Saturday, December 26, 2009
I was in Bay Shore, NY with my mom, dad and two sisters attending the funeral of my mother’s youngest brother when the thought struck me and I was able to see the two words mesh together for what I believe was their intended purpose.
We drove up from Richmond to connect with my parents and sister in Maryland before heading to New York. I left work, kids, and holiday parties unattended, packed a bag and got on the road. After all, family is first in my book. My mother was taking this pretty hard. It was her baby brother. He was the youngest of 10 children and she was number 9. They had grown up together and were very close. We have all been anticipating the death of another brother who is suffering from cancer and so this was a surprise. She was emotionally drained from another death the preceding week so we were all very much aware of her fragility and it was our desire to be there with her and for her. We wanted to comfort her, support her and provide whatever we could by way of our physical presence.
It was during this time of closeness (10 hours in a car with 5 people) that the meaning of the words came together. She took great comfort in our being there and joy in our presence as we caught up on each other's lives, reminisced about the past, both the good and the bad, and during the silence - each deep in our own thoughts, allowed the Holy Spirit to have his way with us.
We attended the wake and to my great surprise when they opened the floor for comments my mother was the first to get up there and say something. She said we drew strength from the family and those in attendance. No one would have known earlier her brokenness, her heartache and her desire to just curl up in a ball and wish it all away or better yet to be with her brother.
I was blessed by the words from the crowd as they got up and recalled what my uncle meant in their lives. I saw tears stop flowing and smiles spreading, we had a few moments of deep laughter and there was much joy in the room from the memories that will last us the remainder of our lives.
One of the final speakers was a 10 year old boy who summed up the events of the evening like no other. He realized from all that was said that he was missing out on something great in his life and he was sad. He told us to stop taking people for granted. To embrace them while they are here and to find the time to be around them and learn all that we could from them because when they are gone, they are gone and something great is missed.
Wow, from the mouth of babes. Those words resonated around that room and soaked into our hearts. We applauded this young man for his words and the spirit in which they were delivered.
That young man did not realize that he had not missed out in what my uncle taught us during our lives but that during that moment he just displayed for us something that my uncle will always be remembered for - CHARACTER.
And from that we all felt comfort and joy.
I pray that you all had a very Merry CHRISTmas! Our morning was great. We had blueberry and triple berry muffins, bacon, juice and milk. We listened to Christmas music of all sorts and they got the biggest kick out of the Jackson 5 singing "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". We brushed our teeth and settled down to read the CHRISTmas story in Luke 2 and talk about the GREATEST GIFT OF ALL - JESUS CHRIST! We shared our thoughts and feelings about this season and the reason we celebrate it and then the mayhem began.
They opened their stockings from us and big brother and then we moved to the living room where the tree and their other gifts awaited them and dug in. Paper was flying everywhere, there were squeals of delight, groans at the gag gifts and lots of love and joy flowing around the room as CHRISTmas carols played in the background. All too soon the gifts were all unwrapped and the mood was somber. Is this all???
My heart stopped for a moment at those words and I gathered them around to pick up the wrapping paper, etc. and talked to them once again about it not being about presents and gifts but about Jesus Christ. They nodded and wandered off to start opening everything and the day ensued with a lot of - Can I open this? Can you help me open that? as I cooked our CHRISTmas dinner. The aroma of the ham, yams and turkey cooking filled the air and lots of thoughts filled my mind.
I decided that we have had enough of the commercialism of CHRISTmas in our lives and that next year will be much different. I know they are relatively young but this is the best time to start. We have already reached the point where they don't believe in Santa Claus as a real live person, rather he is a symbol of the "spirit of giving". So I've decided to take some very wise advise and limit the number of gifts we give our children to three apiece much like the offering of the three wise men. Don't applaud me for this great undertaking because it is not an original thought, it came from Sheila Wray Gregoire, Canadian columnist, author, speaker, and mom.
"... several years ago we started a new gift giving tradition with my children. We call it the “Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh” ritual, where they each get three gifts, and nothing more. The gold gift is something they want. The frankincense gift is something they need, like socks. And the myrrh gift is something to nurture their souls. It could be a journal, or a book, or a CD, or a movie. It’s something that reminds them of their purpose here on earth, or encourages them to think, to write, and to pray about what’s important."
This way I know that all the joy, fun and celebrating will focus mainly around CHRIST and not the gifts. It will also add joy back into our lives as we won't feel the pressure to buy, buy and buy gifts that will lose their luster within 48 hours of opening them and the headache of paying for them into the new year. Although we did the Angel tree this year and sponsored a boy and a girl I didn't let them in on the process but next year we will let them pick out the gifts for the children we choose to sponsor so they can start to feel the joy that comes from buying for others - giving not just receiving.
How was your CHRISTmas?
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
My heart has been sorely distressed at the actions of my co-workers as they clamored, clawed and back-bit to retain their positions. I was caught in a tug of war, without my knowledge, and strung along until I said enough; just tell me the truth and let me move on. Don't take the last three years and toss them in the trash because you just don't know how to come out with it.
It is an unspoken secret that I am leaving but not one for public consumption so the phone calls still come in and I have to pass them off to the new executive assistant unless she happens to be out, then I get to handle it.
The transition from Queen B to "low man on the totem pole" has been very humbling. The way my co-workers treat me now has caused my feelings to be hurt on more than one occasion. To literally sit for eight hours and be ignored is very difficult to take, as you watch everyone around you go about their daily routine and you are stuck in limbo. Some days I am extremely busy though, as I perform tasks delegated down from on high that no one else wants or feels like isn't their job to do. I have had to swallow my pride, smile and submit myself to the tasks because that is what Jesus would do.
God did not create in me a spirit of one-upmanship. I never want to succeed in life by standing on another person's head or climbing over their back. I don't believe that "anything goes." Let my work ethic, my morals and integrity speak for me. Not my popularity, my ability to brown-nose or submit myself to acts that leave a bitter taste in my mouth or the inability to look myself in the mirror each day. So to that end, I am grateful to be leaving but it has been a lesson from God I won't soon forget.
Now I am trying to figure out where I am and what is next. Am I at a crossroad, a fork or a crosswalk? I haven't come up with anything yet, but I have been petitioning God for an answer. Hence, the reality check from the questions asked in my earlier post.
Dictionary.com defines these three words as follows:
Crossroad: The place where roads intersect. A point at which a vital decision must be made. A main center of activity.
Fork: To divide into branches. To turn as indicated.
Crosswalk: A path marked off on a street to indicate where pedestrians should cross.
What do you think?
Yes, I am at a point where a vital decision has to be made - where do I look for another job? Do I stay in the field I've been in or is this the time for me to branch out to another area where my passion lies; or is this a path that will lead me from one side of the street to the other?
It's kind of exciting but a little disconcerting at the same time. I KNOW that God has a plan for my life. I KNOW that He has it worked out. I don't like not knowing or not being involved in the process of working it out though. That is a bitter pill to swallow. Surrendering my life totally unto Him like that is so very hard because I am a VERY independent person. I have worked hard all of my life to take care of me and mine. I take my responsibilities to heart and so I am struggling with my inability to move left or right, to cross over or apply in this arena or that until I hear from God.
My thoughts are centered on how will my bills get paid? How will we eat? What about insurance? What am I going to do with all this time on my hands? I am not very good at being still or idle. I dread it and would subject myself to a root canal rather than not have my life planned out each day from beginning to end.
He is stretching me far beyond anything I could have imagined. When I prayed to Him, Lord here am I, use me, shape me, mold me and have your way with me I didn't think that it would have the effects it is having. I meant those words, still do and still pray them daily but it sure does bring new meaning to be careful what you pray for. It will be difficult to walk this out, to sit back and wait on the Lord. I am already chomping at the bit and I still have until the 31st to be here at my job. But I will trust in the Lord and wait on him as instructed in Psalms 27, 37 & 40 and Isaiah 30:18-21 because He is my source, my strength, my all and more than anything I want to go and do what it is He has predestined for me.
I finally want to do it right and stop doing it my way and having to pay for the mistakes I make by not inquiring of Him before I make a move, say a thing or do a thing.
So in the end, I guess it doesn't matter whether it is a crossroad, a fork or a crosswalk. What matters is what He chooses for it to be and for me to be obedient to whatever it turns out to be.
Monday, December 7, 2009
After training last week I stayed behind and talked with Sam, our facilitator, and we had what I would call a life changing conversation. It started out easy going, casual and natural. We talked about her life, her challenges, work, dreams, etc. and then we started discussing my life and that's when it got real personal and uncomfortable for me really fast.
Her questions were thought provoking, soul stirring and made me want to put my hands over my ears and start saying "lalalalala, I can't hear you." Seriously, I wanted to turn away from them. They weren't mean spirited or meant to hurt. They were made to provoke me into thought and then action, of this I am sure. It would put me outside of my comfort zone; cause me to have to view myself, my life, my thoughts, dreams and desires in a different light. It would mean giving up the safety of my "infanthood - crawling" and step into my "adulthood - walking" with Christ on a whole new level. 1 Corinthians 13:10-12
It would require me to break out of the box, shut down the negative thoughts or no thought mentality and start viewing and thinking of things from a different perspective. I know the scriptures, I know the truth but I've never tried to apply it to me because I never thought of myself as worthy. My hopes, dreams and desires are mostly centered on things for others. That is how I get joy - serving, being behind the scenes and watch and pushing others to excel and reach for their dreams, hopes and desires.
So what could she have asked that caused such a stir you say? I'm glad you asked. She asked me:
1. Why Not Me? Meaning why couldn't great, wonderful, supernatural blessings happen in my life. Why would they?
2. What are the desires of your heart??? Desires, what are desires? I had to look it up to make sure I was understanding what she was asking. Desire - seeking something to make you a better Christian. The longing in your heart that you are willing to commit unto God's will to receive or achieve it. Wow!
3. Why shouldn't you have hopes, dreams and desires bigger than you can imagine? Because I'm not worthy; I think small, dream small and live small because that is all I know.
4. Why shouldn't you expect God to bless you abundantly above and beyond anything you can comprehend or be able to receive? Again my own personal belief of worthiness and because it has never happened to the extent that I could attribute it to God abundantly blessing me. There have been times when things have happened and I thanked Him for the blessing but at the same time it was rationalized out as to how I came about receiving it. I've never had something given to me on a great magnitude that was one of those things that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was a supernatural blessing.
5. Why do you allow yourself to think small and remain limited in your blessings? I've never been taught how to think big. My mind has never been exposed to open, limitless thinking. I am driven by order and organization.
6. Where do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now? Honestly, I don't know. My by the book answer would be "Wherever He wants me to be." But I don't have any specifics to put to that question.
Then she challenged me to have a heart to heart conversation with God and ask Him the following questions:
1. God, who am I in you?
2. Who are you developing me into?
3. God, show me who I am, reveal to me that person - introduce me to myself!
4. Lord, how do you want me to move forward?
5. Where do you want me to go?
6. What do you want me to do?
As I have been working through this conversation the following scriptures have been given to me. There seems to be the recurring theme of faith and belief.
I have faith and I believe but I don't think I have used the two in tandem. I can believe for others but have rarely believed for myself and my faith too has also been predicated on things for others (my children, extended family, friends, etc.). The majority of my prayers have been petitions and intercessions for others with little thought to self. In some ways this saddens me to think that I have put so little of myself out there.
That conversation led me to the knowledge that I have a great deal of work to do to be able to answer those questions in a way that is satisfactory to myself much less my Heavenly Father. But I desire to do so; therefore, I am putting myself out there to work on changing my thought pattern, to opening myself up to believe some things for myself and have faith that they shall come to pass.
Bishop told us that when we speak the Word, we are speaking life into a situation predicated on our faith. That God's words are spirit and life. John 6:63
I believe that and know it to be true yet have not spoken life in to my own world. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and it is as though by not speaking I have allowed death, stagnation and nothingness permeate my world.
Amazing what is revealed in a conversation so small and unexpected yet I know that God orchestrated that moment and the revelations that have flowed from that conversation just as He created me in my mother's womb and allowed me to be born at such a time as this. (Psalms 139:13-16)
"Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." Mark 11:24
"Delight yourself also in the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:4-5
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarded of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;" "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6 & 4:19
"...faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17
He met us right where we were and filled each of us with what we were in need of; some of us needed comfort, peace, and love. Other's needed assurance of His presence and a Word that touched us to our very core letting us know that He has it all under control and is working it out; and all of us needed his goodness and mercy to carry us through the rest of that evening.
What really amazed me was that He used me to facilitate these results. My heart leaps with joy to think that I could be an instrument in His hands to carry out such an assignment. I had no idea that the promptings that kept my stomach and heart all aflutter would provoke everyone to open up and receive what He had to pour out into us that evening. I marvel at how he uses the "least of these" (me) to do his work.
I arrived a few minutes late and quickly got absorbed in what was being taught. I gained a great deal of wisdom from our teacher's impartation and felt blessed to be among them. As we were closing, the prompting to speak what was on my heart increased until I was sure everyone could hear the thudding in my chest and see the tears welling up in my eyes. I kept my head down at first and just started talking. Out spewed words I had no idea were there and they just continued until I stopped and the next one started and so on and so forth until each one of us had had our turn to open up and release several times over. It was so awesome to witness and be a partaker of all at the same time.
There is much going on in the world today that causes us to feel overwhelmed, deeply saddened and lost; even if we know Christ, because we are human and tend to go with our feelings and not with the Spirit that dwells within.
The Word says that when we release our cares on Him and take up His yoke, our burdens go from our shoulders onto His and our load is lessened. "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)
I know to some it sounds crazy but for the believers, the witnesses to this miracle, the transfer of our burdens to Christs' is one of the greatest blessings we can experience - letting go and letting God have our cares is freeing. To "cast our cares upon the Lord" allows Him to have his way in our lives and move in ways we can't fathom. "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Yet time and time again as quickly as we release them we scoop them back up and become heavy laden and burdened all over again. It has been a cycle in my life that is starting to shorten in length. Meaning, I'm not holding on to things as long but releasing them quicker and benefiting from the freedom that comes from not being weighed down under the weight of the problems in my life.
