Tag Archive | birthday

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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A Sunny Day

Today is my 36th birthday.  When I look back on my life journey these 35 years (and 1 day) I have lots of thoughts and feelings.  I am in awe of how the Father manifested Himself to me as a 19-year-old.  Even though I believed since I was a child, it wasn’t until college that my intimacy with Him exploded from being a believer, to becoming a follower.

For 13 years straight, everyday, I woke up to intimacy.  It was an intimacy I had never known.  It was what caused me to leave my fiancé, move in with my mom, and wait for the next steps.  As a college grad that is what He told me to do, so that is what I did.

I did not know then, that that was just the beginning.  That along with His intimacy, I would learn sacrifice.  I would learn that,

Love.

Is.

Sacrifice.

I am so blessed to have had such an amazing experience with the Most High.  That He would count me, a lowly black woman of a single parent home, born out of wedlock, to a hardworking family who made ends meet by whatever means necessary.

That He would call me, Daughter.

I counted it an honor to be His child.  To receive His love when I was so undeserving.  I counted it an honor to be His.  And in the midst of a dark and broken world full of pain, I was sheltered.  Not that I myself hadn’t experienced pain, but He was always there.  Showing me how to overcome it.

Applauding me when I did.

In the midst of that journey, He was producing something in me.  He was creating wholeness and a legacy that is still to be revealed.  At the same time, He was teaching me something.

He was teaching me how to suffer long.

In this season the lessons have intensified.  The stakes have gotten higher.  No longer have I wanted to be a student in what felt like an advanced course.  No longer did I want to die.

I realized, while standing at my mother’s grave last month that the path will always be too difficult.  There is a strength in me, an inner strength.  And it has been passed down in my bloodline from one woman to the next (our family is made up of strong women).  But no matter how strong I have been, I do not have the capacity to make this climb in and of myself.  It will always be too difficult for me.  I need Him.

In so many ways, now is my future.  As a teenager when I laid down my life for Him and surrendered my passions and desires, I hoped for my future.  I hoped for what is now.  I had an idea and an expectation of what that now would look like.  I believed “If I do things Your way, then eventually You’ll do things my way”.  But He doesn’t.  It is His way.

Always His way.

This last season has changed me.  Trauma does that.  In some ways it is a good change.  Now I know the compassion of Christ like I have never known it before.  Now I know what grace really is.  It sustains you when you face your darkest fears.  It covers you when you make your greatest mistakes.

I was talking to E recently and I told him that every year it rains on my birthday.  As much as I love birthdays and I love to celebrate, its discouraging that every year it either rains or snows in Cleveland, Ohio.  “It is at least always grey,” is what I said to him.  E being the eternal optimist responded, “But what if it isn’t?  What if its sunny and warm?”  I just shook my head at him and rolled my eyes.  “I have been on this planet for 35 years and every year it is rainy and cold.  Trust me.  I know.”

It is going to be 52 degrees today and sunny.  52 degrees in Cleveland, Ohio on April 3rd.  It has never been 52 degrees in my recollection of birthdays.  Ever.

I miss my mom.  I miss her because she was always the one who celebrated the loudest.  I miss her because I never imagined she would not be in my future.  She would not be in the now.

But it is 52 degrees today.  And I am enough of a prophet to know when He is showing me something.  “The season is changing”, E said.  And my heart lifted a little.  But not too much, for fear that it would be broken again, but just enough to where I was open.  Kind of like me saying, “If that is the case God, then show me”.

I welcome a change in season but struggle with expecting it.  I have had so many false expectations and did not realize it until they did not come to pass.  I guess that is apart of maturing.

I will spend time with loved ones today.  I’m keeping a small circle because my heart can’t handle a large one.  There are already people celebrating my birth and that is such a blessing when the one who gave birth to me is no longer present.

I’m grateful for His provision and His sustaining power.  It really is supernatural that I have never went without, even when I have not had a job.  I’m grateful for Him teaching me so many things in the past and maturing me to this point.  I would not have become the woman I am today had I not listened to His leading, especially when I didn’t agree with it.

I know that He is faithful and right and true.  It has just been difficult after such a long journey to trust.  Job was able to trust even though he was being slayed.  That is the level of faith I feel He has required.

