Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


Do I Really Matter?

A question as old as time itself…and an answer that can be heartbreaking…this question often reverberates through our minds. It makes sense because we are only human, but sometimes acknowledging the fragility of our humanity does not offer us solace when the answer to this question leaves us wanting. What happens when you ask yourself this question, then you look around at the “evidence” in your life, but you can’t find anything that seems to lean towards the answer being a resounding “yes”? Do you just stop trying? Do you give in to the depression that waits just an inch outside of your proverbial bubble? Do you even dare to keep believing that you will see everything your heart could ever hope for? Do you?

For some reason, I have been in this place of wondering if who I am and what I do matters? With all that I give, and in each of my businesses, I have still wondered if I am talking to and encouraging myself. Seeming lack of response, and watching what seemed like everyone else supporting others, left me in a low place. I stopped writing. I stopped encouraging. I stopped hoping. I hid myself in plain view, but I was not me. The funny thing was…no one seemed to notice. That left me even deeper in the hole of depression until those old thoughts of just disappearing and never coming back began to resurface. Yeah, those negative and dismal thoughts that are only supposed to apply to anyone else but a motivator…those thoughts. I was in a rough place.

Finally, I couldn’t take that place anymore, and I cried out to God hoping that at least He could see me. He could. He never left. I just stopped believing. So, piece by piece, I began to rebuild my broken heart and shattered dreams. No, no one came to my rescue, and yes it still feels at times that no one cares, but who I am and what I do is about more than just me. If I don’t write, who will miss being encouraged because I didn’t do it? If I don’t speak, who would miss hearing the very words that could save their lives? If I don’t mentor and coach, what young person will grow up believing that they don’t matter? If I am not me, someone else is affected. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, that one truth remains.

Your life matters, and maybe you get tired of giving and not seeming to receive, but keep believing that one day things will look so different. One day you will look back at these times and thank God you didn’t quit when it was easier to just walk away. There is something so magnetic and necessary about you, so don’t allow life to lie to you. Your circumstances are not bigger than you. The hurt can’t conquer you. You MATTER.


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Silent Tears

Sometimes you just hurt. Not that surface kind of hurt, but that deep-down, soul-wrenching, unexplainable hurt. That hurt that seems to invade every facet of your life until you find yourself drifting through each day, pasting on the appropriate smile, and saying just the right things. But that pain deep inside is there as a constant reminder that things really are not as they seem. I have been there. “Where is there?” you may ask. There is where you silently cry as your significant other sleeps beside you. You soak the pillow with your tears, feeling lonely even in your togetherness. As you cry, your body shakes as you try to control the sobs from breaking free and disturbing their sleep. I mean, they wouldn’t understand anyways, right? There is trying to describe to someone you love how you feel, attempting to rid yourself of this vast feeling of going nowhere and mattering to no one, and them responding, “Well, you have a good life, right?” as if that makes what you are saying and how you are feeling null and void. Yeah, they missed it. Or, maybe you search through your mind polling the many phone numbers in your phone, but not one catches your attention as someone you can call and have them talk you out of this lonely place. 

I mean, when you look at the surface, life is great, right? You have everything you need and some things you want. You have a loving partner, maybe family and friends, even some children sprinkled in there. You are the one everyone depends on to encourage them and be there for them, but sometimes you want to shout “WHAT ABOUT ME?” On the surface, you have it going on,  but no one knows you’re struggling with being a hamster running around the proverbial wheel of life, seeming to get nowhere, but running because that is what you were told to do. The days spent building up others’ dreams while you see yours collecting dust on the shelves are tough days, but you grin and bear it. You have no choice, right? Working a 9-5 you hate because your family has to eat, right? Pushing others to be great when you want to give up. Yeah, I know what “there” is. But even with all of this that no one ever sees, you manage to make life look amazing. 

That is because even with all of that, it really is. Even with the soul-searing pain, at least you can still feel. Even with the loneliness, at least you still function. Even when it seems no one on earth understands or cares, there is still One who knows just what He is doing every step of the way. Maybe you are in the place I described. It is a ROUGH place, it is, but it is not the end. You may feel like giving up. Been there. Suicide has crossed my mind several times. That is not the answer. That is only hurting others because you hurt. Next up, getting in a car and just driving…disappearing like you see in the movies. Yeah, that would not work. Eventually someone would find you or you would just get tired of running from yourself. Well, maybe if I turn my back on God who doesn’t seem to care anyway, and I just do whatever I want, that will change things. Nope. Same issues just masked by “good times” which are really camoflauging empty moments. 

Sometimes just acknowledging the feelings is the first step. Acknowledging that you are broken and hurting, feeling unnecessary and overlooked, seemingly unproductive and thinking you can be easily replaced, yeah, that is the first step. Unfortunately, this may be a journey you take alone. It may be the roughest journey you ever embark on, but in the end, if you can acknowledge it, you can beat it. So, yeah, maybe there will be a few nights, weeks, months, of tear-soaked pillows…Maybe your phone will become useless as you can’t figure out anyone to call, but in the end you win. Let the silent tears flush out the bitterness and the hurt. Allow yourself to be in the moment, and know that as long as there is a tomorrow, there is another chance for things to get better from here. It has to get better. It just does.

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Good Enough

Well, we made it. We jumped out of 2017 and propelled forward into 2018. For some, there is excitement and anticipation. For others, there may be some trepidation. Either way, here we are, and there is no going back. If you take an honest look at 2017, I am sure you see things you would have done differently. Maybe. I know I saw some things, but realized I can’t change a thing. Guess that means it is best to live from here, right? 

Thinking about the opportunities of the new year, I thought through all of the things I have been tasked to do. I thought about the speaking engagements, the travel, the blogs, the networking, the conversations, the expected growth, and even though I have always encouraged others, I found myself not truly believing that I was up for the task. Yes, me the encourager I did not believe I was equipped to function in the realm given to me. It almost brought me back to growing up when I did not believe I was enough, so I allowed other things to fill the voids. This left me worse off than before. I remembered feeling incompetent and unnecessary. I remembered…I wrestled…I struggled. Silently. Telling no one, but fighting a battle. Only, this time, I refused to lose. 

This was not my first time in the ring, but it was the first time I truly decided that I would not quit. The battle raged on and on. I wanted to give up on myself, BUT I said this time had to be different. At some point I looked up, and I realized that I was no longer in the defensive position, but I had begun to wage war on what was fighting me. I could not lose. I didn’t. I came out of that battle stronger, more intentional, determined. I understood, again, that I have everything in me to be ALL that I was created to be. I am enough. I am capable…so are you. 

Maybe you are in a battle like I was. Maybe you are looking at the layout of your year, and thinking that you come up short. Maybe 2017 was rough and damaged your self-esteem, belief in yourself, passion…I get it. I was there. But, now is the time to reinvest yourself into being. Begin to speak to yourself and believe that you can be and do EVERYTHING that is in your heart to do. You’re pretty enough, talented enough, loving enough, capable enough, worthy enough,  good enough…You are. So, don’t allow 2018 to put you off of your game. Put your dukes up and get ready to fight for what you believe. It won’t be easy. You may get knocked down in a few rounds, but what matters most is that you keep getting back up. This really is your year to believe in you and get rid of the history that tells you you’re not good enough. Will you choose to give up or win? You decide.

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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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Delayed Childhood

Life can be strange, but wonderful at the same time. We all have different experiences and so many factors contribute to making us who we are at this present moment. Some of those experiences have been amazing and life-changing, while other experiences have been desperate, but still life-changing. Many of us remember tears and laughter, ups and downs, victories and setbacks–a constant cycle of “good” versus “bad” in the constant cacophony of a our individual worlds. Looking back, I see situations that, at the time, I perceived as bad, and I mean REALLY bad, but they ultimately worked out for my good. I also see situations that I thought were good that were actually wolves hidden in sheep’s skin, and I probably should have never gotten involved. Either way, the experiences shape us and prepare us for what is to come. So, as I began to ruminate on life and the roller coaster it has been, I realized that some things that I had going on now were due to my delayed childhood.

The low self-esteem issues that I never dealt with caused me to be a hesitant and uncertain adult. I began to think I was not good enough and that no one could ever love me. I did not think that anyone would value my opinion or what I had to say. I shrunk back from attention believing that people would realize I was worthless, and begin to treat me as such. I did not believe in me. This was all because growing up in foster care, not everyone believed I would be anything. I remember the one foster parent who was talking to someone else (thinking I would not hear about it), who said I would not graduate college. Instead, I was supposed to end up pregnant and drop out of college; thus, in their eyes, becoming worthless. I remember that same foster parent telling my boyfriend at that time that he was too good for me, and me finding out just how low I was thought of by the person who was supposed to be my parent. Over the years and various homes, each time they sent me away, I felt I was not good enough. There had to be something about me that made me unworthy. No one wanted me. Or so it seemed. But then, HE wanted me. He showed me attention. He said nice things, but then he too showed me I was worthless when HE took my childhood innocence. HE cared about what he could get from me, but even he thought I was disposable. So, I grew up way too soon. I rehearsed what had been said and done. I believed it. So, when I finally came to a place of realizing that even I have a purpose, I denied it. What if what “they” said was true? What if I really am not good enough? What if I try and fail? What if no one cares? What if I really am as worthless as “they” believed I was. What if I fail God? What if no one values me? What if….? So, somewhere in there, I really believed that I was not enough for my journey, and that I was not built to succeed.

But piece by piece, God begin to put my “puzzle” back together. Here and there my confidence was built. One person at a time, my heart begin to mend, and I began to believe that maybe, just maybe, I was good enough to make it to the end. Peeking around the corner, I began to see the warm glimmer of hope. Timidly I stepped out on a faith road, and inch-by-inch, I began to make my way towards a tiny light I saw on the horizon. Then one day, I looked up from my travels, and I looked back realizing just how far I had come. But, then the reminders began. “Just because you made it this far doesn’t mean you will finish,” is what my mind told me. I had a Sherman Clump moment from one of my favorite movies when the memories became too much. Instead of giving in to the noise, I shouted within myself, “Yes, I Can!” So step-by-step I began to believe. As each memory resurfaced and each reminder threatened to envelop me, I fixed my eyes on the light and repeated to myself, “I Am Enough. I Am Enough. I Am Enough!”–until I believed it.

So maybe you are traveling on your journey, and everything in life tries to tell you that you will not make it. Maybe your childhood was delayed like mine and all of your stuff from then seems to be coming up now. I am here to remind you that YOU are enough. You can make it. You will make it. Even if it is an uphill climb and a daily mantra you have to recite, YOU have to believe in you, and know that if you can keep your eye on the light in front of you, you can succeed. Life can throw some hard blows. Things can be bitter and desperate, but they can also be enlightening and amazing. Bitter with the sweet, yeah, I know. But in the end, you win. So pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Set your eyes on what is in front of you, and refuse to lose. You ARE enough.

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Embrace the Weird

I’m just a bit quirky…ok, maybe a lot quirky, but who’s really measuring? lol. I am the one in the room with a bunch of people who can choose to be extroverted and talkative, but who most likely will find the best corner to sit and watch others. I am that person who really does not care to say much, but finds it weird to be in the ¬†midst of people talking, so I try to interject a little just to say I tried. I am that “weird”. Now when I use weird, it’s not in the negative connotation that many think about. My “weird” means peculiar, different, not like the rest, set apart, intentionally and innately comfortable being one’s self. That’s my weird. For years I tried to be different. I tried to be someone who everyone would embrace. I got hurt time and time again when people didn’t seem interested in me, but only what they could get from me. I shut down, opened, up, got hurt again, and shut down again. Cycle after cycle, my weird got me in trouble. That is until I decided to embrace the weird. Even now, I don’t always fit into the crowd. I often have nothing to say when everyone else has so much to say. Sometimes I just don’t want to talk or be around everyone, but sometimes my responsibilities force me to; however, that does not mean that I have to blend in with those around me. Just as in romantic relationships, there is someone for everyone. So, I choose to embrace those who embrace me…love those who love me…and be kind even to those who don’t understand or accept me. This life is too short to spend it being anyone or anything but who God created each of us to be.

So, if you are struggling with fitting in…struggling because you feel like the odd one out (which you just may be), struggling because “they” seem to like “everyone else” better than you…frustrated because your circle is small and the number of those you can really trust is even smaller…I get it. But this is an opportunity for you to get to know the intricacies of yourself, understanding that not everyone was meant to be “the life of the party”. Some were meant to stand out. As the saying goes, there really is a lid for every pot. Stop letting what people say and think change you into something that makes you dislike yourself. Embrace your weird. Embrace who you are. Enjoy being different. That makes you amazing. Some will like you. Some won’t. Some will love you. Some won’t. Some will understand you. Some won’t. Even so, it’s not your job to make anyone embrace you. Free yourself.

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Speaking Into the Silence

Lately, I have been a bit discouraged. Yes, even me…the motivator, the one who encourages others, the one who always has positive things to say and pushes others out of their low moments, yes me…and it has been one of those times when only those who are closest to me, or those who cared to really pay attention, have known just how discouraged I have been. Built in to the discouragement has been hurt, disappointment, let downs, and being looked over–a convoluted concoction of negativity. It almost made me give up, not just “throwing in the towel”, but burning it to the point where the thought of doing what I am supposed to do does not rise again. At least, those were my thoughts. Even the most optimistic people get down when it seems support is overwhelmingly lacking, when it seems “everyone else” gets the attention you wished you could, or even when those you count on to be there when you need them have better things to do. We are definitely all human, and no matter your purpose/passion, you still have a heart that can be hurt. So, I contemplated giving everything up, figuring no one would miss what I have to say or what I do, and just when I got to that point of give up, I heard something within me say “Speak to the silence”.

My first thought after that was, “Why should I? What difference will it make?” But when I thought about it more, clarity began to come. I began to remember the times when I have literally thought I am writing, speaking, or advocating to myself due to the lack of response, but then from nowhere someone would comment or write to me telling me how something I said had touched their lives. I then began to remember the times that even writing down what I was feeling was cathartic for me and got me out of my feelings. From there, I thought about how many times I have not responded to something others have said or written, and how they too could be feeling like I have recently felt, but the fact was that their words had meant something because I remembered them. So, as I thought, I realized that while the silence can be deafening, there is still life in the silence. There are still listening ears and watching eyes in the silence. Lives can still be changed, and passions can be built just by me deciding to do what I am meant to–even when I feel unheard and unseen.

Maybe you have felt that you are unnecessary, or that your words mean nothing. As you look around, it seems others have support, but you are alone…and maybe if that is the case at the moment, know that you were built for this. Who you are and what you do is necessary for SOMEONE on this vast planet of ours, and if you stop speaking/writing/motivating/marketing/encouraging, you will miss your opportunity to put an imprint even on that ONE person’s life. I know the process is difficult. I understand wanting to be embraced and encouraged. I also understand wanting to just sink into the background not thinking you will be missed, but keep speaking even when the silence gets deafening. Keep being even when it costs everything within you to be. Keep believing when everything around you makes it seem that what you are believing in and for will never happen. As long as you are alive, there is a possibility of having everything your brilliant mind could ever imagine, so get back to speaking to the silence. One day, there won’t just be echos, but a response. Keep going.