But, there is still much work that needs to be done in me. I am very much a work in progress but I am choosing daily to surrender myself unto Him. Opening myself up to follow His promptings and going where He leads me even if it is out of my comfort zone and into the unknown for I trust Him and believe in His Word. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Thursday, November 26, 2009
First, we thank Him for life. We awoke this morning to sunshine, birds singing and warmer weather. We all have our health and strength and despite whatever differences we experience with each other during the day we love one another.
Secondly, we have the basic necessities in life that so many people take for granted; a home, food, clothes, transportation and jobs.
Thirdly, we are blessed beyond measure and we know that. We are surrounded by our friends and family and at the end of the day that is one of the most important things of all besides the knowledge of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and the love of God.
The extra sleep was welcomed and very much needed. The fire in the oven was a distraction that set me back by a 1/2 hour but no harm was done and I believe these were the best sweet potatoes I've ever made! The vacuum cleaner has served us well and with a house full of kids there are plenty of things it could pick up on any given day that could have caused it to fizzle out. This was my first "small" turkey -12 pounds and it didn't have the pop up letting me know when it was done so I had to go with my instincts... enough said (I don't do much in the "small" arena so I was a little out of my league) and well the refrigerator is 8+ years old and has held up well under 10 kids so I can't complain. The timing sucks but we have a back-up in the basement as we have to have 2 refrigerators and a freezer to keep up with the food needs of the family.
So at the end of the day it is all good. We are full, happy and counting our blessings even as we prepare to hunker down for the evening. The kids are asleep, the house is quiet and we have had a great day.
Thank you Lord.
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I read the Twilight series and enjoyed it for what it was fantasy; but I am a 45 year old woman who has fought plenty of her own demons before coming to the point that Lysa makes so poignantly in her post. I know who loves me unconditionally. I know to seek Him for all of my needs and the deepest desires of my heart but it hasn't always been that way.
Back in the day as I grew up during the 60's we had fairy tales, in the 70's we had Harlequin Romances, in the 80's and 90's it was Sidney Sheldon and Danielle Steele and then came Lifetime TV. Boy meets girl, sweeps girl off her feet and they live happily ever after was branded on my brain and into my heart. Passion and romance abound and it seemed as if it was around every corner except the ones that I turned.
As a child I struggled with issues of being loved and finding love so I became an easy target reading these things. I was caught hook, line and sinker and spent the better part of my life trying to find that perfect relationship that does not exist in the world.
No one told me that there would be hurts and disappointments, abuse, degradation, abandonment and rape. I had no idea that "love" was not a reciprocated feeling; that it was actually predicated on what the other person could get from you and once you became useless to them or unable to fulfill them easily discarded and replaced with the newest model, hair color or body shape that TV exploited. I didn't know that it took hard work, prayer and submission to God's will for us and not our own. I thought that if I loved them, they would love me. I thought that surely someone would come along one day, see me and fall head over heels in love with me and everything would be alright. Little did I know just how far from the truth that was, yet I continued to read my romance novels, watch the chick flicks and dream/hope/pray for the day that my knight in shining armor would arrive.
He never did in the worldly sense but the day I surrendered my life to Christ (totally, not riding the fence) all my dreams came true. He has been my lifeline, my truth, my joy and my strength. Through everything that has transpired since I gave him my life he has been there for me. He has never left me nor forsaken me. I wasn't traded in, up or out for someone new and have never felt the sting of his hand on my body, nor flinched at His Words because they have always been delivered in love and tenderness. He has held me in my darkest hours and carried me from the brink of death many times seen and unseen. He is why I get up in the morning and carry on day after day in spite of what the world throws at me at any given time and if I am ever asked I confess that I love him and desire for my life to be a reflection of His goodness and mercy bestowed upon me.
Flash forward to 2009 and this phenomenon. I have a sixteen year old daughter who wanted to read the series and having read it first allowed her to so that she wouldn't be tempted to go behind my back. She hasn't finished the whole series but she's dying to see New Moon although she hasn't seen the first movie. I've said no because I personally don't want to see the movie but also because of all the hype and drama behind it. It has become something bigger than Harry Potter, High School Musical or any other teen drama in the past few years and I don't want her caught up in it.
We have discussed the realities of relationships and how this saga is "way over the top" and pretty unhealthy in it's portrayal of love and I feel that she understands this and feel blessed that she is not caught up in it like so many other girls but at the same time, if she were lost like I was I could see her making some of the same unhealthy and unwise choices in her life that I made in mine. The difference for her is ME. I am a mother that loves the Lord. I love his Word and stand on it for truth, direction and guidance in raising my children. I take the responsibility He has bestowed upon me very seriously and when I stand before him to give an account on how I raised my children I want him to be pleased with my choices. Not that they were always the right choices because I am in no way perfect but because based on who I am and where I am in my walk with Him they were the best ones I could have made at that time.
My mother didn't talk to me, didn't guide and direct my path and therefore I was allowed to forge ahead into the wilderness without any guidance whatsoever. I promised myself to do better by my children and just like Lysa and all the other women that left comments on her blog know of someone much greater than a mere man that can provide all that my child needs by way of love and relationships, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! It is in Him that I want her to seek, find, embrace and share all the desires of her heart and allow him to lead her to whom He has chosen for her when the time is right.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)
Do you realize how hard it is to break out of your routine and do deliberate acts of kindness? I had no clue; but I function on auto-pilot most of my time so I go, I do, I get and I press on with my daily schedule. Unfortunately, for me that means that I am limited in my worldly interacting with people outside of my job and immediate family.
I come to work and I go home, I have bible study and church. Depending on the needs of the children the rest of my time is spent with them or my husband in and around the house taking care of things. So this kindness thing has caused me to be creative and very conscious of my surroundings so I could see where I could possibly lend a hand out of the ordinary.
I also found it to be a daunting task because by nature I try to be kind and have one of those helpful spirits that is 95% of the time agreeable to assisting anyone any way I can. So with that in mind, I went forth trying to dispense my kindness.
People are skeptical and weary at times at people being nice. Bewildered was also an emotion I encountered and of course anger and frustration from others who were inconvenienced by my kindness also showed up but was quickly dispensed with when grace and mercy over took them.
I am enjoying the challenge and pray that by the time it is all over it will have moved me from auto-pilot to Jesus-pilot where my thoughts and actions are focused on Him and how he would like for me to be aware of what is going on in my world and how I can use that to bring Him the honor and the glory He so rightly deserves.
‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:40 (NKJV)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
In the past my blogs have been about me, my journey with my kids through domestic violence and pretty much everything in between. Now I'm in a new place and things are different. What used to be important to me then isn't now.
God is doing a marvelous work in me and it is causing me to see things clearer than ever before. He has become the focal point of my life. My days start with Him and I try throughout the day to carry Him with me in everything that I do, say or think. Granted I don't always win that battle but to me the important part is that I try. Nothing beats a failure but a try. So if I fail today I start again tomorrow that same way - praise & worship, scripture reading and prayers.
I get great joy out of reading His Word. The verses leap off the page at me and I have a deeper understanding of scriptures I have read over and over during my life. I thirst for His presence and feel lost and out of sorts if I miss my quiet time, church on Wednesday or Sunday. I don't read the same books, watch the same TV shows or even think the same thoughts. My life isn't all about me anymore, it's more about what I can do with it so that He can get the glory.
