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Of All The Unmitigated Gall! October 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Life Thru Grace @ 1:55 pm

Yesterday, I discovered there has been a cover up going on at corporate concerning the processing of my garnishment, which should have finished the second pay period in Aug. Immediately, my grits were burned as I made call after call trying to track down the source of the issue and rectify it. How dare they not account for MY money and not seem to truly care about the 5 paycheck error currently in progress? How dare they pass the buck and give me no less than 5 different stories about what really happened? I was hot as fish grease on the phone and in person at HR.

(Yes, I have the audacity to be fired up about a forced payment for a legitimate debt from years ago that I have never even made an attempt to pay of my own volition. Lol yes, I know. Bless my heart, Jesus.)

I called my mom, left a voicemail. Called Crystal, left a voicemail. Of course when I needed to rant and rave there was no captive audience. In the voicemails, I made sure my voice sounded as flat and despondent as possible to ensure a quick return call. My mom finally called me back and I relayed the story to her and in the process moved from anger to the real emotion, hurt. I was deeply offended that something of this magnitude could happen to moi. How is this possible? In my most recent count, (because of course I’m still keeping a lopsided count of my errors) I’m not due for such retribution.

My mom being who she is, prayed for me that HR would fully research and resolve the issue, that I would trust God in the meantime. At the end of her prayer, the tears came. I grudgingly said amen and she made me say it again like I actually meant it. The second time, I did let go of my hurt and anger and actually agree.

As I am waiting for the payroll surpervisor to call me this mornig, this incident is example #674,896,554 of how extremely easily offended I have been for quite some time now. It seems with each passing year, my skin gets thinner and thinner. And it takes longer and longer to let go of the offense and allow myself to recover. Or maybe it’s that I’m not recovering at all, merely putting away wounds in storage, for that great and mighty day when they all will be justified and or rewarded. How did I become so entitled to feeling like no one or nothing should ever come against me? Who am I to rank as such? Funny that my identity struggle has been truly seeing myself as the royal daughter of a loving Father and King who would move heaven and earth to keep me covered, yet I’ve raised myself to such a level as to be untouchable. And yet, my elevation has proven to be quite problematic, prolly because I’m the one holding myself off of the ground and also powering the invisible bubble that should be incubating me from the world’s attacks. In other words, being (a small, distorted sad little version of) God to and for myself.

So how has this fraud and impersonation been working out for me? Yeah, um, about that. Not so much. So once again, I return to the scene of the crime against the only one who has never committed one yet took on the punishment for all who have past, present and future and say for the 976th time that I give up, I abdicate the throne of my life. No two weeks notice, no time to find another suitable replacement, just effective immediately. The vacancy is not posted because it is not nor will it ever be an external position, though I sometimes let externals intern unchecked.

Lord, I want to be able to legit in addressing You as such because I have willingly given You that place in my heart. I thought about giving You this prayer with my hands zip tied behind my back to circumvent the urge to unabdicate and return to my throne in full glory, but I realize You need them open and available. Even though I’m ready to give myself a time out from being effective for You, You see the bigger picture and have provided grace for me to get right back up and get back on track fully assembled, pity parties not included.

So today, right now, I see myself as You see me: fully restored and covering
still intact, with all rights, privileges and responsibilities of being Yours, of belonging to You. I have Your ear and Your heart. Most important, I have Your words to guide me into the best place possible. Thank You that You always speak, whether I choose to listen or not, because You have faith that one day I will. And then the next day I will. And the day after that. And one day soon, You’ll be the center of my heart, the first one I go to before checking Facebook or Twitter, before anyone else. Thank You that You are patient and consistent to pursue because You have planned a good purpose for me, to bring out and utilize all of the gifts You placed inside of me. While I’ve been waiting for You to make a way for me to magically have a job that serves the purpose You put in me, You’ve been waiting for me to chill out and stop giving You orders on what that specifically looks like and start trusting that You already know and have prepared what it looks like.

Alright. Leggo.

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Random Thoughts From The Drive To The Lake October 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Life Thru Grace @ 12:09 am

-There is a simple pleasure in being still, letting the sun warm your face and enjoying the view.

-No matter how steep the incline, the trees always reach up to the light. (looking at trees on the side of a gorge)

 

A Devo From Last Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — Life Thru Grace @ 12:04 am

Morning Devo

Rom 12:1-2

Therefore, brothers and sisters, I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship.

(If you seriously weigh the depth of God’s sacrificial love for us, evidenced by he who knew no sin taking on our sin to become sin for us that we might become the sons of God, it is not much for us to give ourselves bodily and spiritually to him, for his purpose and glory. Yes, it feels foreign at first, especially due to the appetite of our sin nature, but ultimately, it is the only place we truly find peace and the abundant life. Anything less than total sacrifice and abandonment frustrates the grace of God.)

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, perfect and pleasing will.

( How do we curb and silence the voracious appetite of the flesh in order to become acceptable sacrifices? By starving the flesh and feeding the spirit man, the one that is the image/signature/DNA of God within us. Better to eat the Word which is bitter in the mouth but honey in the stomach, than to eat of the world which is honey in the mouth and bitter worms in the stomach. A little discipline leads to a life of pleasure and unfettered joy. This Word must become our daily bread, not only our nourishment, but also the foundation of our critical thought, the lens through which we view the world and ourselves. It is the basis of our faith, the evidence upon which we rest our case for Christ. Every jot and tittle of the Word is the essence of Truth and has already been tested and proven infallible. We cannot seek to understand or grasp it with our natural mind because it is foolishness to him. But taking on the mind of Christ, we are then able to clearly see the hand and move of God and this discern his will and direction for our lives. It is not a rote, mindless stumbling behind his footsteps, but rather a firm, steady gait that strides confidently in trust of the love he has for us, this ensuring that all he allows to come across our path is going to ultimately be fashioned for our good. Transforming our mind is eagerly and wholeheartedly accepting the intentional love of God.)

Prov 8:35
(Wisdom is speaking)
Those who find me find life and receive favor from The Lord.

(Wisdom is not something easily acquired by stumbling over it like a pebble on the ground. Rather, it is a game of hide and seek for the sole purpose of capturing that precious, life guiding essence that must be safeguarded and tended to regularly.Wisdom is for seekers as opposed to seers. Those who search for more rather than settling for the everyday, mundane which is readily available. Our appetite is heightened by the chase and as we gain each nugget, we realize how much more there is to be found. It is God’s good pleasure to lead us to the place of surrender, where we realize that life without Him as the source is mere empty existence, a travesty and devastating waste when there has been ingrained deep within, the heart of an adventurer who cannot rest until their life overflows with the tangible experiences of abundance in God. Reading the Word is but a stepping stone, wisdom is found only by living in and through the Word. Knowledge + experiential understanding of the context of God’s love=wisdom. Walking in wisdom is to God as a child placing his hand in his father’s hand, unexplainable joy. It positions his heart toward us, giving us favor in his sight.)

O God, that I would see you as that precious thing to clamor after and hold fast to. That I would want you as you want me.

 

February 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Life Thru Grace @ 4:53 pm

Listening to “The Proposal” off of Fred Hammond‘s  latest smash: God, Love &Romance this a.m. Have this song on repeat as well as “You Never Turned”. I have always loved Fred’s music because of his authenticity. He doesn’t sound like he is trying to be oh so super spiritual with some metaphysical or fluffy foolishness that the average broken person can’t get with. His music has always sounded like a journal entry from his heart to God’s. I don’t have time to try to dissect the original Greek and Hebrew terminology of some abstract spiritual somethingness some folks in the industry call music. I just need instant take away value. And Fred’s music is just that. I am simple girl at heart and when my life is out of wack (as it is currently) it’s because I’m doing the most and making it complicated.

I notice the further I get from God, the less optimistic I am.

 

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Pounds… December 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Life Thru Grace @ 3:22 pm

Yesterday my workout buddy informed me she was taking the big step and taking the “before” picture. Oh sigh. Up until this point that is all I have been harping on, how we need to document the beginning of the extreme makeover as we tear these houses down and build them back up into architectural displays of curves and tone. And now that she is finally on board, it is I who want to drag my feet. Why? Part of it has to do with facing the reality of where I am now physically.

I thought I had faced it when we made the decision to start working out consistently 4 weeks ago. And we have been going hard in the gym at least 4-5 days a week since then and consequently my clothes are fitting differently and my body is feeling alot better. (Whew chile, there is nothing like completing an exhausting 1.5 hour workout to make ya feel like a champ!) But to truly move forward into a better me requires some evaluation of not only measurements but milestones. How did I get to the place where I am uncomfortable taking a picture of my body? Why have the tags on my clothing steadily increased every other year? When was the last time I could get dressed with the confidence that no matter the outfit, it looked good on me?

Facebook tells no fairytales, for sure. Recently, one of my high school friends posted a pic of me from our Junior Prom Committee back in 2002. Honey, I was skinty LOL. My facial structure was not as round as it is currently and I remember I had a safety pin in the back of the blouse of the suit I was wearing because it was too loose. I also remember that I was never concerned with how my body looked, I was 5’9″ and somewhere between a 12 and a 14 and everything was proportionate. My main concern was that my clothes themselves were cute and fashionable, not that my body needed to look a certain way.

Even looking at pictures of  my freshman and sophomore years of college, I was still skinty, fortunate enough not to be overtaken by the “freshman 15” mostly because the food left quite a bit to be desired. But it was during my sophomore year that things began to unravel. My father had passed away from prostate cancer a few years earlier in my junior year of high school and at the time, I was so busy being “the strong one” in my family that I never gave myself permission or time to grieve such a devastating loss. But how many know that when the pressure is on, what’s in you comes out? I had transferred to a much more academically rigorous school that year in search of how God and my life fit together and little by little, the strain became too much. By the end of the first semester of my sophomore year, I had stopped going to class altogether, only occasionally did homework and was spending most hours of the day in bed. Full on depression had set in. I was completely overwhelmed by the ever mounting workload and not understanding why my intelligence was not up to the task. My emotions were on overload and I was struggling to keep up a normal facade for all of my friends. Not surprisingly, my grades reflected my struggle and I  was put on academic probation. And yet, I was determined to keep up appearances. Spring semester came and though I started well, I eventually spiraled down even further. The end result was being placed on academic suspension for the following semester.

Failure had officially smacked me in the face. Me, the smart one. The one who never really had to study in any class (except Math). I was kicked out of school for not handling my business. So after being forced to tell my mom what was going on, I agreed to start going to grief counseling while I was living at home and working. My mom and I went to group sessions every week and it did chip at the edges of the block in my chest but that was all. I was accustomed to strategically avoiding anything that would evoke an emotional response concerning my dad that I thought it was normal to not take full breaths into my chest. I would get such severe headaches immediately after therapy due to the internal struggle of trying to release everything and also not really wanting to. I decided to do what I did best, avoid the present and focus on the future. I wrote a letter appealing my suspension and was allowed back in school once again on probation. But the issues I thought I had left at home in the basement showed up once more and I just became so apathetic toward school and once again was kicked out.

By this time, it was spring 2006 and then fall 2006 most of my classmates were heading into their senior years of college and deciding on grad school and pursuing all kinds of awesome opportunities in life. What was I doing? Working at a gas station, working in a call center, working meaningless jobs that did not even begin to serve my purpose in life. Talk about depressed. And so it started. Little by little. I noticed my clothes getting tighter in the winter months but attributed it to “hibernation mode”. The same clothes were still tight in the spring but I brushed it off, telling myself I always lost weight in the summer. Which occurred, slightly. But then my clothes were too small in the winter months and so I went up a size. And stayed there. And the next winter I went up a size. And stayed there. The cycle was in full effect and I was clueless, or at the very least, in deep denial.

I stopped looking in the mirror in the morning when I was getting dressed. Then I stopped wanting to take pictures or change my profile pic on Facebook or any other site. I stopped wearing shorts and caring about clothes. I became a tshirt and capris or tshirt and jeans/sweats chick. But through all of it, God sent little nudges and kept putting me in situations where I would repeatedly come face to face with my grief and my anger at Him for failing me, for not healing my Dad. Little by little, He began to peel back the scabs of my old wounds by placing trustworthy people in my life to love me back to life. They were women who spoke His Word over me, who encouraged me to seek out the source of my frustration in Him, who held me accountability for being reactive as opposed to proactive in my life. Oftentimes, it was tough love which at first offended me and then opened my eyes to the state of mediocrity I was wallowing in.

One of these mentors went through a Bible study with me which challenged me to evaluate how much I knew and believed God personally. My trust level was so low, it caused me to see how I had basically chucked the deuces at God, halted our relationship and turned to other things or people to fulfill me. Only when I was truly out of options did I seek Him and even then it was only long enough to get what I needed and then I was off doing my own thing again, full aware that I wanted/needed/desired more out of my life than what I was getting.

In the fall of 2010, my sister coerced me into attending a retreat called Tres Dias. And it was literally 3 days in the woods with some random white folks from a myriad of denominations who loved the heck of Jesus in such an intimate way that something in me broke. I remembered the days when I was young and had a heart for God and His people and I was determined to be a missionary and make His face recognizable to everyone I came across. I wanted to go back to trusting God for everything and confiding in Him and having a day to day relationship with Him as opposed to spurts here and there. I wanted to know what it felt like to call Him Daddy and believe it with every fiber of my being. And so He told me to move out to this area specifically so that I could learn how to receive His love and flow in my gifts.

I moved to the mountains of PA on January 4, 2011 and this has been one crazy ride ever since. There have been so many ups and downs and lessons learned and trust built and trust betrayed, only to be restored once again. I have come to know Grace personally, am learning to love Truth above all else and am understanding that my only task for the day is to listen to the voice of God and do the next right thing. And so here I am in the place of restoration and about to embark on a new season. And God is reassuring me it’s okay to take the “before” picture and not immediately burn it afterwards. Because someone else needs to see it and understand the depths from which I was restored, that it takes hard work and determination and renewing of the mind to become transformed. We always want people to see the end result and the exaltation, but nobody wants to go backstage and read the script from the beginning and tell how it all began. This is the beginning, complete with illustration. And it’s all good.

*Pic will be posted later ;)*

 

Be Careful Who You Speak To December 10, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Life Thru Grace @ 3:32 pm

So this morning I read that Michelle Duggar miscarried her baby. As I was sitting here processing the information and grieving for her and myself, someone sits down at the computer next to me and proceeds to offer his commentary on the matter.  His flippant comment was something to the effect of “I knew she was gonna have trouble with this one since she has had so many children. She has enough kids.” Up until he said that, I wasn’t even sure if I had enough boldness to write this post as very few people know that I recently had a miscarriage. But I need to do this, for my healing and for every other woman who has been at that stage of almost-motherhood.

I found out the hard way that I was pregnant. What I thought was just a very bad cycle turned into a 2am emergency room visit once I saw unmistakable evidence that convinced me otherwise. The events leading up to the miscarriage in the early morning hours of September 7, 2011 some say could be used in a malpractice suit. But what purpose is that? The end result is still the same. As I writhed and groaned and cried on the exam table in the ER, the PA very sadly looked at me and said “I’m sorry, you’re pregnant and you’re having a miscarriage.” In that one moment, my life was forever changed. In the same moment, I learned that I had someone growing inside of me and then…I didn’t.

I was alone that night. Alone at home, alone in the car ride to the hospital, alone on the table. I had called my cousin and was on the phone with her through most of it but she was in Biloxi, Mississippi and I was still alone. They gave me shots of morphine for the pain and all I felt was sleepy and still in pain. It was like the medicine went everywhere except where it was supposed to go, did everything except what it was supposed to do: heal me. heal my womb. heal my wound. There was no getting around it, I was really in this hospital, this was really happening to me. The only buffer during the whole ordeal was my nurses. It was as if God had handpicked just the right ones to be on staff that night. They attended to me, cried with me and did their best to make me as comfortable as possible in such a loving manner. I know they were God’s way of saying, I am here with you too.

I was in shock, I felt guilty, I felt hurt, I felt angry, I felt betrayed, I felt like a disappointment, I felt ashamed, I felt sad. Through the night, my emotions vacillated between all of the above and then some. All kinds of thoughts ran through my head: How will I tell my mom? What will people think? How could I have put myself in this position knowing what I know and being who I am? How could I set myself up to be somebody’s baby mama when I really just want to be a wife to one man and mother of whatever babies God brings through that relationship?

I was discharged at 8am and I went home to pack my things. I was already scheduled to go home to Ohio and visit my mom for her birthday and I knew I needed her more than ever. On the bus ride to Pittsburgh, I tried to play out the scenario in my head: what would she say to me, how would she look at me, would she think differently of me now? My mom picked me up from the bus station and we headed home. Once we got out of the city traffic and onto the highway, I took a deep breath and told her about losing the baby I didn’t even know I had.

Tears filled her eyes and she grabbed my hand and squeezed and whispered, “I am so sorry.” I finally let go of the breath I was holding and the vice around my heart eased a little. She still loved me. She didn’t look down on me. She didn’t condemn me for my actions. She didn’t remind me that she had raised me better than this. She didn’t interrogate me. She just loved me. And that was all I needed.

We made it home and I got in the bed with her and everything was okay for a little while. And then, she got a call that my uncle in California had passed and since she was the only sibling that was not working, she was elected to go and represent the East Coast family. She asked me if I wanted her to stay with me and although I desperately needed her  to stay with me, to help me through the next few days, I told her she had to go since she was the only one who could. And so, when she left that Monday, I was alone. again. Dealing with the secret shame, the secret hurt, the secret secret that was only between me and 2 other people. I called a close friend to finally tell her and she completely glossed over the announcement and nonchalantly proceeded to move the conversation to other topics. I hung up the phone devastated and I was alone. Again.

That week at home was a blur because I tried my best to fill it with as much activity as possible to hurry up and get over this death since apparently it was not something that fit into anyone else’s timeline (I felt). I smiled and talked to old friends, pretending I was in town just to spend time with my mom even though she was 3,000 miles away. I didn’t really say too much to God about it because I wasn’t entirely sure  what His response would be. At the end of the week, I just headed back to the mountains and got ready to go back to work.

It has been just over 3 months since losing the baby and I still am not completely sure how I feel about the ordeal. God and I are good with it, and I understand that what I do  does not affect how He sees me. I am still His daughter. I am ok with knowing I am forgiven.  I have gotten over my anger at the gynecologist and what may or may not have been done incorrectly weeks prior. I understand that I don’t need to cast my pearls before swine but I also don’t need to remain silent and not reach out for help. Wounds only completely heal once exposed to light. I recently began the process of sorting out my feelings with a trusted counselor and friend. I wonder what the baby would have looked like, how I would have been as a mom, how the circumstances of my life would have changed. But I do know that it has been enough to bring me to place of saying Ok, God it’s official, I tap out. You can have my life for Your purpose. As a result of that surrender, doors are being opened and my path is being made straight. I now have this scar so that I can tell someone, I’ve been there, I’ve felt that and now I am working through it to come to the other side of through. This crack is in my imperfect vessel to let His light shine through. Nope, I’m not perfect but this is my life through grace.

 

Spending the Night With Big Viv November 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Life Thru Grace @ 3:54 pm

**This blog and these tears are brought to you by memorablemama.blogspot.com. Dang her for making me cry at work. Dang me for reading her old blogs today.**

My Big Viv was almost 86 years old when she passed back in June. She was definitely the matriarch of our family, sister to 12 siblings (9 of which she raised), mother of 9 kids, grandma of  about 20+ grands, great grandma of 4 great grands.  She was the only grandma I ever knew (as my dad’s parents died before I was born) and believe me lol, she was enough for me.

“Stand up straight girl, shoulders back, head high girl,” she would always tell me. “You gotta carry all that chest so you betta walk tall like ya know. ” When I cut my relaxed hair and started rocking a TWA (teeny weeny afro), she looked like her heart was broken. “Why you gone and cut all your pretty hair? You done let your hair go back home girl.”  Translation: your hair is no longer smooth and manageable and is therefore no longer acceptable to me.  My Big Viv was never one to mince words or fake the funk. You knew exactly what she was thinking because she always gave it to you straight no holds barred.

Most family shindigs were at my grandma’s house: ribs on the grill in the patio, pop and beer in the washtubs in the garage, kids outside in the backyard or on the porch. Viv always had her cutoff shirt and shorts with scarf wrapped around her rollers or her house dress with cutoff sleeves. The kids knew better than to try to enter the house for any reason other than the bathroom and for that we knew to hit it to the basement. Nobody wanted to commit the cardinal sin of tracking in dirt on her “good white rugs”. Only Mabel Vivian could cover her floors with white rugs and have no fear of any speck of dirt coming anywhere near them. She always had spotless white rugs in her house, even with 9 kids.

My Big Viv’s standards never changed for anyone or anything. Beyond stubborn and determined, she always got what she wanted. When her kids were growing up, she wore the same tired house dress restitched and held together with safety pins so that she could make sure her children had good clothes to wear. She had one good church dress that she wore on Sundays and she was super sharp going to church. (Sidebar: everything Viv liked was deemed “good” and anything less than was a “dirty puppy”.) Her family was always clean and pressed and starched like none other, faces bright and shiny from a good scouring and some Vaseline. She didn’t understand why anyone or anything would look otherwise and took it upon herself to scrub and scour the neighborhood kids as well when she deemed necessary.

Once the kids were all grown and out of the house, Grandma decided to make up for wearing one dress for all those years. Sears and Dillard’s were her best friends and she bought every sharp dress with matching shoes, pocketbook and hat she could get her hands on. She also loved big earrings, her “doorknockers”  as she called them and her White Diamonds or Jessica McClintock perfume. Every Sunday, she was shut up sharp for church. I used to be amazed at the transformation from the weekday Viv with cutoffs and rollers and scarf to Sunday Viv with handkerchiefs and “good” leather pocketbooks and heels.  She had definitely paid her dues though. While raising my mom and her siblings, after making breakfast and getting them off to school, my grandma would clean houses for the white people half a day and then return home to make lunch for the kids and start chores for the day. My mom said there was never a time that my grandma was sitting around idly, she was always cooking or cleaning or washing and ironing laundry.

Big Viv had a special name or phrase for each of us that let us know we were loved by her deeply. The way she said your name made each of us feel like we were the favorite because she said each name with a particular cadence. She was so proud of her kids and grands and would introduce us and try to tell the family history everywhere we went.

In the last few years of her life, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and had other health complications as well. To see such a strong, resilient, headstrong woman start to deteriorate mentally was an incredibly hard thing to digest for all of us. We ultimately made the decision to put her in a nursing home as the Alzheimer’s began to worsen. In June, Hospice was called in as the nurses felt her time was coming to an end. The family came in from all across the country that week and it was such a bittersweet time. One night I decided to spend the night in the bed next to Grandma, just to have time alone and come to terms with the fact that the one I truly thought would never die was coming close to that time. I stayed up most of the night, watching her chest rise and fall as her breathing was labored and she was starting to struggle to breathe. I thought about the character of my mom and the type of woman she and her sisters were and the deep bond they all have and thanked my grandma for raising them with her unflinching standard of love and discipline. I thought about us her grandbabies and how we all were in various stages of beginning our lives and careers and I thanked Grandma for what she instilled in us, to respect and honor our parents no matter what, to be proud of ourselves, to always do our best and trust God for the rest.

I am the result of a strong black woman who feared God and took no mess from anyone. I am where I am today because she endured segregation and “colored” fountains and movie theaters, because she endured an alcoholic husband who was present physically only, because she held her head high and marched forward, determined to give her family the best life possible. I am here because of Big Viv.

 I love you Grandma and am glad you are finally at rest in your mansion with its good white rugs.