Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Welcoming 2015

I guess this will be the last post of 2014. This year has been a year of learning, joy, growth, and heartbreak several times over. But I survived and I'm a better person because of every situation. I have learned so much about myself. I'm thankful that I'm a work in progress, and I'm learning to allow myself the grace to be just that.

I started this blog in February and I'm so thankful that I did. It's been freeing to share my thoughts and feelings. It's also been terrifying at times. The are a few posts I'd love to take back, but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't do that. I want to live a real and authentic life and so I don't filter my thoughts here. I believe through every embarrassing or awkward thought, I may be speaking something that someone else might need to hear.

Overall, 2014 was a pretty incredible year, and so I don't look at the start of 2015 as being a fresh start, but rather a continued opportunity to live the life God has blessed me with. Are there changes I'd like to make, yes. Are there dreams I'd like to fulfill, absolutely. I am thankful for what I've been through and excited for what is to come.

Some basic goals for 2015:

1) My 2014 "life song" was Brave by Sarah Bareilles. That was interesting to implement. I actually attempted to "say what I want to say" several times this year for better or worse. I can have a tendency to be shy..or fearful depending on how you look at it. The moments of bravery proved interesting at least. I'm not sure if it was always a good thing, but I learned some things. I'm thinking my 2015 song of the year might be "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift.

2) Conquer the mental side of this weight loss thing. This year my job hired a health coach for employees. I have committed to meeting with her regularly to set goals and have some accountability. If I can work through the mental barriers, I'm confident weight loss goals will be met in 2015.

3) DEBT FREE IN 2015!!! It's looking like April. I'm so excited to complete this goal. It's something that's been hard, required me to make sacrifices, and I'm proud of what I'm about to accomplish.

4) Personal spiritual growth and a deeper relationship with God.

5) Leadership- goal for this year is to stop and think before reacting. I learned a lot this year about how to work with people that aren't as easy to work with. But I desire to get better at working through things while avoiding the initial negative reaction.

6) Self-worth- Make it a point to look my best in every situation. See myself how others see me and how God sees me.

I pray 2015 will be your best year and my best year yet!!! Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

In That Place Once Again

"So I wait. And I pray. And I wrestle. And I dream. And I hope. And I fear. And I wonder. How far away is my someday?"

I wrote this in a post from April. I found it while I was reviewing my 2014 posts. I am in this place once again. It hurts more than before.

How does it feel when you think you might have found that "someday" and it appears you are wrong again? For me it feels like I can't take a deep breath and there is a rock sitting in my throat making it hard to swallow. Tears randomly appear in my eyes and conversations play on repeat in my head. 

I will get through it, I always do. "Let's be friends" is the story of my life. But this time feels different. Because this time it wasn't forced. I was me all the time. I thought like me, I talked like me, I wasn't nervous or self-conscious. It was real. It didn't come all at once, but grew moment by moment. And I could see it, the future of what it could be. I can tell that he accepts me for who I am. And I cared for him more with every new thing I learned about him. I was honest. He was honest. Yet, once again I am wrong. How can one person be wrong so many times?

I was told once that "you'll know when it's right." I'm not sure I can believe that anymore. 

Most of what I feel, I still can't quite find words for. It will take some time but we will move forward. I will fake the confidence for a while and then we can still be friends. But right now it hurts and I can't do anything about it.

Lover All Alone -Clay Aiken

Maybe I've convinced myself I've really been in love
And I've been wrong all along
For all I know the feeling and the picture
That I've tried so hard to find isn't mine

Could be it's all just a waiting game
Wanna share my everything

And on my own it's hard to tell my heart it will be alright
This love it holds will one day find a home
As hard as love can be, it's harder still it seems
To be a lover all alone without love

Picking up the pieces makes me wonder if
I only built it all to watch it fall
And the faster it can go away it means the less of me
Has gone to stay and I'm okay

But a lonesome tomorrow comes anyway
I'm alone for another day, another day

And on my own it's hard to tell my heart it will be alright
That this love it holds will one day find a home
As hard as love can be, it's harder still it seems
To be a lover all alone without love


This is the closest expression of how I feel:

Christmas...Part Two

I spent a lot of December volunteering in several different ways. I don't share this out of pride, but because as I reflect on the last month, I realize that this Christmas has been more special to me than many that have come before.

If you followed my blog this year, you will know that the word love has been my life word for 2014. I started the year with a resolve to find out what it means to be loved by God and in turn express that love to others through action. While I still feel like I have so much more to learn, I do feel like I have gotten to know God's love for me in a more complete way. I also know that serving others and expressing God's love through action has been more real to me this year than ever before.

I could share a lot of stories of this fact from months gone by, but I really just want to share two that occurred the week before Christmas.

