God’s Painful Grace

There was a time when I believed God’s grace to be something that was always comforting, always miraculous, always a blissfully joyful thing to experience. And it IS all of those things, but not always. Yes, God’s grace has brought me to thankful tears. God’s grace has brought relief and happiness to my heart. God’s grace has overwhelmed me as a loving force that cannot quite be put into words, where I’ve simply felt waves of love washing over me.

But, recently, as I have reflected on some very pivotal moments in my life, I’ve come to also notice a pattern of what I’ll call “painful grace”. This often comes in the form of shattered dreams, a broken heart, a lost job and the like. And it’s not until you’ve come completely out of the situation and (significant) time has passed, and the heart is open for lessons to be gleaned from the experience, that you realize that it was God’s grace at work in those difficult moments also.

At the time, we can rarely see it as grace, because we’re in the throes of pain and disappointment. We’re grieving, lamenting, mourning. It’s difficult to see clearly when we’re in the middle of grappling with the “why” and “how” of our agonizing experiences. But, in hindsight, we can see God’s hand of grace in those very situations.

Later, after the fact, we see that God’s grace in our losing that job was that He was moving us out of our comfort zone, or perhaps removing us from a place with no growth opportunity, or maybe removing us from a toxic work environment so that we could move onto the next opportunity that He had for us. If we’d not have been ‘moved’ from that position, we might have remained in a place of stagnancy and/or missed out on the next chapter God had for us for career growth and change.

After the fact, we see that God’s grace in that failed relationship was Him moving us out of an unhealthy situation, or saving us from a lifetime commitment with a toxic person, or saving us from a situation were we’d have been ill-matched or not truly valued.  However, by His grace, He ‘moved’ us out of that situation so that we could be free to move into a place of self-growth and healing, and/or into a place of preparation for a better future relationship.

After the fact, we can see that God’s grace in that failed business or shattered dream was Him repositioning us. He was re-routing us to an even greater purpose and more fulfilling dream. That ‘failure’ caused us to rethink life, upgrade our perspective, and brainstorm a new, more innovative plan or idea than we would’ve thought of if we’d have not experienced that failure. I once heard Bishop TD Jakes saying something to the effect of – ‘what if our failures are really our gateways to the next phase of our purpose?!’ [paraphrased]

Ohhh, God’s painful grace! We do not readily embrace it. We fight it. We even hate it, because at the time it does not seem like grace… It only feels like pain. But, if our hand is in God’s hand, shouldn’t we trust Him to lead us through this process? To refine us? To grow us? Even if at times His grace is painful?

©2019 Life Together with Kay Dee, “God’s Painful Grace”

photo credit: morguefile.com

My Battle With Success

Haven’t been on here in awhile.  Apologies. My life has been quite full. Being a mom never stops, it just changes a bit as your children grow older. I’ve had some transition on my job. Social life …ahh, I make my own social life. If I didn’t, I’d just be sitting at home bored or depressed. So, I go and I do things ON PURPOSE. Sometimes it’s exhausting, but, it fills my need for social activity and includes some things I enjoy. Dating…ha! Next subject. And dreams… I’m working to fulfill some of them.

I didn’t grow up in the church, but, I have spent a fair amount of my adult life in church because I became serious about my faith as a young adult and I continue on my journey to this day. I used to be married to someone who was heavily involved in church life and I saw all kinds of inner workings that left me a bit jaded and I’ve been working on healing from that. That said, I did receive some good teaching (and some not-so-good). I have heard multiple preached messages on using your “gifts and talents” for God.  In the church world, the whole “gifts and talents” thing took on a life of its own, and for lack of a better term, was ‘trending’ heavily for a while. Everyone was trying to find out their “gifts” so they could be successful in church and in life in general.

But, what is success? I have had to grapple with my own definition of success over the years. Of course, I was taught, mostly subconsciously, that success equaled monetary wealth. That is what everyone seemed to be striving for. I remember feeling somehow “lower than” or “less than” when I would go over someone’s really nice and fancy house. They’d have all of the amenities anyone could dream of. They’d have all of the games and toys that my kids wanted, but, I couldn’t afford to buy them. I have lived in rental properties for the majority of my adult life. I sometimes still battle with this feeling of inadequacy to be completely honest. But, is “success” only comprised of monetary wealth and the acquiring of things?

Success can be other things as well. It means different things to different people. I have had to figure out what it means to me. And I am still figuring it out as I explore my gifts. It seems I am gifted in areas that don’t naturally or easily produce income. And it still seems that part of my definition of success is related to money.

Let me give you background.  Having become a single parent due to divorce was one of the most difficult things I have had to endure and push through and conquer. It has strengthened me in ways I didn’t realize. But, can I tell you?? It’s been excruciating at the same time. I have wanted to give my children so much that I could not afford. I have felt so guilty about that for so long. And I am still trying to figure out how to be financially successful (in addition to my full-time job) to provide the very best way I can. You don’t know how many tears I have shed over the years out of sheer frustration over money.  That brought me to a point where I wanted to figure out a successful “side hustle” (side job or business). A few years ago, I did manage to stumble upon a niche side business that was well received, but only brought in minimal (and sporadic) income. It was enough to reinvest back into the business. Or sometimes after a drought, a random sale would come through at just the right time when I needed a little extra cash. But, beyond this, it did not flourish, so, after a few years of trying, I shut it all down.

Recently, I’ve decided to pursue things I am actually passionate about. I thought to myself “THIS will surely bring about eventual success because these are things I love.”  I told myself that growth will be slow and it will take time, but, it will eventually reach and help others and eventually pay off. However, I find myself impatient with the process. I have been wanting some form of success for so long, that I feel burned out from continuous trying and little return on my efforts. When I do create what I believe is meaningful / useful / helpful content, I only receive minimal feedback and I become discouraged. Still, I press on. I remind myself that at least this  time I am doing it from my heart instead of out of desperation.  Still, the internal struggle remains. Still, I wonder when will I “break through” to a place of reaching many and not simply a few. I want to be wise. I want to help others. Yet, I also want to be able to use these gifts to make things better for my family and myself financially at some point.

I think along with this, I feel the frustration of yearssssss of waiting for some other things to come to fruition; waiting for years’ worth of prayers to be answered; waiting for long-nurtured dreams to come true. It’s an accumulated frustration which doesn’t pair well with the process of beginning new things.  New things take an enduring patience which is something I must continue to work on. New ventures take lots of tweaking and trial and error.  New things mean you may fail as much as you succeed.  I know I have to hang in there and diligently move forward. The temptation is to look at how far I have to go instead of how far I’ve already come.  I remind myself daily that I will get there. I have always had BIG dreams in my heart and want to reach many souls. Still, I remind myself to  be thankful for the souls I currently do reach; and for the things I do currently have; and for the success I have already obtained over the years, though not easily seen with the naked eye.  Lord, help me to focus on the positive as you continue to grow my patience.  Thank you for teaching me needed lessons along the way to my personal success…whatever that looks like.

Thanks for reading.
ALSO…please find & subscribe to my podcast called “Life Together with Kay Dee“.
‘We are not meant to do life alone. We are meant to do life together in community (even online ones).’
Blessings.

~ Kay Dee

When GOD Gets You Out…Don’t Run Back In

There are soooo many times I’ve gotten myself into a tough spot, or a bad place, or a potentially dangerous situation because I wanted my own way.  Although not all of these were major incidents (thank goodness), this is an aspect of my life that I’ve consistently had to work at improving.  I do much better than I used to, but, more often than I’d like to admit, I still battle in this area.  I think it’s part of human nature to want your own way.  But, oftentimes we don’t count up the cost before plunging ahead.

You see, I believe in God and live my life according to that belief. There are times when I’ve prayed for things, expecting God to basically to “bless” the way I wanted to go, or to say “YES” to whatever my request was, without regard to what His answer might be.  God may have said ‘no’ or ‘wait’, but, I would willfully ignore this.  Many times stubbornness and impatience would win out.  Many times I chose to go full steam ahead with my own plan, knowing full well that I wasn’t going in the right direction.  I was running TOWARD what God had told my heart to stay AWAY from. As a result, I got myself into deep waters when I didn’t really know how to swim, and didn’t have a life vest or anything to keep me afloat.

In those moments, I inevitably came to the point where I had to acknowledge my own weakness, lack of judgment, and propensity for making mistakes.  Most of all, I had to humbly acknowledge my lack of ability to save myself. In those moments, as many of us do, I cried out to God, saying “God, help me! Please! I know I don’t deserve it, but if you please help me… I’ll do better.” And like the faithful Father He is, without hesitation, He came to save the day!  But, often the method of the rescue wasn’t what I’d bargained for. I wanted the rescue to be easy and painless and have no consequences, but, most times that wasn’t how it happened.  The rescue was not a pleasant process, and because it wasn’t pleasant, I had the nerve to be a bit miffed with God.  My prayer would go something like this…

“Thanks God.  I appreciate you helping me get out of that situation.  Not to sound ungrateful, but, this is still not exactly what I wanted. I mean, yes, I wanted your help but I didn’t think it would involve any discomfort or pain. Couldn’t you have just slightly tweaked things so that I could still have what I want?  If not, why not?  And maybe I shouldn’t feel this way, but, I still kind of miss [certain aspects of] that past situation. Forgive me…”

Have you had similar conversations with God? You wanted out of the mess you’d gotten yourself into. God got you out. But, it didn’t happen the way you thought it would. Then, you had the nerve to complain, and wanted to go back into the mess He’d just gotten you out of. Ahh, human frailty.  I’m so glad He loves us regardless.

One thing we have to remember is that all of our actions have consequences, whether good or bad. And God never promised that “the rescue” would be a comfortable process, but, He is faithful to help us. When God rescued the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt under Pharaoh, the journey to freedom was not easy, nor fun, and it was even a bit scary!  Still, God freed His people.  But, after they were freed, they longed for certain elements (in this case, food) of the place of their captivity.

Sadly, we do the same thing.  We look backward, seeing things with rose colored glasses.  We have “selective memory” when it comes to recalling the situation we were in.  We only want to remember the parts that seemed “good” or “pleasant”, and we choose not to remember the havoc and devastation that was being caused in our lives as a result of that situation.  Or we try to justify the bad parts. But if we’re honest with ourselves and choose to look the entire picture, we remember that we were in quite a conundrum.  And, at a certain point we had enough sense to know that we couldn’t rescue ourselves from what we’d gotten ourselves into, and we needed God to rescue us.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  Maybe you were in a situation that was severely toxic or dysfunctional, and the toxicity or dysfunction became your “new normal”.  Maybe you invested yourself emotionally, or invested in a partnership or invested financially, and you feel a great sense of loss even though you know it’s best that God rescued you from that situation.  God promises to be a present help in time of trouble and to comfort the brokenhearted.  Prayer and God’s word are certainly key ways to heal from the situation you were just rescued from.  But, you may also need mentoring or professional counsel. You may need to separate yourself from your former environment completely, or as much as possible.  You may need to seek a godly community of believers and/or a core group of mature friends who can help to be a support to you and perhaps keep you accountable as you heal.  God provides all of these types of resources to us. Just remember, it takes time to heal.  And sometimes you may slip a little or be tempted to go backwards.  But, God is there to help us get back up and get on track.  He will walk with you through all of the phases of healing and bring you to a place of peace.  Stay the course.  Stay encouraged. And remember… you are loved. Period.

 

©2017 Kay Dee Speaks, “When GOD Gets You Out…Don’t Run Back In”

photo credit here

Build On It!

construction worker

What are you already doing? Build on it!

So many times we become discouraged in the work we’re doing. Perhaps it hasn’t yielded the ‘crop’ or the ‘dream’ that we envisioned or expected, but, does that mean it’s not growing? No! Now, the exception would be if you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that something is dead/not growing/not producing. That’s different. BUT, If you know it’s not dead, then, KEEP YOUR DREAM ALIVE! I submit to you that: SLOW growth doesn’t mean NO Growth, so keep going!!!

Sometimes it takes a time of rest and some new perspective to fully see the impact that you’re having on this world. For instance, I have this blog and a few blogs on Facebook, and I try to post inspirational messages & helpful information. I have a fledgling business and also am in the process of writing a couple of books. I began to become somewhat discouraged because I didn’t feel like I was seeing the fruits of my labor. Were people being positively impacted? The responses have been sparse, but there. Will my books make a difference? Will my business take off? Etc.

But, God really opened my eyes to see that YES the impact is THERE. You cannot always SEE the rewards of your labor right away. How does a plant grow from a seed? First you must plant the seed in the soil, water and care for it and WAIT. Then the seed sprouts and you must fertilize and water it, and make sure the plant receives sunlight. It grows. But you have to keep taking care of it. It doesn’t spring up into a massive, leafy, lush, gorgeous plant overnight! No. BUT with steady care and time it WILL if you don’t give up!  Remember, it may be a slow process, but you are STILL PROGRESSING. Baby steps are better than no steps at all. 🙂  Steady progress is progress.

So, my question to you is this?
What are you doing right now? What are you doing that perhaps you’ve let languish or perhaps the fizzle has gone out of due to discouragement? Let me tell you something…WHAT YOU’RE DOING MAKES A DIFFERENCE EVEN IF YOU CAN’T SEE IT YET.

BUILD on what you started. In due season, in due time, you will see the impact you’re doing/making.
And don’t despise the day of small beginnings. People are watching you. People are being impacted by your words and your love and your care and your giving of yourself. They may not always say it, but, trust me, they are feeling the positive effects of what you’re giving.
“Do not despise the day of small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zech. 4:10).
And when you DO get those 1 or 2 people who come to you and say “Hey, what you said really helped me” or “Thanks you brought a smile to my face”, then REJOICE! YOU ARE MAKING AN IMPACT. And impacts reverberate! Like a pebble dropped into a large body of water, impacts have a RIPPLE EFFECT! Yes!

Keep going!
Love to y’all!

© 2013 KD Corner “Build On It!”
Photo Credit: google / visualphotos.com

Can’t Go On…

despair

I can’t go on
Oh no, I can’t go on
Every step falters
Weak ankles, trembling knees
Worn out legs, weak hips
I can barely take a step
Without pain
Coursing through my body
Shooting up my spine
Hunching me over

Feeble hands, weak arms
Trembling fingers, head bowed
This life has taken its toll on me
A long and arduous journey it’s been.
Tired.
I’m so tired.
How can I take one more step?
I want to give up…
What’s the point of all of this?

Tears of years of anguish begin to flow
The tears are a release
A release of pent up pain, bitterness and frustration
I’ve asked God “why?” a million times,
With my heart breaking in prayer
Longing to hear His answer, His solution, His reason
For all I’ve had to endure thus far
For all I’m in the process of enduring

The sobs turn into whimpers
The whimpers into sniffles
The sniffles into silence
I sit
In awkward silence…waiting
For his answer.
The silence continues
And with every passing second, minute, several minutes
I get angrier,

“WHERE ARE YOU???”
“DO YOU EVEN CARE???”
I yell at God.

And the violence of my sobs returns
I cry until I can cry no more
Exhausted, I fall asleep
When I awake
My heart still aches
The pain is still raw
With the disappointment that He still hadn’t answered

“Daddy (God).”
I call out to the Lord in quiet desperation
Like a child longing for Papa
With eagerness, yet more humility now than before.
Tears fall from the corner of my eye, one by one, in rapid succession.

“Daddy?”

“I’m here.” His voice, almost audible, resonates within my soul.

Tears flow more readily now.
He’s here. He’s here!
He is here with me.
He’s not left me at all!

Out erupts my verbal barrage of questions
Flowing out like an unyielding stream
Like a small child asking every question under the sun
Desiring answers.
When I’ve asked Him every possible question I can think of – I go silent
Feeling silly for rambling on so, but still awaiting some answer.

Quietly I sit.
Moments pass.
I breathe.
I wait,
More patiently this time.
And just when the silence begins to agitate me
And I start to feel antsy, He speaks again…

“I am here, child.
I’ve been here all along.
I’ll never leave you.”

His voice, unmistakable.
My tears stream.
He’s here.

“Dad (God), I’m so tired…” I confess, halfway pouting and all-the-way exhausted.

“I know. I’m here.” He says.

I don’t get many outright answers,
But I’m assured that I’m not alone.
And as I sit in His Presence and reflect,
He brings to mind a flurry of scriptures that remind me of His faithfulness.
I begin to look up a few of them and begin to be really encouraged:

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future….”

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Hebrews 13: 5-6 – Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So that we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Psalm 23:4-5 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Jeremiah 2:23-26 – Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. “I will repay (restore) you for the years the locusts have eaten – the great locust and the young locust, and other locusts and the locust swarm – my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your
God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.”

Isaiah 61:1-4a & 7-8a – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty for the captives and release prisoners from darkness, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning; and the garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations…Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. For I the Lord, love justice….”

Isaiah 62:1-5 – For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah (meaning – my delight is in her) and your land Beulah (means – married); for the Lord will take delight in you and your land will be married. (I think it’s beautiful how God loves us)

Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Proverbs 31:28a – Her children arise and call her blessed….

Psalm 34:17-18 – The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

John 14:25-27 – [Jesus Christ speaking] “All this I have spoken while still with you. But, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 16:33b – “…In this world you will have trouble (tribulation); but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The Lord impressed upon me to write this today.
If you’ve ever felt this way, or similar, please remember that you are not alone. Though we suffer many things, whether physical, emotional, mental, etc., He is still with us.
He is with you right now, though you cannot see him.
You may not have all of the answers,
And God may not divulge reasons or explanations at present,
But know, believe, trust that there is a greater purpose for your life than what you may see right now.

If you’re in an abusive situation and your life is in danger PLEASE get to a safe place and get help if you possibly can. I pray God’s protection over you and that he would grant you wisdom, favor, and an escape to safety. And that he would hide you from harm. If you need help, call 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). If you need help dealing with alcohol/drugs 1-800-784-6776. For gambling addiction help 1-800-522-4700. For help with pornography addiction, visit this website: XXXChurch. For other struggles you may need or want help with that I haven’t listed, please visit this LINK.  If you know about human trafficking and want to report it, call: 1-888-3737-888.  You are precious. Never forget that.

Be encouraged today!
He is here!

© “Can’t Go On…” KD Corner 2013 All Rights Reserved

Photo credit: Here

At Least…

Ugh! (Moan, whine, sigh)   It’s that time again.  You got paid, now it’s time to pay bills…and buy groceries and gasoline AND try to eke out a little bit of money for something fun.  It can definitely be depressing….unless you’re someone who is financially well off.  And if you are, congrats! But for the rest of us, there is little left after paying bills and taking care of the family’s needs.  I usually get a little grumpy and discouraged around this time and try to think of creative (legal and wholesome) ways to make more money.  I complain to God and then…

I start the “at least” list.  What is the “at least” list?  Well, it’s the moment when I realize that I’m not nearly as bad off as many whose struggles are far greater than mine.  It goes a little something like this:

  • At least I can pay my bills on time each month.
  • At least I have a full-time job, because so many do not.
  • At least I have nice clothes to wear that have stayed in good condition over the last few years.
  • At least I can buy groceries to feed my family and myself, even if it’s not all of our favorite food.
  • At least I can fill my car with gasoline as needed.
  • At least I have a car, many don’t.
  • At least I have a decent place to live and I can pay the rent.
  • At least I am blessed to have a place to live and I’m not homeless, thank God.
  • At least I have a little bit of change left over to do something thrifty but fun.

It goes on and on.  If you think about it, most times you have more to be thankful for than you realize.  And what started out as my grump session to God, usually turns into “Thanks God. I may not have everything I want, but I have everything I need.”

Make your own “at least” list.  God bless. 🙂

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net