Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


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My Truth

I am socially awkward. I am that one who CAN talk to everyone in the room, but probably won’t. The wallflower that is vibrant and vivacious, but would rather stay to myself. That one who loves everyone, but still gravitates to seeking my own company. I used to wonder why God gave me the personality He did. Why did he make me quiet and observant as opposed to outgoing and the life of the party? Why couldn’t he make me to be the one with a whole lot of friends and associates, rather than the one with very few friends and even fewer associates? I have watched those who seem to be well-liked by everyone, and I wondered about their secret. Then I tried to mimic who they were, but it made me feel fake and out of pocket. Eventually, I came to realize that the me the way God created me to be would have to do.

If you think about it, all of us having the same personalities would make for a very bland world. No differences. Same way of doing things. There is a place in society for all of us. For the quintessential wallflower, the gregarious life of the party, the easygoing in-the-moment participant…all of us. Now, I know that our lives sometimes shape who we are. Looking back at my childhood, my experiences shaped me to be unnaturally suspicious of anyone I encounter. Trusting someone is not always first on my list. Then as I grew older, my own mistakes led me into hiding. I used to think, “What if they knew all the things I have done. The wrong I have done to others…THAT mistake? Would they still think I had value?” But that is a mindset that has to be broken. Our lives lead to us portraying ourselves in certain ways, then we project that on others and stop being true to ourselves. I decided I would live my truth.

So now, when I say I am a wallflower, it is not out of fear of what people think about me. It is because I have learned to speak when I have something to say. But, I am the one in the gathering who will most likely be off to myself. Not antisocial. Not standoffish. Just comfortable in who I am. It took years to get here, but it has been worth the journey. Spend time getting to know yourself, and being comfortable with who you are. Your experiences shaped you, but they don’t define the rest of your story.

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Dream Killer

“Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?”

This is one of my favorite short poems by one of my favorite writers, Langston Hughes. It says so much in such a succinct way. Every time I read it, it challenges me to think about my dreams, and consider what has happened to them. Have I let them dry up or fester? Are my dreams rotting or sagging, or are they on the verge of exploding? Have I stopped believing?

It’s easy to stop believing. When life comes at you from every angle…heartache and pain…friends and family walking away…emotional anguish…feeling unsupported and unseen…loss of loved ones…it can seem that your dreams move further and further away until they are gathering dust on the top shelf of the deepest crevices of your heart. I have felt the pain of dreams seeming to dry up. One moment things seemed to be going in the right direction, but then it seemed like out of nowhere, nothing was working. Whatever I tried failed. No one could really understand when I talked to them about it. I was on the proverbial island all alone with my thoughts, and my thoughts were not the best companion. I saw before me the vast horizon in which I had cast much of my hopes on this particular dream, and then I saw myself almost being catapulted in the opposite direction of my dream. Then I saw how repeated failures and attempts, and repeated frustration brought me to the verge of calling it quits. To that point where you say, “I just don’t care”, and you throw in the towel. I started trying to convince myself that my life would be so much simpler if I just decided to give up on that particular dream. I would have more time, more freedom, less stress, less people watching, and I could get back to my life before I decided to believe. Oh, how simple it all seemed BEFORE this dream. So, that was almost the end.

But then I remembered the purpose placed on the dream. My dream was not to benefit just me, but to influence and change the lives of those connected to me. I had to throw some “water” on that dream and give it life. So, as much as I did not want to, I decided to breathe into the dream again. Now, things have not turned all the way around. Some days, I long for the more “simple” times, but I know there is a mission to tackle. Someone is waiting on me to walk into my dream world so they can know that it is possible. It is possible. Living in dreamland IS possible. Maybe you are like I was right now. You have watched as your dreams have seemed to shrink or turn to dust. You have tried everything you know how to get them to breathe again, but it seems that maybe you should give up on this dream. Don’t. If it was placed in you to believe in, then keep standing on it. Dust it off and try it all again. Some things don’t work right away, but we have to believe that they will. We have invested too much to let our dreams explode, so what do you need to do today to revive that dream? Get to it.


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Purposed Pain

As we approach the holiday in which Christians celebrate Easter, or the day that Jesus rose from the dead, many may be focusing on their best Easter outfits. Still, others are planning the perfect Easter feast for the host of friends and family who may come to their homes to fellowship. In the midst of making all of these plans, often the true reason for the holiday is forgotten. Just to rehearse a little, in Christianity, it is stated that Jesus Christ died for everyone’s sins so that humanity had a chance to be redeemed. Jesus was crucified and buried, and on the third day, Jesus rose again from the grave. The celebration, on Easter, is about the fact that Jesus rose. As we approach this day, I revel in the journey that is revealed. Whether you believe in Jesus or the Easter story, the story is still one to glean from. Here, we have a man who chose to unselfishly sacrifice himself to redeem mankind. The process was undeniably painful. The appreciation from others may have seemed dismal. Yet, this man pressed through the pain into what he was purposed to do. Again, whether you believe it or not, this is amazing to behold.

Imagine if we had a purpose so necessary and pressing, that despite what it felt and looked like, we still did the things that were painful to do. What would happen if we were so committed to the purpose of our lives, that despite obstacles, despite people not believing, in spite of us sometimes doubting ourselves, and even us wanting to let the “cup” pass from us, we persevered? What would happen? This world is filled with people who have lost their passion because of life and the many struggles they have endured. The pain has brought many to the point of being numb to their purpose, so they settle for a life of just having and being good enough. What would happen if we acknowledged the pain, but pressed towards our purpose? No, the ending may not seem worth it. You may not want to be everything for everyone. You may not even want to deal with the “craziness” it takes to walk out who you are, but there really is purpose in the pain. There is a reason for your specific journey. Just as Christians celebrate Jesus’ purposed pain, we too should celebrate that we are well able to endure whatever it is we have to deal with to get to our “place”. Don’t allow the process to get you off track, but instead use the process as a catapult to purpose. You were built for this.


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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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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. 😊


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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.