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  • Hidden in Plain Sight...

    Hey there… so as I continue this journey to wholeness, I have been peeling back the layers of the onion getting to the root of my perpetual feelings of unworthiness. As previously mentioned, my perception of God as a loving father had been limited to the realities of my relationship with my earthly father. For most of my life, I have felt cheated and sad when other’s talk about having father’s that protected them, provided for them, would jump in a car to come to their rescue no matter the circumstance, were proud of them (even in their failures/mistakes), and set a standard for how they should be treated in a romantic relationship. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that level of security and dependability because unfortunately my father provided none of those things. I often referred to him as Santa Clause because he would show up with expensive gifts once or twice a year but was not present when it mattered. Further, having also been abused by him, I lacked that sense of safety and security that we desperately desire. I watched him both physically and verbally abuse my mother and IF I ever heard that he was proud of me, it was through a third party when he wasn’t present. So, it’s not hard to understand why I would struggle in this area. HOWEVER, I’ve been reading Pastor Steven Furtick’s new book, “Do the New You” and one of the mindsets he talks about is that “God always gives you what you need in the season that you’re in.” Well, I could accept that concept in most areas except for this one, until this week. On my long drives to work in the morning, I often talk to my mom on the phone and on this morning, she shared a conversation that she had with one of her brothers. She shared that they had concluded that they had practically raised themselves because their father was not dependable or emotionally available to them. Yet, we also talked about her Uncle Leonard, who lived next door that she was blessed to have in her life. He stood in the gap and gave her and her brothers the things that their father could not. As the conversation continued, I too shared that I was grateful for the men that my sons have in their lives that stand in the gap in their areas of need, but I didn’t speak about myself. Late that night, in my prayer time, I thanked God for all the ways He stood in the gap for my boys through my messy marriage and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had the NERVE to part my lips to ask God who was that person for me. It was like the scales fell off my eyes. When I was five years old, my mother entered a relationship with who eventually became my stepfather. His name was Manuel, but in later years we all lovingly referred to him as Pop Pop. When I was a child, I saw him as my mother’s boyfriend and then my mother’s husband, not my father. For many reasons he was the right partner for my mother, but until now I never saw him as a gift from God for ME. Looking back, I was so rebellious and argumentative that I know I gave them both the blues, so I didn’t realize that what I was craving from someone who couldn’t give it to me, was right there all along hidden in plain sight. I asked God to remind me of all the things that I gained from that relationship. Here are just a few highlights… He taught me how to play the flute, how to roller skate, ice skate, ski, and wind surf. (Yep, black people windsurfing… go figure). He bought us a boat and taught me the value of relaxation and that there is a time and place to both work hard and play hard. He taught me how to write. I dreaded his red pen messing up all my school papers until I mastered grammar and written expression. He taught me how to change my own tire and oil in my car so as a woman, I would never be helpless on the side of the road. He taught me about financial responsibility and how to plan and save for the future. He taught me how to stand up for myself eloquently and articulately when injustices occurred and to always be bold enough to stand up for what’s right. He fought to protect me by confronting my now ex-husband when he saw the red flags early on, yet helped to pay for my wedding and supported my family until his death and never once said I told you so. Although he was the king of practicality, he supported me when I took big risks like moving to New York city by myself with no street smarts in my 20’s or starting a nonprofit organization with no experience and even less money in my 30’s, but he patiently taught me what I needed to know along the way. He demonstrated fidelity and commitment in his marriage to my mother. And… he was the proudest Pop Pop on the planet to my two sons. There was nothing they could do wrong in his eyes, and he showed them unconditional love and support. He even made a book of their greatest hits… a collection of his favorite things that they’d said as kids and things that they’d done that brought him pride and joy. He passed on his love of boating and playing musical instruments to them as well. I could go on and on, but as these memories were brought back to my attention, I realized that I had been given a real personal example of all the things I felt I couldn’t receive from God. For 40+ years I had the love of a father that had no obligation to do so, and I couldn’t see it because I refused to accept him, while I was focused on the relationship I didn’t have with my biological father. Although it saddens me that many of those years, he didn’t get to reap the benefits of my gratitude, towards the end of his life, I hope that I honored him in all the ways that showed him how loved and appreciated he truly was by me and my boys. This message is twofold. First, we must recognize the blessings and resources that God provides in each season of our lives and second, this is proof that in what I considered the most painful and broken area of my life, God did NOT let me down. I can be grateful for my father’s love at the capacity that he could provide it, as well as the love I received from my bonus father who made up the difference. One of Pop Pop’s documented favorite conversations with my oldest son when he was in preschool when asked, “Quentin what did you learn today?” He answered, “Math… you know, one stuff plus another stuff equals some more stuff…” In this case that math is mathing perfectly and I am forever changed by this revelation. I have spent my whole life believing that I had to earn the love, protection and provision from both God and man but that’s a big fat LIE. He loves me and takes care of me because I am HIS and that’s all I have to say about that! 😊

  • The Pain of Staying the Same

    In the fall of 2023, as I was approaching my 52nd birthday, I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’ve had several physical issues and ailments in the past few years, particularly this past year. With each new issue, doctors wanted to operate on this or give me a pill or shot for that but with no definitive answers as to why I’m having the issues in the first place. After several costly medical bills, few answers and even less relief, finally one doctor said, “All roads lead to neurology”. Hmmm, that would be my nervous system. It didn’t take long to realize that there is NO coincidence that my many ailments, etc. are connected to the anxiety issues that I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to resolve for longer than I care to discuss. So now what? In November, I decided to start both physical therapy and mental health therapy and it has been quite the adventure. Two days per week I’m doing both physical therapy and chiropractor and one day per week, mental health therapy. Just the thought of 5 copays per week for the foreseeable future was enough to freak me out, but I decided, even if I would be financially strapped for a while, a real difference in my health was worth it. The diagnoses that I was referred to physical therapy for were a herniated disc (L5), sitting on the S1 nerve root, causing pain, numbness and weakness down my left side and chronic foot and ankle pain from the failed reconstructive surgeries I had 5 years ago. However, when I arrived, the first thing they had to do was an assessment to see what I could and couldn’t do, which agitated the existing issue. In less than 12 hours later, one violent sneeze had me laid up for 3 days with severe back pain and already ready to give up on physical therapy. However, I continued to go and the first 6 to 8 visits were strictly focused on trying to undo the damage so I could have the capacity to work on my complicated list of issues. Dry needling w/ electric stem therapy, cupping, stretching, applying heat and ice and lots of poking a prodding had me biting the pillow, yelling and at times beating on the table and we hadn’t even started doing the work yet. It was exhausting, but looking back now that was the easy part. Eventually Dr. Chelsea started giving me exercises to do that felt so unreasonable at the time that I would laugh as she demonstrated them. It was both funny and depressing at the same time, particularly as a former dancer and athlete, who used to be able to do any type of exercise or physical challenge with ease. As friends and family asked how it was going week after week, I’d cry laughing as I shared how focusing on my feet on one day, messed up other parts of my body by the next day. There are too many stories to share along those lines, but just this week, she had me doing squats to barely touch a bench before standing back up to strengthen my core, but I told her I couldn’t do that because of my knee pain. She said, “well what’s wrong with you knees?” I shared that I’d always had knee problems, but that’s not what I was there for, so I was trying to avoid making that worse too. She challenged me to try it anyway and after just 3 squats my left knee was popping and in a lot of pain. She lifted my pant leg and asked me to identify the location of the pain to discover that my patella was tilted and out of place. So, we immediately aborted the core strength activity and went back to dry needling and physical manipulation to try to put it back in place. She asked how long I had experienced that specific problem and I told her that it was so long, I can’t remember. She said with a nervous smile… “You are such a complicated case.” I laughed, “Yep, that’s the story of my life.” Switching gears… as I laid there bearing the pain of the needles deeply penetrating the muscles surrounding my knee, I realized the parallel between how I’ve been managing the physical pain in my life to the emotional pain in my life. My formula for navigating my life has been to find a work around and limit the activities that trigger pain to remain as “functional” as possible to make it through the next day. Isn’t that what many of us do? Well, I am finally at the point that I can’t continue to do that, and I have brought people into my healing process to hold me accountable for making the changes necessary to get UNSTUCK physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I had my mental health therapy appointment the same day and it became a rip the band aid kind of day. After the conversation got a bit heavy, my therapist asked me to take a break and tell her how what we had just discussed made me feel. After a long pause, I gave an answer, but she quickly interrupted me to explain that I didn’t share how I felt, but rather I formed an articulate answer, centered around my thoughts on the issue instead of communicating my actual feelings. Then she pointed out that when she asked the question, she noticed me gulp as if I was swallowing my emotions to avoid letting myself feel what I felt. For the record, hearing that SUCKED… but it was true. I honestly thought I was someone who always wore my heart on my sleeve (good, bad and ugly). I’ve even been criticized for it over the years, yet in reality I have been conditioned to disconnect from the emotions that matter most and promote real healing, allowing my childhood and not so distant trauma camp out in my body, thus deteriorated my capacity and desire to feel ANYTHING over a long period of time. I have unfortunately settled for internalizing my complex web of emotions, sacrificing my health and the potential for experiencing joy and peace. Needless to say, there is a lot of work left to do, but I’m committed to the process and will share my progress when I feel it’s safe to do so. Until then, prayers for a happy and prosperous New Year to you all!

