Saturday, March 30, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 40

GOOD MORNING!!! Let me talk to you for a minute. Yesterday was incredible, I spent the entire day attending 2, did you hear me 2 ... 7 last words by 7 women services and it was PHENOMENAL. In fact, it was the best Good Friday ever! Just yesterday morning, my Day 35 post made my church online bulletin with Extra! Extra! Read All About It! as the headline. LOL ... I'm published ;-) I digress, my roomie (Day 23) spent the entire day with w/me and I appreciated each and every second. Let me tell you, this gratefulness thing will blow your mind, change your heart, stop you in your tracks and help you recognize. Hello, somebody! I'm moved that I would even make it - that for 40 days He would see fit to let me share with you. Next, I'd like to extend an apology to my 'peeps' because pretty much I've been out of the loop - well, I'm back with a grateful heart. Brunch next week? And for the record, there is no way I could stop this thing -- stay tuned ;-) Now, that I've got that out of my system ... Let me begin ...

On the 3rd day, yes the 3rd day of documenting this 40 days of gratefulness aka journey to joy, it came to me clear as day what this gratefulness, joy journey was all about. Ready? It blew my mind and keeping it a secret was killing me. I didn't even tell my roomdog (Day 2) and I'm not very stealth as my LG (Day 23) says. What I've learned is that we are not to travel this road alone, meaning if we have joy it's to be shared each and every chance we get. I'm no bible scholar but as Christians we are called to be a witness for Christ. And It's no accident that this would come to me on the 3rd day -- we all know the significance of 3 in the bible, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, He rose on the 3rd day. WHAT!! If I ever shake this Episcopal church upbringing I'm going to shout all over the place.This intentional awareness of recognizing grace or choosing to be more focused on all that God has blessed me with ...  has helped me to know him better and trust Him more  ... what's that scripture, Proverbs 3:5-6 ... just a sec ..
Trust in the Lord with all your heart And lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 
 Wait, it gets better, here's the Message translation ...
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
It's a simple premise, Trust him more -- meaning I need to get out of the way. Where is my roomdog (Day 2) and LG (Day 23) those chicks are good for a shout and a praise dance.

Now, I'm still a work in progress as they say and will continue reading the bible in one year -- God bless the Israelites, who knew Genesis and Exodus was so long. Needless to say, is that so many folks have encouraged me and ministered to me on this journey that I thought on Day 40, what I'm most grateful for is people whom He has placed around me. Angels by Richard Smallwood, with Maurette Brown-Clark singing comes to mind ...

Unseen hands, guiding me,
through my storm and through my rain.
Healing hands, holding me,
through the darkness of my pain.
Wings of love encamped around me,
so I will not fear, for I can feel their presence hovering near.

For I can feel their presence .... whew ... I'm talking about folks who blow my mind with their generosity, kindness and sincerity. People who are intentional about this faith walk and their calling. People with vision. People who are younger than me who inspire me everyday. Eunique Jones, EU. Yes, Baby Girl, I tell you all the time I can't wait to see what He has in store for you. And to my LG, my unstoppable unicorn, I see you! I see everyone who has crossed my path for a specific purpose - there are no coincidences. That is so clear to me. People who I meet once or twice whose energy or what I like to call, SOF (that's spirit of favor) leave me smiling.

Oooh, and these two folks who I'm about to call out. Have you ever met someone with real joy. Remember joy isn't a feeling - I think folks believe it's a feeling .. nope, it's a state of mind, it's a place where you choose to stand in firmly so that even when you're having a bad day, when 'all hell is breaking lose', when you're between 'here and there,' you still have it.

I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting, befriending and falling madly, sisterly-in-love with two ladies who are really my heroes - I just never tell them - til now. Wendi Nowell and Rev. Adriane Wise. LOL. They are both going to pass out because they're just that humble.

Wendi aka wendog because she's an honorary roomdog (Day 2). Wendi is calm, easy and one of those folks you instantly like but can't explain why. The type of chick who loves an adventure, has great energy and is comfortable in her own skin ... taking the 33 street bus or riding in a money green Phantom (that's an obscure, Jill Scott reference but she'll get it). She plays a mean game of spades, can cook like somebody's Big Momma and is all love down to her bones. She initially seems quiet but she's not - I've never once heard her complain, she is slow to anger and stays angry for about as long as it took you read this paragraph.

Rev. Wise
Rev Wise aka 'Adriane' when we're alone is my friend. Yes, we met at a random church class (Day 27) she taught and she couldn't shake me off with a stick. She is an old soul, prayer warrior, who is probably walking around with some holy oil in her purse, right now. Her personality is larger than life, she's not loud but she's definitely in the mix. She talks to everyone, believes in the Lord for real and I know that her secret prayer is that everyone is saved.

What's interesting about these 2 ladies is that they are similar in their countenance, their cooking abilities, their ample bosoms ;-) but their approach is different. Wendi aka Nana eases in while Adriane comes in loving you to life, as she says. Now, neither of these ladies have biological children but I would be remiss if I didn't' mention that they have Momma written all over them. The way they care for, minister to, teach, befriend and love on folks, is nothing short of a miracle. Pull-ease. It's in their ample Momma bosoms to the way they cook a good meal and pray over it. It's in their countenance, it's in their demeanor and it's simply just who they are.

To me, they are shining examples of what the Lord wants for each and every one of us, pure, unadulterated joy. To me, they embody joy each and every day in how they live, love and serve.

Ladies, I love you both to the moon and back. I appreciate each and every time we get a chance to share because there's a lesson in nearly every conversation we have - whether it's letting go to letting God or how to cook a mean stew. I thank God for both of you and am looking forward to continuing this journey to joy with you along the way.

So on this 40 Day of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I am grateful for Joy. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Friday, March 29, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 39

When I tell you, I've never been so pumped for Good Friday. In fact, I just started my day with 6 AM prayer, I'm going to lay down for second sleep and it's going to be fabulous. I mean today, I have planned, not 1 but 2 church services. Both services are 7 last words by 7 women and I'm taking my roomie (Day 23) who is a 7 words by 7 women virgin ;-) I typically go every year, I love it and I know she's going to love it too. I try to eat a good breakfast, for having noon day service w/7 preachers could take a minute although it's time well spent. I usually try to fit in another activity, like I actually have time. Last year, it was off to get a pedicure, I drove with the heat blasting trying to dry my toes before service. The year before that I stopped by the hospital, a friend's fiance was there. He didn't make it but he was saved and changed her life so profoundly, and she is still grateful for their time together.

This year as usual, I will have a good breakfast and I will take snacks ;-) And while every year, I love Good Friday, I am particularly excited that for 39 days the Lord would bless me with 39 specific reasons to be grateful for and give license to share my story as honestly as I could. Was it hard someone asked? If you had asked me that at Day 3, I would have said yes but that was only because I was attempting to institutionalize it. LOL That simply means I was trying to color inside the lines. But once I let go, about Day 4 or Day 5, it was all good. There were days when I didn't have any idea what I would share just one minute before I sat at this keyboard. I've even had a few bad days although my good days outweigh my bad and I have even have proof (Day 32). I've been grateful for a gazillion random events (Day 27), surprises (Day 21),  my bike (Day 18), my church (Day 35), home (Day 17), and for being comfortable with the uncomfortable (Day 29), which is hilarious.

And while it feels good to know that I'm actually going to bring this thing home, it's bittersweet because I'm going to miss this here blog because for a while it's been my friend and confidant. It's been my safe place to share. REALLY, who puts all their business on the Internet and it feels safe. LOL Deneen's (Day 7) mom would have a fit. ;-) I'm feeling safe because I've trying to live fearlessly (Day 36). It's been liberating, I feel so alive, I could pounce, where are my favorite Nike boots? I'll save my biggest lesson I've learned for tomorrow but there's so much I've learned about myself. I've discovered that I like writing, who knew? I just started journaling right before Christmas, here's an excerpt from my first journal entry on 12/21/12.
This has been an incredible year and I've so many things to be thankful for - primarily my deliverance (I'm healed) while things seem the same on the surface - I feel so different. More in tune with me and recognizing that I'm good at loving folks!
Not bad for a first entry. It seems like back in December I knew something was different. But I could have never predicted where I'd end up. The idea that I changed someone's life besides my own simply by sharing my story - blows my mind. If I blessed just one person besides myself then it's all been worth it. You see,  I only started this gratefulness thing because I wanted to make me better, make me more joyful, make me more appreciative, make me more loving, make me more fearless and make me more me. And what I've learned is that it has helped some of you feel the same - ooh, it fills my heart like you wouldn't understand.

Just yesterday, several folks emailed me saying they had no idea it was so good, that it moved them, that it encouraged them, that it even blessed them. That made me smile because I prayed that it would be. I prayed that it would be edifying, uplifting and inspirational. I prayed that at the end of this journey, I would discover what joy was all about and that I would get to eat from it's cupboard. I prayed that I would be different in my countenance and my demeanor. I prayed that I would learn to ease into things and not go in with guns blazing. I prayed for faith, for being still and for getting out of my own way. I even prayed for you.

I learned that I have time to serve. I learned that I have something to offer. I learned that I like me. I learned that He can use even me. I learned that I have something to say and a new medium in which to say it. I learned that he has put people along my path for a specific purpose and I've learned to trust Him more. 

So on this Day 39 of 40 days of gratefulness, I am grateful for learning more ... about me. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Thursday, March 28, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 38

'I don't know what I'm going to do.' 'My mom was just rushed to the emergency room.' 'My last day is Friday.' Just words on paper, right?  Well, 3 people called me yesterday to share some news. None of it was good news. Rats! Just 2 days ago, I was pumped about having a good day (Day 37) but as they say 'all good things must come to an end.' What!! Strong-Side-Eye. Have I learned nothing these 38 days, woman up, chick!

C'mon now. If there is only one thing I must capture, remember, chant or say under my breath, 'it's that I choose gratefulness.' No bad day, no crazy news story or no shenanigans can deter me because I choose it. I choose it just like I choose what I eat for breakfast. I choose it like it's on the top shelf of the cabinet where I pick it up and put it in my lunch bag. I stick some in my shoes and I put it in the glove box for a raining day. But just yesterday, 3 people, no not people, 3 friends called to share some bad news.

At first I was floored, what is it that old people say 'You know, they come in 3s.' LOL I think that's reserved for bad news and pregnancies ;-) You know what I did? I looked in my lunch bag and pulled out a grateful snack - why did they choose to call me? Did they think I would have an answer? Nope. They called me because we're friends. Yup, let the Jedi-mind-meld begin. They, too have fallen into this here gratefulness thing. They could have had a pity party, simply cried their little eyes out but in the midst of their concern, worry and fear they picked up the phone or dropped by my desk ... looking for a different perspective, some insight or just someone to listen. They could have called their 'messy sista girl' or a 'drama filled family member,' but nada, they called yours truly and hopefully I rose to the occasion.  I didn't solve anyone's problem, I didn't dispense any secret life-changing information, I simply listened just like friends do.

For the record, I have a gift. I know, its sounds crazy and I'm not tooting my own horn. In fact, I have even joked in women's bible study that my ministry is 'befriending, unfriendly chicks.' LOL A good friend of mine jokes me all the time, calling me a 'friend to the friendless.' HAHA That cracks me up. See I understand that the unhappiest people are those that don't have friends. No, for real.

What it amounts to, if you're ready -- come with me now, is that without a doubt, I have no shame, embarrassment, or fear about telling folks how I feel about them, how I have their back and how I try to have good intentions, period. I'm not encumbered by conventional practices. I will buy you a gift for no reason. I have no shame ending a call with 'Love ya' or just dropping by to you house to 'hug ya neck.' I have no shame in making up stuff like 'Roomdog Day' where I reserve one-on-one time with my roomdog (Day 2) or hold family meetings with my roomie (Day 23) exactly one month after she had moved in. Ok, I did suspend those family meetings but that's another post. LOL That's just how I am. See, I know that what under girds all great relationships is real friendship, plain and simple. The kind that runs deep and wide. Ladies, you don't just want any good, Christian man, you want a good, Christian man, who's your friend. I digress.  So, when troubles hit my door, I have to get ready. Ephesians 6:11 says 'Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.' Whew. If I ever shake this Episcopal up-bringing, I'm going to shout all over this place. The devils schemes, didn't I just talk about shenanigans? Uh, oh, I hear a organ banging out a chord just for me, is the choir singing 'Yeah. Yeah' Where's that roomie of mine, I could have a little church up in here, right now.

So once I was sufficiently prepared for the devil's shenanigans armed with gratefulness, I could help my friends. I could encourage them, I could pray with them ... I could even plank for them right there at my desk. I could simply talk with them for while. While I didn't magically solve any problems or make their day incredible, I made them feel a little better and that's what friends do.
Best Friends: Karamel and Butterscotch
Now, the first rule of having a good friend is that you have to be one. And let me tell you, I must be the hottest chick on the planet because I have the best friends, ever. I'm not kidding! I have friends who have scheduled their honeymoon around my surgery date, who have stayed with me the entire time I was in the hospital. Friends who let me borrow their car for an interview while they took the bus. Friends who pray with me, pray for me and write custom prayers with me in mind. Hello, somebody! I have friends who signed me up for a 'random church class' (Day 27) which would change my life. I have friends who would leave their jobs and go into business with me, when my company was one person deep. I have friends who don't judge me when I fall out after 6 AM prayer, they just play music on their iPad. I have friends who would call me up just yesterday to pray for me as I was headed out to accompany my mom to a doctor's visit. So if these friends, are any indicator of the type of friend, I am, then that means I got it going on. Whew.

You see each person called me because we are friends.  They knew that no matter what they were going through, I was going to go through it with them. And I know the same. They knew I would listen and try to make them laugh. They knew I would be willing to cry with them, ride with them if needed, make strong phone calls on thier behalf, write letters, plank on demand and when all else fails, make them tasty drinks.

See in this era of reality TV, real housewives of anywhere -- women are portrayed as frenemies, cutting each other down with their words and actions. Wearing meanness, hatefulness and spitefulness like it's a Gucci clutch to be cherished and proud of ... For the record, I don't know a 'dayum' thing about that for I don't have friends like that  and I'm not that kind of friend.

So on this day 38 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for real friends. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 37

The Seder Table
Hmm, today was a good day. Plain and simple. I started the day off participating in a Seder with my church family (Day 35). If you didn't know, a Seder is a Jewish feast that kicks off Passover. I know, we're not Jewish but it was fun. It's always neat learning about other customs and traditions. We read scripture, drank wine, had traditional Jewish foods and did I say drink wine. There were several courses, each food item symbolically representing some aspect of their Exodus out of Egypt. Afterwards, we chatted casually about the rest of our day, Good Friday service and laughed wondering how folks were going to make it through the entire day after having several cups of wine. It was already clear some folks were going to have a good day already and it was only 9:00 AM. Here's a picture of my roomie (Day 23) enjoying a lamb bone at the Seder. She's so classy, look at that pinky finger extended. LOL

It was already clear ... folks were
going to have a good day.
Next, off to work. Nothing spectacular except that traffic was light. The sun was up and I opened the sunroof, turned on the heat and enjoyed the ride. A good friend called just as I was parking, she had shared a previous day's post on her face book wall and was excited at all the comments she had received. She even told me that she was going to email the post to pastor. LOL She also mentioned that she had used this here blog as a devotional for a day or two.  I beamed.

Yup, up the stairs and into a meeting. I must have been in a good mood because folks asked me where I had been. I mentioned the Seder and the meeting was magically derailed while folks shared their experiences with participating in a Seder. Who knew? There wasn't one Jewish person in the room. That made me laugh.

The day was pretty busy. I spent the day catching up on emails, trying to meet deadlines as I'm out of the office on Good Friday. A co-worker and I shared stories about our ailing parents, making hard decisions and recognizing that the only thing to do about it, is pray. Even though our conversation was heavy, we weren't left hopeless and defeated. It didn't 'bring us down,' it was just nice sharing this experience with another person who knew where we were.

After work on the ride home, I had a chance to connect with my Roomdog (Day 2). Now, we talk everyday all day but I had a chance to share with her somethings I was experiencing. She didn't offer any extraordinary advice or solutions, she just listened. And to me, it felt like she had just entered my space and held my hand. Whew, this day was turning out to be pretty good.

Once I got in from work, I hit the door and there's my roomie telling me funny stories about her day. We only chatted for 10 minutes or so but that joker is crazy so we had a good laugh. Next, off to boot camp (Day 5). As usual, boot camp was hard but phenomenal. Boot camp is a stress reliever, an ego boost and a sleeping pill all rolled into one. The energy was great, our instructor, Tiffany of BNFIT showed off her new signs that me and my roomie made. It was great and we toasted afterwards with smoothies.

Now, you'll notice that nothing magical and incredible happened throughout my entire day, right? Yeah? Well, why did it feel like the entire day was magical. The clouds looked different, it felt as if spring was in the air despite it being cold out. Work was busy, I didn't have much time to sit still or lay on that sectional. I didn't even eat any dinner. I came in, straightened up my room and cleaned the bathroom.

I found myself humming some Kirk Franklin song, Chains in my head. My roomie laughed that I had the energy to clean. And after I showered and sat down to share with you, I received this message on face book, from one of my church family members.

What was this gratefulness AKA 'journey to joy' about? Just changing my perspective, fine-tuning my grateful barometer, being still ... that an ordinary, mundane day when I absolutely had no time would turn into something magical, incredible and fun. By simply 're-directing' my focus, I could choose gratefulness, I could choose joy, I could decide that my day was a winner. That this 'sharpening my view' could touch others, inspire them, bless them and lead them to see things more gratefully as well. Whew. In the infamous words of Ice Cube, Today, was a good day!

So on this Day 37 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for good days. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 36

We are winding down this 40 days of gratefulness and I simply can't believe I'm this close to finishing. Not that I'm not a finisher but it never dawned on me in that split second when I decided to blog that I would have to be accountable. Now, I thought by simply posting to face book I would be ok, but my roomie (Day 23) nonchalantly challenged me to blog. Ok, I'm not sure she challenged me but that's how I took it of course. I can be an idiot sometimes.

It didn't occur to me at that very moment that it would mean for 40 whole days, I would need to do something which required my head and my heart. Something that required my focus and my time. There are days when I was simply unavailable as I needed time to prepare to be grateful. Being grateful in itself, wasn't too bad but I had to consider what I wanted to say and how to capture it effectively. If folks were going to take the time to read it, I wanted it to be worth their time and effort. I wanted it to be relevant or fun or just something to make you smile, grow, think or feel. If I had stopped to think about what that meant for 5 seconds, this blog would have been a wrap before it was even was started.

But something or is someone had something else in store for me. I can't tell you how this has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. There is an easiness that I feel sinking in and I hope and pray I can maintain it well after these 40 days are over. I find myself taking pleasure at the most banal things. Just last evening, I went to Walmart. Yup, I sure did. And of course the lines were long - so, what do I do to busy myself? - I gaze around the store looking for something to make me smile. Now, it could be a handsome, gentleman 5'2" or so - I prefer short men, thank you very much. Or it could be something as bizarre as getting your taxes done in the main thoroughfare of the check out lines. Look at this picture I snapped. It was hilarious that the lady there was making appointments. LOL

And whatever crazy, 3rd grader (Day 9) move I make, I spend just a few seconds more observing things. I can't really capture it in words. It's like when you get your first pair of bifocals and everything is so crisp and you can' figure out why you resisted so much. There's so much more to see. It seems I'm not in so much of a hurry. I can hear my friends laughing at that now.

I kind of want to savor each and every moment. Let it soak in, absorb it and experience it. It's almost like everything has been behind a thin veil. Yes, I could see through it but without it things are more apparent. This is not to suggest that everything has been great or easy. Viewing things more clearly means that I can no longer ignore things that are difficult. I can no longer deflect the truth. I can no longer believe the lies I've told myself for so long. A relationship is strained, an old hurt has been reopened, a trust has been broken and in this living intentionally, I have to accept things as they are. It doesn't mean things won't get better or change but it requires that I do the work if I desire something different.

Me, 'Fearless'
Well, let me tell you this here blog, journal, free counseling, whatever you want to call it, is me doing the work. Folks have commended me on being transparent. I'm not being transparent, I'm simply saying no to the one thing that holds me back, fear. Fear of being judged, fear of rejection, fear of being hurt - you name it. I think I'm starting to figure out that what gets in the way of my joy, is me and my stupid fears. Fears limit us, bind us and call us to be uneasy and on edge. Well, to me joy is looking more and more like living without fear. That's not to say things aren't scary but no longer will I choose to stay afraid and fearful. Life isn't easy and it's too precious to waste time with fear, self-doubt and worry. Letting go or being still isn't easy, either for I'm a mover and a shaker. But I've learned on this journey that usually the thing that gets in my way the most ... is me.

So on this Day 36 of 40 days of grateful, I'm grateful for overcoming fear.

Monday, March 25, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 35

'Let's have a parade.' That's from the sermon yesterday morning in church. The sermon was actually about the parade folks had for Jesus when he was entering Jerusalem for the last time. We all know the story but the sermon did cause me to consider that parades are usually to celebrate something victorious. Jesus wasn't finished his work yet but folks already knew he was victorious, hmm. This is just one of the many reasons, I love my church, Metropolitan Baptist Church. And to think, I grew up Episcopalian so my becoming a member of a baptist church is nothing short of a miracle (Day 27).

The church I grew up in was quiet and well-reserved. We stood to read His word, sat for instruction during the homily and kneeled with reverence during prayer. There was incense and a mini-parade :-) or processional, on high holy days. I must admit I love the incense and still miss it. We shook hands quietly when we offered the peace, 'May the peace of the Lord be with you. And also with you.' I loved the pipe organ, communion and how we all drank from the same cup. For the record, you will never get sick from taking communion. It's a fact! It can not and will not happen and I will bet you a paycheck on that. We went as a family and usually stayed after for little sandwiches and punch. I have such fond memories of that church. And after service you felt relaxed and refreshed. Yup, but we colored inside the lines.

Now, as I am older I appreciate what Salvation means but this baptist church experience is a whole different ball game. Color inside the lines? Pull-ease, every week that box of crayons is thrown on the floor, all over the place. It's almost never quiet. Folks are clapping, waving their hands, shouting praises, putting up holy hands and at the end of service, sometimes you're spent, sweaty and ready for a hot shower. There are no rules here but to praise the Lord as how you see fit. And offering the peace is a 'holy hug or a sanctified kiss.' Folks are spilling down the aisles hugging and kissing on strangers like they were your long, lost friend. Old, young, thin, or a little round, it's going to go down. Somebody is going to hug you. Be uncomfortable if you want because it's not going to stop them. It lasts like 10 minutes while the choir sings the welcome song, it's great! I don't mean to suggest it's disorderly but it's exciting, exhilarating and after service I feel like I could do anything. What, climb mountains? After service I could. Run a marathon? Is the choir going to be there? I'm in. And I'm not exaggerating, it's great. And it's like that every Sunday.

And as for the choir, they usher in the Holy Spirit like they have the hotline to Jesus. I love it. It's a variety of different genres, spirituals, contemporary gospel you name it. My favorite is Let us Break Bread Together, it's only played during communion but it moves me every time. In fact, I'll share a secret (I'm whispering here) I like to stand during the song, I don't know why because no one else in the congregation is standing. But you know what, I stand because at my church however you praise is however you praise.

My pastor is also great. Sermons are introspective, interesting and interactive. His love of the Lord is evident. I always learn something new about being a Christian and attribute this church with teaching me to be intentional about my relationship with Christ and to witness to others by how I serve them. Serving is simply how I treat people each and everyday. This is not to suggest that I shouldn't join a ministry or serve as an usher. It simply means that people who meet me should know that there is something different about me. The premise is that by serving another person, they recognize that whatever this Jesus-thing I got is hot and they want some too.

My church also has classes of course - women's bible study, corporate bible study, etc. But these are not your Momma's bible study. In fact, on Saturday we had a prayer summit. What's that? It was an all-out, no-holds-barred session on prayer. Let me tell you, I only caught the last hour or so and was done. I ended up on somebody's proverbial couch getting all the free counseling I could get. A little prayer put things in perspective and all those things I've been wrestling with didn't seem so encompassing. I left feeling renewed, restored and ready. And here I thought boot camp (Day 5) was all I needed. I was wrong, I needed prayer.

Not only are the classes phenomenal, so are the people. I'm not kidding. When I tell you my church family is real, I mean it. Look at my roomie (Day 23), she was only some 'random chick from bible study' but that didn't stop me from opening up my home and heart to her. And likewise, she was down for the cause and moved right in. When I bought a used manual pick-up truck, don't ask, I simply called up my 'Big Brother' Warren Matthews from church. He literally came over the next day and showed me how to drive. And I have a gazillion other stories like that about my church family. Things that people do for each other all the time. Did your car break down? Don't worry, you can use mine. Air conditioner go out? No worries, you can sleep on my couch until you get it fixed. Need prayer? I'll pray with you and for you.

This is not to say my church is perfect. C'mon it's made up of us - people. There's bound to be some shenanigans from time to time. But it's all good. It's interesting to me that folks ask me how my church is doing. Let me give you some background. We were building a new sanctuary right when the market turned. The builder went under, the project was over budget, we had sold our old building, something happened with the loan, I can't remember but basically it was a perfect storm of events. So our temporary location has been extended a few years. Yeah, well chains are still being broken, captives are still being set free, folks are still giving their lives to Christ and I've never felt so fed. In fact, folks better hope Pastor doesn't want to meet at the grocery store, because it's gonna be tight in there with all those boxes of cereal and oatmeal. And I mean it, I don't know where our next move will be and basically I don't care because I'm gonna be right there with my church family.

So on this Day 35 of 40 days of gratefulness, I am grateful for my church, Metropolitan Baptist Church. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Saturday, March 23, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 34

Whew, what a day. My office mate left for a new job yesterday. We knew it was coming so I don't know why we're all walking around the office like we don't know what hit us. I've known the gentleman for almost 2 years. He actually replaced a very good friend of mine who used to work with me. I affectionately called the new guy 'splenda' as he was a substitute for the original guy. Get it? I know, chalk that up to the 3rd grader (Day 9) in me. What's interesting is that both gentlemen were pretty, easy going guys but I think what sticks out most about them is that both were great dads.

Now, I'm not sure if their wives would say that ;-) all the time b/c they both are probably hardheaded and forgetful but I admire how they were both intentional about making a way or plan for their families. While they both are Christians, the original guy and I have shared our life experiences with respect to our faith. But working with both of them has helped me understand a little more about what a good father desires for his family and what that means. In fact, it just dawned on me that almost the entire time I've worked for this project, I've worked almost exclusively with men. Interestingly enough, the ones that I have befriended, meaning we actually keep in touch, are great dads as well.

Now, I have talked at length with these gentlemen about being a good dad; some of them had great dads and some of them didn’t but each recognized the important of their role with respect to their families, to provide and protect. That reminds me of a sermon I once heard, it challenged single women to look for 3 things in potential husbands. He must make provisions (meaning work), he must protect his family and he must empower you to become a better woman. If memory, serves me correctly that was a Good Friday sermon. 

I personally didn’t know anything about a father protecting or making provisions as my father wasn’t around. I have been fortunate or rather blessed to have friends, both Day 7 and Day 8, who dads were around. Between my friends’ dads and my grandfather, I had a pretty good model of how a dad should be, it just wasn’t my specific experience. It just so happens (or did it because there are no coincidences) that I just left a daddy issue at the altar. I know, me broken – pullease, I’m emotionally, spiritually, healthy ... most of the time ;-).  Actually, my roomie (Day 23) mentioned in a note that she prayed I would get over my daddy issue. What issue? What was she talking about, I never talked to her about my loser dad. Needless to say through some introspection and a little prayer, I gained a lot of perspective.

My father died in 1984, when I was 15 and I remember being angry at the time that I didn’t get a chance to give him a piece of my mind. He passed when I was in high school and not-winnish, loser-like or not, my mother would have never allowed me to be outright disrespectful. I know that’s a classic textbook case, right? Well, to heal this daddy wound, I would have to do some work. My work ended with me writing a list of qualities my father possessed and why they were loser-like. It was cathartic. I’m not an angry sista’, never have been – that’s just not who I am. But it did help me recognize some behaviors. 

One, you absolutely cannot stand me up – to me that’s like waiting in line at Walmart. Meaning if I have to wait too long in line at Walmart, I’m probably going to Target. You get the picture. My issue also looked like me being a little unreasonable about my tolerance for honesty. Honesty, to me, is telling me the entire story not bits and pieces, which I have to assemble. If I have to assemble the truth or half-truths, for an omission is a lie by my definition, chances are I was heading back down to Target. That was pretty much it. Now, that is not just reserved for men – I expect honesty from my ‘homegirls’ too. And they expect it from me as well. The gist is that if someone triggered either one of these red flags, you can bet that I was going to be moving on. No discussion was required. I now recognize this extreme behavior was largely surrounding a daddy issue as he was the first person to stand me up or tell me a half-truth. But the difference is that now I recognize the 'trigger,' I get to choose how to respond and not react. The next thing I discovered, was that I was going to have to forgive him for not being everything my family deserved.

Now, back to the letter, it helped me gain invaluable perspective. By just capturing my thoughts and feelings on paper, it made me feel better. I’m not saying that he couldn’t have made better choices but marrying my mother suggested that he had a plan for his family at one time. I suspect he didn't have very good role models but who knows what could have happened, for my father didn't make it to his 40th birthday. This isn't to 'bring you down' it's only to help you recognize two things. First, I've had and still have examples of great dads throughout my life. Secondly, if you have a daddy issue, I'd suggest you get to writing a letter, it certainly helped me.

So on this Day 34 of 40 days of gratefulness, I’m grateful for great dads everywhere ... and I'm going to miss my office mate. #beblessed #40daysogratefulness

Friday, March 22, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 33

major free time
Well, I must admit that after yesterday's post, I started to wonder what in the world would I do when this 40 days of gratefulness was over? What would I do with all this major free time? Free time to think, feel, just be or  to make the day magical. Maybe I could write a book? Well, let me tell you, if Keith Sweat could author a book, I could too. Or maybe I could write poetry? Jack and Jill went up the hill ... Let's try that again Jack and Jill went up the block to cop  ... Yeah, you see where this is going. Poetry is not my cup of tea.

Or perhaps I could learn a second language, like Spanish? That way I could communicate better with my cleaning lady (Day 16). I only have to say the word and she's off. I ask her if she could dust the ledge in my bedroom, she smiles. I ask her to put the alarm on when she leaves, she smiles. I ask her if she wears my robe and rolls around in my bed when I leave, she smiles. You get the gist. Generally, we make do with texts using some translation app until she throws out a word, esquecho, that the app can't translate. But outside of that we do just fine.

Or perhaps I can find a new hobby, like jogging? I've been trying that for just about a year and I'm still struggling to run just one mile. It doesn't help that the only music that motivates me is the worse old school rap -- yeah, music that's so suspect I have to encode it so no one knows it's on my IPOD. That actually reminds me of a funny story. I'm out running one day and just as my headphones come unplugged from the iPhone, I ran past an elderly couple, with B2K's Bada Boom blaring:
'This one, I seen
Couldn't believe the @$$ in those jeans'
Niiice! You can imagine the looks I got. Yup #fail on jogging. Hmm, what about golf? I do like it and secretly believe I could be good at it. But it's expensive and folks are impatient -- just because it takes me 15-30 minutes per hole, go around already! And why don't they sell frozen margaritas or daiquiris on the greens, I'm not a beer drinker thank you very much.

I even thought about what it would fee like to have my dream jobs. Yes, one of my dream jobs is to be an admin. Let me tell you, I would kill it. There would be fresh, hot coffee and plenty of supplies. Bagels on Fridays and Donut Day to commemorate the day before every holiday. I would order supplies that's needed not #2 wood pencils. I would be friendly, my area would smell like vanilla and I would be welcoming and engaging. Oh, yeah and I would do work like I am paid for it. But I digress.

Karamel, authoress

I kept thinking about all the fun and magical things I could do. My new activity should be both fun and magical. It should be worthy of your free time. It should make you think, feel and most of all, laugh. And as I typed, I came up with a great idea. How about a short story? I could do that, right?  All I would need is a set of characters, a storyline and voila a short story is born. But, how could I possibly keep the 3rd grader (Day 9) in me at bay. Rats!! I can not, I absolutely need her today. In fact, this short story is dedicated to the 3rd grader in all of us. It's entitled, 'The Karamel Chronicles' and it's authored by none other than Karamel (Day 10) herself.

 '2 Random Chicks @ Zumba'
The Karamel Chronicles
Whew. I'm so tired, it's 6:00! And what's all that dayum racket? Sorry, just in case you didn't catch my name, it's Karamel, that's right, KiKi for short. And I'm rooming with these 2 'random chicks.' Just look at them, smiling like idiots. Who poses at Zumba with water bottles in their hands. Straight shenanigans, I say. The tall one hasn't lived here for long but good grief, she is noisy. Do we really need to hear the 'hallelujah chorus' each and every morning? And what's the deal with her and that body glitter. Every times she comes up here, there's a trail of sparkles everywhere. Body glitter, sparkles, pullease. They call it 'booty dust' where I come from. I know, the short one thinks that tall 'random chick' is saved but what saved person wears body glitter everyday? Riight, she's saved.

Every day it's the same thing - crazy soprano singing from the tall 'random chick' and the short one takes forever to get ready in the morning; she wastes her entire morning lotioning up and playing scramble with the tall random chick's pop. And if she turns on that TV, I'll never get back to sleep. Up here planking in a 'wife beater.' Someone should tell her that a 'wife beater'  is not a pajama top. You're not 20 anymore, honey - step it up a notch!

Random bootcamp picture
And she could give those red patent leather boots a rest. They're cute, but red patent leather is not a neutral. All they ever do is talk. They talk about listening to the Bible on CD. The talk about tasty treats. They talk about bootcamp and it gets on my nerves. If I hear the word, bootcamp or see another random bootcmap picture, I will literally pass our right here from boredom. And really, must they get on that frigg'n 6AM prayer call every Friday? Don't they know a bear needs her rest? That short one gets to crying and the little one plays music - LAY DOWN already or take your noisy behinds to work.

Red patent leather is not a neutral!
Body Glitter, REALLY!

And must you both eat everywhere, there's crumbs, Uncrustables' wrappers and empty soy chocolate milk drink boxes all over the place. Did I forget to mention that that short one leaves her shoes' everywhere? Maybe that's why she wears those red patent leather boots all the time, she can at least find them. Shenanigans, I say.' ~Karamel~

Hmm, that's my first short story ... who knows? Peace! Have a magical day!

So on this Day 33 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for free time to make the day both fun and magical. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness #makeitmagical

Thursday, March 21, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 32

Aah, I'm nearing the end of my 40 Days of Gratefulness aka 'journey to joy' aka 'my life in few words with little pictures.' First, I'm so very grateful that He has seen fit to use me for some purpose, even if it was just to make you laugh. Even if this is the only post you've read, I hope the title has at least helped you consider if only for a moment what is means to be more grateful. I must say this blog has definitely blessed me and I'm so appreciative of the 'random events' (Day 27) that brought me to this exact moment. This blog has been my friend and substitute for free counseling as I've been out of the loop since I started. Being grateful with my head up in the clouds, magically makes time slip by. It seems like I started just yesterday, blinked and voila we are rounding the corner to Easter. There are a few folks like 'My T' who I've missed dearly as our connect times are generally reserved for the morning. Just so you know, T ... I'll be back in a few, with a new lens for viewing this experience.

It seems everywhere I turn is an opportunity to share some story about how things are exactly the same but they feel differently. Even as I penned this here post on a stickie in the back of a meeting, someone emailed me with this on their signature block 'I am joy.' that's from the book, The Secret. I immediately replied to the email that I loved that quote and would use that very phrase in my blog. Within a few moments, I had a reply email thanking me for the information and a request to share my blog. WHAT? I can't make this stuff up. It seems 'coincidences' or 'seemingly random' things are happening all around me. How would it be that someone would casually pop over to my desk and mention that they didn't know Sampson from the bible had been married? WHAT! I had just listened to Sampson's story of the bible en route to my hike (Day 29, Day 30) with my roomie, the shenanigator.

Are these things happenstance? Nope but they are not unusual since I've started documenting these 40 days of gratefulness. It's amazing that over these last few weeks, things I'm grateful for have fallen out of the sky, into my heart and tumbled out onto these pages. There have been days when I was concerned that I had nothing pertinent to write but then a snow day (Day 19) and a good night's rest (Day 22) found its way into the recesses of my mind. Hopefully I've presented something worthy, something that made you feel good, laugh and think.

Folks have been so encouraging even within the first minute I posted. I can't tell you the stories they have shared. There have been emails and texts telling me how this blog has impacted them. Some have even busted my chops at 'institutionalizing' this here blog meaning I'm free to do whatever I like. Know that all of your comments are all words of affirmation, propelling me forward, encouraging me to believe that I could even do this for 40 days. I appreciate each and every comment, every Facebook post about how folks were laughing in meetings or took time out to consider me in their prayers. And if you didn't know, nothing has ever touched me more than someone choosing to pray for me, it is the most important gift I've ever received and you have forever sealed the deal as far I'm concerned. period.

'What's next?'
I've also had several folks ask me, what's next? I have no idea, remember I never planned to do this. I've even received a text or two with folks threatening to hurt themselves because they can't imagine this grateful ride being over. LOL. I love the sharp instruments depicted in the text, it made the 3rd grader (Day 9) in me laugh. I also had someone share with me at length about how it convicted them. Well, for the record our choosing to be grateful is never over. And as much as I like to believe I'm a detective like Olivia Benson, I never really stopped to consider what I would do when this thing was over. I'm having a fabulous time and not a day goes by when I'm not looking for something to be grateful about.

Now, not every day has been a good one, I promised myself I would be honest, but I absolutely know without a doubt that my good days outweigh my bad because I have empirical evidence. In fact, consider this 40 days of gratefulness an experiment. Oh, the statistician in me still lives. So far I've had 2 bad days out of 32 which suggests that 93.75% of the time, I've had good days. What's important is that on 100% of the days, I was still able to find something to be grateful for; documenting it right here on these pages. That's GOOD NEWS!

Needless to say, I'm trying to let this thing be ... my plan or unplan ... just capturing my head and heart as these last few days go by. Forgive me if you see the same material, I'm grateful for each and every thing I've shared. Gone is the notion that I should have a title or theme to be grateful for -- I'm surprised that I've been grateful for activities and not just things. I'm grateful for prayer (Day 31), growing old (Day 25) and surprise visits (Day 24). I'm grateful for my mom (that was a Facebook post), my roomdog (Day 2), my BFA (Day 7), my roomie (Day 23) and I could go do this exactly 32 times. ;-) I'm grateful for biking (Day 18) and bootcamp (Day 5) for both make me feel vividly alive. There is some space just outside the bootcamp buzz or maybe it's in the space just before you ride downhill and catch a good breeze that makes me appreciate each and every breath. It also makes me more appreciative of how I spend my time. I suspect that I may be way more comfortable with the uncomfortable in the upcoming months by saying no more often. Time is important and we should treat it accordingly. That being said, choosing to be more grateful, is time well-spent.

So on this Day 32 of 40 days of gratefulness, I am grateful for you ... choosing to spend your time being more grateful. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 31

Ever want something so badly you can almost taste it. I'm talking about wanting something so much that it's pervasive, suffocating and stifling. The type of thing that you want to put all your energy into; spending all your time trying to figure it out. You are ready to move and shake, pulling out all the stops and playing all the angles. You want to run different scenarios, document mind maps or go old school and IDEF model. You research, read books, check the Internet, blogs and good ol' fashioned gossip. Do you know what works? Hey, I have an issue, have you heard the latest?

Psalm 86:6
And with all your moves, planning and shenanigans, you don't have a clue. You can't seem to find an answer. Being passive-aggressive doesn't work. What if I tried good cop, bad cop? Or I'll just be bossy and try to order folks around. But none of it works. So you go back to the drawing board, check your play book and try a new formation. But, it's not working. Dayum, what's next? And at the end of your laundry list, after your resources have been exhausted and your mind is spent, you start to get the picture. This thing may not work out the way you'd like no matter what you do. Pretty much, you're just spinning your wheels.

As Christians, we're all aware that God is in charge. We acknowledge that He is the center of our lives, and all things work together for His good. But what if His plan, isn't one you like or subscribe to? I mean it happens, you want your children to have the desires of their heart, you hope your family is happy and healthy, and you hope your marriage will last. But, what if you are not on board with God's plan. It could happen, you didn't get that job you wanted. Maybe you can't afford that house you dreamed of or perhaps you thought you would be married with kids by now. Whatever it is that you hoped, dreamed and prayed for - it could not be in God's divine plan for you. But how do you get around it?

Ahh, I could go on about a gazillion things that happened or didn't happen to me in my lifetime. I don't have a lot of regrets, I'm only ashamed of a few things and I know that I wouldn't be right here with you without His grace and mercy. Old folks say I could have been six feet under. I say I could have been in jail or on drugs or abused but I'm not. I'm heading steadfast down this journey to joy with everything I got, full steam ahead, looking for ... I don't know what's on the other side but I'm excited, exhilarated even and a little nervous about what I'll find. I recognize that everyone can't go where I'm going and sometimes it hurts. People who you thought would be with you forever are not. Places you thought you'd go you haven't. So, what's a chick to do?

Psalm 86:6 begins with 'Hear my prayer, Lord ...' I'm simply supposed to pray. I'll leave you with one of my favorite prayers for it was written specifically with me in mind ;-) and I've modified it specifically with you in mind. Be Blessed!
"God grant me the desires of my heart. God give me the strength to stand. Bless me in the city and the field. Command your angels to protect me. Let your Holy Spirit fall FRESH on me. Hold me in your right hand God. Incline me to forgive, heal, encourage, help, edify and pray for your people. Fill me with joy, peace, love and happiness.
In Jesus' name, Amen!"
So on this Day 31 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for prayer. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness #prayerworks

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 30

Let's do a small recap from Day 29. My roomie (Day 23) tricked me into going hiking. It would be fun, she said. And it was fun at first, until we go lost. We were no longer on the trail and it had been several minutes since we last saw anyone else. I had a gnawing feeling that we probably wouldn't make it back to the car until sundown. I was permeating fear with every second and believed that a fox had picked up my scent. Now that fear had settled in, I wondered how was I going to overcome this fear? I had to play my cards right. Fear is contagious and my roomie, the shenaningator seems like the type to lose it, I would be strong for us both.

'The car is this way.'
Before I could move past the fear, I was going to have to accept it. We were good and lost. Hmm, that didn't make me feel any better the first time I said it. By the second, third and fourth time, I was feeling better. I attributed my ability to move past fear by the real or imagined fox that was keeping a close watch on us both. The vultures circling up ahead didn't help. Maybe that was the fox's last kill. Woo-sa, woo-sa.

To add insult to injury, my roomie was trying to strong talk me, 'the car is this way she points.' Man, she sure is smart. That's right my being comfortable with the uncomfortable would help me overcome this paralyzing fear I was experiencing. Worse case scenario, we could have always gone back the way we had come. Rats, where was that pesky fox? REALLY? She is the worse and was going to get a strong, side-eye the moment I got back to the car, safely. She really is a piece of work. Who was I kidding, I was never going to be able to go back the way we came. I mean, my shoulders were burning and my right leg was starting to hurt, I began to limp slightly.

Our provisions were low and the fox was closing in. Then it hit me. How to overcome this fear? I was chock full of quips about fear, 'Run to the roar.' 'Do it afraid.' 'Put on your big girl panties.' All inspiring in their own right but the only real way to overcome fear and move forward, is faith. Ahh, I knew a little something about faith ;-) In fact, I had started a faith walk with this shenanigator almost a year ago. But, could she really be trusted after bringing me out here.

Now, it didn't take long to muster up a little faith as my roomie, the 'random chick', shenanigator had saw fit to musically document our adventure with none other than Fred Hammond. Aah, first a moment to get over the desire to throttle her neck. Rats, the fox was back. Hey, focus here, faith, right? I had to 'lean into it.' I didn't know what to do but I let faith kick in, which to me looks like me letting go.

'Which way should we go?' I asked.
Her reply, 'Let's go to the left.'

And just like that my fear had subsided and faith had rushed in. Well almost, because it had been another 9 minutes and we still hadn't seen another person and yes, I was still counting. It did concern me that she had now picked up a a fairly large stick, did she too see that fox? I decided to keep it to myself less we both panic but I hadn't seen that fox in awhile.

Meanwhile, Fred Hammond continued to serenade us.

You allowed your love to shower me.
When I deserve it least.
Your grace and mercy, my shelter from the storm.
And through the night till light appears.
You cause me to sleep peacefully.
And bring rest upon my weary heart. 

That's Thoughts of Love from his Love Unstoppable album. And like magic, my fear had transformed into faith and our adventure was back on once again. The song had a salsa feel, I take a few moments to salsa. 1 , 2, 3 ...  cha, cha, cha. Yup, I still have my moves from Zumba. And just like that, the fun triumphed fear.

Once again I could appreciate our surroundings. Despite the day being overcast, it was still beautiful just looking around. With fear gone, my focus re-directed and faith restored, I could see that this day was purposeful. I had experienced fear, faith and fun all within a few hours and it was great. And once we saw people again, I would feel even better. Aah, I saw something familiar, the trail sign where we started.

The Wilderness
Jesus, be a fence!
It appeared that we had wandered off the beaten path into the wilderness where we roamed but not without faith. Follow me here, we wandered the wilderness, faced fear and found faith along the way. Oh, if I could escape my Episcopal up-bringing, a praise dance would be on. I was lost but now I was found. What? We were delivered. Restoration! Imagine soulful humming here because my roomie was still musically documenting our journey. Hey, when did she throw down her large stick? That was a good sign and it seems that pesky fox had moved on.

We were starting to see familiar surroundings and while our faith had been restored, our bodies were fading fast. We passed a group of kids who were disappointed, as the first trail was closed. My roomie told them  another trail was open just a mile down. I smiled - they had no idea what was in store for them. God bless 'em and I, too hoped they had faith.

So on this Day 30 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for faith. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Monday, March 18, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 29

I spent the better part of yesterday, hiking. This was my first time hiking, I believe. The basic difference between walking around outdoors in a park and hiking is that hiking has rocks. And when I say, rocks - that's exactly what I mean. Not the gravel-like, river rocks you might come across in your front yard. I'm talking about rocks that are too heavy to lift, too big too see around, too big too climb over and too steep to understand why in the world one would agree to come again. Rocks or better yet, boulders whose surface is so smooth and slick you wonder if ones bones would shatter like glass if one fell down. Rocks that were so off the beaten path that one had no cell phone service, which implied one had no rescue. Right, you're starting to get the picture.

I had been 'sufficiently set-up,' bamboozled, hood-winked, 'taken to the hoop,' and straight took by my roomie (Day 23). Oh yeah, she tells me that the trail is fine and that she had brought her parents here previously. I thought she loved her parents and cared for their safety but perhaps I was mistaken, for this was plain ol' shenanigans. This Billy Goat Trail was not for the faint of heart. I couldn't believe folks were even out there with their animals and kids. Both PETA and child protective services would be called the moment my cell phone regained service.

Pre-hike pictures
We started out by taking a few pictures of the park, this was pre-hike. We wore bright colors because we like how we feel when we wear them. I called my Roomdog (Day 2) to let her know where we were just in case we needed to be rescued. Initially, hiking was  great. I could tell the day would be full of adventure, intrigue and shenanigans. The trail started out easy and light. We walked along quietly just listening to the river rushing down through the canal. It was easy to take in all the sights and sounds, I exhaled because it feel good. A little exercise in God's natural playground was nice. But as we walked, the trail became more dense, the pathway more rocky. It was no longer wide enough to allow more than one person to pass. The elevation rose too quickly and now the rocks had jagged, scary, razor-sharp edges. Oh, my.

But my roomie assured me that this wasn't bad. Hmm, this wasn't bad, she said. Getting a hang nail isn't bad, a splinter in your finger, that's not bad. Walking along the trail that was some 50 feet high and not even 2 feet wide with only the grand rapids or a cliff on either side, that qualifies for a little more than 'not bad.' I wondered about soil erosion. But we kept moving. It would be fine I thought to myself, we were prepared, I had my gloves, my favorite scarf and provisions. Our adventure continued and just as I was starting to feel comfortable and safe, the trail dead ended at a group of boulders as these no longer met the definition of rocks. And this is where this fun adventure turned to one of fear.

Now, the first rule of survival, is that one must absolutely not appear afraid. But I was in full-blown terror mode and it seeped out in waves. What was I thinking? #$@@%#$ A flurry of curse words almost came across my lips but I only said them to myself. Yup, we're all a work in progress.

The next 30-40 minutes I can barely remember because I was sufficiently petrified. And my roomie decides she wants to add a soundtrack to my terrifying ordeal. That's right, she's now musically documenting my own personal fear session with Fred Hammond. Hmm, I wonder if I will suffer this paralyzing fear every time I hear the line, I will dance like David danced? I'll keep you posted. To make matters worse, we received some very interesting looks when folks walked by with us 'getting it in' with Fred Hammond - oh, forgot to mention, my praising-the-Lord-at-all-times, roomie was singing along in her outside voice. 'Dayum, there goes our rescue squad.'

And just when I think I can't take anymore, we get lost. We couldn't find the trail markers but no worries on that front either because my roomie who's increasingly becoming some 'random chick' in charge of my own personal nightmare, points that the car is back that way. Really, I know it's back that way somewhere but where are we? 'Grr, iron sharpens iron, right?' No problem, my cell service had returned, I'll look at the map. Rats, I guess google maps hadn't been down these trails, lately. We hadn't seen another person in 7 minutes and yes, I was counting. Since both safety and comfortableness were things of the past, fun had now manifested in to full blown fear. For some reason, 'fight' or 'flight' came to mind. Well, I couldn't 'fight' this praising-the-Lord-at-all-times 'random chick' less I'll never get back and she is freakishly strong. And I would have loved to 'flee' but the car was to the left, upstream as the 'random chick' so eloquently demonstrated by pointing.

Heed the warning signs!
Fear looks like this!
Really!! Why didn't I heed the warning sign, KNOW THE DANGERS OF THE POTOMAC RIVER? Have I learned nothing in this life? I was growing increasingly uncomfortable. Woo-sa, woo-sa ... get a hold of yourself, chick! What have I learned? I've learned that we must become comfortable with the uncomfortable to get life's most important lessons. This life isn't always easy and it's riddled with fear, regret and uncertainty but I'm saved, I don't subscribe to being simply paralyzed with fear. No analysis paralysis for me. I've learned to my face my fears head on because on the other side of all fear is a lesson that once I get it, I'll have it forever. And this simple premise applies to everything.

If I need to discuss an issue, you can best believe it's going to go down. It may not be easy but it is necessary. Life has taught me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. I know that on the other side of an uncomfortable conversation is a relationship strengthened by trust. A relationship that withstands obstacles because with each issue we overcome, we move to another level of understanding. Now, how does one learn to overcome fear you might ask?

To Be Continued ...

So on this Day 29 of 40 days of gratefulness, I am grateful for being comfortable with the uncomfortable. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness