Tag Archives: Grace

Big Girls Don’t Cry

I have been away from this space too long. This period of my life led to a long, severe bout of writer’s block that has made it nearly impossible to even think about blogging. I have attempted several times to share my experiences in this format, but every time I attempted to do so, I would find myself just staring at the computer screen. I had so much to say, but did not have the words to say what was in my heart and mind. I have previously discussed how important and therapeutic Writing is for me, and to not be able to do so has been very troubling. The last few months have been like riding on the most exhilarating and frightening roller coaster; filled with ups and downs, highs and lows. Let me start at the beginning…

I’ve indicated before that I am not overly emotional, nor am I one known to easily cry! To be more specific I viewed my tears as a form of weakness. I was always okay with the tears and emotions of others, but at some point I stopped allowing myself the same luxury. I am comfortable being a listening ear for people, and helping them to deal with life’s triumphs and trials; yet, it is not easy for me to allow people to help me process when I’m “going through.” Starting in April I begin to really struggle mentally and emotionally. H-Town sung, “Emotions make you cry sometimes!” My emotions made me not want to have any emotions. I reached a point where it hurt too much to feel, so I tried my best not to feel anything at all. I was pretty good at hiding my feelings from even those closest to me; I appeared to be so strong but on the inside I was weak.  I didn’t want to confide in my family, and I felt that my friends could not understand. I felt very alone!!!!

Life felt unfair! I had tried to live a life according to God’s will and commandments, yet it seemed very much in vain! What had living for Christ really brought me; what had I gained from doing it “RIGHT!?” Perpetually single and lonely, unfulfilled in ministry, jobless, hopeless, and unhappy; I was at my wit’s end! I was a minister who needed someone to minister to me; a counselor who needed someone to counsel me. I had been there for everyone else, and in my most desperate hour, I was seemingly ALONE! Where were the words of wisdom I had given, where was the person on the other end of the phone willing to listen to me vent! Countless hours spent being a beacon of light for other people, and now I was lost at sea! Lost in despair! Lost in failure! LOST! People implored me to just release it in tears, but that was not easy for me to do.

From April to early June, I secretly struggled! I pretended that everything was okay, but I was slowly losing myself. The breaking point was something that happened with my best friend. In retrospect, the situation seems small and not deserving of what happened. I won’t describe the whole situation because I would like to keep somethings personal and private. However, in the midst of our disagreement I felt that what I thought and felt did not matter to a person whom I thought should care. These feelings, added to what I had been going through, led to me ending our friendship and completely isolating myself.  The next few weeks were the hardest weeks of my life, as my life seemingly unraveled. Over the next 14 days, I cried 12 of them; I just couldn’t seem to make the tears stop. I felt that God was punishing me, I felt that my friends were punishing me, and most importantly I felt that I was punishing myself for not being perfect.

I wanted to give up on everything: church, ministry, relationships, and even life. I was not suicidal, but I was at the point where if death was near I was ready! I wanted to be free of this world, and its stress; and to finally be at peace with God! I strongly considered having myself committed to a mental institution, where I knew I could receive the help that I felt that I needed.

The lowest point also became the turning point for me! I went to a service one night and heard the worship team sing “He’s Able” by Voices of Unity! I sat in the audience, and it took everything within me not to scream! My heart and most of my head knew and believed that God was indeed able; but there was a small part of my brain that kept saying if God is able why am I still dealing with what I am dealing with. I didn’t have a response to that question…my seminary training and holy ghost sought to give explanations, yet that did not change the thoughts! I left service before the preacher got up to preach. As I traveled home, I asked myself ” What did I do to deserve this?” All I ever tried to do was to be myself, and be the best daughter, sister, friend, servant I could be! Yet those efforts seemed to be for naught. I was so TIRED! I didn’t know what else to say or do; I was done!

I decided to listen to Pastor Jason Nelson’s, “Place of Worship!” The song “I Shall Live,” started to play. As Pastor Nelson declared that he would live in spite of adversity and trouble, tears begin to fall from my eyes, and hope begin to bloom in my heart! There was no immediate change to my situation, instead each day was better. The tears stopped, and I was able to smile again. I was able to laugh and feel joy and peace. I promised myself that I would set clear boundaries in all relationships to ensure that I never reached this place again. Thankfully, after some time I was able to talk things through with my best friend, and we were able to begin to rebuild our relationship.

This situation was both a challenge and a learning experience for me. It challenged my faith, my beliefs about myself, and my mental and emotional fortitude. I learned to really take the time to care for myself, and that it is okay to do so. I also learned that real friends will tell you when you are wrong, and also forgive you when you make mistakes. Most importantly this lesson showed me that my tears do not suggest weakness. Instead, I learned that there is strength in being able to release these emotions in tears. Big Girls know that not only do they cry, but they embrace this ability because those who sow in tears, really do reap in Joy!

I want to thank: my parents; my twin sister, Deandra; my BFFF, Maranda; my friend and brother, Jamil; and my sister-friends, Cordelia and Renata. These people listened to me, prayed for me, corrected me, and showed me the meaning of real family and friends. Things are looking up in my life, and I’m grateful to know that God really is able!

I’m enjoying the journey and always striving to Make It Plain!

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‘Tis So Sweet

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, and to take Him at His Word; just to rest upon His promise, and to know, “Thus says the Lord!”

I have decided to once again share one of my favorite hymns; this one seems especially fitting considering the place I find myself in presently. It has been posited that many of the greatest songs of encouragement were born out of pain and personal tragedy; Tis So Sweet is one such song.

It was written by Louisa Stead in 1882, after a very tragic event. While not much is known about Mrs. Stead, historians have been able to discover that Louisa married her husband in 1875 and to their union was born a daughter, Lily. One day the family decided to enjoy a day at the beach on Long Island, New York. While enjoying their family time they heard cries of help and spotted a  boy who was drowning. Mr. Stead jumped into the water to attempt to rescue this boy. Unfortunately, both the boy and Mr. Stead drowned. The words of this hymn were written over the course of Louisa’s struggle with God after this tragedy.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!

I can easily admit that I have not always found it easy to trust anyone, including God! I haven’t always been able to see God’s active hand in my life, which caused me to doubt that all things were working together for my good! Being able to trust God when you are  not able to trace God, is often easier said than done! I’ve seemingly done everything that I was “supposed” to have done, said all of the right things; yet, things still seem to be falling apart all around me. I recall the words of the hymn writer, “Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease; just from Jesus simply taking life and rest, and joy and peace.” I don’t have to search for peace, joy, happiness, or love in anyone else; I simply must trust the God who gives peace that surpasses all understanding.

Despite my situations and circumstances, and in spite of the mistakes that I’ve made, I will continue to trust God. Even when others have meant to do me harm, or wanted to see me fail; God has always meant it for my good! So I now can freely sing: I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; and I know that Thou art with me, will be with me to the end.

Make It Plain

Calvary

I’m in a celebratory mood! This is the season that has been set aside to commemorate the sacrifice that was made by Jesus for the redemption of the world!

As I reflect, I am thankful for the blood that cleanses, washes, and still gives me strength from day to day! IT WILL NEVER LOSE ITS POWER!!!! With that in mind, I’m sharing a clip of Richard Smallwood & Vision singing Calvary!

Remember His Life, remember His Sacrifice, Remember that HE LIVES! The song writer declared that because He Lives, I can face tomorrow!

Always remember Jesus!

Make It Plain

It is Well!

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.

I am a lover of music in every form, and from every genre. My deepest love though is gospel music and most specifically the hymns I grew up hearing in church and at home. During my childhood, and most of my life, my mother was the musician at the church where we were members. (This predated the term Minister of Music!) Often, my mom would have moments where she would go to the piano and just begin to play whatever songs were in her heart and her spirit. This was a time for my mother to celebrate and reflect on the relationship that she had with God, expressed through the music and talent that God had given to her.

One such hymn I remembered her singing was the one that I quoted, “It is Well!” While I sung the song in my childhood, it was not until I had reached adulthood that I truly begin to understand and really appreciate this hymn. While at the Interdenominational Theological Center, I rediscovered my love for not only hymns, but the stories behind the penning of these songs.

