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Video: Becoming What You Hate

Notes from the video

The ability to commit violence (by word or deed) is not a strength. True strength is exhibited in our self-control. How we maintain discipline over our own tongue and actions. Not how we curtail other people.

Avoid becoming stuck as your worse self by:
Reimagining who you are
– Who have you always been?
– Who do you want to be?
– Who do you want to be nothing like?

Reimagining your environment
– How did your surroundings impact your character and personality grieving up?
– What aspects do you want to cultivate in your space moving forward?

Reflect on your actions and reactions – good, bad, ugly, & embarrassing.

Thought experiment: Project the idea of your best self into the idea of your best environment. What’s the first step in getting you there in reality?

If you are striving to be the best version of yourself but you keep surrounding yourself with people who bring out the worse in you, you will find your strength when you walk away from the people and environments that keep you at your worse.

You have a choice in how you live. Are you going to grow consciously in the direction of the person you want to be? Are you consciously releasing the person you don’t want to be?

Video, Parts 1+2

#self-control #discipline #growth #life #family #abuse #childhoodabuse #childabuse #elderabuse #eldercare #counseling #listen #findpeace #selfcare #selfimprovement #selfreflection #growth #betterthanyoushouldbe

 

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Everything I Thought I Knew About Diabetes Was Wrong

Did you know diabetes mellitus is a term for a group of disorders that cause elevated blood sugar (aka glucose) levels in the body? Known by it’s first name, diabetes is a chronic (aka long-lasting) condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Glucose is a critical source of energy for your brain, muscles, and tissues.

When you eat, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose (sugar) which is released into your bloodstream. This triggers the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts as a “key” that allows glucose to enter the cells from the blood. If your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to effectively manage glucose, it can’t function or perform properly. This produces the symptoms of diabetes.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious complications by damaging blood vessels and organs. It can increase the risk of: heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, eye disease

Nutrition and exercise can help manage diabetes, but it’s also important to track blood glucose levels. Treatment may include taking insulin or other medications.

Diabetes and Food Memories of Mom

My mom was a diabetic. I don’t remember when she was diagnosed, but she would have been in her early or mid-thirties. I do remember watching her shoot insulin into her belly. That’s pretty much all I remember. Oh, and she was a drinker. Not too heavy, but she loved beer and now that I look back, her mood swings could have indicated some habitual drunkenness. She also enjoyed drugs and sweets. Memories of Mom’s baked goods still bring joy. When she threw together caramel cake with icing, banana pudding, and sweet potato pie from scratch, I would literally stand transfixed at her elbow peering under her arm or looking over her shoulder as time went by. Normally, I don’t claim regrets, but my greatest regret in life is that I didn’t get my mom to write down her recipes. Watching her cook and bake was not the same as having written instructions.

In the fourth grade I had my first Home Economics class – remember those? I still have Dotty, the stuffed animal I sewed that year. We learned to make French toast and vanilla pudding from scratch. There were many other dishes, but these were my favorites. Mom allowed me to make French toast and other simple dishes for the family on weekends. When I was fifteen, I took it upon myself to gift my mom and siblings with caramel cake. I threw flour, sugar, milk and eggs into a bowl and baked a brick. Mom was by nature laid back and easy-going person. A super pleasant and beautiful soul, truly. One of the few times I was the target of her rage was when she woke from a nap and saw that I had “wasted” so much of her precious baking ingredients. Desperately, but to no avail, I explained that I did not “waste” her flour, sugar, eggs, milk, precious vanilla extract and whatever else I tossed into the mixing bowl, I was baking her a cake. She stomped and screamed as she pulled my brick from the oven and tossed it on the counter. Truly bewildered, I didn’t understand why she didn’t appreciate my initiative and desire to bake one of our favorite deserts.

Today I understand. Today I can hang my head at my obtuseness. But I still wish she would have fussed and then shown me how to make her fabulous caramel cake. As far back as I can remember, Mom had worked several jobs at a time. The pride of her life was being able to say she provided for her family without government assistance. However, we were extremely poor financially. Everything, especially food, was precious. I knew that. Understood it. But that day, I didn’t consider it a waste to attempt to emulate my mother. She died a few years later and I have no other memories of trying to cook or bake her dishes. Since she’s been gone, I’ve asked relatives if they know how she cooked her banana pudding, sweet potato pie, caramel cake, turkey dressing, potato salad, pinto beans, chicken noodle soup or any of the foods that brought me comfort and joy during my childhood. No one knows. My mom cooked by taste, sight and feel. She was self-taught and as the eldest of eight children, everyone enjoyed her cooking, but no one could duplicate the magic.

This is all I knew about diabetes growing up: My mom had it. She had to take insulin. She also smoke, drank and did drugs. Subliminally, diabetes wasn’t a big deal.

Food as Comfort and Love

I’ve long known that food is my comfort. Certain foods remind me of home and love. Until the writing of this post, I hadn’t connected my “sweet tooth” to what my mom’s deserts and home cooked meals represented to me. For most of my adult life, I’ve attempted to recreate the taste, texture and feel of my favorite foods. This has led to baking becoming one of my favorite pastimes. I still haven’t mastered caramel cake but I’m closing in on an excellent caramel icing. My sweet potato pie is gift worthy and has been has been requested during the holidays, as have my staple sweet potato dishes. I haven’t attempted banana pudding from scratch again, but it’s on the to do list.

So… just as I’m coming into my stride as a baker, I get diagnosed as a diabetic during an intense DKA episode. I was sick, but didn’t know I was a diabetic so I was cooking and baking peach cobbler, caramel cake, banana bread and similar yummies to make myself feel better. In my ignorance, I was killing myself. Despite having a diabetic mother, brother and grandmother and since my diagnosis learning, five of my maternal uncles have diabetes, I knew nothing of the signs or symptoms common to the disease.

I Knew Nothing

Honestly, despite having a mother who had to use insulin daily and a brother whose death was inconclusive because he was a diabetic who had drugs and alcohol in his system when he was beaten to death, I knew nothing about the mechanics or practical requirements of diabetes. Both of my grandmothers fought chronic illness for most of my life. Yet I can’t tell you the sum of their illnesses or how their lives are impacted by each disease or how likely it is that I’ve already developed the same diseases or will soon do so. Disease isn’t talked about on either side of my family as something that is avoidable or even treatable to good health. There’s a resignation to disease with my people. So much so that it’s a side note or conversational add-on.

Quick Facts from CDC.gov

  • More than 34 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of them don’t know they have it.
  • More than 88 million US adults—over a third—have prediabetes, and more than 84% of them don’t know they have it.
  • Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States (and may be underreported).
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes; type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 5-10%.
  • In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled as the American population has aged and become more overweight or obese. [https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/quick-facts.html]

What is Diabetes?

Closeup of dictionary page showing definition of diabetes

With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should.

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.

Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.

If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart diseasevision loss, and kidney disease.

There isn’t a cure yet for diabetes, but losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can really help. Taking medicine as needed, getting diabetes self-management education and support, and keeping health care appointments can also reduce the impact of diabetes on your life.

There are three main types of diabetes: prediabetes, type 1type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant).

Read related posts:

Poem: Sister, Sister II

Morning Stretch and Praise Break

Sources: CDC.gov and Healthline.com, American Diabetes Association

 

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People who hide themselves are impossible to know.

A long-term friend is coming for her first visit to New York City next week. I really didn’t think the visit would happen (it still may not) because she’s never made the effort to do anything really in our friendship. Even when I lived in the same city, she visited my home maybe one time. When I visited her from NYC over the last thirteen years, she has never wanted to leave her home. I’ve a l ways had to see her in her space.

We began as work friends. We met nearly twenty years ago in Milwaukee, WI when I was an intern at a company she was temping at. There were two other women on the floor we bonded with during our time at that company. Of the four, she and I have remained in contact.

When I think back on the tenure of this relationship, I see how I was willing to be a friend, comforter and aid for many years. I openly shared my own growing pains, failures, successes and hopes. I overshared, actually. For the past twelve years, she has only shared her bitterness, anger and resentment – fruit from a broken relationship. About ten years ago, I told her I couldn’t take any of it anymore. I was her dumping ground for everything negative in her life. Most interactions with her have drained me of energy. So we spoke less and less. Her anger towards her ex is always simmering at an explosive level below the surface. Nearly every conversation has circled back, involved or alluded to him for the last twelve years. To be fair, however, she can be the best hype person. Geeking me up when I shared good news or was uncertain of a decision I had to make usually gave her unchallenged space to introduce her unchanging gripes about her ex’s activities.

All this to say, all I know about my friend of nearly twenty years is her anger, bitterness, resentment and lack of gratitude.

I’ve been chasing her all week for a list of things she would love/like/hope to see/do on her first visit to New York City which is to celebrate her 50th birthday.

It took her three days to text a generic list that reads like the top ten free things to do in a NYC google search. I worked on researching and mapping out an agenda for her visit based on this list for a whole afternoon before I realized that if I allow her to not show up for herself, we would both be wasting our time and I’ll be wasting my money since I’m hosting.

So I texted her and told her I needed her true preferences, not a generic top ten. To which she responded, “I trust you. Anything would be great.” Her short, dishonest text, triggered this post.

She can’t trust me to know what she likes because she has never shared any of her likes, loves or joys with me. At least not in recent memory. She has hidden herself away in anger and hatefulness for so long, no one can see anything else. It’s very sad to realize I’m unsure of how to celebrate someone I’ve “known” for so long for a milestone birthday. Should I spurge on Broadway tickets? If so, to what type of show? Does she really want to visit a church during her Thursday-Saturday trip or was that on the list for my benefit? New York City literally has something for everyone at all income levels, including free. All I’m asking for is a general direction to go in. She can’t give me that. She refuses to give herself that.

Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord . They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord . They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.

The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse— who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings. ~ Jeremiah 17:5-10

Imagine. I want to celebrate her. I want to show her a good time. I want to bless her. Yet she refuses to do her part which is simply to open enough to receive.

She says she believes in God and she tries to live a solid Christian life, but her hardheartedness gives to lie to her belief. You can’t hold on to God and trust Him with your life when you’re wholeheartedly holding on to anger, bitterness, and resentment.

I’ve been telling her for years that the Word of God is hard for her to digest because she doesn’t listen. Everything has to be her way. She has to be in control. And she absolutely hates the fact that she has no control over the household of her ex, the father of her children. I hang on because her children are my Godchildren. They have long brought me joy and I can’t comprehend how she isn’t overflowing with joy, gratitude and a gracious, forgiving heart for the gifts she received in the form of her two children.

The bigger picture here is that God wants to bless her. Indeed, He already has. Not just with her children but in so many countless ways over the years. I’ve seen it. People show up in her life in so many capacities, I have to tamp down a bit on jealousy every once in a while. She says she’s grateful for the blessings, when she’s willing to acknowledge them. But she doesn’t act like she’s grateful. Her behavior doesn’t change. Her countenance doesn’t lift. Her anger doesn’t dissipate. Her attacks on her ex continue.

Those who believe in Him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” ~ John 3:18-21

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Haters hate. Keep moving.

There was a time, not too long ago, when others’ jealously and envy of me had me trying to diminish myself by downplaying my accomplishments, ambitions, hopes and dreams. I didn’t want them to think I thought too much of myself or was overreaching or, worst of all, think less of themselves when they compared their lives to mine.

In my early teens and twenties, I developed and relentlessly employed a self-deprecating humor that side-lined me as the butt of my own jokes thereby making me a soft target or a non-threatening frienemy.

When I hit thirty, I consciously stopped caring about other people’s view of me. Or rather I stopped trying to soften their hate, jealously and resentment towards me. After I stopped shielding myself by putting myself down for others, I became angry, incredibly so, and deeply hurt, by the treatment I received from the people I considered to be my family and friends. While I was hiding myself from others, my view of them was also obstructed. It was hard to discern their true intentions towards me, however their low regard of me eventually registers as a painful experience. My thirties was a painful decade with nearly a 100% loss of family and friend relationships. The only relationships that survived the culling were those that were sufficiently distant that intermittent communication brought small spurts of joy.

For a while, I struggled with the true view and value the closest or more constant people in my life have and project of me. Around my forty-first birthday I decided I am going to live my life out loud. I am no longer going to shield my thoughts, hopes and ambitions for my future and my life. That’s not to say I began sharing indiscriminately. I did, however, begin to reach out for assistance to people positioned to help me achieve my goals – people I had friendly, interactive relationships with. As each of these people have turned on me or simply stopped speaking to me, I’ve experienced a bit of astonished anger, less with each situation… and a whole lot more determination with each encounter. I also decided that it’s good to be stunned a bit when I reach out to trusted sources for help and receive their condescension, ridicule, dismissal, or become a target of their attempts at career sabotage. If I were no longer stunned by such behavior, it would mean that I had indeed become the jaded New Yorker I’ve fought so hard against becoming. I want to continue to be shocked by the darkness and hatefulness people harbor and thrust upon the world in their effort to minimize and destroy others.

What I’ve noticed in recent weeks is that the petty folks in my professional environment who may actively be sabotaging my upward mobility or the colleagues who gather and whisper about what I’m doing… they are all in my rear view. I’m not even giving them the effort of looking back. I’m simply moving forward. They don’t want to help. No problem. No one on this earth has control over my life or the things I will accomplish during my time here. Therefore no one person deserves my concern or energy over their rejection of me. That’s their choice. My choice is to keep moving. That said, it’s good to identify those who are against you, especially when they camouflage themselves in your cheering section.

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A lesson on class and leadership from First Lady Michelle Obama

Listen to First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, July 25, 2016

[8 yrs ago, sending my girls to school from the White House, all I could think was:] “What have we done?”

“Our motto is: ‘When they go low; we go high.'”

“That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.

And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.

So, look, so don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on earth!”

Read Obama’s remarks as delivered below:

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE) Thank you all. Thank you so much. You know, it’s hard to believe that it has been eight years since I first came to this convention to talk with you about why I thought my husband should be president.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Remember how I told you about his character and convictions, his decency and his grace, the traits that we’ve seen every day that he’s served our country in the White House?

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

I also told you about our daughters, how they are the heart of our hearts, the center of our world. And during our time in the White House, we’ve had the joy of watching them grow from bubbly little girls into poised young women, a journey that started soon after we arrived in Washington.

OBAMA: When they set off for their first day at their new school, I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just 7 and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those big men with guns.

(LAUGHTER)

And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, what have we done?

(LAUGHTER)

See, because at that moment I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation for who they would become and how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them. That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight, how we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are their most important role models. And let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls, but the children across this country, kids who tell us I saw you on TV, I wrote a report on you for school.

Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope and he wondered, is my hair like yours?

And make no mistake about it, this November when we go to the polls that is what we’re deciding, not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, in this election and every election is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And I am here tonight because in this election there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be president of the United States, and that is our friend Hillary Clinton.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

That’s right.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

See, I trust Hillary to lead this country because I’ve seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children, not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection…

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

…but every child who needs a champion, kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs, kids who wonder how they’ll ever afford college, kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but dream of a better life, kids who look to us to determine who and what they can be.

You see, Hillary has spent decades doing the relentless, thankless work to actually make a difference in their lives…

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

…advocating for kids with disabilities as a young lawyer, fighting for children’s health care as first lady, and for quality child care in the Senate.

And when she didn’t win the nomination eight years ago, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Hillary did not pack up and go home, because as a true public servant Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

So she proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as secretary of state, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe.

And look, there were plenty of moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being picked apart for how she looks or how she talks or even how she laughs. But here’s the thing. What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure. She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And when I think about the kind of president that I want for my girls and all our children, that’s what I want.

OBAMA: I want someone with the proven strength to persevere, someone who knows this job and takes it seriously, someone who understands that the issues a president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

I want a president with a record of public service, someone whose life’s work shows our children that we don’t chase form and fortune for ourselves, we fight to give everyone a chance to succeed.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And we give back even when we’re struggling ourselves because we know that there is always someone worse off. And there but for the grace of God go I.

I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters, a president who truly believes in the vision that our Founders put forth all those years ago that we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And when crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other. No, we listen to each other, we lean on each other, because we are always stronger together.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And I am here tonight because I know that that is the kind of president that Hillary Clinton will be. And that’s why in this election I’m with her.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

You see, Hillary understands that the president is about one thing and one thing only, it’s about leaving something better for our kids. That’s how we’ve always moved this country forward, by all of us coming together on behalf of our children, folks who volunteer to coach that team, to teach that Sunday school class, because they know it takes a village.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Heroes of every color and creed who wear the uniform and risk their lives to keep passing down those blessings of liberty, police officers and the protesters in Dallas who all desperately want to keep our children safe.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

People who lined up in Orlando to donate blood because it could have been their son, their daughter in that club.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

Leaders like Tim Kaine…

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

…who show our kids what decency and devotion look like.

Leaders like Hillary Clinton who has the guts and the grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in that highest and hardest glass ceiling until she finally breaks through, lifting all of us along with her.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

So, look, so don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on earth!

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE) And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth, a leader who is worthy of my girls’ promise and all our kids’ promise, a leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.

So in this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best. We cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical. No, hear me. Between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

We need to knock on every door, we need to get out every vote, we need to pour every last ounce of our passion and our strength and our love for this country into electing Hillary Clinton as president of the United States of America!

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

So let’s get to work. Thank you all and God bless.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)wp-1469550300415.jpg

 

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Thoughts on Granddaddy’s death

We are all dead, dying or coming to life.

The culture of the world fears death, but there is so much to learn from the dead and the dying. Life is not savored at all until it is viewed juxtaposed next to death.

It is only when we are confronted with loss that we truly appreciate what we’ve gained. Granddaddy closed his eyes at the end of a December and we bid our collective farewell at the beginning of January. It’s a different take on new beginnings. Beginning the year with a burial. Beginning with death and a seed. Beginning with the celebration of a well-lived life.

How appropriate that we should begin with a funeral.

In so doing, we are presented with the opportunity to release ourselves from all that’s past. All that’s gone. All that’s dead in our lives. We can begin again in new ground fertilized with all that came before. Enriched by lessons and experiences. Emboldened by memories. Invigorated by visions of all that can be harvested from the seed that died and became embraced again by the earth. New growth. New form. New direction.

Death is not the end. It is part of life. The blessing is in recognizing the great gift of everyone who has come before.

Rest well, Granddaddy.

Smile by Nat King Cole

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To everything there is a season. | For Heaven’s Sake, Hurry Up and Die.

To everything there is a season.

I’ve been buried deep in a season of discontent with what passes for fellowship at congregation gatherings and ministry activities for some time now. For a while I stopped attending services altogether and just withdrew into myself. Though I didn’t miss the people, I did miss being enveloped in song when the congregation joined its combined voice with the choir’s. I, also sorely missed hearing the sermons from the varied staff of pastors over my congregation. Over the pass year and a half, I occasionally slipped into service and ducked out immediately after. Burn out. I was completely over striking up conversations with people after service who later avoid me like the plague. So I stopped speaking. I stopped sharing. I tried to stop caring. Eventually, I started streaming service instead of attending in person.

For a while, streaming service was just what I needed. I didn’t want to be around people. But that period lasted much longer than I thought possible for me.

In August I got away from my life for a couple of weeks and spent a good amount of time thinking, praying and communing with my Lord and Savior. A reawakening happened during that time. Since I returned home, I’ve been trying to drag myself out of the pit I allowed myself to sink into. I’ve been slowly weaning myself off of streaming the church service in lieu of attending. I actually want to be back with the congregation now. But to my surprise the desire to return isn’t enough. Even with the best intentions to get up and go, I’ve been getting distracted. There’s always something to do. Or more rest to take. However, suddenly, over the last three weeks, there’s been and urgency to get to the church building. To be present during the songs and the sermons. To open myself up again. To return. To remember. To be enveloped by the healing songs of praise reverberating off the walls and ceiling of the sanctuary. To sing my hallelujahs and participate earnestly in corporate prayer.

Today was a very rich day. I got up with the intention to go to the morning service, but also had energy to clean. That energy has been very rare in recent years. The first thing I did after getting out of bed was rotate my mattress…and I kept moving from there. before I knew it, it was time for service and I was still cleaning. So I streamed. Again.

This post was supposed to be a short intro to this morning’s service; apologies for over-sharing. The service and the message were so on point, I listened to the full service again immediately after. And after that I got up and went to the afternoon service where I received another very much-needed message (I will share that one in another post).

All this to say: God is good and He knows us better than we know ourselves. Whatever we think we need, He will allow us to pursue – for a time. Then He will call us back to Himself. The blessing in this, aside from God’s overwhelming grace and mercy, is the opportunity to learn more about ourselves in a protected state – to embrace the ugliness and despair buried beneath our praise and thanksgiving. There’s no fear or shame in coming to terms with everything in you that needs to die when you’re wrestling with it all in the shelter of the Most High.

Now for the sermon. Be blessed.

For Heaven’s Sake, Hurry Up and Die by Pastor Carter Conlon

Click here to listen to sermon: For Heaven’s Sake, Hurry Up and Die

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Song & Verse: Show me how big your brave is.

(Young) Woman. Grown Woman.

In August, I turned 38 years old. My theme for this new year is, “I’m a grown ass woman.”

Now to put that in context, I say during the first couple of years in my thirties, I came into my womanhood. The changes that transformed my life on my 30th birthday (and every year since) carried me away from girlish thoughts and behaviors. When I hit my 35th birthday, I felt like a “grown woman”. Up to that point all my vacations were crashing with friends or the cheapest hostel or motel in the vicinity. For the trip I took for my 35th birthday, I asked myself, “I’m a grown woman, why am I still vacationing like a college girl?” Not that the way one vacations is representative of who they are, but I think the mindset certainly is. I was spending all my free time trying to see people in their space, in their lives. None of them were trying to get to know me in my space or my life. And I returned from those vacations exhausted. I hadn’t devoted any time to nurturing myself.La GraceI didn’t think this birthday would be a big one for me. But let me tell ya, the last two years have kicked my butt. So much so that I’ve lost energy, enthusiam, and interest for a great many things. I’ve put away the childish things completely (people pleasing and people chasing). I’ve walked away from the dead relationships (people who suck you dry or attempt to destroy you in more creative ways) and I let go of the unproductive situations (everything else that doesn’t edify me spiritually). My thirties have been very cathartic and revolutionary. Achieving, claiming and walking in my womanhood has been a progression like anything else:  Introduction to Womanhood => Settling into Womanhood => Emanating Womanliness.

Grown **Ass** Woman

This is how big my brave is: I will be who I am.

La Grace 3I have lived my life with a heart-deep desire to be accepted, appreciated and loved for who I am. Who hasn’t? I’ve spent a lifetime getting to know people who have never been interested in knowing me… so I’ve loved a lot, but I haven’t really been loved. That’s a sad thought, but it’s also empowering. People aren’t comfortable with my blunt directness or the sincerity of my person. I have never asked anyone to modify themselves to be around me. It sounds incredibly arrogant to even think the thought, yet nearly everyone I know has told me at one point to “tone down” or “pull back”. For years, I struggled with the question:  What is an acceptable dosage of LaShawnda to share in any particular envionment?

This summer, I have learned and shared boldly this jem: A person’s inabilty to accept who I am is not my problem.

I don’t need to make excuses for the woman I am. I don’t need to subjugate the person I am to accomodate another person’s sense of who they are. If I can’t be who I am in any given interaction with another person, then they don’t need to be interacting with me. I don’t need to waste my time or my energy trying to figure them out. I can keep moving unemcumbered so I can openly greet the person(s) on my path who are ready to openly greet me in return.

I will no longer hide the fullness of my personality so others can be comfortable in their shallowness.

Today, ask yourself how big your brave is. Don’t shy away from your answer. Embrace it. Then pursue it. Honestly, I wanna see you be brave!   

SONG & VERSE: BRAVE by Sara Bareilles

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you
 
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
 
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
 
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave
 
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave
 
Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is
 
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
 
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
 
Innocence, your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?
 
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
 
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
 
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave (Repeat 3x’s)