Just Me

I was born a fighter.  I’m sure God must have known what I’d endure over my lifetime and He just decided to build me to last.  I can remember the exact day life as I’d known it had changed.  I was in seventh grade and I just knew.  That morning, I woke up a confused, withdrawn, sad and very angry child.  That was all I could think to be at that time.  I had lots of questions but no one I trusted to answer them so I learned to be silent.  I let my attitude and anger speak for me.  I often heard people say, “what’s wrong with her”, yet no one asked me directly.

Adults are funny that way.  Instead of facing issues directly, they make excuses for why children behave a certain way or they choose to ignore it altogether.  Getting to the heart of the matter may shine light on their own insecurities so they teach children to be quiet and what children learn to do is suffer in silence. What we all end up with are generational curses that span decades.  Children who learn to be silent become adults who often suffer through abusive relationships, allow anger to fuel promiscuity, develop mental heath issues or other toxic, unhealthy problems.  The cycle continues until one brave soul decides to break the curse.

 

Very few people know my story.  For me, there has to be a need to share it.  I have to know that the person who hears it will benefit from it in some way.  Other than that, they are mere words spoken with no direction or path.  As I’ve gotten older and have had the opportunity to share my story, I usually hear one of two things, “how have you not lost your mind” and “you should write a book.”  I always laugh because there was a time when I thought I had “lost my mind.”  In order to cope with all that I had endured up to that point in my life, I simply became someone else.  Due to the fact that I’d lost my identity at such a young age, through my anger and frustration, I learned to be the person everyone expected me to be.  Yet, I never felt quite right.  I didn’t have balance.

I lived my life in this crazy limbo until I was twenty-eight years old.  I had the privilege to meet this great lady, whom I affectionately refer to as Shug, at a point when my anger and false persona was causing more grief than help.  She literally spoke life into me.  Over the course of about a year, she changed my life and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that I’m still riding today.  She gave me direction which is something I hadn’t had since I was about twelve years old.  She asked the hard questions, expected truthful answers, pressed and pushed until I was ready cut her out of my life forever.  I am thankful and grateful that she never quit.  Prior to Shug, I thought my anger made me a fighter.  She helped me to see that my true resilience, perseverance and innate ability to believe that there is more to me and my life than what people see or may perceive is what makes me a fighter.

It’s just in me to keep pushing.  I don’t quit.  When I look back over my life and reflect on all that I have lived through, the fires I’ve walked through and all those who told me I’d never amount to anything I think, “wow, look at that! If that didn’t stop me…nothing will.”  And I don’t quit!  Everyday is not my best day and I’m not always as positive as I should be.  I have my moments.  I cry, scream and if you catch me on a good day, I might even throw something.  However, I’ve learned not to stay in that place of anger because no one can get a level head when they are fueled with anger.  When my anger begins to subside, I pray, listen and plan.  (I’m learning to pray in my anger.  Not all the way there yet.)  I encourage myself and remind this girl that she is a fighter.

Through it all, I’ve always come out better than I went in.  Tension, challenges and struggles will produce growth if you don’t quit.

Planted but not buried…😊

 

Past, Present and Future

Normally, it takes me all of a few hours to write a post.  Once a topic, thought or interesting conversation comes to me, my juices start flowing and I just start writing.  However, I’ve been pouring over this post for about a week.  I knew what I wanted to convey but it was coming to me in weird pieces and I just couldn’t get the wording to make sense.  Anyhow, I’m going to give it to you the best I can and hopefully it will make some kind of sense 🙂

My mom used to say that the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Of course as a child I had no idea what that meant but as I’ve gotten older I think I have a little bit of an idea as to what my mom’s sentiment might mean. As adults we live and hope that we can learn from our mistakes in order to do better.  However, what happens when we don’t learn from those mistakes? I guess this is how things can actually stay the same.

