Blind love…..

I trudged into church that Sunday morning, late, not really wanting to be there. When I got there, the worship team was singing away and the heaviness and resistance I came in just melted away. The congregation was bigger than usual that Sunday and I could not help notice the old, bald man sitting at the front row, playing a harmonica. I smiled to myself, thinking it had been ages since I’d seen one of those let alone someone play one. Although the standing mic was close to where he sat, directly in front of him, I could not hear a note of the harmonica. Yet, he kept it to his lips, playing away, perhaps oblivious to the fact that the greater congregation could not hear him. As I let myself free in His presence I forgot about the old man and his harmonica. Soon the preaching began and before I knew it the service was almost to an end. I was truly glad when they said let’s go to the house of the Lord. I was blessed to be there. Blessed more than I could have been if I had sat home and allow the negative wave that threatened to engulf me have its way and maybe more so than stay home and watching sermons on YouTube. Yes, I tried to talk myself out from going that Sunday. As we were about to close, the Pastor asked the man with the harmonica to play something from the old hymnals. He nodded his agreement and tried to stand. One of the men from the congregation rushed to his side, presumably to help him get his footing. After taking the mic, he thanked Pastor for having him play throughout the worship and spoke briefly about himself. I felt my heartstrings pulling as he shared how grateful he was to be a part of the service, rarely having the opportunity to get out of the elderly home he lived in especially since he was blind and had no family to visit him. The elderly home he lived in was his home and the residents, the workers and the church groups that visited the home occasionally, he deemed his family.

And as he played Amazing Grace, he played it differently. He played it as it if was the best he had to give. And He played it with pride and passion, grateful to have something to give His Lord. He couldn’t do much but He would do what he could with his harmonica. There was not  a dry eye in the sanctuary. You could tell that this man was a worshipper. This man had been through some stuff and this man was honoured to give praises to His King. He was glad when they said let us go to the house of the Lord. It made me think at reflect at my personal selfishness. Sure I had my stresses and issues but it should not have caused me to not want to be in His presence.  I have more than enough. I have my health, I have a handful of people who I know genuinely love me, I have my sight and my youth. I have….., I have…….. I have. And now I have this man etched in my memory. The way he worshipped with all he had in him, they way he expressed his gratitude not for what he had or did not have, bit just because his redeemer lives. Lord, help me to have that blind sort of love and commitment to you.

Let them go

Life. A series of events and experiences that can make, break, mould and shape us. And life primarily consists of relationships. Relationships are the flavor to life. Without them, it just would not be the same. So what do you do when those relationships that mean the most to you seem to be faltering and slipping away? The relationships you feel you cannot live or do without? For the past 7 months I have been hanging on to dear life for a relationship that in reality had ran its course. For me, it was and still is hard to accept because a) I did not think it was possible for this relationship to end and b) because the fighter in me would not let it die. However, deep within, I think the default button in me had switched on and for me, the default is fight.

You see, all my life I have been a fighter. Things have never come easy and I’ve always had to fight to get what I had and fight even harder to keep it. Some of you may understand what that’s like. So, as second nature, when I saw the relationship slipping, I fought tooth and nail, did all that was in my power, prayed, fasted and pleaded to God to resurrect it. It was hard coming to terms with the reality that what should be a lifetime relationship was really just for a season. And for me, this was hard to grasp because I believe in commitment and keeping promises and oaths. Yes, this is my marriage I am talking about here. I figured if we were both Christians, believed in the same God, a God or resurrection, forgiveness and miracles, why could we not trust Him to fix, heal and restore? But those were my thoughts. The reality is, although we shared the same space, he had moved on and was living his own life. We were housemates. He was and is in a backslidden state. Many nights I cried myself to sleep wondering what went wrong and what could I do to fix things. I talked to God, begged Him to intervene and the wedge just kept growing. The harder I prayed the more bitter and resentful he became to me. It was as if my prayers angered him. Through a series of events, we were brought face to face with the realization that we needed to give each other space. I was all for it, particularly when we sat, discussed and agreed the terms and that counseling would be sought. Somewhere between living apart he came to the conclusion that he was not ready for marriage (after all these years) and started up another relationship. And I begged, pleaded, cajoled and prayed and came to the realization that if I handed the relationship over to God, I mean really handed it over to Him and not try to work my way and my agenda, then I should consider the matter to be in His capable hands.

His capable hands. Hmmm. I would be a liar to say that it was that easy. Along the way I cried and questioned Him. There are many things I don’t understand. Like why me and why us. Why? Yet, I know my life and times are in His hands and that He has not forgotten me and that while everything is can be considered a variable, He is my one constant. He will never walk out on me, He will never change His mind, He will never come to the decision that He desires something or someone else more that me. His love for me is sure. So, I anchor myself in Him and trust Him day to day for His strength, grace, provision and infinite mercy. My hope in Him anchors my soul. Before I go, I leave you with this extract of a sermon by Bishop T.D. Jakes. If you ever find yourself chasing people, his words may bring a sense of understanding to you. I know they have helped me greatly!

 When people can walk away from you, let them walk. Your destiny is not tied to the person who left. The Bible said that they came out from us that it might be made manifest that they were not for us. For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us. [1 John 2:19] People leave you because they are not joined to you and if they are not joined to you, you can get super-glue, you cannot make them stay. T.D.Jakes

*** Note: On Lady In Bloom I share my heart and experiences. It was not easy for me to open up and share this private experience but if it helps and empowers someone or bring a sense of clarity, then to God be the glory. At the same time, I do not advocate the breaking up of families. I fought a single fight to save my marriage. I have now chosen to leave it in God’s hand and let His will be done. I’ve done all that I can and can do no more. The other party has and continues to make it clear that they have no desire to remain in the relationship and has moved on and currently in another relationship. I have personally chosen to let go and based on Biblical grounds, I do have the right to a divorce. My personal option has been to forgive and trust God to heal and restore. The other party is not interested in that. I’ve said this wordy spiel to say this: I am not advocating that anyone walks away from their marriage. That is something between you, your partner and God. I’m just sharing my experience and saying that at times, the writing is on the wall and you don’t need to be tied to anyone who does not want to stay, particularly when they would have violated the vows and sanctity of the relationship. Sometimes, you have to know when their part in the story ends and accept it, no matter how hard or heartbreaking it is.

No condemnation

Therefore now, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – Romans 8:1.

Over the past week I was thinking of how condemnation can keep a person stuck, almost rooted in one place, unable to move forward.

I don’t know what your experience is but for me, whenever I felt like I missed the mark or was not in the place I should have been, particularly when I felt I was growing and going forward in my walk with Him, slipping up and falling short always left me feeling unworthy and inadequate. It has gotten so bad that at times I felt unworthy of His love, grace mercy and forgiveness even though I know He supplies these lavishly on His children.

I’m a thinker and those closest to me have often commented that I need to give my brain some rest. They think that I over-think! At times, I am inclined to agree because I have seen that the trend of thoughts on my failures and shortcomings only served to put me in a further place of condemnation. But you know what I love about Him? Even in the deluge of thoughts and low feelings, He always has a way of breaking through the fog, often sending Romans 8:1 in either my daily reading, a sermon I’d come across on a Christian station online or even via a Pinterest photo. The same scripture would show up many ways, sometimes for an entire week just so that I get it. Hmmm.

So why am I sharing this with you? Because I have a feeling that I am not alone. You see, when the Father sent His son to die for us, it was the ultimate expression of love and the most perfect of gifts. A gift that is timeless and one that we as His children acknowledge as truly incredible. And I believe that sometimes, when we consider the magnitude of His love and His gift, we feel obliged to live our lives befitting of the title ‘Christian’. And that is a great thing – to live a life that says, I value Your Gift and the way You’ve expressed it. That said, if we are not careful, it can often push us in a place where we feel the need to perform.

At times, we can be so fanatical about the desire to perform, to be worthy, that we loose focus on His grace, which is perfect and sufficient. I think it is here that we step into the waters of ‘works’. Hmmm. Works. It comes in many forms. You know that experience - where you feel unworthy because you did not pray as much as you did yesterday and feel the need to compensate with extra Bible reading the next day? So you read random scripture and they fail to impact you because it just felt like something you needed to do? Or when you beat yourself up mentally for not doing something you were called to do. Perhaps you felt His leading to consistently visit a sick member of your community and you never really kept up with it. Guilty feelings and thoughts may bombard you and you address them by visiting the person daily but the need to perform and a get-it done-and-checked-off-your-list approach became more important that acting in love and obedience that you fail to connect with the person in a way that would allow Him to use you to reach that person.

Yes friends, condemnation can affect us in many ways. As you go through the rest of the month, remember that He does not condemn us. That’s the work of the enemy. Instead, let’s opt to walk in obedience and realize that even if and when we slip up, He is ready and willing to restore us and set us on the path He called us. His grace is truly sufficient.

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To blog, honor and obey

I’ve been MIA here for a bit simply because life got in the way and the blog did not feel like a priority. A shame, since I felt led to start this blog and everything to get it launched really showed that it was something I had to do. Things just came together.  I’ve been busy over at my business site busy doing my own thing and furthering my agenda but truth be told I think I was simply just running from the realization that truly being involved in the blog would require me to be real about things in my life I wished to stay hidden. You know, the things that we carry deeply that we share only with God. You see, I’m a woman in the process of transformation, a lady in bloom and if you know anything about the process of blooming, you’ve got to go through some stuff. A rose goes through a process before it becomes a flower whose scent and beauty we can appreciate. Following his leading for this blog would mean that I’d have to really open up and share things with the women who read my words. Things I am ashamed of, struggle with, embarrassed to admit let alone talk about.

And so I ran. Busying myself in building my little world and doing my own thing, yet struggling because I felt I was not where I was supposed to be. You probably know the feeling. It’s like being a square peg in a round hole. And there is a pressure that comes from being a square peg in a round hole. You just don’t seem to fit. So, I’ve been in a place of not fitting for a while and have come to the realization that when His fingerprints are on me, I can do what I want but I can’t do it for as long as I want. It’s hard to outrun him. Ok, totally impossible. So, I choose to blog, honor and obey Him. Because it is through Him I live, move and exist. And because I love Him, too and I understand that sometimes we are most effective in reaching others when we are vulnerable and open.With that said, please look out for weekly posts every Tuesday and Friday. I’m excited to share and connect with you. Let’s bloom into the women He created us to be, together.

Scripture

Even in my down days

Hello friend.

Like you, I have down days. Today started as such a day. I felt really heavy on the inside and had to beg of His strength just to roll off the bed and to believe His promises. I let a situation from the day before really get to me and I didn’t hand it over to the Lord but instead questioned Him on how contrary the situation was to the promises He gave me. I realized I was starting to feel sorry for myself so I grabbed His word, spent some time there, talked to Him and listened to sermons on YouTube. This caused the negative cloud over me to disperse.  And then someone on Facebook posted a video on my personal wall and I literally broke into tears. It was just what I needed to hear. God is amazing, huh? Even at our lowest point, He gives us what we need to keep forging ahead. Sometimes we forget who we are and even more so, Whose we are but He never does. In Isaiah He says:

 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

Friends, He never forgets us. Even in our down days. Even when our vision and perception of ourselves fail to match up with His. What a privilege to know and serve Him. So I digressed there a bit but I encourage you to watch the video below. It’s a beautiful spoken-word piece that I’m positive will cheer you up and cause you to realize you are beautiful, you are remembered, you are wonderful, you are loved and you’re also awesome. Enjoy, share and be blessed.

Scripture

 

When I started loving myself

I stumbled across this poem and felt the need to share it. It was thought provoking to me and I have a hunch it would do the same for you. I hope it is a blessing to you and causes something deep within you to stir and a new love and appreciation for yourself to spark. You are amazing, you are wonderful and fearfully made. You were made by a God who it the epitome of excellence and craftsmanship so if He created you, you’re never mundane, ordinary or ugly. You’re a masterpiece.

The poem was written by Charlie Chaplin the famous entertainer of the silent film period. It is said that he wrote it on his 70th birthday! Go figure! I would hope he came to the realizations expressed in his pom before his birthday but stumbling into a great realization is a beautiful thing, no matter the age!


 

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it RESPECT.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it MATURITY.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment, so I could be calm. Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE.

As I began to love myself I quit steeling my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it SIMPLICITY.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is MODESTY.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS LIFE.

Scripture Image credit

Day 1- Fear is NOT an option.

I felt a strong leading to start this blog and after a bit of hesitation I was fired up.

I worked closely with Pat my talented designer to accomplish a look and feel that I felt would speak to what the blog is/should be all about and we tweaked until it felt just right. Alas, the design was completed and the site went live. I should be excited, right? Au contraire. I sat and stared at the screen a week after the blog went online, wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into. I guess you can say I had a failure to launch, writer’s block, nerves or maybe, truth be told, I was simply afraid.

Afraid to put myself out there. Afraid to share what is/was on my heart. Afraid that my words, my stories and experiences would not resonate with people who stumbled across the blog. Afraid that in some way, I would fail Him and the ability to connect with others through encouragement and community.

And then I remembered that fear is not of Him and that I can do all thing through Christ who gives me strength. So, with fingers poised over the keyboard and a determination to officially launch the blog with a post, I tapped away, the sound of the keys like music to my ear.

Oftentimes we feel a Christ-like leading, pushing us into a direction. It may be to start a blog, go back to school, save more, get involved in our local Church or reach out to others. That leading often always never go unchallenged and unquestioned by us. We wonder if it’s not a prompting of the Spirit but think it’s our mind talking to us. He says in the word that His sheep know His voice. By spending time in His presence He will give us guidance, direction and confirm the things we are uncertain about.

I encourage you today to not dismiss those Spirit-led promptings but seek Him, to confirm if it is indeed His will and await guidance on the path to take. Welcome to the blog. Consider this my official post I look forward to sharing with you, encouraging you and being encouraged by you. I’m excited to see us bloom together, becoming the women He created us to be.

Scriptures: Phil 4:13, John 10:27.  Image source