This isn't some big "transition" in my life. My entire life has been based on a foundation of God, faith in Him, his Word and Jesus Christ. The difference is in me and how I am now using what has been established/inbred in me. I've clung to Him in my darkest moments and can honestly say that I am alive today because of my faith and obedience to Him and his Word. But my day to day living has been about me, my kids, surviving the chaos of my life and enduring to the end. Somewhere in this journey I forgot about joy, hope, dreams and desires that make life worth living. I forgot about the promises for abundance, prosperity and cups overflowing - not with monetary things but with the fruits of the spirit, with peace that surpasses all understanding, with love unconditional. Things that can only come from a deep and intimate relationship with Him.
I spent a lot of time in my early years "looking for love in all the wrong places" and never finding it. I substituted stuff for love - a trip to the mall filled the void left from never feeling "loved", "good enough" or "pretty enough" but once I got back home and put it all away, the void was still there. When I did get into a relationship I thought the person in the relationship was supposed to fill those gaps but it never happened. Time and time again I got hurt, used, abused and left with voids wider and deeper than before. What I wasn't understanding was that no one could fill those voids - no earthly person that is. But God can and has.
I don't long for my husband to make everything better now, my kids won't always be there to keep the loneliness at bay, and friends, family and jobs come and go. There is only one true constant in our lives and that is the love of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. No matter where I am, what is going on, what I need, want and desire, how bad I act or how down in the pits of hell I have allowed myself to descend I am NOT alone! He is with me never leaving nor forsaking me and if I but just reach out, call out or whisper His name He is there.
Earlier this year when I began posting again I was sharing some devotionals and the feelings they stirred in me but then I shied away from that. I started thinking that no one would read it if it was too religious. I didn't want to be preachy or perceived as being greater or having more knowledge than anyone else so I stopped. But the desire to still comment and reflect on what I feel when I read His Words posted by others, read in my daily emails from great resources out in the world or that rise up in my spirit is still there struggling to break free.
It might not do anything for you the readers but it does great things for me. It frees my mind, my thoughts and emotions and opens them up to all sorts of possibilities. The words are freeing to me like wings of an eagle. They allow me to soar where I once just glided. It helps me to reason things out in my life and put things into greater perspective. So I pick up my keyboard and I move forward yet again but in a different direction. One that I feel destined to be on. I hope you'll join me on the flight and may something that is written speak to you, your spirit and your life. May His light and love be reflected in these thoughts and prose is my greatest desire.
There are millions of blogs and you could spend an entire day jumping from one to the other reading about their lives just like the soap operas on TV. I never got caught up in that but I do have a list of about 7 blogs that I visit on a weekly basis.
Lysa Terkeurst from Proverbs 31 Ministry is one of my absolute favorites because she is just so darn open, honest and sincere. If you can't relate to her life in some form or fashion then you're not living in the real world. This woman is "sold out" for Christ like no one I know in that she will shame herself by sharing her dirty laundry to all of us in the bloggy world just so He can get the glory as he continues to mold and shape her into what he desires her to be.
I used to envy her (in a good way - no green-eyed monster lurking over here) and wish I could be just like her (minus the redneck ways!) but several of her posts have made me realize that "No I don't, because I don't want to go through what she has gone through to get what she has." Now if that isn't a lesson for you then I don't know what is!
Anyway, Lysa's post for today just struck a cord with me (more about that in the next post) and so I have jumped on the bandwagon and decided that I too would do the 37 Days of Kindness for Jesus as my gift to Him for his birthday.
I want to challenge you all to do the same but don't let it stop at 37 days, let it become a daily habit to do something kind for someone each and every day. It doesn't have to be a stranger it could be your child, your spouse, or a co-worker. Let His love be expressed through you and the little acts you chose to do each day as you go through this journey called life. If you really want to make it special keep a record of your acts and you will be surprised when you reflect back to see what you have done for Him and how you have been blessed in return.
Let me know how you do! I look forward to the comments.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I received this poem today and although I remember reading it many years ago today it struck me as if I had never read it before. I have not yet reached the point when I have had a good soul / life cleansing cry. In fact, I have yet to master crying for a period longer than 5 minutes; but there is hope for me yet, this I know. One day I too will have my day to cry for all the things that have hurt me, mine and the world in which I live. I revel in knowing that when that day happens that it will be by divine appointment and I will have nowhere to go but up once I am done.
Yesterday I Cried
by Iyanla Vanzant
I came home, went straight to my room,
sat on the edge of my bed,
kicked off my shoes,
unhooked my bra,
and I had myself a good cry.
I'm telling you,
I cried until my nose was running all over
the silk blouse I got on sale.
I cried until my ears were hot.
I cried until my head was hurting so bad
that I could hardly see the pile of
soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet.
I want you to understand,
I had myself a really good cry yesterday.
Yesterday, I cried,
for all the days that I was too busy,
or too tired,
or too mad to cry.
I cried for all the days, and all the ways,
and all the times I had dishonored,
disconnected my Self from myself,
only to have it reflected back to me
in the ways others did to me
the same things I had already done to myself.
I cried for all the things I had given,
only to have them stolen;
for all the things I had asked for that
had yet to show up;
for all the things I had accomplished,
only to give them away,
to people in circumstances,
which left me feeling empty,
and battered and plain old used.
I cried because there really does
come a time when the only thing left
for you to do is cry.
Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because little boys get
left by their daddies;
and little girls get forgotten by their mommies;
and daddies don't know what to do, so they leave;
and mommies get left, so they get mad.
I cried because I had a little boy,
and because I was a little girl,
and because I was a mommy
who didn't know what to do,
and because I wanted my daddy to be there
for me so badly until I ached.
Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because I hurt.
I cried because I was hurt.
I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that
caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there,
the hurt wakes you up.
I cried because it was too late.
I cried because it was time.
I cried because my soul knew that I didn't know
that my soul knew everything I needed to know.
I cried a soulful cry yesterday,
and it felt so good.
It felt so very, very bad.
In the midst of my crying,
I felt my freedom coming,
I cried with an agenda.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
A hater is someone who is jealous and envious and spends all their time trying to make you look small so they can look tall. They are very negative people to say the least. Nothing is ever good enough!
When you make your mark, you will always attract some haters...
That's why you have to be careful with whom you share your blessings and your dreams, because some folk can't handle seeing you blessed...
It's dangerous to be like somebody else... If God wanted you to be like somebody else, He would have given you what He gave them! Right?
You never know what people have gone through to get what they have...
The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but they don't know my story...
If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, you can rest assured that the water bill is higher there too!
We've all got some haters among us!
Some people envy you because you can:
a) Have a relationship with God
b) Light up a room when you walk in
c) Start your own business
d) Tell a man/woman to hit the curb (if he/she isn't about the right thing)
e) Raise your children without both parents being in the home
Haters can't stand to see you happy.
Haters will never want to see you succeed.
Most of our haters are people who are supposed to be on our side.
How do you handle your undercover haters?
You can handle these haters by:
1. Knowing who you are & who your true friends are *(VERY IMPORTANT!!)
2. Having a purpose to your life: Purpose does not mean having a job. You can have a job and still be unfulfilled.
A purpose is having a clear sense of what God has called you to be. Your purpose is not defined by what others think about you.
3. By remembering what you have is by divine prerogative and not human manipulation.
Fulfill your dreams! You only have one life to live...when its your time to leave this earth, you 'want' to be able to say, 'I've lived my life and fulfilled 'my' dreams,... Now I'm ready to go HOME!
When God gives you favor, you can tell your haters, 'Don't look at me...Look at Who is in charge of me...'
Watch out for Haters...BUT most of all don't become a HATER!
Monday, September 21, 2009
I had to share this with you because His goodness and mercy cannot be stifled. We must shout it out to the world!
Two weeks ago we had a two-day, three session conference with Dr. Leroy Thompson on "Money Cometh." Thursday night was just blessed and we gave a "proper" offering for the first time this year - I say that because instead of me stroking a check, we asked God and then I asked Tony what he wanted to sow and we were both in agreement with what we decided to give. Tony attended the Friday morning session of the conference and sent me notes since I was here at work. His last note to me was that "Surprise Money" cometh to us so do not worry. We had several unexpected expenses that left us pretty tight financially but I was believing and praying that our breakthrough would come and so I received that anointing from Dr. Thompson and was doubly blessed and encouraged at Friday evening's service.
I have been praying over the scriptures he gave us during his conference and the materials that were in the partners package. It's amazing because I have given far more offerings this month than any other this year as I had committed to increasing my partnership seeds to several ministries that I sow into on a monthly basis and sowed into several people as my heart had been led this week. All the while I have been checking my bank account every day to make sure nothing "bounced" since I knew it would be a close call between what was outstanding and what was in the account. This morning I logged in and there was a balance that far exceeded what I had in there since my paycheck went in on Thursday night and came back out Friday night!!!! :-)
Only God could have moved like this my sweet sisters, only God!!! I received a lump sum amount for child support which will cover the remainder of the bills for the month!!!!! If that isn't surprise money I don't know what is!!!!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah!!!
I took to heart what Dr. Thompson preached about this being a spiritual way of life, a process, not a get rich quick thing, not a slogan and certainly not something to play with or take lightly. I have felt so much better about sowing, about giving and giving generously. I have had a stronger desire to give and have been praying and will continue to pray that I be in a position to give even if I never see the fruits of my giving in whomever/whatever I am sowing. It has been so freeing to know that as I praise Him, as I glorify, magnify and exalt Him and follow His commandments and believe that He will bless me and prosper me according to His will. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 has become one of my greatest passages of scripture. I read it and speak it every day and it brings me much joy to praise Him that way. I will continue to speak this as I walk boldly in this new process of living for God and allowing Him to use me to give to His people so that He can get the glory.
I pray that this will bless each of you in some way and for you to know the blessings according to Psalms 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." May you find delight in Him this day and every day!! Believe and obey.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Myths have been shattered, new facts have been brought to light and anyone with a preconceived notion of what domestic violence and sexual assault were all about no longer have them. We started 20 strong and after three weeks we are 12 strong (11 women and one man ranging from 18 to 60+ and racially, socially and economically diverse). This is not for the weak at heart, or for the great crusaders of the world because we find that you can't save everyone and might not save anyone at all. You can't hold on to all that you used to hold to as truth and be of service to those you might come in contact with; and if you have issues with race, sexual orientation, or economic status this is not the place for you because you service everyone who is in need of service. They do not discriminate on any level other than not being able to assist the abusers of the victims they are there to help.
We don't think like we used you, process information like we used to or even talk to each other like we used to. We push for more details, deeper understandings and sometimes justice for the victims past, present and future. We want to stand face to face with the legislatures and ask them what they were thinking, if they were thinking when they passed these laws. We know we can't save everyone so we have to settle for making a difference to one person at a time even if it's just to hold their hand, give them a shoulder to cry on or be a voice on the other end of the crisis hot line telling them what their options are but not knowing if they are at the point when they can or will break away. We hope that they will realize that they are not alone and that although we may not understand everything they are going through we are there.
We have learned that it takes a team to get the job done. There is no little "i" or big "u" in the organization. It is everyone coming together to do their part to make the difference.
It has been amazing to watch my mind open up to new ways of thinking and processing the information and getting to that "ah ha" moment before the instructor has brought us full circle. I love how she pushes us to "marinate, massage and chew" on the information before we speak about it. We let it soak in and it becomes personal. If you weren't passionate when you began, somewhere along the line you crossed over and I dare you to start spewing those myths around us because we might bite your head off in an effort to stifle your ignorance. Knowledge is power and they have given us so much knowledge, more than I had at any one time in the entire time I've been dealing with my own issues in the domestic violence arena.
We have 18 hours of training left and then we will be off to our respective areas of volunteering but the bonds we have formed will continue to grow as we reach out to each other to share our experiences, trade off shifts, pass along information and at times decompress with one another to help us digest what we have done during our time as a volunteer.
We have become circles allowing the information to flow freely without barriers and we are loving it. At least I know that I am.
God instructed in Genesis 2:24 "Therefore a man should leave his father and mother and be joined with his wife, and they shall become one flesh." This was so that they could establish a family of their own without influence. He later instructed Abram in Genesis 12:1-4 to get out of his country, leave his family and go to another land so that he could bless him. Only Abram took Lot with him and in Genesis 13 it tells us that as time went on there became dissension among Lot and Abram's tribes and God had to separate them. Lot took what he thought to be the better land and Abram took the lesser but his land was blessed by God and he prospered greatly but not before leaving behind the contention, the family, and the dream killers.
I am feeling a lot like Abram, I have finally heard the voice of wisdom and am leaving behind the dream killers, the "haters", the nay sayers and the opinionated ones who can tell everyone what they need to be doing while their own lives are all jacked up this way and that. So this is a shout out to them all to say good-bye, farewell and good riddance, in some instances.
If you call my number and I don't answer after repeated attempts then the right answer would be no, I'm probably not that busy, I just don't want to talk to you anymore. If you send me repeated emails and I don't reply, again, I'm probably not that busy but I don't want to talk to you anymore and if you are bold enough to show up to my house uninvited I will probably be bold enough to say to you, "I wish you well, the best that God has for you but you are not what or who I need in my life at this time" or in modern slang "It's been real but you gotta go!"
The sad thing is that these people know who they are. They have been doing this their whole life and nothing has changed. They have always thought they could say or do whatever they want and haven't had too many people put up a stop sign and say enough is enough so they continue to do it. But for me after years of hearing them tell me what, when, how and with whom I should do be doing it, or how to raise my kids when you didn't raise your own, haven't had any of your own and never will because it didn't fit your lifestyle but you are still struggling in your own world don't you think you need to focus on your home, your own stuff, YOURSELF instead of regurgitating your life experiences both good and bad on others and trying to keep us as miserable as you obviously are?
Let me put it to you another way. If you start a conversation, voicemail or email with the words "I don't mean..." then don't start, don't leave a message, don't send the email and don't look me in the face and continue to talk. Those words should be your cue to examine yourself, your motives and ask yourself if what you are saying has any merit. Are you speaking out of love? Genuine concern for me and mine? Or is it jealousy, maliciousness or busybodiness? Is it true? Is it backed by scripture and tried and true worldly experience (and NO you are not worldly)?
If it is about my household and you don't know what I make, what my plans and goals are don't tell me what I should be doing or how I should be doing it. If it is about my kids, if you don't know EVERYTHING there is to know about the situation, the counseling sessions, physical, emotional and psychological details of the people involved and the context in which you are offering your opinion - DON'T.
If it's about my husband, marriage or job. Step very lightly. First examine your own spouse - if you are NOT married LEAVE IT ALONE; your own marriage - if you are divorced - DON'T go there and your own affairs at work - if you don't have a job, are retired or have never held my position - silence is golden. If you feel you can then come to me and pass judgement, advice or make a comment I suggest you pray about it first, find me a scripture reference that puts it in the right light and bring it on. Otherwise keep on keeping on.
And God forbid it be about your son, daughter, sister, brother, best friend's girlfriend, keep it to yourself because I don't want or need that gossip crossing my ear gates and messing up my flow with God.
Now with all that said please know that I will hold myself to the same standards so if I don't talk to you about your life, your kids, your husband, job or pet without your direct request to do so, it's not that I don't care but I probably don't have much to offer you by way of general conversation so it's best to say nothing at all.
Do know that I love you and am keeping you and yours lifted up in prayer but I'm in the process of cleaning my temple, my house, my heart and mind and in order to successfully do this I have to have a clean heart, a sound mind and let all the minutia go.
I will not be held down, beaten down or stripped of what is mine by the careless tongue of another. What God has for me is mine and I will not let the enemy come in and destroy me or mine any longer. I'm taking no prisoners and I'm not giving another inch while losing a mile in the process. So my wish for you is to walk in love and go in peace and I will do the same.
Two weeks ago my baby girl turned Sweet 16 and I feel blessed and honored to say she has never been kissed. I'm not bragging about it because I know all too often that had the opportunities presented themselves we would be having a different conversation; but she has led what a majority of the world would consider a sheltered life. I call it a protected one. She is not naive. She is not "sheltered" nor would be considered to "not have a clue" but she has been restricted/limited in her activities, in her friendships and her relationships with her peers. She learned about "the birds and the bees" at 12 years old from ME, not the school. After school made their pitch we talked about it again and we continue to have these conversations every 60 days or so much to her chagrin.
In fact, I still talk to my 23 year old son about safe sex, abstinence, responsibility and respect of the opposite sex because I feel it is my responsibility to continue to foster these characteristics and moral ideals in their life.
My daughter has grown up with the knowledge that she would not be allowed to date until she turned 16. That she would not be dropped off at the mall, the movies or a friend's house if I haven't met the parents. She has been allowed to go out in groups but I was shadowing her in the background and she knew it. I watched her interact with her friends and I watched her friends and how they acted towards her and themselves. I want and have prayed for her to have good friends, and to make good choices but I also understand that peer pressure is a heavy thing and that in any given situation the overwhelming feeling of rebellion or defeat can come over you and you give in to a moment that could carry consequences that could last you a lifetime. I wasn't a saint nor am I now but I wish I had had more guidance, more knowledge and a much more realistic relationship with my mother when I was growing up.
I never had the talk about "sex". Not even after my older sister got pregnant at 15. I never learned that boys would tell me anything they could to get what they wanted. I never knew that something could hurt so bad, feel so good and carry such grave consequences or that it was a tool that both men and women use to get what they want.
So when I had children I promised that I would try to do for them the things I wished I had done for me when I was growing up, including having "unrealistic, nerdy morals" taught to them that I felt would have made me and the choices I made in my life less hurtful than they were. I have no regrets because the hardships have made me into who I am today but I want more for them and in order for that to happen I have to give them a higher/firmer foundation than I had.
So now she is 16 and well, to be honest, nothing has really changed. She still isn't dating, she doesn't go out on her own, I don't and won't drop her off at the mall or movies and leave her there but it's because she doesn't want me to because she's not ready. That is truly a blessing to me. I feel that God has given me a little bit more time to continue to mold her into what He wants her to be. A little bit more time to help her find herself, love herself unconditionally and trust herself to stand up for what she believes is right for herself and not do what it is that the "status quo" is doing.
I will cherish these next few months and I will take the time, as I did this Saturday, to have that one on one time to have a quick 15-minute conversation about "being true to yourself" that I came across while reading Tony Dungy's book "Uncommon - Finding your path to significance." I will cherish the Sunday afternoon's she comes to my room, lays across the bed and talks to me about nonsense or watches me as I type out my blog entries and questions my thoughts, my feeling and why I am how I am. I will cherish that I am her mother, that she respects my authority even when she doesn't like it and that she doesn't think that her life is all that bad although it's not all that she would like for it to be. I will cherish the days like today when she all by herself chooses to walk to the front of the church and rededicate herself to God because she feels like it is what she wants to do and that she didn't feel the need to discuss it with me because she's growing up and coming into her own.
And every morning when I rise to have my quiet time with God I will praise Him and thank Him for her, these moments and the fact that He blessed me with her for this time in my life. I will continue to petition on her behalf for godly friends, for divine knowledge, inspiration, understanding and protection, as is my divine duty, and I will release her back to Him so that He can continue to mold and shape her into that very thing that He began when she was yet in my womb for she is "wonderfully and fearfully" made by His glorious hands.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
To: Kim & Tony
God is AWESOME!
Let me tell you about last night. Why did I lose my keys last night when I’ve never lost them before? Why did Tony make a copy of the van key?
Maybe God wanted me off the road for another 20 minutes. When I got to the south side of the Willey Bridge, it was swarming with rescue vehicles and police. Something had happened not too long before I got there.
But what I really think is God wanted me to fellowship with you for a bit longer.
All I wanted to do when church was over was get in my van and be alone so I could have a good cry. (Another story for another time.) God, apparently, didn’t have the same plan. Maybe it wasn’t my night to have a good cry. Maybe I needed to share my meeting with Jessica. Maybe I needed to connect to you in some other way.
Whatever He did, I know He was working on my heart and my soul. He didn’t do it through the sermon because I don’t even remember what Bishop said. Interesting and awesome how He works!
When I got home, the keys were in my purse - stuck to a magnet which explains why when I emptied the purse and shook it upside down, the keys didn’t come out.
You guys (and God) may have saved my life. Or maybe you just saved my evening. Thank you!!!!!
I don’t even know how to respond. I’m overwhelmed by emotions because yes he is AWESOME! Why? is such a big question that none of us really has the answer to. I ask it all the time. Why did you come into my life when you did? Why are you still here???? Why when I need it the most but resist it with all my might does He use you to minister to me? And why in the midst of our messes does He show up and show out like last night? Your message is an inspiration not just for me but for everyone. Can I post it on my blog if I change the names because I know that just like this touched me it can and will touch others and let them know that He is there watching, planning, doing all He can for us and we don’t really have a clue?
I’m sorry you wanted to have a good cry – you should have told me because I would have had one with you. I too was feeling a bit out of sorts as if you couldn’t tell. Yes, I want to hear the story… But I’m glad we got to talk about Jess. It made me feel so good for her and you guys and all that you have been going through. I see light at the end of the tunnel, I see joy in your face and hear hope in your voice along with a certain measure of caution which is good. But most of all I see this whole family thing coming together in a way that we can’t explain but yet for the grace of God… and that was what I needed from you last night.
Whatever the reason for the evening turning out the way it did it all comes back to God. We were just the vessels He chose to use and thankfully He found us fit to be used although both of us weren’t in the mood but our obedience is to Him and his will first and foremost and for that I am grateful.
It didn’t make our evening any better but it probably stopped it from being worse. And today is a new day. Same stuff just a different day and prayerfully a different outlook on things. If you want to help can you adopt a couple of my kids???? Just kidding, I think.
What an inspirational response, Kim! We are so doggone blessed, the two of us!!!!!!!!! Yes, He is constantly putting us together to be support to each other and it seems there’s just no way but His way. I know the last thing you wanted to do last night was drag my sorry butt to your house to retrieve a key, but you did what He told you to do, and we’re both better for it.
And bless Tony’s little self! What if you had to drive me all the way home, and come to find out the key was with me all the time! God is such a practical joker, I suppose He would have had a good laugh over that!!!! Of course, that would have put us on the Willey Bridge at the wrong time. Nope, it would have been the right time, and our assignment for the evening would have been different, yes?
Of course you can put my story on your blog, and I could care less if you change the names. You’re not protecting any innocent here.
The problem with me adopting any of your children is I want the ones you want to keep. Hehehehe!
Kim, God is really working me over right now. And while it’s intimidating and humbling, I think I am finally releasing some things to him. He proved when I turned Jessica over to Him what he could do, and now He’s on the next phase. Stay tuned!
Hallelujah and Praise God. Her testimony is a song to my heart. And all that God did between the three of us last night words cannot describe. But I firmly believe that there are no coincidences that everything is timed according to His will and His purpose and by His grace and mercy we were all blessed by this moment and we didn't have a clue until we came together and shared our own experiences and saw how it all wove together to form this incredible worship experience.
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We all know someone who has been affected by this disease and the only way to stop it is to find a cure.
God bless and I thank you for your support!!
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009
We had physicals, dentist and orthodontist appointments, eye appointments, summer school and now we are gearing up for orientation and back to school nights at 2 different schools for 4 different kids.
Somewhere during that time I worked my normal 10-12 hour day schedule and managed to take off 2 whole days to make long weekends with the kids.
We had the stomach bug run through the house 2 times, poison ivy, mosquito bites, spider bites, found snakes, moles, and mice in the yard and cleared a spot for the garden. We had sinus infections, a summer cold, nose bleeds, scrapes, bumps and bruises and one broken arm (not one of our kids) but nothing we couldn't handle.
The pool offered respite on those hot, humid days, the trampoline gave them exercise and giggles galore, they swung, they slid on the slide, they rode bikes, they went to the park, they played in the dirt, they played at the mall and they watched less TV and spent more time outside. Our bi-weekly trips to the library kept them well read and their teachers will be pleased at their reading list for the summer. I just love the library!
It was a successful summer but I'm not sorry to see it end. I'm ready for the routine of school - the going to bed, getting up and doing everything according to a schedule. I'm looking forward to no more arguments about staying up late, what's for breakfast, I'm bored, it's too hot outside, can we go outside, can I ride my bike, I don't want to ride my bike, what are we going to do, where are we going, are we there yet.
Done, done and done at least for the next 105 days until Christmas holiday when they will be out for two weeks and bored by the third day home.
The theme last night was “My Sister’s Keeper” and it was such a blessing. Manor House is a transitional home, located in Richmond and run by The New Life for Youth Ministries, for women going through different circumstances in life – drugs and alcohol abuse, emotionally broken down, homeless, etc. They live there for 12 months and during that time they are stripped of everything that is binding them up and rebuilt upon the foundation of God. It’s not an easy thing and there are a lot who start the program but never finish (but a seed is planted). For those that stay God does a mighty work in them.
They range in age from 18 – 40+ and are racially and economically diverse in their backgrounds but what they have in common is the desire to be better than they were. They want to make something of themselves and they want it to be through God. They have that disciple’s spirit of less of me and more of you God.
I was in awe of them last night and my cup runneth over from the opportunity to serve them. I was tremendously blessed just by being there in their midst and then to talk with them, hear their stories and feel the spirit was enough to allow the emotions to come tumbling out. I cried, I hugged and received hugs enough to fill my empty reservoir. The light in their eyes matched the smiles on their faces and even when they talked about how hard the program is, how much they miss their children, husbands, friends and family you could still see that desire in them to continue on.
To be able to fellowship with them, to encourage them to hang in there and share with them that although we might look like we have it all together we don’t, was very humbling. Outside appearances can be very deceiving and we let them know that. We have all gone through some stuff, we are all going through some stuff and we will continue to be challenged in our lives if we live for Christ but we are not alone. That was the message last night.
We all have the opportunity to be our sister’s keeper. To make a difference in the lives of the women we come in contact with in our lives whether it be at that home, our own homes, on the job, or even in the store there is always an opportunity to be our sister’s keeper.
No matter where you go in the world you are not alone. There are sisters everywhere you go. You just need to be open to the Spirit and ask God for the opportunity to be of service and He will reveal it to you. It might be just for that bus ride to the mall or that moment during a sporting event for your child that you connect with someone but that’s one more moment when you can share, inspire or uplift a broken hearted soul with a look, a hug, a kind word, or something more tangible like a meal, some money or clothes, if so moved.
We have all been charged with being our “brother’s keeper” and that goes for us sisters too. So I am blessed in spite of my mess and right now my mess is less on my mind than finding the next opportunity to be my sister’s keeper or to serve someone, some how in some way that will continue to give God the glory and take “me” out of the equation.
How about you?
Monday, June 29, 2009
The word my finger landed on for that speaking exercise was sex.
If you take a minute, read each word listed above and think about it you can probably remember a time in your life when you have seen through media (TV, movies, music, books, newspaper, video games, etc) and personal life experiences how each of these words relate to sex and can probably add a few more of your own.
The difference between you and I is that ALL of my experience with these words come from personal life experiences and the recurring theme has been fearful.
That said I am looking to change that as I work with the Speakers Bureau and continue the healing process involving some of the most difficult times in my life centered on date rape, abuse, domestic violence, etc.
What I found to be most enlightening and eye opening was sharing this process with my husband and the conversation we had on a man’s perspective of these words that I expressed.
He totally understood my feelings and we had a long discussion about how a man might perceive sex as I have described it, including what would make it fearful to a man. It truly helped me to get an insight into the mind of “a man” being as they have long been an enigma to me and a huge contributing factor to my outlook on this word and what it means.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I quit, really I do. I refuse to let myself be in this position again. What a joke those words are. I promised myself when I left my ex-husband that I would never let him hurt the kids or me again and during this whole custody thing I've tripped up time and again and been hit square between the eyes by him but today has been the worst. Part of this is about me and my demons too. Sores I was willing to bet Vegas style on that they were healed have had the scabs ripped clean off and are pouring out blood. For the umpteenth time my heart has been ripped apart and left hemorrhaging at the scene.
