Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


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No Apologies

I remember a time when it was normal for me to harp on my low moments. It was how I shaped my existence and how I determined whether I was coming or going. I never thought that glorifying the negative would be how I functioned, but doing so became a place of comfort and familiarity for me. It was easier, in those moments, to accept what was rather than believe that there was better. So, instead of hoping, I succumbed to the cycle of low moments, defeat, doubt, and fear.

It wasn’t until I began to realize that it is not just the low moments that define who we are. Yes, those moments can change the periphery of our lives, but it is also those moments that take our breath away and bring us joy which change our lives. For a long time, I was focused on negative, so when good things came, I often hid them or tried to downplay them. I went to the other extreme of “hiding my good fortune” because I didn’t want others to think I was rubbing it in their faces. I wanted to still be accepted and not seen as “better than.” But, then I thought about the years of negativity, and the times when it was my daily struggle getting past certain things, and my mindset shifted.

No longer would I hide the blessings coming my way, and no, I wouldn’t be arrogant about it; however, I know that my blessings can indeed encourage someone else. No longer will I apologize for the highlights in my life. I dwelled on the low moments, so it’s time to focus on something else.

Too often, we are so concerned with how others will see us when we talk about the good things in our lives, but just as we harp on the negative, we also have to talk about the good. Never apologize for blessings. Every single one is another one to be thankful for.

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My Own Competition

Every year around this time, I find myself rewinding through the first half of the year. I think about the goals I set and the desires I contemplated, then I compare those things to the present. Each year, I tell myself that no matter what, I will be proud of my progress. Each year, even so, I have found myself disappointed when I haven’t accomplished what I set out to do. This year, as I meditated on the year so far, I saw a lot of places where I thought things would be different–places where I thought there would be more progress. I could get upset myself, OR I could choose to celebrate and push even harder for the rest of the year. Either way, I really am competing with myself to be better this time next year than I am today.

Sometimes we get caught in the trap of comparing ourselves to others. We use others as an excuse for why we are not better. Then we get caught up in the trap of complaining that things can’t get better because of others. I’m guilty of that. Some things depend on others, but in the end, us being better than where we are right now is totally dependent on us.

So, maybe you are at a place where you are replaying what has occured so far this year. Maybe you are disappointed. Maybe you don’t see how things can change. I get it. But, instead of staying stuck in that place, it’s time to challenge yourself and determine that by the end of THIS year, you will be proud of how far you have come. It starts with you.


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What Kind of World Is This?

I had an interesting experience recently, and it made me really start considering the world we live in. Now, I am not in the least bit naive, nor do I walk around with rose-colored glasses believing that “everything is awesome;” however, I tend to believe the best in a situation as much as possible. Recently though, my optimistic nature took a crushing blow as I had to consider some unfortunate realities. Now, what I say in this post is not to be inflammatory or place blame on anyone. It is, however, the reality I had to face. Unfortunately, I had a death in the family and had to make plans to travel with my family for the home going service (funeral). Of course, with a new baby there are many things to consider. What I did not expect to have to consider is the safety of my family just because of the color of our skin.

As I began to plan the route and hotel stays, etc, I found myself googling “safe cities to stop in for black people,” and considering when to travel in an effort not to be on long stretches of highway at night. I started thinking about how to stay under the radar as to not draw the attention of police or anyone looking to cause trouble. It is not that we would be doing anything wrong or even going where we were not supposed to. I was considering our world’s climate. I vacillated back and forth, knowing that not all cops are bad and all people are not driven by hatred based on the color of someone’s skin; however, the fact that I even had to consider our safety JUST BECAUSE of the color of our skin hurt my heart.

I know racism and hatred have been a part of our society for years, but the blatant issues of the last few years have constantly drained me. When did it become acceptable to hate someone and show that hatred because of the color of their skin, nationality, sexual preference, gender, etc? Just because I don’t agree or have differing opinions regarding something should not give me a right to act inappropriately towards another. What happened to love, to giving people a chance, to being better than our base instincts? What would happen if we chose love?

How unfortunate it is that people have to consider their safety because of their difference, and that being able to live is seen as a privilege, not a right. What happened to our world? As I type this, my heart bleeds for those feeling marginalized, oppressed, disregarded, and unnecessary…for those who silently wonder if the person next to them secretly hates them…for those who just want to enjoy life but are constantly on edge. My heart hurts for you.

So, my experience of planning our trip brought up some deep feelings I did not realize were present to that extent. This makes me know that there are many people struggling with their own feelings. It may not be about race. It could be about gender, or sexual orientation, or age…either way, people are struggling, so when do we decide to change our world?

Maybe what starts in the mind and heart can transition to action…just maybe…


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Life Check In

So, how are those New Year resolutions going? Are you sticking to them, or has life succeeded in influencing you to kick them to the side? For me, life has been something else, but I intentionally didn’t make resolutions knowing that life will take that as a challenge sometimes. Instead, I declared that this year I would be “better.” This means that as much as I may have gotten off track last year, as long as I don’t do what I did last year, I qualify as being better. Now, to some that may seem to be a low threshold; after all, not doing what you did before does not make you your best, right? Wrong. Continuously striving for better gets you ever closer to that elusive “best;” however, if I can never see improvement, it is much easier to get stuck in the mire of “not good enough.” I refuse to be stuck.

So, no matter how far off from your resolve you have wandered, I have some breadcrumbs to get you back on track. Each day that seems a bit off, strive to do the next day differently. The beautiful thing about life is that there are numerous chances to start again from right where we are. It’s up to us how many times we take advantage of the fresh start. So, maybe this first month of the new year has challenged you and won, but tomorrow is another day for you to fight back. Are you ready?


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Grow Through It

I had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii recently in celebration of my 10 year wedding Anniversary. I was excited to rest and relax, but even more excited to have no real plans for about two weeks. As my husband and I drove to our hotel from the airport, I admired the view. The landscape was different, but beautiful. I saw the water, and then I saw the volcano rock. All around, there was rock. I wondered about wildlife and vegetation in this area of the drive. Then, I started noticing a grass-like growth seemingly right from the rocks. I admired the steadfastness of the growth and the fact that while nothing else was growing out of that rock, this grass was. I remarked to my husband how amazing that was, then I began to ponder on the significance of what was going on. It made me do some thinking about life. Sometimes our situations seem dark and do not, seemingly, have a foundation from which we can grow. In the midst of our trials, we despair. We fret. We struggle to see the end of the process; But we forget that every process produces growth within us. Just like the grass growing out of the rocks, out of a hard and impossible place, we too grow and evolve. We SURVIVE. The situations may not be ideal, and we may not like how we come to our growth moments, but it happens. So, we have to be as resilient as that grass growing out of the rock. Keep growing. Refuse to bend. Decide not to let go. But grow through it. Thrive. Be. Do. Just because you can.


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Tangled Up

I was minding my business when a colleague approached me asking for a favor. I used to automatically respond, “Sure, what do you need?” Not anymore. I have gotten myself into some sticky situations by automatically agreeing. 🙂 So, as I waited for her to tell me what she wanted, she held up a tangled necklace and asked if I could fix it. Now, staring at the mess in front of me, I wondered how in the world she thought I could fix it, but she had faith in me that I could. So, I watched myself (kind of an out-of body experience) reach out my hand to accept this jumbled mess. I told her I would get to it in a bit, but as I stared at the mess before me on my desk, I could not resist at least trying to get it right. The going was intense. Every time I thought I had fixed the mess, another tangle seemed to appear out of nowhere. At some point, I felt myself getting frustrated and almost deciding that it was not worth trying, but I kept going. When I heard myself in my head giving myself a pep talk, “Slow down. You’re going to get it. Just one loop at a time.” the chore became more of a puzzle. I love puzzles, so that worked for me. Finally, I got to the last knot, and I began to hurry because the suspense was almost over, but then it seems the necklace got more tangled. So, I remembered my advice to myself and I slowed down. After what seemed like forever, I finished untangling the mess, and came out with a beautiful necklace. Now, I am patting myself on the back for a job well done.

As I untangled the necklace, I thought about how life happens, and sometimes the decisions we make or the decisions others make regarding us leave us in a bind. We get tangled up and frustrated, and many times it may seem that we will never be able to straighten out the knots and twists that life has brought to us. But, just like the necklace took time and patience to untangle, so do our lives. The great thing about life is that things can always get back to “normal”, but it is the twists and turns that make it a bit more interesting. Even when our lives get jumbled up, there is always an opportunity for us to get ourselves together. Just as I had to help my colleague, sometimes, we have to help others untangle their lives. Even if it is left to us to fix the “mess” of our lives, we have to remember that some messes can’t be fixed immediately, but they take time, patience, and some setbacks. The blessing is that when we work to fix it, we appreciate the finished work.

Maybe your life has seemed like that necklace. A mess.  Tangled up. Confused. Maybe it seems impossible to fix. But, I challenge you to take it one “knot” at a time. Keep working at it. Don’t give up when things seem to get more difficult. Just keep in mind the image of what you want your life to be, and work towards that goal. After all, we are all “a mess”, but we don’t have to stay that way.