Even though my schedule was already pretty full, I was in search of some real Christmas tradition. Things that reminded me of my youth when Christmas was magical. I've always loved Christmas, and this year I was in search of that thing that would light up my eyes and heart like a Christmas tree. I found that particular thing when a friend told me that his church still does Christmas caroling every year and invited me to participate. I realize for most people, this would not cause a jumping up and down with excitement kind of moment, but I love singing, I love Christmas carols, and I love seeing the joy on people's faces in the moment when you walk up to their house and start singing of the birth of our Savior. I remember doing this a few times as a kid...I don't think it meant as much to me then, but it is something I knew I had to be a part of.

This church does Christmas caroling right! I was impressed with the organization and participation. I was impressed that this is a steep tradition that several church members take part in. I was heartened by the family atmosphere and the understanding of importance this small gesture is to those who have given their lives in service to their church but who can no longer attend as they once did. You see, we weren't just caroling to random houses on random streets...but to church members who are too ill attend church on their own. Church members who were children's leaders or choir members. People who have made the church what it is today. While I was an active participant in the caroling (a-wassailing if you will), since I was a stranger to everyone there, it gave me a backseat role to observe. It was touching, and it reminded me that this is what celebrating Christmas is all about. Spreading the love of God and reminding people that HE loves THEM. I feel honored to have had the opportunity.

Since April my life group spends one night a month having our meeting with several ladies at the Dove's Nest (a recovery program connected to the Charlotte Rescue Mission). Before we started doing this, I had not really heard of the Dove's Nest before, I didn't know what it was, or what it means for the people who live there. These ladies have impacted my life this year. Spending time with them has become one of my favorite Monday's of the month. They are loving, sweet, determined ladies who have great futures ahead of them. This past Monday we got to celebrate Christmas with them. Each month the ladies of my life group have taken turns leading the devotions and activities using their own special God given gifts. A little unsure of myself or what I have to offer, I had yet to lead anything. Then, last month, one of the Dove's Nest ladies in visiting our church realized that I sing and requested that we do that sometime while we are with them. So, stepping out of the little shell I like to retreat to, I decided I would do a song for Christmas and volunteered myself to do just that. But a song is just a song unless there is meaning behind it, and as we planned the rest of the time, I was really feeling there was a special message God had for me to share. The song that came to me was Breath of Heaven, and the message that followed loudly in my head was the power of the Holy Spirit. "Breath of Heaven, hold me together. Be forever near me, Breath of Heaven. I am frightened by the load I bare. In a world as cold as stone, I walk this path alone. Help me be strong." The Holy Spirit IS breath from heaven. He is what helps us through, He is what walks our path with us holding us close and keeping us strong. He is the same Holy Spirit that the Bible says overshadowed Mary during her pregnancy with Jesus. (See part one of this blog for full devotion). Not only was this message fitting to me this week as I walked through some personal struggle, but more so I believe it was a direct word to someone in that group of ladies. I pray she heard it, I pray she understood God was drawing her to himself...whoever she was. Sharing life and love mutually as women...this is what Christmas is all about.

I am continually reminded that I am blessed beyond measure. I have three families that love me; my work family, my church family, and my birth family. All are special to me in so many ways. This Christmas I praise God for the love that he gives here on earth that reflects His love for all His children.

Christmas...Part One

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

This Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. A miraculous birth; the most important birth in history. Jesus being born is a great gift to us; because of his life and death, he gives the opportunity for each of our souls to be reconnected with the God of the universe. As I read these words from the Bible, I try to think about that encounter between Mary and the angel. If it were me, what would I think? What would I do? Because of her response of obedience to God and in her trust of The Holy Spirit, we were given the gift of Jesus coming to earth. My other thought lies in the words of the angel “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you”…For no word from God will ever fail.”

The same Holy Spirit that gave Mary the confidence and the power to walk through the struggles of pregnancy, child birth, judgmental looks, hurting her fiancĂ©, being an outcast of society, and every other struggle that came her way…is the Holy Spirit that lives today to give you and me power to overcome. It is not something we can build up within ourselves, the Holy Spirit is a person living in us that overshadows us, surrounds up, and helps us walk through anything God calls us to walk through. 

For no word from God will ever fail. The Bible is filled with many promises from God. Promises that I cling to when I forget his love for me. Promises that he will send us a helper (John 14:16-Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he promised to send a helper, the Holy Spirit.) Promises of God’s strength (Isaiah 41:10-When you are weak, you can rely upon the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe to strengthen you.) Promises for direction in our lives (Psalm 32:8-He knows the pitfalls and dangers that lie ahead and will teach you which way to go. and Promises of his love (Jeremiah 31:3-I have loved you with an everlasting (forever) love.)

Just as the promises of God prevailed in Mary’s life as she walked the unknown path of giving birth to the Savior of the world, every promise God has given to you and I through his word will prevail as well. 

Breathe of Heaven by Amy Grant: