sells out every venue he is booked in, has a #1 movie in theaters, and playing the in celebrity game at the NBA All-Star week-end.

2.  Stay true to who you are and you will always win.  Justin received many "nos" before he eventually was signed to a record deal because the executives did not believe that there was an audience for his style.  Additionally, they didn't think he could make it without going through some Disney or Nick vehicle.  All I can say is Usher and L.A. Reid are laughing all the way to bank because of the opportunity that they have been given to guide this young man onto the world stage.

3.  Set your goals higher than high and speak them into existence.  Justin went to see Taylor Swift in a sold out show at Madison Square Garden and told his manager that he would sell a show out there in one year.  He toured all over America building up the moment in Madison Square Garden almost exactly one year from the day he spoke it (the tickets were sold out within 22 minutes of going on sale).  He is the first person to sell out that arena within 18 months of being discovered.

4.  While you are believing and speaking you must be working.  The bible clearly states that faith without works is dead.  This young man has literally become an overnight household name and he works HARD everyday.  He made in-person appearances in almost every Pop radio station in America to promote his album (singing live every time even in the the early morning hours).  He works with a vocal coach to assist him in understanding how to preserve his voice for long run. 

5.  Practicing humility opens the door to your destiny and keeps you there.  In James 4:10 says humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up. Throughout the movie we witness Justin praying and expressing gratitude for the unique success that he is experiencing.  He and his staff also reserve tickets to give away to those who may not be able to afford to see the show.  The people that he has around him really appear to function as a family and the love and support shined through in the film.

I pray continued success for this young man and that God will always be the guide that he follows.  I also hope that amidst the screams and tears that little girls everywhere will be inspired to follow their own dreams and in face of any adversity they would remember to Never.Say.Never!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Look Out World

Well I have FINALLY ventured into the blogosphere.  It has been such a long time coming but I made it.  Writing has always been my passion but life has sidetracked my dream of sitting on the beach writing the day away.  I imagined myself traveling the world observing and researching for the next book or screenplay.  But alas, time told a different story for me that would not trade for anything.  I have career in government, a husband and two beautiful girls that have brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined.  However the longing to write has always been lingering in my spirit.  And what a wonderful space the Internet has created for the working moms, soccer moms, wall street number-crunchers, and high-powered lawyers who are all secretly longing to just write.  I am so glad to have found the time and place to express my thoughts and views and pray that anyone who stops through will be blessed by something they read on this site.  This first post would not be complete without a "shout-out" to one of the many English teachers who encouraged me in my writing: Dr. Laverne Weldon, Professor of English at Saint Augustine's College.

DISCLAIMER: The thoughts and opinions expressed here are totally mine for the sole purpose glorifying my God and exercising my freedom of speech.  I will not debate or argue with anyone about anything that I say and any derogatory comments will not be published here.

Happy reading!