Tag Archive | contentment

Unwrapped Gifts

It’s been a whirlwind of a year and though I received so many presents during my last birthday I wasn’t able to enjoy them all.  It wasn’t until I found a few in a drawer that I even knew some had been forgotten.  I texted a friend asking if she was the one who had given me the beautiful necklace made in Africa, thinking that only she would.  She confirmed in response that, yes she did.  I have been intentional about wearing it this week.  Along with the necklace I found a couple of empty journals, a super cute luggage tag and a traveler’s guide for black women.

My friends are great.

I wrote in the journal and made a mental note to use the tag on my next trip.  I have so many gifts and yet haven’t taken time to enjoy them all.  And that led me to thinking about the spiritual applications of this natural occurrence.

What gifts am I not enjoying now?

In this season?

In these circumstances?

I started a practice of gratitude a week ago.  I decided to be intentional about being thankful for just one thing a day for 30 days.  Clearly there is more than just one thing to be thankful for daily but I felt overwhelmed and pressured with that truth.  Just choosing one thing felt doable.  I have been doing good so far, and participating in this practice has helped me to focus on the good (Phil 4:6).

I recently read, It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way, by Lysa Turkerst and in it she talks about her decision to look for something good in her season of suffering.  She physically looked around her environment until her eyes landed on something tangible.  Something that reminded her of the strength and courage she would need to face her current circumstances.

It can be challenging to look at the good when your heart is aching from various heartbreaks.  When grief and sorrow seem to follow you wherever you go, and it surprises you because it never did before.  But even when telling my story to a friend just yesterday, she reminded me of the testimony that came out of this season.  The testimony of the restoration of a mother and daughter.

Our testimony.

I was putting a gift together for a friend, and I was so excited.  I was so proud of the creativity and thoughtfulness that went into the gift.  I knew it was the Lord for me to pull it all together.  I was searching for a box to mail it in when I came across a box full of stuff my mom had.  Some things she kept.  Some keepsakes.  There were gifts I had given her for Mother’s Day and it touched me so much that she had kept them.  And that I had honored her and showed love while she was still with me physically.  I then came across a dear picture of my grandmother.  She was a teenager and oh so lovely.  I had always loved that picture and remember seeing it hanging on my nana’s (great grandmother’s) wall as a kid.  Now it’s mine💕.

In truth it had been mine for the last year, but it was hidden in a box somewhere in the basement.  Unopened.

I know I can get into this habit of asking God for more.  More of what I feel was lost or taken or withheld.  But how much would it pain me if my friend, (who I just mailed their gift to), stashed it away and left it unopened? And then asked me for another gift? When I had went through such great lengths to show her my love by giving things that would be dear to her heart?  It would be disappointing to say the least. I would definitely be hurt.

So I want to be more intentional to look around in this season and see the unopened, unwrapped presents.  I already know about the gifts I didn’t get that I wish I had.  I have expressed my sentiments on that enough.  But what about the ones I have been given that I’ve neglected?  Like my grandmother’s picture?  Why should I be given more when I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed all that I already have?

Father help me to thoroughly enjoy the gifts You have chosen to give in this season.

Amen.

 

SHALOM

Summer Reflection:2017

There have been a lot of changes for me this year.  I posted a collage of pictures from the summer with the title: “What a great summer!” My friend/old roommate commented, “Was it really a great summer?!” 😳 She reminded me that we moved out of our old home this summer and we submitted to the move, both resigned 😑 .  “Oh yea, I forgot about that,” I said, but went on to explain that I was only thinking about the highlights.
Contentment is a difficult thing to practice and I have had my bouts with it.  God has put me through certain spiritual obstacle courses to develop me in this area but it seems like my humanity continues to oppose that particular fruit of the Spirit.  It takes some real effort to focus on the positive when the negative is still present.  I think even though social media can be abused/misused it does allow for us to celebrate the positives and the highlights of life.  I can honestly say that even though I find this season very difficult with its changes (and with its lack of change), God has given me many desires of my heart.  


And even when I have thwarted his gifts and misused his presents He replaced them with more gifts.  More presents.  The love He demonstrates is a love I do not understand.  I simply can’t fathom His mercy and grace and love but I have glimpsed it so much in this season that I feel I’m gaining some knowledge.

This weekend I’ll get to promote the books He gave me.  Writings that show how He used very difficult times and made purpose out of them.  I’ll also get to visit with some dear sisters who I have been on this journey with for 15 years now.  I’ll have more opportunities to experience His love and goodness in the form of community and social events.  These are things I have desired but did not know that He would so frequently lavish them upon me.


Even in the midst of heartbreak, pain, and suffering, there is His hand.  Leading me and guiding me and ordering steps that have been difficult to take.  My own testimony shows His faithfulness and how when we are weak, truly He is strong.

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

SHALOM

 

 

 

Being Made

I was listening to a podcast this afternoon that really resonated with me. It talked about young women always having a crush and always wanting to be in a relationship. Story of my life. It seems there was always a man either in my life or in my heart. I remember in my mid 20s being physically single but not emotionally. I was holding out for a young man I was friends with. I believed with all my might this was “the one”. Unfortunately I believed that about several others. My saving grace with this young man was that I knew enough to know that if it was to be, he would pursue me. So I never said a word. And then he got engaged. And then he got married. And I was glad I had never said anything. God was merciful and did give me a heads up about the situation and I was able to let go of that idea prior to the marriage. But still, it HURT. It seems I was always getting hurt that way; putting my heart on the line, and wanting someone who was not for me. 9 years of singleness didn’t seem to deliver me from this unhealthy habit and I couldn’t seem to find that healthy space of being single of heart. Not until this year. What I realize now is that I had the idea of a relationship with a man in the wrong place in my heart. It was in the center. Truth be told I have had a lot of things in the center of my heart: men, jobs, dreams, aspirations, and goals. But just as God told me several years ago when I wanted that man and He said no, I understand His reasons for saying no is the same for all of these things.
“I will have no other gods before me”.

He told me that when I was at a funeral, worshipping Him. I was struggling with this latest emotional breakup and that was His response.

“I will have no other gods before me”.

It was a hard word for me. But character can only be built through adversity and this walk of singleness has been its own kind of adversity.

Finally this last year I have learned He is the center. He is for our fulfillment. Everyone and everything is just extra. But I had to walk out those 10 years, because I had to unravel the generational curses in my bloodline. I had to be refined and proven. That was the only way for me.

I see now the longing and emptiness I felt was from a lack of awareness of His fulfillment, His contentment, His satisfaction.

I read Psalm 63 and knew I did not know Him in the way the Psalmist did. “You God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water”. I looked at others and could discern their commitment to Him. I could discern that I was missing something.

He did not hold that against me. He did not condemn me. Instead He paved a path that would cultivate this Oneness with Him on my journey to wholeness.

I am still learning to trust Him with the desires of my heart. I am still learning His completion and contentment and oneness. But I have hope now that I will manifest His promises over me because of how far He has brought me. I have hope to be whole, to be complete and to not only receive the promise, but to be it.

SHALOM

Live As You Are Called

woman-at-home

I have been listening to a woman’s testimony online who has been single 57 years and is getting married today. You may know of this woman. Her name is Nancy De Moss. I haven’t really followed her ministry “Revive Our Hearts” too much in the past but given she has lived a full single life for 57 years and is now being called to marriage, well, that is a topic that greatly interests me! I definitely tuned in b/c I wanted the wisdom she had acquired for nearly 60 years that didn’t just allow her to live an abundant single life, but that allowed her to thrive in the will of God for her life. Much of what she shared in her series “Before I Become a Mrs.” really resonated with what God has been teaching me in my journey and especially in this season. She shared that we should “live as we are called” just as Paul admonished (1 Cor 7:17). But she elaborated on that teaching and said that until God calls you to something different, keep doing what you are doing. So until God calls you to marriage, remain single. It really is about the will of the Father. We should not seek to be outside of His will for any reason, but remain as we are called.

Some other great tips she gave were to be content regardless of one’s circumstances and to live our lives as unto the Lord. I have learned recently how important contentment is regardless of my circumstances. I had to fight for joy b/c I was unhappy in both my personal and professional life. That meant most days I was unhappy! I realized I had to find this joy on my own and not seek it in another person otherwise I would be needy and dependent. I had done that enough in the past. It was time for something different.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with a group of teenagers about having healthy relationships. I shared from my book, my own story and all that I have been learning in this season about emotional health. I was in awe that God had opened this door for me when this has been my area of weakness. I did not have examples growing up of healthy marriages. I would have benefited greatly if I had someone to come alongside me and mentor me in the area of emotional health and healthy relationships. But yesterday I was able to speak to people around the same age I was when I found misguided love. In a sense I was able to mentor my younger self. And just as a new friend recently told me, though I did not have this guidance myself, I can now guide others.

I was speaking to a fellow single sister about relationships over lunch after sharing my teaching to the kids. We both have experienced God confirming marriage in our future. But I asked her, how should our single sisters feel about marriage if God has not confirmed to them that this is in their future? The statistics are against us as African American, educated women. Should they have hope for marriage? She made a really great point. She said that we should want the Father’s original intent. In the beginning He made them both male and female to reproduce His image throughout the earth and establish His kingdom. That was His original intent. We now live in a fallen world and there is dysfunction and people have choices. But as new creatures in Christ we should desire the Father’s heart as it was in the beginning.

This too pertains to calling. In the beginning men and women were called to be whole people, know their identity in Elohim outside of the relationship and come together for a purpose. That is the Father’s heart. We should live as we are called. And when He changes our calling, we should live in that too.

Regardless of whether our calling changes, there is One who stays the same. It is the One who stays the same that matters most.

Here is a great blog post that I have really enjoyed that encourages us when we are facing odds that seem to be against us: “The Odds Are Against Us, But It Don’t Even Matter”.

SHALOM!

Enjoying the Moment

I started making a power point of all of the highlights from this year. I know, I know, this is super Type A. But that’s what happens when you’re type A and come home every night with energy to spare. What can I say, I always need a project. Every year at the end of the year I do a blog post summarizing my life and what I learned from Jesus and Jesus’ hand on my life. This time I wanted to do something a little extra b/c I felt ridiculously overly blessed by all these experiences. I love love love to keep a record of life. Whether it’s through writing or taking pictures. There is something in me that wants to capture the moment. I am all too aware of how quickly life ends and therefore I want there to be some way to capture it. I also want to leave some type of legacy for those who will come behind me, whether its family or strangers. If in case they ask the questions, “What was important to Nicole or what was her purpose and what did she live for?” I want there to be something here, this side of eternity, that explains the answer.  The great thing about keeping a record is that you can relive those experiences over and over again. I simply pop open the photo album I made of my pics from Haiti and instantly I feel like I’m there all over again. 

  
 
 Haiti is forever in my heart.

Now, I have my little power point (half finished) that I’ll probably share with close loved ones sometime in December. And every time I play it I am there, living out those happy times with loved ones. Social media is great for keeping a record too. Facebook has these Facebook memories that I sometimes look at. Sometimes I don’t b/c there are some memories I would rather not remember. But in the case that there are those that I would, it’s there.  

I guess that’s the downside of capturing memories. Sometimes there are pictures that remind you of a different time and a different life that is now no longer. But even then, I’m learning as I get older, that is just a part of life. There is loss. And there is gain. And God is in the midst of it all.

I love music too. And I love that music can mark a time frame, like 90’s r&b. I listen to songs almost daily and it totally takes me back to my childhood. Music can capture a period of time and then remind you of that period years later. I’ll be incorporating music in my power point as well.

Life is a gift. There have been times that has not been my view and I’m sure there will be other times ahead where I’ll struggle with that view. But for now, I understand, there are times and seasons and like a wise man once said, there is a season for everything. And everything is for its season.  

To you my reader I say, find joy in this season. Find joy in this gift.  

Or at least in the Giver of gifts.  

Please check out my latest guest post at Abundantly You!

SHALOM