Garden Of Grace

in gods garden of graceI’m not one who likes to sit in from of the TV to watch or  listen to the news. I’ve noticed that being informed of what is happening in  this world affects me deeply and even sometimes makes me paranoid. Oddly, that day I sat in front of the TV and turned the channel to CNN. As soon as I turned the channel, I recognized the well known reporter Anderson Cooper, who was in the middle of an interview with one of America’s famous preachers, Rick Warren. He was being interviewed in regards to his oldest son, who had a mental illness, committing suicide. Watching the interview was painful for me, a complete stranger to him and his family. I couldn’t begin to imagine the pain that their family was going through. There was one particular question that stood out to me, and was very difficult for Rick Warren to answer. The question was along this line: “As a christian, do you think that your son will one day go to heaven after taking his own life?” The look on the pastor’s face clearly indicated the controversy behind the question. I personally felt like it was a tricky question, that might even affect his career based on his answer. Growing up in the church, I was always told that once someone has taken their own life, they cannot be forgiven, and cannot inherit the kingdom. There was no hope of saving their soul. I was eager to hear his answer as both a father and a pastor. The words that came out of his mouth spoke life to me that day. Here’s his answer: ” In God’s garden of grace, even a broken tree can bear fruit.” Even a broken tree, can bear fruit! I wonder if anyone else who was watching that interview, received the word like I did. Was he aware that he was sending a message of hope to a broken soul? How can a tree that has been torn down, broken at the roots, with no soil, no water, no minerals bear fruits? That is scientifically impossible. Once a tree has been cut and broken, it can no longer grow, flourish, and definitely not bear fruits.

But then one word changes the meaning of all that: Grace. Grace makes it possible! Grace makes the impossible, possible. It extends beyond what science can prove, and what human minds can understand. It performs miracles, it restores what has been dead and allows a broken tree to bear fruits. Who knows if his mentally ill son will inherit eternal life after taking his own life? Who knows if a broken heart can be mended? Who knows if there is chance to give life after an abortion? Who knows if a business owner can recover from bankruptcy? Who knows if a city can rebuild after a devastating earthquake? Who knows if they can ever love again? Trust again? Smile again? Live again… What I do know for sure, is that if a broken tree can bear fruit in God’s garden of grace, then nothing is impossible. His grace is indeed sufficient.

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The Midnight Hour

 

midnight

deep or extended darkness or gloom.

Just this past week I was checking in on a friend who’s going through a critical period in her life. Although I couldn’t relate to her situation, she mentioned something that I am so familiar with: The Midnight Hour. That darn midnight hour!  That hour that waits til you lie down to creep over you and take control of your thoughts and emotions. Have you ever gone to bed with the intention of crying your eyes out until you felt relieved, only that your tears would not stop? It’s that deep feeling of hurt that makes breathing painful, that feeling that suddenly brings out every single thing that you tried to hide in the back of your mind so you wouldn’t have to deal with them. The bad thing about the midnight hour is that it can lasts way past midnight!

Last night my midnight hour hit at about 1 am when i woke up from my sleep. The more I thought, the more intense the pain grew. The more intense the pain grew, the more i cried. No amount of tissue could hold my tears, no positive thoughts or energy could stop the feeling that had taken over me. I knew then that I was stuck in my midnight hour. I watched the time pass until it was time to get ready for work. As I found the strength to get out of bed, I prayed to God that I would be able to leave my sorrows on my bed sheets. So I woke up with a song in my heart that helped me make through this present moment. What I’m most afraid of are the unresolved issues left on my bed sheets. How long will they allow me to go before they come back and hunt me. How long before I become face to face my worst enemy. My midnight hour…

Day 3: A Book You Love

ImageAs some of you know, I am in the field of education more specifically Early Childhood Education ,and Special Education. One day while I was doing my student teaching, I walked into the classroom and found a gift on my desk with a note attached “for ms. Regis”. (SN: If you love gifts, you should definitely consider being a teacher because my babies spoiled me with notes and candy, you name it 🙂 ) But anyways I smiled and opened my gift, and it was a book “Out Of My Mind” By Sharon Draper, with the dedication “My favorite book, for my favorite teacher”. I turned to my student who was standing by my desk smiling, and she told me that it was her favorite book ever and that she knew that I would love it, so she made her mom buy me a copy. Right then I knew that this book would have a very special meaning to me without even knowing what it was about. Because of my hectic schedule my junior year, I never had the time to even open the book let alone read it. But this semester I took some time to read the and read it. The whole time that I was reading it, I kept thinking about my student and how well she knew because indeed, I fell in love with the book. 

Out of My Mind is the story of a little girl named Melody who has Cerebral Palsy. For those who are not familiar with the condition, CP is a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking. In Melody’s case, she could not walk, talk, write, or perform any of her daily activities by herself. The book is written from her perspective, explaining the frustration of being trapped inside your own body as an eleven year old. Her biggest dream is to be able to express her self. She dreams of words, all those words that she knew but are stuck inside her head because she is not able to express herself. Until the day that her parents found  a device that would allow her to speak. A machine that became her voice, and allowed everyone to discover how smart Melody really was. 

I, my self as being in the special education field had never tried to put my self in the shoes of those who are labeled with a disability. I have worked with students with Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, students with processing disorder, and speech disorders. I have seen first hand how difficult it is for some of these children to have a normal life like their peers when dealing with a disability that they can’t control. I have a special place in my heart for these children because they have to overcome so many boundaries on a daily basis. Reading the book allowed me to look inside a child’s mind that was never able to express herself. Going through life and not being able to say what you want to eat, or hold your parents’ hands, wanting to say so much but every time you open your mouth a weird noise comes out… I appreciated the fact that I was able to read her thoughts, her feelings, her fears, her likes and dislikes, and took a look of what is really going on inside of her mind. This book made me laugh, cry, happy, sad, angry… I was on an emotional roller coaster. 

Many schools have now included this book in their libraries because it is a great lesson on empathy in children, as well as bullying prevention. Anyone who works with children, or have children who can read on a 3rd grade level or above should consider reading the book, as well as sharing it with their children. 

Day 2: Something You Feel Strongly About

It’s late and I should be studying or sleeping since I have class in the morning, but my mind is on other things right now so why not get today’s post out of way.

Something I feel strongly about…

Claddagh - Love Loyalty Friendship webAs I’m approaching graduation day, I’ve been debating whether I wanted to order graduation announcements or not. I’ve been battling with the decision for a while because I feel like those who should be present at my graduation will be, regardless of the fact that I send them an announcement. As much as I am proud and excited of this accomplishment, it has made me realize one thing for sure:  My circle has definitely gotten smaller over the years. I remember sending out invitations to lots of people for my High School graduation. Calling all my friends and cousins to make sure that they were coming. My house was so crowded that weekend that we had to book extra hotel rooms. My mom traveled with people who were to cook for my graduation party. It was a BIG DEAL! Now that I’m graduating from college, I don’t even see the need to order announcements. Who am I gonna send them to? Sadly lots of people who were part of my life in 2006 are no longer part of my life today.

One thing that I absolutely cannot look past is Loyalty. To me loyalty is the root of all relationships (family, friendship, and romantic). If I am in any type of relationship with you, I expect you to be loyal towards me, just as much as I will be loyal towards you. I can get past being cheated on, I can get past a couple of lies from my friends and family, but not betrayal. If you betray me it simply means that you want to harm me, and your intentions are purely selfish and evil. If you put up a front when you are with me, then turn around and and back stab me, rest assured that I will automatically cut you out of my life,  no matter how much you mean to me. I honestly see people who betray me as a threat, and consequently it’s only fair that I protect my self from them. I hate losing people, cutting ties with people who once meant so much, but unfortunately I can’t control what other do, but I can make sure that I don’t give you another opportunity for you to betray me.

Day 1: Five Ways To Win My Heart

So I’m doing a new 30 days blog challenge and will be discussing some interesting topics…

Here’s Day 1.

1) Consistency- every relationship starts off on a high doze of love. You can’t go 10 minutes without talking to each other. You are the center of attention. You receive compliments on the little things…but how long does that last? Consistency is Key!

2) Respect- I recently read that you should respect others not because of who they are or how they treat you, but because of who you are! This sums it up for me.

3) Reciprocity- Treat others as you would want to be treated. If i’m willing to go out on a limb for you, you should be willing to do the same. It’s only fair.

4) Active listening- Nobody likes to repeat themselves 100 times, well I know I don’t. I get frustrated when I have to repeat the same thing over and over again. Pay attention. Listen. But importantly take actions that prove that you listened.

5) Humor- last but not least… I love a good sense of humor. If you can make me laugh, that’s already a bonus 🙂

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Facing Your Fears

One of my biggest fears in life is failure. I’ve always been afraid to fail. Afraid that things might not go the way that I want them to. Afraid of making the wrong choices, of failing my parents, failing my friends, and even failing my self. As a result I’ve always tried to stay within my boundaries. Getting outside of my comfort zone was not an option. What i failed to realize was that if you always limit yourself, you are not allowing yourself to grow. Life has handed me many situations before that forced me to grow. Sure, some were not by choice, yet I had to face the consequences. What I did not realize at the time was that I was going through a growing process. A process that I was challenged to face whether I wanted to or not. It certainly was not easy, some were more painful then others, but they all taught me a lesson that shaped me into the person that I am today.

In a few weeks I’m getting ready to cross over to another phase of my life. One that will require lots of changes and adjustments. As expected I’m having panic attacks simply because I fear the unknown. Every time that I have to try something new there is a possibility that it might fail. Being a pessimist, that is all I think about. What if I didn’t make the right decision? What if things don’t work out as planned? What if… what if… what if???  But then there’s another part of me that keeps on telling that I will be ok. The 13 year old who left her parents and friends back home and moved to another country knows that I can overcome those barriers. The 18 year old who moved away to Tennessee, away from family to find herself knows that she will stay true to herself. The 23 year old who couldn’t fall asleep for months and overcame depression knows that she won’t break in the midst of all. But most importantly the same God who’s been with me all along, the one who has rocked me to sleep all these empty nights, the one who has a brought a smile on my face when I couldn’t look at my self in the mirror, who’s been to places with me that no one else has. He’ll be there. He’ll be right by my side.  I’m ready to face my fears…

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Letter to My Younger Self

I have read several posts where people were writing letters to their younger self answering the question “what would you tell your 16 year old self if you could go back in time?” This is my letter to my younger self.

Right now it seems like your world is upside down! You have moved to another  country, leaving your parents and your friends behind. You are having such a hard time adapting to this change to a point where you are physically getting sick. It’s normal, but it won’t last. You will need to learn that things do get better in time. The problems that you are facing now will be the least of your worries in a couple of years. Stop worrying so much and trust your self a little more. You have always been a leader and not  a follower.Yes, there are mistakes that could have been avoided if you only took the time to listen to your own self. Know that you won’t always be able to please everyone, sometimes you have to put your own needs ahead and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. You will get to meet a lot of wonderful people, some will stay in your life, others won’t. Cherish them! Brace yourself! you will get hurt! Family members will hurt you, friends will hurt you, your significant others will hurt you. But in spite of everything you will always forgive. With each disappointment, you will learn a lesson and you will use this lesson to grow. Don’t worry about your lack of faith right now, you will be taken through a journey where you will meet God and learn to trust him. He will become your best friend 🙂 You will travel like you always wanted to, you will love like you’ve never imagined, but most importantly you will find yourself. You will know exactly what you want out of life even if it doesn’t happen overnight. Your relationship with your family will get stronger, and you will thank God for them every day. Wait until you meet your nephew, he will bring so much joy into your life! You will finally pursue your dreams of educating children is spite of what others will say, and you will love it!!! Your family will be proud of you and you will be proud of your self. There is so much more lying ahead, you just have no idea! You will experience great joys and tremendous pains, you will win some, you will lose some. Your life will constantly change but you’ll realize that it’s only for the better. Your heart will get stronger, your brain will get smarter, your body will grow healthier. You will look at your self in the mirror and you will see God’s blessings. Only then you’ll realize that you have no reasons to be so anxious, paranoid and worried, because as you can see…The Best is Yet to Come 😉

Mountain Tops and Valley Lows

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens…

Some years ago, while riding home with my older sister, I began to explain to her how blessed our family was. “Mom and dad are well off, even through recession we are still able to afford our expenses, we are all in school and doing well, we are surrounded by friends who love us and vice versa, we are all in stable relationships, and most importantly no one in our family has ever been sick or gone to the hospital.” These were my exact thoughts.

 Little did I know, I was not going to be at the top of the mountain for much longer; and when it rains, believe me it pours! In the blink of an eye, I found my self at my valley low. I went from a stable relationship to one heart break after another, life long friends soon became acquaintances, family assets vanished within the 35 seconds that the earthquake in Haiti lasted, I found my self having to take a year off from school to take care of my father who was injured  during the earthquake, couple of months after my father was treated from his injuries and recovered from three surgeries, I am sitting inside an ambulance with my mother who has suffered a massive pulmonary embolism and was admitted into ICU for three weeks.

It all happened so suddenly… no warnings, no how to’s. no training. Just me and my circumstances. I admit there were days that were much harder than others. But through it all I kept a spirit of gratitude. No matter what it was that I was going through I knew that things could have been much worst. I knew that I still had plenty of reasons to be grateful. Most importantly I knew that I was not going to be stuck in my valley. I knew that some way, some how, God was going to  bring me back to the top of the mountain. Certainly not as fast as I would want, but when he saw fit. I’ve learned that you should never get too comfortable in life because at any time, God has the ability to turn your situations around. How else would your faith be tested if he didn’t bring you through trials? While in the valley, God worked on my pride, my perception of life and friends, and showed me the value of the things that I took for granted in life. The most important thing that I learned while in my valley was that I am never alone, even when I feel at my lowest. I remember a particular night when I was laying down in my tears, suffocating from all the anger that I had built up inside, and i remember saying “God please show me that you are with me, please give me a sign.” I suddenly felt a cool breeze over my body, and felt like someone was rocking me in their arms. The next thing I remember was waking up the next morning wondering when and how i fell asleep. That night felt God, He was with me, and I knew that I was never alone. 

When you are going through your valley lows, keep in mind that when you are tried in the fire, you come out as gold. after God has brought you out of your valley and back on your mountain top, you no longer worry the next time that life knocks you back down, because you have been there before, and you know that He will never leave you down at the valley. Life is made of mountain tops and valley lows. You will experience both. If you haven’t you will, because that is how you are going to grow. What you must do is to ensure that while in your valley, you do not lose strength or courage. keep sight of the mountain top, trust and believe that in due time, after he has prepared you to receive the blessings that he has prepared for you, he will carry you back to your mountain top.Image

The Power of your Tongue

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” Proverbs 18:21

“For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:37

I often tell my students that if they don’t have anything nice to say, then they should not say anything at all. Now that I think about it, I have met some adults who perhaps had never heard this golden rule. As a teacher candidate, I have learned that words are extremely powerful, in fact a child’s vocabulary first develops through listening. Constantly talking to a child, and reading to a child will develop his/her listening vocabulary, which in turn will help the child with speaking and reading. Since the brain is known to retain information as a sponge retains water, it is always advised that people watch what they say around a child. Not only will the child remember the words, but they might also speak it, and furthermore it might affect their self concept. If a child is able to retain so much information just from hearing, how much more do you think adults are able to retain? Unfortunately, some people do not realize the power of their words. Words are powerful. They can either make someone or break someone. I, my self, had to learn that i should be mindful of the words that come out of my mouth when speaking to others. Being that I was a brutally honest person, I thought that honesty required speaking my mind as I please. Little did I know, my honesty was doing more harm than good. Even when my intentions were good, the way that I conveyed the message made it seem otherwise. But with age comes maturity, and in my thirst for learning and growth, I also grew wiser. However, it saddens me to see that some adults have yet realized that their words should not come out of their mouth without reserve. There are certain things in life that you cannot take back, and words are one of them. Once you have said something, nothing you say can take back these words. There’s power when you speak, and you have no idea how long something you say can stay in someone’s  mind. Let not your tongue be the weapon that destroys someone’s life…Be mindful of the words that you speak.

From Haiti with L0vE

I am currently in Haiti vacationing and visiting my parents and I thought that I would write a small blog 🙂

I’ve been here for seven days now and so far my stay has been wonderful. I have been getting plenty of sleep, eating like royalty lol, and enjoying being away from “life as we know it”. I also tried to limit the time that I spend on my computer social networking or checking my email, and I purposely did not add the internet plan on my phone so that I can be disconnected from it all and just enjoy being home. Perhaps Haiti might  not be the best vacation spot  for some, and for others it may be where they will be partying during the holidays. To me there was no better palce to spend the holidays this year. The whole family was reuinted and we got to celebrate together. Most importantly, being here always reminds of how blessed I am, and shows me that I have a reason to grateful every single day that I wake up. As some of us might know, Haiti is a country where the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer and this more and more obvious. On one end of the country there are those who would just love to have shelter and a warm plate of food for Christmas, and on the other there are those who are celebrating because their income trippled this year… and although the majority falls on the other end of the ladder, what I love the most about my people is their ability to still have hope in spite of it all. I love driving by a tent and seeing the kids play and laugh right outside of their tents. Seeing the people smile through their pain, and still have the courage to want to celebrate Christmas was just what I needed during the holidays.

Being home has not only given a chance to be reminded where I came from and also where I am going in life, but has also given me a renewed spirit of gratitude.