Friday, May 6, 2016

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 55

The ministry of presence. That was a sermon my Pastor preached on Maundy Thursday. And for some reason that thing has stuck with me over these last few weeks. I too, like many others found myself sad over the passing of Prince – possibly, the greatest musician of his time. And while Prince leaves a legacy through his music, I found myself particularly saddened that he died alone. I know, death is merely a fact of life but things seem more enjoyable when you have a little company.

'Reading the Express'
Now, I’ll share with you - there's a gazillion things I don't mind doing alone. Shopping, traveling, eating out, going to the movies, reading the express - which is really one of my all-time favorite things to do. But of all the things I don't mind doing alone, I really prefer company when I attend church. I suspect it's a holdover from growing up - we always went to church as a family. And as I get older, that desire to sit next to someone who I care about is no different. Now, for the record, you can always find a friendly face at church; someone who loves the Lord and is has come to worship. They usually have fabulous energy. Now, I've made plans attending with one or two friends - but after sitting next to their coat, pocketbook or cell phone, typically I tend to just meander in and sit wherever.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy service when I attend alone. I do. In fact, on Maundy Thursday, which was a phenomenal service by the way, during Communion I found myself particularly moved - grieving those folks who were no longer a presence in my life. I don't use the word grieved lightly for if fell fast and hard. And there I stood, weeping feeling like I could collapse at the enormity of it in that moment until ... a dear friend, who was in the pew in front of me sitting with her husband, reached back and grabbed my hand. Whew, that thing is messing me up right here as I capture my thoughts. By the way, Tanai, I love you for that. She didn't ask me a gazillion questions then nor later, she simply held me hand. No words, no judgments, no penetrating, questioning glances - just presence.

Now, it could have been Communion or the choir magnificently ministering my favorite song or simply because it was Holy Week, it is a time for reflection and I did have one or two things I was praying my way through. It could have been PMS but wherever I was, feeling utterly alone and amazingly small until ... someone simply held my hand. And instead of belaboring those who were no longer with me (although I miss them) - I began to focus on those who are here, who elect to walk beside and with me.

Now for the record, it just occurred to me in this very moment that I can't remember the last time I was feeling 'some kinda way' about attending church alone. It seems like ages ago but I suspect it's being in this Greeter ministry that I'm in the presence of fellow believers each and every Sunday. That for me shaking hands, smiling at folks, wishing them good morning - greeting them with a Holy Ghost hug or some sanctified sugar makes me feel not alone even when I'm am. It amazes me how writing my thoughts down, and apparently sharing them on the internet, which clearly doesn’t make any sense, brings such clarity to me -- but it does.

Looking back, I find myself trying to recall that sermon, wishing I had taken the time to take notes. Ahh, but let me be honest -- I cannot take notes, listen and comprehend all at the same time. Even when I sing in the choir, I can't sing, clap and rock side to side. Only two at a time for me and taking notes is just the same. Generally, for sermons I simply direct all my energy to 'being present' and in the moment, if you will. Listening, praying that the lesson falls deep into my heart and take root even when my head can no longer remember.

Some time ago, when I was young :-) a dear friend asked me would I come to the hospital for her first love was to be taken off of life support and she wanted me nearby. I don't know if I ever admitted this to her but I lied saying 'I wasn't sure I could make it because I had to go to work.' She said she understood.

And when I hung up that phone, I immediately got my little @$$ up, dressed, drag raced up the road, picking up my first boyfriend en route (as we're still friends) and sped to the hospital to be with her. Now, I'm not proud that I lied and am ashamed to even write that down - I pray that she forgives me. I could conjure up material to support the fact that I had planned to go to work that day but it simply frightened me to perhaps be in the presence of someone who was transitioning. But in that moment, shaking off that oh, so unattractive selfishness, I thought how frightened must she be, that just a week ago they were sharing dinner over their dining room table. And all she required -- was for me to just be there - in her presence. I absolutely could do that for she is my oldest and dearest friend - we go back like one-way pagers and name belts.

So, as I walked down the hall in the hospital -- holding hands, if I remember correctly with that first boyfriend. Haha - that makes me laugh as we were definitely not the type back then but his presence during that time made all the difference. He affirmed me, telling me I was going to be perfectly fine - that I was strong and I could do this;  simply being there for my friend. Aside: He actually talked me off the ledge when I took my friend to the funeral home later that week. I'll have to call him and thank him for simply being a friend for if he had put the press on, I would have backed it up on 'em real, real good. Anyway, I was a nervous wreck really, until ... I saw the expression of folks who cared about my friend. Our good girlfriend, ooh, we used to tear up those streets, friends from our middle school and the apartment complex where we met and became friends. Folks stopped and embraced me, remarking that they were glad I was there and that she would be happy to see me. Let me tell you, at the end of the day there was nothing macabre about his transitioning for when I entered the room, standing with her and her family, a silence filled the room and in that moment we knew he was gone. I remember not having any words, but she didn't require any - she only required my presence. 

A few weeks ago, I shared with you what I learned about serving (Day 54) and now I'd like to share with you what I've learned about this ministry of presence. See, there is something important about having good people who care for you, love you and genuinely have your best interest around you, in your midst .. in your presence. That's plain and simple. Jesus understood - the importance of being in relationship with His father, prayer and being surrounded by people you care about and who care about you. Grr, I must get those sermon notes. I mean the Messiah aka 'The Son of Man', the only one, ever, in his human frailty wanted company when he went to pray in the Garden (Matthew 26:37, Mark 14:33). If I remember correctly, Jesus had just finished the last supper with the disciples but when he went to the garden, he only took a few disciples – the ministry of presence. And don't get me started how he even took the time from saving all of humanity forever, while he was on the cross no doubt, to make sure his Momma wasn't alone when he was gone (John 19:26 ) – there it is again, the ministry of presence. Now, the few disciples he had with him, those jokers kept falling asleep even when he asked them to stay awake and pray but ... he still felt better with them there. I mean, come on, you know how your family gets on your nerves, or folks act like they absolutely cannot miss the game or Fear the Walking Dead or Empire -- you get where I'm going with this thing. We simply feel better having our ‘peeps’ around even when they get on our nerves.

'Ministry of Presence' is fun!
I'll tell you, when this post first came to me, I was sitting on the plane with my crazy roomie. Now, my presence must have made this joker sleepy for she didn't say one word to me on the entire plane ride but look at how much fun I had taking pictures of her napping like her life depended on it. The ministry of presence sure is fun.

All of this to say, there's a ministry simply in your presence, period. Married? Get in each others' presence. Got children? Get in their presence. Family jacked up? Get in their presence. A friend or family member is struggling? Get in their presence.

Just this week, I went to the doctors with my mother, I even helped move her from the stretcher to the MRI machine for it was my pleasure and privilege to do so – she sure is brave. I even visited my grandmother that afternoon who's in the hospital suffering from the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s - she's brave too, for all she wants to do is get a fish sandwich and hit the casino ... hahaha, that is so her. Oh, and before I forget, my dear friend who lost her first love some almost 20 years ago, her and my first boyfriend (yup, the same one) came and sat with me while I visited my grandmother for she helped raise them too. Oh, yes, there is something about that ministry of presence because I felt better when those jokers walked in the room. Later that evening, I had dinner with a friend and a spa date with yet another for the week was heavy and I needed a healthy treat - those $5 Popeye's boxes are killing a sista'.

And just the day before, my dear friend, whose husband was ill, shared with me that he was not expected to make it and I'm sorry to say he didn't. But, in our brief conversation about everything and nothing, when I asked my dear friend what she was doing -- she simply replied, "I'm sitting here with my husband" -- yup, just sitting in his presence. Now, he transitioned at home, surrounded by his wife, his children, his siblings, his friends and I'd like to think it eased his mind and allayed his fears having those who cared for him most ... in his presence.

So, on this day 55 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for the 'ministry of presence.' #40daysofgratefulness #beblessed

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

40 Days of Grateulness - Day 54

"Give Thanks."

I came upon this little sign at a dear friend's house. Her husband had been ill for some time and I wanted to spend time with her and her family. My intention --  as she likes to say "was to stare into her eyes" -- meaning I was simply there to enjoy her company. My hope, desire or whatever one may call it -- was to simply be with her as I had no real agenda. And if by some divine circumstance or appointment, I could encourage her, love on her or as my women's bible study prayed during our closing prayer ... to "minister" to her - then so be it.

For some reason that use of the word, minster stuck with me. So, I looked it up. The word, minister, the verb not the noun, originates from the Old French, word, menistrer which means to administer, be of service or to serve. Well, isn't that interesting.

If my memory serves me correctly, when I first started this blog one of my early posts (Day 4) spoke of me promising to serve more. And as ... but I don't believe in luck or coincidence ... life would have it, one of my very first comments on this here blog was "How have you started serving more?"

At the time, I thought the author was simply trying to bust my chops but with a little perspective, I believe that comment was meant to hold me accountable. Well it's been over 3 years since that post and I'm proud to say I've at least kept my word. Currently, I'm involved with a number of ministries and I actively participate in both corporate and women's bible study. Aside: hmm, perhaps there's something to writing down one's goals. Looking for a 5'3" brown cowboy. Ritz Carlton rooms for Residence Inn prices. Peace. Joy. I digress, but it doesn't hurt to try :-)

And with all the ways, I'd like to think I know about serving, it's clearly evident after this week-end, I'm still learning about what serving really looks like - just by visiting my friend.

For not only did I witness my friend serve her family by maintaining a home filled with Holy Ghost Goodness aka 'good energy' and an air of normalcy even during this trying time, I watched her friends serve her. Her friends, who stopped by, helped her shuffle the kids to their respective play dates so my friend and I could catch up. They helped her wash dishes, put them away and load the dishwasher. They made light conversation about everything and nothing; discussing sales, the latest in eyewear, politics and husbands that know exactly what to do -- one friend had told her husband that she thought it was too late to just stop by but he simply kept driving - she remarked how she was glad he didn't listen. They spoke of future dates for a girl's night out and they even served me. But wasn't I supposed to be doing the serving?

Her friends thanked me for coming to check on our mutual friend. They remarked how it was so very thoughtful that I would take time to come by and visit. And yet another made a special trip to stop by and say hello to 'lil 'ole me. Oh, it gets even better. Not only did her friend stop by to say hello, and exchange oh, so pleasant conversation, she took the time to make me this incredible salad.

'Incredible Salad'
Not only did this fabulous joker (she is quite stylish) make me a salad, she took the time to whisk up some lemon-garlic-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink vinaigrette to adorn it. And just before presenting me with this fresh, hand-chopped, beautifully-assembled, delicious but healthy treat, she took a spoonful of the salad dressing and put it up to my lips to see if the salad dressing was to my liking. It blew me away for it felt like she had just washed my feet -- like Jesus did the disciples. And with that simple expression, I was done.

You see, my visit to my friend wasn't for me to minister to her - it was for me to witness what ministering or serving really looks like. For it is my friends' pleasure, her privilege to serve her family.  It was her friends' pleasure and privilege to not just serve our mutual friend; they wanted to serve me too. And I'm convinced there is no better way to demonstrate love than to serve. Serving behind the scenes with no fanfare, no requests, no petitions, no shout-outs in the bulletin on Sunday morning, no coming up to the front for presentations, no recognition ... is what serving is all about. That thing right there could make me shout.

Her friends didn't serve for any other purpose other than to express their care, their concern, their love, their gratitude, their humility and their heart's desire to simply serve their friend.

So, on this Day 54 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful for witnessing what serving really looks like and I am going to serve better. #40daysofgratefulness #beblessed

Saturday, February 13, 2016

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 53

Hello, my friend. It's been quite some time since we've last connected and I must admit it's been me procrastinating, putting it off, wondering if I had anything of substance to share or perhaps I simply forgot. I forgot that this here putting my thoughts to paper helps me to be more grateful. The silly things we tell or un-tell ourselves.

I mean how many times have we sworn off a certain gentleman (don't judge me)? Or the mall, sugar, drinking - you get where I'm going with this. How often have we sworn to work out, get organized, be more patient, spend some quality time with our spouse or start being 'on time.' And, we really mean it when we say it, until we conveniently forget. It could be the next time he calls or texts ... or when the Nordstrom catalog comes in the mail or those moments when we easily convince ourselves we can drive 30 miles in rush hour traffic on Friday in 15 minutes. Oh, yeah, we forget stuff all the time.

For me, forgetting feels a lot like falling down. You know, my forgetting things always seems to trip me up. Just last summer, I fell down on my beloved bike. Now, when I fell down - I didn't hurt myself too much but I was beyond angry. I thought, I could count on my beloved B (that's what I affectionately call my bike). I mean he's never had a flat. How could he let me down? Was I not good to this joker? Riding him all over the place, taking him on fun-filled adventures on beautiful sunny afternoons while we listen to Pandora. Note to self: I must get a boyfriend very soon - I digress.

At least that was my first thought, but I fell down because I had borrowed  a gigantic backpack, overstuffed it and decided to ride my bike while wearing it. I suspect my traveling down that hill at some 18+ mph, leaning as I hit the curve with that backpack strapped to my back had something to do with me losing my balance and falling down. Nope, I forgot that - all I remembered was falling down and this chick right here doesn't take falling down lightly.

Looking back, I recognized the only person who had borrowed this gigantic backpack, stuffed it until it burdened and weighed me down was me, woo saa. There was no one to blame but me. That relationship I continue to grieve, that money I used to make, those infrequent visits to my mom in that nursing home - all things that had me feeling like I was falling down and forgetting how very blessed I am.

I forgot that revisiting that bad situation, getting in touch with pasts hurt, disappointment, shame; belaboring the past just like that gigantic backpack -- all weigh me down. I forgot that the devil doesn't have to bother tripping me up - I do it all by myself. I forgot that I'm in good health, that I can still afford to pay for this roof over my head and keep food in these cupboards. I forgot that I have a favorite cozy chair (look at Karamel pretending to be me) where I rest on pillows embroidered with phrases like "Love & Peace" and "Forever Friends."

this lil' boot
I forgot that I try to place a little bit of whimsy in every room in my home. It's supposed to remind me that life is really about the little things we so often take for granted ... ahh, but I forgot. I forgot how looking at this little boot, makes me smile I bought it several years ago but there was only one boot in the box when I opened itp at home. But it was too cute to throw it away so I set it up front and center in my living room. Oh, how could I forget? That boot continues to makes me smile but now it conjures up time spent with a good girlfriend's daughter, she bothers that little boot each time she's over here. And even though she destroys my house each and every time she's over here, I keep letting her back, because I forget.

I forgot that there's a lesson in each and every experience. I forgot the importance of being intentional about those activities and relationships that are most dear to me. I forgot that life challenges - bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce, illness, and chick-fil-a running out of fries  #&@)!@#  can easily change the course of our day, our week and our lives, if we're not careful. I forgot that this simple exercise of being grateful will always fill that space between experience and expectation.

So on this Day 53 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for forgetting.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 52

"Somebody left me at Ikea."

That's pretty much how I'm feeling these days. Now, let's be clear, Ikea is fun. Yup, there's tasty treats, games, baby sitting services and more space than you can imagine. Kids love it, parents love it, students, newlyweds - you see where I'm going with this thing. But Ikea has something for everyone. Pretty colored items, neat things to look at, pretty boxes to put your pretty things and for the most part, it's very affordable.

Oh, yeah and if you get hungry, you can go to the bistro' and get a hotdog or swedish meatballs or swiss chocolate bars or swiss fizzy drinks and it always smells like cinnamon buns. That's Ikea for sure. It's all-consuming, doesn't have any windows and you could spend all night in there fooling around. I like to think of it as Disney World ... but without the mice. But wait, there's more. It's set up like a maze so you're never really sure where you'll end up and as you make your way through, perusing - your imagination stirs up.  Hmm, if I bought that shelving system and put it in the garage, I could park my car in there. If I had this purple lamp, I would read more in my family room. Ikea is always chocked full of neat, unique surprises. In fact, just the other day at Ikea, I saw this pink Benz in the parking lot. That would only happen at Ikea but do you know why?

First, Ikea attracts all types; professionals, regular joe's, engineers, project managers and artists. Secondly, Ikea isn't just a furniture store - they don't just sell rugs and funky chars. The ikea floor plan or un-floor plan has a purpose. Ikea works and is successful because they sell possibilities for your life - not simply furniture. Your blah office space could turn into a work of art - like my pretty new office.

my office
Check it out. That entire wall of shelves with linen-like-covered boxes looks good! It even makes me feel better. I feel ... kind, smart and important when I work in there and it's soo nice, I'm planning to put in a comfy, cozy chair so that I can read and take naps. The owner of that pink Benz, an artist or Mary K Consultant, could have gone to a gazilion other furniture stores but nope, they too came to Ikea - not for a desk - but for a possibility. Obviously, they have a fabulous imagination. But they came to Ikea for a way to make their living/work space - aah, their life and home ... better. More organized, more colorful or more interesting. Yes, who doesn't want more for their life and believe me, Ikea understands the allure of the maze or as I affectionately call it, the adventure. They understand that having cool kitchen gadgets make you believe you'll entertain more. They understand that furnishing your first apartment or shopping with your boo is fun with cinnamon buns baking in the background. That image only completes the dream, the possibility that you will be happy if you take something home and it's limited only by your imagination.

But with all the fun, folks are having at Ikea ... whatever idea, dream, plan or possibility I ... ooh, I mean Ikea sells me, I must remember that Ikea has a few pitfalls. Who's going to put this thing together? How long will it take to read those stick figures they call directions? Yikes, it can't fit in the car! How am I going to get it home? And who's going to come pick me up with all my new possibilities in tow?

And that's exactly where I find myself these days. Life is intoxicating, colorful and an adventure especially when shared with the folks you care about the most. My good days certainly outweigh my bad. But, I find myself struggling with an important relationship - it's changing and things no longer seem the same. And while my life is intoxicating, colorful and interesting - they aren't right here by my side to experience it with me. I've picked up the phone to call them a dozen times, forgetting we're in a bad spot. Dayum. I didn't get to take them on the maze this week and show them all the pretty things Ikea ... oh, I mean life has to offer. I didn't get to tell them about that pink Mercedes Benz. I didn't get to tell them over those $1 cinnamon buns that I miss them so very much and how very important they are to me. I didn't get to tell them that I feel like somebody left me at Ikea. And that I'm waiting patiently for them to come pick me up and give me a ride home.

$1 Cinnamon Buns
So on this day 52 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for rides home from Ikea. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 51

On Monday, an old friend buried her 7 year old son. And while, burying a child must be one of the most difficult life experiences ever, her and her husband exuded grace. Some of us, if we're not careful, miss the experience ... grace, that is. Oh, we believe it exists, we get it later and we know it happens but ... when you get to experience it, witness it first hand, it is truly sublime.

'Exuded grace.' I struggled with that phrase as I wanted to honor my old friend and her family appropriately. So, I decided to look it up on the Internet. Exude is defined as 'to exhibit in abundance' or 'to project abundantly.' That seemed to fit. But what about this grace thing? I looked that up, too. Grace (in Christian belief) is 'the free and unmerited favor of God.' It's 'unmerited divine assistance.' Ooh, that thing could make me shout right now. Yup, 'exuded grace' most certainly captured my thought. And that was exactly what I, along with countless others have witnessed over these last few days.

My old friend is an author, which means she has a gift for expressing herself though words, for being fearless in sharing her heart and for bringing us along on the journey. And that is exactly what she did during this past week. She shared her heart using words and brought us all along on the journey. Here are a few of her Facebook posts.

Folks minds were blown but ... experiencing grace ... witnessing faith will do that. After those posts, I don't think anyone knew what to expect at the service. But, the service was an amazing tribute to their boy's life. His nurse spoke, his teacher spoke, there was a Liturgical dance to Vicki Yohe's I'm at Peace. The first verse says:
I'm at peace. Even though my heart is breaking. I'm at peace. I never thought I would be shaken but you came and laid your hands on me and now ... Oh, Lord you came and laid you hands on me and now, I can see, my storm has moved away.
'My storm has moved away.' In the midst of losing their son, in the midst of this tragedy, these folks were showing us what faith and 'unmerited divine assistance' really looked like. It had been in each and every post throughout the week. It was in their demeanor as they entered the sanctuary. But it was never more apparent than the moment my old friend and her husband spoke at their boy's homegoing.

As they approached the pulpit, folks clasped their hands and grew nervous. We were sad, heartbroken even, but resigned to being strong and not crying out over their unimaginable pain but we had no idea. We had no idea how their story would minister to each and every one of us long after they had laid their son to rest.

My old friend spoke with her husband at her side. They spoke about how being a parent to their son was a blessing, how he was their assignment and that they were grateful for the experience. They spoke about how our response to others should edify and uplift them. They spoke about prayer and praised God for the 7 years they spent with their son.

But, peppered in between their funny stories, fond memories and tears was a simple love story. A love story about faith, about tranformative power, about 'unmerited divine assistance,' called grace and about a beloved Son who would die that we would all have peace.

So on this Day 51 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for old friends ... who exude grace. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Thursday, September 5, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 50

Ever have one of those weeks or two where everything seems amiss. I mean it just seems like every little thing that can go wrong does. It takes an hour to go a few miles. The car won't start. A shelf that's been up for years crashes to the floor. Oh, yeah, it's been a rough couple of weeks. Hmm, the contract end date is fast approaching, folks seem edgy... and I'm left feeling ... uncertain.

Grr, where was my swag? What happened to the 3rd grader (Day 9) who makes me laugh at the most mundane things? Yup, even me ... Ms. 'I choose gratefulness' had succumbed. Here I was stuck in magenta. I borrowed that from the TV show, The Golden Girls. Magenta is when you're not quite happy...  not quite sad or blue but stuck somewhere in between. I'm not hopeless but I can tell my stay here, in what I like to call, d-town has been around for a good 2 weeks. D-town? I know I name everything, maybe the 3rd grader still reigns. D-town is what I call the space I'm in ... discouraged.

It's that place where things don't go so smoothly, where I disappoint folks, where folks disappoint me, where I overreact and that place where I eat cookies every night for dinner.

What did I do to have all this uncertainty knock on my door? When was it leaving and why am I stuck? Isn't it interesting that no matter how old you are, how bright you are, how comfortable you are ... when you come across some thing you thought you knew but didn't - it makes you question everything. Why is that? How can one or two singular events stop you in your tracks? Why couldn't I remember all those little notes that kept me encouraged (Day 21)? Am I not the strong woman I thought I was? You know the one, who scoffs at sequestration (Day 14), has great energy (Day 46) and planks for fun (Day 22). Where was she?

She's on the sofa watching the ID channel. REALLY!! Watching the show, Fatal Frenemies is not a good look. If my roomie (Day 23) wasn't saved, I'd start locking my bedroom door at night. SMH

I know, I had just hit a bad patch - we all get them from time to time. But, I was sick of D-town, what I really needed ... was to turn things around. Ah, the engineer in me perks up. Let's implement the perspective modification plan. Never heard of a perspective modification plan, it's really easy to put in practice so let's give it a whirl.

Oh, woe is me, work is stressing me out. Really? Now, let's review the converse. Try not working, bet that would stress me out, even more. Yup, a perspective modification plan works every time. So what do I do to get my mojo back?  I go on vacation.

Travel light!
Yup, off to the beach on Spirit Airlines. Oh, it was the cheapest flight ever but one thing about Spirit, they don't disappoint. They make traveling easy ... only your seat is free. Better travel light for the baggage fees could make you cry or punch somebody in the face. Here's my luggage, with all my necessities - iPad, underwear and a bathing suit.

'My Country Crush'
The beach was great. A few days away was just what I needed, I frolicked in the ocean, bought clothes at Wal-mart and had my first country crush with the ATV tour guide. I told him to move in closer when we took this picture ;-)

The beach was just what the doctor ordered but one or two days later ... I could feel D-town licking at my boots. Rats! I thought I had turned this thing around. The lawn service didn't cut my grass but billed me just fine. The t-shirts I was selling for church, were on backorder for 3-4 weeks. Aaargh. I missed my prayer partner - this was turning out to be a fine Wednesday and it was only 6:00 in the morning.

Oooh, D-town was rounding third base but then I remembered - let's turn this thing around! What did that perspective modification plan say? 1. Focus. 2. Pray So, I prayed aloud. I hadn't done that since I was a little kid kneeling at the side of my bed. It was magical. It set the tone for the day. I could feel the day turning around ... something incredible was on its way.

By the time, I drove to work, magically the t-shirts were no longer on back order. This day was getting better. I had lunch with a friend. We talked about everything and nothing but it felt good, connecting. I skipped to my meeting, this day was turning around nicely. And by the days end, I discovered that my contract had been extended just this afternoon. Woo-hoo.

Wait!! It gets even better. My prayer partner had emailed me a prayer, it actually hit my email just as I was having lunch with my friend. LOL {praise break} This prayer asked the Lord to extend my job and give me a salary increase. LOL Well my contract had already been extended, now what was I going to do with that salary increase? HAHA

So on this Day 50 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for things turning around. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Monday, July 8, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 49

Do you remember your first? Don't worry I'm keeping it holy ;-) Firsts are almost always significant. Your first steps, your first words ... your first love ... your first job. And it's been almost a year to the day since ... since I recognized the first change. Let me share with you. Within the last 12 months, I've changed so profoundly and significantly, I'm not sure I'll be able to explain.

My First Blog!
Initially, I would have attributed it to Whitney passing. But I was no die-hard-got-every-album fan but I, too like a lot of other folks felt like we grew up with Whitney and wanted her to win. I remember being surprised when the funeral was televised, that was a first for a lil' black girl from Jersey. And after watching, I got it. While, the world may have tuned in simply to pay their respects, they ended up attending a Holy-Ghost filled home-going service. I'd like to think her momma knew it would changes lives. Ms Cissy Houston, you would be correct!

I decided then. No longer would I tarry ... no longer would I wait to do all these things I had planned ... like biking (Day 18) or remodeling my kitchen. No longer would I waste time thinking about all the things I was thinking about - dreaming about all the things I was dreaming about. Yup, things were definitely changing. The 3rd grader (Day 9) in me affectionately likes to call these last 12 months, the year of the firsts.

Now, July holds some real significance for me as it's my birthday month and I'm pretty introspective but I'm certain that's when it really started, last July. It may have begun with a simple post. A random chick from bible study posted about 2 job offers she was considering ... nothing exceptional about that. But within a week or two of her post, I had asked this random chick to move in. Or could it have been that I gave away my first car? Or perhaps it was when a team member from work suddenly passed?

Whatever is was, this season of growth, maturity, shift in perspective or as I like to call it ... this season of firstness all kicked off last year this time. Had I lost my mind? Was I in the midst of a mid-life crisis? Or was I finally starting to listen more, see better and understand this here life experience with a clarity that made no sense using conventional wisdom.

You see, as it turns out --  this random chick from bible study would become my roomie (Day 23). She was only supposed to stay for 3 months - at least that's what we thought, last July and we're just a few days shy of a year. And right now this very second, I know that the moment she moves outta here, we're going to act like a couple of 3rd graders on the last day of school. You must appreciate that if you had asked anyone who knows me, they would have never believed I would have casually asked some random chick from bible study to move in. And they would have been right because I'm not the sort of chick who makes rash decisions ... ha, but I did, last July. Yup, another first.

And as for my car, I had that car for some 18 years and I loved it ;-) - it was my first, there it is again, real purchase that I made by myself with money from my first job. I gave it away last July on a whim and a family member is still pushing that puppy.

And as for the gentleman at work who passed almost a year ago, where do I begin? When I received the call he had passed, I was with my Roomdog (Day 2) and she knew immediately something was wrong. I was shocked, not that I was particularly close to the gentleman but I had just seen him in a meeting the day before. That was the first time I had lost anyone I worked with. I shared with my roomdog that I wanted to say a few words at his funeral. And as life would have it, his family requested that someone from work speak on his behalf and I volunteered. Something happened back then last July, maybe it happened on that very day I spoke at the funeral? For it was crystal clear to me that speaking at his funeral, getting rid of that car and asking some random chick to move in were things I simply was supposed to do. I didn't give it a second thought - It just felt right and I simply ran with it.

It's exactly a year later and I'm feeling good too but I'm still a little tentative in my new self. A little unsure about how I'll behave ... it feels strangely unfamiliar. In fact, I feel a little like an X-men. LOL I know it's a movie but it's like when the mutants realize they have new powers and they don't know how to use them. I'm more patient ... just the other day the Wal-mart clerk was giving me the business. And no one was more surprised than me when I didn't give her the business back. Another first.  Who was this strange little, relaxed person with curly hair? I walked to the car shaking my head trying to figure out what happened. I sure was changing. What happened?

Da' Finish Line
This firstness was stretching (Day 44) a sista' out and opening the door for a number of other firsts. A few weeks back, I participated in my first 5k, look at me crossing that finishing line. I'll work on improving that time later. ;-) Yup, I even gave the opening prayer and sang in the church choir (Day 47), a dream come true I had to put down on these pages. It was fabulous. But wait, there were more firsts. I started blogging and ... I prayed with a friend. My friend had been asking me to pray for some time but I stalled. I had never prayed with anyone who wasn't clergy. This joker was crazy, prayer is personal and private, right? It is, but the idea that some one would invite me to intentionally spend time in the Lord's presence together, blew my mind. I must tell you, a few days ago, I finally stopped stalling. Praying with my friend was indescribably amazing. SMH ... Me, with no words, another first.

Ah, I could tell that the new me, with all these new firsts, was going some place new and exciting. For my birthday just yesterday, my roomie made me a scrapbook ... of this here, blog. Another, first for this gift made me cry. It was such a beautiful presentation and it's got love all over it. No, really! You can feel it when you turn the pages. It honored me like she'll never understand. It was proof that whatever this change, this shift in perspective, this firstness that started last year this time was absolutely exactly what I was supposed to do ... pen this here, blog for it feels right, like something I was simply born to do. I can't even believe I wrote that down but that's exactly how I feel.

We choose gratefulness!
I'm still wrapping my head around this firstness and am looking forward to learning more about the new me but I'd like to share a few things I've learned along the way. We choose to be happy, healthy and whole and it requires work. We choose gratefulness. We have influence over others and should pray continually that we choose to contribute and not contaminate them. The best gift we can give to ourselves and others, is to be our best grateful, joy-filled self. We should relish in it; basking in its glow. We should pray it's contagious, infectious and so authentic that folks recognize it the moment we enter a room.

So on this Day 49 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful for firsts. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness