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The Beautiful Challenge

I’m in Arizona right now visiting friends. The same friend I was maid of honor to just last year. The same friend who has relentlessly pursued me in the course of my grief and devastation.

When I learned my mom passed away she flew in from Haiti within days. 1,633 miles. She was on a business trip and instead of returning home to be with her new husband she came to be with me.

I’ve known this woman for several years and knew that her heart was of a rare purity, one that those who have it, also have a promise to see the Father (Matt 5:8).

During a time of recovery and healing my emotions have been everywhere, my thoughts equally as such. Her understanding and loyalty have been a great comfort.

These last few days we lived. We went on a Gondola ride with her hubby. We climbed the bear willow canyon on a fierce Jeep excursion. We laid out by the pool they have in their own back yard.

In addition to that I was treated to deep pools of bubble baths, wine and delicious meals. I have been catered to. And all in the name of my birthday.

E told me a while ago that when he has a difficult day, instead of using the word difficult, he says, “It was beautifully challenging”. I can look at my life and see that same theme. So many unexpected difficult hard parts. So many amazingly beautiful ones.

Yesterday while we made our way up the mountains my breath was taken away with the deep red browns, sharp rich greens and picture perfect blue skies. If I didn’t know it before, I know it now.

God is an Artist.

I knew what I was experiencing was something my mother and grandmother never did and maybe only dreamed of. I knew that my life was touched with beauty and that beauty was connected with the people He had sent to me when I didn’t know that I would need them.

I previously asked a question, “Lord, why did you take away Your presence when I would need it most?” But now I see He provided me people when I didn’t know that I would need them. And that now is when I would need them the most.

The Father places the solitary in families. I remember reading that passage of scripture years ago. I remember back then appreciating it, but still my heart yearned for my own.

It still does.

I’m realizing this life is “both and”. It is both the highs and the lows. It is both the light and the darkness. It is both the cross and the resurrection.

I have been in a season of recovery and therefore am more sensitive than normal (who knew that was possible?). My heart is tender and I need to be handled with care. God is so good at that, handling us with care and putting us around people who get our journey. Even if they don’t understand it, they love us enough to try.

I can look back on my life and see His intent towards me. He made His call clear from day 1. The call was to die. He is intimately acquainted with all of our ways. He knows those things that are near and dear. He knows when we are truly sacrificing.

I haven’t experienced this amount of pain ever, at least not without His presence.

But even that isn’t true.

His presence is everywhere…

I am grateful for these people who call me family. I am grateful to be adopted into the Father’s household of faith.

To have Sunday dinner and eat birthday cake and hear loved ones celebrate me. Like family. That is the care and tenderness of Him.

My heart is still aching every moment of every day. But part of that I know is good. It means I’m feeling when for so long I wasn’t.

It means I’m closer to healing.

My counselor has been so great and my friends have been so great and even though I don’t know when my healing will come I know He is surrounding me with His care.

At 36 my life doesn’t look at all the way I anticipated. Still, there is beauty in the midst of brokenness.

There is love in the midst of pain.

There is hope.

SHALOM

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Chess Moves

I’ve been playing chess off and on for 15 years now. I remember in high school a coworker at an after school job taught me the game. He was 30+ my senior. I won after the first game. I started playing online at college and my then boyfriend and I enjoyed playing with his glass-piece set. Those were good times.

The cool thing about chess is that the harder your opponent, the greater the opportunity you have to improve.

I played with a friend one summer and every time I beat him. Every time. It may seem odd but I realized then that it wasn’t fun winning all the time. I realized it was because I wasn’t being challenged. Not everyone enjoys a challenge but I definitely do.

Now I play with Emmanuel and have finally met my match. He wins most of the time. And while there’s a part of me that hates to lose, there’s a greater part that strives to win. I have become a better chess player playing with him. I’ve started learning how he thinks. One sure way to beat your opponent is to out think them.

Yesterday at fellowship I was thinking about chess. And I was thinking about how we are all like different pieces on the chess board. Each piece has its own way of moving and not every piece can do what the other pieces do. For instance, a knight can only move in an “L” shape while a rook can only move horizontal and vertical. I was thinking how I felt limited in my movements in life. There are certain boundaries the Father has placed and I have struggled against them. I have looked around and compared and have been frustrated, feeling confined while others appear free.

Within moments of me having these thoughts the prophetic came. I was told that I am a jewel to the Father and that I cannot do what others do. I have questioned Him on this and He is saying they are the boundaries placed because I am the standard. All of this was confirmed in my heart, but still I have been frustrated. The call has seemed too great. The standard too high. How can I be the standard in my place of weakness?

But even now I am reminded that when we are weak, He is strong.

I shared these things with Emmanuel. I told him about the chess pieces and feeling like a knight, limited in my movements. He looked at me lovingly and with care. “You are right that there are only certain moves you can make, even the Queen cannot do what a knight can do. But really you are not a knight, but a queen”.

I was blessed by his affirmation though I fought to deny it. Sometimes it’s easier to minimize our role when the road gets so tough. But I remember the Father giving me the same word 2 years ago when I needed it so I knew it rang true.

And really we are all Kings and Queens in His kingdom.

SHALOM

Panera

I stood in one of my favorite places.  Panera.  Not sure why but I’ve always found comfort in its wooden booths, warm fire place, and doughy aromas.  At least, I have since grad school.  This particular location was truly a reminder of my time in school because it was the very one I often visited near the campus.

