Until Him

I never knew what real love was until my son came into my life.

Not because of the way that I love him (which is more than any words could ever convey), but because of how he loves me.

Despite all the grandiose ideas I had about the kind of parent I would be, when reality set in, I was/am far less than what I had hoped to be.

Every Single Day I make mistakes as a parent. I’m not patient enough. I don’t devote enough time. I get frustrated. I lose my cool. I’m not affectionate enough. I’m overbearing. I’m too sick to deal. I’m too busy to notice. I’m too stressed to care.

And yet, my son’s love for me never wavers. NEVER.

It astonishes me how quick he is to forgive. How he seems to have more patience with me than I have with him. How he seems to show me more grace than I show him.

He is the reflection of God’s love in my life. His love is pure. His love is unwavering. His love is consistent. His love never gives up on me. His love always forgives. His love always gives me another chance.

His love is not based upon what I do or do not do for him or to him. His love is based upon who I am to him- what I represent to him.

I am his mother. His safe place. His sense of security. In me he finds acceptance. In me he finds support. In me he finds encouragement. For him, that is how he receives love. And in spite of my imperfections, somehow that love always reaches him. Even when he’s mad at me for correcting him and guiding him towards making the right decisions. And even when I’ve totally and wrongfully taken my frustration out on him.

I don’t deserve him or his love. I often feel like he deserves so much more than me and what  I can offer. Yet I acknowledge that God chose me for a reason. In this moment I don’t quite know what that reason is, and I honestly don’t think I am supposed to know. I believe God wants me to blindly trust Him in the here and now. Trust Him to give me what I need so that I can impart in my son what he needs to mature into the person God has called him to be.

So I trust Him. I trust Him to use me to be the person/parent my son needs. And I thank my son for his graciousness and his love throughout the process.

The Power of Perception

When I was younger (not that I am old or anything), I used to see life’s struggles as a detriment to my life. The old “woe is me” would kick in and I would sit in self pity trying to figure out what terrible thing I had done to deserve such hardship, or why God had decided to turn his back on me at that moment. Back then, struggling and walking through challenges in my life was nothing more than an inconvenience. And when I was stuck in this mindset I was merely surviving, not living.

It has been within recent months, and really recent weeks, that I have reached a powerful place in my relationship with Christ and my understanding of who He is. One day in my time of prayer and devotion I found myself asking God why, if He loved me and wanted the best for me, would He then allow me to struggle and sometimes really suffer. In my narrow mind, the way God was supposed to show His love for me was by ensuring that my life ran as smoothly as possible.

Fast forward to later that same day. I was getting ready for bed and spent a final moment in prayer with God before I let my head hit the pillow. And then I fell asleep. And I had a dream. The dream was as follows:

A baby, roughly 10-12 months old is learning to walk. The father models for the baby how to walk across the room and then encourages the child to come to him. The baby, with a smile on her face, pulls herself up and begins to take some wobbly steps. Three to be exact, and then she falls. The father verbally encourages her to try again and dangles her favorite toy in front of him to serve as motivation for her. She gets up again, and with another smile she takes some more wobbly steps. This time it was five before she falls again. She looks at her father and the toy. She reaches her arms out towards the toy and grunts. She wants the toy. Why won’t her dad just give it to her? That would be the easiest thing to do. But he doesn’t. He again encourages her with his words and continues dangling the toy before her. She starts to crawl to him, something she knows how to do very well. But her father moves even farther back as she crawls and tells her, “No, No. You have to walk to me. I know you can do it! Come on Sweetie!” She seems to sit thinking for a minute about whether it is worth the effort to try to get the toy. But she gets up again. No smile this time. This time she is really focusing. Looking down at her feet and the floor and then back at her father and the toy. She takes three steps, then five, then a full 20 steps before she reaches the toy. She has done it. She walked. She reached her father. She got the toy.

And then I woke up.

And just as clearly as if a person was whispering in my ear God revealed the following to me:

“It would have been easier for the baby if the father simply gave her the toy. It would have been easier for the baby if the father allowed her to crawl to him, as she was comfortable doing so. But the father was trying to teach her how to walk. Had he allowed her to remain comfortable were she was (crawling) or had simply given her the toy, she would not have grown and mastered the critical milestone of walking. And though it was more difficult for the baby in that moment to walk, the father knew that once she mastered the skill, walking would take her places crawling never could. You are the baby. I am your Father.”

And that is what you call a revelation.

Just like that it became so very clear to me. God doesn’t allow challenges in my life because He doesn’t love me. He doesn’t let me struggle because He is punishing me. Uncomfortable situations don’t arise because He has turned His back on me. God uses those tough, uncomfortable situations to teach me valuable lessons. He is trying to force me out of my comfort zone so I can grow to and go to a new level in Him.

In my dream, once the baby literally stepped out of her comfort zone she did three things:

  1. She walked
  2. She reached her father
  3. She got the toy

In my continued seeking of God, I drew these conclusions about those three things.

  1. She walked- She learned something new that was going to take her greater distances and eventually with greater ease than crawling ever could. In that moment walking was likely the hardest thing she had done to that point. And at certain points during her journey she expressed frustration at being challenged by her father. But in the end she got what he was trying to teach her and her life would be better because of it. God operates the same way by using challenges to teach us lessons that will take us farther and higher in life. In those moments, things seem unbearable and unfair and painful. But on the other side of that pain is joy, and understanding, and peace.
  2. She reached her father- Ultimately, God’s main goal is always to have a deeper relationship with us. This means He sometimes has to create or allow situations that will draw us closer to Him. The father in my dream created the situation that eventually ended with the baby reaching him. God too will often orchestrate things in a way that ends with us being closer to Him and having a better understanding of who He is and how He operates.
  3. She got the toy Let’s just be real. The baby in my dream wanted the toy. It was her drive, her motivation, her desire. And when she made the choice to listen to her father’s encouragement and follow his model, she was able to walk and obtain what she wanted. I truly believe God wants us to have the desires of our heart too, but it requires obedience and faith. And at times God will delay our receiving of that desire until we listen and obey, just as the father in my dream continued to move that toy away from the baby until she walked. But once she trusted him and followed his voice of encouragement she was able to get it in the end. And if we can learn to trust God fully and listen to him entirely, we too will find ourselves walking in the blessing He has for us.

In actuality the hardships we face are not evidence of God’s absence, but reminders of his presence. Only a God who loves us and knows what we are capable of would challenge us in such a way. And He knows that we can because He fashioned us and formed us in His own image. He conquered death, and as those formed in His likeness, we too can conquer the hardships that come our way.

Just like the father in my dream, God is there for us all the time. The father in my dream didn’t encourage the baby to walk and then leave the room. He was watching over her. Encouraging her. Reminding her of what she was capable of. Showing her the prize that waited for her at the end. And that is exactly what God does for us. We just have to listen and observe all the ways and people he uses to do that.

 

 

26 Ways God Reminded Me Of My Value & Success In 24 Hours On My 26th Birthday

  1. Every person in my immediate circle either called me, texted me, sent me a card/gift, or personally wished me well on my birthday. Reminder: I am loved and appreciated by every single person I love and appreciate.
  2. My kid wished me a happy birthday a million and one times today. He also offered to use his change to buy me lunch and told me repeatedly about the cake he was going to bake me. Reminder: Despite how imperfect I am and how young he is, my child loves and values me. 
  3.  I got paid on my birthday, got a paid day off on my birthday, and received a personal note of appreciation and a birthday wish from the company CEO. Reminder: The work I do is meaningful to both me and the company I work for. 
  4. A mom in an online support group I am a part of told me that I inspire her as a mother. Reminder: Other parents are watching me, and where I think I am failing someone else wishes they could be the parent I am. 
  5. Freebies! Lots and lots of freebies! Reminder: It is okay to be acknowledged and get free stuff on my special day. 
  6. Social media shout outs! Reminder: Even people I might not know personally or be that close with anymore still thought enough of me to wish me well. 
  7. I got email confirmation that my cap and gown shipped. Reminder: I got a degree.  I freaking graduated. With honors. As a single parent. Working a full-time job. Just saying.
  8. My devotional today was like God peered into my journal and just took an excerpt from it. Reminder: God hears me and cares about what I am going through. And furthermore, he is working on my behalf to meet and exceed my needs. So basically, I’m always going to be good. 
  9. I fit into a size 4 skirt. Reminder: The hard work I put in and the commitment to fitness and nutrition paid off. (Thank you Shannon Stakes for guiding me through that journey!)
  10. My mom, as always, went above and beyond to spoil me today. From the thoughtful words, to the cards, to the gifts from her and “from Jakob”, to allowing me to sleep in while she tended to Jake, and so much more. She rocks! Reminder: God loved me enough to give me the most selfless and giving mother a person could ask for. If for no other reason, I am blessed just because of her.  
  11. I woke up this morning and prepaid most of my bills for next month. Reminder: I am financially stable enough to be able to do that and still have funds to enjoy my life. (I could not say that not too long ago. Thank you GOD!)
  12. A random woman told me I was incredibly beautiful. Reminder: Even when I am insecure I was created in God’s image, so I am beautiful.
  13. A former 6th grade teacher of mine sent me a heartfelt message about how proud she was of me and how honored she felt to have been a part of my journey. Reminder: I do matter to people. Even to people I never imagined would remember me, let alone care about how I am progressing in life. 
  14. The Alumni Organization at my college wished me a happy birthday today. Reminder: I am an alumni, which means I graduated. (I know I already mentioned that, but you don’t understand how hard I worked and how unattainable that goal seemed to me at so many points during the journey.)
  15. One of our oldest and dearest family friends (Ms. Kim Brown aka Kimerberloo aka “Kimberoo” as Jake says) surprised me by popping up at my house with a bunch of balloons. Reminder: Again, I am loved. 
  16. Surprise flowers. Reminder: The people who love me remembered one of my favorite things and made sure I had them. 
  17. My college bestie showed me special love today. Reminder: Even when I have been a less than stellar friend, my real friends still love me and show me grace and mercy. 
  18. My body felt amazing! Non of the chronic pain or health related issues I battle with  daily affected me today. Reminder: God is a healer. 
  19. I got a heartfelt apology from someone who really wronged me in the past. Reminder: God is an emotional healer and allowed me to get the closure I needed with that situation.
  20. I wrote poetry in my journal today and it was really good. Reminder: I am gifted and I’ve still got it. 
  21. I was inclined to use my wellness journal for the first time today. Reminder: It is okay to prioritize myself and my well being.  
  22. I got Tia Mowry’s and Ayesha Curry’s cookbooks as gifts today. Reminder: I have developed a new passion and it is okay (and delicious) to indulge in it. 
  23. I found peace regarding something I have been stressing over. I still don’t know how it will all work out, but I do know I will be alright. Reminder: My God will supply all my needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
  24. My child was relatively well behaved today. He only had one 3 minute melt-down, two mini attitudes, and only spilled two things today. That is a huge improvement! Reminder: God will give me peace and allow me to enjoy myself when I need it most. 
  25. I did not have one negative thought about myself today. Reminder: It is possible and healthy to think highly of myself. (I need to do it more often.)
  26. I was happy today. Like deep down from the inside filled with pure happiness. Reminder: True joy is possible and it is what God wants for me. 

So basically, turning 26 isn’t as bad as I thought it might be.

Who’s Got the Power?

We give people too much power in our lives. The power to control how we feel. The power to determine how we see ourselves. The power to influence the decisions we make in our lives. We let the ideas, thoughts, opinions, and actions of others dictate the way we live our lives…and we shouldn’t. Point blank. Period. We shouldn’t.

As I have grown in my relationship with God, I have been able to detach myself from people in a way that has greatly enhanced my life. That is not to say that I have isolated myself or become anti-social or anything of the sort. It simply means that I have reclaimed the power within my life.

My younger, more immature self needed people. I needed their approval. I needed their agreement. I needed their praise. And I needed someone to blame my negative behavior and reactions on. If she didn’t like what I was doing, then I’d change what I was doing. If he didn’t agree with the decision I was making, then I’d make another choice. If she wasn’t proud of what was happening, then I would make something else happen. And if I was angry or going off on someone, it was because of what they did or said to me.

He, She, They. Not me. Not God. In all of those scenarios, it was about others and not myself. I had given people the power to determine who I was and how I lived my life. MY LIFE. Thankfully, I came to the realization sooner than later that this was unhealthy and a huge contributor to my unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Not only that, but I realized that by relinquishing control over to people, I was robbing God, the one who created me, of His rightful position in my life. He should have been leading me. He should have been guiding me. He should have been dictating the decisions I made. He should have been the one I cared about pleasing. He should have been the source of my joy. And I should have based how I saw myself on who He said I was, not people.

And even though I have this understanding now, I still sometimes have to reassess ‘why’ I am doing certain things. Am I making this decision because it is a part of God’s plan for my life, or am I trying to figure this out on my own by listening to others? Am I blaming other people for how I am acting and feeling, or am I owning my negative behavior, actions, and thoughts as my own flaws and releasing them to God to help me? Am I relying on this person to make me happy, or am I seeking God for his joy, peace, and strength?

It is a process. And even when we think we’ve mastered it, careful review can reveal areas where we still need improvement. But realizing your weakness is a big first step that I am happy to have walked into 2017 with.

Intro to 2017

The first week of 2017 is complete, and I am filled with so much promise for what is in store for the rest of the year. I enter into 2017 with a profound sense of self. At 25, I finally know who I am, what I am worth, what I want out of life, and what I intend to do to get where I want to be. And while my purpose has not been revealed to me in its entirety, I do have a general vision for my life that I know will guide me into places and realms I’ve only ever dreamed of.

I am content, but not complacent. I am in a good place in life and a good place within myself. I am happy. I recognize how blessed I am. I am loved. I am valued. I am worthy of good things and good people. Yet, I am also driven to keep using the power God has given me to reach new heights and new levels.

I am taking the lessons, the hardships, and the battles of 2016 and using what they taught me in order to grow. I hope to more regularly capture my growth this year on the pages of this blog so you can see and hopefully be inspired by the progress I am making.

Wishing everyone a prosperous and fulfilled 2017!

power

Come to the realization of who you are and what you are capable of.

Once you do, it becomes easy to refuse those who treat you less than what you know yourself to be and try to diminish what you know you are capable of.

when I can’t, God can

One of the most challenging things for me to do as a person who feels so much empathy and compassion for others, is to sit back and watch the people I care for struggle. It is my natural instinct to want to do everything in my power to help them bear their burden, to help them cope with their circumstances, to help alleviate their pain. And when I find myself unable to help them despite my best efforts I am filled with frustration. Frustration because I simply have to sit back and watch them hurt and struggle and that goes against any natural instinct that comes with loving a person.

Yet, when I find myself incapable of doing anything in the natural I know the power of prayer extends far beyond my reach. And though my words or actions may not offer the comfort they need, God can reach them where they are, bring peace to their heart, and turn their circumstances around in ways I nor any other human being could. So I rest on the promises of God for their lives and wait patiently for the testimony they will share when God moves for them like only he can.