I woke up this morning feeling energized, focused, and confident. I'm not totally sure what to attribute this feeling to, but I think it has something to do with some decisions I made last week. After going back and forth about losing weight for the last few months I finally buckled down. I went a full week without sugar or carbs, I also kickboxed for 3 days. The added bonus of seeing the scale come down seven pounds got my blood rushing.
You see, I've done this before. I lost 50lbs about three years ago. I know that the greatest battle in losing weight starts in your mind. Once you finally come to a place of determination within yourself you can overcome whatever obstacle is in front of you. I've had a conviction about losing weight since I first slayed the weight loss giant. Back then, I remember feeling so clear headed and energetic that I knew God desired for me to constantly exist at that level. Cookies are delicious and stress is real so I started giving myself permission to not be at my best. I bargained that I would eventually get back on the fitness wagon, but the further away I got the more difficult it became.
Isn't that the way it goes, though?
We know who we SHOULD be, but instead, we give ourselves permission to fall short. We stay in toxic relationships, we don't pursue the job, we choose to give ourselves excuses when instead we could be changing our lives from the inside out.
I wanted to get this message to you before the Monday blues could start making you modify the hopes and dreams you have for your life. I wanted to get this message to you before the excuses started piling up and the temptation to settle began haunting you.
Within you is the power to overcome any obstacle. Sure, people have had more to work with than you, but guess what? People have also had less! You get to decide what you do with the seconds you have been given. You can choose to use those seconds giving yourself reasons to not be excellent or you can break out of the comfort that mediocrity, disappointment, and struggle create and dare to start running your race.
I don't know about you, but I plan to come out of the other side of this week with a new layer of Sarah revealed. I'm burying another insecurity this week so that confidence can be resurrected. Want to join me?
Let's become unstoppable!
P.S. Don't forget you can download the first three chapters of my book with your preorder receipt at dontsettleforsafe.com. The first chapter is great for this mindset shift, it's called No More Excuses!
Ever felt yourself wondering why you have to be the bigger person? Do you feel personally responsible to fix everything that goes wrong in your sphere? There are moments when this becomes overwhelming and we'd rather take off our cape and see if any other superheroes have clocked in. I'm learning that it's through those circumstances that God reveals to us the depths of our strength. There are times when God presents problems in our lives that force us to find answers. But who wants to be the one constantly fixing problems?
I was reading John 15 before bed and read a verse that challenged me: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 NKJV. Not gonna lie, my initial thoughts were, "ain't nobody got time for that!" What does it mean to abide in Christ? For me, abiding in Him is how I chose to see and function in my sometimes crazy world.
It's a place of peace, patience, joy, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and love. But guess what? I like to be petty. It's one of my favorite things to do. Sometimes I'm tempted to treat people the way they treat me. I don't always want to lead in reconciliation or be the bigger person. There are times when I want to let people figure it out for themselves while I sit back and watch.
Then I read scriptures like those in John 15 and I'm reminded that the world doesn't become better when I have an attitude. The world does not become better when I choose to allow other people to suffer when giving them just a piece of my time or small push of motivation could alter their destiny.
More and more I'm beginning to pack my boxes from petty boulevard so that I can begin to dwell in Christ. I still may keep a summer home on the boulevard, but for the most part I want to strive each day to see this world (and the people in it) the way Christ does.
I know in Him is knowledge that will show me how to be generous without being taken advantage of, wise without being critical, and sensitive on what jobs are for me versus those only He can handle.
Purify my heart. Help me to live in a place of humility that doesn't exalt myself over those around me. Do not allow the overcoming of my pain to make me critical of other people's journey. Continue to make me sensitive to the hurting people who dwell in this world by establishing my heart and mind in the palm of Your hands.
Join me on the getting uncomfortable to become unstoppable journey by clicking here to preorder Don't Settle for Safe and downloading the first three chapters of my new book instantly.
It was just a few weeks ago when I found myself preparing to take the stage to deliver a Wednesday night message. I was confident leading up to the service, but as worship began to intensify I felt my nerves begin to magnify. I was standing there watching the room as the atmosphere shifted. What began as a simple melody transitioned into an ethereal experience. Eyes all over the room were suddenly filled with water. Almost involuntarily arms of all colors, shapes, and sizes were reaching towards the sky. It was like every fiber of their being was forcing them to stretch out and embrace the universe’s Creator.
Heaven was undoubtedly touching Earth.
It would only be a few seconds before the musicians would begin to fade their song and those enthralled in worship would shift their gaze to narrow in on me. I was holding the microphone thinking to myself, “I’m not sure that I’m equipped to handle this.” As if on cue every possible thought of inadequacy came rushing to my head. Fear started a slow steady simmer in my soul. I knew it was only a matter of time before that simmer turned into a rolling boil and I would inevitably bolt out of the door.
I couldn’t help, but think to myself, “how did I get here?” The vivid memories of me living carelessly and free ran through my head. Everything I’d ever done that should have disqualified me from taking the microphone and standing on that stage to deliver a message of hope and faith played through my head. For a second I was almost convinced that I was a fraud. Before that thought could even take root in my head, it was uprooted by an idea even more powerful.
Five simple words brought me back to center: You were born for this.
It seems cliché and maybe even sounds simple, but that truth steadied my soul and brought the scriptures I’d been studying back to the forefront of my mind. My life may not be this picturesque formula on how to do everything the right way, but it is one about the powerful transformation of misguided faith.
I’ve always believed in God, but I honestly have not always had faith in Him. I had faith in my own ability to talk (or lie) my way out of trouble. I had faith that the right combination of witty banter and good looks could force even the wildest, most wanted bachelor to fall for me. I had faith that I could fool anyone into believing I was okay even when I was breaking down on the inside. I had faith in all of the wrong things, but it took me abandoning my faith in the tangible to see the supernatural take place in my life.
Initially it began with baby steps. I started thinking to myself that maybe life was not entirely black or white or good or bad. There are some of us who dabble in various shades of gray. I had to make some decisions if I was going to move my life in the direction of peace, joy, and beautiful impossibilities.
I dared to stop stifling my potential because of my past. I chose to believe that the power of my truth could free me or oppress me. I stood on top of the rocks life had thrown at me and dared to not just share my scars, but to let the world hear the rhythm of my heartbeat declare, “I’m still here, my hope survived, and I choose to live.” Time after time I would utter my truth. Sometimes it was just to myself in the mirror, other times it was in an audience of over 20,000 people. My hands were clammy and shaky at first, but eventually they steadied and I realized I had spent so much time afraid of what people would think that I never gave any thought to whom I was born to become.
As this year kicks off I have to ask you, “Who were you born to be?” You can’t continue to go through life with your head held down apologizing for still wanting to believe. You are not disqualified because of what you have experienced. It does not matter how big or little the skeletons in your closet are. You can’t cheer yourself on and whip yourself at the same time. True love for myself only arrived in my heart when I chose to drop the negative vocabulary I used to assault every hope and dream that would dare float to the top of my soul.
You deserve to be happy. You deserve the real deal. You don’t have to live with a façade or pretend you’re okay. God can’t do anything with that anyway! If you really want to see the power of God working through you I suggest you stop rehearsing voices of disbelief and insecurity.
I know it sounds crazy because of all I’ve gone through, but I believe in the blessing of misguided faith. Those moments that replayed through my head right before I took the stage to speak. Those memories that once made me cringe served as a reminder that I once put all of my being into pursuing opportunities and relationships that I knew would disappoint me.
If I could put that much effort into ultimately being hurt imagine how sweet it would be to place that much effort into my healing? I am reminded with each new step that I take that I’ve come a long way. My world now is completely different from the person I used to be. I didn’t pursue this life; I pursued finding the best version of me. I created boundaries and made tough decisions. I trusted that down on the inside there was a voice much stronger than doubt. That still small voice has been with me since the day I was born. It was just waiting on me to mute the voice of fear long enough for it to be center stage.
That voice led you to this blog and me to that stage. That voice will lead you to uncover the mysteries stored in the world with your name on it. That voice declares peace in the middle of the storm. That voice guarantees you’ll never be broken beyond repair. That voice is heaven touching earth each day on the inside of you. I pray you discover and protect that voice.
God, someone is struggling to believe that you’re still with him or her. There are areas in their life where they are desperate to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Underneath buried secrets and piles of shame is a path waiting to be cleared so that they can move freely throughout this earth with love, peace, and joy. God, please let the person reading this begin to uncover the precious gifts you’ve placed on the inside of them. Awaken their spirit to the knowledge that the life they’ve been given to live is beautiful. Kiss the scars they’ve learned to hide and the pain they want to numb. Release your glory in their life until it seeps past their façade and demands vulnerability, from that place transform them. Help them to see that they’re never too far gone that they can't receive a touch from you. Let this prayer serve as a reminder that you see their heart and still have a plan.
Pre-Order For My Latest Book Available Now!
Don't Miss the Next Blog! Subscribe Here:
Every time I close my eyes I hear the voice of change. It haunts me until sleep takes over, but it’s waiting for me the moment I open my eyes. I try to drown it with laughter. I even attempt to crowd it with the thoughts and opinions of other people, butno matter what I do the baseline of change plays deep in my soul. I know I should confront it, but it’s easier to ignore it than admit that I’m not sure I have what it takes to change my life.
What if I can’t do it well? What if it’s harder than I expected and I fail? What if I open myself up for disappointment again? The voice of change has been doing a slow dance with my fears and anxieties since before I can remember. They try to convince me that I must know the outcome before I even take the first step. It makes me feel like I can’t handle what comes next. I’m not at a crossroad. I’m at the end of one road that only intersects with a one-way street. My only options are to go back to who I was, stay where I am, or risk the unknown.
Have you ever wanted to just snap your fingers and be over a hurdle? Sometimes I wish that God would make my mountain easier to climb. I wish that He would give me the strength I see in others. Before I can let that thought fully live in my mind, I remind myself that God won't just give me the power that someone else possesses because I may not be able to handle the weakness that comes along with it. No, instead he places me in situations where I have to prove to myself what He's known all along: I’ve got what it takes. He makes me dig deep within and face my fears so that when I finally taste the victory of overcoming I won’t forget the preparation it took to get there.
Some of you have been waiting for God to reveal how you’re supposed to move, this particular blog post is not for you. This post is for the person who has known what God wants from them for a very long time, but they’ve been afraid to move. I’m serving you notice that there’s no way around it.
Your happiness and wholeness depends on this move. God gave you grace on credit because he wanted to increase your faith. You graduated that test, but now you’re going to have to do the work of stretching your faith by stepping into obedience. Yes, I said the “O” word. Obedience is the word that makes every rebel shudder. To procrastinate your surrender is to protest what God wants to do in your life. He will not force you to move. This next step of faith will require you to know the difference between being a slave and a servant.
A slave is stripped of their will and forced to perform tasks. A servant sees the value in being connected to the master and is willing to do whatever is asked. Does that mean that servants don’t have hard days? No! Does it mean that servants get everything right? Absolutely not! But it does mean that they never quit trying because they value what the master gives in return. God won't make you a slave when others are willing to be true servants.
You’re not just going to wake up one day and have your life together. No, it’s going to take every ounce of willpower you can muster. There will be pleasant distractions that pacify your stagnancy, but they will only be temporary. You will have to force yourself to have unprecedented discipline, or you will find yourself stuck. You weren’t meant to go to bed questioning your life every night. You’re supposed to rest confidently because you know regardless of what the day holds you know you’re in God’s will. There are benefits reserved for those who are able to make the tough decisions that lead to destiny. Those benefits promise that your discipline and decision to be obedient is not just seen, but rewarded.
So this message is for you my friend….I can’t tell you how much time you’ll be given on this earth. I just know that you’ve got to make each moment count. The change you’ve been hoping will happen in your life will not come instantly, change this monumental occurs each second of everyday. It’s in how you choose to handle your heart. It’s in whom you choose to handle your insecurities. It’s in how you honor your body. It’s in how you treat others.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, it’s time to start pulling your heart back. If you’re downplaying your intellect and wisdom to be accepted you’re going to have to find your voice. If you spend too much, you'll have to cut back. If you devalue the treasure of your heart, body, and soul for attention, no one will ever fully understand your worth.
This kind of change will shake up your world. That shaking will be scary at first, but then you will realize God is only shaking off mindsets, relationships, and opportunities that you should have never clung to in the first place.
