I am a HORRIBLE writer!”

“I am a HORRIBLE writer!” There! I’ve finally proclaimed my truth, I feel so liberated. So free from the expectations of my next great entry. I’m now free to miss typos, commit grammatical felonies, be defensive about being offensive but most of all….I’M FINALLY FREE TO WRITE!! I locked myself in a box long ago with the first accolade I received from my teacher, Mr. Cooley, when I was 14yrs old. I signed over the rights to my own creativity when I convinced myself that it was better to choose a genre of writing early to appeal to a specific audience. Neither my life nor my personality are monotone so it’s no surprise why, it seems, increasingly impossible to write. With the declaration that “I am a horrible writer”, I leave myself open to accept that I am not perfect and I don’t have to be.

To be considered good at something, before going through the rigorous process of development, can potentially stifle greatness.  In some ways, this was a great faux pas of my previous educators.  If I would have been considered a student with potential rather than a young savant maybe I would’ve been seen as a more lucrative investment.  I haven’t received much guidance in honing my craft, my grade school teachers felt there was no additional information they could offer me.  My guidance counselor asked me to “dumb down” my college essay to make it sound like a high school student wrote it.  My English teachers would often have me write my essays in class because they assumed I was getting help from my parents.  I gained notoriety for giving speeches in church during Easter plays and school competitions.  You see, In my environment, very few concentrated on the self sustaining students; all the attention and focus defaulted to the struggling students (there were a lot of those).  Sometimes I wonder, if my teachers saw me as more of a challenge, would I have received the guidance I’ve been deprived of?

I am no longer willing to accept deprivation in my life.  I will gift myself the blessing of being a horrible writer, I will continue to write badly until I am a great writer.  This type of affirmation may sound counterproductive to some but for me it’s empowering.  The fear of failure to live up to expectations no longer dictates my progress.  If this entry was not satisfying to read, stick with me?  I promise it can only get better from here!

“I don’t have writer’s block, I have LIFE block”

I received a notification from WordPress today reminding me that my blog has been grossly unproductive for the first half of the year.  My first thought was, “wow, we’re halfway through the year already?”.  I’m fully aware that this notification was automatic and thus void of actual emotion or concern as to my reasoning.  Twas’ a fancy algorithm that red flagged me in the system as unproductive.  And still, with all my logic, my feelings were pricked.  I mean, I’m both very much a newlywed AND a first time Mother through birth.  I conceived, nourished & grew an entirely new human being into this world just 8mos ago.  I created a LIVING algorithm, take that WordPress notification!!!  Please don’t take my rantings seriously, that notification brought me to a(n) much needed revelation, “there isn’t enough time in my day for myself anymore!”

It’s not like I haven’t attempted to write, I have these ideas of grandeur floating around in my head, I grab my laptop…and NOTHING!  I have been drawing complete blanks.  I even take notes immediately when I have a notion, but alas, it’s like dropping your last pill overboard into the ocean.  Most of my ideas for the last year and a half are “lost at sea”.  My notes make no sense to me, I can’t recall them, my emotions don’t recognize them; it’s such a waste.  Even so, my ideas keep coming, but then so does life.

As I’m typing this, my thoughts are divided.  “We need more baby formula, have I paid the cellphone bill this month, have I taken all my vitamins today, does my daughter sound congested, when is her allergy appointment again?,” and somewhere in all these thoughts, I still have to make space to type this entry!  I cannot tell you how many skimple words I’ve mystyped thus far (excuse me, how many simple words I’ve mistyped thus far).  I love my life, but I am not completely fulfilled unless I write.  Writers…WRITE!  What am I when my pen is down and my laptop can’t be found and my phone is on the fritz?  CRAZY, crazy is what I am!  Playdates and swim class and marital dates to make sure we last; and girl talk and going for walks and taking trips to grocery stores; and quality time (that isn’t mine) and cooking divine and going out to dine when I don’t feel up to cooking anymore; spreads me entirely too thin.  I NEED my outlet, my mental aerobics, my writing.  Writing helps me see my life from the right perspective.   Even though, at times, things seem a little “Lemony Snicket-ish” (read the book)…like a “series of unfortunate events”, I wouldn’t trade a thing.

Except, I would definitely designate more writing time!

“The Tortoise and the Hare”

Just because someone started before you (or passed you) doesn’t necessarily mean that they are ahead of you.  Many of us can think of at least one person who seems to be excelling while you’re left behind.  They may have finished school on time, they seem to have a great job, they appear financially stable, and their dating life seems to be solid; while your life seems to be in disarray.  But looks can be deceiving when you look behind the scenes.  While they are getting “dirty” traveling through the seasons of life, you used wisdom to see your way through.  You laid a foundation to cross over the mud, you grabbed a raincoat to shield you from the rain, you found shelter to protect you from hail and sleet, you didn’t just aimlessly go through the motions of life; you took the time to grab what you needed along the way to protect you from the elements.  You took the time to feel.  It won’t be enough to your opponents that they finished ahead of you, they will still envy the quality in which you ran; and this will become your biggest challenge.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore, I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)”

Every participant in a race isn’t my opponent.  Sometimes, God grants me the privilege to start a journey with friends and loved ones, only to end up with less people than I started with and not feeling much love.  As expected, it’s harder to deal with the devil we know than the one we don’t.  I confide in my friends, trust them with my heart, share my life with them and feel safe that (once established) boundaries won’t be crossed and even if they are…it will be in the best interest of the friendship.  We invest time and energy in our friendships with the hopes that these people will rejoice with us through life.  Unfortunately, friendships aren’t perfect and those imperfections can cause us to lose people along the journey.  Holding on tighter to those that don’t have the endurance to stay with you, delay you in the process.  Focusing on those that are leaving you behind can diminish your motivation.  And still, once you do cross the finish line, you may be greeting by frowning faces that are happy you finished…but jealous, because you stopped to smell the roses along the way.

Jealousy isn’t about it’s target, it’s about the feelings of inadequacy of the host. What’s an effective way to deal with jealousy among friends? Well, most are too embarrassed that they feel jealous, and won’t admit it. It’s hard to address something you refuse to face.  In the last 2yrs, I’ve been the target of jealousy and it sucks.  I’ve lost friends, I’ve been made to feel isolated and I’m now struggling with who I can trust & to what extent.  For years I’ve been the “tortoise” watching my friends: achieve their career goals, find love, start families & advance their education.  It’s important to note that I received countless speeches of motivation and expressed love from friends who encouraged me to keep pushing.  When I finally “caught up”, my congratulation’s came with a double edged sword. What did I do wrong, except pace myself?

I constantly have to remember that love covers a multitude of transgressions, jealousy being one of those transgressions.  A great way to repair a relationship when it’s pierced by jealousy is to open the lines of communication.  In the past, when it came to jealousy I dealt with the matter poorly.  It was easier for me to cut ties than to confront the issues.  I’ve since learned that as the target, I am also responsible for repairing the rift, if I notice it.  I don’t get to pretend that it isn’t there, alienating my friend’s feelings and blame him/her for the damage.  True friends have the unique opportunity to use the love of God to heal the “broken places” in each other’s lives.  By choosing to express love in the presence of pain both parties receive the kind of blessing(s) that will enrich their lives for generations.

Death Becomes Her…&

My best guess is that I was a teenager when I first saw the movie “Death Becomes Her”, I was so intrigued that I must have watched it at least ten times in a row.  I found the movie to be haunting, funny and it said so much about vanity.  But the idea of death wasn’t always entertaining, as a matter of fact, I spent my early teenage years paranoid about the very thought.  The night of my 13th birthday I began experiencing horror dreams. I woke up in terror recalling the murder of my family members.  In my family, turning thirteen is a huge milestone.  Age thirteen meant that we were now completely responsible for our own relationship with God, little did I know, I really wouldn’t have a choice.  Those night horrors caused me to run in the opposite direction from a relationship with God.  Could you blame me?  I correlated my visions of my family being murdered with learning about God.  Later, I discovered that I could only run so far, so fast, for so long before realizing I would be running in circles until I submitted to His will.

The Bible says that we must die daily to our flesh, but what does that truly entail?  I personally believe that this command means something different for everyone.  Each of us was created flawed, born with a thorn in our side that we must overcome by turning it over to God in our prayer life, thus forging and bonding our relationship to Him.  That thorn and other “allergens”, known as the sins of the world, dig into our humanity (flesh). Dying daily ultimately means humbling ourselves before God in prayer by identifying and acknowledging that which is flawed within us and submitting those things unto God’s discernment.  In this way, “death” is the becoming (evolving) of our entire being for God’s vessel.  So, how often do I die?  Not nearly as often as I should.  If anything, I can become so distracted by life occurrences that you’d think I was just in acoma, on life support trying my hardest NOT to die; because to “die” would mean to: turn the other cheek, forgive, humble myself, give grace, etc.  And to be honest, sometimes…I don’t wanna!

For everything in my life that I have buried, for everything that I let die, new life has taken root and grown into some of the most beautiful blessings I’ve ever received.  Death became my saving grace, while I was mourning over what I could no longer have, God was rejoicing as He uncovered hidden paths, which could only be revealed by me letting go.  Death is not pleasant, my humanity rejects loss as violently as the process of birth.  The affect of death is an indescribable pain, its medicine is intangible and the journey of healing is unmeasurable, but it is necessary to cultivate life.  Yet, as unpleasant as it is, I’ve never regretted dying to my flesh and/or selfish desires.  My only regret was not doing so sooner.  Have you died today?

“Sexy Parenting”

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!!  I haven’t blogged in a few months so I thought I’d post a rather funny story for my first 2018 entry. We are now the proud parents of a beautiful little girl (Kaycee).  I’m a first time parent, which of course means I have NO IDEA what I’m doing, but I’m having a blast learning.  For instance, today I learned a new technique I like to call, “sexy parenting”.  In the 3 months since KayCee was born, I hadn’t been feeling very “womanly” (if you know what I mean).  Next week our family will be going out of town for a social event so I attempted to carve out a little romance time this weekend.  It took 4hrs, but I finally got our daughter down for her nap.  I snuck into our master bath and lightly applied one of my husband’s favorite fragrances while he was watching football.  I CONFIDENTLY walked into the bedroom wearing nothing but a pair of black boy shorts and black, lace up, thigh high boots.  I was excited by the anticipation of my husband’s reaction…but he wasn’t there!  I then walked into our living room to find him holding and rocking a screaming Kaycee…..time to feed the baby.  My fantasy didn’t actually consist of mixing formula wearing boy shorts and thigh high boots, but that was my reality.  THIS will be the “new sexy” in our household for a while.  My husband would spend the rest of the evening trying to put our little one to bed…to no avail.

My sexy boots are now back in their box in the back of my closet for now.  My daily routine consists of nursing, pumping, changing, cleaning, eating, screaming, sleeping, repeat.  I delivered our daughter on Halloween night and while she’s very much a treat, she’s also a great deal of work.  It’s so easy to fall into a schedule that only includes work and baby so I make every attempt to carve out, family friendly, dating activities with my husband.  We are currently our daughter’s only childcare so dating includes daughter.  I’m not giving up though, this just means I have to plan “sexy time” far in advance.  Valentine’s Day is around the corner, it’s a special time for us this year because last year we found out I was pregnant a week later.  Since my husband enjoys puzzles and adventure I think I’ll combine the two and plan a Valentine’s Day he’ll always remember!  As for romance between now and then, we’ll just wing it!

Welcome to parenthood!

“Who Cries for Judas: A Love Story”

Within the first few moments of accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you become a target of the world.  Building relationship with God sharpens your Spiritual armor for the battles ahead.  Even if you are mentally prepared to fight the world, nothing prepares you to fight those you love whom are in the world.  What happens when the ones whom you love so deeply betray you?  Do you believe he/she is redeemable?  If you were unjustly slandered and others called your character into question, could you forgive?  What if you never receive an apology, could you forgive then?  These are the questions I’ve had to answer for myself recently.  The act of being “crucified” by those I care for, when my witness and walk with God shows it’s power in my life, is a feeling that isn’t foreign to me.  God never allows me to be caught off guard but the pain doesn’t hurt any less; if anything, it feels like the pain gets stronger and deeper each time.   In time, I’ve learned that my relationship with God must go deeper, stretch farther and my spiritual armor must be tougher each time a trial comes.  I found myself faced with heartbreak like none I’ve ever felt recently, I took shelter when it hit, not because I wasn’t ready but because if felt as if my heart completely dissolved into my chest and left my body through my tears.  However, this isn’t simply a tale of a broken heart, it’s a love story that must be told.

