Tuesday, April 30, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 44

'Tremendous things are in store for you!' That was the slogan on the back of a box of candy a friend gave me. It made me laugh. Good, because I needed something tremendous. I'd been stressed the last few weeks and no, I wasn't hopeless but joy was just around the corner, right? Oh, I could almost see and taste it but I couldn't quite reach it or feel its embrace but it's right there ...  just beyond my finger tips, staring me in the face ... if only I could stretch just a little more.

Ooh, I had no idea that 'stretching out' would be a re-occurring theme in the story of my life these last few days. Since I began this blog, things have been changing and that includes me. Recently, I had a difficult conversation with a dear friend - our friendship is going some place new, different and better. Aah, but it still feels a little uncomfortable but growth is just that, uncomfortable until you get there. I pray that she's not worried because I'm not. See, I have a little more experience with being comfortable with the uncomfortable (Day 29) and going some place new (like this here, blog).  Be Still, baby girl, (Day 19) I'm just over your shoulder ;-)

And that's just how this week-end began, me being stretched out. On Saturday, me and my roomie (Day 23) rode our bikes for 22 miles. Did I think I could ever make it that far? Nope, but having her with me, caused me to stretch out. See what happens when I get out of the way, More. That's the longest I've ever been on B, my bike (Day 18) but it wasn't bad at all. The weather was perfect, the ride pleasant and strangely enough relaxing. See what happens when we leave fear (Day 36) behind and stretch out.

And just when I thought, ok, I'm starting to get this thing. Sunday rolls around. And church (Day 35) is indescribable! Guess what? The guest psalmist sang about 'Stretching out.' I can't make this stuff up. Next, I can't even tell you what happened in church. The Holy Spirit moved so fast, we were only a few minutes in to service and something happened. Pastor came out of the pulpit, walked down the stairs and held this gentleman who seems to be going through. He invited the entire church family to come down and pray. I can barely even describe it, folks were everywhere, crying, hugging, touching and agreeing, praising the Lord. We could hear Pastor pray but then I heard others praying and while there were several prayers going on at once, I felt like I could hear each one of them individually - dare I say it was miraculous! Prayer is the one gift that keeps on giving and even on Monday evening when I sat down to capture my thoughts, I'm still trying to wrap my head around what I experienced.

But, what I can tell you, is that I, along with a few others left a few things back there at that altar on Sunday and it feels tremendous ... just like that box of candy predicted. Coincidence? NOT! I rounded the corner, dropped off regret and hurt, picked up some forgiveness and there it was .... joy, mine for the taking.

So on this Day 44 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for stretching out. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Friday, April 19, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 43

I went to Serverworld yesterday! I know, it sounds like an amusement park. Serverworld is actually a big room with a gazillion servers, you get the picture. Despite the room being cool, noisy and drafty with terrible lighting, it was a new experience and I had a great time. It could have very well been the company, the SBSA team escorted me there and I love their repartee. They laugh, bicker and joke like teenagers. They even joined me in the 3rd grade (Day 9) and planked with me on the floor just for kicks. And when we had lunch we prayed -- it simply can't get any better than that. It felt like a field trip and like any 3rd grader, I dressed especially for the occasion ... that's me in bright colors because wearing bright colors puts me in a good mood. And this field trip, oh, I mean work ;-) was a much need reprieve for the last week has by far been one of the toughest weeks of my life.

My BFA (Day 7) buried her dad last Saturday and I wrestled with the fact that my mother had not been herself the last few weeks. Her dad, was a simple man. No late nights out w/the fellas, no secret family or illegitimate children - he believed in family first, period. I remember trying to surprise Deneen one year for her birthday and she was so worried about what would happen if she didn't go over to her parents' house on her actual birthday. I busted her chops good "Girl, you are 40 years old, get over it." Now, her family was in on the surprise but she worried like she was a teenager who had missed curfew. LOL. That still cracks me up. Needless to say, her Dad passing wasn't a surprise but can you ever really prepare? The first time I saw her after he passed, I cried wondering how in the world was she managing, when I felt like I was 'gently unraveling' -- barely holding on worrying about her, my mom and the cursed d-word, dementia the doctor so casually threw out.

It's interesting that for as expressive as I am - my mother is not. It could be why she thought it important to nurture that in her children. I'd like to think as the first born, she had more time to nurture that in me - I can always tell you how I'm feeling ...  just ask any of my friends.

But whatever is going on I'm ready or should be, right? Being grateful should have helped me face my fears easier and address those concerns I thought best left buried. But, I struggled, it's not easy but it's important to do the work - gratefulness is a choice. It's not dependent on a good day - it is a place where we must choose to stand and hopefully we're walking down emotionally-spiritually-healthly boulevard together. And if not, we should at least be ready to round the corner. One of my sisters-in-love (Day 3), always says 'lean into it.' That basically means that which we're afraid of, we must ease into it. 

Well, this is me trying to ease into it. But, there are moments usually in the early AM (when I'm accustomed to being grateful) that I slip into a fog of worry, regret, concern and fear but then I remember that I've been practicing this gratefulness thing - so I'm seemingly able to hold on. It's in these moments of 'gently unraveling' that I'm am resigned to remember (Day 14) to be relaxed with what I have. You see, all the time I busy myself with spinning my wheels, playing the negative sound track and making moves, I could be practicing relaxing with what I have. If I could only wrap my head around 'relaxing with what I have,' there would be more time for me to touch, taste, see, feel and absorb more ... more joy, more happiness, more peace.

What's that scripture, Philippians 4:7 'And the peace of God, which passes all understanding ...' I gotta tell you I thought Fred Hammond was a genius a few years back when he sang that. I didn't know that it was straight from the bible. LOL. That makes me laugh. This peace is what I pray for my BFA and her family, this peace is what I pray for my mom, this peace that will soothe my broken heart, this peace that give me hope, this peace that keeps me from plummeting into despair, this peace that helps me remember I am never alone and this peace that is available to me if I could learn to 'relax with what I have' more.

So on this Day 43 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for peace. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 42

It's been a few days since I posted. I've decided that I'll try to post at least once a week or maybe until we have 50, 100 or 1000 days of gratefulness. Guess what, I'm not going to institutionalize it - I'll drop in from time to time.

It was a strange week. I sort, of feel like I was home from college for the first time. Does anyone remember that? When everything seemed the same but somehow it felt different. Your crazy drunk uncle was no longer funny, he was now embarrassing. And when did you little church-going neighbor grow up over night and start running the streets? Yup, that's something my grandmother used to say. While you hate to admit it, home hadn't changed, you had. Your friends that stayed home reminded you that you were different and you couldn't remember why they seemed strange.

... between here and there ...
For some, the idea was that once you were away from home, from the notion of who you were, you were finally free to be exactly that - who you were meant to be. Some may say you reinvented yourself or 'got all brand new.' But, you were finally starting to discover that it was ok to be exactly who you wanted to be. No longer were you limited to the roles and sometime rules associated with home. And that's exactly where I find myself these days. I'm intentionally practicing gratefulness and joy. No longer must I conform and color inside the lines. I like me. I like my life and I still believe in true love! And that Mr. Right is probaly 5'3" and bald. A girl can dream can't she ;-)

Needless to say with my feeling all different, the week felt familiar, right? But I struggled some. Yes, I was concerned about sequestration, the price of gas and the weather. Yes, I was concerned that a few relationships were changing - some are going some place new and wonderful. While others, I'll regrettably have to lay to rest very soon. But everything was as it should, my grateful meter was going good - joy was mine for the taking. But something was amiss. And then Friday, happened.

My mother no longer seemed herself. I chatted with a good friend (Day 7) on the ride home about my fears. She too, shared her fears about her ailing father. I felt better, this was one of those friendships that was going some place new and wonderful. But later that evening, at 10:28PM, her father passed. He had been ill for over a year and his health had declined rapidly over the last few months. And while we had just talked about our fears, I sat here stunned. Stunned in that for as many years as I've known her, I didn't have any words to say. Where was my gratefulness? I simply told her I loved her and that I would see her soon.

And by Sunday morning, I was ready to eat chips and ice cream at such varying intervals that church was out of the question. And just like that, out of the blue, my roomie (Day 23) sent me a text asking if I was attending breakfast at church. That simple text helped me to remember that I needed to practice gratefulness. So off to church, I went where my Pastor challenged me again. The sermon, it seemed, was tailor made for me and pretty much hinged on one word, surely. Surely, I know who I can count on.

... going through ...
Well, no more avoidance for me. B, my bike (Day 18),  and I were going to ride it away. I rode some place new. I rode until my legs burned and my hands trembled. I rode until I cried. I rode until my cell phone died. I rode past fields and power lines. I rode until I remembered that I choose gratefulness - that I practice joy - that when I'm between here and there - that when I'm going through, Surely, I know who I can count on. I rode until I got good and lost. And that's exactly the point. That when I'm lost, when I'm out of moves, when I've played my last card, Surely ... I know who I can count on.

So on this Day 42 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful for ... surely knowing who I can count on.

Monday, April 1, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 41

Well, it's Day 1 after 40 Days of Gratefulness and while it's definitely a victory. I'm torn, what will I do after this thing is over? What's going to happen in the next chapter of new me? It's funny, I missed having a little something to share yesterday and thought I would go to my new found friend, my confidante, my safe space, my blog. I'll try to keep it brief. Who knew that this thing would change me so profoundly? I feel different. It has to be good but I'm nervous. Nervous that perhaps some other things have changed in the meantime. Some things I hadn't expected.

Some things I've been running from, I simply cannot anymore. Which means the next few weeks, I can feel it, will be resigned to doing more hard work. It'll be well-worth it but I'm nervous about it, not fearful  - I left that fear somewhere last week (Day 36). But there is something different, folks I'm close to - I want to hold on a little tighter. I haven't decided what that looks like. Should I send folks cards? Write them funny stories? Or make them tasty treats? I haven't decided yet but I'll keep you posted.

As for Easter, it was indescribable. Church was fantastic and a straight Holy Ghost set-up. As usual, Pastor took us all some place new. Some place wither 3 scriptures and 3 trees. It was great. Some place where the Holy Spirit showed up and showed out. Some place where the choir fell out. Some place where folks fell out. Some place where children gave their lives to Christ. And some place where no one can quite remember what happened after the offering. It was a fabulous celebration. Dare I say, it was the Best Easter ever. 

I did get to sit with my roomdog (Day 2) which was great. I wanted to hug her neck the entire time because I hadn't seen her for 2 weeks. But it was great worshiping together and I got to hear her sing which touches me each and every time. Now, she's no Whitney Houston but there is something about her voice that's textured and colorful. Aah, I do love my roomdog.

Anyway, I savored my notoriety ;-) ...  it seems Pastor saw fit to send my blog (Day 35) out to the entire church. Let me tell you - it feels good - like I won the lottery. Folks reading it and taking the time out to respond affirms me like you wouldn't believe. After church, I was off to brunch with my church family and it felt good. The meal was delicious and the company was delightful.

... the choir fell out ...
So on Day 41 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful for Easter Sunday. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness