Smorgasbord

The past two weeks have been hard for me and the past two days have been the worst. I have been trying to pinpoint the reason for my frustration and anger and although I can come up with many different reasons, I know none of them are THE reason. Interestingly enough during this time of blah, I have had much time to reflect on a lot of things and today God sort of connected all the dots for me.

You see, a couple of weeks ago maybe even three, I somehow in some crazy way hurt my thumb. At first, it didn’t bother me so much and it was more just annoying really. I thought I had just jammed it and within a day or so it would work itself out and inevitably be a faint memory in my past. But that didn’t happen and a week went by and I was still in pain. Things were really starting to get hard for me, I couldn’t even open bottles or turn a doorknob without crying out in pain and at this point I was over-it. I turned to google as I do anytime I can’t figure out what ails me and I refuse to go to the doctor for something that will likely work itself out or that can be dealt with at home. I put in my symptoms and read through quite a few articles to come to the conclusion that I have sprained my thumb. Who does that? How does it even happen? I’m beyond annoyed and become even more annoyed when I find out that there is nothing you can do about it and treatment consist of; trying to keep your thumb immobilized and to take anti-inflammatory and acetaminophen for pain, oh and just my luck it can take anywhere between 2-6 weeks to heal (that’s if you are doing the best you can to help it out and it is NOT on your dominant hand).

It is on my dominant hand.

Yep, I feel like I can do nothing. It’s hard to cook, it’s hard to eat, it’s hard to hold a pen in my hand. It’s hard to wash dishes or change the channel on the remote or use my phone for anything (which I am not too bummed out about the last one). Driving is hard, picking things up, absolutely any type of housework is hard. To make matters worse, I started working out earnestly a little over a month ago and have big goals and have already seen amazing results, but now, I don’t feel like I can go to the gym at all. Over one little digit on my hand. My friggin thumb.

Who knew your thumb had so much power? I ask that question and decide to google it only to find, everyone. That’s what makes humans special from other species. We have opposable thumbs that allow us to grasp things. Which I no longer can do with my right hand! Rant over.

e1acd6bf5d356cc66d7977ef7c8aba3b

So how has God used this to my advantage? Yeah, you heard me right, my advantage.

He has reminded me who He is and who I am through Him and as a member of the body of Christ.

I woke up this morning less than thrilled to go to the gym to meet my trainer. I haven’t been since last Thursday when I saw her last. I honestly don’t know if I would have gone today if I didn’t have an appointment with her. But I did, so I went. Reluctantly. In just a matter of days, I had convinced myself that I am useless because of this injury. That there is no way I can work out without having leg days for the next six weeks and looking like some undeveloped version of the hulk, which I have no desire to do. I should have known better though. I should have known that my sweet trainer would find some way to prove me wrong and make me hate life (in a good way) during our session and ultimately prove me wrong by showing me that I can do so much more than I give myself credit for and although annoying, my thumb can only hold me back so much. Mind over matter. Yet today, she did so much more than that.

At the start of the year, my husband and I decided to get gym memberships. A couple of months later I still hadn’t gone and after another story for another day, we decided it would be best for me to get a trainer. Within a week I was signed up and started the journey that I have loved so much and am so excited to see through as a lifelong change. When I signed up I specifically was looking for someone to challenge me, hold me accountable, show me things I really didn’t know when it comes to nutrition and fitness, as well as someone to do life with (not on a day to day basis really, but that I could eventually have a relationship with and could lift me up and help me along when I need it and if God willing, I could do the same for them). After getting started I realized that I might have been asking for too much when it came to a personal trainer, but today God showed me otherwise. Today, when I really need it the most. He showed up right one time, as He has a habit of doing.

As I said before, I was not looking forward to going to the gym today, but when I left the gym my spirit was happy. My cup had been filled and God has spent every moment since then speaking to me and connecting the dots of my anguish over the last few weeks, and He did it through her. Through her own love for God and her willingness to be obedient in His love and His desire for all to know it, she took the time to encourage me on a completely unrelated subject, but to look to Jesus none the less. She simply said, to ask Jesus for help and He will give it to me and if asking doesn’t seem like enough, look in His word to see what He has to say and in doing so, that will help me. Simple and sweet.

36261474_1094219300718180_3044882880854491136_n
After I got off the treadmill and my mood hand changed. I could barely hold the phone up because I was weak after working out. ha!

After our session ended I went to the treadmill to put in some cardio before leaving for the day, which gave me twenty minutes to talk to God and see what He had to say. This is what He reminded me…

He loves me so much and I am so important. Choosing to be filled with His spirit every day and not giving into my flesh is one of the most important choices I must make, every single day. If I am walking in the flesh, He cannot use me and if He cannot use me, then I am not doing my part in the body of Christ. Every single member of the body of Christ has a purpose and is so significant. Without certain parts the body is weak and although still able to thrive, has a hard time doing so and misses the part that is gone. In that same light, even though I am broken, I am still a member of the body and through time and healing, the body is waiting and ready for me to be whole again. It needs me to be whole again.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (ESV) talks about the body and its members.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Just as I am a part of the body of Christ, so is my trainer. I still have so much to learn about her, but I do know she is significantly great and God is using her for beautiful wonderful things, as long as she is willing. Although it may seem like she only works in a gym and “just helps people work out”, God has given her this platform with hundreds of individuals that she comes across on a daily basis that she has the ability to encourage or plants seeds in. But He is only able to do so if she is willing and walking in His spirit, and I am so thankful that today she was, and I realize how crucial it is that I am, every day.

You never know when God will choose to use you or how He will use you or if you are even aware that you are being used. Which is why it is important to be ready at all times to be used by Him and do so by being filled with His spirit. Romans 8:5-6 tells us that 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

218bbe151fe3e5021e815f1d3ec95a22

I have been so unsettled over the past couple of weeks and I always seem surprised when I come to the same conclusion that I am not spending enough time with Jesus and my spirit is weak and not at peace because of it. What’s worse is how completely selfish it is to walk in the flesh. For every day that I have chosen the flesh over the spirit, I have passed up opportunities to be used by Him and share His love with others. I think as Christians we get complacent from time to time and caught up in the world and allow ourselves to be “comforted” by the fact we know Jesus and He loves us and through a relationship with Him we will get to spend eternity with Him, yet forget that there is a world out there that needs to know it too, deserves to know it too and will only be able to do so by us sharing that love with others.

Sharing that love with friends by bearing each other’s burdens and fulfilling the law of Christ Galatians 6:2, as well as strangers and those we have yet to meet through going out into the world and preaching the gospel to all creations Mark 16:15.

My thumb has been a burden to me over the past couple of weeks, to say the least, but I have come to understand the importance and value of my thumb and am quite appreciative that I have one and even though it is out of commission for a little while, it’s value has not diminished and I still have one. A true blessing. Just the same as the knowledge of the purpose and importance of who I am in the body of Christ and as a lover of Jesus. How important it is me to walk in the spirit every day so that I will not only be at peace but so that I can bring peace to others through sharing the love of Jesus wherever I go and in whatever I do.