4yrs ago, God granted me the greatest gift to date, a son!  My son was delivered to me not by birth, but by the grace and mercy of God.  He was 16yrs old, struggling to maintain his focus and had trouble structuring his identity.  His Mom made one of the toughest decisions she’s ever had to make as a Mother; she put her son on a plane and sent him to Texas to live with his Father and I.  I assured her that we have the same goal, to see him graduate from high school and become more independent.  Little did I know, her pain would later become my saving grace.  The gift of a son allowed me to experience a love like I’ve never known, a love that opened a part of me that I didn’t know even existed. A love that would one day hurt like no other.  As much as I love my son, the reality is, he’s caught, feeling like he has to choose.  There’s the path that he wants to follow, the path he’s expected to follow and the path that he’s supposed to follow according to God.  I’m aware it’s not possible to love two masters, but my beloved son is torn between three.  There are the two masters who war with each other and there’s God the Master of all Whom will win in the end.  As opposed to responding to the challenge set before him to be greater, my son chose the path that best fit his agenda; age and maturity decided for him.  It’s the hidden clause that is attached to his decision that I worry most about, everyday I pray for God’s mercy for the tough road ahead.

My son’s decision included unjustly slandered his Father and myself for selfish gain.  I forgave him, 4yrs ago on the day he arrived in Texas; I was never afraid to sacrifice my heart to him, though it didn’t make the pain of betrayal any easier.  Relationship with God grants me the privilege of discernment, it has allowed me to protect my heart in ways that are strange to others.  My car has so many dried tears lodged in it’s crevices that I’m sure it’ll be completely rusted over by Winter.  My comfort lies in knowing that God is pleased, because I chose to love him (my son) despite what I had been shown.  I chose God’s path over my own.

4yrs ago God sent me the following message:                                                                             “Do not grow weary in well doing, for your reward will not come from man but from Me.  They will crucify your names and reputation for jealousy’s sake.  And I will make you fertile and give you good seed to plant.  They will tell lies to everyone who is willing to listen, many will listen.  And I will increase your wealth, there will be no lack.  They will think their anger is justified and in My name.  And I will sustain you and your husband through this trial, I will soften the heart of your (his) son.  Your children (his children) will turn their backs on you, I will deal with them harshly and thus cause everyone to yield to you both for help.  And I will uproot the pride of the Father and lead the son back to his Father, never to stray again.  These are your rewards; if first, you forgive and do these things that I have asked of you.”

I sat with this message for 4yrs, only revealing it to one person.  Forgiving someone who hurt you by mistake is difficult but possible.  Forgiving the betrayal of someone you love so deep & so pure, when the betrayal was intentional, is soul crushing.  How does one tell a parent what’s ahead?  You don’t, you provide hope during the trial to prevent them from giving up.  I pray that God offers such hope to my husband during this difficult time.  In the midst of my sorrow, I found peace in the story of Judas; a story that I’ve heard thousands of times, but this time an unexpected gem was revealed.  By the end of the message, not only did I cry for Judas but I understood Jesus’ love for him and why Jesus forgave him.

WHO WILL CRY FOR JUDAS?

Most Christians are familiar with the events that led Jesus’ crucifiction, specifically the betrayal.  It’s widely known that Judas, who was a disciple, betrayed Him for selfish gain; then Judas committed suicide.  Rarely do we review the story from the perspective of the villain, never do we sympathize with what he must have mentally gone through that lead him to suicide.  We gloss over the fact that, before His death, Jesus forgave him.  How difficult do you think it was for Jesus to forgive someone He loved, knowing that this person was the catalyst of His death, in order for Jesus to be resurrected and do His Father’s will?  How many of us have been faced with situations that are difficult to forgive?  I LOVE my son, I bonded with my son, I spent time with my son, I broke bread with my son and I sacrificed for my son.  I want the best for my son but I sent him off KNOWING that he would ultimately become the catalyst for my promotion in God and I STILL forgave him.

The stories of the Bible were put in place to help us navigate the trials of life and provide comfort for our pain.  The story of Judas tells us that God placed Judas in Jesus’ path.  Jesus called him friend, called him brother, loved him just as much (or more) than others. God TOLD Jesus that Judas would betray Him but didn’t remove Judas from the company of His son Jesus.  Jesus broke bread with him the night of the betrayal.  Judas betrayed Jesus for material possessions that didn’t even measure up to what Judas ended up losing in the end. Judas allowed Jesus to be slandered, attacked, shamed, crucified, killed, DESPITE the fact that Jesus was blameless.  Even after he was exposed as the betrayer and forgiven, the weight of Judas’ actions began to sink in, evident in the fact that he tried to reverse his actions by returning the money. When Judas realized that it was too late to right his wrong, when he realized he sentenced his Friend to die, he hated himself and committed suicide.

When Judas was consumed with guilt where were the friends, that he once called brother, to wrap their arms around him & forgive him? Where were those who witnessed Jesus forgive Judas, despite his betrayal? Why was Judas left ALONE to suffer with the guilt of how he betrayed Jesus, did the others not feel remorse for denying Jesus, for not stopping Judas, or did they feel that Judas DESERVED to suffer the pain of guilt alone?  You see, Jesus knew that one of his friends would betray Him for money, and the others would deny Him to save their own lives.  Jesus was hurt deeply to know that those closest to Him would also turn their backs on Him.  When we remember that Jesus was not a god but the SON of God born as a man, we know that He experienced human emotions that were only overcome through His relationship with God.

The story of Jesus’ betrayal teaches us to be mindful not to become so focused on the betrayal that we overlook God’s plan, which is that God’s glory and power is demonstrated BEST in our lives AFTER A BETRAYAL.  How many of us are so consumed with hurt that we cannot forgive those who betray us?  WE decide that he/she deserved EVERYTHING that they got because of their actions.  We must remember that God replenishes anything that is stolen.  Unfortunately, many people have been left alone, thinking their sin was too great of a burden and committed suicide as a result of unforgiveness.  If you can forgive, your public execution will also give birth to your public resurrection!

I forgave my son for his betrayal because he deserves it.  Because I forgave him, I do not wallow in bitterness, instead I cry for him because I know that God’s correction is much harsher than any punishment I could deliver as his parent.  I want him to know that he is loved, I don’t want him to feel like anything he does makes him unworthy of forgiveness.  The burden of betrayal is not just carried by one person: the victim bears it’s weight for a time, believers (those who participate in slander, etc.) share it’s weight for a moment, but the perpetrator carries the weight for a lifetime.  Forgiveness sets everyone free.

I (now) cry for Judas! 😢

“Encourage YOURSELF”

Going through the trials of life can be exhausting, everyone feels drained now & then. When you’re going through, you’re also pulling energy from those around you. It’s reasonable to loathe/sulk or stumble emotionally when you get hit with the unexpected. Sometimes, it seems like once you get delivered from one thing (before you can even say “Thank You Jesus”) you get hit with something else. But that’s how life is sometimes. This also means those around you may not have had time to get their energy up, to encourage you for the next thing & that’s ok too. 

Eventually, you’ll run into a phase of life where you have to encourage YOURSELF. Sometimes, you have to practice seeing the good in your situation until you start to believe it. As humans, we can become complacent with outside motivation, instead of building up the motivation within. To prevent us from becoming enabled, there are times that we need to be isolated so we can focus on what’s important. 

At some point, for some situations, for some things, you’ve got to encourage YOURSELF. That doesn’t mean reject the encouragement of others, that means to rely on the God IN YOU to pull the best OUT OF YOU. A self-motivated person is more pleasant to be around, a self-motivated person will find that aid is more available to them when they demonstrate that kind of independence, a self-motivated person is optimistic about any issue that may arise because they know God has not forgotten them, they trust God’s plan AND His timing. A self-motivated person may require a “pick me up” from time to time but not ALL the time.

So yes, sometimes you have to encourage YOURSELF in order to become a better version of yourself FOR yourself and those around you! 😊