Vulnerability

I feel like I start every post like this… but I’m so embarrased at how long it has taken me to write on here. Back in the day, I started this blog for two reasons. The first was to help keep myself accountable with goals that I’d set for myself. I figured if I was writing about them publicly, and people knew about them, it would force me to do them, right? Clearly that isnt the case.  It’s been a while since I’ve started this blog and all the goals that I set are STILL goals that I am working towards to this day… over a year later. What’s that saying again? “Nothing in life worth having comes easily” haha. The road definitely hasnt been easy… and there’s definitely been setbacks along the way, but I guess I’ll find solace knowing that I’m a lot closer to most of them than I probably have been in my entire life.

The second reason I started this blog was to allow myself to be more vulnerable. To quote an earlier blog, I believe I wrote “I wanted to put myself out there more and show people the side of me that I usually keep to my close friends… or most often, just myself”… The problem is, when it came to doing it, I chickened out. For some reason, I thought it would be easy to say what I wanted to say because I was hiding behind a computer screen… but not knowing who could read this made it ten times more intimidating. So now, a year later, I have come to the revelation that maybe that was a bit aggresive… Time for a new plan haha.

Today I was reading through some of my old posts and then decided to go catch up on posts from the blog that inspired me to start blogging, Walking Barefoot. One of the reasons I love that blog is because she is always so open, and puts it all out there.. and honestly, I hope that one day that will be me. Anyway, as I was reading (creeping), I came across one of her blogs talking about bearing witness. She was talking about how her friends are going through a rough time and how her family has been able to be there for them. Here is an excerpt from her blog:

“My friends bare themselves, and now we can bear with them.  Now we bear together.  

And life gets just a little easier.  

But to bear with each other, we have to bare with each other. Which is really scary, and exposing.

It’s terrifying, if you get right down to it. 

You’d much rather cry in your closet and then go reapply your makeup before facing the world.  It would be much safer not to talk about it, and if it comes up, just duck and cover, duck and cover.

But then, miracle of miracles, you find that instead of ducking and covering, you stood still and told someone. You let them see your tears. You let them in. And instead of laughing at you, or offering you a Kleenex and walking away to go get someone who is much more experienced at helplessness and pain and wracking sobs, they stayed. They actually felt really special to be part of the inner sanctum of the three other people on earth who have seen you without makeup.  

They bore up with you.  

It’s the closest thing to heaven this side of heaven.”

As I read that, tears just started rolling down my face.

Had I read that even a few months ago, I dont think it would have had any effect on me. A few months ago, I dont think I could’ve understood what “bearing witness” meant or comprehended its impact. A few months ago I didnt know what it felt like to be that open with people… to tell them the things that are REALLY going on in your life – the things you keep under the mask. A few months ago I didnt know what it felt like to tell people about your “messiness” and have them love you even more in spite of it.

But now I do.

Over the last few months, I have been a part of a few mentoring groups/small groups that have really started to stretch me in this area of my life. Most recently, I was at a small group (or should I say “team” or “household”? haha) that I just joined. It was our first time meeting so we were going over norms, expectations, goals, etc. and one of the common themes that kept coming out was that we all really want to do LIFE together… that this group would be more than just a group that shares at the surface level but that really feels comfortable diving in, sharing the good, bad and the ugly, and lifiting each other up. When we started mentioning all these things my first reaction was excitement because that is something I’ve craved for a while. I want genuine, intentional, authentic realtionships. I want people who hold me accountable in my faith. I want to meet people in Richmond to “do life with”. Who wouldnt? But then fear started to settle in. The word “testimony” got brought up and I started to sweat. I’m already not good about asking for help and it’s even scarier being vulnerable and  telling people about the good, the bad and the ugly.

As the night wrapped and we were going over prayer requests, I asked the group to pray that I would have the courage to not hold back. I then, very briefly, shared a few struggles that I’m facing in some close relationships and some internal battles that I’m fighting. Honestly, it was somewhat vague but that was as much as I felt comfortable saying at the time. Since that night, one week ago, I have received numerous calls, texts, facebook messages, etc. from people checking in on me, offering words of encouragement, letting me know they’re thinking about me. It is so humbling. I honestly dont think i’ve cried this much in a while haha. But its not a sad cry. It’s more of a “shocked/surprised” one. That people would really think about my problems during their day… and really pray about them… and honestly want to know if they’re getting better… even after only knowing me for such a short period of time. 

It really is the closest thing to heaven, this side of heaven.

So thats my new plan: To let go of the fear. To learn to let go of shame. To learn that its okay to let my small group in and to show them how much I really dont have it together. I know it’s going to be hard. I know I’m nowhere close to where I hope to be… But I am confident that there is power in the name of Jesus and that He can break every chain.

And I’m excited to tell you about it someday… when I get the courage.

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Present Tense

Came across this poem a few weeks ago & it really spoke to me. Being a planner (and mild control freak at times) I sometimes feel like I’m always looking to the next phase of life rather than appreciating the one I’m in. Over the past few weeks, I made a conscious effort to stop putting so much emphasis on the future & start paying attention to the beauty in the present. I can honestly say this is the happiest I’ve been in a long time… So here’s to sharing in hopes that it has the safe effect on others as it’s had on me :).

XX

It was spring, But it was summer I wanted,

The warm days, And the great outdoors.

It was summer, But it was fall I wanted,

The colorful leaves, And the cool, dry air.

It was fall, But it was winter I wanted,

The beautiful snow, And the joy of the holiday season.

It was winter, But it was spring I wanted,

The warmth, And the blossoming of nature.

I was a child, But it was adulthood I wanted,

The freedom, And the respect.

I was 20, But it was 30 I wanted,

To be mature, And sophisticated.

I was middle-aged, But it was 20 I wanted,

The youth, And the free spirit.

I was retired, But it was middle age I wanted,

The presence of mind, Without limitations.

My life was over.

But I never got what I wanted.

In honor of our Housewarming Pregame this past weekend…

It has been a LONG time since I’ve written on here… So many things have happened in the last few months: I watched friends celebrate their love by getting married, I have been to Spain, France and Italy on a Mediterranean cruise, and I moved into a new place! Since this past weekend was the first weekend since moving in early June where all 3 of us were in Richmond, we decided to have a Housewarming Pregame this weekend. In honor of that… I decided it was finally time to break the blogging drought and post some before and after pictures. Looking through these again has reminded me how far our place has come. So proud of all the work we’ve put in… Hope you like it!

Outside: My awesome Padre & Mama helped to improve the curb appeal by cleaning off spider webs, sweeping & planting plants. Shannon, my roommate, painted the planter boxes & I took care of the weeding.

After

Before

Now- still a work in progress

Now- still a work in progress

Before

Before

After

After

After

Now

Entry Way

 

Before

Move-in Day

After

Now

Hallway

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

After

Now

Hallway Bathroom (my roomate, Mia, and I share this bathroom)

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Family Room

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

During

During

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

Dining Room

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Kitchen

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Top of Stairs

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

 

Basement (my room)- My sweet mama painted the accent wall for me, my sister bought me the mirror as a housewarming gift and I took care of the organizing.

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Now

Now

Laundry Room

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

Bedroom:

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

So happy with the way everything has turned out! Now all we need are visitors :).

Give Me Faith

Give me faith

“I need You to soften my heart,
To break me apart.
I need You to open my eyes,
To see that You’re shaping my life.

Pre-Chorus:
All I am,
I surrender.

Chorus:
Give me faith to trust what You say
That You’re good, and Your love is great.
I’m broken inside, I give You my life.

Verse 2:
I need You to soften my heart,
To break me apart.
I need You to pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me.

Chorus

Bridge:
I may be weak, but
Your Spirit’s strong in me.
My flesh may fail, but
My God You never will.”

What on Earth Am I Here For?

I always call myself a Christian but sometimes I look at myself and I look at the world and I don’t see much of a difference. For so long, I was okay with it I guess. I knew I wanted better but I never wanted to put in the time to make it different. In the beginning of 2013, I was going through so many internal struggles. With all the distractions of moving and starting a new job now gone, I was now forced to face many issues that for so long I had been trying to suppress. I was so unhappy- with Richmond, with myself, with life. One night I was laying in bed upset at the world and I started to really think about everything: who I am as a person; the good, the bad and the ugly. Do I like what I see? What kind of person do I want to be? What do I want my life to look like? What do I want my future marriage to look like? A lot of my answers were “I want it to be like what I had growing up”. I want to be a strong, Christian woman like my mom. I want a strong Christian husband who treats me the way my dad treats my mom. I want a family like my family. And then I started thinking about how they got all of that and it all came back to one thing: God. In happy times and in hard times, that is the first person they turn to. I’ve always admired that. I admire that fact that they rarely worry about things… that they whole-heartedly believe that no matter what happens, it is in His hands and He will take care of them… and I decided I wanted a relationship with Him like that.

In January, I started looking for a church home – one that I would be excited to go to on Sundays and not just go to because I felt like I needed to check it off some checklist. I had been praying to God that he would work on my heart, that he would motivate me to take action and that he would make it clear to me where he wanted me. My first Sunday looking, I went to a church in downtown Richmond called Commonwealth Chapel. Because it is downtown, they don’t have a formal parking lot- it is street parking or parking garages. (Keep in mind, I chose to live in the suburbs because I hate trying to navigate the city). That Sunday, I got to the church ten minutes before it started but could not find parking for the life of me. I started praying to God like “God, I’m trying to do something good here… PLEASE just help a sista out”. I drove around aimlessly for about 15 minutes trying to figure out where to go and finally just paid $5 to park in a parking garage. Once I got in the church, they had already started praise & worship and since everyone was standing it was impossible to find a seat. After a few minutes of walking around like an idiot, I finally found a seat all the way in the back corner. By this time I was a little frustrated with how my morning was turning out… so again, I prayed. I asked God to clear my mind and help me focus on the message and to help me to hear what he needed to say to me. That week the message was titled: God’s perfect work through imperfect people. The main points of it were:

  1. Trust knows God is working even when we can’t see him
  2. Perspective doesn’t focus on the outward and superficial
  3. Glory belongs to God and not a person
  4. Grace: We’re broken people in the process of being made whole

It was one of those messages where it came right at the perfect time. After feeling so alone and discouraged it was exactly what I needed to hear. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, for the closing song the band played the song “Stronger” by Hillsong. The chorus of the song is “You are stronger, You are stronger, Sin is broken you have saved me. It is written, Christ is risen, Jesus you are Lord of all”. I literally just started crying right then and there. I felt like it was God’s way of telling me He hears me, He is with me, He isn’t going anywhere, and He will always be strong… especially when I can’t be. It was at that moment I knew I had just found my church home.

For February, my goal was to try to get more involved at the church. I emailed the church to find out about membership classes, bible studies, etc. I got an email back from a co-ed group that meets on Thursday nights. I tried it out and met some pretty cool people but I knew the next two Thursdays I was going to busy and I didn’t want to start out the month already missing two bible studies. The next Sunday there was a newcomers social at the pastors house. The purpose of it was so new people could meet other new people as well as the staff. I ended up meeting one of the Staff members who is a girl that is a couple of years older than me. She mentioned that she hosts a girls bible study on Tuesday nights so I got her information so that I could go that week. When I showed up, they had wine and krispie creme donuts… It was at that moment I knew I had just found my small group.

For March, my goal is to spend time with God daily. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, after going to Barnes & Noble to look for a devotional, I came across the book What on Earth Am I Here For? I had planned to start it today but the first thing it said when I opened it was that they suggested reading it with a partner. Ecclesiastes 4:9 states “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up… Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of three cords is hard to break.” So I got my three cords: my brother, sister and I will all be starting tomorrow :). Needless to say, I’m excited to see the things that God has in store for my life this month!

Until next time…

xoxo

Goals for March

Goals for March

At work when I set goals, I have things to hold me accountable: my manager, performance reviews, paycheck/bonus, etc. In my personal life, I feel like I’ll set goals, work towards them for a few weeks, and then fall back into old habits. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that I have nothing to hold me accountable. Like most people, when the new year started, I created resolutions. They are probably the same as everyone else’s: save money, eat better, exercise, go to church, etc. I started trying to do all of them, all the way, all at once… Needless to say, I was very overwhelmed and failing MISERABLY. Thankfully, each day is a new day. That being said, today marked my new “day one” for the goals I’ve set for myself… This time I decided to break them down into more manageable chunks. There are 4 main areas of my life that I have set goals for: Health/Fitness, Spiritual Health, Hair, & Life.

Goals

  • Health/Fitness: Take vitamins everyday and go to the gym at least 4 days each week
  • Spiritual: Spend time with God daily
  • Hair: Research ways to maintain healthy relaxed hair (#blackgirlprobs) & buy hair products
  • Life: Pay off credit cards & create a budget

Health/Fitness:

  • Take Vitamins every day (pretty self-explanatory)
  • Go to the gym at least 4 days each week: Back in 2012, I was doing a great job of going to the gym. I was going anywhere from 4-6 days a week, I had healthier eating habits: I was so disciplined. Even when I went to Florida for Christmas, I made sure to bring my healthy food with me so that I wouldn’t be tempted. All of that changed when I went to nova for New Years. The combination of crappy food, late nights and no exercise completely derailed me. When I got back to Richmond, I was so depressed from having to leave Nova that I had no desire to get back on track… 2 months in to 2013, and I have maybe gone to the gym 3 times… So today, the journey starts over. I went to cycle this morning at 5:30am- Calories Burned: 529. (I knew I had things to do after work and didn’t want to mess up on my first day). Since its my first day back, I also decided to retake my measurements :(. (As much as I hate that part, it always gives me something to measure against). Today’s Measurements: Bust-33.5; chest 28; waist 27.75; hips 36.75; Weight: 122.0

Spiritual: Spend time with God daily

I have struggled with this for so long. I’ll try to do them in the mornings but I can’t pry my eyes open so then I’ll try at night but I have so many things going on in my mind that it seems so inauthentic. The last devotional I had been reading was Joyce Meyer’s “New Day, New You“. While I loved it, I didn’t feel like I got to know Jesus any better. I felt like it was more of a reflective devotional. Yesterday, I decided it was time to go get a new devotional. When I checked the family book store hours I found out it was closed on Sundays so I decided to try Barnes & Noble instead. Most of the devotionals I saw were like the “New Day, New You” one- more about words of wisdom.  As I was heading out of the store, I passed a table that had many books on them. I happened to come across a book called What On Earth Am I Here For?, written by Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life. (For a while I have been telling myself that I was going to ready that book but have never gotten around to it). I decided to pick it up and on the first page it said this “Before you were born, God planned this moment in your life. It is no accident you are holding this book. God longs for you to discover the life he created you to live – here on earth, and forever in eternity”.  While it could just be a brilliant sales ploy, it worked, and I bought it :). Over the next 40 days, I am committed to reading this book as my quiet time with God. I plan to write about it on here so if you’re reading this, go grab a copy so I’ll have someone to share with :).

Hair: Research ways to maintain healthy relaxed hair (#blackgirlprobs) & Buy Hair Products

I have decided that at the end of this month, I am going back to my hair… aka no more weave. (Ill pause for a quick second for all of the white people who are shocked that the hair they have been seeing on my head for the past two years hasn’t been mine- haha).  In the Summer of 2011, my hair had gotten severely damaged by a relaxer that was left on too long. When the stylist went to wash out the relaxer, clumps of my hair were falling out with it. I tried to make do for the summer but finally in September 2011, I decided to give my hair a break. I haven’t had a relaxer since May 2011 and haven’t had any heat on my hair since September 2011. For a while, I was contemplating the whole natural thing but quickly nixed that idea after my new hair stylist had to brush through it at my last hair appointment. Since I have decided to go back to the “creamy crack”, I decided I want to educate myself on how to properly take care of my hair. I spent an entire day this past weekend reading blogs online and watching YouTube videos and want to continue to do that so that I feel prepared once I get to “D-Day”. (I feel like im preparing to take a baby home…. Haha). My ultimate goal is to have bra-strap length relaxed hair so we will see how that goes :).

Life: Pay off Credit Cards & Create a Budget

  • Credit Cards: pretty self-explanatory
  • Create a Budget: Right after I graduated college, I made a budget that I told myself I would follow when I started working full-time. Everything seemed good in theory but I never accounted for all of the expenses that are required for getting your life started. Instead of creating a new budget, I just decided to spend whatever. Because of this, I haven’t been actively saving. My goal for this month is to create a new budget based off my current circumstances so that I’ll have a plan to better actively save.

Wish me luck!

What in the World Am I Doing?

Over the past couple of years, I have gone through more major life changes than I have in my entire 23 years of living. From my parents moving, to starting college, to graduating college, to moving to a brand new city all by myself, to working full time and paying bills… These past 2-3 years have been CRAZY… When I was going through it all, I think I was so busy trying to keep my head afloat that I never really took the chance to take it all in and reflect, and learn about myself… which is what leads me to this blog.

I’ve been thinking about starting this up for a while now but have always been too scared to pull the trigger. I didn’t think I would have anything to write about, much less anything that anyone else would want to read about…  I have no idea what I’m doing.  I don’t consider myself a writer or a very public person. I generally share the good things on social networks and keep the “not so pretty” details to myself  (or to my family and close friends who I’ve already forced to love me :)). But for some reason, I feel called to start writing things down; to let myself be a little more vulnerable. My hope is that one day I will look back and see the goals that I set for myself and see how I’ve met them.  Or at the very least, that I can look back at these posts and appreciate everything I’ve gone through and see that I’ve learned from it…  And in the end,  if someone else ends up reading this & it helps them too, then that’s an added bonus.

So here goes nothing…