Tag Archive | hope

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

Advertisements

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

 

 

 

 

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

Overcoming Anxiety (Poem)


I can’t believe it’s been a year.

More than a year.

I have to remember the tingling in my mind.

The needles in my brain.

Stabbing.

Stabbing.

Giving me no peace.

No rest.

No time to be.

There was a hand gripping my heart.

A very large hand, and I woke up in the middle of the night

Only to see night

Struggling to see Light.

It was gone. Overshadowed by darkness and pain. He was gone.

“How could You forsake me”? I cried. And cried.

My tears went unanswered.

My fears kept demanding attention.

Implanted there by white men who enslaved my people with chains and whipped them with whips ‘til the skin peeled off their backs.

Nobody had their backs.

Nobody spoke their language.

I couldn’t have made it at the bottom of that ship because just the fear I was experiencing was only a portion of what they went through.

Just the awful grotesque darkness that invaded me for weeks

And months

And more than a year, almost drove me to suicide.

Because a person needs their mind.

A person needs a sense of identity.

And when they don’t have that, then who are they?

Who are they but a wondering soul waiting for each day to bring them truth.

One day rolled into the next.

And I realized that if God keeps waking me up there must be a purpose.

There must be a reason.

He stood there–distantly–guiding me with His eye, showing me the way.

His way.

I trusted in His way because it had never let me down.

I sat down.

Peace in my mind.

Hope in my heart.

Love in my members.

I sat down, resting in that place and I had to be reminded of the needles in my mind. They threatened me with intensity and my propensity to give in to fear-lessened.

Just like the demoniac, I was touched.

Slowly.

Quietly.

In a way I didn’t want, but a way that needed to be.

I was free.

SHALOM

Beginning to Bloom

Tis the season for transition.  For moving.  For meeting new people.  God is opening my heart.  He is opening me like a flower that is blooming.  The season is changing.  There are lots of prophecies coming forth.  Lots of confirming words.  Lots of things to look forward to.  I share my struggles with my sisters.  With my roommate.  With our cat.  I’m going to miss him when I leave, but I’m grateful they will not be too far way.

After five years I’ll be saying goodbye to my landlords.  The same ones who came to my 30th Zumba party and my first book release party and gave me a job when I was laid off.  Such love.  Such favor.  Such family.

I’ll be saying hello to the woman who raised me.  The woman who needs me in this hour.  The tables have turned.  I am honored to be there for her.  I recognize the sacrifice that is shown on my part.

Sacrifice displays love.

There is a sacrifice of another sort in my belly.  It has been there for quite a while.  He has been there for quite a while.  And even in the messy way I have responded to the sacrifice, He, like a loving Father moves towards and not away.

At His nudging, I practice opening my heart.  I practice having conversations and being open and letting new people in.  I do this because I realize the only way we can receive a gift is to open our hands to receive it.  Open our hearts to receive it.

Hoster-Flower_Blooming

It is almost June.  It is almost summer.  The season for blooming is here…

Father give us grace and courage to be open.  Give us grace to bloom.

SHALOM

After The Storm

There is a quiet these days.  Each morning I wake up and its not like the mornings of years past but its not like the mornings of months past either.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the Father’s love, or being tormented with fear (which has been the case), I feel–quiet.  I feel stillness.  I feel a victory from overcoming this season and an encouragement to keep moving forward.

I’ve been writing a lot lately.  Not on this here blog, but on my laptop, with the cat, under my fleece.  My roommate has been so gracious to listen each evening as I share the short story I’ve been working on.  She is so affirming.  A fellow writer and with much more experience, her compliments and feedback hold even greater weight.  This story I’m writing (which is actually almost complete) brings me such joy.  There are some prophetic elements to it as well which has been very interesting.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share more on that in the future.  I’m reminded that a while back Jesus told me to fight for joy.  He said, You need to find things in life that give you joy.  A naturally melancholic personality, this didn’t come easy.  But we can do all things through Christ and I have learned (am still learning) the art of joy. 

Writing brings me joy.

My bestie visited me recently and we stayed up ’til 4am.  I haven’t done that in YEARS.  We reminisced on college days, when we were just teenagers and in love with Jesus.  Now we are in our 30s.  She’s a mom and a divorcée.  I’m an author, still single with no children.  We have come a long way.  “We are the best of the best” I told her.  And I meant it.  I believe God desires His best to be manifested in our lives.  And I believe that best can only be manifested if we stick with the path He created for each of us.

She and I have stuck with that path.

It has not been easy.  Anyone reading this blog sees clearly my ups and downs, but always He sustains me.

Writing my short story shows me how the author uses circumstances and people  to get the protagonist to where she is going.  I’m sure that’s how the Father is when He writes our story.  He puts people and situations in our lives, ultimately to bring out the person He created before the fall.  Before the womb.  Before the dysfunction.

There was a period of time where I was shocked by the storm.  Shocked by the darkness.  Now looking back, I can see that it was just a shadow, it was not death itself.  If it were death it would have taken me out.  I thought it almost did, and maybe it almost did but I know to Him, it was just a shadow.

Now that I’m on the other side (still fighting of course) I can see I was bigger than that storm.

And I wouldn’t be a better version of myself had I not gone through it.

I pray the same for you.

A few things that bring me joy…


SHALOM

Living Without The Reward


This year has been full of blessings.  A great roommate (shout out to Lianna), our cute little cat Benny and a host of social activities with lovely people who feel more like family then friends.  I admit I am spoiled with favor from the body of Christ.  So much of my journey has been walking closely with like-minded people who serve as friends, pastors, mentors, etc…  It is rare that I have felt alone.

I think God is specific in the gifts that He gives us.  I think it has to do with our calling and purpose and identity.  Those are exciting words right?  There were so many great men and women in the Bible with exciting callings.  But every time I read those stories I see that what makes them great is what they overcame.

I keep thinking about Sarah and Abraham.  Three years ago Holy Spirit hit me hard with a word regarding their story.  He showed me that my journey in waiting would be similar.  Surrounded by love and strengthened with His intimacy, I was encouraged.

That was three years ago.

It takes a unique person to wait on the Lord.  I mean really wait on the Lord.  Scripture makes it clear, when you wait on the Father, it is not by your own strength;  it is by His.

I remember asking Him why He had us wait, to which He responded, “So that I will get the glory”.  When things happen according to the “culture’s” time frame then its easy to say that man made it happen.  The world will say that there was no supernatural force or outside component aiding in the events.  But when Abraham and Sarah got pregnant at 90 and 100 years old respectively, who got the glory?

God.

This couple was blessed in the end like so many men and women of the faith.  God made it worth their sacrifice.  But before the reward came, there were many days the reward was not there.  There were many times of doubt and fear and loneliness, hope deferred and faithlessness.  These things happen while waiting.  It is in this in between state I find myself in.

Many of my friends do too.

The Word says that God is our reward.  I realize that Word was much easier to believe when I actually experienced His love and intimacy.  I can look around and see many kinds of rewards in my life.  Many areas of reaping.

But I feel more like Hannah these days:

1 Samuel 8: Her husband Elkanah said, “Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons?”

Hannah had a husband who loved her and favored her over his other wife.  She was a blessed woman but she desired a child and her husband did not meet that desire.  He was never meant to.  God put that desire in her for a specific purpose; to bring her closer to Him and to lead the children of Israel.

I do not know what my future holds.  I only know my past.  My past is full of met desires and amazing gifts and God’s faithfulness (in my life and the ones I love).  And I understand that even if He never did another thing He has already done too much.

But there is a place for living without the reward.  There is a place for grieving the sacrifice of “Lord, not my will but yours be done”.

And that is the place I find myself in.

SHALOM