Help me to undergo the soul surgery that will change my life. Help me to uncover dimensions of myself I never knew existed. Show me who I really am not who I’m comfortable being. Take me out of my comfort zone, but lead me with Your voice and protect me with Your hand. I want to go deeper with you even if it means I have to cut some things loose. I know that I’ve postponed this moment for reasons I can’t fully express, but I’m finally saying, “here I am.”
**This blog was inspired by my desire to eat a cookie. Keep praying...the fat fight continues! (6 pounds down, Thanksgiving this week.)
I started this blog in the middle of what would become a defining moment in my life. I had no idea how many lives God would allow my story to touch or the platforms He would allow for me to grace. Initially, I had no pressure to be anything other than who I am. All I took on any stage was my truth and the divine belief that my destiny was more important than my past. Who could have known that my life would take such a drastic change? I sure didn’t!
It all began in 2011. Since then so much of my life has evolved. I wanted to update my blog to keep you in the loop, but I thought my first post after being away had to be….like…revolutionary! I forgot that in the initial stages what made this blog my baby was that there was no pressure, just truth. I didn’t care about the grammar police (see previous posts as evidence) or the idea of gossip blogs writing about what I shared. This blog was never about you thinking I had it more together than I do or that you’ve got more work to do than any of the rest of us. This was the place where we could gather around our screens and feel the warmth that comes with knowing we aren’t alone.
I plan to start writing and chronicling my story through this blog again. I can’t promise that it will always be inspirational, spiritual, prophetic, comical, powerful, or revolutionary, but I hope all of those things will be sprinkled in it. What I can promise is that it will be authentic. It will be as honest as my courage and vulnerability will allow me to be. Prayerfully it will be a mirror of some part of your soul that you’re struggling to embrace.
So with that being said….
Chile… I’m fat…I’m not even joking. And, no…this isn’t me writing so that you can fill my comments with a mountain of excuses. Yes, I know I had a baby 8 months ago. Yes, I know that in some states I would just be considered thick. I do love my body, which is why I can’t continue to satisfy every single craving I have. But trust me when I say….Ya girl is out here packing on those pounds. I won’t even get into the guilty pleasures that have become my norm or the lengths at which I go to hide my sugary, processed treats from my crumb snatching children. Just trust me when I say I can’t continue eating the way I have. I have an unhealthy relationship with food. It’s like every sorry ex I’ve ever had. You know they aren’t good for you. In the back of your mind you know that things will not end well, yet you just can’t seem to walk away. When I’m happy, it’s time for cake. When I’m sad, I need a cookie. When I don’t know exactly how I feel, I snack until I figure it out.
Sometime between when I started this blog and now I lost fifty pounds. I’m not saying that I’ve gained that weight back, but I am saying that it’s not as lost as I once thought it was…. I convinced myself that losing weight and changing my eating habits was less about knowing what to do and more about having a reason to do it. I thought that my motivation would center around an event or important moment, but I realize that is not true because those moments have come and gone.
It’s ultimately about inner dominion. My husband has been preaching a series about the gears of destiny. One of the gears is self-control. He does a much better job at explaining it than I do, but it convicted me. How can we ask God to do more with our life when we don’t fully master what is within our control? I can remember the first time I lost weight I felt like I spent more time hating my body than it took me to actually change it. All it took was a little bit of discipline. So, as I prepare to hop back on the vegetable, exercise, no fried food, no bread, no sugar, no processed food, no fun train I wanted to drop you a line.
There may be something in your life that seems like it has control of you, but the reality is you’ve forgotten how much power is within you. You have become so comfortable in the rhythm your pattern has created that you’ve failed to fully maximize your potential. No one you admire got there by staying on cruise control. They made a decision to kick into another gear. They chose to not be confined by excuses when they could take control.
I want to ask you to join me on a journey.
Join me as I begin to tap into another dimension of my identity. At times the journey may challenge you to break out of your comfort zone. It may even force you to walk away from relationships or environments that affirm (but don’t heal) your insecurities. Over the next few weeks/months/years I want to share my process with you. At times it may be identical to yours, other times it may just be a cautionary tale. Either way, I’m here because I want to turn my life into a lesson that helps you master what God has for you.
So.... sit back, relax, put the cookie down, and let’s get ready to be friends again.
So I must admit I initially thought, like many people, that Rachel Dozeal’s misrepresentation of herself was absurd. As I watched my social media timelines fill with memes, sound bites, hashtags and photos I could not help, but to be amused. I’m not sure what was more fascinating, that she was lying about her race or the broad spectrum of reactions. While I’m not quite sure I’ve settled on one opinion about the matter, I must admit that I could understand how she found herself in a dilemma as a teenager. Evidently her family adopted four African American children into their home and began the process of a blending a family.
As I’ve recently remarried and am 7 months into my own blending process, I realize that there are developmental challenges in blending a family that must be observed closely and cautiously treated. Each member of a family organically takes on a unique role. As a child growing up in my family, the roles ranged from the baby of the family, the comedian, the boss when parents aren’t present, the cook, the taxi, etc.
Imagine the dynamic that occurs when a family faces redefinition due to a shift in circumstances. Instantly each member of the family unit is thrown into the process of adapting to their new environment. I imagine for Rachel being surrounded by her new darker skinned siblings must have created the perfect recipe for an identity crisis. Though her parents have been quoted in interviews saying her identification with black culture began in 2007, I would argue that it may have begun when her definition of family changed.
I am learning that blending a family requires affirmation in unique individuality. Without the confidence that each member possesses a unique offering to the blend members may find themselves emulating what they believe will make them more accepted. The beauty of blending a family is the intimate exposure to subcultures we may not have known otherwise. If we aren’t careful, we’ll allow that exposure to alienate us when it could enhance us.
Recently, the American news cycle has been consistently inundated with race-related news stories that have created room for division and misunderstanding. Using her intimate perspective of two cultures colliding Dolezal should have been a prime candidate for reconciliation. Unfortunately, the tense dichotomy between two ethnic groups has been thrust into the media with no resolution in sight. The silver lining of it all is that we're no longer able to ignore the discussion of race in America. Hopefully, the current conversations will yield to the ultimate hope of compassion, authenticity, advancement and unity of every individual regardless of their race.
Originally published September 27, 2013
I took you with me everywhere I went. I needed the memory of you with me so that I wouldn’t forget what to avoid the next time. I wasn’t hanging on to you because it felt good I needed to be cautious.
I couldn’t be burned.
I wanted to avoid meeting anyone like you ever again. If I carried you in my heart I would never forget how I ended up here. I hated who you made me become. More weak than I could ever imagine, more wounded than I knew possible.
Since those days I’ve had one goal: avoid the pain that made me that person. I carry you with me everywhere I go. A monument in my heart. An inescapable reminder of the dangers that come when you give yourself away. Now, before I hand the world a piece of me I make sure that I’m not giving it to someone like you. Perhaps I miss out on a few good things, but it’s worth it to avoid the bad.
I know others like me and they’ve carried someone similar to you in their heart for most of their lives. Like them, I live with you secretly by my side. The fragrance of an agonizing past is in every breath I take. I exhale and breathe my regret on everyone I encounter. I pretend to not notice I’m scaring them away. I call the walls around my heart security.
Regardless of what the world thinks I’m not bitter. I’m safe.
I met a teacher once. He changed the way I viewed the numbers on a page. The hardest arithmetic was made plain. I tried to read ahead in class, but I always got confused. The next day the teacher took the words that confused me the day before and it all became clear.
The semester was over though and the class had to come to an end. I wanted to take my teacher with me. If each time I advanced to the next level he was there, I never had to be confused again. My teacher gave me two options: take the lesson and move on or keep the teacher and never learn again.
I carry you with me so I never have to taste the saltiness of those tears again. I never realized that I wasn’t really taking you anywhere, I was letting you hold me back. The walls I built to keep the pain away kept me from producing purpose. If I ever wanted to become better I would have to risk becoming bitter.
I’d have to be willing to meet a new teacher and receive a new lesson. The lesson may come through struggle, but after the struggle comes strength. Every person in your life carries with them a lesson that will teach you more about yourself. Your resiliency will be tested, but don’t let it make you rigid. Those who want to grow understand the necessity and discomfort that comes with being stretched.
Each disaster that threatened to rip you apart, but didn’t succeed stretched you. If you’re focused on the strain the pain brought know that you’re ignoring the lesson that came with it too.
You stretched my love. Thank you. Now I have more to give than before. You stretched my strength. I’m grateful. Today I’m stronger than before. You stretched my will now I’m more determined than I was.
You stretched me, but you didn’t tear me. I’m better because of this aching.
It felt like you were trying to break me, but you showed me that I’m capable of enduring. I want to take you with me. I want to carry you with me everywhere I go, but I can’t take you and grow. I’ll take my lessons and undeniable growth and head to the next level. I’m leaving you, my teacher, because I want to develop more than I want to remain safe.
And if I have to taste the salt of tears again, I’ll cry knowing that when the stream slows and finishes its dance from my eyes and down my cheeks, I survived once, and with God’s grace I’ll survive again.
Originally published October 8. 2013
I hate the silence. I hate the whispers that come when the distractions are gone and the fear sets in. I hate being in a room full of people and still feeling alone. I spend most days with my back against the wall. I love to fight. I’ve never been comfortable sitting back and letting life happen to me.
I’ve fallen in love with the pressure to hold it together, but the silence always betrays me. The silence is where my doubt finds its strength and consumes me.
I need a distraction.
A person, project, drug, job, child, or friend I need anything that will distract me from the prison of quiet. I just need something to divert my attention from me. Because when I’m alone in my thoughts I calculate the improbability of my dreams becoming a reality. In the silence I pick myself apart searching for a list of all the things wrong with me. I relive all the things that hurt me. I’ve collectively spent hours confirming my present holds no similarities to my past. I live for the moments when the noise comes and takes away the voices of doubt running a marathon in my head.
Afraid that if I can’t find a way to escape these thoughts that they’ll overcome me. One day I’ll open my mouth to speak and my world will hear that the crack in my voice isn’t just nerves, it’s doubt. They’ll know that the silence is teaching me to not believe in me. They’ll understand why I need the microphone to drown out the voice of my fears, regret, and maybe even my truth.
How could I tell them that I’m as equally afraid as I am confident? How could I tell them that everyday is a battle? Some days I win and other days I willingly surrender to the voices and stifle my hope. It’s too hard to believe when the silence screams my greatest fears.
We spend years convincing children there is no boogeyman under the bed and fail to mention that he’s closer than he may appear. So many of us let the monsters reside safely in our heart scaring away any chance we have at rest.
What if the silence isn’t about the voices? What if the only way to win is to do what we did as kids? Find peace in the face of fear.
In the Gulf of Alaska, for as far as the eye can see, there is nothing but mountains, trees, clouds, water, and silence. There weren’t any car horns, no blares from sirens, or people chattering. From my view on the ship all I could see was how beautiful life is when each piece finds its place and just…..is.
I didn’t wonder how much more beautiful the land would be if the skyscrapers were touching the sky instead of the mountains. I never stopped to imagine pavement where the ocean was. I didn’t look at the trees and try to fix the color of its leaves. I didn’t try to fix what God created so that it could be what people were used to.
I made a pact with my fear long before I found my purpose. The pact insisted that I fix what the world said was wrong with me before I could be used. The day I realized that I was laying concrete over the ocean of my soul I made a new deal. I made a covenant with God that I would learn to seek His voice in the silence. And no matter what the people say I believe that I don’t have to look like what you’re used to, to still be used.
I’ve seen clouds tell the mountains secrets, water embrace the shore, and trees grow high enough to worship the heavens. I’ve heard the voices torment me in my head long enough.
The secret to muting the fear-filled silence when walking in His purpose for your life is trusting that God is stronger than your doubt. He may not have created you to be like the rest of the world, but it’s only because He expected that you would be strong enough to find peace, not fear, in the silence.
God, I’m tired of living up to the expectations of what people say. I want to remove the roadblocks that are keeping me from finding the beauty in my purpose. I’m tired of talking myself out of better. May the words from my mouth be pleasing and acceptable in Your sight. All I want is for others to look at me and see You.
Originally published 9/18/2013
I’m afraid that I won’t be any good at this. I hate feeling like I’m losing control of what happens from here. I have a feeling that if I could get past this fear I could be incredible. I would be everything You created me to be.
The only problem is I’m so petrified of failing again. I made the wrong decisions before and I couldn’t bear to deal with the humiliation again. I don’t know if my heart can risk another disgrace. I don’t want to even try to apply for another house so soon after the foreclosure. I want to pursue my degree, but I don’t want to be the oldest person in the class. You see, there are all these steps I need to take to become great. It’s just that there is no handrail on the way up. One wrong move and I could go from being on top to starting all over. So I sit on the steps of my destiny too afraid to climb further, too exposed to go back.
I remember way back when… when my innocence was stolen before I could even define it… before I took the first hit and started drowning.. I remember back when my biggest problem was whether I wanted to play hopscotch or jump rope.. I used to believe that all things were possible for those who believe. Somewhere along the way believing became way too problematic, though.
How do you believe when you’ve broken?
Underneath this façade of strength there’s miles and miles of fear.. and for once, I would just like to see life the way it once was. I’m not even asking to be fearless. I just want to believe more than I’m afraid. I want the boogeyman to stay in the closet and the monsters to stay under the bed. I want to be the light that makes the world realize there was never anything there.
It was all just fear.
So what’s your biggest fear? That it won’t work? So what? We spend hours convincing ourselves why we shouldn’t let go. Constantly telling ourselves the reasons we should abandon what feels so right instead of just feeling. If our biggest fear is dismissal or failure how will we ever expose the force of our potential. We bring halfhearted hopes into the pursuit of our dreams then become baffled when they’re never fully realized. The only way to get change is to give more than required.
All around me I see lives crippled by the fear of not getting anything back. We choose to give less than we have too and complain receive less than our hearts we deserve. I don’t want to be that person anymore. I remember how afraid she was to live. Now I see the only thing holding me back was me. The only reason we can hear the whispers of our critics is because we don’t live loud enough. We become content to stifle our best so that we can feel like the rest. I don’t want to live a life that requires I lose a piece of me to gain a good opinion from them.
Whether you have chosen to build a wall and isolate your heart from the devastation of failure and expectation or choose to live unapologetically; “they” will talk. Let your God talk back.
You have no idea what fragments of your life He needs to create a masterpiece. So give life all that He has given you.
Don’t imprison your heart. Don’t cage your mind. Don’t silence your voice.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Even with my fear You remind me I’m incredible. I stopped believing that fear and beauty could exist peacefully, yet it’s who You created me to be. I’m tired of having to choose between my fear and my dreams. I just want to remember that even though I was burned, I survived. I know that Your grace can heal the wounds of my past. I’m sorry that I started doubting myself and stopped believing Your power to make all things new. I need You to give me the faith to dream again. Please, God, revive our courage..
Originally published 1/2/2014
I know how difficult it is to let go when you believed so fervently that it was meant to be. I know what it’s like to watch a dream play in your head that you no longer believe will exist in your life. I recognize the fear that comes with the unknown. Redefining your tomorrow to fit your reality is never easy. How else can you start the journey of becoming whole unless you’re honest that pieces of you are missing? Can you identify what the pieces are and when life chipped them away? Do you know when you lost you? I know you want the purpose without the process, but right now you cannot have what you want and become the person God needs.
There is a process for everything and right now your time has not come. It’s hard to not become discouraged when you see everyone moving around you, yet you’re still trying to find your way. You cannot force change, you can only inspire it and you can’t inspire any one who won’t let you in. You became so numb you forgot what it was like to feel. You forgot to live. You forgot how much confidence comes when you can inspire yourself.
I think it’s time to let go of what you can’t control and accept the things within your power to change. If you can’t fix it it’s because God wanted you to trust Him and if you truly trust Him show Him by letting go. You’re so set on things going your way that you don’t realize you can get to the same destination you just have to take a different route. If you let life’s detours cancel your destination then you didn’t dream big enough. Whatever lies ahead of you must be worth the process you’ll have to go through or quitting will always be easy. You can’t give up on something God has for you. Be patient. Be comfortable with things being in His control.
Finally See the Good in Goodbye
You scare me. I won’t get into how exciting you are because everyone can see that. I want you to know that I believe it’s my time and I’m coming for you. My hopes are set on bringing out the best of me every chance I get. I just want you to know I’m not sure the best of me will be enough. I have faith, I trust God, and I’m ready to fight…
I just wanted to explain the tremble in my hand and the cracks in my voice. I wanted you to understand I’m coming to slay my giant with a slingshot. I know they say the odds are against me , but I have the greatest force of all with me. God has trusted me with this mission for reasons I can’t explain so every one-I encounter must see a glimpse of Him in me. I have no room for fear or doubt in my life, yet they’re still here. Each day I pursue my purpose I give my fear an eviction notice. It may never fully go away, but at least it knows it’s not welcomed and it won’t stop me from living. My fear is my audience and I can’t wait to put on this show.
I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of criticism. I’m afraid of rumors. I’m afraid that my heart will be questioned but bigger than all of that I’m afraid to be out of God’s will. I just didn’t realize that being in His will may mean that I have to face the other fears head on. So here I am looking at something so promising and it’s guarded by every fear I tried to avoid.
I want my something beautiful though and I won’t let anything, not even the walls I created, keep me from having it.
I’ll Do it Afraid
From the moment our eyes locked I knew that God trusted you to keep me focused. There are some people you know are only in your life for a season and others you know were a gift from God to help see you through. You are my forever. And while I know this is the time of the year when many reassess the relationships in their lives I want you to know your role cannot be questioned. During my most scorching pain your love has been my favorite breeze. Even when I wanted to face things alone to spare you from my shame, you found a way in. You make me a better me and I could never let that go. There are many uncertainties in life, but you are not one. I can count on you. I haven’t even trusted you with every part of me, but I have no doubt I could. That’s why I’ll never let you go.
Life is too unpredictable to have a team you can’t depend on. You always show up, suited, and ready to tackle whatever obstacle lies ahead of me. And because I value you I don’t abuse my access to your strength. I’m so glad God gave me you right when I needed you the most. Your heartbeat is my favorite reminder that all things work together for the good of those who love Him and it only makes me want to love Him more for you. My heart’s favorite lullaby I’m not sure I’d want to be much of anything if I couldn’t share it with you.
I had to let go of a few old things to hold you. I finally turned my back on my past so I could really see you. And now that I see why God blessed the world with you, I promise to protect the good in you with all that’s good within me. I won’t allow my love to be filtered with bitterness. I won’t force my tomorrow to live in my past. I offer my love for you to God and trust that He will use it to past our your fears. And because I feel better when I’m around you I want to thank you for letting God filter your love for me.
Thank you for protecting my innocence with your wisdom and being gentle with my fears. Thank you for being careful with my heart.
Never Letting You Go
There are old things we must let go and leave behind, new things we must learn to embrace, and forevers we must protect at any costs. Give us the wisdom to know the difference and strength to open our arms.
Originally published November 2013
I’m a single mom. My son is eleven and my daughter is four. I became a single mom by choice. I took a chance on myself and filed for divorce. I was afraid. I had the security of knowing there was at least one other person in the home. It didn’t matter what issues existed between us at least there were two people in the home. Who didn’t want an idyllic family as happy as the Huxtables on The Cosby Show? You can fill all the roles, but if you don’t have the lines you’re forced to make it up as you go. This is where you need divine direction, right?
God will show us how to love an imperfect person perfectly, right?
The only problem is you have to truly believe that and I don’t think you can until you experience it. I think unconditional love is buried underneath our shame, pain, and fear. Our whole lives are supposed to build up to the moment we find the one who holds the key to our happily ever after. We love them to a certain extent, but if we told them our truth could they accept it?
Could they tell you about the drugs they took to numb the pain of not feeling wanted? If you knew exactly how many people they had to sleep with to forget the person who crept in their bed at night would you still love them? If I showed you exactly why I work so hard to avoid ever being hungry again could you handle that? I think the problem with marriage beyond the statistics they give us on infidelity and finances, although I know those are true, is that we let someone in so close to our space that we can no longer hide our shame.
Suddenly, you can no longer cry the tears at night without someone wondering what happened. Naturally, we get frustrated. The frustration exhibits differently for everyone. Maybe finding the source of their wound becomes your obsession because it keeps you from feeling your own. Or you choose to not invest fully because you don’t want to risk needing someone and then them leaving. We create surface arguments about what’s for dinner and why the oil didn’t get changed because if I can’t trust you with the simple things how can I give you the shame.
And because life is the way it is, we collect more shame along the way. More elephants, less room.. It becomes difficult to conceive that someone could love you when you still cringe at the memory of your past. I don’t think you should be with someone just so you can feel like a prize.
For so long I thought I wanted to be Cinderella.
They trick us into believing that someone will take our rags and turn them into a breathtaking gown, but what do they do? Hand us their own rags. We cry for a fairytale that never truly existed. We need the person who understands there can be no gown, if we have no rags. Our process wasn’t beautiful, but it all worked out for our good. But first we must believe that for ourselves.
We cannot teach a lesson in love that we have not learned.
So, I became a single mom long before I filed for divorce. I was so frustrated that my marriage wasn’t getting better that I started distracting myself, with myself. I started cleaning my own rags. I stitched together the insecurities to the brains, the beauty to the pain, and the hope to the fears. For so long I tried to separate who I was from what I did until I finally accepted that I needed it all to be whole. I could no longer pretend that I didn’t feel ashamed for the many detours my life made along the way. I took on the task of washing my rags with Grace. I had to accept that I could not undo what I’d done, but I didn’t have to accept a lifetime of punishment for it either. I didn’t have to accept pain just because I hurt others. I didn’t have to settle just because I was afraid to dream. I didn’t need a project just because I was afraid to see my own rubble.
I don’t have all the answers on how you choose the person worth showing your rags to, but you can’t show them what you don’t acknowledge. You can’t keep pretending you aren’t aching. This isn’t about finding the one to show your soul to, its about searching your own soul. Most parents will tell you that they wanted to be better for their children. They’ll also tell you that they don’t always get it right, but it doesn’t mean they love their kids any less.
What if the greatest gift we can give our children isn’t a white picket fence with a perfectly manicured lawn? What if the best thing we can give them is an intimate view of our process to becoming whole? Hardly anyone will have a more diverse view of your life than your children. My children and I have shared pillows where I shed tears and lived inside walls that have many secrets to tell. I had to consider how I was teaching them to clean their own rags. Was I showing them that your rags are worthless until someone says differently? Or was I showing them that you need the rags to polish the crown?
What if the more rags we’re willing to confront, the more jewels God will give us to polish? Or better yet… what if His strength is made perfect in our weakness?
So this one is for those brave enough to embrace their past, exhale their shame, and create hope for a better tomorrow. Because I’m tired of dividing who we could have been, who we are, and who we once were...I’m one person and I can’t separate who I was from who I’ve become so I’m going to love every step of this journey. I’m going to show my children that we don’t always get it right, but we never stop trying. I’ll teach them that some tears you cry over and over until you get to the root of the problem. And I’ll strive to teach them that you have to love yourself first, because that’s the only way you can truly love another imperfect person…
And since they’re kids they won’t understand. When they’re teenagers they may not want to hear it. But in college I think they’ll come around to see if I’ll say it again. When life begins to make them doubt that truth, I’ll remind them that it was them who taught me that it’s true…
Because I became a single mom so I could fall in love with my rags.
Originally published 10/28/13
I wish I could save you. I wish I could help you see this from the outside looking in. I don’t want to be your enemy. I just want to be your friend. I want to help you see that you deserve better than what you’re accepting from yourself. This has more to do with you than it has to do with anything or anyone else. I love you too much to watch you settle here.
I’ve seen you fight too hard to give in now. You’re too young, too smart, too incredible to let this beat you. I wish I could show you at the heart of your frustration is fear. You’re so much stronger than you appear. I remember how you held my hand and walked me through my own valleys. I want to do the same for you, but I can’t find your hand in the darkness that surrounds you. I can’t see my friend when the fear is hiding you.
You’ve spent your entire life trying to avoid becoming this person. I feel like you’re losing yourself and I’m the only one screaming for help. I’m losing my friend. It’s your dream I’m fighting for, these are your tears streaming down my face. When did you fall in love with regret? I want to protect you from the shell you’re becoming.
I know life hasn’t been fair to you. To be honest, it hasn’t been fair to any of us. My struggle was different from yours, but I didn’t escape struggle altogether. And I know you want to believe that you have a special kind of hurt that no one could possible understand. I’m trying to help you see the cause may be different but the pain is nothing new. Someone on this earth has survived what’s killing you.
You can’t let this beat you. You can’t let your story end here.
You, my friend, stopped believing. You have become one of them. The bitter hearts we swore we’d never be. I know you’re breaking. I know you think you’re hiding it from me, but every time I look in your eyes it’s all I see. It’s killing me to watch your fears murder your dreams. Remember when we daydreamed about the lives we would live? Now the dreams have turned into a nightmare, a reminder of what will never be. I found my way though and I want so badly to bring you with me.
I want you to see how beautiful our lives can become when we stop letting panic chase our hopes. You’re letting fear distract you from our race. The pain slowed your pace. But I found out hope has more endurance and speed than fear ever could. Please don’t let your bitterness separate us. I can’t bare the thought of leaving you behind. When will you stop being distracted long enough to unleash your hope again?
It’s not enough to want better if you aren’t going to be better. Do you understand what I mean? You want to be loved, but you do not speak in love. You want someone to take a chance on you, but you won’t take a chance on yourself. Remember when we weren’t content being another statistic? I remember when all that mattered to us is beating the odds. We took pride in being the underdogs. Somewhere along the way the lines began to blur and you let failure leave you completely defeated. Failure is only defeat when you refuse to get back up again.
I need you to try again.
I’ve been struggling to find the words to bring the smile back to your face. You know that one that shows your almost dimple and spreads to your eyes? I miss my friend.
I wish I could make you feel the warmth of the God’s light. It’s the only way I learned to chase the cold that comes with life’s terror. I believe in you still. I know a lot of people have given up on you. I know that you don’t think anyone will stand by you, but I’m here. I won’t pretend that you’re okay, but I won’t leave you while you’re afraid. I’ll be the quiet nudge of truth when you start to believe the lie you live. I’ll be your friend even if it means I have to sound like your enemy.
Life may have forced you to give up your dream, but I saved them in my heart. When you’re prepared for better I’ll be here. I can’t make you believe again, but I have hope on reserve for you. When you’re ready I’m here...
I don’t know if they’re going to come out of this and I’m scared. I’m scared we’ll grow apart. I’m afraid they’ll push me away when they see I won’t live their façade. I know You can use this for their good. Help me to be a good friend in times of trouble. Give me the words that plant undeniable seeds of hope. I want to be the stability that holds them down while their world turns upside down. I pray our memories help them remember who You called them to be. I pray my light shines bright enough for the both of us. I hope Your love constantly flows through me.. I don’t want to let go, please help me save my friend…
Originally published 3/1/2014
I’m a divorcee. That’s my truth. The word makes me shutter. It makes me feel like a quitter. I am. I divorced myself long before I got married. I let my insecurity rule me. I wanted someone to be weak for me. I wanted to be the one thing a person couldn’t resist. Isn’t that what love is? I thought the validation of a man would turn my rags of shame into a ball gown. I fell in love with the idea that I couldn’t be loved. It reaffirmed what I dared to whisper in my heart at night.
Each devastation was confirmation of my secret insecurity. I wasn’t worthy to be loved. I fell in love with my favorite poison: shame. You were my favorite lover, my reminder of all the things I could never be. The craziest thing happened when I dared to fall in love with grace.
I felt the fight I once reserved for the next text, the fuel I stored for the next heartbreak, and dared to love me. I wish I could pinpoint the steps. I wish I could go back in time and tell you how I changed my mind.
I just know that I decided my insecurity had spent too long on stage. I accept that no matter how differently I wish life had gone I can’t change it. Too many limits on my life were created by a past grace washed away.
Like, the fact that I’m a divorcee. I can’t change it.
The confusing part of owning your truth is fearing that people will say you’re being prideful or that making peace with your past means you’re not sorry it occurred. How long do we want people to carry their sentence? How many years do you hold your head down in the face of grace? I just wonder if our greatest disservice to God is doubting the strength of His grace and mercy. Perhaps we throw stones too soon and speak love too late.
I wonder if we focused more on showing the love of God that we could embody the beauty of being in His will. Maybe they don’t believe that our God is so loving because so many of us aren’t. Not to ourselves, not to others..
Are we as compassionate as the Shepherd who left the ninety-nine to seek one sheep?
Centuries later our gentle shepherds are frequently mistaken for a lynch mob. Maybe we can’t win any souls because we can’t agree. One has to wonder why we insist on placing so many boundaries on whom God can use. If they don’t come packaged in the way we like we dismiss them altogether. But what if God knew that Christ would have to break two fish and five loaves a bread and feed five thousand? What if He knew that centuries later He would feed millions upon millions? Those looking on the outside would say, “There’s no way He can feed those people with what He has to work with.” Just like they’ll try to convince you that God can’t use a high school dropout. Or time will convince you that you’ve been wrong too long to ever repair the damage. Life will convince you that you no longer deserve pure love because of your dirty past. My father once preached that the blessing was in the breaking of the fish and bread. Some of us are broken miracles. We get to remind the world God can break you to bless others. You can be more than enough with Him.
He preached the message before I was a divorcee.
Here I am broken to serve His people again. There’s a secret on the other side of shame. On my journey I’m learning that falling in love with me has less to do with how much I display the good in my heart and more to do with how I combat the shame. For some of us loving God can’t be achieved until we are willing to be courageously broken. My method may not be the one it took for you, but I’m so clear that His hand is blessing my brokenness. The weight of it humbles me each day. I’m grateful for every moment and opportunity that I’m used in spite of my fragile humanity.
I’m learning to be okay with getting it wrong.
I’m learning, again, to not allow shame to give me a sentence grace covered.
I really don’t want to mess this up. I don’t want to make misdirection and get this wrong. Help me to hear you so clearly I don’t mistake Your voice for the mobs that come to distract me. I hope to be so in tune with Your vision and in line with Your orders that fear has no time to reign me. Help me to no longer fall in love with my insecurity and while being blinded to Your strength. Thank you for helping me to embrace my story and to shine a light on our fears. I’m grateful for Your trust in me. Thank you for letting me have everything I wanted and for protecting me while I learned it wasn’t what I needed.
Finding My Pieces
Originally published on 11/25/2013
Can I be honest? I think I’m addicted to my cell phone. I blame you. Yes, you! I started this blog during one of the most painful times in my life. My friend, Tiffani (girl can you believe this?), suggested I start this blog as an outlet to vent. I wrote through tears as I took my pain and put it into words. In my bed, propped up by pillows, I let my pain step into your shoes. At the time I was too afraid to tell my full story. I was afraid of exposing my wounds before they had fully healed. I had to get the pain out though.
I was suffocating and I needed to breathe.
I posted the blogs because I wanted to know if anyone else ever felt the same way. I needed to know I wasn’t alone. One by one my words were echoed in the hearts of people I’d never met. They understood what it was like to have regret, shame, and fear constantly whispering into your future. I wasn’t looking for a book deal. I was looking for a reflection of myself in your heart.
And it came.
The comments, the love, the tweets, the strength, the likes, and the courage all poured in. I looked at my phone constantly overwhelmed by the pieces of me floating in the world. I ended each blog with the words I needed to hear and the prayers I whispered in His ear. The strangest thing happened with each post.
I felt normal.
I started to believe that I had it all wrong. For many years I strived to achieve my idea of normal, but the more successful I was at getting it the lonelier I felt. I didn’t want to admit that I had everything I wanted and three times as many things that were breaking me down. I was holding on to my will so tight that I forgot to hold on to God. There was one time when I could feel His presence the most and that was on this site. I poured my heart and hopes into this blog and then I challenged myself. I wanted to prove that we could become better even though we had enough pain to stay bitter.
Your life stitched the aching of my broken heart and dared me to be whole.
So it’s your fault I’m addicted to my phone (I kid, I kid.), but I read every comment on every page and every post because I love knowing that we’re growing together. I find myself carrying my phone around constantly. So I’m implementing time limits and creating accountability partners to help me through this. The hard part is how handy our phones have become.
My grocery list, photo albums, schedule, account information, emails, music, the list goes on and on are all in that device. I pick up the phone for one thing and end up doing a thousand others.
You cannot allow anything to have excessive access to your life without denying access to something else.
Therefore I’m also challenging myself to only pick up my phone to complete the task at hand and then put it down. I’m always asking the people in my life, “What did you say?” I don’t want to look up one day and realize that everyone stopped talking because they didn’t think I was listening anyway. Before I pick up the phone I remind myself that though my phone has many functions I am only picking it up at that time for one purpose.
What if we dared to live our lives in the same way?
God, please show us the functions you’ve placed inside of us and give us the wisdom to not abuse that knowledge. Just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should. I don’t want to be so overwhelmed with the options that I miss out on fulfilling my ultimate purpose.
We place more weight on ourselves than God requires of us and then demand in prayer that He helps us balance it. Or worse, we let the response of people become more important than our purpose. We have to reply to the text message immediately or someone’s feelings will be hurt. The office can’t wait for the email. Before you know it you’re checking out at Target and you forgot to check the account.
Wasn’t that why you broke out the phone in the first place?
Just because it serves a purpose doesn’t mean it time for you to dine. There is a time and place for everything. Steve Jobs was a genius, but imagine all the different functions God placed inside of you. It’s confusing, huh? You could do this or you could do that. Oh, and don’t forget about that other thing. You wear many hats, but you only have one head. Be careful that you aren’t tapped into so many things that you forget what’s most important. Don’t let your purpose get lost in the shuffle.
I need a nudge of direction. Please help remind me of Your purpose for my life. I see so many opportunities for growth in front of me. I don’t want to do something that helps someone else, but fails at maximizing the purpose You have for me. I have the faith to stand by Your word, but life gets confusing when we see good down every avenue. Everyone talks about having faith to fight the bad things in our life. Give me the audacity to turn away from good opportunities that aren’t ultimately going to better me for You.
Originally published 9/15/2013
Sometimes I get so tired of being so strong. Every now and then I want to let the pain wash over me and set me free. I want to let the tears drown my insecurities. Feel the sting of my wounds. Every now and then I need to feel everything all at once. I need to feel the sunshine and taste the rain. I need to remember that it’s okay to not be okay.
I just want to be weak. For one moment I want to let it all go in your presence and feel everything I held behind this smile. In front of Your thrown at the feet of your grace I want to expose the pain. Take the love that burned my soul and the lies that stained my heart. I want to remove the filter of lies that turns possible truths into fearful lies. I want to remember what it’s like to take a person for their word. I want to feel okay to be vulnerable.
In the stillness of the night I let the sorrow fall like rain over me. I admit that the beautiful cul-de-sac has turned into a prison around me. I give in to those moments. Head first I dive into the pain and I soak it up. I feel all the misery that once lived under the pseudonym of hope. I cave in. Not to the fear, not to the pain, not to the bitterness, or the shame. I cave in to the truth.
We’re told to believe that there is one signifying breaking point. The truth is that it takes way more than one straw to break the camels back. Little by little we adjust to the pressure of being strong. We strain, we tear, we stretch, but we refuse to break. We refuse to blink and let the tears pour out our fear. The disease we bear it. The death we can handle it. The debt? No problem. The eviction notice won’t unsettle us. We take each of life’s blows on the chin.
How is it if He doesn’t give us more than we can bear that we feel so tired? But didn’t we take on more than He ever asked of us? When will we learn to let go of the things we cannot control and trust Him to just be Him. We’ve got it all. All the things we want and so few of the things we need.
When was the last time you decided to stay true to you instead of them?
Don’t let pride rob you of the beauty in the ebbs and flows of life. It’s okay to not be okay. Full submission to Him doesn’t require that you have strong will. It does, however, require full trust in His.
Are you willing to let His strength be made perfect in you?
I’ve been tired for more days than I can remember now. I’m so afraid of disappointing my small world that I’m missing out on Your great touch. I need more from You than I can ever get from them. Every time I feel like I’m on my last, You refill me. Still, I know my true restoration can’t come until I admit I’ve been shattered.
2 Corinthians 9:12 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”