Forty-Five

Recently, I had a birthday and I turned forty-five.  Seems kind of crazy that that much time has passed in my life.  This years’ birthday was a little hard for me.  Not because of my age since I knew it was coming, but for some reason I haven’t figured out yet, I spent A LOT of time reflecting.  I thought about all that I have accomplished in these forty-five years.  I spent time thinking about the decisions and choices I’ve made that have not produced the fruit I’d hoped for.  My parents came to mind a lot.  I miss them everyday.  Even though I know they were proud of me and that we were solid when they left this earth, there is still so much I’ve done since their passing that I wish they could have been able to witness and be a part of.

I was what some would call a late bloomer.  A few incidences beyond my control detoured my path.  While many of my friends were in college, I was a working single mom taking classes when I could.  When they finished four years later I was still plugging along, one class at a time and raising my son. There are times when I feel that I should be further along in my life than I am currently then I remember that my plans aren’t always God’s plan for me.  For the most part, I’ve had a good life.  But you don’t get to be this age without a few regrets.  If I could go back, there are a few things I would do differently.  At some of those forks in the road, I  definitely would have chosen a different path.  However, hindsight is always twenty-twenty.  At my age now, I only have one choice to make:  I can dwell on the past and my coulda, shoulda, woulda’s or focus all of my attention and effort on making the second half of my life my best one.  I think I will go with the latter.

My friends think I am much too busy.  For me, there is still so much I want to do and goals I plan to achieve.  I love living my life and I want to get in as many adventures as I possible can.  I know obstacles will come and I have learned that while they slow us down they aren’t stop signs.  Life will sometimes be uncomfortable, frustrating, complicated and often confusing but that’s what makes it worth living.

I am working to change the things about my life that I am not happy with.  Change can be difficult and for me its extremely hard because I don’t like hurting people.  I have this very strange habit of wanting to see the best in others even when they are not so kind to me.  Overall, this has been a very good year and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

Seeing what the future holds…:)

 

 

 

 

 

The Lives of Boys

If you know me, then you know I love to read. The more I read, the more I learn and the more I grow. Learning and growing are two of my favorite things to do. I think it is just a waste to be on this earth, living this life and never growing.  There is so much freedom in this life especially, in this country.  We shouldn’t waste it.

Somehow, in a recent morning quiet time I began reading the book of Revelation.  Not sure how that came to be but I learned quite a bit.  Growing up, my grandmother would always tell us how life simply repeated itself because people don’t learn from their mistakes or from the situations of those who came before them.  As I began reading Chapter 12 in Revelation, I was reminded of my grandmothers’ words.  Reading this chapter taught me about the strength of women and the struggle that will forever haunt young boys who, without proper guidance, will become men under attack.

From reading this particular chapter in the bible, I thought about my own life and the lives of the boys I raised.  When my love and I met, he had three boys and I had one.  So, I had the pleasure of raising four boys.  Saleem is now 25, DJ is 24, Jaylen is 21 and James is 15.  Our two oldest are out on their own, Jaylen is doing well in college and the baby, James, is still at home giving us a run for our money.  All of our boys are the sweetest, kindest human-beings I know.  After reading Revelation, I think there is one area where we may have failed them.  While we made every attempt to raise them to be respectful, thankful, grateful and to treat others as they wanted to be treated, I think we failed to teach them the undeniable power that they held within.

Yes, we took them to church, prayed with them and talked to them about developing a relationship with God, however, we didn’t tell them the story about how they’d be attacked on every side through no fault of their own.  We didn’t know to tell that that the attacks they’d face were due to the power and strength they possessed to stand as the kings they were born to be.  Our boys were born to be fighters, to stand up for what is right and to be examples of God on earth.  When we know better, we do better.  It’s never too late to turn and that is just what I intend to do.  I will work to remind my boys that they are true kings of God and within them, God has placed all they need to fight against any darkness that is meant to take them down.

 

Standing strong…:)

To Sleep or Not to Sleep

After my son was born, I began experiencing pain in my lower back.  I had no idea what was causing it or what to do to make it stop.  When the pain got really severe, I had to be taken to the hospital where they would inject medication into my back.  Over the years, I guess I kind of got used to having this pain.  At my worst, I had difficulty getting out bed, driving and getting in and out of the car.  My doctors would tell me there was not much they could do outside of shots, prescribing pain pills and muscle relaxers.  I am not one to take a lot of medication just to be taking it so, I began simply living with this dull pain in my lower back.  I’d take an aspirin or two if the pain got too bad but for the most part, I just dealt with it.  By the time I started teaching full time, I had no idea how I’d live my life with this constant pain in my back.  I found new doctors who basically recommended the same treatment as my previous doctors, cortisone shots in the area, which I extremely opposed or surgery which was completely out of the question.  I was not able to wrap my head around having back surgery when none of my doctors could pinpoint where the pain was coming from or how the surgery would help.

During my second year of teaching, during Teacher Appreciation Week, my principal at the time had hired a massage company to come in and give teachers fifteen minute massages on their breaks.  Prior to this I had never had a massage by a professional.  During the brief session, a nurse was also there to talk to about spinal health and to ask questions about whether or not you were experiencing any back pain or joint discomfort.  I jumped at the chance to tell her about the lower back pain I’d been experiencing since the birth of my son some ten years prior.  She invited me to come to the chiropractic office where she worked and meet with the doctor.  Chiropractic services were never on my radar as I worked with other doctors to find a solution to my lower back pain.  None of my doctors recommended chiropractic services or any other physical therapy services for that matter.

A few weeks later I met with this doctor, who turned out to be a very nice, kind and knowledgeable guy.  I had x-rays done on my back, met with the rest of his staff and was given a tour of his office where he explained his work and what all of the machines were used for.  A few days later I went back to review my x-rays and talk about treatment options.  Turns out, the pain I had been experiencing was due pressure on my nerves from my spinal cord being a little inflamed and pinched.  I’m sure there is a scientific term for it but I can not recall what he called it.  I began having treatments at his office and after a few weeks, I began to feel better.

I started seeing Dr. Brown about ten years ago and I still see him for treatment maybe about once every other month or so.  I, honestly feel a lot better.  After my car accident five years ago, he was the first person I called.  With no medication or surgery, he was able to help my body heal the three bulging discs, two tears and whiplash I sustained from the accident.  Whenever I have issues with my health, Dr. Brown is usually the first person I call or go see.  So when I recently began experiencing pain in my neck, shoulders and back, I went to his office to talk with him.  His first question, “how old is your mattress?”  My response, “12 years.”

This conversation set me on a journey that taught me even more about my health and listening to my body.

 

More to come…:)

Talk the Talk

Consider this…we can’t create an actual universe with our words, but we can use them to build up or destroy someone else’s world.

I came across this little nugget during my quiet time reading recently and almost immediately shared it on my Facebook page because I thought it was so simple but yet so true.  We have so much power in our words that life and the world would be a much better place if we knew how to use them in a positive way.

When I was younger, I like any other kid, loved watching television.  My favorite part was the commercials.  Back in the day almost every product/ad was promoted through a jingle.  The jingle would get stuck in your head and you’d be singing that thing for the rest of the week!  As I was growing, I had a plan to go off to college and get a degree that would help me to be able to make commercials.  Well, I did go to college and I got a degree but life led me down a different path.

Today, television is the last thing I want to sit down and watch.  I still enjoy a good commercial however, with news programs, tv series and made for tv movies taking such a dark and negative turn, I rarely turn on the television anymore.  If it were solely up to me, I’d toss out every television in the house.

I find it increasingly difficult to expend positive energy to my family and friends or even those I simply run into each day when we, this world, is surrounded in so much negativity.  I feel for my kids the most.  In this age of instant “Likes” and instant posts so that the world knows your every move, my kids are bombarded with instant comments about everything.  And I feel that this is desensitizing them to simple compassion.  It amazes me that everyone has an opinion about everything but what saddens me most is that even in the most positive postings, articles or news reports someone will find a way to turn it into a negative.  You can’t read a post or article about anything where someone hasn’t found a way to make a negative or hurtful comment.  My love gets so frustrated with me because I try to find a positive in all that I do and say.  I am by no means perfect and even though it is hard and often times challenging, I’d much rather find a way to show love and compassion to someone than to be mean and say something negative or hurtful.

What I feel we, as a society, are losing most is our ability to be compassionate.  1 Peter 4: 9-10 says “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  To me that simply means to love one another, to have compassion and respect for my fellow man (woman) and to be compassionate.

Every day, in every situation, find a way to share grace…:)

 

 

The Importance of Sisterhood

I was very lucky to find a great friend early in life.  She is usually the first person I call when anything happens in my life.  Currently, we live on opposite sides of the country, she’s in California and I’m in Florida.  We met at church when we were about nine or ten years old.  We are the same age, our birthday’s are on the same day, different months (she’s in December, I’m in September), and we were born at the same hospital.  To say that we were meant to be is an understatement for us.  I only get to see her once a year but for us nothing has changed except a plane ride.

Over the years I’ve tried to form bonds with other girls/women but the friendships never seemed to connect well.  I think it’s mostly because of me though.  I’ve had some really bad friendships with some who claimed to be a friend but ended up doing or saying something that caused me to not trust them and to pull away.  I learned to keep my circle of friends very small.  Basically, it was just my friend Swayla and my sister.

Recently, I’ve come to understand that creating a sisterhood can be very important in a women’s life.  A sisterhood, community of women, can help to strengthen one other when a safe place can be created that allows women to openly and honestly share with one another.  Two weeks ago I was invited to a gathering at coworker’s house.  While she and I do talk periodically by phone, we don’t hang out or meet up regularly.  I am not one to attend too many get-togethers because I don’t want to open myself up to false friendships.  However, I wanted to support my coworker who was hosting because I find her to be very kind and genuine.

Surprisingly, I had a very nice time.  What stood out to me most that afternoon was the story my coworker told about a group of women she recently began working out with.  At a stressful point in her life, my coworker decided that she wanted to start working out to clear her mind and relieve stress.  After some research, she came across this group of women who met to work out together.  In this group, they not only support one another during work outs but have created a sisterhood to support one another inside and outside of the gym.  They support each others goals, hold one another accountable and regularly meet up to personally check in.

Through her story I learned three important aspect of building trusting, lasting friendships.

First, to find a friend, one must show themselves as a friend.

Second, connect with like-minded people.

Third, don’t be afraid to share your story because God didn’t intent for us to walk this journey alone.

As I have continued to read Craving Connection, I have learned what it means to be a friend and also how silence about my pain and struggles can sometimes push me into isolation and make me fearful of letting others in.  While I am not suggesting that you go out and blab your business to everyone in order to find friends but start small.  Look around the outer ring of your current circle of friends.  See if there is one or two women you could possible have a deeper connection with.  Invite them to lunch or coffee and hang out.  The more you are around them the more you may feel comfortable and this may help you to open up more.  Some friendships may simply be general and pleasant from a distance and that’s ok.  The overall goal is to not isolate yourself to the point where you are not reaching out or growing to your full potential.  Work on developing relationships that will stretch, support and encourage you.

 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou

 

 

Angels Among Us

I am not unaware that I am getting older.  Some days I forget my age when my mind tells me, “oh, yeah, we can still do that!”  But then, later on when I’m trying to sit or lay down my body says, “girl, we can’t do that no more!”  However, the older I get I make sure that I listen to my body and do what’s best for it.  I made my brother a promise, when he was battling cancer, that I would take care of myself and not ignore when my body is talking to me.  So, when I ain’t feeling quite right, I go see my doctor.

I happened to be doing a follow up appointment this morning when my day was impacted in a very unexpected but pleasant way.  My appointment was at 8 a.m.  I got up on time, made breakfast for the kids, sent them off to school and went about my normal morning routine.  I had an extra hour since I wasn’t going straight to work so I had breakfast myself and extended my quite time.  Left the house on time, made the forty minute drive to my appointment and the moment I put the car in park I realized that I’d walked out of the house and forgot my doctor’s acquisition order for the test he wanted done.  Not to panic, I thought, maybe the doctor forwarded a copy to the office.  Get in, check in and tell the receptionist about my mishap.  She checks the system and finds no acquisition order.  Our next option, before panic sets in, is to call the doctor’s office and simply have them fax over a copy.  The message on the doctor’s line says that the office is not open until 11 a.m. today.  Now, its time to panic!

Of course, there was no way I’d be able to make the forty minute drive back home to get the papers, make the forty minute drive back to the office (if there was even time to no squeeze me in) and then get to work by 11:20 a.m.  Looking at my face, I think the receptionist could tell that I was starting to get a little anxious.  Thinking quickly, after I told her how far I had to drive to go back home and then return pending traffic, she asked where I lived and then found an office that was closer to my house.  Thankfully, that office agreed to squeeze me in but I had to get there within the hour.  I got home, grabbed the papers, made it to the office within the hour, checked in and sat down to wait my turn.

As to not let my anxiety to continue to rise, I decided to Bluetooth a message from Transformation Church on my ride back to the house from my first appointment location.  During this message the pastor referenced a passage of scripture I wanted to read.  Upon sitting at my second appointment I thought I’d take out my bible and read over the scripture while I waited.  As I began to read, I noticed a man of a different nationality watching me.  I thought nothing of it and continued reading.  A few moments later this same man walked over to me and said, “hey, what’cha reading?”  I replied, “the bible” and then told him the scripture I was reading.  He told me that was one of his favorite scriptures and sat down next to me.  He introduced himself and began talking to me about his church and ministry background.  He said that he approached me because he’d never seen anyone reading the bible in public and was glad I was unashamed to do it.

For a split second I thought, “I hope this man is not trying to hit on me because I don’t want to have to be rude.”  As it turns out, he wasn’t he just wanted to have a conversation about God.  We had a very pleasant conversation about God, my kids, his kids, his family, my work and then my name was called to see the receptionist.

The strangest thing happened.  The receptionist told me that the test my doctor ordered couldn’t be performed at that location and that I would have to go to yet a different location.  We rescheduled the appointment for a later date because it was apparent I was not supposed to have that test done today.  On my way out I stopped to thank the man who took the time to come over and talk to me.  When I told him I was at yet the wrong location again he told me that he wasn’t supposed to be there either.  He had been finished with his appointment for about an hour and the friend that was supposed to pick him up was running late.  He then shared a scripture with me, quietly prayed over me and sent me on my way with a hug.  Of course we got funny looks from the people in the waiting room because here was this short black lady with crazy natural hair and this tall white man with a bald head and sleeve tattoos on both arms sharing about God, praying and hugging in the waiting room of a medical office.  Talk about angels on earth.

I’ve heard of people having encounters like this but I’d never experienced one myself until today.  It truly made my day.  Just when I thought I was going to have a bad day and stress out over this appointment, God sent this angel to cross my path.  My whole day changed in just a few short minutes.

Trying to let God lead the way…:)

 

Granting Grace

After nearly thirteen years together sometimes he just works my last nerve!  Last night I was frustrated to no end with my Love so I decided to leave the house to get some air.  I needed to go to Wal-Mart anyway but then I figured since Chick-fil-a was right next to Wal-Mart I deserved a cookies & cream milkshake…heaven on earth!

At the light while waiting to pull out of my subdivision, still fuming, I was going over the events of the past few minutes.  Even though I was in the car by myself and no one would have known, I was silently praying to God to help control my anger as to not start cursing that man out verbally or in the quiet corners of my mind.  

Sitting my anger at that light I clearly heard God say, “grant him grace.”  Ugh!!! God has been doing that a lot lately.  Just jumping into my thoughts, reminding me that in order to complete my circle not only do I have speak my faith, I also have to act my faith.

Grace is one of those words we hear so often that we tend to brush it aside when we are frustrated or angry.  In general, we all know what grace means but in all things Christ-like we have a choice in whether or not we use it.

Like I said, I know generally what grace means but I decided to look it up anyway so that I could make sure it was really grace God wanted me to extend in this current situation with my Love. (Won’t we try to find a way not to do what God tells us to do?  The flesh is weak!)

By definition, grace is the unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.

In reading the definition, it was the word unmerited that stood out the most so, I looked it up too.

Unmerited – not adequately earned or deserved.

I meditated over that word for quite sometime before I started this post.  No one and I mean no one, not even I, deserve grace.  If I were totally honest I know without a doubt that I sometimes say, do, think and act in ways that anger or frustrate God yet, even though I did absolutely nothing to earn or deserve it, I EXPECT God to grant me grace.  To forgive me, bless me and love me no matter what.  So who am I to not give to others what God so lovingly and freely gives to me each and every moment of my life?

I had the most enlightening drive to Wal-Mart! I also enjoyed my milkshake but then went home with a better attitude, helped my son with an online exam, hugged my Love and peacefully went to sleep.

Learning how to listen so that I can listen to learn.