Hurricane Dorian Relief Bracelet

Hello Wonderful People!

It’s been a while. I know, I know, that’s the understatement of the year. I have no excuses. Life has been…interesting. Sometimes God hides us in the shadow of his wings and works some things out of us in the secret places. Eventually I’ll return, in his timing. For now, I just wanted to pop in real quick to let you all know about an opportunity to support relief efforts for Hurricane Dorian survivors. As we all know, the Bahamas have been ravished by one of the worst hurricanes in their history. My sister has a faith-based jewelry business and she has designed a bracelet in honor of the beautiful people of the Bahamas. This quality bracelet is engraved with a reminder of God’s faithfulness in hard times. All proceeds will go towards hurricane relief, and you’ll have a tangible reminder to pray for survivors every time you wear this gorgeous bracelet.  So head on over to Christ Jewelry Boutique to make your donation today!

stainless steel adjustable bangle bracelet

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.

Isaiah 43:2

I love each and every one of you. Whether you are able to donate or not, our prayers are powerful and truly make a difference. Please say a prayer for the hurricane survivors, relief workers, volunteers and our government as we welcome survivors to our country.

 

Until next time, remain in faith and love!

Remember, He is God over the storms of our lives, and we are His…There is no power strong enough to separate us from His love. I hope the video below reminds you of that. 🙂

Advertisement

Confessions of Faith: Living in the Free Fall

It’s 10:30 on a Saturday night and I’d planned to turn in early after watching a few episodes of Sienfeld. Let’s choose to gloss over the glaring need I have for a better social life and focus on the matter at hand. As usual, when I closed my eyes, the words I’d been searching for while awake, came to me as soon as I was on the brink of sleep. So here goes….

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then I’m sure you’ve noticed a huge decline in the frequency of my posting.  I think I’ve mentioned before that my health challenges were the reason for my disappearing act. But what I didn’t mention was all of the other things going on in my life that demanded my attention.

I spent almost a year in therapy. Not once a week for an hour therapy, but really intense five days a week for several hours a day therapy. I’m pretty sure I was one hop, skip and a jump away from straight up commitment. For real, for real. I was straddling sanity and the worst part was that I had absolutely no idea why. I’ve since learned that a few physical issues were the cause of my angst, but it was a long time coming.

Now, the truth of the matter is that I’ve had my fair share of trauma. But I’ve always picked up the pieces and carried on. I’m strong. Not out of destiny, but necessity. This was different. This was scary. This was crying myself to sleep for months every night without knowing why. This was going to the bathroom at work and stifling my cries and not knowing why. This was suddenly not remembering how to do the job I had done for three years. I was in trouble and totally exhausted from the effort it took to not look like I was falling apart, even though I was.

One thing I know for sure: I was fighting for my life and all the Bible reading in the world wasn’t making it any better. I recited Psalms every night with tears streaming down my eyes and asked God to help me. It was by the grace of God that I found a treatment center about 45 minutes away from my home that accepted my insurance.

So I went. Even though I’m a “strong Black woman” and we don’t do therapy. Even though it meant taking a leave of absence that eventually, among other things, led to me losing my job. Because even though I didn’t know what was going on with me, deep down I knew that I was worth fighting for.

I knew that the state I was in was beyond the few coping skills I had. I needed professional help. The center I went to helped me sort through the major issues I’ve had surrounding food since I was a little girl. They helped me work through the residual grief I had regarding the death of my daughter. They helped me remember my worth and reduce the overwhelming anxiety that nearly crippled me. And yes, they prescribed medication that helped me cope for the few months I needed to be on it.

At the center I learned the practice of yoga, and breathing techniques. I had individual psychotherapy and group therapy. Meditation and drama therapy. Art therapy and music expression. You name it and they did it. I was one of the few specks of color in that cup of milk, but it didn’t matter. What mattered is that I was able to heal in the presence of like-minded women from all walks of life. The women there were housewives and corporate moguls. Artists and college students. Business owners and baristas. It didn’t matter because we all had one thing in common; we were brave enough and fed up enough to go after the help we knew we needed.

To be honest, I didn’t plan to tell you guys all this. What I planned to do was tell you how grateful I am for God’s provision through this season of healing. But as usual, when my fingers hit the keyboard, things went another way….Hopefully what I’ve said will help someone else going through a hard time. You will get through it. I did.

I’m standing on the other side of victory. Thanks to the underhanded workings of my former employer, I lost my insurance, which meant that I had to abruptly end my therapy sessions. And that’s o.k. I know that all things work together for my good, and if God hadn’t decided that it was time to move on, I’d still be there.

Since I lost my job, I can’t tell you how much joy has been restored to my life.  Don’t get me wrong. Initially, I was absolutely devastated. I was angry and those old familiar feelings of shame and embarrassment came back, along with the thought that maybe I just wasn’t good enough. There was also the fact that I was in the midst of a serious health crisis that required extensive healthcare to treat. Healthcare that I no longer had access to because I no longer had insurance. If you knew where I previously worked, you would be astounded at the irony of my situation.

There wasn’t much I could do. At the time, I couldn’t work. My doctors had me on full restriction. If I worked, I risked permanent damage to my heart. So I had no choice but to cancel some of my doctors appointments and diagnostic tests, then pay out of pocket for what was necessary to aid in my recovery.

There’s something I learned in yoga. It’s the act of leaning into discomfort. When you‘re in a pose that pulls you and strains your muscles, and all you want to do is come out of it, that’s when you breathe into it. That’s what God did for me when I surrendered to Him. It is often at the place of our most earnest surrender, that God’s glory shines the brightest. When we stop resisting and rest in Him, He has the perfect opportunity to show us who He is and what He can do.

I haven’t worked in over six months, but I have lacked nothing. It’s certainly not because I’m so good with money that I had six months worth of savings in my bank account. I wish! I’ve had all that I needed and some of what I wanted. Actually, I loaned money a few times and was able to bless others as well, despite the fact that I was denied unemployment benefits. God provides.

Without the undue stress of a job where I was harassed and my creativity was stifled, my health has improved by leaps and bounds. I literally get better every day. God heals.

I still used the coping skills I learned in therapy and now I know that it’s time to get back to doing what I love, and that includes writing for this blog and creating my novels. God restores.

At my lowest points, God stuck by me. When I didn’t believe in myself, He spoke life into me. Sometimes taking a leap of faith is not an option. Sometimes, you’re pushed. That’s when you get to live in the free fall. It’s breathtaking and exhilarating and freeing in so many wonderful ways. God loves.

I’m living out loud and unashamed. I hope you join me.

XoXo,

Faith

Those who know your name trust you because you have not abandoned any who seek you, LORD. Psalm 9:10 (CEB)

But I have trusted in your faithful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5 (CEB)

 

 

Summer Recap (Lots of Pics!)

20160717_181425

Yeah, so I know I’ve been M.I.A. for a minute. Trust me, I’ve got a legit excuse, but I don’t want to get into that on this post. I need more info before I share it with you lovely people. But in the meantime and in between time, I want to share a little bit of my summer with you!

I took a few road trips and got into my typical nerd shenanigans with the fam. All of which are memories I’ll cherish for years to come. Most of the pics feature me, two out of three of my sisters (can’t wait for Tiffany to get off travel restriction. I definitely plan to take a trip to see her before the year is up) and my moms. Locations are Gatlinburg, TN, Nashville, TN and Ocean Springs, MS.


Check it out. 🙂

20160727_191919

It’s been a great summer in many ways, and an extremely challenging one in others. Even as I type this, I realize what an incredible understatement that last phrase is. But all in all, God’s blessings outweigh my worries and I won’t complain.

20160719_175424


How was your summer? Are you as ready for fall as I am? I missed you guys loads and promise to fill you in on what’s going on with me as soon as I have a plan in place. Be on the lookout for a video from me soon. I want y’all to look me in my eyeballs for this one, lol.  XoXo!

Committed to Love

You probably read the title of this and thought, “Oh, she’s going to regale us with tales of romance.” Or, “She’s going to rhapsodize about choosing love for others over all else.” Oh, you weren’t thinking that? I’m the only one who uses words like regale and rhapsodize on the regular? It’s cool. I’m at peace with my nerdiness.

Anyway, I do want to talk about love, but not totally in the traditional sense or expected way. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of love and commitment. What does it look like? Can you have one without the other? And which one comes first?

Concrete answers elude me, but what I’ve managed to figure out is that the two go hand in hand. I can’t think of a single instance of love that doesn’t involve commitment and vice versa. The love a parent has for a child is cemented by the parent’s commitment to care and provide for the child. Later in life, hopefully the chEveryday-Self-Love-Imageild does the same for the parent. Two people choose to do life together and perform a ceremony before friends and family, sign legal documents and share a mutual last name to celebrate their love by showing commitment. My faith dictates that God so loved me that He gave His only begotten Son for my sins. He’s so committed to me that He made the ultimate sacrifice.

All of these observations have led me to a revelation  of sorts: If I love myself, why aren’t I committed to doing what I know is good for me? Or is it that I have to commit to doing what’s good for me as an action of love? Isn’t love in its simplest form merely a series of choices made over and over again? A choice to do what’s best for the one you love?

This whole summation may seem basic enough, but the truth of it all settled into me slowly, like rays of sun on a Spring day. The coldness of neglect, putting me last, not acknowledging my worth, were absorbed by the warmth of this knowledge. I’m worth committing to. I’m worth choosing. I’m worth the action of better choices each day.

What does this mean practically? It means going to bed at a decent hour, despite how much is left on my to-do list. It means going to Zumba class twice a week because I love shaking my rump-shaker. It means taking a walk even when I don’t feel like it, because it’s what’s best for me. It means taking time to cook delicious nutritious food. It means watching a movie and letting myself get swept away in the fantasy, because I need a mental break every once in a while as much as the next person.

I don’t know where we learned the lesson that self-care is optionaSelf lovel. And it seems like women are determined to ace this unnecessary class, for whatever asinine reason. But whatever is erroneously learned can be re-taught in a more enlightened and compassionate way. I’m learning to love me more and more. It’s manifesting itself by my commitment to treating myself well. I’m really starting to think that’s way it’s supposed to be.

If you’re already on your own journey of self-care, I commend you. On the other hand, if you’ve allowed yourself to fall by the wayside in a misguided belief that you’re supposed to be last on your list, I implore you to start with one small act of kindness for yourself. Don’t allow anything to distract you from it. Make a pledge to yourself not to neglect it. Once you see that the world keeps right on turning, add another act of kindness, and another one. Commit to it. You deserve it. You’re worth it.

Have you ever fallen into the trap of neglecting yourself?  How do you deal with unwarranted guilt when you take time to do things that only benefit you? In what ways do you regularly commit to showing yourself love through action?

#cheatdeath

Tiffany
My Beautiful Sister Tiffany

This weekend will make it one year since my sister Tiffany had a series of strokes that left her unable to walk, talk or eat without a feeding tube. Now she’s blogging about her experience! If that doesn’t show the faithfulness of God, I don’t know what does.

I am so humbled and grateful that she is still here with us. She definitely cheated death and I thank God all the time for that. I also thank each of you for your prayers and monetary donations during our time of need.

Enjoy Tiffany’s life affirming advice below, and excuse the occasional curse word. She struggles with aphasia, which is a side effect of the strokes that causes language disturbances. Reading her blog is just like talking to her and I LOVE it!!!

Tiffany D Gross

image
I’m so thankful to be alive! Yes! Yes! Yes! Now it’s time to live it up!
It’s coming close to the 1 year date of the strokes. March 13, 2015 it was a Friday. I’m glad I never was a very superstitious person because that fact alone would have really messed me up. I wanted to write something profound. Something really deep to share from my year of recovery. So here we go @#?! happens.

If you want to know how insignificant you are just get sick. If you want to know how smart you are get sick. You want to know what and who is important to you get sick. If you want to know who and what deems you important get sick. The only thing positive about any bout with any illness is the crystal clear clarity it gives to what is important to you. Plus knowing you have…

View original post 1,016 more words