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.

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. 

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.

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.

A Few Extra Pounds

 

 

A couple of days ago, laying in my hotel room in DR, I was watching an interview where Janet Jackson was talking about the book that she wrote “True You” where she discussed her struggle with her weight. Why on earth is Janet Jackson even talking about weight issues when she has the perfect figure? Little did I know she was one of us, one more person who was not comfortable with what she saw in the mirror. During her interview she mentioned the fact that she was an emotional eater and could easily gain 60 pounds in a month . Although I am not an emotional eater, hearing about her struggles made me decide that I would definitely buy her book as soon as I get back to the States because I felt like I could relate.

I cannot remember ever being the normal weight and size for my age. growing up I always knew that I was bigger than I should be. I got my first gym membership when I was 9 years old. One day my dad picked me up from school and took me to my first gym class, and since that day, I became very self conscious about the way that I look. I remember always asking my mom, my sister and my friends if I was bigger than this girl that just walked by, always comparing my self with someone else. I was never satisfied and comfortable with what I saw in the mirror, and after hitting puberty, it got even worst. I believe in I was a sophomore in high school when I started dieting. I have tried it all: slim fast, the diet patch, the grapefruit diet, the lemonade diet, the cabbage diet, an endless number of diet pills, and even a body wrap. I have considered lipo suction and a gastric bypass but of course I wouldn’t qualify because  I was not big enough.

My weightloss journey began the day  that I got on a scale and noticed that I was 5 pounds away from reaching the 200 mark. I refuse to weight 200 pounds! How did this happen? I’m always dieting and watching what I eat. I was determined to lose the weight and set my goal to lose 10 pounds within the next two months. I have now lost 30 pounds! Yes I am very proud of my self, and love when people tell me how good i look in this new body. I went down 2 dress sizes and love how my clothes fit. I also discovered that I am still not satisfied with what I see in the mirror. I am still not comfortable in my own skin. This made me wonder if I could ever get to a point where I am pleased with the way that I look. Is this struggle of mine mental? what is it gonna take for me to accept my body the way that it is? Is this going to be a lifelong struggle?

Sometimes I wish that I was one of those people that can go to the beach and not worry about people think of them. I do wish that I could go shopping and not think about if I look fat in the dress that I was buying. I once ordered some pants online and was worried that it would not fit. When I finally got it, I realized that I was right and I was wrong. The pants did not fit. They were too big. Thinking that it would fit too tight, I ordered some pants that were two sizes bigger than I was. My friends made fun of me, and turned it into a joke: “of course you would order something that’s too big, since you seems to think in your mind that you’re huge!”

This has been my struggle. One that many others are facing, even celebrities. It is not an easy struggle, and sometimes people don’t realize how it affects someone’s life. But it does. Learning to love yourself the way that you are is not always easy. One that many of us have trouble doing, It is a challenge to not just accept yourself the way the more that you are, and even harder to learn to love what you see when you look in the mirror.

 

The goodness of my Heart

I was once told by someone who was very close to me that if they were on a dying bed in need of an organ to save their life, I would be the first person that they would call because they knew that I would make such sacrifice. Another person also told me that when I love I have no boundaries, regardless of who the person involved may be, once I have feelings for someone I have no boundaries. These are different people who don’t even know each other. Yet they both made the same observation which got me thinking that there must be some truth to it. What I have also realized is that once people know your weakness and know what you are willing to do for them, It gives them power over you. By that I mean that this person knows that they can use you at any time for whatever reason it may be. I never realized that I was so transparent to some people. And these people told me things about myself that i did not even notice. I have since realized that a lot of things that happened to me in the past was because people knew that i would be willing to just hand over anything of mine just to make someone else happy, expecting nothing in return. I have lived such experience in past friendships and relationships.
This has made me come to realize that I must always keep a part of my self to my self. Never allow others to know your weakness to a point where they can use it against you. This said, I will not change the person that I am, neither will I stop helping or giving to those in need. Having a good heart is a blessing from God that I will not allow anyone to take away from me. What I will learn to do is to keep a part of my self to my self and not let people have access to the most vulnerable parts of me.

One of Those Nights…

Tonight is just one of those nights that I dread so much. One that comes around once in a while, where my thoughts battle with mistakes, my fears, my regrets…a night when I wish my conscience did not exist. I recognize the feeling, it has become part of me. I fight it, it goes away, or so I think until I’m faced with one of those nights.

…and the torture begins, the questions pop up one after the other. These same unanswered questions, the same emotions which I thought were so far behind me. My mind goes back a couple of years and again and again….and again I ask my self what were you thinking? Did one mistake really lead to another? Did you bring this upon yourself? all these questions but no answers.

I wish I could go back in time and fix all the mistakes that I made, all the people that I hurt, maybe then I could find closure.I wish could go back and not break the promise that I made you, but then I wonder If that would have been the best decision. I wish I could find a sign from above telling me that this is right… but all I had were my instinct and fears.

My God do I wish I had never met you, in fact if I had one wish it would be to go back and skip that whole day that I met you. I try so hard to find one good reason why you were part of my life, but I still believe that it was all in vain, and the mess that you left behind….

Then  you came along, with your innocence you brought the smile back to my face. It was too good to be true, I used to tell you. You even got passed those brick walls around me without my permission, and soon enough it all ended. You have tried your very best to earn my trust again, and proved to me that your feelings are genuine, but why take that risk again?

Now my days and my nights are all about you. Things are just so different with you. No lies, no demands, no agreements, just you and I and our feelings. It feels so good but something is missing. I know it because I can feel it. so I’m at standing at the doorsteps looking on the inside, afraid to go in and get stuck inside. Does that make me a coward? Am I assuming too much or is that being wise?

yea…tonight is definitely one of those nights where I wish I could run away from my thoughts. A night where I want to sleep without thinking while I’m asleep. I just want to rest without the tossing and turning. I want to be numb and not bothered, not even by my own thoughts and feelings and emotions…

 

Merry Christmas!

 

This post will probably offend certain people, especially those who share the same faith as I do. As a Seventh-Day Adventist, I never celebrated Christmas as a child, neither did I ever get a gift from santa, because we do not believe that Christ was born on the 25th of December, simply because of lack of evidence after the researches conducted. Nevertheless, Christmas is my favorite time of the year! I’ve always loved it, and always felt like it was a special holiday. I love being around my family when it’s Christmas time and buy them  gifts, go to dinners and night time events, there is always some type of celebration around Christmas time. Now the way I see it, is that regardless of when Jesus was born what matters the most is that he was indeed born from a Virgin, and it was all to save my life. That to me is enough. I’m not going to start singing “Happy Birthday Jesus” on Christmas day, but I will take into account that Christ my savior was born to die for my sins, and nothing else could be more special to me.

Whether or not Christmas is man made, to me it is a time for joy, because I realize how strong God’s love for me must be, in order for him to send his son on this sinful earth. It is also the perfect time to share that same love with those around you, especially those who do not know about this wonderful man who loved them enough to do such a tremendous sacrifice. Those who do not have family members to remind them how important and loved they are. Those who are homeless, and hungry, and hopeless. A simple gesture reflecting God’s love means so much to those who do not know him. If anything, Christmas should be a celebration of pure love….

Regardless of your beliefs, and whether or not you celebrate Christmas, always remember that thousands of years ago, on a random day, a baby was born with the sole purpose to give you and I eternal life.

Merry Christmas to you all!