  • Algorithm

    How do you feel when you search for a product online from your phone and then suddenly that product is all you see in ads on all your social media platforms? Well social media algorithms are a compilation of rules and data that make decisions about what users want to see. Some find it convenient, but others find it annoying and even an invasion of privacy. However, that is the world of smart phones, and we must accept that what is meant to be a targeted marketing tool, ultimately ends up segregating us into groups and/or belief systems that can be both good and/or toxic. For the most part, I don’t hang out on social media, nor do I watch the news because it is so depressing, but on August 5th, 2023, I happened to be on Facebook when a friend’s profile was livestreaming what is now known as the Alabama Riverboat Brawl. I was immediately distressed, as I couldn’t look away in fear that I was about to possibly witness another black man get beaten or possibly murdered on video. At the time, I prayed for it to stop, and I turned it off and went on with my day. However, a few days later, on another social media platform, my feed was bombarded with people’s commentary and memes based on how the incident ended. Again, I found myself unable to look away but not for the same reasons as before. An hour turned to days. I was sucked into the social media black hole, in which I found myself spending most of my idol time scrolling feeds, being educated on the meaning of the term FAFO. If you don’t know the term, you probably can live without knowing it, but let’s just say it triggered a full range of emotions within me. Things that hadn’t been bothering me, suddenly did. I was more focused on the negative than the positive. I started developing and communicating strong opinions on things that I didn’t need to be concerned with. I started watching TV shows that were more volatile in nature. Before I knew it, I was feeling depressed and overwhelmed. Even my health issues became more of a nuisance. Then I realized, that was the trick of the enemy. He didn’t have to attack me directly, however through videos, posts, and TV shows which I thought were harmless, I was lured into a spiral of destructive thoughts and feelings. These seemingly normal things gone unchecked, would have easily convinced me that it’s appropriate to say and do things based on my “feelings and/or opinions” over what is kind and helpful. That’s the vicious cycle the world is stuck in, causing so much division, hatred, and fear. It took this momentary relapse to see it for what it was, and it reiterated why the bible says to protect our eye and ear gates. Now more than ever when people get their news/facts from social media through sound bites, especially during election season, and with national/world conflicts escalating, we need to be that much more aware and careful about what algorithms are subtly feeding our minds and emotions. It took weeks of concerted effort to redirect my attention to the good that God continues to do in my life, when it only took moments to start spiraling out of control. Every time I started to get anxious, I said to myself, “I am humbly trusting in God’s sovereign care” and it was helping. Then I stumbled across a sermon called, “Just Trust Me” by Pastor Keon Henderson. The whole message was great, but what really hit home was his statement, “Distrustful people become obsessive planners and eventually planners feel the need to become “knowers” who create solutions for things in the future that isn’t even a problem yet.” Ouch! He shared further that in this culture, we’ve made it a positive trait to be “obsessive planners”, but the need to know EVERYTHING is both overwhelming and exhausting, often leading to self-destruction in many areas of our lives. He referenced the example of how Adam and Eve’s need to KNOW what God was trying to protect them from, brought on the curse that we all are affected by today. We may not fully trust our bosses/colleagues, family members, or friends because people WILL let us down, but we don’t need to trust EVERYONE, we just need to trust God! Then as He changes our hearts and view of the world from His perspective, our internal algorithm will be to share joy, love and peace, rather than discord, hatred and chaos. Until next time…

  • Because I Said So...

    We never know why God asks or instructs us to do certain things and I am learning (sometimes the hard way) that in many cases we are better off not knowing what’s waiting around the corner. If we did know, how likely would our answer be “yes”? That’s why we must learn to be obedient in the little things so that we have the faith and the courage to complete the big things. I am learning how it is all connected in a very personal and profound way. I haven’t published a blog post in a few months. To be honest, I wrote something in August but didn’t post it because let’s just say that I have been feeling terribly uninspired. However, I mentioned in my last post that I was stuck and needed to get back to completing the sequel of my screenplay. I believed I had run out of stuff to say, so I felt there was no harm in “taking a break” until I got re-inspired (if ever). Why waste my time and energy writing something that will never be seen? I questioned if I had actually heard from God on this matter, wondering if I never should have written it in the first place. Why get invested in a dream like this anyway? I’m a nobody! It's just going to lead to another disappointment. As a matter of fact, I don’t need to have any dreams, I’m getting old and my life is pretty good so I’m going to just do what I’m told TODAY and see how it goes because I can’t control what God’s going to do anyway! This rant sounded much better in my head over these past few months than it does right now, but you see where I’m going with this… I still hadn’t felt like I had gotten a concrete answer from God on whether to complete the assignment until I woke up one morning last week, practically panting from an intense dream. Before I share the dream, I need to share two significant things that occurred in the past week that is driving this revelation. First, our ministry group is studying the book of Esther. It’s a short book and I highly recommend studying it, but the cliff notes version is this… The Book of Esther is a story of how God used a Jewish maiden named Esther to save His people from destruction. Esther was chosen to be the replacement queen of the Persian King Ahasuerus after demoting Queen Vashti for being disobedient and rebellious, but he didn’t know her true identity. When Haman, the king’s advisor, plotted to kill all the Jews in the empire because of a generational family grudge, Esther, and her older cousin Mordecai (he raised her when she became an orphan) exposed his evil plan and persuaded the king to protect the Jews. This book shows God's faithfulness and sovereignty in all circumstances but at the end of the day, she was raised up in that position for “such a time as this”. Wisdom, obedience, and boldness not only saved her life in a pickle, but also the lives of countless Jews by winning the favor and respect of the King. In the commentary of this study, the author pointed out that the situation they found themselves in with Esther wouldn’t have been necessary, had Paul been obedient the generation prior, stating there are always unintended consequences to “Partial Obedience”. OUCH! God showed me that my inconsistency in writing these blog posts is being partially obedient. He said I will never know who needs to be encouraged by what He gives me to share and when it’s necessary for them to read it. So, I learned that my feeling that God wasn’t speaking to me, providing the ah ha moments that I hope to share in these blog posts is the direct result of me stopping my daily routine of journaling, which was a big part of my pillow talk time with God. If you can connect the dots here, not journaling led to no blog content, which contributes to my “writer’s block” on the screenplay. All of which started by waking up one morning, simply deciding to skip the journal and sleep a few extra minutes, likely after staying up late binge watching a show on Neftlix. It felt completely harmless in the moment, but over time it went downhill fast. Second, on Monday we had communication training at work, and we did an exercise about active listening. The activity itself was fun and very telling, but the bottom line was that we forget half of what we hear/learn within the first hour; 70% is forgotten after eight hours and so forth, but we retain 94% of “what we write down”. Sheesh, okay I get it… So now the dream… I was at a popular ministry conference event and somehow, I ended up backstage in the presence of the main speaker’s wife. We were having a great conversations when her husband entered, and I witnessed an exchange that disturbed my spirit. After he left, I felt an obligation to encourage her to get a job, sensing that she would need the means to escape a potentially dangerous situation, but while we were talking, he overheard me, and things got REAL, and it was LOUD. He verbally attacked me for what I said to his wife but in that exchange, I saw the Jezebel spirit manifest in him. I had to choose in the moment, whether to confront it or run from it. I suddenly felt a heavy force field surround me, like something you’d see in a Star Wars movie. Although it was a struggle to physically expel the sound required to speak the words, I commanded that spirit to leave him and I pleaded God’s protection from being afflicted by that spirit yet again. Sidebar: For those that don’t know, the Jezebel spirit is a spirit of control and manipulation of which I received freedom from in August of 2016. Anyway, my obedience to intervene in that moment, despite my fear, ushered in his deliverance that very night and unbeknownst to me, event staff witnessed everything, recorded it on their phones and it ended up on TMZ. The next morning at the final session of the event, I was approached by security and escorted to the front of the venue. This speaker happened to be a well-known pastor and he said that because of his desire to be open and transparent, he played the video to the entire auditorium. I watched it there for the first time and saw myself in a new way. As I listened to him publicly thank me for my obedience to intercede, he called me up on the stage and introduced me to the world. I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. As I left the building, I was approached by a media rep, who asked to meet with me. Ya’ll, I know this was a dream, but you just can’t make this stuff up… he offered me a movie deal. This deal included having someone else write the script for me, BUT I told him that I had already written a script and I was currently working on the sequel. In that moment God woke me up and said, “I told you; you need to be ready because you will never know the day or time that I will call you out of the shadows for “such a time as this”! Sooo, that’s all I have to say about that! Starting right now, I have a LOT of work to do and my “Yes” can no longer be dependent on how I’m feeling in the moment. Is there something that you have been partially obedient on? Let’s get back on the horse together! Until next time…

  • Rest

    In my last blog post, I acknowledged my continued struggle with anxiety and was determined to make significant progress in this area. Shortly after the post, I went on my first real vacation in 5 years as my mom’s plus one on a 7 night South American cruise. I love going on cruises because it allows me to completely unplug with no WiFi to text, email or scroll through the black hole of social media. In this much needed downtime, it took less than 3 hours for God to start speaking to me. Unlike most adults on cruise ships and against the grain of what’s considered a good time, I didn’t drink or “party” because I felt the purpose of this trip was to rest, reflect and receive whatever God has for me in this season. I’m sure that sounds boring… We still attended shows and activities and I ate WAY TOO MUCH soft serve ice cream, but I got exactly what I needed. I caught my first sunset over the ocean, which was simply breathtaking and while staring into the wild blue yonder, I began to think about people who say they are afraid of cruises because they can’t see where they are going. For me, it’s the opposite, feeling like staring into the nothingness feels like freedom to not care where we’re going or when we’ll get there because the captain knows and that’s all that matters. Maybe I have more peace than most on the water because I grew up boating, but I find it ironic that anxiety is literally fear of the unknown and needing to predict or control the outcome of future events, relationships, etc. to feel safe. So why can I feel safe in that situation but not yet achieve that same sense of peace and trust with God? My daily devotional last week gave me more insight into the root of the problem. After the scripture, the follow up prayer read “Father God, I recognize that lack of trust is ultimately a sign of pride…” 😱 Of course, my pride wanted to convince me that couldn’t be true, but once pandora’s box was open, you know God confirmed it a million different ways. So I did some research on the relationship between pride and anxiety. Of course, to some degree, we all have issues with pride, but here is the breakdown of the seven symptoms of a prideful heart. Fear – Pride is at the root of fear and anxiety. When we refuse to humbly rest in God’s sovereign care. Fear simultaneously reveals our lack of trust and our poisonous self-reliance. Entitlement – Entitlement is rooted in a prideful heart. We grow bitter, frustrated, and disturbed when we center our expectations around people’s praise, love, accolades, and certain levels of success. (Sidebar: Worthiness is different than entitlement. More on that another time.) Ingratitude – A proud heart says we are good, that we should get what we want, and if we don’t we’re justified in our ingratitude. If we’re uncomfortable or inconvenienced in any way, we can complain because it’s our right. People Pleasing – Pride is self-worship and self-preservation at all costs – and people-pleasing is a direct result of pride. It is masked in “serving others” but at the root of it, self-satisfaction is centered around fearing man more than fearing God, therefore seeking man’s approval for happiness. Prayerlessness – Pride deceives us into thinking we can “do life” on our own – that we’re capable, independent, unstoppable and self-reliant. We think we don’t need God every step of the way. Hypocrisy – When you’re proud, you elevate your status, forgetting the mercy God has shown you. You think you’re better and holier than the next guy and you easily find fault with others. Rebellion – Rebellion against God manifests itself in resistance toward the Word and the spiritual leaders He has placed in our lives. It is the reflex of a prideful heart and shows itself in a lack of submission – wives to your husbands; children to your parents; employees to your bosses; citizens to your government, etc. Sheesh, I have a headache! While I don’t feel that I operate in all seven of these items, I know that they hit the nail on the head related to fear and anxiety because at different stages of my life any and/or all could have been a part of my story. The few things that stood out the most in symptom number 1 were "humbly REST" and "poisonous self-reliance". I recall growing up hearing and repeating the saying with regards to staying in bad relationships, "I can do bad by myself." That probably planted the seed of poisonous self-reliance, so I was always taught to make sure that I can take care of myself and my children, with or without the help of a husband/partner. Is it wrong to be capable of taking care of you and your family's needs? Not at all, but it's the poisonous assumption and arrogance to believe that God is not the source of your provision, and you have to provide for yourself by any means necessary that is the problem. That is the definition of "no rest for the weary". REST, but more so HUMBLY REST, means I shouldn't try to put what I can do in my own strength before God's ability, willingness and promise to provide, protect and anything else that is the cause of my anxiety. Therefore, that means pride makes me think that my problems, needs, etc. are BIGGER THAN GOD and that is simply not true. So, on one hand, I’m grateful that I can read this list and see how God has already dealt with me in some of these areas and I’m much better than I used to be, but it is also showing me how much further I have to go to find freedom in this area. There is an old song by Sade called, “Love is Stronger than Pride”. I used to sing that song often when trying to find reasons to live to fight another day in my marriage over the years, but in the context of this issue with anxiety, I shifted my perception of those lyrics to understand that God’s love for me is far stronger than any level of pride that I have. I don't know about you, but that is life changing for me as I truly felt like it was an issue that I had no ability to heal or fix. However, the truth still remains that without being humble enough to know that I need God’s power to break the prideful spirit within me, nothing will change. Just to show me that it’s not as hard as I think, God has shown me over and over again in my daily thoughts, interactions, etc. what responses are of a prideful spirit and showing me that simply acknowledging the thing, gets me that much closer to achieving freedom in that area. Literally today, I experienced something that would normally get me stressed out and thrust me into fix it mode, but I decided that there is no time like the present to practice RESTING IN GOD’S SOVEREIGN CARE. Therefore, I have placed my mind as if I’m back on that cruise ship, staring out at the sunset, trusting that the captain has everything under control. I’m so grateful that He continues to answer my prayers and guide me into all that He’s called me to be. We’ll see what’s next on this journey of conquering a prideful spirit. Until next time…

  • My Last Nerve…

    Greetings! Since my last post, a lot has happened. I have a college graduate. I won company and regional awards in new construction sales, and I was able to spend time with family and friends that I haven’t seen in several months, since I moved. I was experiencing blessings upon blessings! However, many of these events occurred during the 50-day period between Easter (the resurrection) and the day the power of God through the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, known as Pentecost. I observe the significance of this time every year, but this year felt different. I was challenged to lock in on a handful of prayer requests, one of which was freedom from all traces and effects of anxiety. After having recently seen the documentary, “Get Out in Jesus Name”, I learned more specific things to pray when it comes to deliverance of stubborn spirits. As mentioned in previous blog posts, anxiety and panic attacks have been something that I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, I just didn’t know what to call it until recently. My specific prayer included to be healed from all areas of fear in my life that produce anxiety and that impact all areas of my nervous system. Sidebar: In the past year, I had been diagnosed with neuropathy and given permanent handicap designation due to the issues that I still deal with in both my legs and feet since my surgeries (gone wrong) several years ago. While I don’t believe for a second that this is the final say over the matter, I am confident that it is all connected emotionally, spiritually, and physically. So, I expected to experience some challenges and changes along the way. I felt like I should have been writing, not just blogging, but also making significant progress on my screenplay, but after I got started on the script, I hit a wall and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t work through it. Art, mimics life, right? So, here’s what happened. Every day, while I was faithfully praying over these concerns, I was simultaneously bracing myself for what I expected to be a stressful and uncomfortable interaction with family members I hadn’t seen in a long time. No matter the thoughts that consumed me, I woke up each day praying “today is a new day”. I knew I would be fine, but I must have been in denial that I wasn’t THAT fine. I’m probably making this out to sound like more than it was, but that’s what anxiety does… I digress, so I was going on with my plans and decided to reach out to my neighbors to give them a heads up that I would be hosting a party and to be patient with noise and parking later that day. I sent a group text and continued with my to-do list. Moments later, I opened my phone to find a derogatory and racist rant about me and one of my sons from one of my neighbors. She clearly did not intend to send that message to this group, but she did and just a few hours before I was to host 80+ guests for my son’s graduation party, a rush of rage sent tingling sensations and dizziness through my whole body. Luckily I was out running an errand when I saw it, but my hands were shaking so much, that I had to pull over. My first thought was to respond with &#%^ but, knowing I had to deal with it or run the risk of it ruining the day of festivities, I responded by acknowledging what she said, and I took the high road saying, “nonetheless, thanks for your patience while we celebrate this milestone for my son”. I sat in a shopping center parking lot, paralyzed by my rage before calling my pastor to talk me through my emotions before returning home. Among other things, she advised me not to tell my family what happened so we could enjoy the day, but she also said that I shouldn’t have given that neighbor the satisfaction of an emotional response. In the moment, that’s not what I wanted to hear because she deserved much worse, but it forced me to have to focus on my tendency to react vs. respond in stressful situations. The point of sharing that story is that no matter how frustrating it was in the moment, God used that situation to expose that person to all our neighbors and I didn't have to do a thing. It showed me that except for that one, I have great neighbors that support and care about me, who even stepped up to defend me when it mattered. It reinforced that I am not only protected from harm wherever I go, but I have a village that prays for me and encourages me when I’m feeling weak, and last, my pastor was correct about resisting the urge to be reactive. Not because it wasn’t warranted, but because as a Christian, that is not a reflection of who God is in my life and that I am to pray for my enemies as much as I pray for those I love, whether I like it or not. I did NOT want to hear the “Love thy Neighbor” speech on that day, but it continued to come back to me repeatedly over the past few weeks until I got it and that didn’t just apply to my next-door neighbor. It applied to the dreaded family interaction too! Needless to say, I got through it all with grace and from the outside looking in, it appeared I had it all under control, but after everyone left and the dust settled, I came down with shingles. REALLY? Yes, shingles a very painful skin rash that impacts your central nervous system. You just can’t make this stuff up. So, while I was stuck at home, trying my best to minimize the physical pain by taking medication, moving gingerly, and avoiding laying in certain positions, God showed me that this is the same way I have learned to navigate the discomfort/land mines of my anxiety. Yikes! Instead of releasing my fears and trusting God to take care of me (no matter the issue) I still tend to put on a happy face, act like I’m fine and “get through it”. I continued to press down the anxiety to the point that it had no choice but to show up in my body so I can see and feel it until I decide to deal with it. Well, I wish I could say that I’ve conquered it, but it’s still a work in progress thus the hesitation to write about it, but just in case someone else needed to hear this, I’m sharing it anyway. In the meantime, I am continuing to pray for deliverance from anxiety and the consequential healing in my body, while working on loving my not so lovely neighbors, both literally and figuratively. My challenge for you… are you listening to your body? If so, what’s it telling you and what are you going to do about it? As tensions continue to increase in the world around us socially, politically, and relationally, how well are you doing at loving your neighbor? We’re in this together! Until next time…

  • Do It Anyway...

    Last night my oldest son put together a free show at school for his peers. During COVID lockdown he asked for a guitar to have something constructive to do while in isolation. For the past 2 years he has been pulling up YouTube tutorials and has taught himself enough to enjoy music at a whole new level. I’ve listened to him play around the house on holiday breaks, so I thought I knew what to expect. Then he said, “by the way… I’m gonna sing!” Wait, what?? In public?? I thought to myself. So, I patiently waited to see for myself what he would do. It doesn’t sound like a big deal to most because you probably don’t know that I used to have a non-profit performing arts studio and I spent years, feverishly stressing over making public performances PERFECT! So yes, the recovering control freak in me wanted to ask a million questions to help him put on a stellar performance, but God continues to teach me to let things go and be content with life being perfectly imperfect! He got up there despite any fear and just DID IT! He told the audience, “I don’t really sing, but I’m going to today so feel free to help me out and sing along.” He and his friends played a variety of popular songs, and they captivated the audience with their love for music but most of all the courage to “not care” that they weren’t a perfectly performing machine. I sat there in amazement! He inspired me in more ways than I can describe. Then God used that moment to speak to me. He said, “this inspires you because it’s bringing back to your remembrance all the ways you inspired them as children”. My boys had a front row seat to the work I did at the studio, fighting to keep the doors open with barely any money to give children from all different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds the chance to express themselves creatively. I recall one day back then riding in the car upset because I didn’t know how I was going to keep the bills paid and get through the next event we had planned. Venues were booked, costumes were paid for with no budget for advertising and no tickets sold… There was always an obstacle to overcome, but on that day, Q looked at me from the backseat of my car and said, “Mommy, you can’t give up! If you give up, what will that mean for us?” He was 7 yrs old at the time. Now I’m thinking, what if I had given up then? What if that program hadn’t been there at that season of their lives, where they learned to get on a stage and dance, etc.? How did all those things possibly impact the confidence that he has now to put himself out there and feel free to express himself! How would that have impacted Max when he got knocked down recently and had to fight his feelings of discouragement to allow God to create even better new opportunities for him? The motto for the Dream in Color studio was, Why dance? Why play? Why Sing? … Because you’re spirit matters! I started that organization because as a child, dance gave my heart a voice when I couldn’t find the words to articulate what I was feeling, and I needed other kids to have that same opportunity. Look at this now… full circle! What I thought was a failed venture back then that tricked me into giving up on my dreams, turned into this! I am using the words that God has been developing in my heart for years to be able to express myself in new ways and I’m still helping others do the same. Same mission, just different package. I got to see the desire of my heart back in 2005 manifested in my son on that stage last night and I couldn’t be more grateful. That means that my dream didn’t die, it just changed form. Oh ya’ll I’m shouting!!! It showed me that in my old age I have allowed myself to become more limited in my thinking of what is possible. It made me realize that I have been taking my gift of words for granted, seeing it as a burden rather than an opportunity to enjoy the process of co-creating with God. It showed me that our children are always watching and learning and that seeds sown in past seasons will bear fruit for bad or for good so be intentional with the examples you are setting and never squash the dreams of a child or an adult for that matter! Thank you God for showing me I've done some amazing things in my life, even when I didn't know what I was doing or the impact that it would have. Quentin is in this video. What things have we stopped trying or enjoying because it seems scary or we’re not perfect at it? I’m so sick of it, y’all!!! We must do better so we can enjoy the life we have been given! Time to start living my best life! I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M SHARING THIS but… ironically a few weeks ago Max found this old video of me singing on a family vacation maybe 12 years ago. He shared it with me because he said this was one of his favorite memories as a moment that he remembered me being truly happy! I needed that reminder on that day but even more so now… life may be hard but it’s not all bad, so take some time to stop and smell the roses or what the heck… sing a song because God doesn't require perfection, He just wants us to keep trying! DISCLAIMER: “I don’t really sing, but I am today so feel free to sing along! 😊” P.S. Quentin and Maxwell, thanks for inspiring me everyday! Mommy loves you! Until next time!

  • Triggered...

    Since my last post, life and work got super busy. I slipped into a routine where time passed faster than I could keep up. I often felt so tired that when I got home, I’d fall asleep before 9 o’clock then lay awake half the night. Minor aches and pains mounted into debilitating physical problems. Multiple unexpected issues arose, causing financial stress. Meanwhile, issues and annoyances with family, friends, and colleagues, pushed me into familiar corners of frustration and defensiveness. Individually, seemingly unrelated but collectively they became increasingly troublesome. Signs appeared in my personal spaces. Random things nagged at me until I connected the dots that there was an issue to address. For the first time since I’ve moved here, the weeds had grown totally out of control in my yard, way too many to pull, yet too difficult to ignore. My lawncare service couldn’t fit me into their schedule since it was still out of season, and I was embarrassed to walk outside and look at it. The pest control service showed up for their quarterly visit and sprayed the exterior perimeter of the house. Not a new process, but this time by the next day hundreds of dead mosquitos (in February) filled the breezeway to my front door. It was gross, and as quickly as I could sweep them away, the next day just as many reappeared. This happened for several days. It made no sense, as no one else’s front door was infested in this way. Then out of the blue, my car battery died, and I had to wait for hours for a tow truck to arrive to jump start the car after an attempt on my own literally set my cables on fire, at work in the dark. I thought that was resolved until a few days later it happened again. I had to replace the battery myself on the road, as this ONE TIME, roadside assistance wasn’t available to do it for me. Seriously?! I think you get my drift! I finally threw my hands up and asked, “Lord, what is going on?” I didn’t believe I was doing anything different warranting such a spiritual attack, but I was literally being bugged to death by the weeds in my yard and the emotional baggage in my life. Our bible study group has been studying the book of Revelation and has challenged me in new ways that are quite uncomfortable, if I’m being honest. I’ve also noticed that many recent church sermons, by multiple pastors have been on the topic of Kingdom vs Culture. This is not the time to dig into that, but it’s relevant to the crossroads that I find myself at right now. Nevertheless, when I asked the question about what was happening, as always, He answered. Everything was going well until I was triggered. Without going into detail, back in January someone shared some information with me about a past relationship. Although I was not surprised, I was subtly retraumatized. I didn’t react, which was good in the moment, however as I quietly processed the truth of the situation, I grew increasingly angry. Looking back, I understand that what probably triggered me more was the lack of response or understanding from the people that I shared the information with. All with great intentions, but we all know that it’s easy to say, “why does it matter at this point?” “What’s done is done...” or “just let it go…” when it doesn’t directly impact you. It actually felt worse to hear no response at all! While I’d love to say I’m that mature in my faith walk, I clearly am not. So, I reverted to suffering in silence. Outwardly, having appeared to have moved on but inside, I was still pressing it down. What does that look like in layman’s terms? Displaying mini emotional eruptions in unrelated situations that shouldn’t have bothered me as much as they did. While each situation was significant and required a response, what I thought was establishing and enforcing firm boundaries, others interpreted as aggressive. SIDEBAR: I know that in our efforts to “move on” from difficult seasons/situations, our tendency is to find ways to avoid thinking about the thing that causes us pain. So, while what often sounds like good advice to find “healthy distractions” may be a short-term solution, it is not sustainable long term. Why not? Because the things that we need distractions from just continue to pile up and we find more extreme ways to distract ourselves from dealing with the issue, which not only hurts us, but it’s leaks out onto others, causing them pain too. It's so easy to judge drug, alcohol use and/or violence as the most destructive coping mechanisms. Yet we lovingly ignore overeating, smoking, control/perfectionism, criticism of others, etc., as more appropriate ways to take our mind off the crap that life throws at us, to feel good in the moment. I allowed myself to get sucked into the whirlwind of distractions in the past few months, submitting to my physical pain, I became a binge watching, couch potato and Heluva Good French Onion Dip because my boo! I complained about the people and situations that offended me and I used my busy work schedule as an excuse to do nothing after work, most nights. BUT GOD began to drop breadcrumbs to lead me back to him by picking up my pen and get back to writing my way through the pain. Not with this blog, but the sequel to my screenplay. You didn’t know? A few years ago, I wrote a screenplay with hopes of selling it for production of a major motion picture. However, feedback suggested that it was probably better suited for a series on a streaming service. At the time, that discouraged me because it took so much out of me emotionally to complete the first one that I didn’t believe I had any gas left in the tank to write more. However, lately I have been getting glimpses of inspiration, so I started taking notes and planning out my next steps. A few weeks ago, through a burst of inspiration, I sat in front of the computer and instead of preplanning everything, I decided to let the story lead me in the direction it was begging to go. So, I did, however at about 8 pages into the script, I hit a wall. NOTE: In film/screenwriting, you have so many minutes to capture the audience by setting the stage before an inciting incident needs to happen that demands action and sets the urgency that moves the story forward. When I hit the wall, I thought it was just writers block, but now I understand that like me, my main character was triggered, forcing her to confront her feelings in either a destructive or a productive way. That wasn’t at all where I thought the story would go but isn’t it just like God to make my imagination for this fictional character reveal to me what I was avoiding in real life. The bottom line… I’m angry! For multiple reasons, I’m angry. This unpleasant news forced me to revisit and reevaluate years of conversations, actions, decisions, and feelings, which at the end of the day made me feel like a fool. I was angry at the people who I believed knew and didn’t tell me, although that’s never an easy position to be in. Then my anger turned towards God because He directed me to handle the situation in a certain way and the outcome was the opposite of what I had expected or hoped for. I was also mad at myself for being foolish and wasting my time and energy. So, I had to decide… Was I going to continue to let this be a trigger for me while expecting others to unknowingly tiptoe around my emotional land mines, or was I going to acknowledge my feelings but also accept that God kept me there for a reason and I don’t always get to understand why? After praying and even arguing with God for a bit, I finally received THE revelation on one of my morning walks. He told me, “It wasn’t about you!” Those four words quickly put my pain into perspective. There are often things that God will ask us to do that doesn’t make sense. Sometimes we do have to endure suffering for the sake of supporting the needs of others. I don’t love it, but that’s the truth! As a mother, I immediately understood that commitment to sacrificial love, no matter who it involved so I couldn’t argue about it any further. The only thing left for me to do was to continue to pray that my feelings would come into alignment with the purpose that I have committed to fulfilling. Also, I had to refocus my thoughts from temporary distractions to rather discovering what good came out of the situation, for me and for others around me to make it all worth it. To help me with this, God directed me to go back and read all my blog posts and journal entries to show me how far I’ve come and that did the trick. For now, my journey to wholeness includes continuing to release my repressed anger and reach a next level of forgiveness. I also know now that the sequel to my first screenplay will incorporate this journey, which is a turn that I am not sure I’m ready to follow, but nevertheless not my will but thy will be done… The title of the first screenplay is “Bitter” and this next one is entitled, “Better”. Only God knows what’s next but I’m along for the ride. P.S. By no means am I minimizing the impact of trauma and things that trigger us on a daily basis. I have had my share, but what I am saying is do what you need to do, to not stay stuck there. In this trigger happy world, God is teaching me that while there should be compassion for our trauma, we have to actually deal with it, so it doesn't control how we show up in the world and in our relationships. Until next time…

  • T.H.I.N.K.

    As I quietly rolled in 2023 I spent a lot of time reflecting on highs and lows of 2022. On New Year’s Eve 2021, I remember hearing a prophetic word that included... 1) In 2022 there would be a reckoning of sorts and 2) to pay close attention to what you speak because it would come to pass. Periodically throughout the year, particularly while I was fasting, I heard the same thing from various sources over and over, making me become much more aware of the words that I spoke. Am I speaking life or am I speaking death over situations, dreams, relationships, etc.? Am I building bridges in gaps of understanding in difficult situations, instead of adding to the criticism or division by choosing a side? I also wondered, “if everything that I spoke came true, would I be happy with the outcome?” That’s a scary thought… So even though not perfect, I did my best to speak only positive things and to shut my mouth when I was having frustrating or negative thoughts. I’m not gonna lie, some curse words slipped out here and there through some big life and world events, but I have largely shifted what I speak into the world and into my own life. As I mentioned in my last blog, others have commented that they noticed at times that almost immediately things that I had spoken happened right before our eyes. I’ll tell you that feels great when it’s something that you have been hoping for, but what do you do when you start seeing things manifested that may be what you prayed for but is not at all how you expected it to look? It may even cause people you love pain! Well I can tell you it sucks… it has hurt tremendously to see people in my life have to live with consequences of their actions, words or decisions, yet have the discipline to stand down and not try to fix it or impose my feelings/thoughts into their situation. Have you found yourself in this position recently? I have been avoiding writing this post because I didn’t know how to communicate this important lesson without violating the privacy of people that I care about, yet I’ve had to watch them fall and suffer in recent months, weeks and even days. I am learning that everyone has their own journey and that to interfere, even when you must watch their suffering does more harm than good. Right before COVID hit in February 2020, I attended a workshop on how to open and facilitate a group home with a few ministry partners. Until this past month, I had forgotten about a testimony that a therapist shared during her lesson about setting and holding boundaries when dealing with people in crisis. She explained that trying to be their savior will not only burn you out, but they will become codependent with you, and it will “deny God the opportunity to show up in their life and their circumstance.” Here is the story that she shared. It was 4:45pm, just a few minutes before her shift was over and one of the residents in the group home came running to her hysterical and in crisis. The girl begged for her to stay and talk with her because she didn’t believe she would make it through the night. The therapist knew that she was in a safe space so it was not a life-or-death situation that would require her to stay so she told her that she would be back in the morning, and she promptly left at 5pm. Well, she came in the next day to learn that overnight the resident had had an encounter with God that changed her life! She shared, that had she stayed that person wouldn’t have been alone long enough for God to step in and show himself in her situation. That was powerful then and even more so now that I’ve had to apply it in multiple situations within the past month or so. In all situations, it required discipline to exercise restraint, yet demonstrate compassion for their pain WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. Yep! That has been tough. I have been prompted even when I didn’t want to, to pray for some people and now watch from a distance what it looks like when for God to answer that prayer, He must take extreme measures to disrupt the pattern of dysfunction to hit the reset button and guide them into a do-over. I’m still watching, and it still hurts, but it gives me peace that I see God’s hand all over each of them and their respective circumstances. I will also say, I am extremely grateful for the mercy that God has shown me in my seasons of wandering in the wilderness and hard course correction(s). I am even more grateful that He dealt with my issues and mistakes privately and not publicly, while teaching me to extend the same grace that I needed at my worst moments in life. I don’t know about you but from where I’m sitting, if you made it to 2023 it appears to me that God is not allowing us to continue in the same patterns that we’ve gotten away with in years past. It’s time to clean house ya’ll! Get your priorities straight! Get your health right! Stop making excuses for why you are still stuck in the hamster wheel and figure out what habits/lifestyle choices are not serving you in the RIGHT WAY and decide to do something different! At the very least, start paying attention to what comes out of your mouth! Happy New Year! Love, Peace and Abundant blessings to you all! Until next time...

  • The Rain...

    Oh my, I can’t believe it’s been almost 3 months since my last blog post but what a time it has been. I ended my last post stating it was about to be “on and poppin” and that it has been. I completed my training at the end of September, as well as a few weeks of testing to prepare to be released on the sales floor. As I progressed through each milestone, Nervous Nelly here noticed that it didn’t matter what I had just overcome, I always seemed to find another new thing to worry or stress about. For weeks, I continuously talked myself out of being stressed over the next family issue to deal with, or where I was going to be assigned with my new job, (as my 100 mile per day commute continued to weigh on me). It didn’t seem to matter how much progress I knew I had made, my mind kept making up stuff to distract me emotionally. However, the more it happened, the more aware I became of that tendency, so I was able to deal with each issue in real time, shortening the length of my internal struggle. Eventually, I discovered that the common denominator in every situation was my obsessive belief that I had to think through every possible scenario in all situations to anticipate another solution, just in case God didn’t come through (aka do whatever I was hoping for). All the while, God continued to challenge me, “Do you trust me?” The more I said yes, the more He revealed to me that my actions were contradicting my intentions, maybe not outwardly but in my head for sure. Around the same time, God also prompted me to emotionally take a step back from the kids. At the time, I thought it was to give them more space to spread their wings, but a part of me wanted to see if they loved me enough to call or check on me if I wasn’t the one reaching out to them. Regardless of my motives, days and eventually weeks passed, and it was VERY QUIET. My phone wasn’t ringing, nor pinging, and I became very sad. I even called my mother and cried saying “I don’t think they love me.” LOL, it was as ridiculous as it sounded coming out of my mouth but again, I found myself in that quiet space where my imagination tended to run wild, BUT GOD had a better plan. Around that time, I picked back up on a sermon series by Pastor Mike Todd called “Cuffing Season”. I honestly thought I had conquered that control demon until I heard these latest messages, but I had not. I learned that I didn’t need to be organizing and/or managing their lives to still be covertly controlling our relationships by constantly texting and talking with them. I thought I was just staying in touch and supporting them, but the reality was I had wrapped so much of my identity in being a mother that I didn’t know how to function without feeling or being needed. While this may seem normal or reasonable to many mothers, it was devastating to me to realize that God was telling me to completely take my hands off my young adult children’s lives because I had made motherhood an “Idol” over my relationship with God. What would that mean for me? Still in my feelings, I did just that. I stopped calling and there were no guilt trips when I didn’t hear from them and ironically, I started getting messages asking why I hadn’t called them. Eventually, that applied to my mother as well. God showed me that everyone was doing quite well without my involvement, so I was free to just focus on myself and what God had in store for me next. Then BOOM… Literally, as soon as I let all that go, the floodgates opened in my life. When I surrendered where I would be assigned for work and said, “God I’ll be blessed wherever you send me,” I was assigned to an amazing opportunity that I didn’t even know was an option, just 12 miles from home. When I let go of my need to feel needed with the kids, I was receiving phone calls that lasted sometimes an hour at a time, just to chat and catch up, which was far more meaningful than it had ever been before. When I transitioned to my new worksite, I was given a sales goal of (1) new home in the month of November and God sold (6) houses in 3 weeks. Company leadership questioned me, shocked and amazed at what they were witnessing, and my answer remained consistent… “This is just the evidence of God keeping his promises to me. It makes no sense otherwise!” SIDEBAR: Ya’ll the first house was sold the first 24 hrs on the sales floor and it was one year to the day that I surrendered and said “Yes” when God told me to change careers and go into real estate. You just can’t make this stuff up! Even more than that, He continued to blow my mind by answering prayers almost as quickly as I stated them out loud. So much so that people around me noticed as well and commented, “you literally just said that, and it happened”. “I know, right?” I’d answer. “Now God is just showing off!” Yep, I quickly had the revelation that the long awaited “Harvest Season” is finally here! Everything around me looks different. I catch myself crying, overwhelmed with gratitude over little things that I never noticed before. My prayers shifted from begging God over whatever I was struggling with to simply praising Him for His presence in every area of my life. Instead of questioning if God will do something for me, I wait with anticipation, believing that his promises are Yes and Amen. I didn’t know this was actually possible, but IT IS! So much so, that as I bundled up to walk Jaxon last weekend in the rain, instead of speeding down the street praying he would hurry up and handle his business to rush back inside, I decided we were going to be the same level of wet, whether we were out there for 5 minutes or 20 minutes. It was in that moment that I stopped caring about getting wet and understood that every drop of rain that fell on my head was just a symbol of God’s love pouring down on me, exceedingly abundantly and above all I could ever ask, think or imagine! So, Jaxon and I frolicked in the rain for about 30 minutes that morning and it felt amazing! Too often we look at the inconvenience and discomfort of rain, but it is also what nourishes the earth and gives life! Take a little time to go outside and dance in the rain. It feels like a little taste of heaven! Until next time… Oh and one last thing... what I perceived as God taking something from that was important to me, i.e. my kids, He was really just making space in my life for His love to shine brightest, which as a bonus ended up improving my relationships with my kids. Go figure!

  • Sneak Attack

    A few weeks ago, as much as I insisted that I wasn’t going to stress over an upcoming event, it was still on my mind. Not in the same way, but rather in a let’s just rip this band aid and see how God will show up in this situation. For me, that mind shift alone was already a WIN, but since I still overthink EVERYTHING, I played it out a thousand times in my mind. On that morning, I prayed, “God, let the fruits of your spirit show up in me today.” I also declared out loud that I would NOT be tricked by the enemy to act outside of my character, no matter what the situation warranted. It turned out to be such a great day and the things that I had concerned myself with on this matter in an instant were gone. A level of kindness and grace came out of me that was surprising even to myself. Further, things that may have baited me in times past, did not have any effect on me! I was so happy, but more so it showed me AGAIN what happens when I truly give my cares to God. While I won’t share the circumstance, those who know me well know it was not an easy thing to do and based on the outcome, it was ALL GOD 😊 Nonetheless, I left that event confident I had dodged the bullet. Then the next morning, something happened with one of my children that threatened to send me back to that old, reactive Kim. I am grateful that quiet time, lots of prayer and a long drive allowed me to process the situation and my feelings about it in time to recognize that, that was indeed one of the enemy’s tricks. Ah Ha! Not today Satan… so I let it go! Wow, I’m really growing, I assured myself. Then the next day as I was preparing for the work week and sharing my testimony with close friends, I began to feel agitated. I must be tired from the long weekend. By the next morning, “Uh oh, my throat is scratchy…” I gargled, popped some Tylenol, and went on with my day. By the end of the day, serious fatigue set in. “I’ll just shut it down early and I’m sure I’ll be fine in the morning.” By the middle of the night, a migraine, fever, aches, and cough had developed. Yep, after 2.5 years of dodging the COVID bullet, Rona got me. Ugh… This was the first time I’ve been sick since I’ve lived completely alone. Just me and the pup, who laid by my side for the past 5 days. Bam, I didn’t have time to think about a plan to take care of myself, but before I knew it, family, friends, and neighbors were leaving food at the door and letting themselves in to walk the dog for me. I am so grateful for them all and it taught me that I don’t always have to be the doer and giver. It is available for me too! My boss and co-workers checked on me regularly and never made me feel pressured to return to work before I was ready. I didn’t worry about meals or medicine being readily available and Jaxon never harassed me to play with him or walk. I realized that it may have been the first time ever that I had nothing to do or think about other than getting well. As I lay in my bed day after day, I questioned if there was something I should be doing. Nope, just lay your butt down and do nothing! So, nothing I did… and day by day I improved at an exponential rate. On the third day, I woke up to notice Jaxon literally sitting on top of me staring out of the room, as if he was the watchman on the wall. It gave me a visual of how the angels must have been surrounding me just a few days earlier in the difficult situation. However, later that night, thinking I was well enough to take him for a walk, we barely made it down the driveway before he stopped walking and sat down. I tugged his leash to continue, but he moved a few feet and sat down again. “Hmmm, this is strange”, I thought. “Jaxon, come on… I want to get back in the bed.” We made it down to the curb before his little legs began to quiver. He circled nervously before squatting, as I discovered that he had diarrhea. “Oh no, does he have COVID”, I feared. I cleaned up the spot and hurried back inside. Tired and dizzy, I googled COVID symptoms in pets and sure enough… I gave my dog COVID. He hadn’t eaten in days since I got sick, but when we returned, he drank water and assumed his usual spot on the foot of my bed. Within moments, I heard a strange gurgling sound and next thing I knew I was jumping up to clean up vomit. In my haste, I tweaked my back, struggling to stand up straight and care for my sick pup. Great, just great!!! By the end of the night, he was in his crate with a towel and everything in my room was in the laundry as I slept on the bare mattress in pain from my back and exhausted from the commotion and continued COVID fatigue. In that moment, I realized… getting COVID was the sneak attack. It was not the type of attack that I had been on high alert for. Even like Jaxon, standing guard while I was trying to recover, his sickness was another layer of attack that I had not anticipated as a possibility. Dang it! But then this morning, during church I sensed in my spirit that although this was an attack on my health, today is also 9/11 the most significant sneak attack on our countries land. There is also a term that is often associated with this event - “Ground Zero”. It represents the empty space after the rubble of a traumatic and horrific event has been cleaned up, ready to rebuild something new and start over. Oh, that hit my spirit so hard. God said, “As you get up today, praise me for all that I’ve brought you through, clean your house, clear your head, dump the last bit of rubble from your past and consider THIS day your emotional Ground Zero!” I felt significantly better almost instantly. I also changed how I saw my brief bout with COVID as more so a purge of the emotional sickness that has been infecting my spirit for more than half of my life, having been a major source of my anxiety. While I’ll always remember and respect the tragic events and enormous losses of 9/11 in addition to the trauma and loss that COVID-19 has caused millions of families, I will also remember TODAY as the day God gave me a clean slate. The mental and emotional bondage of my past trauma and toxic relationships have been conquered in the Name of Jesus! Ya’ll it’s about to be on and poppin… Until next time…

  • Daddy's Little Girl

    About 3 weeks ago, I visited a local church. I was a few minutes late, so I discreetly made my way to a seat in the back. I sat next to a young family. As the wife was deep into praise and worship, the husband sat between she and I, holding their sleeping toddler. There was nothing seemingly out of the ordinary, however as I began to get swept away by the music, every time I reopened my eyes, I kept seeing this man and his daughter in my peripheral vision. At some point it began to feel like a distraction, but I didn’t understand why. As the service transitioned into the sermon, I had the scriptures out and was prepared to take notes, but I could not stop staring at them. I felt awkward and frustrated about not focusing on the sermon until God said, “They are the sermon!” Whew… that was a relief. Having been given permission to pay direct attention and what I observed was beautiful. This little girl had on her frilly dress, with her curly locks matted on one side of her face up against her daddy’s shoulder. She was in such a deep sleep, he was up and down, singing, talking, etc. and she didn’t notice a thing. Like I said, this isn’t unusual to see. I used to hold my kids in church all the time when they were little, but what God revealed to me in this moment was a level of safety and intimacy between and father and daughter that I have always struggled to comprehend. Because of the difficulties that I had in my relationship with my father as a child, I had not been able to experience God as a protector and comforter. That may seem absurd to many, but even to this day, I have yet to feel safe and secure in relationships with men. Neither my father nor my ex-husband provided that for me, so unfortunately God has remained in that box as well. Until THIS day… At the deepest level, I witnessed a child that had no sense of danger or anxiety about her surroundings. She could have slept through a hurricane the way she was snuggled in the firm grip of her daddy’s arms. He would adjust from time to time, as her head slid out of position, but he gently wiped the sweat from her hair, kissed her on the head and patiently gave her a moment to get resituated. “Lord, is it really that simple?” I thought. “Yes, it is”, He responded. “That is how I want you to rest in the protection of my arms. No matter what you are facing, I am holding you close to my chest, soothing you with the rhythm of my heartbeat.” “Yes, Daddy!” I responded, but I still didn’t understand why I wasn’t ready to share it in a post. Weeks passed as neglecting to complete this post nagged at me. I blamed my fatigue, still adjusting to my new work schedule. On Wednesday night I wrote the sweet, fluffy part but I put it down unable to finish and I fell asleep. The next morning, I woke up, spotting the laptop on the floor next to my bed perplexed about my writer’s block. As Jaxon and I started down the driveway for our morning walk, I finally asked out loud, “Lord, what is it that is keeping me from getting this done?” I didn’t make it to the end of the block before the memory came back into my mind of the last time I sat on my father’s lap. I had just graduated from college, and had just started dating a man, a bit older than me. That’s a whole other story, but I recall a family picnic and I brought him with me to meet everyone. It was a typical large family summer gathering with lots of drinking, music, BBQ, etc. We arrived and the first person we saw was my father. He greets me with a big hug, I introduced him to my friend and after pleasantries and introductions to everyone else in our immediate area, my father pulled me down to sit on his lap to chat as we hadn’t seen each other for several months. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but when my friend and I left the cookout, he immediately accused me of having a sexually inappropriate relationship with my father. I was deeply offended and upset by his words in the moment, but 25+ years later I would remember that my father had sexually abused me as a young child. That was a deeply traumatic time for me, so I guess after making peace with that part of my life as much as I was capable of at the time, it had just come back on this walk. I cried walking up the street, and I’m still crying now as I write this post. Who wants to ever have to say that you were sexually abused as a child, and especially by your father, who is supposed to be your protector? But that’s the truth and it still hurts! “But God, why are you bringing this up again now? He’s gone and I have already forgiven him for his demons.” He responded, “Because the spirit of perversion that tainted your ability to have a trusting relationship with your father, is the reason you can’t trust me to be your protector and your source of safety!” He continued, “You can’t see yourself being held by me like you watched that little girl and her father, because you only remember yourself in your father’s arms as something that is nasty and perverted. It’s not fair and I’m deeply sorry that you had that experience, but that is not who I AM and it’s time to let that go!” “It is the root of all your anxiety! You anticipate your every move and everyone’s around you to maintain your safety, meanwhile you have carried guilt and shame about your conflicted feelings. You desperately wanted to feel loved enough to be “daddy’s little girl” through both the abandonment and the spirit of perversion that loomed over that side of your family.” That was all He said. The next step is up to me! As I continue to unpack this issue, I ask for your prayers. God, I want to trust you FULLY! I’m doing the best I can. Hopefully, as I am faced with challenges moving forward tempting me to slip back into my default mode, I now have a healthy visual in my toolkit to help me resist the urge to fix everything myself and allow God to do the heavy lifting. Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOUL. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Just as God has been faithful in many other areas of my life, He showed up for me in such a simple, yet profound way to help me through this issue too. Until next time…

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