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

Why Do You Worry?

Why Do You Worry?

by Kay Dee

My mind often goes there… It spirals to that place of a million thoughts happening seemingly simultaneously. I tend to worry. I want to blame it on genetics. My mom worries a lot. I might be predisposed to it. But, it’s something I’ve had to learn to manage. When things are out of control in our lives, we tend to like to control as much as we can. For instance, if you’ve experienced trauma at a young age (or at any age really), one way to cope is to control as much as possible going forward so that you prevent yourself from experiencing further trauma. The only problem with that is that there is so much in this life that is outside of our control. And when we cannot control all of the variables of life, it tends to breed anxiousness.

One definition of anxiety is: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. [google]

I tend to get anxious about uncertain outcomes. I want to control the outcome so that it will be a pleasant or happy one. Why do I want happy outcomes? Who doesn’t? But, for me, it is likely because I experienced traumas as a child and as a young adult. These series of events affected me deeply and it took a lot of time to recover from them. Trying to control as much as I could was a safety net for me. It made me feel secure. It made me feel like I could determine how things would progress. Most importantly, it made me feel that I could protect myself from hurt. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Life happened anyway. I had to learn that being anxious for things that hadn’t happened or might not happen only succeeded in making me feel terrible. And I had to learn that there was no possible way to control all outcomes. It was better to learn to enjoy what life had/has to offer and to learn ways to manage my anxious feelings should they arise.

To be honest, it’s something I consistently work on. I don’t have all of the solutions. Different things work for different people. One of the things that helps me is using basic MINDFULNESS techniques. Another thing that helps is reminding myself of TRUE statements to replace/counteract the anxious or fearful statements that arise in my thinking. For me, prayer also helps. My faith is an integral part of who I am, and reminding myself of the truth of scripture and of God’s love helps me to refocus my thinking. During prayer, the statement that frequently comes to mind is “Why do you worry?”. It’s as if God is reminding me that He is in control and I needn’t worry. I have his guidance and peace to accompany me throughout my daily life. This helps.

For some folks, anxiety can be debilitating and more focused, professional treatment may be needed, including counseling/therapy, psychotherapy, medication. There is no shame in any of this. Life is stressful at times and depending on what we’ve been through, what we’re going through currently, and how we have learned to manage and cope with life stresses and events thus far, this will determine how we handle when difficult things arise. You may need more help at certain times than at others. That’s perfectly okay. Love yourself and do right by yourself. You’re the only you that you’ve got. Be kind to yourself and learn to recognize and address your needs. You’re worth it!

Blessings!

LISTEN TO MY PODCAST at anchor.fm/kay-dee7 for more encouragement!

Mindfulness Info HERE

©2018 Life Together with Kay Dee, “Why Do You Worry?”

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

What I’ve Learned From Failed Relationships: The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful

What I’ve Learned From Failed Relationships: The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful

by Kay Dee

Where to start? Let’s see… I’ll start with the fact that I’m old enough to have teens and young adult children, I am divorced, and remain single. Not for lack of trying. I’ve been trying to find someone special, but, he has not yet come into my orbit. Actually, when I say “trying”, I mean looking, pouting, hoping, wishing, wanting, attempting, being disappointed, being utterly frustrated, looking, hoping, trying again…. You get the picture. I feel as though my post-divorce single journey has been a roller coaster ride. Not as hairy or crazy as my marriage was, but, not without great highs and stomach dropping lows.

Many times I have wondered if something was wrong with me. I would compare myself to my friends who had also been divorced but found love again fairly quickly.  I’d also compare myself to other single friends who eventually found a great love connection. Not a fair comparison, I know.  I’ve been in the “singles club” for a while. And if you’ve been in the singles club for any length of time, when one of your long-time club members suddenly finds love, you experience that twinge of jealousy and pang of self-doubt. Yes, part of you is very happy for them because it gives you hope that it’s never too late to find one of the “good ones” out there. But, it’s also is like a sucker punch to the gut. It’s like everyone else got picked for the kickball team and you’re that last one that no one wants. You may not let on that these feelings creep in, but they do.  Outwardly you might be all smiles and congratulations, but inside, a part of you hurts.  You know you can’t stay in that hurting place. You must push past it to get back to your zen-single-mindset.  But it’s not easy out here.

The more I look around, I realize that I have a lot of phenomenal women friends who are still single. That makes me wonder if there is not something awfully lopsided about the prospects of finding a good man these days. I digress.

As I was saying, self-doubt often creeps in. But, I always try to put things into perspective. Having been previously married taught me a lot about what I did and did not want;  what I would accept and what I would not. It helped me to figure out who I am and what I stand for. After my divorce, I went deep. I analyzed and re-analyzed everything. I read books upon books. I talked to counselors and mentors. I prayed a LOT. I wanted to LEARN what I did wrong, what he did wrong, what could’ve been done differently, what to watch out for, etc. I came to a place where I felt pretty self-assured that I knew what to look for and what I wanted in a future mate, and I was sure I’d find it.

But, answer me this:  What happens to you after you’ve been for married several years and suddenly find yourself single and having to re-enter the dating scene? I’ll tell you. It is completely foreign. You don’t know how the ‘game’ works anymore because you have been out of it for so long. You are “green” again.  Only I did not realize I was “green”.  I was overly confident and under-prepared and… I fell for the okey-doke (old school talk for basically getting played). After a devastating reality check, I was able to find my footing. The journey I would then go on took me through varied experiences with uniquely different men. And each of them taught me lessons. Some were good, some were bad and some were beautiful. I learned lessons about myself as well and I want to share some of those lessons with you here. Nothing here is a great revelation in the sense that I’m sure you’ve heard these things before. But, some things were surprising to me and helped me to grow. I’ll start with “The Bad” to get that out of the way first, and then go to “The Good” and “The Beautiful”. I will also preface this by saying that although I am talking from my personal perspective about men I have encountered, I know that what I am about to describe does not only apply to men.    Ok, here we go….

The Bad

I have learned that some men are completely “effed up” (pardon my language but it’s true). There are those who have severe mental and emotional problems, who will unleash their toxicity on you and have you feeling like you’re the crazy one. I was in a long-term relationship with a narcissistic and mentally unhealthy person. It was hell on earth. The messed up part is that, back then, I was so insecure that I put up with the mental and emotional abuse for a long time. God literally had to break me free from that toxic situation. But, I learned something important.  I learned is to have compassion for those who are in abusive relationships, because often when you are in the thick of it, you ‘cannot see the forest for the trees’. You cannot see the big picture, only what is immediately in front of you. And you are so wrapped up in the crazy (situation), that the crazy becomes your normal. It wasn’t until this relationship ended that I was able to see the severity of the situation I was in. But, after I got out of it and eventually healed… baby, let me tell you… a strong, fierce woman was birthed from that process! (I’ll write more about that in another post).

Next, of course I encountered the “player” or “playboy” type of guy. He’s always got swag. Always. That’s part of what makes him so appealing. He possesses a kind of cocky confidence that makes you swoon just a little bit (or a lot). He is sexy, suave, smooth, practiced and predictable. However, some are so practiced and so polished in their ‘playboy-ness’, that they have more than a few tricks up their sleeve depending upon the type of woman they are trying to seduce at the moment. Usually, we can all spot a player. The problem arises when we start to fall for their ploys or attempts juuuuuust enough to put a little crack in our armor. Once that armor is cracked, you best believe that this guy is going in for the kill. All he needed was an opening, a weak spot. If you think you are immune to all players…think again. I have learned not to overestimate my strength. Sometimes it’s best to just RUN. Don’t even flirt with fire. You may get burned.

I have learned that some men are confused, fickle, wishy-washy, etc. This type of man doesn’t quite know what he wants. He could fall into the player category. But, he could also genuinely be an emotional wreck and not know definitively what he wants because he hasn’t taken the time to pursue any answers. Nor has he taken the time to heal before involving a woman in his world of confusion. I have learned to see the signs of this personality and to extricate myself fairly quickly from such situations.

Here is something I have learned about myself that I don’t think is good, so I am putting it in the bad category. I learned that I have tended toward men (some good, some not) who are largely “unavailable” for some reason or another. Maybe they are healing from someone previous.  Maybe they are at a point in their lives where their career is most important.  Maybe they just don’t have the time nor the interest in pursuing a relationship. The result is as you suppose. It never works out. My next job is digging deeper into this revelation and figuring out some answers for myself, and then going in a better direction for future pursuits.

The Good and The Beautiful

I have learned that there are indeed good men out there. Men who are kind, thoughtful and caring. Even though things did not end up working out between me and these individuals, I still have respect for them and have gained some valuable heart-healing insights.

1.) Good men still exist. Just realizing from my personal experiences that there are still good (and godly) men out there has restored my faith in men in general (because at times, due to repeated bad experiences, my faith had begun to diminish). Having encountered and pursued something with these good men has given me much needed hope that at the right time, I will find and form a lasting relationship with such a man.

2.) There are men out there who will appreciate you for who you are, just as you are.  They will like all of the parts of you that you feel insecure about. They will appreciate your personality, your intelligence, your quirks, and your body. Having previously been in an emotionally abusive relationship, I encountered the opposite for so many years. I was talked down to;  told I needed to be more like someone or something else. There were times I even was made to feel guilty for being intelligent. So, having encountered men who have truly appreciated me as I am, without trying to change me, and who  VALUED and CELEBRATED me, has given me courage to know that I can continue to be ME unapologetically.  The right person will like all of me.

3.) I have learned that there are men who are honorable. As previously mentioned, I have children. Daughters and sons.  As a rule, I have not brought guys home to meet my kids one-on-one because (a) it rarely got to a point where it was serious enough for that to happen (I know everyone is different about this, but, this was how I chose to handle.)  (b) I had always heard stories of guys who were so pervy (i.e. perverted) that they would try to make moves on your kids, which is disgusting, and I always feared that. BUT there were a couple of situations where I allowed exposure to my kids.  I was not disappointed.  These men were respectful and honorable and this encouraged me so much.

4.) I have learned that true gentlemen still exist. While it’s true that having good manners does not always a gentleman make, there ARE guys who are gentlemen inside and out. They will hold the door for you, ask your preferences, hold your hand as you walk up the stairs, pull out your chair, will pay for dinner without expecting sex. Lol. So rare.  They will intently listen to and value your company and your conversation. They are never forward and never presume.  Now, I know that some women don’t prefer this in general, but I do. And it gives me continued hope as I go along my journey.

There are other things I could list, but, I’ll stop here. I hope you have enjoyed reading this and I hope it gives you pause to think about your own situation, outlook, and experiences. I hope that you reflect not so much on the negative, but instead, on what good you have learned from bad situations and what beautiful things you have experienced so far in your journey. Single sisters (and brothers), it is not necessary to compromise your core values. I know at times it is definitely tempting to do so.  And there are times, in our journey we may stumble or get stuck or fall down. But, let this be a reminder that you can get back up again, better, bolder, stronger, wiser than before. As we learn, we grow. Growth is not always a pleasant process, but necessary nonetheless. Keep growing and learning and hoping. I stand with you. Much love, much peace.

Forgiving Yourself.

IMG_5092Forgiving Yourself.

Today, as I sat in church listening to the message many thoughts ran through my mind. It wasn’t your typical sermon for Mother’s Day (which was kind of a relief in some ways). It touched on how God allows both joys and sorrows in our lives. And in particular, how it seems we learn the most from sorrows (or difficult situations). It’s true. Whenever we go through joyous events, we’re not really thinking, “what am I learning from this?” We are just reveling in whatever amazing thing is happening. But, when we experience the tough stuff, we go through the full gamut of emotions and thoughts. We ask “Why?” And it also causes us to be more reflective.

In reflecting on these things, my thoughts turned to some tough situations I have gotten myself into over the years. As much as we all want to believe we pretty much have life “together”, there are times when we lack judgment or experience or good sense. There are times when we’ve thrown caution to the wind and acted on a whim and it’s come back to bite us in the rear end.

As someone with perfectionistic tendencies, I’ve often beat myself up over these kinds of mistakes. Also, I’d falsely think, “There’s no way God is happy with me. No way he really loves me after this (whatever the mistake was).” It took a long time for me to realize that God loves me regardless. He may not be happy with all of my choices, but, his love never ends. His grace never ends. And he forgives when I ask sincerely. I’m sooo thankful for that!

Then there’s the topic of forgiving other people. That’s reeeeally rough to do sometimes. Especially when you know they don’t deserve it. But, I’ve learned that forgiveness is more for MY heart, than for their benefit. I forgive so that I can live free from bitterness and anger.

The last thing, yet possibly one of the biggest hindrances to our overall well being is self-forgiveness or lack thereof. ‘Can I or will I forgive myself?’ Can I forgive myself for messing up? Being human and flawed? Lacking judgment in that instance? For saying that thing? Or doing that thing? I think forgiving ourselves can be one of the most challenging things to do, especially if we hold ourselves to a high standard, and if other key people in our lives do, too.

But, forgiving yourself is part of loving yourself. It’s part of healing. [This is not the same as excusing repeat bad behavior. If you know you have a pattern of doing something wrong or harmful to yourself or others, then you should seek out professional help.] But, if in the normal course of life, you make mistakes here and there, or you really mess from time to time, then it’s imperative that you forgive yourself. Love yourself enough to do yourself that favor. On this journey of life, we’re all learning and growing and hopefully trying to be better people all the time. We do have to remember that we are flawed but as long as were trying to learn and grow and be the best we can be, then we’re on the right track.

©Kay Dee Speaks “Forgiving Yourself.”

photo credit: google pics and here

Shake Yourself FREE

free2

You
Yes, you!
You’ve been lost.
You’ve been tangled in the maze of the familiar.
But now you must shake yourself FREE from folly, from indecision, from old patterns
that keep you on the hamster wheel running FAST…and going nowhere.

What must you do to be different? Better? Changed? Improved? Healed?
What must you do to permanently BREAK the chains that have bound you for so long?

You must begin to make better choices
And NOT allow yourself to be SEDUCED by the familiar.
Because the FAMILIAR is toxic, is dangerous, is distorted reality.
The familiar has kept you asleep…unconscious…brain dead for too long.

You must begin to see clearly
Even if the bright light of TRUTH hurts your eyes at first.
You will soon learn to adjust to walking in the LIGHT instead of the darkness.
You will learn to look beyond the surface in order to see the SOUL of a thing
Whereas before…you’d to been blind to it.

Somewhere along the line you fell for the LIE that you weren’t “good enough” for the best things in life because someone mistreated you…and made you feel like you were less than you really were.
And as a result, you made choices about life and love based on this lie.

But, no more!
It’s time to rise up!
It’s time to be free!
It’s time to walk in truth!
It’s time to fly high!
You’re worth it.

Begin.

©2016 Kay Dee Speaks, “Shake Yourself FREE”

Image from Google images via freedomworldwide

Delay & Denial = Set Up For Success

Sometimes we wonder why there are delays and denials. We wonder why some things don’t work out and some do.  We wonder at the timing of life events. We get frustrated with failures.  And we agonize over waiting…and waiting…and waiting.  Yes, we remember that God has perfect timing and knows when certain things need to happen, certain connections need to be made, etc.  But, sometimes we get discouraged in the process.  However, please don’t get (or stay) discouraged my friend.  Lift your head up.

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The delays  or the waiting sometimes happen because IF we moved too soon… we would not be prepared for the future opportunity.  We’re always itching for things to come to us quickly.  We think we’re ready.  But sometimes we have to go through various other experiences to shape and ready us for the future. What we experience as denial can be God setting us up for a better opportunity than anything we could’ve created for ourselves. Perhaps our choices would’ve caused us to have havoc and destruction in our lives… but we don’t always see that upfront.  Sometimes God allows us see in hindsight just what he spared us from. He allows us to realize what he was working to prepare us for.  He sometimes gives us those ‘a-ha’ moments so that we can see the full picture, not just the individual puzzle pieces.

Be encouraged my brother, my sister.  Keep pressing forward and keep doing your best to keep trusting. He’s got you.  He’s growing you. He’s preparing you. You are so special and you have SO much to offer.  Let that spark of hope re-ignite within you.  And keep moving forward.  Blessings.

@KayDeeSpeaks

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©2016 Kay Dee Speaks “Delay & Denial = Set Up For Success”