Rise Above

In my life, I’ve faced obstacles, setbacks, dashed dreams, mockery, manipulation, emotional abuse and being the odd one out. I’ve allowed myself to be a victim, or should i say the ‘star’ of my own pity party.

Rising above your circumstances is difficult. And sometimes its waaay more comfortable to stay in your misery and complain. Because if you remain stagnant, you’ll always have something to grump about. And you’ll have all of the “shoulda’, coulda’, woulda’s” to keep you company. But, you could also choose to take action to change your life for the better. Is it easy or fun? Nope. But it’s worth it.

Maybe something really bad happened in your life and you have a right to be pissed off, or devastated, or sad. Yes, take the time to grieve. Allow yourself to go through the process, but, don’t set up camp there. You alone have the power to decide to rise above your situation. (Yes, there are sometimes special circumstances where people may need medical help to overcome. That’s very real, but, that’s not what this post is about.)  For those of us who do not need medical help, you can choose to rise above. Yes, you can make all of the excuses you want, but at the end of the day, whose choice was it to not go for it? Whose choice was it to allow that ‘bad thing’ to suck all of the joy out of YOUR life?

I’m not trying to come down on you. I have to have this pep talk with myself on a regular basis. And sometimes I ask others (trusted friends/family) to help me keep proper perspective.

The truth is that yes, bad things have happened in my life, but, I’m still strong. I’m an overcomer. I’m a conqueror. I continue to rise. And so can you, if you’ll allow yourself to. Like the great poet Maya Angelou says in her poem Still I Rise, “you may trod me in the very dirt, But still, like dust, I’ll rise….You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.” (Read the whole poem here).

Rise up my brother! Rise up, my sister! You’re made for greatness!

L-O-V-E

What is love?

Webster’s defines love as a noun and a verb:

  • As a noun, love means: “strong affection to another arising out of kinship or personal ties; attraction based on sexual desire; affection based on admiration or common interests; a warm attachment; unselfish benevolent concern…” etc.
  • As a verb, love means: “to hold dear or cherish; to feel a lover’s passion, devotion, or tenderness for; to like or desire actively; to thrive in”

There’s a song that came out a few years ago by Ingrid Michaelson called “Everybody“. The hook to the song goes “Everybody, everybody wants to love. Everybody, everybody wants to be loved. Oh-oh-oh” ♪  Isn’t that so true? We all desire to love and to be loved. It’s built into us. It’s part of who we are as human beings. It’s even said that infants who are not physically held and nurtured with skin to skin contact eventually become ill and are more prone to die.  The very act of being held/loved is vital to their survival and well-being.

Even as we grow and age, we crave love and if we don’t get it in ample doses or in healthy ways, then we feel a void within. We may attempt to fill this void in various ways (healthy or unhealthy). Through relationships, acclaim, acceptance or promotion at work, you name it.  But what about God’s love? Maybe you’ve heard at some point in your life thus far, that God loves you. But this idea is abstract because you’ve only experienced a lack of love in your life. And you may say, “If there is a God out there… if he’s anything like (my dad, my mom, my priest, my teacher, my boss…[fill in the blank]) then I don’t want any parts of him.” If you’ve not been fortunate enough to have had any healthy representation of love in your life, it would definitely be difficult to imagine that there’s a God who loves you unconditionally.  But there is.

You see, God is the embodiment of love. God’s love is selfless, sacrificial and unconditional…not to mention everlasting. It’s everything ‘love’ should be.  We can’t mess up enough to stop him from loving us. If we feel like we’re not good enough, he says we are. If we have been conditioned to believe that love always leaves or rejects, he reassures us that his love always stays. You know that whole “John 3:16” thing that you see at football games?  It’s a message written in the bible that says “For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son (Christ) that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”  Your life is invaluable and God’s love for you is eternal.  Yes, it’s up to you if you believe that or not, but, I figured I’d tell and let you decide for yourself. Toodles. 🙂 ♥

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Waiting…ugh!

I don’t know about you, but I hate waiting. I stink at waiting. It’s no fun, it takes too long, it’s frustrating. You get the picture. There’s this guy in the Bible with a name that’s hard to pronounce – Habakkuk. Not on the top 10 baby names list. He was basically complaining to God about the fact that there was so much evil in his city and it seemed to be going unpunished. He wanted to know where God was?! And why wasn’t he doing anything about it?! That’s a common question even today, with so many crazy things going on in our world. I’m not going to get deep and theological here. I know my limitations. But, I will speak to waiting when nothing good seems to be happening. Waiting on an answered prayer… Waiting for things to change for the better… Waiting for the proverbial breakthrough… Waiting for a ray of sun to shine into your perhaps dark situation…. Here’s what God later says in answer to Habakkuk… The vision (or we could say the answer) is for an appointed time. Wait for it. Though it seems to be taking forever, it won’t be late. It’ll come at just the right time.  (Ok, that’s my paraphrase for all of you scholars out there.)

Yes, waiting for our answers or our ‘new season’ in life is no fun. Sometimes we wonder “If there is a God out there, then where is He?!” or “God, didn’t you hear my prayers? What’s taking so long??”. But like I mentioned in a previous post, there is a time and a season for everything under heaven. At just the right time, the right answer will come, the right people and situations will align themselves. God knows what He’s doing, even when we think He doesn’t. So, am I saying to be super excited about waiting? Nope. But, I am saying, be encouraged, your change is a-comin’. I’m waiting with you!

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You’re Beautiful, So Shine!

Did you know that you’re beautiful? Yes, you! No, don’t turn around and look behind you. I’m talking to YOU! Yes, you! The one reading this blog right now. 🙂 I just wanted to tell you in case no one else did. God made you special…even with all of your so-called flaws. No one is perfect but God. Oh sure, some people can pull of the “perfect” vibe, but, each one of us have things about ourselves that we don’t like. When we sit alone and no one else is around, our insecurities have a way of oozing out to try to make us feel yucky. We all have things about our personality and/or appearance that we want to fix. And yeah, maybe there are some things we can work at to better ourselves as people or to spruce up our appearance and make us feel ‘cute’. But, if you let your insecurities get the best of you, then, you won’t shine like you were meant to. And you were DEFINITELY meant to SHINE!

Maybe somebody once told you that you weren’t pretty or handsome…or not as good-looking as someone else. Maybe somebody said you’d never amount to anything, or that you were stupid or pathetic or not talented enough. Maybe somebody told you that your nose was too big, or that you were too short, too tall, too fat or skinny, too dark or pale, or even that you smile too much. Maybe they even told you that you were wasting your time and there was no way that you would ever make it.  LIES!!! These are all big, fat lies!

Here’s the TRUTH! You are SPECIAL, unique, gorgeous, talented, smart, brilliant, amazing, powerful, elegant, empathetic, caring, sweet, bold, fearless… You are LOVED with God’s everlasting love! And you were created with unique and beautiful qualities. You are so special and so important that God didn’t make anyone else exactly like you. Think about it. You’re the only you there is. And you have unique set of qualities, characteristics and attributes that make you who you are. It’s time to celebrate you.  Shine, in spite of the nay sayers! Shine for all to see. You’re beautiful. ♥

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

God’s Got People

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Do you remember the H & R Block commercials that had the ad campaign slogan “You got people”? Ok, so for all of you grammatically correct folks out there, I know that this is not correct English. But, the point of the ad campaign was that if you used their services, basically, you had someone in your corner.  I’m continually amazed how God’s “got people” everywhere.  I call them secret agents. These are people you might otherwise overlook or perhaps not even realize that they are people who love God until you encounter them in a special situation.  They seem to reveal themselves at the ideal time to give you a word of encouragement or strength to go on.

Prime example, the cleaning lady at my job is one such person.  She’s as sweet as she can be….very humble and always has a kind greeting for people. You might dismiss her as just a little ol’ cleaning lady, but, I suspect she’s on a “secret mission” to show God’s love to others. Today, when I went in the break room for a snack, she was sitting there resting before she moved on to her next task.  We exchanged greetings and I shared some of my frustrations with her about my day. I expected her to laugh with me and jump on my grumpy bandwagon. Instead she listened intently, took a moment to give some thought to what I was saying, then proceeded to give me some wise words and shared with me how God can change things through prayer.  Wow!  I needed that!  At the end of our conversation, she said, “I don’t know why I was sitting here so long…I guess I was waiting for you and didn’t know it.”  I smiled and totally agreed.

Isn’t it funny how at just the right moment, God brings different people across our paths unexpectedly, to share his love and encouragement with us? He uses His people, His secret agents, to help us make it through our day or our difficult moment. I could fill this page with stories of such moments.  God definitely has people in the most unusual places with unpredictable faces as His messengers in disguise. Be blessed today. 🙂

Get back on the horse!

 

I’ve been watching a few reality shows lately, most of which feature a handful of contestants who have overcome great odds to audition or compete on their show of choice.  One contestant overcame homelessness to become a youth pastor and inspire others. Another overcame the death of a parent and was competing on the show with hopes to win and make life better for the siblings he now cares for. And another person overcame a life of gangs and drugs to adopt a life of physical fitness and trains others in his particular area of expertise. This made me think of life and how sometimes in life we’re knocked off of our horse, so to speak, either through difficult external situations that are thrust upon us or, because of difficult circumstances that we have brought upon ourselves through bad decisions. BUT, the overwhelming message from these people’s lives is this – when you get knocked off of your horse, GET BACK UP and keep riding!  They didn’t stay in their negative situations. They made the decision to stand up, dust themselves off and try again – whether that involved taking steps to come out of homelessness; or taking their talents and using them to make life better for their family; or making a conscious decision to come out of a destructive lifestyle, get the proper help and choose something that would improve their quality of life and benefit others.

Maybe you’ve made some mistakes or some bad decisions lately. Or maybe, through no fault of your own, you’re just going through a tough season of life right now. You are not alone. And whatever predicament you may find yourself in, this predicament does not have the last say. You do. Just like the people I mentioned above, you can get up, dust yourself off, hop back on your horse and keep on riding!  God gives us the strength, the inner fortitude to rise above even the most trying of circumstances.  And even if you are where you are because of the decisions you have made… if you’re still on this earth (alive and kickin’), you still have the chance to change things for the better.  I just read a quote online that said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~ Winston Churchill.  How many times have I been guilty of seeing only problems instead of possibilities?  One thing I love about God is that He’s a loving God that helps us and gives us the wisdom and resources to change our lives and to continue to move forward. And if we mess up, He truly forgives us for all of our mistakes and helps us to heal and grow, if we let him. So, I encourage you today… Get back your horse! Keep on riding! Better days are yet to come!

A Father’s Day Memoir…

Happy Father’s Day to all of you fathers out there!  Daddy, Dad, Papa, Papi, Pa…or any other variation.  As I reflect on my own father, a mixture of emotions come to the forefront. I love my dad, whom I lovingly refer to as “Daddy-o”.  Growing up, my dad was my hero. I practically worshipped the ground he walked on.  He was cool, funny and a blast to hang around. Yes, I was a “daddy’s girl” as a young child.  But soon, times for our family got tough.  My parents split up when I was nearing middle school.  It was a devastating blow to all of us.  I felt abandoned, even though he kept in touch.  This played out in my life in the form of becoming a depressed and rebellious teen. (My poor mom handled my drama so well. Mad props – that is, much respect – to Mom). The divorce affected my performance in school, relationships and other areas in my life.  It took me many years to heal from my parents’ divorce.  It took lots of prayers and counsel from those wiser than me.

I’ll never forget when I first realized my dad was not superhuman, and that he was in fact a person with good qualities and flaws just like the rest of us.  I had to come to terms with the fact that the ‘superhero dad’ of my youth was in fact, a mere mortal.  I had to forgive him within my heart for the offenses for which I’d held him captive for many years, and accept the man I had come to know as an adult. A tough process, but one I’m glad I allowed myself to work through.  So where do things stand with dad today?  I love him. He’s still funny and the life of the party.  I’ve come to him on more than one occasion for advice.  And he still always knows when something’s bugging me.  Is he perfect? Not at all. But neither am I.  I love him as he is, warts and all.  He does the same for me.