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

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.

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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?

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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

Thirteen Reasons Why…and One Reason Why Not

As I am sure many of you have by now, or soon will if you have yet to discover, binge watched 13 Reasons Why. I came across an article about it and was intrigued by it, this particular subject hits home with me in more ways than one and I was curious to see how someone portrayed the topic through a mini-series.

“Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the best-selling books by Jay Asher, follows teenager Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) -his classmate and crush-who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, Thirteen Reasons Why weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect viewers.” Written by Studio

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After completing 13 emotionally raw episodes as Hannah goes through the events that led up to her death, I was left with an empty feeling and an overwhelming sadness that even though this was just a television show, things like this happen every day. It happened to me. It happened to friends of mine as we were growing up. It has happened to close family and loved ones. It happens every day, all over the world and frankly is not talked about enough.

In case you choose to never read the book that inspired the series or watch it for yourself, I’ll shed some light on the “reasons” why she ultimately took her own life. (Potential spoiler alert)

She was a high school girl that was fairly popular who ended up losing all of her close friends and soon found herself feeling all alone. As a result of bullying through simple “normal” high school antics, it all struck a chord with her that left her feeling worthless. She was abused mentally, physically, and spiritually until she felt like there was nothing left of her. She even tried to seek help, but was made to feel as if she was not worth the help or that there was nothing that she could ultimately do about it, except forget it and move on. Every part of her was broken, lost, confused and she felt hopeless.

I have yet to share my story with you all and plan on doing it soon.. But, I have been there before. High school was not easy for me, as much as I was great at hiding it. I lost friends that had been in my life since kindergarten, which when you are 16 years old feels like your entire life. I was abused mentally, physically, and spiritually. I thought about suicide more times than I would like to admit and even failed at it once or twice. I got to a point in my life where there was nothing left for me and I was completely disgusted with myself and everything about who I was and what I was doing in this world.

and that’s when Jesus stepped in.

I won’t say it happened in one day or even in one moment, it was a collection of days that came to a head to make me decide to push for life, instead of death. No matter how long I had been running or how far I had run, Jesus loved me and He wanted me to live. I could have easily came up with 13 reasons why I did not want to live on this earth anymore, but it took me finding only 1 reason why I should surrender and stay, and that was Jesus.

We are not so different from Jesus in our trials and unfortunate circumstances. Jesus was blameless and yet He was still;

Betrayed

Abandoned

Rejected

Falsely accused

Mocked

Physically Abused

Spit on

Shamed

Crucified

All for us.

He loved us so much that He wanted to bear the weight of the world, the weight of sin, everything terrible thing that you and I have done, or have yet to do, or that has been done to us. He took it all so that we would be forgiven and if so choose, get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

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It was that truth that saved me. It is that truth that I want to save everyone with. It is that truth that has me sitting here writing to you today asking you;

Please, do not give up. Reach out for help. Even when it is hardest to think about your family and loved ones, especially in the moments when you feel like they could care less, it is not true. They care, they love you so much. He loves you so much. I do not even know you, and I love you so much. You are worth it. You have a purpose. You were chosen for something beautiful and you can only find out what that is if you stay.

For those of you who have never dealt with anything like this before, give thanks to the Lord that you have not had to experience such pain. But more than that, make sure that you are not a part of someone else’s pain. As hard as that might be to hear, everything we do or say impacts the world and those around us. It is our job to be kind to others, to love and be loved in return, to help those who need it, and simply be there for others who need someone. When someone gets to the point in their life that they are even thinking about taking their own, they will not tell you and you will not know, which is why we have to be proactive in making sure it never gets to that point.

If someone you know and love is going through a tough time, take a moment out of your day and reach out. It could possibly mean life or death. If someone you know is going through a hard time and is suddenly happy and content, reach out. Even if someone is not going through a hard time, reach out. If you are that someone, reach out.

Be there for others.

Love and be loved.

Choose Jesus.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart