Deeper Waters: Growth

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Growing up we lived on a nice sized plot of land where we maintained a garden. We grew tomatoes, peas, okra, cucumbers, butter beans, and much more.

Most of my summers were spent in that garden, sweating in the hot Mississippi sun digging holes to put tiny seeds in, then watering and picking out weeds from around them. We had to put up poles for the tomatoes and butter beans to guide their growth, and we built scarecrows to keep out the wildlife that sought to destroy our crop.

All of that was work!

Growing things takes work .  .  .

Read the rest over at deeperwaters.us

God Gives Victory And Gets All The Glory

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When reading God’s Word, I don’t want to miss what He is teaching me about who He is and and how that affects who I am. So I pray . . .

Read the rest of this devotional from Genesis Chapter 14, over at deeperwaters.us

*I am a part of TEAM365 – a group of women who believe that being in God’s Word every day is foundational to everything we do.  Click here for more info and to download the 2015 reading plan.  From time to time I will share devotionals from what God is teaching me on the website.

Just a Pinch

Hey There! Happy New Year!

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Yeah, I know its been a while.

I didn’t finish strong on the writing 31 days goal of October, but I got way farther than I ever have, I mean ever ever – so I’m not extremely disappointed – just a pinch. After that, life and holidays happened and so nothing else – and I’m ok with that too, yet disappointed just a pinch because I don’t want to be in and out on this space so much.

I’m embracing both the grace and truth. And the truth is that if I feel the Lord wants me to write in this space then that’s what I should be doing.  He knows His why and i need to trust.

As you can see,  things look a bit different around these parts and there will be more changes to come on the other pages within.  I felt my blog needed to breathe just a pinch.  In my home I long for less clutter and more white space and I enjoy that feeling on other blogs also, so I’ve implemented it here on my little apartment on the web.

Whats coming up?:

I have so many posts in my head that i can barely think straight – I need to just get. it. out.  This blog is just as much about my processing as it is about spurring you on. So when stuff gets stuck in there my brain feels constipated.  I’m a verbal processor so my poor friends get a ear full, i mean full fledge diarrhea on em.  I need to share!  In the next few weeks here are a few things that will be rolling out.

– My word for the year (I know you can hardly wait)

– Atlanta Life (Its been almost 6 months y’all)

– Monday Moments (need to start that back up – with all its funny randomness)

all that and just a pinch more as I continue to write here to process and spur you on to grow in wisdom and build. 

Monday Moments

As I begin typing this it is 9:47pm and my bedtime is 10:00pm.  So I have about 10 minutes to say 2 words and elaborate on them.

We’re Exhausted

My husband worked a conference this past weekend and when i say worked i mean like he would leave at like 6:45am and not make it home til midnight.  We have one car so when he left I was pretty much homebound with 2 boys.

We’re Exhausted

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I have opened my computer more than a few times today but it was never for the purpose of writing anything.  I checked Facebook and email and blogs and I even researched a new theme design for my blog – but no writing happened.

We’re Exhausted

What I did accomplish today was watching the movie Mom’s Night Out!  Which was pretty funny and the main Mom character was a blogger who began the movie with 3 followers and after one post, ended the movie with 250 :/

My brain does not want to think deep about anything.  I desire to finish strong with this series on change and transition and I will but .  .  .

We’re Exhausted

And i don’t want to throw together something for the sake of getting it done and its not helpful to anyone.  So I’m giving myself grace and rest.  So with that, its 10:02 and I’m about to go to bed, then wake up in the morning and NOT think about writing – just taking care of my husband, because he is not feeling well (y’all he worked hard this weekend) and clean my house and play with my boys.  I will be back soon to continue  the conversation on growing in the midst of change and transition.  We will be talking about Worry.

Day 25: Marriage & Moving

 I have asked a few of my friends who have recently gone through change and transition to share with you part of their story of growth.  I am inspired by these women, their stories, and how they are trusting The Lord in the Midst of it, and I am confident you will be too.

My husband loves Cleveland and his Cleveland peoples.  His city has become a city i love too and also his peoples.  Meeting his peoples is how i came to know and love Courtenay – our guest post writer today! One of the highlights of my trips to Cleveland was getting to grab coffee with her.  We would catch up on the highs and lows of life and what God had been teaching us.  The last time i got coffee with this bright young lady was a couple days before her wedding.  We sipped on our coffee at a local Starbucks and chatted about how she met Kingsley, the wedding, and the big move right after to Kansas City.  Wow – thats a lot of big change happening within a few weeks followed by transitions.  Thats why when I started this series on change and transition I knew I wanted her to share her story. 

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Getting married is a big change. Moving to a new city is a big change. Getting married and moving to a new city at the same time is a really big change.  My husband and I have been married for four months (today, yay!). We first connected on Facebook. In 2012, his friend who was my pastor, along with his wife, thought Kingsley and I would make a great couple despite the fact that Kingsley lived in Kansas City and I lived in Cleveland. To make a long story a short one: one friend request, many hours of FaceTime and hundreds of dollars in plane tickets later; I now live in Kansas City and have a new last name.

Change occurs in an instant. With two words, a man and a woman change from unmarried to married. But to transition from two single people to one couple takes time and submission. (Bear with me, I’m not going where you might think I’m going). I prepared for the changes for over a year. Kingsley and I talked about who would move, what we wanted our wedding to be like, and how he would begin to eat breakfast.

I packed up the things from my apartment; I gave away a lot of stuff and moved in with my parents three months before the wedding to save some money and consolidate. I spent those three months saying goodbye to people and places that I would no doubt only experience through the interwebs for quite a while once I moved. (Dating long distance does a number on your travel funds. Pun totally intended.) I was ready for the change. The transition, however, caught me a little off guard.

You see once I arrived in Kansas City, and got my spices where I wanted them and recreated the chaos in my new bathroom that existed in my old one; I looked around and asked, “Ok, now who am I?” I had no job and didn’t want to go back to serving unless it was absolutely necessary. I had no friends and my church was brand new to me. The person that I now lived with had known me for just over two years and so was hardly an anchor for what felt like a storm of an identity crisis coming on. Or so I thought.

The miracle of marriage is in that commitment word. And not even so much commitment to each other. These past four months my husband has demonstrated to me that while he may not always remember my tree nut allergy he is committed to his role in molding me to the image of Christ Jesus. It was hard at first to submit my emotions (that feeling of being lost) to the reality of the truth of the gospel in my life and in the midst of this transition. Shoot, its still hard.  But Kings continues to remind me and encourage me in lots of tangible and subtle ways. The fact is that I am not lost. I am in a new place and a new situation for the purpose of God conforming me to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). See, I told you I wasn’t going where you thought I was with that submission thing!

Transitions kind of suck. They do not feel nice. But without them I wonder if I would understand again the richness of God grace, the warmth of His mercy and grandeur of His master plan.

Day 24: Melodies & Mourning

 I have asked a few of my friends who have recently gone through change and transition to share with you part of their story of growth.  I am inspired by these women, their stories, and how they are trusting The Lord in the Midst of it, and I am confident you will be too.

Today you will here from my dear friend Mel. Melody Latrice is poet, writer and storyteller living a gospel-centered life in Orlando, Fla. She creates culture through her writings and plans to change the world through her words. She enjoys gardening, old school R&B and cooking light in her free moments.  I have known Melody since 2001 when we both started internships with The Impact Movement and we have been dear friends since then.  She even stood by me as a bridesmaid as I said my vows to my husband.  She is a gifted writer at heart – what artist do with paint & canvas she accomplishes with words & paper – art. She is kind, genuine, hilarious and honest and I am privileged to call her friend.

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I don’t like change all that much. Yet it continues to penetrate my life, specifically in the losses and lessons of these last 12 months. Losses that include a beautiful 82 year-old grandmother named Lena Mae who I believed secretly had a superwoman cape hidden under her clothes. She was just incredible – laughter and love wrapped up into southern hospitality at its best. She was safe. She was human. She was mine. And she died unexpectedly of a heart attack.

Ten days after my family buried her I was rear-ended by a driver who lost control of her vehicle. The collision totaled my car, which was given to me as a gift six years prior and paid for. The physical impact of the crash required six months of chiropractic rehab for my neck and spine.

The emotional trauma left me with diminished mental capacity, anxiety driving and a fragile heart that wondered “Why would God allow this much pain in such a concentrated way into my life?”

On the heels of these experiences, I also lost the opportunity to mentor children I tutored for three years at a local community center. The center closed because of low funding. Seeing the kids for the last time, I tearfully said goodbye and thought “This is not the way it’s supposed to be.”

Two more losses took place in 2013 – in the spring and at the year’s end – also pouring into this concentrated funnel of pain. My pastor of eight years resigned because of a moral failure in his life. Significant transitions were coming at my job and several people I’d come to love as family would be leaving the organization later that spring.

I’ve experienced an incredible amount of change and transition in these losses. I’m finding God in the rubble as the journey toward healing ebb and flow into my life. In my mourning I’ve ached for a way to communicate my feelings in simple but intentional ways. Music became my interpreter. It reminds me I’m alive – in all of its gritty blues, playful country twang, honeyed rhythms and sweet succession of sounds.

Grief silenced my words as a writer for a very long time. Music helped me find them again. Songs by Lady Antebellum, Yo-Yo Ma, Etta James, Bobby Womack and India.Arie give me the gift of dreaming again. They amplify my emotions as I’ve discovered how to live again through change – be it a death, physical trauma, seasons ending, workplace shifts and more.

God uses different things to help us in life. People sometimes. Places next time. Things this time. Music is my thing right now. And it’s helping me express my grief as I ache for people and experiences that have left my life. In these changes I’m determined to fight to keep my heart open and take the risk of loving, even though losses are a reality of living.

I’m learning that suffering is a part of being alive and grieving is hard work. God’s grace towards me is tender as I mourn. Author H. Norman Wright says grief affects everyone but mourning is a choice and the place where that grief can be expressed.  I agree.

The first few months after my grandmother died and the car accident I couldn’t read the Bible even though I tried. I had no mental fortitude to sit, focus my thoughts, read and internalize the words.

God met me where I was. In the midst of me feeling inadequate to read and study his Word, he used his own audible voice instead and spoke his words directly to my heart. He also gave me music to help me express my emotions and a nearness from him that anchored my soul. The God of the universe stepped into my grief – sobs, anger, depression, questions – and stays in it with me as he walks me toward healing.

In this journey I’ve discovered that my faith has changed. It’s deeper. It’s more human. My relationship with God now includes an intimacy of “being known” by him that no other joy or defeat up to this point ever provided. I’m changing with these changes and I’m learning to live anew from these losses.

My mourning continues. And I’m alive, tears and all.

Day 23: My Boys

You want to talk about change that happens right before your eyes  .  .  .

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Went shopping with them today and we stopped for some Starbucks .  .  .

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Check out the milk mustache .  .  .
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These cut outs at Atlantic Station where a hit .  .  .

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Right before my eyes they have changed.  Transitioning and growing every single day.  Some most days I take them changing for granted, but that doesn’t mean it stops.  Time stands still for no one, so since it won’t stop then I must pause.  Pause and really soak them in.  Really looking at their faces and listen to their incoherent sentences.  Give them kisses for absolutely no reason that they can tell.  But I know why, because one day they won’t let me.  One day they will be grown men with families of their own and I will be kissing my grandbabies.  And I will tell embarrassing stories about them.  I will also share with their wives how everything they are going through is normal.  The tantrums because they don’t want to sit in their seat in the stroller, the whining because they don’t want to hold their banana peel anymore, and the unreasonable tears over a tablespoon of spilled hot chocolate.  Yep, all normal (and all happened this morning in-between the taking of these pictures).

They grow – they change from babies, to toddlers, to preschoolers, to kindergarteners, to tweens, to teens, to high school grads and college bound. Before we know it they are men.  I’ve seen it happen with my nieces and nephews so I know it goes.  The days are long but the years are short.  Pause, look, love, cry, be overwhelmed, but live and do life with them!  Because we don’t stop growing either.  We are growing and changing right along with them. And just like we don’t want to wake up one day and not know them – we don’t want to wake up and not know ourselves either.

I’m off to go do life with my boys – we’re making ice cream sandwiches with chocolate chip cookies – yum!

Day 22: Fear of Rejection When You’re The New Girl

Church services. Small groups. Women’s gatherings. My family had just moved from North Carolina to Atlanta where my husband would be taking a new role at a local church, and I was the new girl at all of these types of gatherings.

I was meeting new people left and right, something I usually really enjoy, but it just felt exhausting.

I was afraid of saying something stupid, silly, or perhaps laughing when it wasn’t intended to be funny. I was afraid of not wearing the right outfit and coming off too stiff, too loose, or not age-appropriate enough. I was afraid of not meeting others’ expectations, not knowing the Scripture reference or having wise words of counsel.
I feared rejection.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. ~ 1 John 4:18

Fear says I need your approval, but love says I need you.

It can be hard to admit that we need people. But we do. We were created for community.
Our genuine need for people, however, can be masked by a shallow need for their approval. Approval is shallow. With each interaction we feel the stress of holding on to that approval or keeping up with whatever standard was first set when we felt the approval that was gained, for fear of the opposite–rejection. It’s is exhausting.

Love agrees with God about who we are and who He is–that He is sovereign and will orchestrate our relationships whether they will end up being casual acquaintances or deep connections.

Fear says I cannot be my true self, but love says I want you to know the true me.

I’m growing. I’m in process. I make plenty of mistakes, but by the grace of God, I get a few things right too. When I walk in love for others and the grace that covers me through Jesus I can open myself up to people–flaws and all. At the same time I’m loving others by being a safe place for them to be who they are.

Friends, let’s be real. Because it’s exhausting trying to act perfect and being around people who do the same.

Fear is self-focused, love is others-focused.

When we walk in fear in our relationships, we are thinking too much about ourselves. And in my experience, when I spend too much time in my own head, I don’t love others well, because I’m not thinking about them–I’m too absorbed with me. Because I want to come across as a great person, so I talk too much because I want to explain to you how great I am through my conversation. But love listens and focuses on getting to know others.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. ~ Phillipians 2:3,4

With God’s grace I’m clinging to love and doing much better with the relationships I’m building here. The process can still take a bit of energy, but it’s not energy that comes from trying to be someone I’m not. It’s energy exerted simply because building relationships does take work.

Being intentional to initiate with others and also respond when they initiate with me is a energy that is well worth the outcome.

Do you ever struggle with wanting to fit in?

Day 21: Recap & Whats To Come

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Hey there! It is Day 21 and i’m still here! Yep still here writing and posting every. day.

Today i thought it would be a good idea to recap where we have been on this journey of growing in the midst of change and transition these past 21 days then share a bit about what the remaining 10 days will look like.

When we started this journey we talked about why its important to even look at change and transition as an opportunity to grow.  In order to grow there are things and people we have to say YES to, to even begin to embrace the growth process in change.  But just like there are things to say yes to there are things we need to say NO to in order to surrender and not be paralyzed.

Then we discussed not being afraid of making a wrong decision in the midst of change and because of all the decision making and just stress that can go along with the process that it is vital to rest.

After that there where a couple of days of celebration and talk about transitioning to a new age. Then we hit on Reality being our friend so accepting and being able to, regardless of what circumstance of change and transition you find yourself in, to give thanks.

Since then we have had two amazing guest posts from my friends Yana and Kim.  They shared what God has taught them in the midst of their own story of change and transition.

We have two more guest posts coming up again this Friday and Saturday from my friends Courtenay and Melody.  You won’t want to miss them.  In between now and then I will be guest posting at Deeper Waters talking about being the New Girl in a new city.  After that we will talk about worry and anxiousness in the midst of change and transition.

Finally we will bring a close to the serious stuff and get to some of the change that I consider fun and I look forward to – like the seasons, my wardrobe, eating habits etc.

I hope you are being challenged by and are enjoying this series and I look forward to finishing strong – y’all pray 🙂

Day 20: MONDAY MOMENTS – Laundry

Hey there! Good morning!  Have you had your coffee, tea or morning water yet? Great! Me too.

Soooooo what are you doing today, on this fine Monday?

Oh really, that sounds cool, maybe.

Want to see what i’m doing  .  .  .

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Laundry.

And not just the daily/weekly laundry but the – my kids are growing, wearing high water pants and shirts that cut off at there elbow instead of wrist, plus the season is changing laundry.

“My favorite” – says no one i’m friends with.

This is the task that happens at least 4 times a year as the season changes and we try to figure out these 6 categories:

1. what will they still be able to wear next summer

2.  what should i save from Josiah that Elisha could wear

3. Should we save Elisha’s stuff “just in case”

4. What should we give away

5.  What should we throw away

6. Inventory the new season of clothes they do have to see what needs to be bought

Oh the joy as i chase the little body around the house asking him to try on a 18 month shirt “just to see” even though he is a 2T.

Moms everywhere feel me and i’m sure those who have more than 2 really know the struggle – you are my heroes.

If any of you Moms have figured out a easy/easier way to do this please share.  But right now this is what we are working with.  We got a big part of the process done this weekend but now i must get off the www and get to finishing it because Mommy has clothes of her own to sort through but my categories or a bit simpler .  .  .

1. what i can wear now

2. what can I wear after I lose 10 -25 pounds.

See simple – but complicated on a different level called denial :/

Before i’m off to get to it i want to do something very crucial for my good and hopefully yours.

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I’m grateful my kids have clothes

I’m grateful that through the years people have given us clothes for them

I’m grateful that we are able to do the same and give clothes to others

I’m grateful our boys are heathy and growing and them growing out of there clothes is sign of that

I’m grateful that Old Navy and The Gap had great sales this past weekend to fill in the gaps in all of our fall wardrobes 🙂

Happy Laundry Day!