Be Still. The Lord is Doing His Work.

This afternoon I had the opportunity attend a Christian Writers’ Group at a church not too far from my current residence. I’ve been wanting to attend this group for some time now, but I’ve not made it for a variety of reasons – I’ve been too busy or I’m exhausted following Sunday morning worship or most often, I’ve been ridiculously nervous about going to a new place where everyone is a stranger to me! But, today I ventured out of my comfort zone and attended the group. I had a great time. I left feeling motivated to write a bit (hence this post) and confident that I can achieve one of my life goals of writing a book of devotions/meditative thoughts in the not too distant future.

As I was riding home from today’s group, I began to think of thunderstorms. I’m not quite sure why, there are definitely no thunderstorms on the horizon in Maryland today. Instead, the bitter cold of ol’ man winter rushed back into the area over these past few days and I’ve decided I’m absolutely ready for spring. But I digress…

While thinking about thunderstorms, I remembered something my two grandmothers always said during these events in my younger days, “Be still. The Lord is doing His work.” When thunderstorms hit and we were with our grandmothers, this meant sitting still, no talking, shoes on, and no television, at both of their homes. To me, this was always the craziest thing. I hated thunderstorms, so the thought of just sitting still and suffering through them in silence did a number on my psyche! But I survived, and now thunderstorms aren’t as traumatic for me.

As time has passed and life has unfolded, I’ve realized that my grandmothers told the absolute truth about how we should respond to storms…when the storms of life hit, we should learn to just be still, for it is in these moments that the Lord is doing His work! I’m learning that God can’t do His work when we’re busy attempting to find a solution to our problems. There are some things that we just cannot fix in our human strength, we must learn to trust God with all of our hearts and believe that the One who created us knows what is best for us. I think God does good work, so perhaps we should take a seat and let Him do His thing in our lives! Be still for the Lord is doing His work!

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A Love Worth Waiting For…

New relationship…broken heart…woe is me, life sucks!

New relationship…so-called love…engaged…this won’t work, time to end this things…broken heart, maybe, sigh of relief, definitely, tears, yes, lots and lots of them…time out for just me, growing my career, having fun with family and friends, becoming a better me…life is great!

New relationship…wait a minute, this guy is really nice and he really likes me…ummmmmmm…my life is great, now what?  Love…really, love?  Uh-oh…I don’t do all of those mushy emotions…until now!

It’s Valentine’s Day week…everybody is supposed to be excited about the love of their life!  I’d say that I am!  But, when I think about the past 7 or 8 years of my life in terms of love and relationships, this hasn’t always been the case, my life has been a seesaw experience.  There have been incredible high and incredible lows, but I wouldn’t change the experiences that I’ve had for anything!  I have learned and grown so much because of them, and I can honestly say that they have made me better.

What did these experiences teach me?

I learned to how to be a self-sustaining adult.  I used to think that my success and my ability to fulfill my life dreams and goals was dependent upon the presence of somebody else in my life.  If my parents were no longer my support system, I needed a man in my life to be my provider.  I believed that my singleness and being a woman would never allow me to reach greatness, so I sulked thinking that I would never be more than average.  I thought I would never be a homeowner, I thought I would never be a mother, and I thought I would never have the finer things in life all because I believed my life depended on another human being holding my hand through life’s journey.  Flawed thinking and a reflection of low self-esteem, but thank God for growth and maturity!

I learned to love myself.  For a long time, I only found joy in the presence of other people.  I feared going to the movies alone or treating myself out to a restaurant.  I was reluctant to be the person who was dateless at a party and I was always jealous of the people in my life who found themselves in a relationship, healthy or unhealthy.  I always wanted what those couples had!  Sadly, because I had unrealistic expectations of what a “good” life looked like, I spent many days down and depressed, when I truly had many things to rejoice over!  Despite what I thought, I had a really good “sometimes single” life!

I learned how to make decisions for myself.  I have always loved my family, and for many years I had a family first mindset.  I did not waver from that thought process.  If my family called, I was going to be present.  I would miss functions with friends, significant others, or anyone else for my family.  My own life was not my priority, pleasing my family was.  And while, I still love my family a great deal, I also now have healthy boundaries in place.  I’m not going to let anyone be in harms way, my folks can always count on me in a pinch, but I’ve also learned how to consider myself when I make decisions.  I no longer feel obligated to go along to get along.

Perhaps, most importantly, I learned about the things that do not define love.  I used to have an image etched in my mind of what picture perfect love looked like!  He was tall, dark, and handsome (and likely from another country)!  He had a high-paying job, and was a homeowner before he met me.  All of the ducks were in a row in his life in my fantasy.  But I learned that love isn’t necessarily what we fantasize.  Love is not linked to a certain career.  Love is not linked to a certain salary.  Love is not linked to a certain family history.  Love is not linked to a college degree.  Love is not linked to a certain physique.  Love is not linked to a certain neighborhood.  Love has nothing to do with a lot of things we have been conditioned to believe it is linked to.  No, love really is patient and kind, selfless and forgiving, compassionate and supportive.  Love is hard and challenging, it takes serious work, but love is wonderful if it’s true and one opens up to the experience…

I’ve discovered that true love isn’t perfect, in fact, sometimes you want to give up because it’s easier.  But, I’ve also discovered that true love is always seeking to be the person that you need him (or her) to be.  True love wants to support you and encourage you and be present for you even if he (or she) cannot change a thing about your circumstances.  True love admits that he is only human, but, true love also declares that in his humanness, he always seeks God first, so He can refine his imperfections so he can strive to be perfectly aligned with God’s will for his life and the relationship.

Years after feeling sorry for myself, years after feeling so much hurt and pain, I’ve come to appreciate all of my life experiences because they have prepared me for my present place in life.  I’m still not perfect, but every hill and every valley taught me how to embrace love.  On the other side of these things, I’ve come to appreciate that I was never ready for the “loves” that I thought were for me in those earlier seasons of my life.  No…God was preparing me for a love that was worth waiting for!  Now, we shall see where the journey leads us…

Chopped…AGAIN!

On multiple occasions, my mother has encouraged me to always be open to experimenting with new hairstyles, but me, being the somewhat conservative and ridiculously self-conscious person that I am, I tend to shy away from this notion.  I’m always thinking about what folks will say about the new hairstyle and worry if I will look good or bad with a  new do, but last Friday, I did something completely out of the ordinary.  On a whim, I decided to chop my hair off (again!) and get a completely new style.  Truthfully, I had no intentions of getting my hair done, I had simply been casually thinking about doing something different with my hair.  I was becoming tired of the twists, I was pretty certain that a relaxer every 6-8 weeks wasn’t going to work for me as I need both an exercise friendly and easy do, and the natural thing…well, I was getting tired of my resistant hair.  While there are lots of great products on the market now for women of color who opt to go natural, my hair is just a bit more kinky than I desire, and those nice curls that they claim to give…ummmmmm, well, I’m tired of still looking for them!  So, in light of all of these things…I decided to once again chop my hair off (and let the natural thing go).  I didn’t think about it, I didn’t analyze the decision…I just did it.  I was hoping my hair would look good once finished, but I had not a single picture that sorta, kinda looked like a style I may want, so I took a step of faith.  And, what do you know…I was pleasantly surprised after all was said and done.  Who knew it was so nice to actually be able to run one’s hands through their hair!?!?!

After the fact, I quickly realized that cutting my hair is much more significant than simply parting ways with several inches of  filamentous outgrowths of my skin.  It’s not simply a new spring/summer do, it’s a reflection of the internal transformation that is bubbling up in my life.  I looked in the mirror the day after the big chop and smiled back at myself and thought, “Whether people like your hair or not, you are beautiful”.  That certainly didn’t sound like me talking…beautiful is never a word I’ve used to describe myself.  Then, three days after the big chop, I found myself gazing in the mirror speaking positive affirmations to my own self about all of the things I have yet to see or do, but am still fully convinced I will accomplish in my life.  This is major progress…I wouldn’t even speak positive affirmations to myself when it was the therapist’s orders!

Parting with my hair is so much more than what meets the eye, it is symbolic of me parting with the girl inside of me who has harbored lots of self-hate and self-doubt, parting with the girl inside of me who felt so unlovable and undesirable, parting with the girl inside of me who didn’t want to look in a mirror because she didn’t value the image that was reflected back.  In cutting my hair, I cut ties with an old version of me.  Some people will never understand the significance of this moments in my life!  Some people have never truly felt left out, unworthy, or undesirable in their own skin, but I am that person.  I am that person who has had to work hard at loving oneself…it has never been second nature to me, I’m that person who has mastered the art of wearing the mask that grins and lies…that was my means for survival, but at the beginning of the year, I decided that I would intentionally change the messages that I allowed to infiltrate my mind.  Without hesitation, I can certainly declare that I’m now doing just that!

Until next time…peace!

DMW

I’ll take packing up for $100…NOT!

I’ve decided that as much as I’m looking forward to moving to my new place in less than 1 week, I hate packing with a passion!  Hands down, no questions asked…packing isn’t for me, and to think, after this move, I’ve got at least 1 more move ahead of me (because I’m determined to purchase a home of my own sooner or later), it makes me sigh!

But, packing is my fate for the next few evenings…I’m hoping that if I buckle down, I can knock it all out in 2 evenings.  I’ve managed to do quite a bit of purging over the past few years, so I truly only have things that I plan to carry with me for the long haul to pack.  I guess I better pick up a little Woodchuck on my home from the office and get ready for a long night ahead!

Here’s to packing up, closing out another interesting (but amazing!) year of my life, and starting off 2014 on a completely new foot!

Until next time…

A New Day…A New Chapter…A New Season!

***A quick suggestion…if you typically just read this in your e-mail, please check out the blog itself.  I’ve posted an amazing video that I want you to see.

That being said…I received some awesome and absolutely amazing news this week that is going to launch me into an amazing new chapter and season in my life!  After much prayer, moments of confusion, and moments of wanting to give up, I was blessed to receive an offer for a new job opportunity!  And not just any ol’ opportunity, this is an opportunity of a lifetime.  I’ve been offered a position in the NIH Management Intern Program.  For many reasons, this is a big deal.  This program is over 50 years old, and graduates of the 2-year program have become some of NIH’s most respected administrative managers.  I’ll get to identify a senior-level mentor, go to trainings, and regularly interact with NIH leaders.  It’s an amazing opportunity…but that’s not really what I wanted to focus on, and you’re probably asking how the above video about marriage meshes with me and a new job.

I’m over the moon today because this opportunity signifies the door closing on a challenging, and frankly BAD, season of my life.  Let’s be honest, for the past 2 years, my life has been hard and it has sucked!  I didn’t stop existing, but the reality is, in those years, God was allowing the life and breath in me to be squeezed out and there were times when death felt like an easier option.  My view of life always came from a negative perspective…I didn’t expect things to go my way, I didn’t expect moral support from others, I always expected the worse, and doubted myself so much.  After life beats you down enough, it’s hard to look up, it’s hard to do more than exist.  But…I had enough sense to hold on to a remnant of my faith and trust God that the pain I was feeling internally would only last for a season.  It was a long season of hurt and suffering, but it was just that, A SEASON!

But I’m excited because a new season is on the horizon for me, and the God who allowed me to feel like all of the breath was being squeezed OUT of me, has turned around and breathed new life INTO me.  God showed me how He would not allow the enemy to prevent me from reaching my destiny, He reminded that we go through tests so that we’ll recognize that what we go through is for His Glory and our good!

I had this awesome picture that I was going to post today…it was a picture that I’m going to call Night Light…because in the deepest and darkest moments of the night, God’s light still shines all around us, but then I stumbled across the above video on Facebook.  Little did I know that this video was going to tell the story of a fellow Morgan alum who lost his wife shortly after they were married from the awful disease, cancer.  Yes, I wanted to post my picture…but I had to share the story of he and his new wife, because while their circumstances are different from mine, they share the same story of being in a place of happiness, to falling in a pit, and at a divinely appointed time God stepping in and breathing new life into them.  They share the same story of not dying in the valley, but rather, walking through the valley of the shadow of death and still managing to survive.

I’m beyond excited…I truly believe in my heart of hearts that everything in my life is on the verge of shifting for my good!  In an instant I’ve gone from feeling hopeless to seeing how God has used situations and circumstances to bless my life, AND if He did it in one area…I’m convinced He can do it in every area of my life.  It’s truly a new chapter and new season in my life!  I’m excited about the possibilities.

Until next time…

DMW

It’s in the View!

A few weeks ago I decided to do something a bit out of the ordinary…I decided to take some time off just for me!  Initially, I thought about going out-of-town for a bit, but I opted to just stay home and have some relaxing alone time!  That’s not to say I didn’t go out of the house, or see people…I treated myself to a spa day and went to my photography class, but I made an active decision to not allow the normal stress to enter my path.  We all need to protect our space at times.

In a recent conversation, I admitted that I put a lot of pressure on myself.  There are times when I want my 20-year or lifetime goals to be accomplished in this very moment, and for some crazy reason, if I don’t reach these long-term goals immediately, I get irritated and upset with myself.  True enough, they are lifetime goals, but I value myself based on the amount of progress I’ve made towards reaching those goals.  That’s absolutely the wrong way to approach life.  I should value myself on the progress I’m making despite the challenges I encounter.  But, for whatever reason, I can’t be content with losing 2 pounds in a week…nope, that’s not good enough…I’m the one who needs to lose 5 pounds a week consistently week after week in order to be satisfied.  I can’t be content with saving $100 per week or making it to the gym 3 days in a week…no, I’m discovering that I’m an all or nothing person.  I have no gray zone, I live in a black and white world and this is CRAZY!  It causes a ridiculous amount of self-inflicted stress; I have to find that place of “good enough”!

I’m not even going to lie to myself and think that I can change my behavior patterns overnight.  These behaviors are ingrained in me.  I’ve been doing this for years, but over this past week, I’ve attempted to shift my thinking in how I approach my daily living, how I look at my long-term goals and how I view personal success.  Previously I’ve put strict timelines on my goals, now I’ve simply started listing things that I would like to accomplish in my lifetime without the time limit.  I really started thinking about what brings me happiness…is it reaching a list of goals in 1, 2 or 5 years, or is it experiencing life to its fullest?  Honestly, does it really matter if I start a photography business in the next 6 months or not when I can go out tomorrow and take some amazing pictures and find happiness in that alone.  Or, does it  matter if I’m at the gym for 90 minutes every other night when I can take a brisk walk over lunch, or do an exercise video at home – it’s really my health that’s important, not keeping up with or beating the person next to me in the gym.  So what if I’m not in the same shape I was in 2 years ago, so what if I’m not at the exact size I want to be…I’ve been to hell and back in these 2 years and despite what I think, I’m fine just as I am.  That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement, but I’m okay as is!  It’s tough for me to take this approach to living my life because I’ve always felt that I’ve had to prove myself and my worth to others, yet I’m finding that I can and should focus more on experiencing and living my life and appreciating my unique qualities and less on comparing myself to others.  It’s about how I view me, not how you view me or how I stack up against others.  I’m uniquely created and it’s time for me to start viewing myself as a valuable creation!

Until next time…

Yearly Reflections…

As another year comes to an end, I’m once again setting aside time for a bit of introspection.  As I get older, I find that reflecting on both the positive and negative aspects of myself helps me identify ways in which I’ll try to approach my life a bit differently in the future.  Whereas I once avoided this hard work, I now find that it helps to ensure I’m always moving in a positive direction.  So, tonight, I’m going to share part of this reflection process (I’m taking this one area at a time) as  I feel strongly that writing things out makes one more accountable, and more importantly, sharing my goals publicly surrounds me with individuals who can ensure I’m not slacking in working towards my personal goals.

I’ll start with what’s perhaps easiest area for me…fitness & nutrition!

What will I do?

What will I do?

The first things I shall acknowledge are:

1.  Innately I strongly dislike exercising,

2. I would prefer junk food over healthy food most days of the week, and,

3.  I’ve been an epic failure in the fitness and nutrition areas of my life over the past year!

The blessing is, despite my natural tendencies and failures, I recognize the importance of both exercising and healthy eating, and would sincerely like to live a healthier life in the coming weeks and year ahead.  For several months now, I’ve moaned and complained about gaining weight and additional soft layers, but feeling sorry for myself has gotten me nowhere.  As the picture so eloquently states, “The question isn’t can you, it’s WILL you?”  That said, I will do better in 2013 than I did in 2012.  I fully recognize that I MUST slow down and release the clutter that fills my mind, my life, and my space so I can focus on leading a healthier life.  I heard the question asked in a podcast this week, “What works better for you…finding an hour a day to exercise now or being dead 24 hours day a later?”  Ummm…I’ll take an hour of exercise for $100.

In 2013 (well, really I think I’ll get started now), I WILL be more intentional in planning my meals and snacks weekly, I WILL make preparing a variety fresh veggies every week a priority, and I WILL write protected gym time into my personal calendar.  I know I can become a bit obsessed with things of this nature, but I need to be obsessed…tomorrow is not promised, so I need to take care of the vessel that God gifted me with!

Until nest time…

Interference…

My current life interferes with the life I desire to live! – DMW

Sometimes I wonder if I sit and think about life too much.  I’m always trying to make sense of everything and attempting to better understand how life works.  I’ve been back at it again this week, but this time, I’m ready to not only think about things, but I’m ready to start moving and implementing the change I desire!  Today’s conclusion: My current life interferes with the life I desire to live! 

How did I come to this conclusion?  After taking a moment to reflect on what my life looks like right now, I realized that there are a lot of things that capture my interest, but the self-imposed busyness of my life prevents me from seeking out those things.  What I’m currently doing is preventing me from living the life I want to live.  I’ve been wanting to take tennis lessons for a little while now, and today found out that the local community college is offering a class on Saturdays this fall.  This made my day until I realized that on 4 of the 6 Saturdays that the class is being offered my schedule is already occupied by other things!  Seriously…it’s not even fall yet, and my weekends are that packed!  This left me feeling some kinda way because I’ve slowly allowed my life to be controlled by the desires of others, rather than the desires of my own heart.  That’s not to say that the things that are currently on my schedule are not of interest to me because they are, but these things are interfering with the life I desire to live at this moment.

In light of this, I find myself reevaluating my priorities.  I have to dig down deep and truly consider what is a priority for me…is it my career, spending time with my family, pursuing a dating life, exercising, hanging with friends more often, doing church work, spending time alone, taking pictures, competing in 5K races, taking classes at the community college…the list could go on and on and on.  Recognizing the infinite nature of this list reminds me of the importance of always being aware of the fluidness of life.  The world around me is constantly changing, and as a result, I must allow change to inhabit my life as well.  Doing the same thing over and over again won’t yield significantly different results and resisting change won’t make life any easier.  This shift in my thinking about my priorities may cause some strife and stress in my relationships with others, but that’s just the way it will have to be.  As the picture references, “It’s time for me live my life on MY new canvas!”

Until next time…

DMW

Long Time, No Post!

Sunset at the Fort

My cousin reminded me on Friday that it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything to my blog.  I was fully aware of this and have been wanting to post over the past few weeks, but I just couldn’t find the words to write.  I’ve been in a bit of a funk and just feeling some kinda way…not physically sick, not ill, but not feeling well.  I truly believe that when one area of our life is out of balance, it affects our entire being.  So, my whole being has been a bit off kilter.  While visiting the American Visionary Art Museum here in Baltimore on Friday, I saw a quote that summarized what I’ve been feeling pretty well…”We all go through feeling absolutely trapped before we can truly break free!”  That’s it…that’s how I’ve been feeling…TRAPPED…STUCK…LIMITED…and it’s been getting the best of me.

I won’t go into the details because frankly, I don’t think they’re important; the gist of it is simply that I’ve been allowing people and things to get me off focus and out of my zone.  I’ve allowed outside forces to manipulate my thoughts and control my actions and leave me angry, disgruntled, and feeling hopeless, trapped, stuck, and limited.  I had one of my aha moments this weekend where I was reminded that I have so much of life ahead of me.  I’m in this season of my life for an appointed time, and then it’s on to the next chapter, right?

So, given this moment, I’m back to living the life God has granted me.  While out for a ride last night at Fort McHenry, we just so happened to be looking out over the waters of the Bay as the sun began to set and I got a chance to snap this picture.  This picture reminds me of two things:

  • The sun will indeed set on this chapter in my life at God’s command, and when it rises, it will indeed be new day that hasn’t been seen by anyone, including me.

 

  • It may  be time for me to set my eyes on the distant horizon…those goals and dreams that I have for my life may seem too far away to reach, but if I just keep working towards them, one day they will come to fruition.

Until next time…peace!

DMW