Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


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Thoughts of My Father

I met my father over the Thanksgiving break. “Met your father?”, you may be wondering. Well, let me back up. When I was conceived, my father was married to someone who was not my mother, and for whatever reason, my father and I were separated early on. I have never really asked about that. To be honest, I never really wanted to know, but now I’m curious. Throughout the years, I have often wondered about my father.  What does he look like? Do I have his nose? His eyes? His smile? His personality? Does he think of me? Was I wanted? So many questions, but time continued to pass. In most recent years, he and I have reconnected–not in person–via telephone. I have spoken to him briefly, and we kept mentioning connecting in person, but it did not happen. Finally, he told me that he and his family were coming to Georgia over the Thanksgiving holidays, and he wanted to see me. Nervous though I was, I was curious about him too, so I agreed. With my husband by my side, I went to meet my father.

We met in a mall with a bunch of people around us. In my head I had imagined the people parting like the red sea and everything around us fading to black as I met the man whom I felt was the missing part of me. Yeah, so much for storybook endings. It was nothing like that. Instead, I was met by my half-brother and father’s wife, along with my brother’s wife and son. They told me my father had walked away and we would keep walking until we found him. At some point we stopped and I looked up as they pointed towards someone they had identified as my father. I looked up and saw a man who was looking down as well. When we locked eyes, I saw him start grinning and he hurried down the steps towards us. Besides the locked eyes moment, nothing else was like the fairy tale I imagined. We were jostled by all those around us getting a head start on their Christmas presents. His family looked on making me feel like a fish in a fish tank–all eyes on us. But after we awkwardly embraced, we all began to walk and talk. He did not seem to know what to say to me, and I did not know what to say to him, so we used his family and my husband as buffers to the awkwardness. I observed his relationship with his family, and part of me got a bit depressed for a brief second. In that second, I realized I was the outsider.

So, the evening continued, and eventually I decided it was time to go. Mentally I was drained, and I hoped my relief did not show. I had met another part of me, and I did not recognize it. For years I had accepted the missing part, but when I was presented with an opportunity to embrace it, I was left disappointed. I used to always wish for those father-daughter moments: the dances, the meeting of the “boyfriends”, prom, my actual father walking me down the aisle at my wedding, the first father-daughter dance…the moments. I did not have any of them, but over time, the void was filled by others. I realized after meeting my father, that I lacked nothing for him not being around. Yes, he was not there for some important milestones. My memories, unfortunately, did not include him, but I am not less because I did not have him. I truly believe that God gives us each our own cross to bear, and a story that shapes the very core of who we are. God knew that my father would not be around, and that I would be a “fatherless” child, but He wouldn’t let me stay that way.

Maybe you have some things in life that you feel you missed out on. Maybe it is a mother or father, or maybe it is a missed opportunity. It may even be a mistake you made, or a relationship you wish you could rethink. Whatever it is, know that it is the moments that build you and make you stronger. Each moment develops the character that makes you a valuable asset to this world and to those who love you. You lack nothing. You are whole and beautifully mastered. We can never go back and relieve the things, people, and places that we feel me missed, but we can choose to live moving forward. Take joy in the moments of each day. Love those around you TODAY. Even in that, be thankful for new beginnings. My meeting with my father went nothing as I hoped, but it was a start. I am thankful for the chance to have a new start. Blessings.

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I Am Enough.

For years I struggled with low self-esteem and with a persistent feeling of people rejecting or not liking me. Now, I know where my feelings of rejection came from–I remember vividly the day I was taken from my mother’s home, then placed in my Aunt’s home, only to end up in foster care. I remember thinking that I must have not been good enough, pretty enough, smart enough…just “anything” enough because no one seemed to want me. Then, I remember going from foster home to foster home, and ending up in a home where I never felt I belonged or was accepted. So, my insecurities years later were no surprise, as frustrating as they were. These insecurities and thoughts led me to not really have friends or close acquaintances throughout the years. I did not trust anyone; Nor did I think that anyone could really care about me. Besides, I did not want to open a door to possibly getting hurt. Even now, I think about the fact that I never had that “best friend” that many people around me have–that one you have known for 20 years and gone through many of life’s changes with–the one who knows ALL of your deepest, darkest secrets, and loves you just the same. Yeah, I missed out on that, and sometimes that hurts, but my childhood was just different from many others.

So rejection, fear, abandonment, low self-esteem, and this feeling of not being good enough constantly bombarded me through the years. At some point, I learned to open up enough to let people in, but even then, a small part of me would be looking for the slightest reason to run away. Then, when I finally had a few people who seemed to like me even a little, I began to cater to them, and I slowly lost me. I thought that if I was exactly what they wanted, if I never caused strife, if I did what they wanted, laughed when they laughed, thought like they thought, if I became their mirror image, then of course they would not walk away from me. Somewhere in those thoughts, I believed that I was not good enough to keep the right people around. So, I became a wallflower, always around, but hardly noticed–afraid to do anything that would make people walk away from me. I became a shadow of my shadow’s shadow, lost somewhere in the dark waters of unrealized potential and untapped dreams. For years, that was me. Then something changed for me. I got tired of being overlooked and of being someone else. The stress of trying to be liked, and people still walking away even for trivial reasons, and the realization of what is inside of me, caused a quantum leap into a new dimension.

I don’t remember the exact moment, but I know that one day I stopped caring about who liked me, who wanted to be around me, who was there one day and gone the next. I remembered that before the lost hopes and dreams, before the truncated childhood, and before the hurt had a chance to burrow into my heart, I used to believe…I believed that I could be whatever I wanted to be. I believed that I was lovable, beautiful, necessary. I believed that I did not have anything to prove to anyone but God. I remember years ago when I believed in me. I wanted that girl back, so I brought her back to stay. The reunion has been bittersweet and lonely, but it has been worth it.

Maybe you are now like I was, lost in the cacophony of noise brought on by trying to be everything else to everyone else, and maybe you are just now realizing that you lost yourself. Maybe you forgot that it is ok for you to speak up and express your opinions without fear of being discarded. Maybe you have gotten so far off track in trying to be “just right” for everyone else, that you don’t even know if you can get back to being who you are supposed to be. Maybe, just maybe, you have forgotten how to breathe and appreciate the amazing entity that is you. Maybe…but I have good news for you. As long as you’re alive, it is not too late. Now is the time to pull out every bit of power left in you–to stand up and no longer have to slink on the sidelines. This is the perfect time to rediscover who you are, and allow yourself to appreciate your quirky inconsistencies and even your insecurities, and even in that understand that it is those things which make you the priceless jewel that you are.

Life has a way of turning things upside down, but it also has a way of turning things right side up again, and sometimes that is up to us to do. Are you tired enough yet of being someone else? Then it is time for you to stand up and declare that, “I Am Enough”.


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Bloom Where You’re Planted

My life is sometimes full of randomness. I can be walking down the street when a discarded tire on the side of the road gives me inspiration. A single word out of an entire conversation can get me daydreaming for the rest of the day (in the midst of my other work, of course 🙂 ) Sometimes, it just happens like that. It used to annoy me, this overactive imagination and mind of mine, but now I have learned to flow with it. So, one day as I was arriving home after a long day of work, I happened to glance at the tree in my front yard. I noticed that while it was blooming, it was not full-fledged in bloom like all the other trees in my neighbors yards. I began to compare the trees, and my tree was not as “good” as the others. But, then I remembered the Spring before, and I remembered that it had been in full bloom at some point. So, I began to think about what is needed for the tree to bloom (yes, all of this happened as I stood outside my car looking at the tree before walking in my house). For the tree to bloom, it needs sunshine, water, nutrients, and the optimum environment in which to grow. The tree had all of these things, yet it was slow in blooming. I then began to think of instances in life where things seemed a bit slow, and when it seemed that some things would never change, but seemingly within moments, things shifted. In that time, I took my attention away from those slow moments and focused on other things, and when I came back to the things that I was concerned about, the circumstances had changed. I think my tree will be the same. Right now, it does not look how I want it to look. It is not blooming as I believe it should be blooming, but it is in the midst of the process, and the end results will be beautiful. Life is like that sometimes–frustrating, daunting, not going as planned–but some way or another, things work themselves out. In the processing place, I determined that I will live my best life now. I will go after every dream that manifests itself in my life. I will have those things I desire. I will glorify God with my life. I will love, laugh, and experience all there is to offer. No, things are nowhere near perfect, and I do not expect that the path will always be smooth, but the end result of the process will be flawless and just for me. So, maybe you are feeling like my tree, not blooming where you are planted, and not seeming to be on the same level as those around you. That is perfectly ok, because though you are in the same environment, your process is different. What you need to bloom is strategically allocated just for you, so bloom where you are planted. Live your best life now. Experience new things. Challenge yourself. You CAN have it all and BE it all if it was given you to have and be. So, what’s stopping you?


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Worth the Wait

We live in what many have called the “microwave generation”. Everything seems to come quickly. You want hot food? Warm it up in the microwave. You want money? Try this opportunity and that marketing ploy to get money fast. You want a good relationship? Try the plethora of online dating sites guaranteeing perfect matches? You want to be happy? Go online and shop for more things and spend the money you got through your “get rich quick” scheme. Now, these things are not necessarily negative things to engage in, but they sometimes make us forget that some things do not happen overnight. Many times, the things that have longevity are those that have been cultivated; and the people you see who seem to have “made it”, many times they were working under the radar for a decade or more until their time came to be recognized. It is difficult to feel like you are not seen, or to feel that no one appreciates who you are and what you have to offer, but keep believing. Your time will come too. The amazing thing about you is that you have been pushing through a process that may have sometimes threatened to take you out. Someone else may not have made it through your process, but it was perfectly designed just for you. You have triumphed and cried. Laughed then cried. Danced and cried…and maybe you’re getting tired of the cycle. I understand. Just know that your processing will benefit many because you have been time-tested and process-approved. When it is your time, those whom you are meant to reach will tell you that you are well worth the wait. So, in this time of waiting and wondering if what you have seen will ever come to pass, know that there is a spot in the horizon of time that has been reserved specifically for you. Don’t give up in the waiting area when your name may be the next one to be called. You are relevant and soon the process will make sense. Keep pushing.


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Internal Embrace

Many of us have been encouraged over and over to be and do the person we know we can be, but sometimes we remain stuck instead of branching out and embracing what is unfamiliar or uncomfortable for us. We remain stuck sometimes out of fear: What if “they” won’t hear me, or what if “they” don’t like me? What if I am not relevant and no one cares what I have to say? What if I do what I know I should be doing, and it doesn’t seem to be effective? What if I fail? What if I succeed? We are often overwhelmed with the “what if” questions and low self-confidence, until a time comes along that we have no choice but to embrace who we are.

Last night, I had a somewhat “out-of-body” experience. I went to a meeting that I initially had not planned to attend, and I was partly distracted as I had other things I was doing at the same time. At one point in the meeting, the facilitator of the meeting said my name, and I looked up. When he said my name, it was not to have me do anything, but by him saying my name, my attention returned to the meeting. As we sat in the room, one of the participants began to talk about something that had been bothering him and he generally needed encouragement. Within me I felt a stirring that I have not felt as strongly ever before, but in my head I was telling myself to let the moment pass because I did not want to draw attention to myself. As soon as the gentleman stopped talking, the facilitator said to him that I was someone who could encourage and speak to him. Put on the spot, I had a choice to hide behind my insecurities, or embrace who I know myself to be. So, without further prompting, and without a script, I poured encouragement and strength into a young man I had never met before. As the tears began to flow down this young man’s face, I felt my heart, mind, and spirit come together in an internal embrace. I had my “epiphany moment” where I really came to terms with exactly what I am on earth to do and be.

Despite how I felt, and despite not planning to go to the meeting in the first place, I was right where I was supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. It felt good. It felt right. So, maybe you have stopped yourself from fully embracing who you are. It is not too late. Maybe you don’t believe in yourself. It is time that you do. Someone is waiting on you to give to them exactly what they need.


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Disqualified

Sometimes when we take a look at our lives, we may not be satisfied. Maybe we are not married with 2.5 children and a dog, or maybe we are divorced and now single. Maybe we had a baby out-of-wedlock, or maybe we had a baby with someone else while married to another. Maybe we made a horrible mistake and did someone terribly wrong, or maybe we responded the wrong way when someone did us wrong. Maybe we said the wrong thing, thought the wrong thing, or looked the other way instead of offering assistance when we could have. Maybe, just maybe, we have not been perfect, and maybe, just maybe, that made us think that we are undeserving of some things. Or maybe I am the only one who has felt that way.

When I look at my life, I can directly pinpoint the times I have messed up–and I don’t mean like a little “white lie” type mess up, but the kind where lives were disrupted, and I almost contemplated taking my own life rather than face up to the misery I had caused. Yes, I have messed up that bad. After it was all said and done, I felt that I had been disqualified from the good things in life. I could not fathom having a clean heart again and enjoying life. It was unthinkable that one day I could escape from the prison of my own mind, and live in the freedom of being forgiven. Because of my mistakes, I thought that I deserved whatever bad came my way, and me not receiving some of my greatest hearts’ desires just had to be the punishment that I endured. I was afraid to trust, afraid to believe, afraid to hope. I disqualified myself. I forgot about this God that I said I believed in–the one who said that I could be forgiven. I put aside my faith, in a backwards sort of way doing penance for the wrong I had done. Every bad thing that came up in my life, I took it as a rightful consequence for the person I had been. I was broken. Miserable. But fooling others.

Then one day, I understood that while there are consequences for every action, if something is meant for me it will happen regardless of what I have done. I began to understand that the rest of my life does not have to be a makeup session for one or two mistakes. I hesitantly began to believe in the desires of my heart, and expect them to come true. I peeked out from behind my prison walls, and began to hope, finally beginning to understand that the very things that I thought had completely made me unworthy, had actually been what qualified me to appreciate the blessings on the way. Because I had struggled, I could help someone else find their way out of the swamp of despair.  Because I had almost lost my mind, I could now be a compass for someone whose life is foggy. Because I had endured, I could offer strength to someone who feels a little weak. Because I failed, I could show others how to succeed. Because I was “that”, I could show others how to be better.

So now, though I am not proud of everything in my life, I am grateful for the lessons that they taught. I am grateful for the love that was brought out of me because people loved me in the mess I was in. I am better today than I was, and I am stronger because I refused to give up–even in the worst of times. If you are going through a rough time right now, where maybe you have disqualified yourself from receiving good things, it is time to get back up. We all fall, but what determines our future is our decision to either get back up, or stay down. I challenge you to stand. I challenge you to be more. I challenge you to be qualified.


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Embracing the Unexpected

I have heard many talking about 2016, and discussing the turmoil and craziness of the year. From deaths, to the election, to things going on in our personal lives, many of us are just ready for 2016 to move out-of-the-way so that we can have a “fresh start” in 2017. I get it. 2016 has been a lot in so many ways, but it has taught many things as well. In the picture above I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic when I randomly stopped right in front of these trees. If I had not looked up, and was strictly focused on my drive or the frustration of the journey, I would have missed the random beauty of the shock of red right outside of my window. That moment struck me deeply. Why? One, because it was unexpected. Two, because it made me re-evaluate some things in my life. 2016 has been a year of the unexpected, and I have not always gone with the flow. Like many of you, I have fought against what I did not expect. It was not until I began to reverse my typical thought process and embrace what I have not expected that things began to get easier. If nothing else, this year has taught me that life really does happen, and like a mantra I have always said, sometimes you really do have to flow with it. By releasing the pressure and steering into the flow, there is undiscovered beauty in that place. If we never have to deal with the unexpected, how do we know that we can handle it? If we never feel overwhelmed, how do we know that we can bear whatever comes our way? If we never feel lonely or frustrated, how can we understand when someone else comes to us feeling the same way, and expecting us to help them find a way out? If we never feel hurt, how will we know that we can overcome? Some things are unexpected. Some things we would rather not detour to experience, but life happens that way. Swim with the current. Don’t fight it because that usually causes more trouble. Just know that there is a lesson in every battle, and victory at the end of the fight. As 2016 draws to a close, don’t allow the uncertainty of what is to come, to rob you of your excitement of what a new year can bring. Remember, in the unexpected can be a blessing.