“It is Well,” was written by Horatio Gates Spafford in 1873. Spafford was a lawyer in Chicago who experienced three traumatic events in his life within a three-year period. In 1870, his only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed all of his real estate holdings which ruined him financially. In 1873, the Spaffords decided to journey to England for a holiday and to meet with the great evangelist, Dwight L. Moody. Circumstances arose, and Mr. Spafford was delayed but decided to send his wife, and their four daughters ahead of him. On November 2, 1873, the ship that Mrs. Spafford and her daughters was traveling on collided with another ship. Two hundred and twenty-six people lost their lives, including all four of the Spafford’s daughters. After receiving word from his wife about the tragedy, Horatio set sail to go and meet his wife. On the journey, they passed  the spot where the collision had taken place. After seeing the spot, Horatio returned to his room and penned the words to this hymn.

I cannot imagine Horatio Spafford’s pain at the tragedies in his life, yet I can agree that life has dealt me some tough blows. I have encountered tragic events in life that were both undeserved and unexpected. I haven’t always understood the deaths of those whom I have loved. Neither have I understood the betrayals of people whom I have considered closer than friends. I am not always able to recognize God’s active hand in my life; truthfully, I have often questioned if God was even moving on my behalf. When I consider the trouble that I have faced; the situations that seemingly haven’t turned out for my good, it makes me question. Yet through it all I have discovered that God has never left me alone; God has been right there with me!

In spite of all life’s turmoil and no matter what may come my way, I have found strength in the words of this hymn. Through it all, It is Well! In it all, It is Well! In spite of hurt and pain, It is Well! With tears in my eyes, It is Well! When people enter my life, It is Well! When people leave my life, It is Well! Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, IT IS WEll, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!

Make It Plain!

We’re Moving On Up

Major changes have taken place in my life beginning with a move from my hometown of Beaumont, TX, to Atlanta, GA. As I sat in the middle of boxes containing all of my possessions I couldn’t help but be grateful for all that God continues to do. In this year of transition, I have experienced God in new ways. I have seen God keep me through 6 months of unemployment and job searching. Through days and nights of questioning the validity of my three years of seminary education which had not led to employment. I’ve had to reevaluate the relationships that I have long-held so dearly. The process of letting go is one that makes me emotionally uncomfortable, yet one that has been necessary to my continued health.

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that God’s grace is truly sufficient. It’s not something that I’ve read about only, it is manifested in my life everyday. Even now, in the face of continued uncertainty, I trust the mercies that are new every morning. I echo the sentiments of the hymn writer when I say, “All I have needed God’s hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

I’m not sure of all that the future holds, but I am sure of the One who holds the future and thus I will continue to move Forward!

Make it Plain!

I’m Beautiful D***it

Don’t be thrown off by the title, I won’t be lacing this blog with harsh profanity! Those who know me are aware that I don’t use profane language in my everyday vocabulary. This title is actually taken from a song that I was recently introduced to by my bfff ! The song is one of self-affirmation that encourages all people to recognize the beauty that lies within us. Check it out!

I’m using this song to shine a light on the evolution of my self-image. When I was younger I never felt comfortable in my skin. I was more likely to be playing basketball with my brothers rather than playing dolls with my sister. My daddy is an avid fisherman, and we would take family fishing trips on the weekend. During these family trips I was most often found inside the truck reading a book; preferring the escape of fiction to actually fishing! I have a twin sister, and although we are not identical, people have always found it difficult to know who was who. My sister and I are different in many ways, most specifically in our body type. Thus, people deemed it easy to call her the skinny twin, which made me the FAT twin! While I know that there were no malicious motives behind this distinction, it worked to destroy my personal esteem.

I was not a part of the “in-crowd” in school, preferring the close circle of friends. We were all Band geeks and we loved being different. Yet, even with my circle I was still different because I was not interested in losing the big V, and instead of parties, we would most likely be found in church. I didn’t consider myself one of the pretty girls, and never thought I would be noticed by any of the guys whom I found attractive. I was not happy with any part of myself; my glasses were too big, I was too dark, and yes, even FAT!

There was no epiphany moment in which I recognized my worth; instead it was a slow progression into self-awareness. This self-awareness grew into self-knowledge which ultimately led to self-fulfillment. The more comfortable I became in my skin, the more my self-esteem grew. Truthfully, I have reached the point in life where I am so Happy Being Me! I love ME, even the things that I seek to improve upon. When people tried to question my femininity because I chose to wear my hair faded; it was cool because I was happy. I may not ever be supermodel thin, but I am so comfortable in my skin that it no longer matters. So whether other people recognize it or not, “I’M BEAUTIFUL DAMNIT!”

Make It Plain