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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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 😉

10 Things that I Leaned This Year

When the end of the year approaches I tend to recap on everything that I experienced throughout the year, what I learned, what I accomplished, and also where I failed. I asked my self “what are 10 things that you learned this year?” and I thought I would share them with you, and hope that they can be helpful to you as well.

1) Set your own goals. As I once told my friend, life is like a race, we are all trying to get to the finished line, but we are not all running at the same pace, and we’re not all traveling the same route. That said, do not worry about what others have accomplished or what they are doing, set your own goals and work hard to achieve them.

2) Always prioritize. It’s plain and simple, if you don’t prioritize you will be lost trying to do it all at once. Plan accordingly, know what your goals, and focus ONLY on what is important.

3) Sometimes you will need to make sacrifices. Sacrifices can be hard sometimes, especially if you have to let go, or get rid of something that is dear to you, but sometimes it is the best choice that you can make today, in order to reach your destination tomorrow. That’s just how life is, you don’t always get the best of both worlds.

4) Make up your mind and stick to it. Don’t be so indecisive about every little thing. know what you want, make your decision, and stick to it. If you keep changing your mind and don’t stick with your plans, chances are you won’t achieve anything.

5) Hard work pays off. Think of it like this, in order to get to the mountain top, you must first go trough the valley. You will feel overwhelmed, but it will all be pay off. I promise!

6) Travel, Travel, Travel! There is a world out there to see. There is so much more than what you know. go somewhere you’ve never been before, make a list of places that you would like to see, and try to discover a new place every year, even if it’s just another state. I have seen some of the most beautiful places this year, and it was wonderful!

7) Try something for the first time. I went para sailing earlier this year and I thought I was going to die! (*whispering* I’m afraid of heights) nevertheless, I can proudly say that I’ve done it, and looking back at it, it wasn’t that bad 😉 I also went snorkeling and scuba diving. so much fun!

8. One day at a time. I won’t lie, this was a very trying year for me, and some days I did not want to leave my bed, but I took it one day at a time. If you can get through today, you will make through the next, and the next, and the next… Just focus on getting through today.

9) Be your own go to person. You knew this one was coming. well… what can I say… I have learned that people have their own problems and not everyone is willing to help you with yours. you have got to learn how to depend on your own self, you may find out the hard way that some things you have to go through on your own…unfortunately.

10) Stop worrying so much. Believe that there’s much more than you can see. There is a God that is working on your behalf. He is greater than your problems, and only has great things in store for you. Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy comes in the morning!

Happy Holidays!

Where Have we Gone wrong?

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I know I haven’t blogged in a while due to a lack of time and also for personal reasons but it did put a smile on my face when I realized that I was still getting comments and hits from my readers. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

I have been wanting to write about a lot of things lately, but one thing in particular has been bothering my mind. I have noticed a trend in our generation , or should I say my generation. It is true that everyone is living a separate life and that no two people are the same, but we do share a lot in common. I observe a whole lot, and think twice as much, and from observing people around me I realize that we (my generation) do share one thing in common: We have lost our identity.

Sadly, such thing does not happen over night, it takes time and also circumstances to affect someone’s life to a certain point. People deal with things differently, we all have our own way of coping with things that we face in our daily lives. I do not think that there is a right or wrong way to deal with feelings, sometimes we just don’t know how to.

As a result, we end up turning our back on our friends and family, we sleep with random people to fill a void that can never be filled, we envy those who we think are doing better than us and betray them, we get pregnant and abort our unborn babies because we are so uncertain of our future, we have children out of wedlock and raise bastard children, we stay in relationships with people who merely have feelings for us, sleeping has become a luxury because you can’t get rid of the elephant that sits on your chest at night, we no longer have standards because we think that we have gotten to  place where we have to settle, we are afraid to look in the mirror, we are afraid to look our parents in the eye, and we walk around with a smile on our face thinking that it will hide everything that is behind it.

Truth of the matter is, you can lie to everyone else but not to yourself. I keep asking my self when did life get so complicated, when did we stop being friends, when did we stop trusting, when did we stop believing, when did we stop loving…. when did we stop loving ourselves.

My mother always tells me that in order to fix a problem you must first know the source of the problem. Nothing can be done until we know when it all began and how it all began. Did one moment of silliness lead to another? Is it resentment, fear, grudges? Have we gone so far away from God that we do not know how to return? Everyone’s story is different… we do no all walk the same pathway…but whatever it is I think it’s time to make a U-turn.

Self Sufficient

All of us have been in relationships which we knew were not meant to be, or were not going to last. Yet for some odd reason, we held on. You knew he did not love you but you stayed. You knew you were not the only one, yet you stayed. You knew this man/ woman was not going to change, but it was not enough for you to move on. Those types of relationships can be self destructing. You know you want more, and you know that you deserve more, but you just can’t leave. What is it that makes someone stay in a situation where they are miserable? what is it that causes a woman to stay in an abusive relationship? What is it that makes a woman stay in a marriage where her husband has not touched her in years, and no longer comes home at night? Love, perhaps you say? Love should not be painful! If it is then it isn’t love.

The roots of the problem lies within the person it self. The only reason someone would put up with the pain, and the shame, is because this person believes that the only way to be happy is to with someone who loves you. The fear of being alone outweighs everything else, because this person does not feel self sufficient. Have you ever met someone who has jumped from one relationship to another? Someone who just could not be alone, or just did not know how to be alone. Regardless of how they were being treated, it was better than not having someone at all.

Laying your happiness in the hands of someone else automatically makes you a victim. when you rely on someone to make you happy, this person not only realizes that you need them in order to feel better about yourself, but also take advantage of the situation. “He/she can’t be without me, i can get away with anything and everything. she ain’t going no where.” Once this happens you become at the mercy of someone else. Always remember that people will treat you the way you allow them to treat you. Realizing that your happiness is not at the feet of someone else is key! Yes, having someone who cares and loves you is one of the best feelings in the world, but having someone treat you like you are a spec of dust of their shoe, is not on the road to happiness. You set the terms for what you allow others to do to you. Acting as if you are not self sufficient will result in people treating you as such. Realize and remember that being happy lies in knowing that you are self sufficient.

Everything Happens for a Reason

I received some news today that took me back to some years ago, when I made the decision to make some changes in my life. I must admit that these were not changes that I was able to make overnight, because habits are hard to break. It was a struggle for me to completely cut off some people out my life that meant so much to me, but I also knew that it had to be done. Sometimes, God imposes unbearable situations on us, in order for us to make the changes necessary in our lives. No matter how hard it might be, we must learn to trust ourselves because we know much more than we think we do. I knew that something had to be done, I knew that these were not the type of people that I wanted in my life, and I knew that if I did not make the necessary move, not only would I be the one to be hurt, but I would also be the one to lose. I recently read a quote saying that the hardest part about accepting the saying “everything happens for a reason” is waiting for that reason to come along. Today I finally found the reason that all these things happened to me years ago. I realized that it was for my own good. I realized that had it not been for these things, I could be stuck in painful situations today. All of sudden I realized that the things that I was going through back then are nothing compared to what I could be going through right now, had I not make those changes.

Sometimes we hesitate to make decisions because we are afraid of the challenge, the pain, the heartache that comes with taking such decisions. What I have learned today is that everything happens for a reason, and when it does, learn how to let go, because sometimes letting go is the key to your freedom, and also God’s way of opening bigger doors, with greater opportunities for you.

Against All Odds

As some of you may have noticed I haven’t blogged in a while. I was in the middle of my 30 days photo challenge and stopped. I was a little surprised to see that some of you noticed and took the time to write me and to check up on me. I truly appreciate it. The truth of the matter is I have been going through some hard times, trying to overcome some obstacles and dealing with situations. While going through these times, I tried to take refuge in my writing like I usually do, but for once, I could not write. My thoughts were not clear and I could not find a way to write clearly and properly. Through it all I have learned a lot of lessons. Lessons that life teaches us when we least expect it and wanted to share some of my findings with you.

The first lesson that I learned was that it is in difficult times that you know who you truly consider a friend. You may be friends with several people but there comes a point in life, where you are going through something so overwhelming, and realize that you can’t even reach out to your friends. You will encounter trials in life, where you will really learn about this God that you keep hearing about. Only him will be able to lift your spirit, place the right person in your path at that particular moment, and most importantly, only God can go certain places with you.

I also learned that things are not always black or white. you will be faced with situations, where you have to take decisions that you know will regret, and will perhaps affect the rest of your life, but you also have no other choice. Life is about sacrifices, some bigger than others, but you must remember where you come from and where you are going.  In order to reach a certain goal, certain sacrifices will have to be made.

Most importantly I learned that your experiences will shape you into the person that you are. Some things cannot be undone, some words cannot be unsaid, and you definitely can’t go back in time and change your mistakes. You learn to live with the consequences, and you also learn to accept yourself with the mistakes made. You will probably be upset, have mixed feelings, question yourself, but you must forgive yourself.

We were all created for a reason and a purpose, it may not be clear to us what that purpose may be, but our creator has it all planned. Life will throw us challenges, and obstacles. There will be pain, tears, remorse, anger, guilt and shame. But the most challenging thing will be to keep moving forward in spite of it all.  There will days where you won’t want to see anyone. There will times where you may seem like a stranger to your friends and your family. There will be times where you may be a stranger to your own self, but these are the times where God will carry you through, and also the times where you have to remind your self that against all odds…Life goes on.

A gift that Saved Four Lives

This month’s issue of the Essence magazine features the touching story of a mother who had to make one of the most difficult decisions after the death of her 26 year old son. Chris was not only her son, but also a football player, a father of three and engaged to be married in a couple of months. Life was looking good for him. His mom talks about how excited he sounded about his wedding while they were on the phone talking just the night before the tragic accident. The next morning she gets the devastating phone call announcing that her son fell from the back of a moving pickup truck while arguing with his fiancee. He suffered numerous head injuries and was left brain dead. The doctors said that there was nothing left to do, and that’s when she made the decision of donating the organs of her beloved son. She goes on to say that she could not help but wonder what kind of people would receive the gifts from her child, until one day she received a phone call, and was asked to meet with four people who Chris had changed their lives.  These people were now able to do things, and live a healthy life, because of the donation that was made. Most importantly she said that although her son’s life was over, four other lives were saved because of his.

This story truly touched my heart and I have ever since been thinking about becoming an organ donor. It’s definitely not an easy decision to make, but I think it’s one that we should consider. I can’t help but wonder how grateful I would be if I were to have a second chance to life because someone else gave me that opportunity.

April is is National Donate Life Month, for more information on organ and tissue donations go to donatelife.net or organdonor.gov

Ain’t I Woman? by Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth gave her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. Several ministers attended the second day of the Woman’s Rights Convention, and were not shy in voicing their opinion of man’s superiority over women. One claimed “superior intellect”, one spoke of the “manhood of Christ,” and still another referred to the “sin of our first mother.”

Suddenly, Sojourner Truth rose from her seat in the corner of the church.

“For God’s sake, Mrs.Gage, don’t let her speak!” half a dozen women whispered loudly, fearing that their cause would be mixed up with Abolition.

Sojourner walked to the podium and slowly took off her sunbonnet. Her six-foot frame towered over the audience. She began to speak in her deep, resonant voice: “Well, children, where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter, I think between the Negroes of the South and the women of the North – all talking about rights – the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this talking about?”

Sojourner pointed to one of the ministers. “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody helps me any best place. And ain’t I a woman?”

Sojourner raised herself to her full height. “Look at me! Look at my arm.” She bared her right arm and flexed her powerful muscles. “I have plowed, I have planted and I have gathered into barns. And no man could head me. And ain’t I a woman?”

“I could work as much, and eat as much as man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne children and seen most of them sold into slavery, and when I cried out with a mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me. And ain’t I a woman?”

The women in the audience began to cheer wildly.

She pointed to another minister. “He talks about this thing in the head. What’s that they call it?”

“Intellect,” whispered a woman nearby.

“That’s it, honey. What’s intellect got to do with women’s rights or black folks’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full?”

“That little man in black there! He says women can’t have as much rights as men. ‘Cause Christ wasn’t a woman. She stood with outstretched arms and eyes of fire. “Where did your Christ come from?”

“Where did your Christ come from?”, she thundered again. “From God and a Woman! Man had nothing to do with him!”

The entire church now roared with deafening applause.

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right-side up again. And now that they are asking to do it the men better let them.”