Romans 5:3-5 tells us to rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Thank you, God, for sending your son Jesus to die on the cross for us and to save us from our sins so that we may have a relationship with Him instead of a life and eternity of living in the flesh and being away from you. Thank you for leaving us your Holy Spirit so that you are with us always and you continuously are there to bring us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Thank you for not giving up on me in the times when I choose my flesh and forgiving me when I do. Thank you for all of my brothers and sisters who make of the body of Christ and for perfectly orchestrating my relationship with my trainer who can help remind me of your love and the peace that it brings in the moments that I forget. I love you so much and am sorry for every moment that I am apart from you through my own fleshly desires. Continue to work on me and create a new heart in me and to eliminate anything unclean in me. Help me when I look in the mirror to see you looking back at me and that when other’s see me they see you too. I love you so much! Amen.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Jesus loves all the little children

I remember being about three or four when I met my first friend. Sure, I probably had many other friends before then in some form or fashion, through play dates with my mother’s friends or kids I met at church and of course the greatest friends I’ll ever have, my cousins. But this was the first friend that I made that was a complete stranger to me and that I came to know and love all on my own. Our brothers played little league football together and we found each other at one of their many practices or Saturday morning games. Frank and I end up finding that we would soon have many more play dates like this to come for years as our brothers were the same age and played sports together all throughout grade school. We too were in the same grade and ended up going to school together when we were of age and he not only became my best friend, but a brother to me, and as a result of our friendship, we both gained an extended family.

It wasn’t until we were a little older that I found out that there were some people in this world who didn’t like other people because of the color of their skin. This was a shock to me because at this point in my life and for as long as I could remember I had many friends who were black or brown and I had never thought twice about it. The very first friend I ever had was black. His mom was black. His brother and his sisters and his father were all black. His cousins and their wives and children were black too. As far as I could tell, relatively speaking, their skin color was a different pigment than mine and through their family tree, they resembled one another, which is why they were black. Just as I did my family and just as everyone else in the world does with theirs. So when I saw that someone didn’t like my friend, my best friend, because he was black; I was not only angered, because how in the world could someone not like someone for the color of their skin something that they have no control over, but, I was insanely confused, baffled, and just completely flabbergasted in every way.

Frank, my sweet friend, has always had a thing for white girls. Call it what you want, but it’s no different than being attracted to a red head, a country girl, someone who is voluptuous, or short. He likes what he likes and for him, it was a girl with white skin, and to this day, still is. In a really unfortunate way, I learned about racism through his attraction to white girls. The first time I saw the ugly face of racism was through a father of a friend who Frank liked. I can still remember to this day going home and asking my mom what was wrong with Frank liking her and why her father was so upset. As much as my mom tried to explain racism to me, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it and decided I was going to be someone who defied racism and it would not exist in my world.

As the years went by racism was a distant thing for me, meaning I only encountered it occasionally and when I did I fumed at the idea that someone could be so ignorant and hateful. Over half of my friends were African American, Hispanic, or some other version of not white and diversity was not only a huge part of my life but something I longed to be a part of and still do to this day. That’s why the thought of living in a world where diversity is divided saddens me.

If you haven’t caught on yet, racism was not a known subject in my family. It took encountering it in the world to not only discover it but learn what it was and the awful truth of why it even exists; hate. Pure hate and cruelty to no end. No just reasoning or idealsy or logic to it at all, just sheer hate.

Growing up in the church and coming to know God from a very early age, you may laugh at me, but I have always thought this to be one of the greatest truths there ever was;

Jesus loves the little children. All the little children of the world. Black and yellow, red and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.

We were made to love and be loved, by Jesus, and each other. We do so by treating others the way that we too wish to be treated. By letting our light shine in a world full of darkness. By realizing that God made each and every one of us unique in His image and that He did not make a mistake when he formed you in your mother’s womb. We are all perfect in His eyes, and yes, He loves all of His children.

It is that simple you guys.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

The problem with missionaries

Last year I was blessed to go on a mission trip to Harmons Jamaica with my local church and a group of 9 others. It turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. That’s why this year whenever the opportunity presented itself to not only go on another mission trip but go back to the place where my heart was truly transformed, just a short year before, it was a no brainer for me. I leave in just under two weeks to go back and every day that we get closer to boarding that plane, the anticipation is growing inside me like a deep hunger that before last year, I never knew existed.

Before going on a mission trip last year, I have always wanted to do so and even started to join a group a time or two but never followed through for one reason or another. As the years have gone by I have looked at mission trips as a distant desire that maybe one day would be a reality for me, but I honestly didn’t see it happening and was growing more comfortable with the idea that it never would.

It wasn’t until last year when I started preparing to go to Harmons that I started to see how the world, not as a whole, but on a much larger scale than I realized, viewed mission trips overseas. I’ve read some articles that quite frankly missed the entire point altogether and really made missionaries look like bad people. Can you believe that? A person traveling to any location, whether it be local or in another country, to help others, is seen as a bad person. Totally blew my mind and flabbergasted me. Not only did I find articles on the matter, but the more I shared my upcoming journey with others that I know and love, I too found out that they felt the same way.

Why would you go to another country to help others and share your love for Jesus when there are plenty of people in your own back yard who need help and need to hear about Jesus?

I’m not going to support you going out of the country to “serve” God when you can do it in your own back yard, you can leave me out of it.

You need help raising funds to go on a mission trip to another country, well raise it yourself, you made a choice to go then you should make the money to support it.

I’m not going to lie. Hearing stuff like this come out of the mouths of people that care about you and that you care about most, hurts. Mostly because I feel that someone should know my heart and me as a person to know why I would want to go do something like this and even at the end of the day if they don’t entirely believe in it, support me simply out of love and their trust that if it is something I feel strongly about then nothing else should matter.

Here’s the thing. I think we should be missional in every area of our lives. In our homes, in our back yards, throughout our communities, across our country and overseas. I do not think there is a boundary, time or a place that it is not okay to be missional and ultimately further the kingdom of God. I fully believe in; if there is a need to be met and I can meet it, then I should. I would want the same done for me. I do want the same done for me. I pray that God uses me as His vessel every day and that I have the courage and heart to answer Him when He calls.

As I stated before, God has been tugging on my heart for years to go on missions and to do so overseas. I’ve pushed that away and ignored it for a long time simply because I did not think that I could. But last year, sitting in church that December morning when our pastor announced the trip to Harmons and the need for a team. The Holy Spirit told me, go. After the service was over, I looked at my husband and said, I am going, God told me to. He looked back at me and said, go for it, it’s about time…and I did.

The mission trip itself was a week long, eight days if you include traveling, Sunday to Sunday, a small blimp of my life in comparison to anything else. From the moment I signed up until the day that I boarded the plane for the first time was six months, equivalently 182 days. Day 1, the moment I put my name on that list and I said yes to the Holy Spirit, God started working in me in a way that I never knew was possible. Some days were more profound than others, some days were full of battles and attacks from Satan that would be enough to make any person run in the opposite direction. But on day 182, when I stood in that circle with my team praying before we left the church, and then for the next 7 days to follow, God was opening my heart to secrets that I never knew. I walked hand in hand with Jesus for 7 days with no distractions, basking in perfect love and that is something that I would never trade for the world (or anyone in it telling me that I should).

You go on a mission trip to help others and to share your love for God and His love for the world with anyone who is willing to listen if the moment presents itself. But what I have learned is that God did more for me, changed more in me, taught me more about my heart and who I am because of Him in that week and all the months leading up to it, than I ever thought was possible in my journey to “help someone else”. He taught me more about my life, my behaviors, the world we are living in and what I can do to make a difference in those short seven days than He or anyone else did on building houses or standing in a line handing out food.

I won’t pretend that going to Jamaica is filled with a week worth of saving souls and giving back to the poor through some great need that we can fill that would completely go unnoticed if we didn’t because it’s not. It’s filled with a week of building relationships with strangers and falling in love with them over a course of 7 days. It’s building two houses for said strangers while getting to know them and their family and their culture and their love for God. It’s taking a ton of donations with us to attempt to stock a store that caters to the community with normal items like clothes, shoes, and toiletries and barely making a dent in their needs, but doing the best we can with what we can and knowing that God is going to multiply in tenfold. It’s spending a day with the lost and forgotten in a place where the sick or homeless go to die, and putting a smile on their face by just simply loving them in the moment for who they are and everything that you have that is inside you. It’s leaving my home, my children, my job, and all my comforts to attempt to be a good steward for our Lord and allow Him to use me as a vessel in whatever way that He sees fit, and if at the end of the week I do not see an ounce of evidence of a job well done, I will still be satisfied in knowing that I am just a seed planter and God is the ultimate harvester and what seeds I plant for His good, He will grow. It may not manifest itself today, it may not manifest itself for ten more years, but it is all a part of His plan and I am just thankful to be used in it.

 

Kimb.png
Photo Creds: Tony

 

As I sat down this morning to do my morning devotional out of the book Jesus Calling He affirmed this for me.

Seek My face and you will find all that you have longed for. The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me. I know because I designed you to desire me. Do not feel guilty about taking the time to be still in My presence. You are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you. I made you in My image and I hid heaven in your heart. Your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness. Longing for your true home in heaven. Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me whole heartedly you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
—Psalm 42:1–2

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
—Psalm 34:5

So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
—Philippians 2:15

My desire to be intimate with God is greater than anything in this world and if I can find that intimacy with Him in a week in Jamaica, you better believe I am going to take it!

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Speaking From His Heart

Last night at church I was sitting in the large group listening to our preacher teach his sermon. All of the sudden he asks, “Who here wants to see God face to face”, of course, everyone in the room raised their hand. He then said, “Now to turn to the person next to you and take a look at them”. As we all turned to look at our neighbors he then said, “There He is”. My sister bent over next to me and whispered, I told you to look at my toes wiggling them joyfully (to remind me when I saw Jesus in a stranger recently when I had my toes done).

On the way home after church later that evening, it was just me and my oldest son in the car listening to the radio and then I hear;

Michael: Momma?
Me: Yes, baby?
Michael: If I ever wondered off away from home and got separated from you and daddy, I wouldn’t be lost and I would know how to find my way back home.
Me: Oh really? What makes you say that?
Michael: Well, I would never be lost because Jesus is with me. He is always with me momma.
Me: Yes baby, he sure is.
Michael: He is with me right now, sitting right beside me.
Me: Yes He is, He is with you wherever you go, He will never leave you.
Michael: I know that momma. I just wish I could see God and hear Him. I know He is sitting right beside me and with me always, but I want to see Him like really see Him and talk to Him.
Me: Well babe, you can see Him and hear Him, it’ll just take time to before you are able to recognize it as such. The more time you spend with Him and the closer you get to Him…
Michael: …Oh, I already know mom. The closer I get to God the brighter it will be!
Me: It will? That’s an interesting theory…what makes you say that?
Michael: Because! The closer I get to God, the closer I get to Jesus, and Jesus is His right-hand man, the sun. The sun is the brightest star there is, you know that!
Me: Chuckling, you are so right hun, but I think you are a little confused on the meaning of “son” in reference to Jesus.
Michael: What is confusing about the sun, I get it?!
Me: He’s not the sun, he’s the son. Like you are your father’s son. Jesus is the son of God and God is his father.
Michael: Oooooh. That makes much more sense now.
Me: But don’t forget, that He is the son of God, but also one with God and the Holy Spirit. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, before He went back to Heaven, He left the Holy Spirit here with us to guide us…
Michael: …Oh yeah, I know that mom. Jesus is living inside of my heart! When He died and went to Heaven he built a home in my heart and that is where He is now.
Me: Yes, baby, I suppose that is true. I have never thought about Heaven being in my heart, only that God is with me and in me.
Michael: Yeah mom, He lives inside your heart! That’s why we celebrate His birthday on Easter!
Me: No, Easter is about His death…
Michael: …Oh yeah, I got that wrong. Easter is about Jesus dying for us on the cross and Christmas is His birthday! Yeah, mom, Easter ain’t about no bunny and no candy. Neither is Christmas, that’s not what you are supposed to think about. We aren’t supposed to be worried about presents or Santa or food or trees! It’s about Jesus!!
Me: Beaming on the inside. You are so right, baby! Did you learn about this stuff at church tonight? (wondering where all of this information is suddenly coming from)
Michael: No mom, I am just telling you what’s in my heart.
Me: Oh, well! That’s so amazing baby. Do you want to be a preacher when you grow up like Edward?
Michael: Hahaha Nooooo mom. I could never do that.
Me: Why not? That’s what you are doing right now. You are sharing the gospel and not even skipping a beat!
Michael: What’s the gospel, mom?
Me: Everything you just told me, son. The gospel is the story of Jesus and how He came to save us from our sins and how much He loves us and everything in between!
Michael: Oh yeah, I can do that!
Me: I am honestly so surprised to hear such wisdom coming from a five-year-old. But you could share this with anyone, anywhere and that would be preaching!
Michael: Oh yeah mom, I don’t think I know any other kindergarteners who do that.
Me: Me either, but there could be more! That’s why it’s important to share Jesus with others.

MOMMASMichael then fell silent and I turned the radio back up, I am sure he was thinking about everything we just discussed, that was a pretty amazing conversation in such a short amount of time if you ask me. Then, over the sound of the music I hear him say, “hey stars, talk to me, I want to hear you sing!”.

I’ve always said that my most favorite learning moments about Jesus come from my children, this night was no different. Jesus is truly with us wherever we go. Whether we can see Him or hear Him, He is there. Like my pastor pointed out tonight if you are looking for God just take a look around you. There is evidence of Him everywhere. Through all of His creations of the earth and in His children that you speak to every day, God is with us. You just need to pay attention.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Learning to Let Go

If there is one thing that I have struggled with more than others on a day to day basis, it is the need to be in control. For many years I let this have great power over me, so much so, that I was simply not happy if I was not in control and bad things happened when I did not get my way. Not an easy thing to admit, especially when this is still something I struggle with today. But through the grace of God, I am getting better and learning how to relinquish that control one day at a time.

The problem with wanting to be in control is that you inevitably do not let anyone else have any control or help you with whatever it is that you may be doing or going through. I have always had this unhealthy fear that if I did not do something myself, then it would not get done right and something really important would go unnoticed or not get done and everything would be terrible in the end. It is hard to put your trust in others to “do the right thing” in any given situation, but more so in a situation where something is so important to you and you just cannot stand the idea of letting anything bad happen or go wrong.

COPENHAGEN

It sucks for a lot of reasons, living life this way. One is that you hurt others around you in the process. With my need to be in control, I do not allow others to flourish in areas where they might shine had I not held them back. There have been times when I have not given someone the admiration, credit or thanks for their efforts and instead criticized them for what they could have or should have done differently. I have found myself totally dismissing the abilities of others and just bypassing the whole situation altogether and ultimately isolating myself in the process and becoming burnt out because I had to do it all on my own. The worst part about this character trait is when I have refused to let go of control over my life and let God have the wheel, thus bringing myself back to step one and having to cope with the fact that my life has once again has become unmanageable.

I would love to tell you that I no longer do any of those things and that I, in fact, have found the root of what drives me in this way, therefore, freeing me from this flaw altogether. But that would not be true and I would not be able to share with you where I am today in spite of it because I am still working on it and I still have my good days and my bad days and thankfully God is not done with me yet!

Surrender

The good news is through my recovery I have learned that I do have a problem. I have learned what the problem is and what I can do to change it. For me, that is making a conscious decision every day to cast my worries and anxieties on the Lord, to trust that He knows what is best for me and His plan for my life far outweighs anything of my own. That if I wake up each morning and allow God to direct my path then I will have an amazing day and it will be full of surprises and blessings beyond my wildest dreams that I would never get to experience if I continue to hold onto the reigns.

2. Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 NIV

I will give you no hopes in telling you that in doing these things it will be easy because it won’t. Learning to let go of control over things in my life has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, which is why I still struggle with it so much.  Even when I am not thinking about it, I do it. Even when I do not try to take the reigns, it naturally just happens. But like anything else that is a bad habit, it must be broken through diligently trying to overcome it and I now know that the only way I can do that is through Jesus! I kid you not, if I am having a hard time trying to do something or find myself getting stressed of flustered during the day, I am totally the one to blame and I have to throw my hands up and say “it is yours God, I am stepping away”. Once I do, I usually kick myself for trying to do it on my own, laugh, and then smile because I know that God’s got this! True Story. You should try it 🙂

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart


This is part 2 in my ongoing recovery series, for the introduction and Part 1 you can find them here.

Note: If you would like to find out more about faith-based Recovery programs in your area, visit Celebrate Recovery and click on CR Groups. Feel free to email me for more information on where to find a group in your area.

My pedicure with Jesus

You probably read that title and thought, what? Is she crazy? Maybe a little bit. But this was not crazy at all. It was beautiful and sad and perfect all during my Thursday lunch break.

A couple of weeks back my boss gave me a gift card to go get my footsies done. I have been putting it off for days and finally decided I was going to shave my legs this morning and go get those puppies done. I do not like to go get my toes done very often and by that I mean once a year, maybe, mostly because I do not like people touching my feet and whenever they do I cringe and have so many insane emotions than run through my body as it is happening. So, if you ever watch me get a pedicure it is pretty entertaining, to say the least.

Today was no different than any other day and this pedicure trip was going to turn out just like the rest. Me sitting uncomfortably in a chair that is supposed to be super comfortable as it massages you, but the fact someone is touching your feet and doing crazy things to them takes away any enjoyment that the chair may bring you. But to my surprise when I got to the salon, my favorite one in town, by the way, I sat down to what looked like a ten-year-old boy who was going to do my toes.

Good grief.

I was already super concerned about how this was going to pan out, but now I have a ten-year-old doing my pedicure?! I seriously thought that I came at the wrong time of the year if they let their children give pedicures during the summer. This was promising to be everything I hoped for and then some. I begrudgingly got in the chair and allowed him to start my pedicure. I decided I was going to be nice whether I liked it or not because I only had an hour and I wanted this to be over as soon as possible.

In the first couple of minutes, I kept my nose in my phone so I didn’t have to watch the torture that was mine. But every time I looked down to see how it was going, he would smile back up at me with the sweetest grin and absolutely no idea that I hated pedicures or cared about how young he was. I kept that up for a while trying to ignore him and that he was touching my feet. But once he started getting to work on my callous I could not hold it in anymore and we both started laughing so hard. He looked at me like I was crazy, as did every other person in the salon as I tried to explain to them all how I hated my feet being touched and this part of the pedicure is always the worst for me.

ls

Now that the mood was lightened for everyone and I no longer had my nose in my phone. I was able to take in this person in front of me. A couple minutes before, the lady next to me was making conversation with her tech and mine and had asked their ages (they both looked incredibly young) as we found out her tech was twenty-four and mine was twenty! No way, not possible, you look like a ten-year-old. I’m sorry, but you do. As I started to study him I noticed that he did not look like a ten-year-old at all and instead looked like a young man and indeed could potentially be twenty years old (I still refuse to believe it).

My tune started to change as the pedicure went on. He was being “gentle” with me but not lacking in the services he was performing so I was distracted from the usual torture and as I took in all of who he was I started to notice some interesting things about him…

He had scars, so many scars on his legs and his wrists and his arms. Every time he looked up at me and gleamed the scars would disappear and then when he looked away and got back to massaging my feet, I noticed all of the pain he was wearing and my heart began to break. What in the world could be causing this beautiful soul so much pain to make him want to harm himself? What is going on in his life or that he has been through to cause him so much pain that the only way he could find an escape from it all was the release in putting a razor blade to his skin?

20170629_122859_1498771128399

He noticed that I noticed them and hesitated for a moment and tried to hide them, but ever so swiftly to not put any pause in the work he was doing. I instantly stopped looking and started praying. God, take his pain away. Maybe his pain has been gone for a long time and he’s overcome whatever he’s been through, I pray that he has, but if he hasn’t, take this cup from him. Heal him, Lord, from the inside out in a way that only you can. Love him, God, so deeply that peace would overwhelm him and the darkness would flee from his life. Thank you, God, for bringing me here today, so that I could see him and fall in love with someone so special…I know this pedicure and this moment was set up by you and I am so thankful to be here today. Thank you for coming with me to get my pedicure. Thank you so much, Lord.

The rest of our time spent together was about the same. My phone died (in the yellow I might add). I think God wanted me to soak it all in and just enjoy this moment for what it was. I have never had a more perfect pedicure before in my entire life and as I sat there contemplating how much of a tip to give him I instantly thought, ten should be nice. Then I argued no, twenty, this was a free pedicure and I really want to bless him today and bring some light to his world. But then God said, no, match it. Match it? Yes, give him what you would have spent if you paid for it yourself. Okay God, if that is what you want me to do.

As the final minutes were coming to a close and he was getting to the painting of my toes, an older lady walked in, you could tell she was a regular.  She said she needed a pedicure and her nails done and that she wanted the sweet girl who did them for her last time to do them. She looked over at me and said, oh good she’s here! She thought my tech was a girl! He looked at me, obviously offended as any man would be and tried to ignore her and finish my toes. She then came and sat down in a chair one over from me and was talking to the lady starting her pedicure and asked if her daughter could please do her nails because she really enjoyed it so much last time (still talking about my tech) and his mom said yes and he noticeably got upset, but then shot her the sweetest grin when she looked his way. I felt so bad for him, and no one was going to tell her she was wrong. But this moment was just a glimpse of what his pain must be like, so heavy and so deep, but the second that someone looks his way he flashes the most beautiful grin their way.

Before I knew it he was finished and it was time to go, I honestly was not ready to at this point. I did not even care that it had taken thirty minutes longer than I had planned. He gently put my flip flops back on so as to not mess up my paint and then came to my side and helped me out of the chair as he asked me if I was happy and did he do a good job. I sheepishly said yes, and told him to have a wonderful day as I walked to the counter to pay.20170629_161743_1498771128814

The guy said that’ll be two dollars. I handed him my debit card and he asked if I had any change and I told him no because I wanted to leave a tip. He asked me how much of a tip I wanted to leave and I smiled as I said thirty-five dollars. He shook his head and looked over at my tech and said, you want to leave him thirty-five dollars? Yes sir, thirty-five dollars. Signed for it and walked out the door with the biggest grin on my face, because I just got a pedicure with Jesus.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Admitting you are powerless

In April of 2010, I quit using meth and other illegal narcotics cold turkey. I did not go to a rehab or slowly cut back, I decided that I did not want to live my life like that anymore and I was so very tired of going through what I was going through and that I had enough. I got to the point where I wasn’t using recreationally anymore, but I was waking up wondering how I was going to get high and spending the day making sure that I did.

I was no longer working, my car had gotten repossessed, I was less than 100lbs and I was burning bridges left and right to the point where my friends were getting tired of me too. I had been arrested and just spent the last year on probation, where my drug use got heavier as I became depressed and felt like my future had been ruined. I had spurts of positivity where I would do something really amazing to try and make others around me proud of me, which was always just a cover up for what I was really doing. One of which was me starting college (during the heaviest time of my using) and never attending any of my classes because I was too high or asleep from being up for days.

The whole year of 2009 was jam packed full of insanity for me. My life had completely become unmanageable and it was time for a change. The options before me were going to jail, die or start over and change.

1.png

My road to sobriety was unconventional, to say the least. I have always been stubborn and strong willed, so if I was going to get my life back on track I was going to do it my way and on my own terms. I knew that I needed to get out of the environment that I was in and ultimately cut off everyone that I knew or had been around for the last couple of years. I did not want to escape reality and instead wanted to face it head on with my family by my side and clinging to Jesus. I chose to go spend the next month in St. Louis with my sister and her family. Over 9 hours away, with no vehicle to escape in if I could not handle the pressure and disconnected from all the people and things that would normally suck me back into the lifestyle I had become a pro at living.

While I was at my sister’s I tried to engage myself in activities that would not only distract me from the desire to go home and use again. But that would better me as an individual and put me on the right path to staying clean long term. I did this through starting to exercise, something I had not done in years and my body needed desperately, attending church regularly with my sister and her family, as well as attending a small group with her a couple times a week. I read my Bible daily, started a devotional that would help me to grow in the Lord and just poured my heart and soul into becoming the person who I knew God created me to be. I started to gain weight, I cut all of my hair off and I was finally becoming happy with the person I saw looking back at me in the mirror. I now had hope, goals, wants, desires and was content with doing whatever it was that God wanted me to do. I was on fire in every sense of the word and a force to be reckoned with!

The FirstStepIs AlwaysThe Hardest (1)I know I make getting clean sound easy, but it is actually one of the hardest things that I have ever done. Not even from the physical aspects of it, but everything tied into using mentally and emotionally. In order for me to truly change and move forward I had to come to terms with where my life was at and who I was in that moment; an addict. Labeling yourself an addict is not an easy thing to do and it is not something that makes you feel good on the inside. However, doing so gives you a sense of empowerment of your life and the will to move forward. I say this because, if you do not know what the problem is then you do not know what to fix, but once you found what the problem is you can start working on getting it done.

No matter what type of recovery group you attend whether it be AA, NA, CA, SA, HA, SAA, WA, CR or the alike the first step is always going to be the same;

  1. Admitting that your life has become unmanageable and that you do not have power of your addiction, hurt, habit or hang-up. i.e. Coming out of denial.

For me, however, I found myself (which I would not know until much later) following the 8 Recovery Principles that are based on the Beatitudes and my step one was more like this;

  1. Realizing that I am not God; admitting that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life had become unmanageable.

I knew that in order to truly change that I was going to have to let God do the changing in me. I needed to let go of myself and relinquish the control of my life over to Him. This was something that I would need to do every day, for the rest of my life if I wanted to make sure that I never used again. It would be years before I discovered a Christ-centered recovery group that would help me to dig deeper into my issues and continue to better myself for the long-run, but I will talk about that another time…

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart


This is part 1 in my ongoing recovery series, for the introduction and the rest of the series you can find them here.

Note: If you would like to find out more about faith-based Recovery programs in your area, visit Celebrate Recovery and click on CR Groups. Feel free to email me for more information on where to find a group in your area.

Easier said than done

It’s been awhile since I sat down to write something for my blog. I could give you a laundry list of excuses as to why, but I simply just haven’t had the time to and haven’t had anything inspire me to do so. With that being said, I have missed it. I have missed getting on each week and sharing my thoughts on life and things going on around me. I have missed the interaction with others and seeing how they have benefited or related to something that I wrote. I have missed the lessons that I inevitably taught myself along the way through writing something that was more for me than it was for you.

I have decided that I do not want to go weeks again without writing and am going to do a short series to keep myself motivated and make sure that I am writing something new each week. The series will be over my experience in recovery and the twelve steps that you can walk through to get there too. Without further ado…I want to discuss something that has been weighing on my mind lately and I have found brought up in discussion with my friends and family many times. The introduction to the series…


You have seen me talk before about my strong desire to help people, see people change for the greater good, for their greater good. In my life testimony, I talk about how it was one of my greatest struggles and quite honestly one of the hardest lessons that I have ever had to learn; that you cannot help someone who does not want to help themselves. As much as I would like to tell you that I have reached the full understanding of this notion, it is still something that I struggle with today. Thankfully on a much smaller scale, but even still I find myself wanting to help someone be a better version of themselves and come out of the darkness that they are hiding in.

I struggle more today with allowing myself to help someone because I know that they are the ones that have to help themselves and unless they want to, there’s a good chance I am going to feel like I have failed in the end. The struggle comes from feeling as if it is easier to just give up and walk away rather than extend a lending hand in their time of need. Learning to find the balance between supporting them and enabling them or ultimately harming myself in the process, is a battle that I feel I will rage for years to come.

It is funny to me because I know that the best way I could help someone who is determined to destroy themselves or unwilling to come out of denial that they are in; is through prayer. I know that I do not have an ounce of control over whether or not they put one foot in front of the other and move forward in their life, but I still cannot help but feel even more powerless when I do nothing at all. I do pray for whoever it is and whatever their situation may be, but then I give up too easily and find myself eager to walk away and just let it be. Saying, they’ll come around when they are ready, I’ll be here when they do.

4447

But I do not like that way of thinking. It makes my heart feel heavy and sad. It makes me feel like a bad person for allowing someone to wallow in whatever detrimental life that they are choosing and sit back and act as if I do not notice. It makes me remember how I wish someone would have pushed through my stubbornness when I was an active user and been there by my side, instead of waiting on the other. Do not get me wrong here. I am not trying to contradict myself because I know that I know, you cannot make someone want help and you cannot make someone follow the right steps that it takes to get better, do better, be better or have better. But at what point do you stop trying? At what point do you give up? At what point do you keep going? At what point do you choose another angle? At what point do you stay instead of walk away, without getting hurt in the process.

  • I have found that equipping others with the right tools that they need to succeed is a start.
  • Loving them unconditionally through their ugly without judgment is not only necessary but one of the most important things that you can do for them.
  • Not only praying for them but praying with them will impact them more than you could ever imagine and will give you the strength that you need to walk through this journey with them.
  • Being consistent and setting a good example that they can follow is not only important to them but important for you so you can remain firm in your foundation.
  • Setting boundaries and abiding by them, at all cost.
  • Holding them accountable and allowing them to do the same to you.
  • Never make promises that you cannot keep or do not intend to because they merely sound good in the moment and you think it will make it better. It won’t.
  • Do not be afraid to give tough love. It can be extremely painful and really scary. But in the end, even if you feel like you are pushing them away. One day, they will thank you for it.
  • Remember that respect is a two-way street. They deserve it just as much as you do, and you cannot allow it to be waivered from you or them.
  • Listen with the intent to hear what they are actually saying and then respond in love.
  • Be honest. Even if it hurts. The truth will set you free, and they need to see that so that it can one day do the same for them.

daniell-koepke-feel-guilty-toxic-people-7y3s.jpg_thumb_600w-squareKnow this. It is okay to walk away, it is okay to allow yourself to not be a pushover, a door step, an enabler, have a revolving door in your home, be used and abused or manipulated and deceived. Not only is it okay, but it is necessary for their healing. Rock bottom is a real thing and I wholeheartedly believe that sometimes it is the only thing that will save a person and give them the desire that they need in their heart to turn their life around or whatever situation they are in that is harming them. They have to become fed up with what is going on in their life to not want to experience it anymore. They have to get tired and long for rest. They have to decide that enough is enough and that they are done. You cannot do that for them, no matter how hard you try.

Here’s the crazy thing. I’m not only referring to alcoholics and drug users. I am referring to any person that has a hurt, habit or hangup. I’m referring to your friend who is in an awful relationship that is destroying them and you are waiting for them to walk away from it. I am referring to your neighbor who has abandonment issues from their childhood and it has manifested itself as anger or resentment and now that they are an adult and you get the blunt end of the stick. I’m referring to the bully who is screaming for attention and looking for it in all the wrong places.

CR-Hurts-Habits-and-Hangups-300x190We are all human. We are all imperfect. We all make mistakes. We all need help. But most importantly we just want to be loved, and be happy. When someone you know and love goes looking for that happiness or wholeness in all the wrong places, don’t give up on them. Be there for them. Set a good example for them. Pray for them, every day. Be the love that they need, and let your light shine.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart


This article is an introduction to an 8 pt series on Recovery.

Part 1 Admitting you are Powerless

Part 2 Learning to Let Go

Note: If you would like to find out more about faith-based Recovery programs in your area, visit Celebrate Recovery and click on CR Groups. Feel free to email me for more information on where to find a group in your area.

The difference between judging someone and holding them accountable

It is amazing what we can do and think in this world based off of what we have been told from a lie. It is even more amazing how much of us are walking around in denial believing that the lie is the truth and refusing to see anything else for what it truly is. This is the reality we live in today, and it’s sad. I am no exception to this, as much as I would love to say otherwise.

I have been talking back and forth with different people about this subject and decided it was time to touch on it from my view and what I perceive to be the truth. If what’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me, what if one of my truth says your truth is a lie? Would it still be true?

Think about it.

If you live in the same world that I do, whether you are a Christian or unbeliever, you have at some point been in the argument or read one regarding opposing views on just about anything that someone can come up with to oppose someone else on. Some of the more popular arguments surround religion, race, politics, and health. In any case, a large majority of our population cannot disagree with someone in a calm cool and collected way without ultimately ending up with hate in their heart or a burnt bridge, all because of a matter of difference in opinion.d80125d67887cf6531dda39f4864b568

When arguments like this ensue, they might not start around religion, but almost certainly always end in it and the end result is usually that Christians are too judging and are not loving the way they are supposed to if they can’t accept the way someone else is living or behaving. I am here today to put an end to this argument and settle this once and for all, if you will let me.

My mom and I were recently discussing the difference in judging someone and holding someone accountable for their actions. The line between the two often gets blurred when someone is doing something they do not want to do and need an excuse to keep doing it and ultimately make them feel better about the choices they are making. But here is the thing that most Christians do not tell you or often leave out in the heat of the moment.

We sin too, no differently than you do. There is no greater sin than another and we all fall short of the glory of God, and that’s okay,. No matter how hard you try you are going to continue to sin because you are human and sin is in the world and we are in the world with it. The good news is; Jesus came to save us from that sin so that we do not have to be condemned by it and if we so choose, get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. What once used to separate us from God, sin, no longer does because He sent His son to die for our sins and because of His blood that was spilled, we are no longer bound by it. Pretty amazing right?

8735fdedffc50f86276711edfaa114e0With all of that in mind, here is where the tricky part comes into play. As a Christian, you, simply put, deny yourself and choose to believe that Jesus died on the cross to save you from your sins. In believing this you are choosing to start a relationship with Him and follow the rules and instructions that He has laid out for you. This does not mean that everything you have ever done has instantly been erased. That does not mean that you are now a perfect human being with the inability to sin or do no harm. That does not mean that the you who once was will automatically become someone different.

It does, however, mean that everything you have ever done in your past has been forgiven. It does mean that you are accepting the fact that you are a broken sinner who needs a savior and will continue to sin but live your life in a way that pleases God and in doing so will over time start to sin less and less out of love and obedience for Him. It also means that although you are still who you are; through the reading of His word, prayer and beginning to walk in a close and personal relationship with Him, you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind and in that, become a reflection of Christ Himself. It also means that this is something that you have to choose every single day to do over and over again because if you do not, then your flesh will win and the picture that people have in their heads when they hear the word Christianity or Jesus will remain to be what it is today.

So what is my point? Where am I going in this “argument”?

There are many things, that we as Christians, are called to do as we follow Christ and the example He set before us. One of which is to hold others accountable for their sin so that they can to be saved from it. Not judge them for their sins so that you can feel better about yourself because you can’t and you won’t.

ef64a817b5d4d01bbf30b273a695e7dbMatthew 7:1-5 says, “Do not judge others, or you too will be judged. For in the same way that you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why would you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take that speck out of your eye’ when all of the time there is a plank in your own? If you do this, you are a hypocrite, and you should first take the plank out of your own eye so you then will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brothers”.

That is pretty straight forward if you ask me. This passage simply states, that we are all sinners and my sin should not go unnoticed simply because someone else’s sin is apparent and out in the open. I should work on my own sins and pray for and be an example to my brother so that he can work on his too. If I do not do this and instead judge him for his sins, then I will reap what I sow and it will not be pretty.

We are also called to restore our brothers and sisters gently. Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brothers and sisters if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves when you do, because you may also be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Again, a pretty straightforward request that gets skewed time and time again. This passage says to me if someone you know is doing something they should not be doing, as a loving friend, tell them what they are doing that is wrong. But watch out, because it is easy to get caught in the same sin with them. Regardless, we should carry each other’s burdens and support one another and in doing so we will be doing as Christ has asked us to do.

7fe53896390fe213704b7d0d50cdfa4dThe last one I am going to share with you, which is pretty stinking important, and is the one that gets messed up the most. Matthew 18:15-17 which says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won the over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector.

God intended for us to look out for one another and to help each other when we lose our way. This passage tells us to go to our friend if they are doing something that is harming themselves and to tell them what is going on, just to them and not to someone else. If they do not want to listen to you, then try it again in front of two or more people so that the effort does not go unnoticed and you have witnesses to strengthen the argument. If they still will not listen, take the matter to the church so they can handle it there and if even then they will still not listen, then walk away because there is nothing you can do about it and you cannot let them bring you down and brought into their sin with them.

This is the moment you have all been waiting for, my point.

When someone is trying to live their life, holy and pleasing to God and they find fault with a choice that you are making in yours, it is not because they want to judge you or condemn you for what you do. They first, don’t have the power to and they know that they don’t. But more than anything, are just trying to hold you accountable for something that has been made clear to them that is not right and that is displeasing to God. If Christians watched their family and loved ones make decisions that they know are against Gods will and say nothing about it, they are no better than the person that is committing the sin. If Christians just kept their mouths shut and never told you that something you are doing is wrong and that there is a better way to live your life, the world that they too live in would soon become hell on earth, but worse, you would never get to know about Jesus.

Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of your brother. – Romans 14:13

Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.  – James 5:20

Here is the thing y’all. God put us on this earth to love and be loved because He is love. There is not one single individual on this planet that God does not love and that He would not want to spend eternity with Him. But the cool thing is that He gave you the ability to choose, free will. He is not going to force you to love Him.  He is not going to force us to all get along or to do the right thing and because I know that, I want you to know it too. I want you to feel the same love and peace and hope and joy and blessings that I feel every single day. I want when I go to Heaven, to see you there too. But I cannot do it on my own and neither can you. Iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17), I need you to tell me when I am in the wrong so that I can tell you when you are in the wrong and no matter what love each other through it, deal?

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

7 Years and Counting…Sobriety Wins

I was raised in the church, from the womb to the crib at the church nursery, and from then on out. The church was all that I had ever known and understood as the way of life for everyone, and because of this, I came to know Jesus from a very young age. I believe I was seven years old the first time I asked Jesus into my heart and then about eight the first time I was Baptized. I was a young girl that was ignorant in so many ways, truly naïve to the world and all that it had to offer, and blind to deceit or the reality and the weight that I would soon learn that it held.

In a nutshell, I was a very happy-go-lucky kind of girl! Trusting to everyone and knew no stranger. I had a huge heart that wanted to help anyone in any way that I could, you know, a save the world kind of girl! That was me, the best friend, the teacher’s pet, the girl who wanted to do anything and everything as long as it put a smile on her face and everyone else’s around her.  I continued to attend church regularly with my family and then with my friends as I got into middle school. Then before I knew it I was thirteen, and that’s when everything started to change for me.

full (3)
This was my freshmen year, Queen’s ball, RIGHT before my life started to change..

I guess you could say I became your “typical teenager” with a few quirks here and there. I was involved in sports and was on our high school drill team. I had a ton of friends and was in most of the advanced classes, as well as the top 10% of our class. I was super active in the youth group at the local church in our town and until then, I was just living life and enjoying being a kid. You could say it all changed when I fell in love with a boy, although, the changes had already started happening to me before then and I just hadn’t noticed it yet. A year before this time, my sister got married and had a baby. This, in most people’s worlds, is a huge blessing and a happy time in life. But for me, it felt like I was being left behind, that my sister was being taken away from me, and that no one really cared about what I had going on anymore. Silly to think about now, but it was a harsh reality for me then.

So here I am, thirteen and deeply in love with this boy, like head over hills crazy in love, do stupid stuff with a boy in love. That’s right, at the very young age of fifteen I lost my virginity. Instead of living my life for Christ like I was born and raised to, I started living my life for a boy and pretty much worshiped the ground that he walked on. I would have done anything for him, seriously, anything. Anything at all that I felt would make him happy or have him love me the way that I loved him. I went as far as to give my body to him, something I said I would never do until I was married. I completely blew off anyone and anything that had every mattered to me so I could devote myself to him, and before I knew it, I wasn’t just in love with a boy anymore, I was on drugs and had fell in love with them too.

The drugs were my choice. I want to make that abundantly clear for anyone who may every think or feel otherwise. He hated the fact that I did drugs or that I changed an ounce of who I was as time went on and our relationship grew. But it didn’t matter, I was going to do what I wanted to do because I wanted to do it no matter what it cost me. I lost all of my friends, I dropped out of school. Not once, but three times, before never going back at all. Then, once it was too late and I had dug the hole so deep that I could no longer see the light anymore, I turned back and he was gone too. All that I had then was the drugs and the friends that I found through doing the drugs and all of the people and places that came with it. When he was no longer there to devote myself to, I just found something new or someone new to devote myself to and every single time, it turned out to be a huge lie and a waste of my time.

I had this way of finding “new projects” if you will, something that I could devote all of my time and pour all of my energy and focus into.  These projects usually consisted of the new boyfriend who I loved so much and that was so amazing and had every problem under the sun. But I never let that get me down because I was there to save him! I was going to make it all better. I was going to fix him. I was going to make all of his problems going away. Or a friend, that was worse off than I was and that too needed to be saved. This was a constant in my life. No matter what I did or all of the crazy that I put myself through I did not see how badly I was hurting myself in an effort to save someone else, or how bad I was hurting those who truly loved me and cared for me instead. Regardless, I continued down this path and no matter what had happened with the other people before them I kept pushing thinking it would be different this time. I could never understand why it always ended in defeat and why no matter how hard I tried, I could never save them, it never worked. It would be a long time before I learned the powerful lesson as to why.

full
One of the many pictures of myself back then..high..but smiling.

This went on for years. I found myself constantly complaining and whining about how all I ever did was give of myself and I would never expect anything in return, yet I was continuously getting stomped on and let down by everyone and all I could scream was why?! Sure, my family was always there to tell me exactly why, but I never wanted to hear it, they were the last people I wanted to listen to because I didn’t think they would understand and there was no way I was about to admit to them that what they were saying was true and that I was wrong. At this point, I was in a continuous cycle of deceit. All of which I had brought upon myself and as far as I was concerned there was no way of coming back from it, plus I didn’t believe I was doing anything wrong anyways. Even though I was lying to my family, my friends, to myself, and most importantly to God. Even though I was having sex,  and doing drugs like there was no tomorrow, had dropped out of school, and everything stupid I could think of in between. I was only doing it for a good cause! I was trying to help people here. What was wrong with that? I never went out of my way to hurt anybody and in the times that I did, I never meant to do it. The only person I truly ever thought I was hurting was myself, and that didn’t bother me because I was strong and kind and I had God on my side! I could handle everything, right? Give me a cape and call me superwoman! That was what I thought. But I was wrong, so so very wrong.

Fast forward six years down the road, I had now been to jail and was put on probation for a year, a year that would soon become one of the worst years of my life. What once had started out with me being young and in love and on a mission to save the world, ended up with me being promiscuous and having sex out of wedlock, smoking pot every day all day and living life as one of the biggest potheads in Gladewater, Texas. On top of that, I had spent the last six years in what seemed like a continuous party, sleeping on whoever’s couch would have me and coming home after being gone for days at a time. I’d eventually tried every drug in the book at least once, if not a couple of times, and had lied to every single person that I had known in some way or another. In my drunken stooper, I had been raped, twice. I put myself in the most dangerous situations that one could imagine. I was stealing, cheating, lying, abusing others, and being abused, I was prideful, stubborn, conceited, unemployed, and I had eventually lost my car. I was slowly losing my family, on top everyone else in my life that I had already pushed away. I didn’t care if I was alive or dead. I attempted suicide once, or twice, gosh I lost count, but at that point, I just didn’t care anymore. Before I knew it I was eighteen years old, and before the clock had struck twelve on my birthday, I was on meth. This started the downhill spiral that led me to my bottom over the next two years.

I sounded like a trooper if you ask me. All the crap I put myself through and I was still here. Never once forgetting who Jesus was or where I was headed if I kept up that life.

Honestly, I cannot say that the life I was living didn’t bother me because that would be a lie. All of it did. No matter how far I took it or how much time had passed or how much I said or showed differently, I cared. But I was lost. I was so far beyond being buried in deceit, I had dug a whole so deep and ran from God for so long that I truly believed there was no turning back, that I could not be saved.

Looking back, I cannot tell you the first thing that sparked my mind or heart to want to change and just take that first step. I give credit to a lot of different things and some very important people in my life that were a part of this time and a part of what got me to that point. The reality is, I was tired. I was past giving up, and in my experience, I had discovered giving up had gotten me nowhere, because after I had given up I was still here. I was still alive, and I knew there had to be a good reason why and so, I finally decided the bad was bad. No, it was horrible beyond words or human belief. It was the bottom of all existence and everything I ever was or thought I could be. I was done.

Growing up in the church I had always heard that God would never allow me to go through more than I could handle, even if I dragged myself through it, He was still in control.

The following summer I decided to visit my sister in St. Louis, at the time her living so far away was a sweet escape for me when life was kicking me down. I could always count on her to take me in and love me exactly the way that I was, plus I had a key. On this trip, I got the chance to take myself out of “my world” and be in a completely different environment. This, of course, was not the first time I had done this, but this time I had a completely different motive in mind. I attended church with her each Sunday while I was visiting and her church was doing this mini-series on super sizing your life. I cannot remember the significance of the lesson now, what was said in which moment or why, but I do remember everything just starting to click for me.

full (2)
This was the same week I sat in my sister’s church. Just a couple of days before this picture my hair was down to my butt (a normal for me), I decided to cut it all off to symbolize that the old me was dead and gone. This was a new girl 🙂

Through all the insanely horrible things that I had put myself through, God kept showing me mercy, time and time again. He was always there, watching over me and keeping me safe. No matter what new dark place I could find to try and run and hide too, He was there. I was running from Him and He was chasing me, wanting so bad for me to come back to Him, just waiting for me, patiently. It didn’t matter how badly I had stomped on Him or how many times I had rejected Him or how long that it took for me to come home. He was still there. Ready and waiting, with arms wide open, just waiting for me to accept.

All of the years that I had spent hurting myself, I had blamed the devil. I blamed everybody and everything for what was going on around me for where I was at in life. Then that day, in my sister’s church, it all made sense to me. Are you ready for it? In order to be changed and to leave it all behind and to be happy and peaceful and full of life, with Jesus Christ himself, to love Him and to have a beautiful relationship with Him, I had to let go of me.

and I did y’all. That same day and I have never been the same again.

Today marks seven years of my sobriety.

They say that after seven years that every cell in your body has died at some point and regenerated, so to me that means I am a brand new person today, just like I was seven years ago when I decide to stop running and give it all to God. Seven years later I am happily married with two gorgeous boys that I am so very much in love with, and our family dog Charlie. I have graduated from college twice now and am now working on my third degree, my masters! We bought our own home a few years back, we own two cars, and we are still in debt, but it’s just a footprint from the life we are living. We attend church regularly as a family and are all very involved in our community. Every year God continues to mold me and grow me into this beautiful human being that I never thought I could be and the best part about it is; I am human. I am not perfect. I stumble, like every day y’all. I fall. I make plenty of mistakes and yet, every time I do, my God is there to forgive me. He is there to dust me off and pick me back up again and that is something that will never change!

This morning I woke up late because I had a bad dream, it was a dream about my husband doing horrible things to me and my world crumbling back down to what it was before, it was a nightmare and it woke me up in bad mood. After I got up one thing after another kept happening to me to make me upset. My son peeing all over the middle of the floor, my water bottle spilling all over the counter because I forgot to put the cap back on, it was pay day and my check had not come in yet, and from where I was standing my day was going to suck.

My husband urged me to let it go and not let it ruin my day, he’s a smart man.

But then God reminded me. You have a son! You have a job! You have a counter and water to spill on that sucker. You are blessed beyond belief and today you are a new woman! Hallelujah!

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child and I reasoned like a child; now that I am a woman, I am done with my childish ways and I have put them behind me! 1 Corinthians 13:11

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart