Tag Archive | faith

I Wish That God Would (Just) Say Yes

There are memories now. They catch me off guard when they make their way from subconscious to consciousness. From the recesses and dark crevices of my mind. From back then to now as if now were  just minutes from then, instead of years.

The memories consist of her and I, always alone. And though the situations and circumstances change, the thing that stays the same is my longing for more.

I remember we were at someone’s wedding reception. It was one of her friend’s kid’s. We had been to so many it’s hard for me to remember who’s what we went to. But I do remember we were there, and how much I wanted my own.

I was 27 then, around the age where elders told me I was an old maid, but when the average of my generation were just pairing up. Marrying off and settling down to have their children. Apparently millennials were waiting longer to get married.

Still, I’m pretty sure they didn’t wait this long.

At this particular gathering we had a good time. We put on those silly costumes and masks and dressed up for the photo booths so many people have at these parties. We were mother and daughter and this was a moment of bonding. It wasn’t easy back then, celebrating for others when my own desire nawed relentlessly from the inside, but I did it. Because I had hope.

I remember sitting by her side, at the park, discussing our future. Or rather my future. It was unsaid that mine was really hers and that she would be there when our dreams were fulfilled. My dreams were her dreams so I think it’s safe to say they were ours. We sat there and talked about my grandma and I felt the pain of there just being us 2. I thought nothing could be worse then there just being us 2.

I was wrong.

I read C.S Lewis’, “A Grief Observed” recently. I read it within 2 days. I highlighted every other page, text messaged my friends the parts that resonated and then gifted my pastor her own copy.  She is grieving too.

I was so in awe of Lewis’ transparency. I couldn’t believe a theologian scholar could be so in touch with his emotions, and that he could adequately express exactly how I feel in this season. (To me) It’s like he’s swinging at God, taking punches. The religious mind would be horrified at such a picture but I think once a level of suffering is experienced, one understands that God Himself gets it, allows it, and just dodges the swings.

A flood of questions have come to my mind since I stopped running. They take turns pouring out like the memories that push themselves to the front of my mind. Mostly they start with, “Why”.

Why did You do it this way?

Why did you take Your presence away when I would need it most?

Why could you not have just said ‘yes’?

I’ve been on this journey long enough to know He is not entitled to us.  He does not have to answer to us. But sometimes, He wants to. Sometimes (and in my case, most times) He responds because we are in relationship together. So I keep asking the questions even though I don’t have many answers. Still, I think apart of Him (and maybe all of Him) is happy I have made this step.

Now atleast we are talking and I am not running.

At least not as fast.

SHALOM

Advertisements

Filling Her Shoes

I was raised in a 2-parent household.  But not in the traditional sense.  Instead of a mom and dad I had a mom and grandmother, whom I fondly referred to as “gramma”.

1927723_531526294958_3256_n (1)

When I think back on my childhood, it consisted of these two women.  We moved away from extended family when I was young so they were all I had.

Things weren’t easy, but I never went without.  Birthdays and Christmas were always a big deal.  I woke up early, excited to open the things I had written down on my Christmas list.  And things that I hadn’t.  Meals were always provided for, even if I qualified for “free lunch” at school because of our income.  Good night’s sleep were had, even if my mom and I shared a bunk bed and a room.  They made sure to keep me out of inner city schools even if I had to catch a few city buses to get to the suburban school, or lie about my address.  We did what we had to do.

My mom and I had our ups and downs and my grandmother prayed vehemently for us to stay in the ups.  Sometime around her own passing, I can see, God started answering her prayers.  He filled the gaps.  He started a plan of restoration and healing and love.  There was always love there but sometimes it was hard for me to see it in the midst of the brokenness.

My most fondest memories are towards the end.  The three months He gave us when the brokenness was healed.  The humility and redemption and love.  Now I could see the love from her shining so brightly.  Every time I came home and she greeted me at the door, wanting to hear about my day.  The grief she held when I was being persecuted by my employer.  It was like they were persecuting her too.  Her presence at the hospital when I had surgery, never leaving my side.  The safety I felt, sitting next to her in Bible study, learning the Word together, sharing the gospel.  Sitting between her legs as she braided my hair, like she did when I was a kid.  Playing pool together and her rooting for me to win.

Her, always rooting for me to win.

43025503_10104919424241258_7060733046995025920_n (1)

Those are the things I didn’t know I would miss.  I only thought about the things I wouldn’t.  You can never anticipate the loss.

My one friend asked, “How can anyone fill her shoes?  How can anyone, when she was your biggest supporter?  Your most faithful ride or die?”  I understood what she was saying, but I thought about it and knew the answer.  “You are right, there is no one person who can fill them.  But that is why the Father gave me so many people to fill them.  He gave me one to sew my clothes like she did because I can’t sew for the life of me (and have no desire to learn).  He gave me another whom I have viewed as a mother figure for the last 12 years.  He gave me sisters while my own refused to speak to me.  And of course He became Father, when my own abandoned me at 2 years old.

29541213_10104572623487748_6355332046294045696_n (1)

But the truth is her shoes have been so great to fill and I have battled this last year with that fact.  I didn’t know how her passing would affect me.  I thought I could bounce back or be strong or pull myself up by the bootstraps like I had so many times before with different hard things.

Instead I have ran from the pain.  I have self medicated.  I have retreated in isolation instead of choosing to trust the One who has never let me down. 

I have felt let down.

Anger has been a constant companion, but I know that is only a mask for the pain.

There have been so many days I have felt alone.  Not just because I am single with no immediate family, but because His presence has been so far away.

I remember standing at the grave site, before they buried her.  I stood at my grandmother’s grave for the first time since her passing.  I never had a desire to go because I knew her spirit wasn’t there, but now, there is where I needed to remember.  I stood there and wept and so many women stood over me.  They held me and wept too.  My loss was there loss.  This was how He was now manifesting His presence.  Through them.

It is now one year later and I didn’t grieve the way I would have liked to.  I wanted to check off my checklist with my healing process. But some things are too great to be neatly categorized onto a list.

Today I will meet with the women who have been family to me.  Being with them is life and love and comfort.  We will have French-pressed coffee and share our hearts.  I will have my first counseling appointment for the first time this year and I will take a road trip with a woman who has been relentlessly by my side these past 18 months.

We will meet other women, one blood related, one not, but both who love me dearly.

As difficult as this last season has been, I am grateful for the people.  They avail themselves and restructure their lives just to be what I need.

They are love with skin on.

And even though the nature of our relationship has changed, E is there too.  Being what I need him to be in this season.  Rooting me on to heal.

I have to remind myself my mother chose to leave.  She was sick and she didn’t want to put me through the experience of longsuffering as a caregiver that she went through.  She also knew the people that I had in my life.  That I would be ok because of them.

There are times that I am alone and that is apart of my story.  But there are so many times where I don’t have to be.  For that I am grateful.

And I know, that even though I can’t sense Him, feel Him, the way I used to, He is there.

Always there.

Rooting me on.

And so is she.

 

SHALOM

 

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

Kingdom Business

I’ve always known I would one day start my own business.  I just didn’t know when or even what it would be but it was something that stayed in the back of my mind as a “one day” thing.  Then “one day came”.  After my fourth season of unemployment and about 9 months of waiting, it came.

I’d like to say I “waited well” but the truth is I dragged my feet.  I kicked and screamed.  During the course of applying and interviewing and resume-updating, I resisted His nudging to move forward in creating an LLC. Until finally all of my options were none and I could no longer resist His nudge.

I took the steps but still in my heart wondered if He could really be leading me to do this thing full time?  Certainly not!  Everyone knows entrepreneurship takes a while to reap a profit when getting started!  Clearly God knows this as well! So of course I need to be trying to find something to supplement this vision?  But circumstances said otherwise…

During the time of my unemployment (before I got my first client) a dear friend of mine lost her mother.  I was the only friend who could be there for her physically because a work schedule was not an issue.  It was of course significant for me to be the one walking with her through a difficult time because I myself am still in recovery of my own difficult time.  I was with her when I found out my client had hired me.  We stood in the middle of the craft store and I cried tears of joy as she embraced me in her arms.  It wasn’t until I received that offer did other offers from other companies come through.  They came flooding in.

For several months the doors were closed.  Now they were swinging open.

Initially I took an offer but realized it would take away from building my own business.  I would actually be getting paid more working for myself and logically it made no sense to reduce the hours for my client.  By faith, I declined it.  And by faith I started building for my client a system that I hoped would meet her needs.

The beauty in not only seeing the fruit from this step of faith to be a small business owner is that my first client came through a woman who has had so much purpose in my life.  First a blog follower, then a roommate, then a friend, and now a sister.  Working side by side with her shows me the Father’s love and care.

IMG_1344

His provision is consistent in every area.

I have struggled so much in my career and yet never have I went without.  Often I have felt the “downtimes” were too long.  The seasons of unemployment.  The constant feelings of rejection when hearing “no” and facing closed doors.  Even when knowing it is for the best, it still hurts.  Now I can look back and see HIs perfect timing.  9 months living with my friend/now sister.  9 months living with the woman who loved me more than life itself.  And 9 months of “rest” and recovery before my business began.

He cares.

And I’m honored to be continuing the legacy of the women who made me who I am today in a field that was once my weakness and is now His strength.

IMG_1343

I am grateful for ABN Bookkeeping LLC.

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

Healing Fast

I remember years ago a dream I had. The details are fuzzy but what stands out to me is that I was in trouble and a dear family member came out of nowhere to rescue me. The interesting thing about it was that she was in a wheelchair when she did it! She literally flew out of the air in a wheelchair and came to save me! The message to me was that this person deeply cared for me and would allow no obstacle to hinder her from getting to me in my time of need.

The issue with the dream is that I felt the exact opposite in real life about our relationship and there always seemed to be a battle between us. Isn’t it interesting how God sees one thing and it looks totally opposite in real life? He sees the end from the beginning and as an intercessor, I have been taught that His heart is to manifest heaven in the earth.

I believe in heaven everything is perfect and that includes our relationships. There is no offense or hurt or sorrow. We have perfect relationships with everyone.

At the turn of the year the Father started moving rapidly in the area of this relationship. I had given up. I was so deeply hurt and wounded I did not believe it could be repaired. I was wrong. Not only did He repair it but He did it quickly! Decades of pain were healed in one conversation!

I accredit my loved one with her heart of repentance. Sometimes we have hurtful tendencies but that does not mean we intend to hurt. It just means we are broken.

It is beautiful to watch so many years of intercession being rewarded. To see the unfolding of a flower that has withstood so many wars.

It is a new season between us and I do not take this experience for granted. The weight has been lifted from my heart and I am grateful for it. Sometimes we can carry pain for so long that we do not even know it is there until it is removed.

Thank You Father for removing my pain and giving me a deep desire of my heart.

SHALOM

The Problem With Stereotypes

About a month ago I took a poetry workshop downtown. I love how my city offers these free opportunities to learn and grow in writing and I find it interesting that I have a gift of writing poetry. I never thought of myself as a poet. I never thought of myself as a writer either…

At the workshop I made note, it was a diverse group. A mixture of blacks and whites, young and old. Then the facilitator came. She was late and entered with her body mostly hidden behind an occupied stroller. She was dressed in jeans and an old Tee and I was surprised she was the teacher. There was a young man in the group who seemed to be “off” and I figured he had a mental illness. There was another woman in the group, older, black and talkative. She told a lot of jokes and seemed (in my opinion) a little “off” as well. I made a conscious decision to be open and receive because I know from experience God can use anyone. We shared our writings and our hearts and the man who I thought was “off” was actually pretty “on”. Turns out he had a syndrome that caused him to seem different but he was intelligent and articulate and his poem revealed the gift that he is to the world. The woman who was talkative brought me to tears with her heartfelt letter to the Lord and I feel myself tearing up right now at the memory.

And our instructor, who appeared to be uneducated (in my opinion) was very knowledgeable and skilled in her craft.

I recognized the Father showing me my own stereotypes in this group and how inaccurate they can be.

I too was being stereotyped. I was dressed in a collared shirt and showed up with my mac computer while everyone else had pen and paper. The instructor made comments about my preferences and social life. I knew that she thought I was “middle class” and did not really know my story. On paper I’m sure it would look the way she assumed…

I recently met a man who challenged more of my thinking. In this climate of racial tension and social injustice I thought those who would be most aware (or “woke”) and sympathetic to these issues would need to share the same color of my own skin. Certainly they would not come from “privileged families”. But then I met him and he did have that background but had a heart to help urban communities heal and transform. We spent 2 hours talking about such things and I realized I had misjudged him.

In my career I have always been favored. I have always been “seen” and valued for who I am eternally. But then I wasn’t. I was met with the stereotype and a picture was painted of me that couldn’t be further from the truth. I learned a valuable lesson that day, when someone doesn’t know you they can easily misjudge you.

The problem with stereotypes is that they keep us from getting to know the true identity of someone. We like to categorize and put people in boxes because it makes us feel more comfortable, but sometimes those boxes limit us in expanding our mindset and views. We miss out on opportunities to learn and evolve as a result of interacting with someone who is different.

It’s easy to fall into using stereotypes. It’s kind of our default. But the Father has intentionally made us all diverse because He is diverse. And I believe the only was to truly see Him is when we all express our diversity.

I look forward to that day of seeing every tribe and every tongue worship together the One Eternal Being who created them. It will surely be a sight to see.

Revelations7:9

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

In other news, congratulations to my best friend who recently got engaged!!! More to come on that front😊😉. #newseasons…

SHALOM