Sunday, January 1, 2017

Lessons from Sweet 16

I would say 2016 has been hard but I’d be lying. Life has been filled with trials since 2012 when my Granny passed away. I kid you not the following year my Mom’s hubby died (2013), cancer showed up in our family 3 ways (2014) and last year my Aunt the baby sister lost her battle with breast cancer (2015). Here comes 2016 and I am forced out of my job because I was injured at the hands of a student.

Are you starting to feel sorry for me yet? DON’T! In the words of Monica “I’m still standing. I been through the storm, had dirt on name. I’m still holding on, champion of the game.” I give God all the glory and the honor His name so richly deserves for being there to see me through it all. Todd Delaney wrote, “Through all that I have gone through, Lord it was you. It was You, pulling me through. When I stumbled, when I cried, when it felt like I wanted to die. When my friends (and I use that term lightly) turned and they walked away, You were here right here to stay.”

Yes to all those lyrics and the emotions. Yes to the heartache, the discipline, the growth. You might be reading this with your head tilted, surprised. Maybe you have never been so low that you weren’t sure how you were going to bounce back. Or maybe your story doesn’t look like the perfectly curated one on Instagram that constantly gets 1K likes but you pretend that all is right in the world. Mine was mismatched, hard and tough. It was painful yet beautiful. I learned so much, lacked very little, learned to hold my head eye even during the dry seasons. I gained some valuable lessons these past 365 days. Allow me to share the Sweeetttt Sixteen.

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1.      I’m strong. Mind, body and spirit. Tragedy and trials built me up where I was weakest. I know how to endue hardship with a smile while the people around me are waiting to see if God will fail me. He won’t ever!

2.      I’m worth the wait. I’ve been praying about love. The God kind. Not the ones I admire on social media because their journey isn’t mine. I’ve been inspired but I desire the relationship designed specifically for me and my future partner based on who we are at the time of our coming together. I know the meaning of marriage. It’s all about Jesus. And Jesus was/is all about ministry.

3.      Parenting is rewarding and bittersweet. You have this little human that you pray for and pour into. You are anxious to see the young adult s/he will mature into. And when they arrive at the stage to transition, you experience a little bit of sadness, ok maybe a lot that your best role will change. Krystopher will always be my little BIG man. I don’t like the idea of being an empty nester but I am grateful for the blessing of being someone’s mother.

4.      Forgiveness is vital. For your own well-being. Too many illnesses and diseases manifest when you can’t let go of hurt. It destroys you spiritual, emotionally and physically. Let it go. Not with the thought that God is going to punish them but grateful that you were/are forgiven for all that you’ve done especially those hidden things.

5.      Love. It makes the world better. It is the cure for all that ails. If not Christ wouldn’t have come as a baby to grow up into a man that would die. He loved us so much that he forgave us before He even descended from His throne. Then He asked His father for an earthly vessel to come down and extend to us the ultimate act of love.

6.      Say NO and mean it. Don’t panic. Don’t go over the woulda, shoulda or maybes. If you don’t want to, don’t. Don’t feel up to it. Don’t! Every event and happening isn’t vital to living well. I’ve found so much joy in being still and quiet and resting. Do more of it in 2017.

7.      Buy less. This one is hard for me and the kid. We love stuff. Especially clothes. #iknowyoujudgingme Pinterest is my friend. I’ve worn pieces so many different ways just by perusing pins to freshen up my wardrobe. Had to remind KingKrys that senior year can be epic or you can have a boat load of clothes to wear home while your classmates are participating in the activities to celebrate. What ya’ll think he chose?

8.      Read something positive daily. A devotional. Your bible. Both! I don’t recommend the news. I mean be well informed (TY Twitta) but feed your faith. Feed your spirit food that produces all the abundant things you want to show up in your life in the natural. That produces peace and fuels your purpose. WARNING: Careful with self-help books that aren’t Christ centered.

9.      Exercise. It reduces stress. Increases your self-confidence. Energizes you. Makes for a healthier and happier you. I don’t care if you walk briskly around the hallways of the building you work in just get moving. Everybody ain’t a gym rat. I treated myself to an Apple watch and my daily goal is to close those 3 rings. Have me standing in front of the mirror after a shower thanking the Lord for his handiwork.

10. Prayer changes things and you so pray daily. Prayer is what I do. It’s a part of my core. I think I pray when I’m asleep. No seriously. It's more than a habit. I mostly pray riding in my truck or in the shower/bathroom. Inspiration seems to flow freely in these places. What I’m attempting to say is getting on your knees is still right but the Lord wants to fellowship with you anyplace, anytime. He doesn’t care who’s around (thanks Janet).

11. This one is new for me but use your time wisely. Time Management. Friday as I was praying prayers from one of my favorite books “Prayers that Avail Much” by Germaine Copeland, I was taken to a prayer titled ‘The Setting of Proper Priorities’. I’m sure I’ve prayed it before but this time I felt the Lord saying I needed to get my life with Him so I could get my life with Him. I can no longer spend all my time looking at others or doing nothing because I have become complacent. My eyes are set on Him and it’s time to move.

12. Clear the clutter. In your mind. Your life. Heart. Home. Work space. Organize it. File it away. Shred it. Gift it to someone else. Let it become their new treasure. But if it isn’t being use or serves no current purpose…POOF be gone. I declared months backs I was going to start the best minimalism lifestyle for me I could. I failed. I still want to but I just purchased a Happy Planner and loads of stickers so nopah. I have been purging clothes. I’m really good about doing this. So if you need to pick an area, do so. Just get it done. And then celebrate without replacing it with something else.  

13. So back to me specifically. I am learning to stop expecting from folks what I give easily and freely. Note to self: you are you are others are who they are. Believe them. Accept them for it. I am the type of individual who shows love through acts of service. I am going to call and check in on you even if you haven’ called me in 100 years. If I hear you are in need of a pick me up, I’m going to send you a long text. I send notecards. Ok well I did it more before I became too busy. Just to let someone know they were thought of or appreciated. I’ll pray for you without hesitation even when it felt like my own prayers were blocked. I didn’t get that in return. I tried to change. I fought so hard to just stay within the boundaries of people who responded like me and it didn’t work.  Too much work to be negative!

14. Don’t shrink to make others feel comfy. Or to accept you.  I realized I had been doing this for a while because of words spoken into my life and over me for years. Not from a malicious place but to protect me. I started hiding and pretending to be mediocre because I didn’t want people to hurt me for being strong, smart, talented, bold and beautiful. I didn’t want people to be drawn to me then fall out of love (both sexes) when they saw I was a wildflower. Well I am.

15. Be you. Everyone else is already taken. Everyone else has flaws. Someone appreciates your quirks. You are made in the image of God. If that doesn’t tell you how vast and how many traits He encompasses then you are in BIGGGGGG trouble. So you like tuna no mayo. Eat it. You drink smoothies each morning for breakfast and still explain your belly fat as baby fat from 17 years so. Cool. You’ve embraced you. I love it!

16.  And finally I learned that music is the blood that flows through my veins and my kid’s. I can’t imagine a world without it. My oldest brother recently asked me what happened to my singing voice. I sang a lot growing up. Church choir of course, but nevertheless I sang. Now I still do, in the shower and care but I sound horrible. Now I enjoy hours of listening to various genres. I have music in my class every day all day for 180 days. We keep a radio on in the apartment. It’s the way God speaks to me. And it ain’t always a Christian song. Go ahead and judge me. He’s still speaking. Turns music louder. So get you a playlist or create a Pandora (am I the only one still using this app?) or Spotify or Apple and Amazon music station and fill your lungs with air, sing. Fill your soul. The atmosphere of your home or workspace with words that makes your soul dance.

2016 has been a good teacher!

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