I stood there and had flashbacks of working diligently, pouring over debits and credits for hours on end, and drinking lattes to stay energized.  So many hours and months and years, working towards a goal I would eventually achieve: my MBA in Accounting.  But while I was driven and excited and encouraged at this endeavor, I still felt the longing of a single soul awaiting companionship. 

The longing burned within me.

No matter what I did to ignore it, it lingered.  I thought about this and how many years have passed.  On that day at Panera I didn’t feel the intense, burning, longing that I felt in my 20s, and even in my early 30s, but I still felt…alone.

I liken my desire for a romantic relationship to fasting.  When first starting a fast the hunger of food feels overwhelming and the task nearly impossible.  Yet as time goes on the desire simmers.  It’s still there, but it feels “dulled”.

With fasting, you learn how to be full off less.

The stomach shrinks and with it so does your mindset.  As a friend once told me when not having enough for a meal, “Well, there’s always water.” She said this because she has experienced several 21-day “liquid only” fasts.

Water becomes enough.

Memory after memory visited me as I waited for my order.  The painful ones.  The hard ones.  I thought about how time had moved but my circumstances had not.  I also thought about the guy I had met recently.  We were in the early stages of getting to know each other and I had not yet received a phone call.  I started debating on initiating the call but decided against it.  That just wasn’t me.  Within moments I felt my phone vibrate.  It was him.

We talked that night for the first time.  I sat and ate my food while looking out the window and being very much aware of the Father’s provision.  I had reached a place of understanding that we do not always get what we desire in this life.  We are not promised that.  I understood self denial and waiting and humbling one’s self for the sake of the kingdom.  In fact, I am still learning those lessons.  However I think there are new lessons He is teaching me, hence He is moving in a new way.  Because in that moment, while sitting in Panera, looking out the window and having the first of many to come conversations with a man who has great purpose in my life, I knew the Lord was saying, “See Nicole, your circumstances are changing.”

And more importantly, “Nicole, you are not alone”.

To prove it He brought me, Emmanuel…

SHALOM

An Open Letter to My Precious Jewel


I picked you up yesterday like I have so many times before. Still, it had been a while.  You’ve grown and I had flashbacks of when you were a baby: an aggressive round little brown girl.  I never had a brown girl of my own and even though I wasn’t chosen to be your godmother by your mother, you chose me.  And so did God.  

So we bonded.  An easy bond.  I loved you.  An easy love.  And somehow I ended up being a role model and praying for you constantly that you would break the generational curses.  You had a hard way from the start and I knew every prayer would count.  You’re smart, perceptive, resilient, and a survivor.  I can see easily how God has given you the gifts and talents to overcome the deficit of resources you were born into.

Yesterday we road on a hay ride, ate junk food, danced and I stood in a line for 40 minutes for you to get your face painted.  

You had never ridden on a hay ride and I love introducing you to new things.  It did not escape my notice that when I dipped my fries in bbq you did the same.  And when I took a chair in that 40 minute line, you did the same.  You follow me and that reminds me of the responsibility I was given.  The one I never asked for but couldn’t help but say yes to because of the fondness I have for you.

Pretty soon you’ll be 10 😮.  You’ll be a preteen.  I’m seeing the changes in you each time I see you.  Now you no longer make goofy faces at the camera, you actually smile at it.  You’ll be hitting some important milestones and I am in awe that I got to be a vital part of your story.  Without me even realizing it, I had a special assignment in your life.
And you have a special one in mine.  On mother’s day when I get those calls they warm my heart.  As a childless women in her mid 30s I recognize that God gave me a spiritual child.

I look forward to our continued journey together, watching you grow and praying for your wellbeing.

I know our connection is a confirmation that you will do great things.


Always cheering for you

Love,

Nicole

Building Slowly

I admit I can be an impatient person.  Even after all these years and all the tests God has used to develop patience w/in me, it is not my preference to wait.  But in the world of getting to know new people and developing relationships, I have come to value a person that takes their time.


This summer has allotted me with several occasions to meet new people but no matter the person, the outcome was the same: things moved fast.  There were frequent phone calls and text messages and connections made, but always a tone of urgency and even insincerity.  This time however I am intrigued to have a different experience.  In the short time of our meeting, he takes his time.  There is careful balance of showing interest, but not diving in too deep.  It is nice when someone can correctly match the emotions and physical boundaries of a relationship with its developmental stage.  I have been in so many situations where that was not the case and for that reason I appreciate it all the more.

I heard it said recently that women lose their mystery quickly these days.  As Christian women that can be easy to fall into because many of us do not get pursued often so when it happens we can get so excited that we give away too much too fast (I have always struggled in that area).  Then afterwards, often the man does not feel the need to earn what has already been given.  He does not feel the need to rise to the occasion, because instead we lowered ourselves to it.

I’m trying to learn from my past mistakes.  All things are redeemable with God and He makes all things new.  I want to use this new opportunity to value myself better, stay true to my identity, and enjoy the slow building in the hopes that taking our time will produce something a little bit more longstanding.

SHALOM

 

Poetry Slam!

Hi guys! I think I’ve mentioned I’ve been branching out in my writing more. One of the ways I’ve been growing as a writer is by taking a poetry workshop. To celebrate the completion of our class we are having a poetry slam this Saturday!  If you’re in the area I’d love for you to come! Details are below😊.


SHALOM