Tag Archive | waiting

Walking Together

ECCLESIASTES‬ ‭4:9-10‬ ‭AMP‬‬

“Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up.”

Over a year ago I watched my friend minister to her mother.  She hovered over her hospital bed, fed her with spoonfulls and played sermons from her favorite preacher online.  They prayed together and she tended to her every want and need.  I watched from my side of the hospital room in awe, knowing their history, knowing God was teaching me something.

He was teaching me forgiveness.

I knew in my heart that at that point in my life, I could not do what she was doing.  I could not tend to my own mother with such care and intimacy.  I had too much pain in my heart.  Little did I know, I would actually experience the loss of my mother before she would lose her own.  While my friend was in a long-term care situation, my experience was sudden and unexpected.  Yes, my mother had been sick for a long time, but that was nothing new.  She had been around for the last 20 years with her illness, why would I expect her not to be around for 20 more?

This weekend was my friend’s first Mother’s Day without her mom.  It was on my heart to spend the weekend with her.  I really only had 8 months under my belt of walking this unique path before her, but that seemed to be enough for Holy Spirit.  Indeed He had used me to walk with her last year through this experience, while I myself was still grieving.

I myself am still grieving.

But we made it through.  We attended a women’s event that talked about friendship and sisterhood and God’s intent for both.  We dialogued about our mothers and how we were continuing their legacies.  I was in awe to see how many similarities we had with our journeys.  In so many ways we were experiencing the exact same path.

She had a list of what she wanted to do and I strived to make those things happen.  Good food, good movies, good company.  I only had one thing on my heart and that was a 90’s R&B throwback concert from a group I grew up enjoying.  I knew that if my mom were here, that’s what we would have done.

So that’s what we did.

I’ll be honest and say I cringed every time I heard those words, “Happy Mother’s Day!”.  I was annoyed every time I saw others posting their pictures of their happy families that were so full and overflowing.

There was no way around it, their cups were overflowing in an area where mine ran dry.

We made the best of what we had.  While at the concert the group we saw talked about family and having your family here with you.  Well, my friend and I had unique situations with our families.  I placed my hands on the women beside me.  They were now my family.

This season has been eye opening on many levels.  I have learned not to be presumptuous with God (a continuous lesson).  I have learned that the borders to His way are much farther out then I would have dreamed.  He does things in the way He chooses.  Especially with His chosen.

While at the church service we went to yesterday a young mother and wife shared her heart about what God was teaching her in this season of motherhood.  She had devastating events happen with her children and was wrestling with fears and insecurities and hurt.  But in the midst of those circumstances she was learning joy in the journey.  That was exactly what He has been teaching me.

Joy in the journey.

I realize He can teach His children the same lesson while walking through extremely different circumstances.  We can feel the same pain, the same loss, even though we do not have the same journey.  We are individually made and need different things to grow.  My heart is now tender towards those who experience suffering and pain from whatever source of devastation in this world.  Indeed, there seem to be so many sources.

While standing there yesterday at the church service, I marveled at God.  He walked me to this place in my journey I never thought He would allow.  My friend felt the same.  He walked us to this place and we were in shock.  Had we not been faithful?  Had we not been promised to reap?  But instead we were called to continue being pruned.  To experience what some will never experience.  At least in this area.

I worshipped at the service.  My friend did too.  We worshipped our way through the service celebrating mothers.  And when the worship leader asked only the mothers to sing, I listened for my own.  I know she is in the eternals, cheering me on.  I know she is more alive than I am at this time, and I know she is singing over me, joining all the mothers, singing over their daughters.  I had to believe that in that moment, because I did not have her to experience it in the natural.

I realize I am healing now.  There is no way I could have raised my hands the way I did at the service a year ago or even a month ago.  I would have been too afraid.  How could I open my heart to surrender all when now I know more of what the cost entails?  But I was able to.  And it is because I am healing.

He did not do things at all the way I expected.  He did things His way.  He provided family His way.  He gave provision His way.

My heart still longs for those promises He gave years ago.  It still desires what I see so many around me receiving.  But I am realizing what I have been being taught for so many years now.

I am an eternal being.

I am a citizen of heaven.

This is not my home.

But one day I will be home.  One day I will experience the fulfillment of all I desire, all that He promised.

And that has to be enough.

He has to be enough.

SHALOM

 

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Thank You Tiffany

girl getting nails done

I’ve been pretty vocal about my feelings in this season of “recovery”.  I know the Father sees it as recovery though for me it has just felt sad.  Lots of negative emotions have been my experience (loneliness, broken heartedness, anxiety) and that was precisely why I ran as hard as I could away from the pain, for fear it would overtake me.

Thankfully, it hasn’t.

Thankfully I met Tiffany.

Yesterday I was living my life in a very “normal” way, and while I felt a little lighter than I had in a while, I still had no anticipation that God was ordering my steps in any particular way.  I only knew that I really needed my nails done.  Spring is here and summer quickly approaching and a girl needs to make sure she is looking her best since she is seen even more in these seasons💁🏾‍♀️😏. So I headed to the mall and chose a nail salon I’ve never attended.  At first I wasn’t even going to stay because there was a wait and I have never liked to wait (as God is very familiar with, and maybe you are too if you’ve read this blog for any significance of a time) but then I figured, “what’s 30 minutes?”

When you’ve waited years for something, 30 minutes is truly a drop in the bucket.

So finally it was my turn and I was really excited about the particular nail polish I had chosen (it is really the little things these days) and though the nail tech doing my nails was great at her craft, she wasn’t particularly conversational and I was actually uncharacteristically in the mood for a good conversation with a perfect stranger (you introverts out there know what an unusual occurrence that is).  And so when she shared she wouldn’t be able to do my pedicure because she was clocking out soon I wasn’t too disappointed.  I then followed a young woman to the pedicure station and received a really encouraging email regarding my new business (will share more on that at a later date) and was therefore consumed with following up on this new opportunity while the woman did my pedicure.  Now I was the silent one.  She made conversation and I politely responded but I was clearly distracted.  So it wasn’t until she moved me to the manicure station and polished my nails (because the previous nail tech wasn’t able to) that we engaged more.  I noticed how meticulous she was with her work and commented as such.  She responded and shared she is an artist, and that in fact she is also a writer and a poet.  I encouraged her in sharing her gifts and when she said she wanted to write books that told people’s stories to help encourage others in similar circumstances, well, I knew I had to share my own testimony of doing the same.  We engaged in a beautiful conversation about difficult seasons, as she too was in a recovery season, and I gave her some resources that have helped me as well as those I have written.  It touched my heart so much when she looked up to the ceiling and said, “OK, God, I hear you!”  Wow.  Look at God. Using me in an unlikely place at an unlikely time to encourage one of His own while I am still healing.  Still recovering.

He does great things.

One of my encouragements to this woman (who told me her name was Tiffany) was to ask God, “What good can come from this season?”  He works all things for the good so how can good come from such trauma and loss?  She nodded her head in agreement taking in every word, even as sadness laced her eyes.  I knew that sadness.  I had it myself.  But now I was feeling something new in the midst of it.  Something I hadn’t felt in a while.

I felt hope.

Hope for the future.  Speaking with Tiffany reminded me of purpose and it let me know (as I’m sure the Father intended) that He is using even my pain to help others.  See, I could not have related to Tiffany before this season.  I would have sympathized because I am an intercessor and my heart is sensitive to other’s pain naturally, but I would not have known for myself what devastation felt like.  At least, not the kind of devastation she was dealing with.  When one hard thing after another keeps happening and it gets hard to believe that good things can happen.

I left the mall yesterday smiling.  It was the first time I had smiled and felt happy without any pain in so long.

As I walked to my car, I couldn’t stop smiling.

I am so encouraged by this experience and others that have happened the last few days.  It has been an amazing week and it is only halfway through💕.

But its not even just the events themselves that have encouraged me, its the fact that I can feel joy as a response to them.

Joy in the midst of darkness.

Joy in the midst of pain.

Truly He is with us.

Here is the finished product of Tiffany’s handwork:

Thank you Tiffany.