But what can I do? Pray and let it go? I can't, not right now. I'm not super-Christian; my flesh is still stronger than my spirit and the need for vengeance is running through my veins. Yet I've been castrated by my conscience and so I will cry, rant, rave and wallow for my child and my inner child and then I will pick myself up, tap further into resources that can help me try to explain this to my children and try to implement this with the least amount of tearing apart as possible. Because, that is who I am.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Wounds I thought healed have been ripped open. Forgiveness I extended has been yanked back and buried.
I am a mother bear on the brink. I am speechless and thoughtless. Angry and embittered. My soul is on fire and literally my mind cannot even begin to comprehend how I'm supposed to break the news to my child/children.
My ex-husband and I have four children together. We have sole custody of one and he adopted the other three. So for the 6.5 years of her existence this child has known him as "Daddy" and at some point during this custody/visitation battle he has decided that he doesn't want her to be included in his visitation with the other kids because he's only her legal guardian, not her father. I was informed last night that he wants overnight visits with "3 special young ladies" and the "court appointed guardian" for the children is in agreement with this. WTH!!!
To say that her life has not been easy is an understatement. She has big issues, attachment disorder, is in counseling at our expense because its out of network and we struggle with her on a daily basis as we try to help her become the best she can be in spite of all the setbacks she has had in her life and now I have to hand her one of the most devastating ones of all. Rejection from a parent.
My soul empathizes and sympathizes with her because I have been there and have struggled with that rejection for most of my life. To this day there are times when it still looms larger than life and renders me breathless and that's after years of counseling, resolution to a relationship I can't change and acceptance of what I could get verses what I want much less needed.
This could potentially tear the children apart as there will be resentment at being left behind, jealousy over what activities take place during the visits and taunting which is part of life especially between siblings. It has the potential to create greater aggression and hostility in this child that no amount of love and counseling can abate.
To say that we have been dealt a low blow is an understatement. Again I must say that our justice system at times is a joke. No true thought goes into what is in the best interest of the children only what suits the parents.
In regards to the parents - well, I think there ought to be a special place in hell for the "parents" that use their kids as pawns in relationships; that disregard the responsibility they have been given when they agree to bring a life into this world and then walk out on that life, abuse them or worse reject them at a whim.
God help me because right now there are no words from man that can calm the raging waves threatening to overflow out of me.
B - Book you're reading: Roadside Crosses - Jeffery Deaver
C - Chore you hate: Cleaning bathrooms - I'm a germaphobe
D - Dad's name: Jeffery
E - Essential start your day item: Prayer
F - Favorite way to exercise: walking outside or at the Y
G - Gold or Silver: Both I like them together
H - Height: 5'9"
I - Instruments you play(ed): None
J - Job title: Executive Assistant
K - Kid(s): Jamar, Sydney, Kyra, Antonio, Justice, Mikayla & Victoria
L - Living arrangements: Own a house
M - Mom's name: Shirley.
N - Nicknames: Mom, Mommy, Honey, Baby and probably a few I don't know about
O - Odd habits: I can't skip buttons, snaps, etc. It's a compulsion.
P - Pet: None
Q - Quiet or Loud: Quiet. Unless I'm ranting
R - Right or left handed: Left.
S - Siblings: 3
T - Typical dinner: Mac n Cheese and hot dogs for the kids, spinach salad w/salmon for me
U- University: Virginia Tech - Go Hokies!!!
V - Vegetable you dislike: Artichoke, water chestnuts.
W - Weirdest talent: I'm still alive and kicking despite everything that has happened in my life
X - X-rays you've had: My lungs, chest, feet, wrist, hips, shoulder
Y - Your favorite place to visit: the beach
Z - Zoo favorites: tigers
Friday, June 19, 2009
Much like Toastmaster's we had to take a word and come up with a one-minute speech on that word. The caveat was that we had to close our eyes and place our finger on the page, whatever word our finger landed on was the word we were to use.
Now we were on the honor system here. There was no one looking over our shoulder to see what our word was so if we had wanted to choose another word we could have. For all those that know me... well then you know that I kept the word that my finger landed on in spite of the fact that the room spun around and I broke out into a cold sweat. I mean how could I possibly come up with something to talk about for one-minute about this word.
I took a deep breath, dove in and here is what I came up with.
Mind numbing, shocking, humbling, fearful, frustrating, disbelieving, relieving, intense. Angry, enjoyable, shameful, fun, fearful, exhilarating, life altering, freeing, awesome. Fulfilling, longing, passionate, soul shaking, earth shattering, hurtful, fearful, fearful, fearful. Self loathing, suicidal, worthless, longing, completing, exciting, good, bad, indifferent, alive.
What was my word?
Dear Kim Dunham-Christian,
Hello to ALL! Before anything else, I would like to commend each and everyone of you for your courage in sharing your experience and yourself as we work to create the first ever state-wide Speaker's Bureau for survivors of sexual and domestic violence in Virginia. Your words and the knowledge that you have gained along your journey have the power to bring healing and hope to so many. Your presence and your willingness to share your experiences can bring about much needed progress and change to a culture that, far too often, turns a blind eye on the trials that face survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Silence has been our enemy for far too long. Together we can make our voices heard!
The Survivor Caucus of the Virginia Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Action Alliance has reviewed your application and would like to invite you to attend our first Speaker's Bureau Training...
When I received this email I cried because there was finally a way for me to make a difference; an opportunity to stand before the General Assembly, local legislative bodies, schools, churches, etc. and let them know that there is a name, face, and voice for Domestic/Sexual Abuse victims in Virginia.
We had a training session two weeks ago and to say that it was intense would be an understatement. I met 8 wonderful women who have been affected by domestic/sexual violence in their lives as victims or advocates and they each touched me in a way that I can't begin to describe.
I knew accepting this would be a challenge but it was one that I felt I was ready to take. I wasn't wrong. It opened up a lot of wounds that I'd like to keep closed but they won't ever heal that way so it was/is much needed. I heard stories similar to mine, more horrific and heartbreaking but also stories of victory, survival and thriving that boosted me up and let me know that greater things are out there for me.
I received hope that one day there will be no more demons haunting me, no more nightmares, no more fear and total healing and forgiveness for everyone involved. I received hope for a brighter future not just for myself, but for all the victims that have been silenced in the past.
As we stand up and tell our stories, their stories, we can bring about a change in the way society views us, handles and supports us as we strive to break the silence, break the chains of bondage that keep us in the dark or cowering and living in fear from our abusers.
And where there is hope, there is light to show the way as we walk out of the darkness.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The last time I got this was a month ago and yes, I did forward it on but I also kept it in my "in" box and have referred to it frequently during the past couple of weeks. I keep thinking that the more I read, ponder and meditate on it the more it will become a part of me and then when I reach the ripe old age of 90 I too can put a check mark next to all of them and feel that my life was a good one.
I took the liberty of highlighting the ones that touch me the most in blue, the ones in red are the ones I struggle with but am working on.
Take a few minutes and read/re-read this list for yourself and see where these rank in terms of how you're doing in terms of learning a few of life's lessons.
Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:"
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick; your friends & parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.
22. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ' In five years, will this matter? '
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a "gift."
Friends are the family that we choose for ourselves.