Tag Archive | grief

My Thoughts on (Extended) Singleness

Years ago, I did what fools do. I planned out my life.

Ever heard that joke that says, “Want to make God laugh? Then tell Him your plans for the future!”

Well, I did. But I still didn’t think the saying was applicable to me. In my delusion, or umm, pride…or maybe, naivete, I thought God and I were so tight that, well, “He wouldn’t play me on my plans.” I had some learning to do about God, and, well, life in general.

The thing is, I had my life planned out, but I left room for waiting. Or so I thought. After letting go of the man I loved, I prepared myself for a “time of singleness”. Even a very long time, by some people’s standards. Still, it was not long enough.

I was taught that I should be “doing something in the meantime” while I waited for this man to come along, and so I set out to “do those things”.

I wrote books. Got my MBA. Started a business. I did speaking engagements. Counseled others who needed to “overcome heartbreak.” Went on trips. Spent time with friends. Bought a home. I created a full life. And still, no husband.

Then, the unthinkable happened. 35 hit. I was officially in my mid 30s and single. But worse. I was alone. Really alone. Not like the alone I feared (like I was just single), but the alone that accompanies loss and grief and no kids, when you are fastly surpassing the child-bearing age.

I was blessed with plenty of people who surrounded me. They were there for the times they could be, but I was no longer “someone’s only”. I was no longer someone’s point person. The way that I had been for nearly 35 years of my life. And that reality, has been a hard pill to swallow. I, in fact, have been trying to swallow it for 2 1/2 years now.

I have enjoyed the gifts God has given over the years of following Him. He has been very intentional in His blessings. The thing is, those blessings do not remove the constant ache for what I gave up all those years ago. And what was removed just 2 1/2 years ago (which was family).

Still, I wait.

Thanksgiving was a hard one. I have struggled every holiday for as long as I can remember. I was just re-reading a journal entry from several years ago where I admitted this. But I had never been truly alone. I just seemed to have less (in this area) than what others had. What my friends had. What society had.

I did have a friend eventually join me for Thanksgiving, though he was delayed. And the food was good, along with the company. So in that sense, it worked out. But those hours leading up to it, well, they were just painful.

I say all this to say, the journey is hard. I have tried for it not to be hard for so many years. But it just is. At least, in this area.

Today I was reminded that even Jesus needed help carrying His cross.

I had this thought out of nowhere, and I like to think that it was from God. Certainly it was full of grace and compassion. So the fruit of it, at least leads, back to Him. My interpretation of that thought, was that it is ok to feel weak. The word He keeps sending me in this season is actually that He is perfect in our imperfection. He is strong in our weakness. When we fail His love never does. That is a blessing, because I am unable to be strong. At least, in the way that I used to be.

Years ago, friends and I watched a documentary of black women in their 40s who were single (and did not want to be). I looked at these women who were successful in business. They were homeowners. They took trips. They lived very full lives. But, they wanted love. A romantic love. I looked at these women, and I thought, “That won’t be me!”

Now at 37, I admit to myself. It is me.

I sit here in my new home, with my cat at my feet and my wine in my glass, and I see. It is me. It is the life I did not want.

I suppose that’s what sacrifice is. Laying down what you want, for what He wants.

Choosing His way over your own, in hopes that one day there will be a reward. Either on this side, or in eternity.

But I have met my match with this path. I have realized it will always be too great for me. I guess that means He will get the glory if I overcome. He will get all the praise. It will only be Him.

I miss my mother everyday. I miss the parts of her I did not appreciate when she was here. The consistency, the devotion, the hope she had for my life. I struggle to remember that she is full of joy and love in a way that she could never be on this side. I give in to those feelings of grief and loss, even when they are untrue. I simultaneously feel grateful and disappointed with God’s plan for me. It is not like that for other people, at least, per social media. They do not mourn the way I do. They bounce back from hard things. They let it roll off their backs.

But that is not my way. And At 37, I realize, life is simply never what you expect it to be.

Here is me and BJ, after I decorated my tree with loved ones.

SHALOM

Do You Want a Cat?

Sometimes God is just funny. Like, I normally think about Him in terms of being loving, and gracious, and kind. Caring, and gentle, and intimate…but not really funny. Today, I had to literally laugh out loud though, because I realized, He really does have a sense of humor. The Guy is a straight up comedian.

About a week ago, I was not in the best mental space. Let’s face it, we’re in a pandemic, and no one really knows how long this thing is going to last. 2020 has been one shock after another, and I feel like, as a collective whole, humanity just could not catch our breath. We took one big gasp in January, and have been holding it ever since.

The first shock was Kobe. I sat there on the couch in my well-furnished basement, with a good friend, and watched CNN, for hours. We were told that Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter had died with several others in a helicopter crash. We were horrified and entered into a period of grief along with the whole world at the sudden loss of a well-known superstar. We were all suddenly reminded of the brevity of life, even if we weren’t avid sports fans. For months, Kobe and his family, (and those other poor souls), were the talk of our conversations. Were the topic of our heartfelt prayers. But then, the senseless injustices of the Black community came to a head, (once again). For me, it was Ahmaud who gripped my heart. Ahmaud Arbery was a young Black man who was gunned down while running in his neighborhood by three white men. He was unarmed. He was vulnerable. And he was killed. I laid out on the floor, weeping profusely. I could not stop. I couldn’t believe he was so young, and I kept imagining his mother finding her son. Dead. Bleeding. Lifeless. But then I didn’t have much time to even grieve that, because George happened. George Floyd, whom the nation responded so loudly to, was murdered by a white police officer, while his fellow officers stood by, and watched him kneel on George’s neck, mercilessly, while George cried out in agony, weeping for his mother. I could only watch (stomach) some of the video footage.

And somewhere in between these men, was Breonna. Breonna Taylor was gunned down in her own home, by police officers. A horrifying case of mistaken identity. The police officers were released by the way. No charge. No justice.

Throughout these atrocities, there were riots, and looting, and chaos. Grief, and fear, and sorrow. Not to mention, a recent presidential election which usually has folks up in arms in general, but would now have them even more so, during this particular election.

And all of this has happened in the midst of a world wide pandemic, of which the United States is leading in cases. I don’t even want to get into my own feelings of personal loss. My own personal grief. I just shared all this to explain why finally, after the last eight months of walking around with a mask on and dousing my hands in hand sanitizer at every moment’s chance, I felt the heaviness seep in. I felt it, and I recognized it from a past experience I didn’t think I would make it out of.

Well, that particular morning while feeling the heaviness, I decided I needed a pet. I have looked a few times in the past for one, particularly a kitten, but every time, it just never panned out. One time, my bestfriend and I went to the animal shelter near me. This was right when the pandemic hit, but they were closed due to the new crisis. Another time, I looked on Craigslist, but whenever I spotted a cute furry creature I could fall in love with, they would already be sold, once I reached out to the seller. I remember even over a year ago, my old roommate and I looked for a pet, but I didn’t find one I connected with, so I waited.

This particular morning while looking online though, I figured it was time, because of what I was dealing with. But I had a lot of work to do, and so after 20 minutes, I needed to switch gears from online perusing for a furry companion, to bookkeeping for clients. 5 hours later, I was spent. I actually remembered that I was looking for a kitten that morning once done working, but was too tired to go back online. I just wanted to veg out. Interestingly enough, within minutes of me having that thought, I heard a knock on my door. I was confused. It was the middle of the day. Who could it be? Anyone who visits normally calls first. Why didn’t they do that? Why didn’t they ring the doorbell? These were all the thoughts swirling in my mind as I made my way, cautiously, up the stairs, to the door. I peeked out, and saw this little light brown kid. He was holding a black kitten in his arms and peered up at me with large eyes and disheveled black hair. “Hi. Do you want a cat?” he asked.

Now, call it my upbringing with a single mom who was from the streets of Toledo, but my brain was racing. Is this kid in cahoots with a rapist, or mugger, or killer who is going to pop out while I’m distracted by his cuteness with this kitten and knock me out cold? So I start praying, Lord, please don’t let me be a victim in my foolishness to open this door to a stranger! (I’m serious too. I really did pray that.) Then I’m channeling my discernment, feeling for God, because what are the chances that someone is going to offer me a kitten on the very day I was looking for one? I looked at the kid, confused, and he explained, after glancing over his shoulder down my driveway, “My aunt is giving them away.” I stood back, assessed him some more, and knew I had to make a quick decision. I also knew it was God, and that this was my time to commit—or not to commit—to being a pet owner. Did I really want this? But never one to miss out on a blessing, I opened my hands, and he dumped the scared little fluffy bundle into them. I said, “Thanks,” and that was that. He left, and I was in awe.

I have been the proud owner of a small black kitten since that day (it will be one week tomorrow). His name is BJ and I named him that after the suggestion of a good friend who said to name him after a character in my book. (That is, my newest book, and first novel, that I’m still working on.) But people kept asking me what “BJ” stood for and I would cringe because I really didn’t know. It bothered me greatly because I’m someone who values words, values names, especially. I wanted some weighty, deep name that meant something, but all I came up with was, “BJ”. I loved BJ in my novel because he is a loving male friend to my female protagonist, but that couldn’t be enough. I needed a deeper meaning.

So here is the funny part. Remember, I said God was funny? I was driving today from making my normal daily Starbucks run (this began during the pandemic to get out of the house). A venti coffee with light cream sat in the cup holder, while I was thinking about God giving me a black cat, and thinking about how He had done the same thing before and gave my old roommate a black cat. She had named him Benny (short for Ben-Samuel, a nice, strong, Jewish name), and if you’ve been following this blog for a few years, you’ll remember a couple of blog posts about him. He was definitely an interesting character! So I was thinking this, and not for the first time you see. I was thinking about its significance. That God was doing something twice (usually in the Bible when He says something twice like, “verily, verily”, this means to pay attention). And then I thought, Isn’t it funny that God gave us two black cats whose names both start with B? Then it dawned on me! I had to laugh, and I had to share the laughter with someone whom I knew would understand its humor, so I called my old roommate Lianna. I told her how I just realized what “BJ” stood for! “Benny Jr!” I exclaimed with glee, and she laughed with me, and told me that was what she had figured when I initially shared his name!

Lianna, Me and Benny, 2016

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked. Of course she thought I already knew, but I didn’t. It was plainly in my face and I couldn’t see, I guess, until the time was right.

I laughed hard, and it was a good laugh. A needed laugh. And I think God held that little secret from me for a whole week just so He could see me laugh that hard. Just so He could see my face fill with joy.

Which it does, every time I look at BJ. AKA Benny Jr.!

God is so significant in ALL things. He is an amazing provider, and loves giving us the desires of our hearts. He also loves a good laugh, I’m convinced.

Meet BJ (Ben-Samuel Jr.)

SHALOM

Rare Air

Last night I conversed with a woman who’s known me nearly 20 years.  You know you are really getting up there when your friendships last decades. 

You know you are blessed as well…

We have been running our spiritual race side by side since our early college days, where our competitive natures led us to some type of outside obstacle course for Freshman.  I will refrain from sharing the rest of that story as she tends to gloat at its ending (even though I did in fact, win) however looking back at it now I wonder if it was symbolic? We were learning how to finish our race even then.

Although she and I have stories that are unique, we have “The Call” that is in common.  The Call to live for Him, and we started it together, our sophomore year of college.

I remember those early days of fire, where we were so hungry and so thirsty that nothing could satisfy.  We laid down our greatest desires at the time.  We have been laying them down ever since, and leaning on each other for support during the very difficult moments.  As of late there have been many…

I think God is gracious in that He gives us these people to support us when we are faced with overwhelming obstacles.  I get so frustrated with the journey and what all it has entailed, but I look around and see that I am surrounded by many who are on the same path.  Many who are living extraordinary lives for Him. 

Even if they seem ordinary to us.

I told my friend last night, “We are breathing rare air.” That was the phrase that had come to me.  I don’t believe this phrase is reserved for Presidents and Nobel Peace Prize winners.  No.  I believe that when we are being counter cultural, when we are doing the opposite of what the world says to do, when we are holding on for dear life (and even give up, but He is still holding us), when we are being the standard in a generation that has none, well, we are rare.

And the air is thinner up here.

And yet we are still breathing.

I am reminded of those in Hebrews 11.  Those who are in the “Hall of Faith”.  The Word says that the world was not worthy of them.  Dare I say God feels the same about us?  Those of us who are here now, enduring, persevering, sacrificing, suffering long?  Dare I say He sees us and knows our sacrifice and the very depths of it?  Knows we have given our lives even if not physically but emotionally, mentally, intellectually, socially?  And yes, even some physically?

It is a rare thing to believe in something supernatural.  In something you cannot see.  And even rarer to demonstrate that belief by the actions you choose.  To follow Him, knowing that you may not get what you want.  But in the end, really, don’t we all just want Him?

In my younger days I would have thought since He is all I want then nothing else will matter.  But now I see, it is Him just wanting to be first.  It is Him just wanting me to want Him more than anything.  Of course He has good things for us.  Of course He wants us to enjoy this life.  But not if we enjoy it more than Him…

My friend shared last night that He was giving us grit.  Yes, I agreed, and went into a story about a prophetic word I received years ago.  He said he was giving me backbone then.  That word was about 9 years ago.  If I was getting backbone then I cannot imagine what other body parts he developed in the time since of this journey.

There are times I feel slain and I am reminded of Job’s cry.

“Though He slay me yet will I trust Him”.

It is not an easy posture for one’s heart.  But He never promised it would be easy.  He only promised He would be with us.

And the blessing is that He is in His people. 

And they are with us too.

Nearly 20 years later…

SHALOM

 

 

New Beginnings: Miracles In the Mundane

I was standing near her grave feeling a little awkward because he was standing there too.  Never could you have told me we would be in this position (on speaking terms, let alone at her grave).  I had come there a little early with a friend so I could have alone time to think about them; the women who had gone before me.  The ones who paved the way.

Years ago when my grandmother passed I never visited the cemetery.  I didn’t see a need to, she wasn’t there.  Instead she was with her Maker.  Now that both of them are gone I have found the grave to be a place of connection.  I connect with Him.

I connect with them.

So when he asked me if he could come too, well, I was understandably hesitant.  We hadn’t really spoken in two years, when everything happened.  When I shut the door to further communication.  So meeting with him in such a vulnerable place would be a risk.  But one I felt Holy Spirit was leading me to take.

My bestfriend was there with me.  And really she is my sister.  She’s been by my side since I was 14 years old.  We fell out in college (over what, neither of us can remember) but she was already grafted into my family by then.  My mom and gramma held on to her.  I think they were saving her for me for when I would be mature enough to value her.

And oh how I value her…

It was a rainy day, although it wasn’t currently raining, and I was fighting a fierce cold.  So inconvenient considering the world was dealing with a pandemic with the same symptoms.  We kept taking my temperature and I was assured I didn’t have this illness, this COVID-19.  But I did have a cold and it wasn’t letting up.  I was just going to have to push through.

He and I didn’t embrace when we met out of precaution because he’s older, but I felt his love just the same.  We stood there and talked and it was clear to me he finally had gotten it.

“Thank you for calling me out on my sh$t,” he said.  I appreciated his frankness.  He was finally demonstrating those qualities I had desired for so long: humility, ownership of wrongdoing, maturity.  These were qualities I had wanted in a male counterpart.  In the past I had wanted these men to see that me walking out of their lives was the worse thing to have happened and they needed to get it together to get me back.  But they wouldn’t.  Now standing here in front of this man, my own father, I realized he was the one who really needed to get it.  And he did.

He finally did.

I was guarded but he still made me laugh and even tear up.  “You are mine,” he said.  “You will always be mine.  You can hate me but that will never change.”  And I was immediately reminded of the Father’s love, and of my mother’s (both are the same really).  It was evident that was the love that was in his heart.

He and I are closer in physical distance than we have been my whole life.  I told him God was giving him a new beginning.  Now I can see that He is giving us a new beginning.

I feel the Father has said the warfare that has come against our relationship these 30+ years is finally over.  He is giving us time.  Just as He did with my own mother.

The Father has been so merciful with me.  I have experienced great pain and heartache within the area of relationships and family, yet He has chosen to move and bring restoration and redemption.

It has not been easy, nor will it be.  But He has still been working, bringing about His promises in His own time.  And for that I am grateful.

He is still producing miracles.

Even in the mundane.

P.S, Here is a pic from my 37th b day!  Fierce and Fabulous 😊😉

 

SHALOM

2 Years Later

It’s been 2 years but it feels more like one.  Every day I think about you and since that day life hasn’t been the same.  Things moved swiftly foreword yet at the same time stood still.  So many days I thought the pain would never end.

It hasn’t ended but it’s dimmed.

I see you at the store, on tv, while running errands. You are everywhere and anything can trigger a memory; a time when we were together in the physical.  I realize how quickly my childhood passed and how you and gramma were the bulk of it. 

And its over.

Somehow God saw fit to surround me with so many who are not blood related but who love me just as fiercely.  Sisters who are steadfast, spiritual parents who fill the gap, brothers who care…  I still yearn for my own but I so appreciate that they are there.  I never would have made it if they weren’t there.

Just a few moments this past year…

I moved.  And moving was bitter sweet.  I laid in your bed for as long as I could before I had to pack it and relocate.  I kept the mattress. It’s like laying in your arms.  And literally this home is hugging me with its warmth and comfort.

God is the best comforter.

He comforted me these last 2 years for sure.  Using people and circumstances and financial blessings.  I have been so blessed.  But there has been so much emptiness and loss.  It feels like the holes are just now being filled.

And now we are struggling with a virus.  The whole world is struggling.  They call it a pandemic.  And it’s kind of crazy to me its a virus that is related to the illness that you yourself battled some 20 something years.  Those last few days were horrible.  I don’t even like to think about them.  And some would say you lost the battle, but I know better.

You won.

I saw you in your glorified body in a dream I had right before your passing.  I had no idea what was to come, but the dream has been one of many comforts.

Thank you for being great.  I would not be who I am without you.  I wouldn’t have made it this far.  I’m so grateful for your sacrifices and how you poured out your life for me.  Even when things were rough between us, you were always for me.  I appreciate that now.  I didn’t know our time would be so short and the only regret is that I didn’t know.

But even in the not knowing we knew.  And spent those last few months together.  And I will forever treasure them.  It is a gift of the Father who knows when we don’t know.  Who sees when we don’t see.  And who is always for us.

Thank You Father for providing these 2 years.  For keeping my mind and teaching me mental strength. For being with me even when I felt alone.  For being the net when I jumped by faith.  For catching me when I fell.  Over and over again.

Your love is miraculous.  And it is that love I pray that somehow others will experience in the midst of such uncertainty.  Such difficult things happen in this life and yet You are the hope.

You are the light in the midst of darkness.

And now we are the light.

Forever and always Alayna Miller, you are loved.

SHALOM

Thoughts of An Introvert

I am sitting in my living room on an overstuffed cream chair with a cup of green tea and a book on grief. The crackle of the candle on the window sill is almost drowned out by the ocean wave sounds coming from my speaker. I can smell the scent of pumpkin roll coming from said candle and wish once again that it would never run out. It’s the perfect setting to wind down to.

I had a networking event today of which another introvert called me out on being introverted. She voiced my inner thoughts on being grateful that I had made it out and yet I was simultaneously looking forward to when I would leave.

I did get involved in a few good conversations on travel and such and was encouraged enough that I only left a half hour early. But then, so also did the host…

I am becoming very aware of my introverted ways particularly when I compare myself to my more extroverted friends. When I receive lengthy texts flooding my phone with information I get overwhelmed. When I am invited to several events at once I feel the same. I even do not scroll often on social media because taking in so much information on a variety of people (most of which I never talk to in person) is too much for me. Normally I post. I post about me and the people in my direct sphere. I can handle that. But anything more, feels too much.

Still I love connecting. Usually it happens in small groups like this past weekend when I hosted a friend to share on Mary Kay products. I was able to offer appetizers and a warm and cozy space. I love hosting. Especially in this house which perfectly fits me.

This house has been such a comfort. It is cozy and warm and I feel like I am being hugged at all times. I finally got my bookcase up and tomorrow my loveseat will be delivered. The living room will be complete and all the furniture is now purchased. It is just a matter of wall decor…

I never dreamed I would so enjoy interior decorating or have such a knack for it. But God knew. I stand in awe that He had a place for me. I think about all the places I wanted before I found this house and they were not for me. But it was not because there wasn’t a home for me, there was. It was because they were not the right fit. There was one particular home I really really wanted. I had fallen in love with that house. It hurt me when it did not work out but there was a lesson in that. He was teaching me something even in it falling through.

He has purpose in all things.

Tomorrow I have a long day ahead and I know I will need to get as much rest as I can. I know myself. I know my energy levels. I know when I will reach my end and when I have the capacity for certain engagements.

There are so many joyous times in this season and still sad times. A friend said that watching my life is like reading a good book. I concur. I feel that way sometimes. Like when I go on amazing trips with friends or shopping and catch a good deal or meet with a new client for my business. It is a fabulous life indeed. But still not without its difficulties.

I realize the difficulties have made me more compassionate. I have such a heart for those who experience tragedy or loss or suffering in a way that I did not before.

Again, He has purpose in all things.

Even in the hard things.

Especially in those…

SHALOM

Moving By Faith

Yesterday I made the move.  And it was right after I spent the holiday out of town with dear friends. 

I had packed everything ahead of time because I didn’t want to be stressed the night before trying to get things together (after my flight got in).  I am a great planner and I knew planning was going to be key to getting ready for the new season.  Still, there are some things you simply cannot plan for…

The night before the move, my good friend picked me up from the airport and we enjoyed our fleeting moments together.  She will be entering her own new season soon which also involves moving so I am savoring all of my time with her.  She agreed to spend the night and we started the next day at 7 am.  I needed to pick up the U-haul truck and make it to my house by 9am.  We were making good time and decided to stop for coffee and breakfast.  Little did we know we were going to need the sustenance!  I had a few other friends coming to help but I was relying on the movers I had hired to be the real muscle.  In the past my mom and I always hired movers.  We did this because we did not have family, or men, to help.  We were always doing things on our own and independence was ingrained in me at a young age.  I had friends who had large families and men in their families that would help them relocate.  I always envied that about them…

Well about 30 minutes after my friends and I started moving I realized the movers I had hired were MIA.  I called them and was initially told they had the wrong time down (even though they were the ones who had chosen the time).  Then I was told they were stuck in traffic (which I knew was a bold face lie because we had been out and there was no one traveling the day after Black Friday).  So I cancelled the movers and my friends picked up the slack.  They were amazing.  For 2 and a half hours we created assembly lines, passed boxes to and fro and took trips back and forth between houses.  We even stuffed ourselves in the front of a U-Haul truck due to lack of space!  (Shout out to Lo for being a real G) LOL.  And the crazy part about it all is, WE HAD FUN.  We laughed and sang to the music and talked.  It was a great time of fellowship and comraderie and I knew it was the Father.  He was giving me people.  He was giving me a longtime desire of my heart.

There have been several things that have happened in this moving process that has shown me His love and one of them is His use of people.  There were some things I simply could not plan for and He has shown me He is the ultimate planner.  People would pop up at just the right time.  My neighbors who I needed to borrow plyers from.  My pastor who’s time is already limited and yet has made it a point to fix anything at my house and breakdown the large items I need to get rid of.  His sister who has been so much like a mom to me in this season has been present to look at houses and rejoice with me when I found the right one.  My friends, who cleaned the house and helped me physically move.  My realtor who took some appliances I needed to dispose of last minute (not to mention the one who actually found this house when I had given up).  Even my personal trainer who was squeezed in front of the U-Haul who I’ve only known for 2 months.  People, people, people.  God has given me people.

God will fill up the lack.  He will provide and meet the need however He so chooses.  And this is how He has chosen in this season with me.

There were some hard times this week emotionally.  The holidays usually are hard for me and now even more so.  I am still working through my grief and disappointments.  There are changes in my relationships due to the new seasons.  There are changes in my relationship with God.  But every morning I wake up in this new house and I feel His peace.  I walk upstairs and my breath is taken away all of over again.  This house is symbolic of hope for the future.

My friends and I are walking out a different path then those who are not chosen.  We struggle with how different it is.  We so want to be “normal”.

“Singleness is getting awkward,” she said.  I laughed but I knew it was true.  It has been awkward, I thought.  I am a little older and so I knew that that played into my perception.  It is also painful, I thought, but didn’t share.  I didn’t want to project my pain onto her although, I have so appreciated that I have been able to be completely honest with her in my journey.  I have so appreciated that while others transition into building families and focusing on their loved ones, I have people around me who are still in it.  They are still walking out this path of waiting.  It is comforting to have others who understand and empathize with the journey.

I am grateful for how the Father has moved in my life.  He has been very intentional with what He has blessed me with and the opportunities He has given.  He has also been intentional with what He has not allowed.  Only He knows how we are wired.  The intimate desires of our hearts and what will bring about His best in us.

I have changed a lot in this season.  Life does that.  While some may think it is not for the good, I disagree.  I think we need to be balanced out in our perception of life.  I think we need to understand the sufferings of humanity to understand the compassion of Christ.  If we don’t go through dark times we will never be relatable.  I have had to learn how to be relatable.

Thank You Father for how You have moved in my life.  Thank You for showing Your Hand and making it known that I am Yours.  Even when I feel alone.  You are always there.

SHALOM

 

Home Sweet Home💕

This weekend I got the keys to my new house. I am still in awww. It does not seem real and I keep marveling at how FAST everything happened. My friend asked me last night what were my first steps of obedience that led to this gift? Thinking about it for a minute I shared about making the decision to move in with my mom. That was such a leap of faith. At the time I had been living on my own for 10 years. The place I was residing in was quaint and cute and comfortable. I had no real reason to leave and was enjoying my time in that city. I was also enjoying my time with a new roommate.

But when my mom asked me to live with her to help her financially to transition from her job I said “yes”. My friend marveled at my response and felt like it showed great faith, but for me I had heard God. How is it faith when He is making it clear what He wants? Either way that was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I had no idea the Father was giving us time.

After her passing I knew He would be sensitive to my time in the home we had shared. I was in no rush to move even though I knew eventually I would. That house served as a great comfort to me in my grieving process.

The next step of faith was probably choosing to end my lease and pay month to month. My pastor suggested it and although I did it I still thought it was very unlikely that I would move anytime soon. I just new I was overpaying and would need to move at some point. There were a few things going wrong with the home and they were indications that I could not stay there. The desire of my heart was to have my own which would also fulfill legacy.

And then I met with my friend’s realtor who I had underestimated. I did not know what a jewel she was and how divine our connection would be. I had given up on the home buying process and she was the one who kept the faith. She was the one who found my home.

“So how did you know this was it?” My friend asked. “I didn’t.” I replied. I explained it was everyone around me. It was the open door after open door. It was seeing God’s hand in the people and the process.

I fully expected to fall in love at first site with my house. There was one house in particular that I did that with. I was so giddy over that home I couldn’t sleep the whole night. But the day before I was going to put my offer in it was taken off the market. I was so hurt. It wasn’t mine.

“So when did you fall in love?” Another friend asked. “Now,” I said. I am falling in love now. I go from room to room in joy and awww. I discover so many little things that bring me joy and make me smile. I can feel the Father smiling with me. It is like He is discovering through my eyes. It is new to Him because it is new to me.

This home brings me comfort. It gives me rest.

I asked the Lord why did He choose this one and not the other one? “Intimacy”, He said. This home is more intimate. It feels like it is embracing me and hugging me when I am in it.

I am so blessed by the people and the process of buying a home. God is truly in all things. And now for the first time in 3 generations we are homeowners again.

May He receive all the glory in this home and may it be used for His good purposes.

SHALOM

Unparalleled Peace

I was walking with a friend outside.  It was midday summer; perfect and sunny.  We had just come from lunch where we had the benefit of eating outside.  The venue allowed dogs because we happened to be in a “dog city” so folks were happily bringing their dogs to this particular restaurant.  My friend is becoming a dog lover so this setting afforded her the opportunity to “ooh” and “aww” over the cute k-9’s strolling with their owners who passed by our table. 

As we walked, we took in the scenery.  It’s a gentrified area and those have their own pluses and minuses.  Pluses because they get “redone” with the money that’s flowing into the city.  Minuses because the previous residents get kicked out when they can no longer afford the new amenities being added.

As we walked, my friend even stopped to smell some beautiful flowers at a flower shop and I took note.  We had been talking about contentment and enjoying the moment.  I knew God was working in her.

“Do you feel peace?” she had asked me at some point.  We had already been together for over an hour and were catching up on each others lives.  I had told her about the ups and downs in my romantic life as well as this season of recovery.

I thought about her question.  “Peace?” I asked as I mulled that one over in my head for a sec.  Did I feel peace?  I asked myself.  I struggled with that.  Because in all honesty I did not feel peace.  I did not feel ok with this journey of surrender and submission.  I did not feel ok with grief and loss and trauma.  I did not feel ok. 

What I eventually told my friend was the truth.  I did not feel peace.  But I could not disregard my past journey of God showing His faithfulness.  That when He had me do hard things in the past, it was actually for my good.  So I said something to the effect of, “No, I do not feel peace.  But He must see something that I don’t.  I also understand that I am an eternal being and this life is fleeting.  I understand the importance of living for the eternal even when in the natural I am not rewarded.”

And that mindset is a mindset that I have carried.  To do what is eternal over what is natural.  But as I am growing and evolving, the Father is expanding my mindset.  He is showing me the “both, and”.  That there is a dual dynamic with His ways.

I will be teaching a workshop soon on bookkeeping.  I started my business this time last year and though it hasn’t grown as fast as I had wanted, there is growth.  In the class I will be debunking accounting myths.  I realize many small business owners confuse bookkeeping and accounting and I want to shed light on this topic to help them become more successful.  I realize that is what God is doing with me.

He is debunking my myths.

I believe there are lies we all believe and depending on your journey, your family history, your DNA, your “wiring” so to speak, you may have more false beliefs than others.  Or may have those false beliefs in certain areas of life.  For me, I have struggled with trusting God and others.  And I have had limitations on that trust.

I did not realize that the reason I did not have peace when my friend asked me that day was because I did not believe wholeheartedly that He was for me.  I did not believe that ‘He would withhold no good thing from me.’  I believed that I was missing out on something good.  In some far off way I did believe He had something better, but at this point in my journey, I would take the good.  I thought that was a reasonable request after all I had experienced.  Little did I know, it may have been good for someone.  But it would not be good for me…

Now I see His ways are for us, even when they are hard.  Even when they are long.  Even when they are not the “ideal” of what we think our life should be, or what other people’s lives are.  He knows us intimately and He knows what is best for each us.  That realization has given me peace.

I now have peace.

I am so grateful He has given me peace and He has exposed the lie.  I have not felt this trust in so long, it is a wonder to me that it is here so freely.  We are all wired uniquely and He leads us on the path that will bring out our transformation of our true eternal selves to be manifest in the earth.  He takes the good and the bad and somehow uses it all for His end purpose.  It is truly amazing.

I pray the Father reveals to you your false beliefs, and keeps leading you along His path of righteousness.

After the storm…

SHALOM

 

Thoughts on Suffering

Today I got to spend the day with a woman who has been used greatly in my family.  Decades ago she became one of my grandmother’s very best friends.  When my grandmother passed away, she was there, standing in the gap.  She and my own mother grew closer and I knew she was like a surrogate mom for my mother.  A godmother.  Since my mom passed away, she has been faithful in sending me cards and pictures and other tokens of her affections.  Always reverencing their love for me (my mother and grandmother), reminding me of what I struggle so often to remember.

That I am loved.

me and linda

Today she spoke about her battle with breast cancer.  She has in fact battled this disease three times.  She was honest in her speech, sharing that yes, emotionally she struggled with this 3rd diagnosis.

“Lord, again?  Haven’t I already been through this?  Haven’t I already passed the test?”

This resonated with me greatly, as I thought about my own journey in waiting, and relationships, and surrender.

“Lord, haven’t I already passed this test?” I’ve wondered so often.

But His answer to her may not be the answer you hear in the pulpit, or online, or at a popular mega church, because it’s not a popular message.

It’s a message of the cross.

“Yes daughter,” He says to her.  “But I got you!  I got you!” 

I am discovering that one can experience and overcome various tests, trials and tribulations.  Even in the same area.  They can have those experiences and keep going through them.  Again, and again, and even again.

We see this in the Bible.  What does God say to Paul when he asks to have the thorn removed from him three times?

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Cor 12:8)

And even with Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, crying out to the Father to remove His cup.

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.  He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ (Matt 26:36-39).

I can’t imagine the depth of sorrow Christ felt to ask to be removed from this experience of physical suffering.  I can only imagine it must have been so great because He also knew all the world would be saved through it, and yet it was so painful that He  still did not want to experience it.

And in both cases (Paul and Christ’s) God basically said, “My will is for you to suffer.”

We do not like suffering.  Our flesh hates it.  Whether it is physical, emotional or mental.  When we are hungry we want food.  When we are tired we want sleep.  When we have to use the restroom we find the nearest toilet.  We do not like being uncomfortable.  And suffering is, in my opinion, the worst kind of uncomfortable.

But suffering in the kingdom, is highly regarded.  We cannot get away from that fact, and any gospel that is preached without the teaching of suffering is erroneous.

2 Timothy 2: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…

One of my struggles in this season is not the teaching of suffering.  I think I understood that early on in my faith, that I would need to do hard things for Him.  That I would need to lay down my life.  But I didn’t know about long suffering.  I didn’t know about the lengths and depths that He could call one to.  I didn’t know that He could call you over and over (and even over) again to experience difficult circumstances.  And I didn’t know He could give you power to sustain you through it.

I got to speak with some women today who are related to my grandmother’s friend.  They too are in seasons of recovery from loss, grief and trauma.  They too are overcoming things they never imagined they would go through.  And I can see the changes.  I can see there is more humility, there is more kindness.  Our hearts are tender now…

Suffering changes you.  But if you know Him, it can change you for the good.  He can work it for the good…

When Paul cries out to have his thorn removed, we find out why God said ‘no’.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure (2 Cor 12:7).

He was humbled through this thorn.  He was sustained by His grace.

I realize the Father has been after something in me in this season.  Something that I didn’t know was there.  It was distrust.

I have known that the way I have related to the Father has always been intimate and passionate, zealous and possessive  (on both sides).  Yes, I have loved Him.  But I have consistently struggled with trusting Him.

Looking back on my journey, I would trust Him to a certain extent.  And with my singleness I would only trust Him up until a certain number of years (we have passed that number of years by the way).  Of course, consciously I was not aware I was doing this.  But He knew.

At the service today my friend Linda testified about her “thorn”.  She testified that the Father would not remove it, but that He would keep her through it.  She also testified that she would worship anyway.

Wow.  To worship Him anyway.  Even after the third time.  That is the faith He is after.  That is the call for His chosen.

I am grateful that even in my pain and grief and anger, He has never changed.  His love and loyalty are steady and even though I don’t experience the high feelings of emotions I did all those years in my journey, I sense His love as strongly as I used to.

And for the first time, in such a long time, I trust Him.

I trust Him like I used to.  I trust Him like I did as a babe.  I trust Him like before the tests and trials.  Before the losses and setbacks.  Before the confusion over my identity.  I trust Him.  Because now I can see (as I have in the past but forgot) that He really is for me.  That His choices really are in my best interest.  Especially when it comes to relationships.

He protects me.  Like a good father does His child.

I am His.

What I know now, that I didn’t know earlier in my faith, was that His way somehow feels/is harder and at the same time protects.  I also did not know that His way does not negate (long) suffering.  That though He is for me, pain is inevitable.  And in life pain is inevitable. But at-least with Him it can be used for our good.

Because in order to reign with Him we must suffer.

That is the cross.  That is being a disciple.  That is being His.

SHALOM