I got permission from my friend to tell this story because my mom’s little saying popped right into my head as she and I met for breakfast to talk over a week ago and I thought it was absolutely the perfect way to describe what she’s dealing with.  So, this friend has been married for over fifteen years.  She and her husband have three children all under ten years old.  Her husband, as far as I can tell and from what she says, is a cool dude.  Works hard, tries to spoil her as best he can and provides her with a pretty good life.  For the most part, she’s happy.  Unfortunately, she has a penchant for having male friends. Sometimes these friendships have been more than just friendships.

This has obviously caused a serious strain on her marriage which is what we were discussing over breakfast.  Although they have been to counseling, at her husband’s request, she has not made much progress in seeing how her “friendships” are effecting her marriage or what she needs to do in order to cut those ties.  I’ve known this girl for years.  I love her dearly but she’s as wrong as two left shoes and I had no problem telling her that.  In knowing her and talking to her that day, I could clearly see how situations she dealt with as a child are affecting her relationship with her husband and as long as she refuses to shed light on and talk about those issues she will never be free to be the wife her husband needs.

Her life and her story also puts in my mind generational curses and how they can impact so many lives for so many years.  If no one ever stands up to acknowledge what’s wrong in the family and talk about those family secrets they will inevitable eat away at the very fabric of all those involved.  Because I’ve known her so long, I know that this situation didn’t just start with her.  Her mother had the same exact issue in her marriage and story has it that her grandmother had the exact same issue in her marriage.

I almost can’t feel too bad for my girl though because as a grown woman she can make the decision to make a better choice so that this doesn’t continue to carry forth to impact her children.  Instead of being afraid of what may come out as a result of her talking about and dealing with the issues of her past, she can make a lifetime of difference for herself and her family by openly and honestly taking on that challenge.

 

Love yourself enough to take on the challenge… 🙂

 

 

Refreshed

It took a little while but this morning I was able to complete my 90-Day study of Awaken by Priscilla Shirer.  I love the format in which this book is written.  Each day begins with a scripture and then a short discussion followed by time to write down your thoughts.  If you are looking for a short daily devotional with high impact, I would definitely recommend this book.

On Monday, when I realized that I was almost done with Awaken, I stopped at my local Lifeway Christian bookstore to find my next bible study jewel.  I had no idea what I wanted to read/study next so I browsed the shelves for about an hour trying to find a book I was hoping would speak to my mind, spirit and soul.  I thumbed through all of the authors I am familiar with but nothing felt quite right.  I then turned my attention to authors I had not read before.  Low and behold I came across a book titled Craving Connection by (in)courage.  (in)courage, I have since come to know, was founded by Dayspring as an online community for women to share stories about their every day lives with God.

I purchased this little gem and brought it home.  I am looking forward to cracking it open in the morning and taking the next step toward building an even closer, deeper relationship with my heavenly Father.

On to greater heights...😊

Summer Break

Summer Break

School has been out for a couple of weeks now.  Just as I do every summer, I planned a long laundry list of things I would like to get done.  I love my lists!  I make them for everything.  Mostly for helping me to not forget.  Having a busy life can prove to be quite the challenge when thoughts and ideas are constantly running through your mind.  Therefore, a pad of paper is always somewhere close to me.

The funny thing is, even with all of my lists, there are still somethings that just seem not to get done.  I had high hopes to accomplish a great deal this summer but I seemed to be focused more on having fun and enjoying my time off rather that looking at my summer list.  But, it’s all good!  I do not plan to beat myself up about the things I don’t finish.  For me, what’s most important is being healthy, enjoying my family and enjoying life.  Finding balance is always a challenge, summer break or not.

The key to this list thing is to never, ever give up.  No matter how many times you have to transfer one or two items from an old list to a new one, never give up! One of the things on my summer list that I did actually start was a summer bible study of The Armor of God series by Priscilla Shirer.  In this study I am learning that each and everyday we are all afforded the opportunity to grow and change.  For some that may be spiritually, for others it may be physically or mentally.  No matter what that growth or change may be, the only way it will happen is if we never give up.

Just like with my lists, I am fully aware that I may not be able to accomplish everything I have planned for my life in the time frame I set for myself.  However, what I am most aware of and what I believe is that all things happen in God’s timing and within his plan for my life.  Now that doesn’t mean I get to simply sit back and hope, that somehow, what I’d like to see and do with my life will just happen.  I have to be working toward my goals little by little and day by day.  Giving up will almost certainly guarantee that any hopes and dreams I have will not come to fruition.

So, let me leave you with this…enjoy your summer!  Try to make better choices in eating, drink lots of water, try to get in at least thirty minutes of exercise each day, rest, enjoy family and friends, and be happy!  Check in on your list of things to do from time to time but don’t be upset if you don’t get it all done in a day. Remember to pray, remember to smile and most of all just be you!

Loving Summer…:)

The Brighter Side

The Brighter  Side

 

I was speaking with a friend of mine recently.  She and I talked at length about some personal things she has been going through.  For the most part, I simply sat and listened.  As she talked, thoughts ran through my mind about a few ways she could probably fix a situation or two she had mentioned.  What kept me from chiming in is a promise I made to myself a long time ago to not interrupt someone who was in the middle of sharing with me what they felt were trying or difficult situations.

I had a few challenges as I was growing up.  One of the things that bothered me most was when I tried to talk to someone, a friend or family member about my challenges they didn’t actually listen to what I was saying.  A number of things happened that made me never want to talk to them again.  I was either interrupted while I talked, given some off-handed solution to the situation, told that as time passed it would work itself out or to simply not worry about it.  Nine times out of ten, none of those things worked.  Common sayings or general statements like that don’t help anybody.  As I have grown, I have come to realize that when my friends come to me with problems or frustrations, what they really want is for someone to listen.  They don’t want solutions, feedback or extra conversation.  They just want to be heard.  So, I do my best to keep the promise I made to myself to not interrupt or give unsolicited advice.

If asked, at a moments notice, I know that I could probably think of all the things I felt went wrong in my life or situations I thought were much too difficult for me to handle.  There are definitely some things, if given the chance, I would go back and change.  Well, since that is not an option, I focus on what I can do differently now that I am older and hopefully wiser.  When given the opportunity, by request, to share my thoughts with friends who are experiencing a difficult time, here are some things I often share:

  1.  The thing you feed the longest is the thing that is the strongest.  Be aware of the activity going on inside your mind.  Basically, when we constantly turn over in our minds the problem or situation we are going through, the longer it takes to see a solution or a way out. The more we think about it, the more it takes root in our minds and in our spirit; therefore, the longer it will take to get rid of.  So, be aware of how much you feed the problem.
  2.   Pray and pray often.  Make prayer apart of your daily routine.  I like to have my quiet moment, meditation and prayer time first thing in the morning.  For me, this helps to start my day with a positive purpose.  Often I read a scripture or reflect on something that stays with me and helps me to stay focused and purpose driven all day.  When the tough times come, my mind and spirit are prepared to deal with the issues in a more relaxed and positive way.
  3.   If prayer is not your thing, try positive affirmations and gratitude.  Use index cards, sticky notes or whatever writing material you are comfortable with to write down quotes, positive thoughts or things that you are grateful for.  Put these where you can see them throughout your day to remind you of the things that are going right in your life and you will be less likely to focus on the things that aren’t going so great.
  4.  Shift your mental thoughts.  When your mind starts to wander to those things and situations that are overwhelming you or causing you frustration, force your thoughts to something positive.  Deliberately, shift your mental thoughts to something you enjoy or a goal you’ve set for yourself.

While, I know that there is no quick fix to any problem or situation, the goal is to know and understand that there will be situations and issues that will cause us to struggle.  But, what we want to do is be so prepared that when they do come they do not cause damage to our mental health with depression or stress.  Nor to our physical health with weight gain or joint pain.  Find those things in life that you enjoy and that make you happy.  Do those things and do them often. Build up your positives so that your negatives don’t overtake you.

Finding the brighter side…😊

 

Giving God a Break

Ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go right?  No matter how hard or how much you’ve prayed, it seems like God is wearing ear plugs or something because absolutely nothing is getting through?  That was me all this week.  Everything that could go wrong did!  Bad news was common place, my oldest was on one, the one Christmas gift I ordered online (and would like to send to my niece and nephew in California) was sent to the wrong post office and has yet to be rerouted and I just I felt as if I were at my whits end.  This time of year can also be a bit challenging at work as students begin to get that “Winter Break is almost here” feeling and need to be redirected a little more than usual.  It’s moments like these when I feel like I just need to give God a break.  Not out of anger, but sheer exhaustion.  I have so much going on that I begin to feel like more of a burden to him than a grateful, happy daughter.

So, in being very honest, when I decide to “give God a break”, I stop having quiet times, I take down my prayer wall and put away my bible and journal.  Now that ought to fix things, right?  Ha!  It is in these moments when I am reminded of God most.  All of a sudden I am surrounded by the thoughts of all God has taught me and shown me during my morning quiet times, prayers and meditation.  I am reminded that I am a chosen daughter, exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty (Eph. 2:10).  It is these moments that I am reminded that prayer and my daily relationship with God is what makes me aware of all the resources, strength and protection God has already placed at my side (2 Kings 6:16).

So, you see, even when it seems that the worst of times is upon you, your daily study of God’s word during those still, dark mornings when you are barely awake and trying to get in a study before all breaks loose in the house with kids running to get ready for school, the significant other yelling for his lunch and morning coffee, the new grand baby crying for his morning milk and the dog needing to be let out…your daily time with God is what prepares you for these not so great times that are sure to come.  Be reminded that it is in these times when the importance of building a relationship with God shows through.  I encourage you to have a quiet time every morning.

I am very grateful that my “breaks” do not last long at all!  How can they?  Just when I thought God was not listening, he seems to start talking non-stop and there is no way to simply ignore God’s voice and tugging at your heart.  After a day or two of trying my best to “take a break” (like I was really going to win) my bible finds its way back onto my nightstand, my letters, thoughts and prayers go back up on the wall and my quiet times take on a life of their own.  I am very grateful that I have a Father who never turns his back on me.

 

Enjoy your day!  Wishing my mommy in heaven a happy birthday today! 🙂

Chapter Eleven – God Calls Us to Faith

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is a story in this chapter about a young man who wanted to be the very best lumberjack.  Although he tried everyday to beat the goal he had set for himself, he always seemed to come up short.  One day a much older and wiser man asked the young man about the frustration he saw on his face.  After the young man explained his dilemma, the older man said, “I can tell that you’ve been swinging your ax with everything you’ve got but I can’t help wondering, when was the last time you sharpened your ax?”

How many times a day do we venture out into the world with a dull ax or should I say a dull sword for us believers in Christ?  Just like the young man in this story we set goals for ourselves and the lives we want to live.  We get up each day working our plan and planning our work yet sometimes find ourselves coming up short.  We’ve been working the same plan (ax or sword) for the longest time and even though we are finding that it is no longer getting the job done, we haven’t stopped to re-evaluate the plan (sharpen the ax or sword).  Are there areas in your life where you feel you’ve been using a dull ax or sword?  If so, what is the best way for you to sharpen that spiritual ax or sword?

God calls each of us to have faith.  His word gives us the ability to strengthen and grow in our faith.  When we don’t take the time to read and study God’s word regularly (daily) we are simply swinging at our struggles and challenges with a dull sword.  God’s word is full of promises that sharpen us as followers of Jesus. (p. 70).

 

Put on the full armor of God, Ephesians 6…:)