The Little Things and the Joy they bring

The Little Things and the Joy they bring

Self care is simply the opportunity to be selfish. For me that is not always an easy task. I am selfish with some of my things that others but I do not truly take the time to take care of myself as I should. Having lupus has reminded me of the importance of listening to my body, taking care of my heart and allowing my mind to rest. Having my body to shut down, one more than one occasion, has been a hard lesson to learn but as the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It is impossible to keep loving others without 1st loving yourself.

For me, I do occupy my time doing simple things:

  • eating a nice helping of my favorite ice cream or dessert (I have a big sweet tooth)
  • watching my favorite movies (I have a pretty extensive collection)
  • perusing the aisle of a bookstore (SWOONS!)
  • taking a nap or just lying in my bed listening to music (hopefully not scrolling through my phone, unless it’s Pinterest or reading a blog)
  • depending on how I feel, exercise (I hope to start yoga soon)
  • partaking in a craft (I hope to learn how to knit one day)
  • watching cartoons with my niece while we play a game
  • depending on how stressed I am, I clean
  • enjoying a simple cup of tea (just add lemon)
  • being silly with my sister or a friend (laughter is the BEST medicine)

All of the above, are free or of low cost to me. One day I will be able to just jump on a plane and spend a day walking on the beach or engage in a shopping spree. Until then, I consciously take time to do things I love. It is so easy to get caught up in work, school, family obligations, church volunteer work, or just life. Those stressors can and will sneak up and that overwhelming feeling can swallow you whole but it can be defeated. Loving yourself is a way of showing God how much you love Him. He created you in His image and gave of Himself because of the magnitude of His love. Therefore, when you love yourself, you become more equipped to love others. This all equates to the love of God because God is Love.

Breathe deeply. Take a break. Find peace.

Give Love. Get Love.

Romans 13:8-10 The Message (MSG)
8-10 Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.

Why I Write

Why I Write

I was in the 2nd grade when I met the reality of my life as a writer. My memory is a little cloudy concerning the particulars of this day, so please forgive my attempt to recall. I believe we were presented with the opportunity to write a story. I remember illustrating a picture and writing maybe, a one-page story. Out teacher either gave us the option to enter this state-wide competition or I chose to, however, myself and one classmate, who I was also very good friends with at the time, were allowed to go to the state capital, Montgomery, with other writers from our school for a young author’s competition.

I remember sitting nervously on the bus because my mother was not able to chaperone; yet so excited because of the magnitude of such an opportunity. My friend and her mom were in the seats behind me and I turned around to her to discuss our stories and what we might experience that day. I had never visited the state capitol so this was a big deal in my 8-year-old world. I felt so important! Before the bus departed, I pulled out a small military/army green notebook my mom gave me. The word “journal” was written diagonally across the cover in cursive, gold letters. She instructed me to write down all I could from that day. She said I need to start writing down my experiences so I can recall them when I got older. She stood on the sidewalk waving goodbye as the bus pulled off. Other details I remember from that trip were seeing the capitol building, going to a the site of the competition and seeing so many other young writers. I think we got to listen to an author speak and received a signed copy of a his/her Caldecott book. I remember writing a few sentences on the 1st page of my journal because I really did not know what I needed to capture. I have no idea where that book could be and I think that journal is long gone; however, I never stopped writing.

It was not about the competition; although, this post reminds me of the dream I gained that day of writing my own Caldecott-winning book. My writing has always been about me. My mom and that journal is what I draw from today because it sparked something in me that I have not be able to shake in almost 30 years. I have kept a journal off and on since then. I have a few distinct memories of writing while in undergrad. My sophomore year of college: my roommate journalled almost every day. We shared the inconsistency of our writing habits. Yet, seeing her write each night inspired me to fill the pages of my journal. My senior year: I had excitedly had to complete a 20-page research paper. I lost sleep and almost lost my paper but I loved the research and the stress of writing the most I had ever written.

I did not gain confidence I needed until last year when I earned my 2nd bachelor’s degree in English. I actually graduated Cum Laude – unbelievable! One of my professors praised my writing on a paper that I felt like I just could not bring together. I think I may have cried but I know I took a picture of that comment and sent it to my mentor. At that point, I was starting to break and question this decision but it was then I felt validated. Completing this degree pushed me aggressively pursue a childhood dream, even though I went from desiring to be a model, teacher, doctor and lawyer. I remember writing each of these professions in a journal around 4th or 5th grade. I thought I could be all 4 at some point in my life. But writing is something that I have never been able to stop doing. My mom told me that I read and write more than anything so it did not surprise her (I need to beef up on my reading, recommendations are welcome) that I made this choice. That was a surreal yet substantial moment because I did not think my mom knew or paid attention to how much I wrote but I guess a mother truly does always know!

Since becoming an adult, I write to pray; to release frustrations; to express joys; to plan for the future; to share my love; to seek interpretation for my dreams; or to seal in words heard while in church. I read this quote today by George Orwell, “[You write out of the] desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, etc., etc., etc., It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive and a strong one.” I can admit that I want to be remembered for the words I pen and not so much for the ones I speak. My friends know that when I care enough to send the very best, it will always be in a card, email or letter. One of my most beloved and oldest friends became spoiled by my words. Imagine that! From our 24th or 25th birthday until our 34th birthday, I think, I would pen a letter to her. My birthday in July and hers in November so whatever pearls of wisdom I gained in those 4 months, I would share with her. What was cathartic for me, motivated her.

Anything that I cannot verbally or physically express comes through the words I write. Words have power and create permanence. I write because I can.

 

Give Love. Get Love.

 

Psalm 45:1 NIV  Beautiful words stir my heart.
    I will recite a lovely poem about the king,
    for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet. 

1000 words

1000 words

Last year, my sister and I took pictures in our Easter outfits after church and this year was no different. I boldly posted last year’s picture on Instagram. As soon as I saw it in my feed, I scrutinized it from top to bottom. I felt confident in my rose lace dress, nude pumps, and tightly curled coif. But with every notification of a “like,” I found a reason as to why I should take the pic down. I had been working out and thought my arms would have been more toned and felt shapely but that picture did not display the smaller waist I felt I had earned. I decided to try a new hairstyle. I felt really good about my curls but that picture showed that I should have picked it out or saved that style for another day.

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This year, I purposed not to buy a new dress or get my hair done. I was not going to fall into the stereotypical fashion show that takes place in churches all over the country. BUT I bought some really cute pants from Target that I would have bought anyway (right?)… Another “difference” from last year is that I fasted for Lent and I gave up sweets, coffee, and tea. I knew that after 40 days, I would lose significant weight. But a picture is worth 1000 words. One word I had, in comparison to last year, was “Better.” But of course, being super critical is something I may have perfected.

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I reviewed the pictures of my photoshoot but what I saw was that I “better” start exercising! I see 1000 words but nothing really positive. Crazy thing is I felt good about my entire outfit all day long, until I saw this picture. It really is not fair for me to be hyper-critical but I have chosen to use it as motivation to get the body I am most comfortable in. It did not help that when I was out looking for my Easter ‘fit, I tried on clothes and was so disappointed when I could not participate in the fabulous sale that was taking place at The Gap. So many cute, affordable clothes that I could not purchase. I truly dislike trying on clothes so seeing myself, in a full-length mirror, in my clothes, then down to my underwear, and then in clothes that did not fit they way I had hoped really bummed me out.

I am taking all of those feelings to the gym, at least that is goal. I am purposing to change my narrative. I will find 1000 words that will build and not break. I have done this before. I have consistently worked out, changed my eating habits, fit into my “goal clothes” and despite not reaching my goal weight, I was beginning to truly love the weight I was carrying. I will get there. This is not a lofty goal and I have successfully done this before. I will find my groove, my mojo and work it out!

 

Give Love. Get Love.

 

Good Friday

Good Friday

It is Holy Week 2017. This is a week of reverence and remembrance in the Christian community of faith. This week symbolizes a foundational truth of our faith – the life, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Today, Good Friday, is the day Jesus fulfilled prophecy. His people, the Jews strongly urged the high priest to crucify, the King. They chose to spare the life of a radical revolutionary who committed murder during protests for the life of a radical revolutionary who performed miracles while enduring protests.

This year, I wondered why this Friday was labeled as “Good.” The easy answer is that it was good that He was crucified for a sinner, such as I. His death for my life. But reading the description of the events of that day do not depict anything good. He was taken to court with no lawyer, subpoena, or jury of His peers. His accusers had no just cause for their rage other than a fulfillment of scripture. He was classified as the King of the Jews. After his sentencing of capital punishment, He was bound, hand and foot. Then he was beaten. The whip as described by Robert Gidley (2000):

The whip had iron balls tied a few inches from the end of each leather thong on the whip. Sometimes, sharp sheep bones would be tied near the ends. The iron balls would cause deep bruising, while the leather thongs cut deep into the skin. The sheep bones would hasten the process of cutting into the skin. After a few lashes the skin would be cut through, and the muscle would begin to be cut. Blood loss was considerable, and the pain would probably put the victim in a state of shock. (para. 7)

Then the soldiers, to mock Him,  placed a purple (color of royalty, dignity) robe upon his shoulders, placed a sceptre (a reed) in His hand, and a crown of thorns upon his head. They repeatedly cried, “Hail, the King of the Jews.” Once they had their fun, He was stripped of His robe and then He was then forced to carry His cross which weighed about 100 lbs. But after being beaten so, he was too weak to carry Himself much less the cross to Golgotha (place of a Skull) where the crucifixion would take place so the soldiers found a man to carry the cross for Him.

Once they arrived, the cross was laid down and His body was placed and then nailed. They drove spikes into his wrists, not His hands,  so they could carry the weight of His body. One leg was placed atop the other and the spikes were driven into his feet. A sign reading, “This is Jesus The King of the Jews” was nailed a the top of the cross, written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Then the cross was raised and placed on the hill, Calvary. His body gave into gravity. He hung there for 6 hours: placed on the cross around 9 am; at noon, darkness set upon the earth; and it was 3 pm when He cried to God and His humanity was released. He felt forsaken. But he then released His last breath and died.

How is it that something so horrific and disturbing could be declared good? But that is how God works. He takes what is deemed evil and declares it good. We reflect on this time and are reminded of the pain endured from head to toe: a crown of thorns forced into His head until blood ran down, stripes placed on His back until His flesh was exposed, spikes several inches long hammered into His bones. The thought of that level of sacrifice pierces my emotions. I am humbled by the notion that despite the pain and the shame, He thought of me. He had my birth, my joys, my bruises, my disappointments, my triumphs, my hurt, my aches, my achievements, my sins, and my grace on His mind. This is the God I have chosen to serve and that I respectfully honor today and all weekend long.

It is a good Friday, God’s Friday and I am grateful.

 

Give Love. Get Love.

 

Gidley, R. (2000). The facts of the crucifixion. The Cross Reading. Retrieved from http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/controversy/common-misconceptions/the-facts-of-crucifixion.html

100 days

100 days

Today is the 100th day of 2017. In most elementary schools, they count up to the 100th day of the school year and celebrate in various ways (i.e. bringing 100 items to school, dressing up as someone who is 100 years old, having a party, etc.).

But what will you do to signify the fact that you have made it through one season of this year? The country is in political turmoil. The citizens of Flint still do not have access to clean water. Innocent people are still being murdered every day, especially here in my hometown. Even the governor of this great state of Alabama has turned in his resignation because of uncivil acts committed while in office. Yet, you can say that there is still purpose for you.

I choose to see this day as a fresh start. It is a chance to say that tomorrow will be 1 – 101 – a continuation. It is a comma – to pause and calmly think about my next move for the remainder 265 days. A period to end and start a new paragraph or close the book altogether. An exclamation point to say, “Yes, there is still more for me to do! I am NOT running out of time!” A question mark to ask myself, “What can I do better? What actually worked? When will I resume my workouts or start yoga?”

100 signifies an election. The word election stems from the Latin eligere meaning to “pick out.” So today, I have elected to reflect over the past 99 days and pick today as the day to begin to conquer my fears, move past my insecurities, and just do it. My faith is urging me to really do IT.

We were taught that 100 means the end. But it’s only April and Spring just started getting good. Excuse me while I wipe off my rose-colored glasses, adjust my curls away from my face, and exhale, “please count with me…..101, 102, 103, 104, 105. . . .”

 

Give love. Get love.

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Speaker of the House

Speaker of the House

Words have power. I think this is a statement I repeat aloud and to myself quite often. To simply begin with the belief that the world we live in, the sun and moon, the animals, plants and trees were all created through words should be proof of the potency that words possess. But we tend to casually misplace that authority when we fail to track the manifestation phrases like, “You make me sick!” or “I am always broke.”

When you become a parent, you gain a special ability because you understand the weight of your words. You speak the life growing inside the womb assured that your child will recognize your voice once he/she enters the world. You might place headphones on the belly, sing or even read to your unborn child. At this point, you are teaching your child the power of words, sight unseen. These actions open the door to their worlds. Consider the fact that a baby’s sight has not fully developed until 8 weeks old. Your child fully relies on your voice, the words you speak, for 2 months without being able to completely recognized your face!!

With this understanding, it is vital that the things you say (even those said in jest) are spoken purposefully because they are going to perform as sent. I have a major pet peeve when I hear a child called BAD. A child is not inherently bad. A child might be born into a bad situation or in a bad neighborhood or even under dire circumstances yet none of these things warrant a bad child. Yet if a child consistently hears that they are bad then they will result in actually being bad.

Children are born students – they must be taught everything. Therefore when they are trying to learn and an unwanted behavior is exhibited, it will be translated to the child as bad. The behavior needs to be addressed and corrected. The desired behavior needs to be displayed so it can be duplicated. Provide choices so good decisions will become habit.

Do not confuse their exploration and creative nature as bad behavior. Set limits. Be consistent. Be intentional. Frame their worlds with your words – I love you. You are beautiful. Yes, you are important! I like the way you did that! – and then apply faith that they will be what you say.  Eventually your child will start speaking those words to themselves and even repeat it back to you.

Hebrews 1:1-6The Message (MSG) 1-3 Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!

 

Give Love. Get Love.

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Prayer is Practical but Parenting is….

[Pardon me as I attempt to create a flow]

Let’s deem Thursdays for the people, little people. . . and their parents.

Several people in my life, friends and family, decided it was time to grow up, get married, and procreate, as it were. Therefore, I was inspired to pen a prayer that I hope would assist them along the way as they transition from being my fun-loving fellows to the lovingly terrific role as parental figures to the little people.

Give Love. Get Love.

A Prayer for Parents

Father,

We come before your throne of grace as humbly as we know how. We thank You for choosing us to be parents. In Your word, children are arrows in the hand of a mighty man; a crown to old men; shall be taught of the Lord; are a heritage of the Lord; should be train in the way that they should go; and have the kingdom of God as their inheritance. Therefore, God, we thank You for granting us with the grace, wisdom and mercy for the gifts you have given.

God, we will not be snared by the words of our mouths. We command and declare a word curse, a crop failure over every negative word spoken against our parenting skills. Every feeling – positive or negative is being passed to our child; therefore, we now ask you God for forgiveness against any negative thought or deed that we have willingly or unconsciously committed against this gift and ask for Your loving Spirit to overshadow those times when those feelings may have been transferred. We ask for Your perfect strength in our weaknesses and that Your dunamis might will go into overdrive! Thank you for granting us perfect peace – the peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace that guards and protects our hearts and our minds.

We will not get weary in our well-doing. Thank You for the grace you have allowed us to walk in during this adjustment becoming parents. We bless you God for the support system that has surrounded us. Every person that has been strategically placed into our village will help our child grow in the strength and admonish of the Lord.

Thank You God for every way You have shown Yourself strong on our behalfs. Thank You for Your blood covering and redeeming us as our family grows. You have already created the supply for our needs. You are our Good Shepherd so we shall not want. You are our Jehovah Jireh which means you already knew when and with who we would become parents with and thusly provided the provision. Thank you God for supplying our needs according to Your riches in glory!

We will continuously look to You for guidance and strength.  We will never be ashamed to confess when we are overwhelmed, depressed, stressed, confused, perplexed, or even unfit. When we are able to admit these feelings that is when You allow the healing to begin. As Jehovah Raphe, the Great Physician, you heal wholistically – spirit, soul and body.

No matter what test, trial or temptation that we are presented with, Your faithfulness provides a way of escape. As Jehovah Roi, the God who sees, You created us and know everything about us. We are never abandoned. You are always with us.

We call on the name of Jesus! The name that is higher than any other name! Every food, clothing, child care, schooling, transportation, medical, extracurricular, and housing need has been met through that name!

We declare and receive the victory now!! The treasure that you have given us in our child(ren), these earthen vessels that the excellency, the grandeur of the power may be shown from God and not from us.

Thank You Lord! We present our child back to You and receive Your love that cast out every fear, anxiety, concern or worry.

We give you all the glory, honor and praise!

In Jesus’ name, Amen!