Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…

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Dare to Hope

It’s that time of year again. You know the time. When New Year’s resolutions and promises for a new year begin. Some really mean what they say and take the necessary steps to ensure that the new year yields results. Others are more talk than action, and they start out meaning well, but as life and old desires battle, often their good intentions lose the fight. Gyms and churches are packed in January, but by March there are empty classes and empty pews/seats. We always mean well, but sometimes we lack the follow-through. As 2018 approaches, I, like everyone else, have taken stock of my life. I realize the things I have not done that I promised in January I would do. I see the areas where I slacked, even the areas where nothing was accomplished. I’m not proud of it, but I acknowledge it. My resolve, I will finish what I have begun, and I will become all that I am meant to become. That is the only resolution I will make for the new year because everything I need to do is wrapped up in that simple statement. 

One thing that I have struggled with, as 2018 quickly races to take over 2017, is the promise of dreams coming true. I struggled with this because it seems like each year I would hear someone say, or I would tell myself, Grace this is your year. In the same vein, year after year, these hopes didn’t happen. So eventually, hoping can become too heavy a burden to bear. I found myself just saying, “You know what? I’ll be fine if this thing and that thing doesn’t happen. Others have dealt with it and lived. I can and will too.” I was choosing to prepare myself more for the possibility of these things not happening for me, rather than the possibility of them actually happening. I did not want to create an environment of hope, then be let down again. Now, these things I hope for are not things I can do myself. I can’t just wish them in to existence and they come to pass. No, these are things out of my control. Ooohhh, control…yeah, that thing I hate to lose a handle on. So, as 2018 has approached, even as people have said 2018 is my year to have certain things, I have battled. I have doubted. I have put their kind and hopeful words on the shelf. Why? Because it hurts to hope. But, I realized that life without hope is not really living at all. 

So, as I prepare for what is to come, I choose to hope again. I believe that certain things will come true for me, whether in 2018 or beyond. These things not happening in my timeframe does not mean that they won’t. One thing is for sure, when waiting on something to happen, we cannot become stagnant while waiting. Get busy. Create the life you desire. Pray more. Worry less. Live happy. That way, when what you have hoped for comes to pass, it is welcomed into a full and prosperous environment. 2018 will be an AMAZING year filled with opportunities, open doors, advancement, great life-changing moments, some ups and downs, but definitely more joy than pain. Embrace your new year even now, and when the new year finally arrives, you will be ready for all the endless possibilities of a fresh start. Dare to dream. ­čśŐ


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Christmas? Bah, Humbug!

From the title, you probably think I’m some kind of Grinch. Believe me, that could not be further from the truth. I actually love Christmas, and it is my absolutely favorite holiday. I love the lights, the family time, and the overall joviality of the season. It ‘s almost as if something is in the air that makes everyone happy and loving towards one another. This Christmas, though, has been different for me. In past Christmas’, I was so focused on what I would receive under my Christmas tree, and how many people would send me Christmas greetings. I focused more on receiving than giving, and lost the fact that Christmas is supposed to celebrate Christ first. Looking around at the world today, I saw that magnified. People were focused on buying all sorts of gifts to show the love that should be shown every day. Instead of the celebration of His birth, there was a celebration of┬áthe sales and people being able to add to their already vast collection of goods. To that mentality, I said “Bah, Humbug”! Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE gifts. I love opening up presents and seeing what’s inside. However, I found that this year I was more focused on what I could give to others. I sought out to spread love and cheer, and to give in whatever way I could to bring smiles to others. In that endeavor, I found a level of peace and joy in this Christmas than I have ever felt before. I did not have to have a big family Christmas, nor did there have to be a plethora of gifts under my tree. What I wanted most was to love and be loved, and to celebrate the reason that we have a Christmas. I gave to others out of a genuine desire for them to know that they are loved, and in that was my reward. I discovered, again, the blessing of Christmas. So, maybe you did not receive all that you desired. Maybe it seems no one cared enough to pay you attention. Maybe it seemed like this season has been a combination of hurt, sorrow, and being overlooked. Just know that if no one else sees you or cares for you, I do. Yes, that can seem crazy if we have never met, but I have enough love in my heart to send some to you wherever you are. Remember to spend time loving and giving, and what you receive in return from all of that will matter more than any physical gift that only fulfills a temporary want. So, a very Merry Christmas to you and yours, and so much love to you from one human to another. Blessings.

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A Gift Only You Can Give

Today, many people are celebrating Christmas. If you ask any one person, you may get a different response to “why do you celebrate Christmas?” If you ask me I will tell you it is because I believe that Jesus Christ was born, and I celebrate His birth on this day. Others may celebrate because┬á it is a time to gather with family and loved ones to rejoice in the closeout of another year. Still others may not celebrate the day itself, but acknowledge that there is something special about this time of year. Whatever the case, somehow, we all end up giving gifts to others, both tangible and intangible. This year, as Christmas quickly approached, I began to think of all of the gifts I wanted to get for others. My heart overflowed with ideas and plans to make others smile, and I began to get caught up in all that I could do for everyone else. I have always been a giver. It has always brought me immense pleasure to see others happy. Why should Christmas be any different? Yes, gift giving is something traditions brought on, but something I enjoy doing all the same. Somewhere along the way, I realized that with all that I planned to do for others, I had not once stopped to think about what I would do for myself. When I did think about it, I considered going on a mini shopping spree, but I realized that the satisfaction from that would only last for a moment. I considered taking myself to get a facial or manicure, which I may still do, but that would not be enough. Then I focused on the more intangible things I needed. Hope. Peace. Joy. Forgiveness. Newness. Words easily spoken, but hard to realize. Three years ago, not long before Christmas, I did something that robbed me of all of those things. I lost hope that things would ever get better for me. I was tormented by what occurred. I lost my smile, replaced by a mask resembling what once was. I forgot how to forgive myself, and I thought I could never be new again. Since then, I have pretended, somewhat convincingly, that all of that I have gained back. In some ways I had gotten some of that back, but not to the full extent. When thinking about what I wanted for Christmas, I realized that “some” was not enough, and I wanted everything back that I originally lost, plus more. I finally understood that to get everything back, I first had to forgive myself for what was. To still live in what was, but try to move forward into what is to be, creates a battle within that only continues to tear apart. So, first step, forgiveness. From there everything else is a choice. I can choose to hope again, and know that what does not kill me really does make me stronger. Things can and will change. I can have peace knowing that what is done is over, and my heart is in a new place. I can keep that peace by ensuring that I never go back to that place again. I can have joy in the midst of knowing that I am forgiven, and knowing that I can start life from wherever I choose. The first thing is to make that choice. All of this is a gift that only I could give myself. Tangible things are nice. Give to others. Make someone else happy. Always remember that the best gift sometimes is a gift that only you can give to yourself. Live again.

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Hidden Hope

Just because you cannot see the sun does not mean it is not there. Many times we awaken to cloudy skies and rain, and we despair because our hopes of a day filled with sunshine seem to dribble down the drain just as the water outside blankets the earth. Even so, the clouds and rain only hide the sun for a time. It may not get sunny outside after the rain, but it gets brighter, evidence of the sun peeking out even behind the clouds. That is how it is sometimes in life. We have such high hopes and expectations, but then a storm comes, sometimes from nowhere, and we encounter rain, hurt, and dashed dreams. We look around, expecting someone to come pick up the pieces of our broken lives and shattered hopes, and we wonder just where the sun went to hide. We forget that, as it has happened many times before, things always get lighter. No one may come and help us glue back together what has seemingly broken apart, but somehow things get better. Even in our lowest points, there is hidden hope. Just as the sun is hiding behind the clouds on the most dark of days, so is our hope shining behind our hurt and fears. We are resilient. Our nature is to bounce back. Just because it seems that things will never lighten, that does not mean that it never will. We have to believe, even when it seems impossible, that right now is not our totality. We have to remember that tomorrow is a closed door yet to be opened, but behind that door hide untold opportunities and newness. Regardless of your right now, look forward and understand that your right now will soon be past. Focus on today, but do not get lost in today. Hope in something better than this moment. Believe that you will see everything you have faith enough to believe in. Hidden hope does not mean there is no hope. It just means that you have to find it.