SHALOM

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

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

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.

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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.

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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

Dating Has Purpose

Once upon a time I believed I could not and would not date.  If dating was the antonym of courtship, then I chose courtship.  I even share this in my first book.  But then things changed.  I changed.  The years rolled on and I found myself walking out what my friends and I call, “extended singleness” (dun-dun-dun).

God says very clearly in the opening book of His Word, “It is not good for man to be alone”.  Then He brings Adam a help mate.  We can interpret that statement many ways.  Was He saying it’s not good for man to be without a spouse?  Or was it not good for man to be without a community in general?  If the latter, then why wouldn’t He just create a community (a group of people who can support and relate to Adam) instead of a spouse?  But let’s not get too far off topic.  Having a theological discussion is not my intent.  I simply want to share how my ideas on dating have morphed…

This last year has been interesting.  Early at the beginning of it I ran into “the ex”. You know the person it didn’t work out with but it was so significant that now they own a piece of your history and even a title: “the ex” (dun-dun-dun).  So I ran into the ex.  And he had a date.  And I was feeling some kind of way about that.  Because I myself did not have a date.  Instead I had a friend.  (AKA, I had community). So I let Jesus know I felt some kind of way about that.  It involved some tears and venting and frustration on my part.  Which is nothing new for Him because I feel that’s the benefit of being His kid.  We can be REAL.  Even when REAL isn’t as pretty as we want it to be.  So I vented, and the response I got was, “I am already moving”.  Hmmm, what does that mean? I wondered.  Well that was early 2017, and here I am at the end of 2017 and I think I have an idea of what He meant:

In the course of this year I have had more dates and dating activity than I have had in the whole 13 years of my singleness.  I can’t say that they were all positive experiences.  There were definitely times He had to deliver me from my foolishness and heal me from my pain, but there was movement nonetheless.

I talked to a friend recently and his experience of singleness has been the opposite of mine.  He has spent most of it dating and now he just wants courtship.  He wants to just meet the person, commit to them and get married.  In a perfect world I think that is ideal.  But we do not live in a perfect world.

As one who spent most of their singleness not dating and being a proponent of courtship I told him I see the benefits of dating.  Dating teaches social skills.  Dating teaches you about the opposite sex.  Dating, if done with respect, can help both parties develop emotionally, mentally and maybe even spiritually.

I look back on this last year and I think of the joy I had when I was pursued.  It was affirming.  I got to see how men rise to the occasion when they see a woman of value.  It was a reminder that I am a woman of value.  I got to enjoy companionship from the opposite sex.  I got to learn more about a man’s world which can be very different from a woman’s.  And I also got to see the Father’s desire to give me good gifts.  Even when He knows I will ruin them.

In the garden Elohim tells Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He tells him this knowing he will do it anyway.  Knowing that once he does he will have to be kicked out of the garden.  But for a period of time Adam and Eve enjoy the garden.  They enjoy the gift.  In my own life I can see how the Father gave the gift knowing that it wouldn’t last and I think He did that because the joy I experienced in the interim was so great it outweighed the grief that would eventually entail.  That speaks to me how much our joy means to the Father.  As difficult as this path has been for me I can see many times where He has brought me joy in the midst of it.

Dating has had purpose in this season of my life.  I have not expected it too.  I did not think I would be one who would date.  I also did not think I would be single this long.  But alas, life is never how we think it will be and the evolution of who we are continues to unfold as the years go by.  At least, I hope for me that is the case.

My inner circle is changing.  I have close friends moving into different stages of life while I stay in this one.  And in the midst of the pain I experience from these changes I see the Father’s compassion.  He has never left me alone.  There are many times I feel alone however I have never lacked in the area of companionship these 13 years.

One of my very good friends confided in me about how difficult this season has been for her, especially around the holidays.  In the midst of our conversation she realized it was in part due to a lack of friendship.  Yes she had community, but she did not have peers who were in the same season who could empathize with her pain.  I have had that in abundance and talking to her made me even more grateful for this gift.

It is not good for man to be alone.  Thankfully I have yet to have that experience.

SHALOM