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  That morning, I woke up a confused, withdrawn, sad and very angry child.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…😊

 

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…:)

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.

 

Welcome 2017

As 2016 has come to an end, just like my winter break, I spent a few moments last night and today reflecting on my life this past year.  To be perfectly honest, I am just grateful to be alive and as far as I know healthy.  I have my family, I have a job, I have a roof over my head and I woke up this morning in my right mind. Can’t ask for much more than that.  While I didn’t reach all of the goals I’d set for myself in 2016, I did make some very big gains in my personal, profession and spiritual life.  Of course, there were some good times and a whole bunch of not-so good times but all in all it was a very good year.

I am just as equally proud of my bad days as I am of my good days.  Over the years I have come to understand that without bad days I would never learn how strong, dynamic, resourceful and creative I am.  All the things I say I can do and will do won’t mean as much if I don’t have some struggle along the way.  I put forth every effort to live the life that my parents dreamed for me and one that will leave a legacy/impact that will make those around me proud to have known me.  I don’t always get it right.  I don’t always handle challenging situations appropriately.  However, every morning that God wakes me up, I open my eyes with prayer in my heart and I am grateful for another opportunity to get it right.  I’ve learned how to say, “I’m sorry” even if I may not be in the wrong because my relationships with my family and friends is important to me.  I’ve learned to forgive even when I don’t necessarily “feel” like it because I know forgiveness is for my betterment and well being, and not someone else.

There are so many things to look forward to that I didn’t spend too much time looking back.  We want to reflect not dwell!

Expecting great things in 2017…:)

 

 

 

 

Why I Pray

Why I Pray

After spending about fifteen minutes complaining about her life and all that was going wrong in it, she asked me, “how do you stay so positive?” My response, “I pray.” Then she asked, very sarcastically, “why, why even bother?”  To say that I was shocked or even bothered by her asking why would definitely not be telling the truth.  To be perfectly honest, I am no longer bothered or agitated when people question my ability to stay positive or, in this case, why I bother praying.  I actually thought it was rather ironic that she would question my positive attitude amidst her complaining, frustration and negative attitude.  Now, are there times when I’m not so positive…absolutely.  But those times are happening further and further apart.  The older I get, the more I come to realize what is really important in my life.  For me, that is my faith, my relationship with God, my family and my true friends.

Each day I wake up, turn on my television or browse the internet, I am being constantly fed the negativity that has begun to blanket this world.  Here and there, I will find a few newsworthy bright spots.  However, it seems that the negative definitely outweighs the positive.  So here is my response to her “why” question: The way I see it, I can continue to contribute to the negativity of this world by complaining about all the things that are going wrong with the world, with my life, with my job, my family, etc., and in the process negatively impacting my own health and peace of mind or I can pray.  I can pray for peace, positive outcomes, a clear heart and mind.  I can pray for my family, for my children and for my students.  I can pray to see the goodness in others rather than assuming the worst about them.  For me, prayer helps me to keep the truth about my real identity in constant, unbroken focus before me.  Prayer also makes me aware of all of the resources and strength and protection God has already placed at my side.  It works for me.  It may not be for others but if you find yourself in a constant negative state, you might want to give prayer a try.

Know your worth…:)

 

 

 

Truth and Friendship

I have had the same best friend for the past 34 years.  She and I have been together a very long time. We met each other in church one afternoon.  We were about nine years old at the time.  We didn’t get along very well at first but something about her grew on me and I guess something about me grew on her.  I began spending weekends at her house.  Weekends turned into extended holiday weekends.  Extended holiday weekends turned into week long vacations and those turned into staying entire summer breaks.  I can remember one summer being so excited to stay with her and her family that I didn’t even wait for my mother to get off work to drop me off.  I packed this big old blue suitcase then went and stood out at the bus stop.  We lived in San Francisco at the time and she lived on a hill. There were no cellphones back then so I couldn’t call her for help dragging that suitcase up that hill.  But as I rounded the corner to her house, there she was waiting in the window.  She ran down to help me drag the suitcase in the house.  It was the best summer ever!

Over the years our friendship has remained strong.  I talk to her almost everyday and I try to see her at least once a year since we live on opposite coasts. Although we’ve grown as women and changed in many ways our friendship, love and respect for one another has never diminished.  I think one of the reasons why our relationship works as well as it does is because no matter what is going on in our lives, 1) we are always there for each other and 2)  we make it a point to always tell each other the truth.  Sometimes that truth hurts because it’s not always what we want to hear but being a true friend means that sometimes you have to hurt the feelings of the one you love in order to help them grow into better people.

Personally, I am grateful to have her as a friend because when I’m wrong, she’s not afraid to tell me I’m wrong.  What I have come to know is that when she does put me in my place, it comes from her heart and love for me.  She doesn’t want me going around being blinded by my own rose colored glasses.  She knows just as well as I do that that isn’t going to help me to be the best me I can be.

So, let me just leave you with this, don’t co-sign on your friends’ foolishness.  If you know that what they’re saying, doing or how they’re acting is not in line with their authentic selves, tell them the truth but make sure that truth is coming from a place of love.   As long as you are co-signing their foolishness, they will continue to lie to themselves and live a life that is not purposeful at all.

Bringing out the best in ourselves and each other…:)

Chapter Three – Truth

God is Able by Priscilla Shirer

One of the things I love most about reading is that it relaxes the mind.  At least it does for me.  Reading is one of those things that can stretch you beyond what you are used to and allow you to think beyond what you see before you.  In reading this book, so far, I feel that I have been stretched beyond what I am used to. Some times you have to hear or read things from various points of view in order to develop a clear understanding of what you are trying to take in.  As I began reading chapter three, I was drawn to author’s discussion about things staying the same.  I could totally relate to those few pages because change is hard for all of us.  If things could just stay the same life would be much simpler, right?  Simple yes, but how much would we have grown from one month to the next or one year to the next if we were never challenged with difficult circumstances or situations?  If the world around us stays the same then so would we.  I don’t know about you, but I am much better at my current age then I was say, just five years ago.

Chapter three brings us around to understanding the truth about God’s word and how its God’s word that will help us to navigate this crazy world we live in.  The truth is…once we let go of thinking how things should have or could have been and simply trust that anything is possible with God we can be free.  We can be free from putting limits on God’s ability and be in awe of His true strength and power.  When we understand the truth about God’s word and His promises, problems and situations that we would normally view as negative and depressing become easier to bare.  I love the sentence on page 63 that reads, “He is constantly seeking to bring about the finest result in your circumstances, even though His methods are not always human-approved or understood.”  How God will bring us out of a situation is not always for us to understand.  Trusting and leaning on the truth of His word is what we should be doing daily.

Feel free to share your thoughts about Chapter Three in the comments below…