I’m grateful He is more gentle with me than with Job.  He handles me with care.  Even in the midst of the storms and tests, He protects, only allowing so much, though it was more than I would have preferred.  He surrounds me with His people and meets me with His Word.

He guides me with His eye.

I am grateful for the foundation He laid, to sustain me through the journey.  We can never fully comprehend what lies ahead.  But we know that He is there.  Always there.

Now is my future.  And I don’t know what the next season holds.  But I can look back and see He has always sustained me.

And I know that is one expectation I am safe to have.

SHALOM

 

 

 

 

Getting Older

 

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People have been asking me what I’m planning for the big 3-4.  I honestly have no plans.  My emotions have been up and down (ok, mostly down) about the upcoming event and I don’t know how I will feel when it gets here.  Will I have a series of bursts of energy and strength that I’ve often experienced when the enemy has tried to come up against me?  Or, will I give in to the quiet stillness of my soul that has marked this season with Christ? 

I told my friend recently that I’m allowing myself to experience both.  I’m allowing myself to be grateful for the ground the Father and I have gained together, the victories and the wholeness He has created.  And also, I’m allowing myself the disappointment, confusion and frustration at the waiting.  I’m a numbers person and I do believe I am supposed to be, working in Accounting and all.  I believe numbers mean a lot to God as well.  He taught me a lot a few years ago just how important they were.  What I learned then was that His ways are not our ways.  His view is not ours and often He wants us to come up higher to see things from His perspective.  For a while there I was seeing but then the darkness came and I found myself lost, questioning very foundational truths that had guided me these 15 years.  I was tormented with fear and anxiety and I didn’t have time to think about singleness, I was just trying to choose life.  But I did choose and one day at a time I made it to where I am now: more soundness of mind.  More peace.  More grace.  Now that I’m here, singleness is a focus again.  I honestly never thought it would be this long.  I don’t disagree with the Master’s hand and plan.  I know without a shadow of a doubt His way, His timing is best.  But I need to process the fact that his timing is longer than I imagined.

For most of my journey I felt a security in my future.  I felt confident of His path.  Much of that confidence stemmed from my emotions and feelings; the perks of being less mature in the faith I suppose.  But now He has said I am more mature and He has treated me as such.  Instead of doing things for me He is teaching me to do them for myself. That’s been a paradigm shift.  One I haven’t welcomed freely.

The Father has been faithful in all things.  He has made promises and I have no doubt He will deliver.  But there is a process involved before the manifestation of those promises.

Psalm 105:19

Until the time that his word came to pass,
The word of the Lord tested him.

Like Joseph my friends and I know this testing.  We have each encountered our own paths of being formed by the Master’s hand and we have overcome many things.  But it seems no matter how many victories I’ve experienced, the next level is even more fierce than the last.  I believe this to be true with marriage.  I believe the tests will get more difficult and that is why the process in singleness is so needed, to create a sturdy foundation.

I am a blessed woman.  God is faithful and my cup runs over.  But I am still waiting and I did not know the wait would be this long.

The process this thorough.

The mountain this steep.

SHALOM

Unexpected Paths

I watched a periscope from my friend today where she shared about the unexpected outcome of some events in her life. She had been counting down to this point in the year and had an expectation of what it would look like when she got here. She was dissappointed, crushed even, with what she found.  I can relate.  I had such high hopes about this year.  Such an optimistic, expectation of what lied ahead. But instead of promotions and financial blessings and the next level of glory I desired, I became engaged in a battle I did not want to fight.

I have faught many battles in my faith and have had victory over them all (He always causes us to triumph). But never have I ever felt I was fighting alone. Until this season.

This season revealed some deeply hidden things. It exposed a lot of lies and false mindsets and beliefs. It showed me that God’s mercy has been the reason I have had the strengths that I have.  He showed me this by taking them away.

Life does not always turn out the way we plan or expect. When faced with this season there were many times I wondered if I would make it through the transition. Yes, I’ve seen His victory so many times but not with this particular situation. How could I receive deliverance if it has been an issue for this long? 

Finally before my final breakthrough I came to a point of believing that “Though He slay me yet I will trust Him”. No I did not believe He was slaying me but I did believe it was in His power to help me and He was choosing not to for His own purposes.

God has done too much in my life for me to leave Him but I see now He is the One keeping us together. It is His love, His strength, His grace. Not mine.

Here are some really good moments that have happened lately…   

  
SHALOM