The Inconvience Factor

Inconviences can suck. They steal away time and chip away at my comfort. I had an afternoon of inconviences, so many little things piled onto each other that at one point some unholy words emerged from my mouth. What I wanted was kept out of reach for me and I did not like it. Often times I can become upset with things and most often it is not for any other reason than that I am not getting what I want at that moment.

It can bring the worst out of me. But I have learned the most from being inconvienced in my life. Even that day where it felt as if ALL the things went wrong. In some ways they did, and in other ways they went right. I had to remind myself that what I was dealing with was temporary.

But sometimes the inconviences do have long lasting effects. Some are good as I have learned and been challenged in my life. Learning from these kinds of moments has lead to the biggest breakthroughs for me. By asking myself the questions behind why am I so upset? Why is it so important for this to happen now?

Sometimes I know what that answer is, and other times it takes some digging to reveal it. Following Jesus is full of inconviences. I have been stretched to reach past what I know and go into the unknown. I remember the first time I was asked to lead a Bible study, it was scary. Being responsible for helping others follow Jesus when one isn’t 100% confident is difficult.

Leading a group can be inconvenient as anything. It means setting aside time to study up for the week, follow up with group members and spending time conveying information to them. Caring for people is inconvenient isn’t it though? It means having to stop what you had planned to do in order to care for them.

Jesus isn’t about convenience, following him doesn’t fall into a neat slot on the schedule. The lessons that stemmed from being inconvenienced have helped me to grow in my faith. Molding me into the person I am today and the person I will be ten years from now.

Life if full of inconveniences, varying in degrees. Some are small such as I experienced on that day. Others are larger, which I have also experienced in my life. They have made me slow down in the moment and think about what is happening behind it all. It’s not the inconveniences that matter themselves, but what I can learn from them. To look at them as opportunites rather than not.

#100daysofhappiness

As this blog posts I am now on day sixty-six of posting my happiness in life. Since April 1st of this year I have posted something that brings me joy. I participated in this about two years ago and decided to try it again this year. To be honest I don’t quite know why it began but I enjoyed loooking at my life and saying that in each day there is something good.

Some may find it fake ( which it can easily become if the poster is more concerned about gaining likes and comments than being honest) and others banal. I found in doing this exercise is I learned to be more grateful for what and who are in my life. I can take so much for granted. Not everything in my life is exciting or easy to define as happiness. But I try my best to define this as best I can.

There are some days I have to think about what to post, and at least once I refrained from doing so and posting twice the next day. I also two things to post the next day that showed something that brought me joy.

Happiness does not always look like happiness. At least for me, it can take me down the contemplative road. Some days it has been a breakthrough or a hard day that taught me something needed. Those days can be harder to post as they are harder to encompass properly in a photo per se. But the happiness is there, joy exists even in the hardest of days. Joy can also look different, it could mean a brief moment of levity or laughter. Or a quiet moment that gives perspective to what is going on in my life.

Happiness and joy aren’t perfect. They come at the most inopportune times as it with things in life. It doesn’t look like the perfect instagram photo and that is ok. Perhaps the pressure some people have felt in participating in this sort of thing is to be perfect, have something to post each day. And to make sure the post is perfect and exudes EVERYTHING happiness is supposed to be.

My advice, if you find it too much then stop. If this adds stress and anxiety then stop. If you prefer to not make it public on social media, then don’t, keep it to yourself. If you want to try it but a whole 100 days seems too much, then do ten or five. If it starts to feel forced and not at all what your reality is, then please stop. If you allow this project to be more organic and real, it won’t be forced or stressful.

I know that for me, in my life it has helped me to regain perspective. I may or may not do the full 100 days.

The Money Factor

I’m making some changes in my life and one of them includes moving this blog back to wordpress. I’ve been re-evaluating my finances, the way I look at money, getting older and I have to admit I got a bit scared. In two years I will celebrate being 40 years old, and on that day I also hope to celebrate being debt free. It is an ambitious goal and at this point I am not even sure how to achieve this goal.

But I am tired of living under the weight of debt, of being in survival mode and making poor decisions. It has made me feel like a failure over the years. Often leading me to comparing myself to others around me then into the dark of hole of unworthiness. Berating myself for poor decisions, becoming defensive at advice on how to get better.

I do not understand a lot about money, I try but it’s just not an area where I flourish. In reality, I find money boring. The way in how I take care of what is earned is just as much a testimony as how I take care of my health.  The money I have is only because it is money that God has allowed me to earn through work.

In continuing to make poor decisions with my finances I am not honoring God. It is the same as when I don’t care for my health, I am taking it for granted that I will always be well when life can and will throw curve balls at me.

The first step I am taking is admiting that I can do better, I don’t know exactly what I am doing and am eager to learn. I will make mistakes and hopefully will also learn from them along the way.

I also follow a blog called Every Single Dollar which is geared towards singles and I have found fairly helpful with my journey thus far. One of my first changes was forgoing paying for hosting and moving my blog back here onto to WordPress.com in order to save money. The other has been to cancel Netflix ( So, so so hard!). And the third is to forgo purchasing iced coffee, because after all I can make it at home and still get my caffiene fix.

What are some changes you’ve made in getting debt free?

 

My Five Year Check In

Five years ago I began my journey to a healthier lifestyle. In that time I learned that my body is capable of so much more than I had ever believed. I learned how to eat healthier and how to have a new mindset when it came to food. Exercise, once alien to me became near second nature. Dropping the weight was exciting, scary and hard. Hard not only physically but mentally and spiritually as well.

On my walk/run the other day I began to think about my journey. Five years ago, I was in the best physical health of my entire life. Mentally and spiritually however I was a mess. So much of the why I was doing it had to do with my desire for approval from others. Deep in my heart I believed that being loved and accepted meant meeting other peoples idea of who I should be. That by not meeting those ideas, I was a failure.

Losing weight revealed a lot of things that God wanted to shake me free from. It has been more than learning how to care for my body in a better way. It also been letting go of so much that I held onto over the years. Food and being overweight hid so much I hoped to keep hidden. Losing weight, being left without a place to hide left me vulnerable.

I got down to what was supposed to be my optimal weight but I was also miserable. For the most part I did not feel as if my body belonged to me. Today, I’m not at that optimal weight and I am so much happier. I am happy with my eating habits ( some days are better than others) and exercise routine. It has taken me these five years to get here too.

There were and are places I needed to grow, to learn, to be cared for in order to get to this place I’m at now. A much healthier place, physically, spiritually and mentally. I’m still a bit of a mess, but I know in the mess, God is there with me. Losing weight has long term consequences, not only what can be seen but what happens internally. Happiness does not come from the numbers on a scale, or a label size but where one is at on the journey. This is a journey I will be on for the rest of my life.

Holy and Good

Yesterday I celebrated the Resurection with all my family. It was a great day all around. Full of laughter, friends, food and most of all a needed reminder that I am living not for today but the promise of everlasting life. This is why I am a Christian.

I cannot explain the mystery of why I am so certain that all this is real. All I can say is that I have felt since I was small child that there is something bigger than myself. Watching over me, caring for me, loving me. No matter what has was going on in, I was protected and safe.

You can read more about my journey in this post

I am in a posture of learning for this year and from this place I see I am surrounded by so much pain. We all carry unseen scars that lay hidden behind learned coping mechanisms. In this pain that I too carry, there is Holy and Good.

I have always believed in the Holy and Good. In something greater than myself, a mystery beyond my full understanding. Even in the midst of my hardships and pain throughout my life, this I have always believed in. It has been nearly ten years since I stepped forward during Easter services longing for Christ. In that time I have faltered and failed God many, many times. The struggles and hardships have shown me the Holy and Good.

When the noise from the world seems only full of vitral and anger, I believe in the Holy and Good. It is there, in the corners that are not easily seen. I think too there is confusion over something being hard, and if its hard it cannot be good. I have walked through hard and seen my friends and family do so too. Hard does not mean that good work is not being done.

[Tweet “By leaning into the pain of my life, holy work is done and good has come from it”]

By leaning into the pain of my life, holy work is done and good has come from it This is the work that sanctifies me and prepares me for what is ahead in this journey for me. My life is not just about today but also tomorrow. Today will be forgotten and I shall be made new. So I live for that day in great anticipation, in the Holy and Good.

Isaiah 65:17

“See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.

 

 

Birthdays Are Weird

Birthdays can be weird. Well I can feel weird about celebrating my birthday. All kinds of unexpected emotions can come to the forefront on this day for me. Things that I can’t quite place my finger on or fully understand. Funny how that can happen. In all other respects the day of ones birth is a regular day for everyone else.

Birthdays were magic when I was a kid. It was a day or even a few days of food, fun and gifts. Classroom parties with cupcakes and a family dinner of my choosing. One year I wanted to be “fancy” and asked to go to McDonalds for dinner. I was also five or six at the time. They required no effort on my part for people to acknowledge it. It was just a great day of people wishing me a happy birthday. I felt cared for and loved.

As an adult though, it has lost some of its magic. It has become an obligatory thing with Facebook notifications telling me when it’s someone’s birthday. These notifications have become so routine that it can be easy to scroll past them. It feels forced, this reminder of someones birthday as can the response to it. At least from me it does.

Birthdays have made me selfish. As a teenager I wanted more of everything, more attention, more fun and food. I wanted the biggest bouquet of balloons to walk obnoxiously through the school hallways. Remember when those balloons were the thing? Are those still something highschoolers do?

As an adult part of the magic is gone because I am the one who has to plan it. Which feeds into my people pleasing aspect of myself. Will people want to come? Will my invite be ignored? I worry if people will have a good time. I have found too that some years I want to tell everyone its my birthday. Other years I welcome my close friends and family wishing a happy birthday but really don’t desire the attention from so many people at the same time.

Neither are wrong or right. The key to having a magical birthday as an adult is to let go and allow the day to unfold as it will. Enjoy the well wishes from friends and family. Celebrate however you see fit, because this is the day of your birth ( along with a few thousand others). This year I did a little of both, allowing the day to be what it was. It was a series of good times with my amazing family and friends. For this I am grateful and my heart is full.

Plotting Roller Coaster

There is nothing quite like the feeling of a story gaining traction. It can be more thrilling than riding a roller coaster. And I love roller coasters. Just as with writing, roller coasters have their ups and downs. There is the wait in line for to ride it, then its over too quickly.

I have struggled with writing the sequel to  my novel for the past year. There was something missing, a plot point or character that just would not work. But I was unable to see it. I was experimenting with this one and it just was not working. Some parts of the plot were working but others parts just would not gel.

So I worked on it here and there, writing and rewriting. Creating outlines, note cards and then throwing them out because none of it made much sense to the story. Other times I paused working on it, allowing my brain to work on it subconsciencely.

Then it came to me while watching a movie, I knew exactly why the story wasn’t working and what had to be done. It meant losing a character entirely. Which is always hard as us writers do become quite attached to them. Losing him meant another character comes out of the shadows.

This is how writing works. The breakthroughs coming after several drafts, reworking plot points and going back and forth on what will work in the story. This breakthrough is wonderful but also means having to nearly start over. It helps that the it has good bones, so not everything needs to change.

This effort is worth it. It is worth seeing something through.

Keep writing the story, rewriting and pausing if needed. The words will come and when they do, be prepared for a flood of them to come. Figuring out a stuck plot point can be so wonderful. It is worth the hardship of getting through those sticky plot points.

This is my Year of Learning

 

For the past five years I have chosen a word to define my year instead of list of resolutions. Since starting this tradition, each word has revealed something new to my life. Pushing me to accomplish different things in my life, including writing this blog. Each word is more than simply a word but more so a theme for the year.

At the start of this year I did not have my word. Half heartedly, I tried out a few different words. But none of them felt right. In reality, they felt wrong, false somehow to where I am in my life.

Then it came to me. Actually it had be in front of me the whole time. Coming up several times in conversation with friends.

This is my year of learning.

Learning about myself, who I am in Christ, my community and the larger world beyond.

I need to learn.

I am willing to learn.

I want to learn.

It fits in perfectly to where I am in my life. I look forward to seeing how this word will affect this year. The adventures and experiences it will take me on.

 

 

 

Unexpected Places

I never once imagined that I would end working with kids. I played teacher as a kid but I also played doctor, super hero and WWII spy. ( In a way it’s understandable to see why I enjoy writing fiction so much!). But working with kids as a career? NOPE. Or at least that was what I believed. Until I met my friend Mary Ann who works with Greater Miami Youth For Christ in a program called KIX ( Kids in Christ). It is an afterschool program (among several ) that reaches into a few neighborhoods throughout Miami. Through my friendship with Mary Ann, I started to volunteer off and on over the years. Helping out with homework or being there for the teen program on Friday nights.

Last year though, I was offered a position as staff. It was an answer to a prayer, a second source of income and feeling the God moment in it. Have you ever had a moment where there was no hesitation to say yes because it just felt right? This was one of those moments for me. I knew I was going to say yes to this and I began work with the second and third graders three days a week.

Let me tell you something, it has been the hardest job I have ever had but by far the most rewarding. These kids they just get into the heart. One in particular reminds me of myself. She has a bit of imagination and I see the story teller emerging in her. I get her, I was her at her age. I lacked confidence in my abilities with Math homework ( and I’ve only just begun to encounter this Core Math stuff too). Working each day with my girl is one of the highlights of the day. Seeing that moment when she gets it, especially after fighting hard for the answer is a victory. Her victory.

I have been told that God qualifies us for the work He needs us to do. This is why this time in my life could not have been planned by myself. I did not feel confident in being able to do something like this in my life. But God is greater than my doubts. This is where my trust in Him comes in for my life. Trusting Him in this place has been a huge lesson for me. I’m still learning and I’m not the greatest every day but there is grace in this work. As I learned a few years ago, work is worship and worship is work.

The desire and heart of Greater Miami YFC ( and YFC nationwide and international) is to reach the youth. Kids and teens in communites of all kinds bringing the love of Christ into their lives. The neighborhood that we minister  in is one of the largest Habitat communites in the country. It is a tight knit community that often has dealt with crime and violence. A few weeks ago a young lady was shot in the face by her ex boyfriend waiting for the school bus. She survived but she may lose her right eye.

This is the reality of what these kids deal with day in and day out. But by being able to come to KIX afterschool or  for teen events gives them a respite. It gives them a place to point to and say there is safety and love inside that building. I am grateful to get to be part of it. To plant seeds of hope in Christ and loving on these kids. I look forward to the next victory my girl has this coming week.

I would love it if you could dear reader take a moment to click on the link for Greater Miami Youth For Christ to learn more about what we do in our vast city. Perhaps you would like to get involved with your local chapter or even donate to KIX ( just look for my name under the donate tab). Most of all I would like your prayers for this neighborhood and many like it through out our country. For these kids to find a place of hope and love in the name of Christ.

 

 

The Social Media Conundrum

Social media has become a vaccuum of opinions and unfriendliness. It has sucked me in and took over my mind and soul for a while. Especially with the election this past year and the eventful first days of our new President. Having this constant stream of news and opinion without much time to digest is not healthy for me. So much is coming at me so fast that I find myself feeling shaken and torn.

Social media can be wonderful, don’t get me wrong. It is a great way to peek into the lives of those we care about, like a photo or learn some news. In fact for my birthday party next month I created a Facebook event since it’s the easier way to keep up with people able to come or not. I have learned so much about this world, expanding my view on social issues and opposing views from mine.

However these platforms have become a place full of half truths about our lives. Posting photos that reveal part of our lives but belie our struggles. There have been times when I have hesitated to post something because I simply don’t want to deal with the fight in the comment section. At least on my personal FB account, Twitter is where I get more politcal. I feel free to do so since I don’t have as many followers and have yet to encounter any pushback on my tweets. I’m sure that day will come, but for now it’s what works for me.

Using social media also takes so much energy from me. Engaging in this way, especially if it is of a political nature. It takes energy to read through comments or finding myself getting angry at what someone has posted and so on. I have wasted so  much time scrolling through multiple platforms when I could of been reading or (ahem) writing. It becomes the great time suck ( I’m looking at you Pinterest!) that hours can go by and I wonder what the heck did I accomplish today?

The reality is I often look to using social media for a bit of distraction from my own life. I admit to posting things and then checking obsessively to see how many likes or comments were made on it. When it didn’t garner the attention I had hoped for, there is disappointment. Afterall it can feel like a popularity contest. For me it has often feed into the lie that I’m not cared about. It can be so easy to do when you see posts of your friends out without you. It can lead to assumptions and often bitterness about feeling this way. I have to remind myself that a post only shows a portion of the whole picture.

Never before has humanity have so much information at our fingertips. From our phones we can see what others are up to, peek into the lives of those we admire. For me though, I need to step back a bit. To not engage quite as much and be more intentful about how I spend my time. I have many goals for this year and I believe less time spent on all of them the better it is for me.