Archive for September, 2015
I honestly feel that this year has been an eye opener for me. Well, really the last couple of months have had me bugging my eyes out. I thought this would be a good time to reflect and to talk to the 18 year old Danielle. The 18 yr old Danielle was in her first year at AUM. She turned 18 on her first day of college. She cried home to her mom, scared about doing something different and just wanted to go home. She felt like she was country girl-who felt fat and that others would see right through her. She felt that she would be lonely and never make new friends. This is what I would tell her.
Learn to love yourself at whatever stage. Danielle you are beautiful. You have a great personality. That is what will shine through more than anything. So what, you have a gap or you think you have your daddy and grandma’s hands or that you have thick eyebrows (you will be introduced to waxing in 2006 and it will be Amazing!) You are gorgeous, at 270-280-310 (yes, you will get to 310 but you will work it off.) and don’t let anyone dim your light. Don’t lower yourself for the sake of fitting in. You will learn latter on but fitting in isn’t really your style.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It really is small stuff. You have so much anxiety. We still have it but it’s about different things. Learn to loosen up. Yes, sometimes you stutter because you get too excited. You may say inappropriate things (well, we still do…that’s just who we are.) It’s okay. Life will go on. You may have a bad day but you will also have good days, days where you will laugh hard enough to cry. You will have joy in your heart.
Don’t forget to live. Stop waiting for the right circumstances. Stop waiting for you to look a certain way or feel a certain way. Just write down some goals and go for it. You will have friends who will be supportive of any idea you have, they will be your biggest cheerleaders. It is okay to see an event on campus and go, even if you don’t know anyone.
Think about what goals after college. I know that feeling that you’re having. You’re on a high because you said you were going to college and you have made that a reality. You are going to learn that getting your degree is the easy part. School comes easy to you. The hard part states after you walk across the stage. You think that people will be throwing jobs at you: nope, it doesn’t happen. SO, take this time to start to see what you like or don’t like. Don’t be scared to apply for internships, in and out of state. This goes back to the prior point—don’t be too afraid to take risks. Also, know that being afraid is not a requirement to not pursue your goals. Do it afraid!
I hope that I didn’t scare you with this letter. I want you to feel empowered. You will go places you never dreamed of. You will learn how to drive and get a car! Won’t he do it!! (That’s will be one of your phrases). I want you to feel empowered. I want you to live life, not go through it. Allow your eyes to be open. Live life and have Faith in God, in all situations. Don’t be afraid of what others will think of you. Heck, who cares what others will say. There will be nothing you can say or do to stop them anyway. Don’t forget—you are beautiful, inside and out. You are worthy to have good happen to and for you.
I have been pretty obedient to God as of late. I followed him into domestic ministry at Bridges of Faith. Living off the support of those with generous hearts to put food on the table and paying the car payment is scary! But I tell myself if He brought me to it, He’ll bring me through it!
I have had a wonderful time with the Ukrainian Orphans we bring to Alabama for cultural exchange and family networking. Our first group was a great group of young children. I have always loved young children and those with disabilities. But what I never liked as teenagers. I couldn’t deal with their attitude and sass. I’ve said this for years. Nothing was going to change that. So when I learned our second group included eight teenagers, I freaked out. I told God I couldn’t do this. I wouldn’t be able to bond. I wouldn’t be able to deal with their attitudes in a Christian manner.
God does not accept “no”. He just doesn’t. He brought over eight beautiful teens and one younger child to enjoy the month of August at our camp called BridgeStone. There were three girls, and I was dreading them the most. They’d freak out about getting dirty and a variety of other issues. I didn’t want any part of it.
But from the moment they stepped into the airport, these children were nothing like the American teenagers I have worked with. They weren’t yelling or screaming, (to be fair they didn’t know a lot of our language). In the van ride home, they didn’t fight among themselves. They had their snacks and took nap. Even though, this would be the most composed they will be for the e entire month, they never reached the hectic, loud, negative brouhaha that I was used to. Most of them were well behaved (but as allays with the boys, you had to keep an eye on a couple of them).
But they were so much fun. They participated in a variety of activities from actively learning English to trying new food to getting dirty with horses. No one whined or complained that they didn’t want to do something. They weren’t “too good” for anything. These children had seen the bad side of life and instead of lashing out at those around them, they had pulled inside themselves. So our job was to bring them out if their shells. Some came out quickly, embracing all the adventures in front of them. Some of them were slower, wondering if they could really trust US. But eventually they saw that and reached out to US.
Though I bonded with all the teen and learned about them, there are two that really taught me something about life. The first was a boy with the sweetest smile. He had been through a lot in his life: he had been abused as a child; he had been shuffled off to an orphanage because his mother couldn’t take care of him; and he had grown up with only the bare minimum of everything in life. But he always gave you a smile and loved to give hugs. He hadn’t given up looking for someone to trust, someone to take care of him. My heart broke to realize that he made the best of a bad situation, and when I let the dumbest things get to me. He inspired me to smile more, to be happy more.
The second teen’s effect on me was more subtle. She did have a drama streak, but she wanted so much to connect with people, to be included and loved. She would help me up and down stars. If she missed helping me, she would be sad and apologize. She loved freely and laughed often. She wasn’t afraid of tears. She totally changed my mind that all teens were all self-centered. She realized to be loved, she had to give love.
You have to give love to get love. Isn’t that just a profound thought. We can’t be loved by someone unless we have an open giving heart. Sure we can be grumpy and need help, but we have to be willing to get out there, to put our hearts on the line. These children did nothing but that.
The day they left, I cried. Heck, I cried the night before when we were all together. I cried more than I had even cried for the first group! I had such bonds with this children-one boy even told me “I love you” and told me not to cry! Each child was so dear to me: they had each changed my life is some monumental way. They didn’t even know it.
I had told God no, and he threw back in my face 9 instruments of growth and love. He proved to me that he was right and I was wrong. I am humble before him, honored to help these orphans. I must always remember not to tell God no, because he will always show me a yes!
If you would like to find out more about Bridges of Faith please visits: http://www.bridgesoffaith.com/
And if you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to BOF in my name to continue my domestic ministry work , please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, donate on-line (mention my name) or send checks to 302 County Road 383, Billinngsley, AL 36006. Thank you for your support!
Those handsome faces are my sons. I’ve written about all of them at one point or another, but I wanted to highlight them, specifically Landyn this blog because it goes with my “fear not” goal. When I was single I never wanted to date a guy with kids because I just had a fear of what the mother would be like(I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog). I actually lucked out with Landyn’s mom, because his mom and I haven’t had too many disagreements and honestly we’ve never had any face to face issues either. I love all my boys, it matters not to me who I physically birthed. But being a stepmom can be complicated. You have to open your heart up to love on a child who you really don’t have full say or sometimes any say as to what you think might benefit that child. I’ve had my heart bruised quite a bit and honestly this has caused me to fear fully opening my heart up to my stepson. I’ve worked really hard to treat each child as one complete unit, but there has been times that has been very hard.
I’ve had to ask other stepmoms how they relate to their stepkids; for many of the women who responded they seemed to treat the kids nicely but with walls. I didn’t understand at first, until an incident over the summer really showed me why most stepmoms do this. I won’t get into specific details, but I ended up with my feelings really hurt and just unsure as to what to do with my relationship with my stepson. Not that I was ever going to stop treating him well, I just wasn’t sure how close I could really get to him. I don’t try and overstep my boundaries but by trying to keep all the kids on the same level maybe it comes across like I am…I’m not sure. Which can cause some hurt feelings on both the biological and step mom side of things.
One of my friends told me that Landyn has a mom and doesn’t need another one. That hurt, why yes he has a mom, who honestly I do think is a really good mom, but I’m still a part of his life as well. I’ve never tried to “replace” his mom, because 1) that’s impossible and 2) that’s not my style. I just dont want my stepson to feel like his an outsider in our home just because he’s not biologically mine. Just like I hope the girlfriend of my son’s father would treat Daniel like her own as well. Truth be told, moms (biological, step, foster, adopted etc) are the ones cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, taking care of sick children etc for all of those under her care. She cares, nurtures and loves on all those in her home, or at least she should. I don’t think it’s a competition. Not saying his mom does either, but I think we view things differently.
Since the incident I’ve feared getting close to Landyn because I just don’t want to experience that pain again. It affected our relationship and I can tell. I’ve really worked to move beyond the offense, but I still second guess how I should go about handling things. I never want to seem disrespectful to his mom, but it’s also hard to go against the code of treating all the boys exactly the same. Balance is definitely the key, but I haven’t figured it out just yet.
The last few weeks I’ve made a conscious effort to push passed that barrier and I went back and read a few of my old blogs like no shame and my video blog lucky. Those were written when I was a single mother and helped me see things from her perspective and just respect the fact that she loves Landyn too and only wants the best for him. When I stop looking at it from my limited perspective and really try to not get emotional I can truly love without fear or limits. I’m really praying not just for Landyn’s mom, but for all of our boys, a blended family is by no means a walk in the park. It Is only through God’s love and wisdom that makes it all possible.
Love without limits,
One of the things I really struggle with (outside of fear) is forgiveness. I really like to think of myself as a very loving, kind and genuine person so when someone does something to me I can hold a grudge. I used to really pride myself on being so hard hearted because I would never be so foolish as others to let anyone have the chance to harm me again..
I was taught self-preservation from a very young age and always protected my heart like it was the precious gem it was, but the way I went about protecting it had very little to do with God and very much to do with fear (of hurt and rejection) and bitterness (how dare you offend me in that way).
When I gave my life to Christ, I really thought I had overcome this issue. I would be quick to forgive and didn’t really think much about the offense, but what about when someone really hurts you or worse when they don’t apologize at all. What did I do then? Well, that person simply disappeared from my life; now granted there are times when this is totally justifiable AND necessary, but then there are times when it is just me wanting that person to pay for the damage they caused. But to be honest with you; even if someone apologizes it doesn’t always set you free, because you still have to choose forgiveness. It is all about choice.
I was privileged to listen to a man speak about this very subject the other day, Lorenzo Brown was shot and paralyzed by a friend at 17; grew up with a mother addicted to substances and had a broken relationship with his father. One of those incidents could have left him bitter and filled with unforgiveness, but he chose to forgive each person for everything. Some asked for forgiveness and others didn’t. Many of the parties did not deserve forgiveness. The power of his testimony is that he felt God told him to forgive and when he did; he felt free. See the truth is unforgiveness only holds you captive. His closing words still echo in my ear- “Only Christ can free the Offender; and offended at the same time”.
I’m moving to living a life of forgiveness whether or not relationships are reestablished I will leave up to God, but I will be obedient to this task.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord.20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1. Invest in myself by taking advantage of resources (free or paid) for things that I’m interested in.
2. Become discipline in my spiritual life especially with projects that I’m working on.
3. Schedule time to spend with God daily.
4. Reprogram my mind by changing negative thoughts into more positive thoughts by doing daily affirmations, readings and scriptures.
5. To date with purpose. To continue to not entertain men that aren’t what I’m looking for in a mate.
6. Gain clarity regarding my purpose by figure out my way on God’s path. I will not limit myself on what I can achieve.
7. Develop a plan to make the College Transition Program successful.
I am a woman…a mother…an employee -All three can co-exist
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.- Proverbs 31:10-15
Stop apologizing for being a working mother. I’m a good, loyal worker. I always give my best. And for the past five years of being a working mother I’ve rushed through events or left events early to rush back to work. Or I rushed to drop him off so I could go back to class. I just feel like the past 5 years of motherhood I spent rushing. Being a mom and a wife is very important to me and I really want to focus on my family and my role within my family. I always give 100% at work, but sometimes when I am home I feel guilty for not being at work and when I am at work I feel guilty for not being at home.
This year my little guy started kindergarten and I can’t believe how fast that time went. I will blink again and he will be in middle school. Since we have decided to have just three little guys (unless God decides otherwise) I really want to make every moment with each child count… So this year I am not only making this a goal, but will work on detailing how to make this a success, that will come on my next entry.
Reconnect to God by disconnecting from distractions
The Bible talks about the importance of praying and fasting. Until the unplugged blog, I hadn’t fasted in a long time, maybe two years. I am committed to fasting every month during this 5th year of Rad 7even. It might not always be food, but I am committed to really working on reconnecting with God and by doing so I will give up something so I can make that connection deepen. I have gotten so much clarity since starting this two week food fast coupled with unplugging it’s been freeing. I really want to capture that feeling as often as possible.
Stop looking for other things to save, complete or give me identity
Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
At one of my places of employment I endured some pretty harsh opposition. God had spoken to me months prior about what I needed to do, but I had made that job an idol. It was my source for money, stability and my identity was very tied to it, so much so that I stayed because what would leaving do? How would I be able to take care of all the things I needed?- God is my source above all things and when I make my focus things of this earth fear will make me stay when I know God is telling me to move or move when God is telling me to stay. I will let that thing influence me over what I feel convicted about. This year I will work to identify any and all idols that are in my life and work to tear those down
Pay on what I owe without being buried by debt
I have talked about tackling debt for at least three years. I have finally taken some practical steps to begin eliminating my debt. I’ve consolidated my student loans and my consumer debt. I have started paying extra on those debts to hopefully pay them off quickly. I have also decided to utilize more extra funds for paying off this debt as well. We have decided to try to buy a house within the next year. I have a goal of getting rid of all of my consumer debt within 1 year. I will detail this on another post as well. I have a plan…if I can commit to it this goal is extremely realistic and will help us get the home that God has for us.
When things have come up (my cancer scare, ectopic pregnancy, Daniel’s seizures) I have been fearful of all of those circumstances. I have some irrational fears that have come up and I worry and worry some more about it. I do not rest in the peace of Christ. I am realistic and know that I will have issues and fears come up, but I really want to overcome that fear with my faith. This is the goal I think of Christianity, learning to work out our faith despite of what we see naturally.
As always, Radical 7even pushes me to open up my creative and spiritual side. I can’t wait to share my radical goals. I pray over this year for me and my girls. I pray you enjoy our posts as much as we enjoy posting them for you.
- Send 100 pieces of mail. This is a recycled goal from year 4. I enjoy sending mails to others. It is my goal to help brighten up others day. I will work on sending at least 10 letters or card, either by mail or hand-delivered.
- Donate, advocate, and volunteer for an organization of my choosing. There is always a cause that I want to adopt, a person I feel I should be helping. This year I want to take it upon myself to dedicate my self and services to one organization. It is my goal to done one post monthly about the organization and do at least one supply drive for them. The organization that I am adopting this year is Aid to Inmate Mothers (AIM). It is located in Montgomery, AL.It’s mission statement: To provide services to Alabama’s incarcerated women with emphasis on enhancing personal growth and strengthening the bonds between inmate mothers and their children.
- Study the bible. I’ve always been skeptical of putting this as one of my goals because I feel like it should be something that I do automatically but it all honesty it isn’t. I want to study the bible, use it for guidance.
- Develop my new thrifting business/learn more about business techniques. I have opened up a Instagram shop of clothing goodies under the name of danigeesft. I want to learn how to market and be a good businesswoman.
- Cook at least 2 meals monthly. This is something that I struggle with because I live at home and her homecooked meals are to die for.
- Network more/ Gain my license. I feel like networking is one of my weak areas in my professional life. I want to begin to make connections and to broaden my professional life.
- Learn 2 healthy ways to handle my anxiety/stress without shutting down. Stress is a killer and it will kill me if I let it. I will daily journal and learn to break down the areas that I let stress me out the most. I feel that stress and anxiety is something that has plagued me for all of my life and I’m ready to divorce it.
Here’s to Year 5,