Day 3: The Blessing of (Spiritual) Maturity. #50DaystoFifty

Ahhh…. The blessing of Maturity!

Feels good, right? Ha! (Yeah right.)

So, today I  am  writing today about  maturity.  Well…  when you really look at  it, maturity is  necessary,. We  don’t get any  younger, and with every  turn of   a  lesson learned, we need to gather the information  and use it, for some good, right? 

Well…  I  have  learned a lot in my  50 years.   I won’t   bore you  with details  , but  I will say this:  The  ONLY  GOOD  that comes out of  life and being happy, is  knowing   God.  He  just seems to work things together for good.  I will tell you about something small,  and  then, something really  big.

“THE  SMALL _ BIG  THING…”

 So , the small thing is…  I  guess it could be small to you, but to me, it’s  kind of  “small-BIG,”  because it had  everything  to do with my mobility.  Just one month ago, I could barely walk.  I had to have my husband come and   pick me up from work, and I could barely wslk. I was devastated.  I   had to go to emergency, and   came out of emergency , with crutches,  and I  took most of the rest of the week off, until I  could limp a little.  I  literally didn’t  know what to do.  I went to the doctor’s and they  really could not  say much about what was going on with me.  They just seemed to   say, “NO, its not that,  and  No, its not this.”   So they ruled out practically everything, which left us to  the fact that it must just need to take time to heal, and  maybe a little re-habbing will work.   So that’s  what we did.   Now, I didn’t  want to listen to my husband.   He  seemed to   know I needed the re-habbing, but  I didn’t.  I was just  really , really  put off.  I spent the beginning of my summer  just  really  out of it, because I  didn’t want to  be in the house,  stuck, and   miserable.  

And so…As a mildly acquiescing 50-year old would do, I found other ways to adjust.  I would sit on my patio, and  read.  And  wrote a bit, too.  I finally  started  trying to hear from God what was going on, and I   got so much peace inside that all would be well,  I ended up just  handing it over Him.  I even formed a prayer group in order to see why I had all this immobilization, cause there was SO Much TO DO!!  And before you know it, … I was  healing.   I still have a slight limp, but I don’t need my crutches no more.

 THIS IS  HUGE,  guys… because   I found out  so much meaning was in the  fact God was doing spiritual  work inside of me,  as well.  Not  just on the outside.   And I needed  to really take heed.   I am better today , and  definitely more  mature,  because of it.   I  am accepting of things I cannot  change   And I am  willing to  seek God  in even the most  mundane and    what “appear to be”  not so significant  things. But even more than that God used my ailment to produce a wonder.

What do​ I mean by that? Well here’s the thought.. Yesterday I listened to Beth Moore speak about following and heeding God. She said: IMG_20170621_145901883-01.jpeg

“THE  BIG  THING…”

 SO  the  really  big  “mature”  deal  that was    life-  changing for me  was this:  

God   produces miracles  if you  really   believe He will.

 Most of you know my  S, Africa    trip was  a HUGE miracle in my life , that  I believe will continue,  but  I also believe   will go  down as  the miracles of  all miracles.  If you haven’t read about it,   read here,  and weep.

 But   I  think  just being able to go to  South Africa showed me how intimately God wanted to connect with me  about  life and  things  coming to pass in my life.   Yet there is   complete  “spiritual maturity that happens, when we  decide to  say  YES – to anything God does!

  I  recently have had  some  hardship with   doing something that God asked me to do.  It had to do with becoming  a  counselor for   those who  struggle with addictions.   For one main reason…Now, if you know my past,   this is  A HUGE MIRACLE,   because  God chose ME… this once little   scary,  quiet ,   anxiety-ridden  child, (now woman… ) who  wanted to disappear into thin air because her  father was an alcoholic, and  once was entirely embarrassed by how he lived his life…Yet today, God blessed him to have almost 40 years in recovery!  Yep, that was my family, and that was me.

 But today,  some   forty- something  years later,…God wants  me to now  COUNSEL   those same people  who struggle  with the same kind of addictions.. to counsel their families,   their  children,  the  alcoholics , drug addicts and  addictive folk  who come from these homes, and  help them HEAL.  Now if that ain’t a miracle,  then … WHAT!!??

  Amen.   So that’s all folks…

 no more to say – my biggest miracles… they they  go!   

Selah.

 

Day 2. #50DaysToFifty – Fifty… Is More Insistent.

When something is persistent, or insistent, it is demands  attention.  It sort of  puts it out there, and then it either happens, or we move on.  If it’s meant to be, it  lasts, and if not, then we  don’t begin   again… we move on.   We don’t  have time for all that.

 Fifty  sort of teaches you that . If you are where you are,  you are supposed to be there.   And if  you  can’t hang,  then   you need to try  something  else.  Yet if you have  “sticktu-tiveness”…, you HANG….  You manage it.  And you DEAL.  It’s one of those  “grown  folks”  adages.  Now,  considering all with common  sense, you   don’t  stay in something that   HARMS YOU.   Or  abuses  you.  Or  robs you of your  dignity.   YOU STAY WHEN it helps you to GROW.  You endure.  You knock it out    And you  BRING IT.

Because sometimes the things  that  GROW us.  MAKE US. Guess I’ve finally decided in my life I want to just keep getting better and better. So I have to put in the work.

When you meant  to say something, you say it.  When you mean to  do it, you  do it. You   don’t  hold back, you   are emphatic.  That means  as  the  free  dictionary states: “you stand out in a striking (ly)  and   clearly defined way.”

It appears for me, at least  when you get to  fifty you have that understanding.  You know, the one  that  really just says:   “What will be, shall be.”  Yet  you know you can’t  fool around. You have to come  full force.  You  have to  come  completely, adeptly, and you cannot  “half- ass it.”  *( Yeah,  I said that…)  You  know that really isn’t  a curse word, its just  a  form of being.  I know someone in my life who  told me  a long time  ago –  ( name forbidden….)   that  I “half- assed” it –  all the  time. I don’t know tha I necessarily agreed but I could have done better. For sure.  I think   “fifty ” simply  gives you full knowledge if you  have  come to that place and you   realize  WHEN need to do more.   You also realize  when OTHERS need to do more.

Should you always  tell them? (a resounding,  &  emphatic….)  No!

Why?  Because its not always your job to tell them.   Sometimes telling them could damage the  relationship.  That’ s where  wisdom  comes in.   And discretion.   Discretion involves planning and   being  discreet. It means you have made some  similar  mistakes in the past, and paid for them.  And you decided  to  turn from that way, and  try  something NEW.

There was a time in my life  I  thought I really knew someone had taken something from me. It was a  teenager.  And  I practically  knew it could have been no one BUT her. (  I had  even devised a  scenario in my mind, where I confronted her, and  she   would give in and admit  she did it!)  I  even  walked out  that scenario. Only to come to  the end of that  vision, and  find out I was absolutely WRONG.  I  was not  wrong  when I confronted her , either.   I  was  wrong  AFTER  I confronted her,  went back home, and  then  found what I thought was stolen.   My  pride got in the  way.

I  thought I  just knew  everything, back then.  And I walked it out because I just “knew”  I was right.  But boy, was I wrong.

Yes , indeed.  2d278918544e4c25a95045bf2c4cd158-1

 

Taught me a lesson in  living.

And taught me I was not God,, so I  would never be completely  right,  even when I  thought I was.  Selah.

My head  was SO, SO  Big,  back then.   But I learned my lesson.  Sometimes life is  about lessons .  Not knowing it all.

Hmmm….

My  fifty years sometimes  takes me back to that moment , and I realize that I have to give everyone  the benefit of the doubt, because  sometimes there’s so much more to know.

 

 Hang out with me  as I share wisdom  for the   days…  I am  counting  down to  my  Fifty days of   Fifty  years old by writing   about   how  I know I have arrived.  Join me at  #50DaysToFifty  hashtag on Instagram or   Facebook.

 

 

Day 1 : Fifty. #50DaysToFifty

So I have been taking a series of photo shots  and microblogging as it   relates  to  ne  turning fifty,  this year.  Then I realized the photos   alone, were not  enough.  Yes, they speak, but there’s so much more to say.

Some  of those  photos are pretty spectac… and   the others ..well, they are just me,  being me.  I like the  feel of almost being fifty. It’s been rather contemplative, reflective and solemn.

It means I can  sit on my porch at  ‘dark thirty’  and just sit outside and be me.

I like the  freedom involved  at   50 to of myself. I’ve heard several say at fifty, ‘ you just become more relaxed and less matters.’ I find myself at fifty – yes, being more relaxed but also feeling more mature. In mind, body and spirit. The best way to describe it is just feeling as if I take time for internal rest.

I am beginning to think I know  what it means to be myself, too. To feel comfortable in my own skin. Over the years I’ve struggled with relationships – mostly friendships, being that I’ve moved so much in my adult life. I’ve had awesome friends but then had to leave them, as I aspired for ventures that offered me a better career and  more time being closer to family. There’s been a lot of sacrifice. All for great reasons. However, at fifty, there’s a retreating to “what’s right”, to and​  for the soul.

I feel more luxurious, at fifty. It means  at fifty, I can just   sip some tea on a  nice evening  on the patio  in the  am, because it feels so good to just have fresh  air and tea ‘ mixed together.’

Or it may mean I get to   take an extra  nap on a  quiet, wet and rainy morning or afternoon .

Sometimes it means  I  get to listen to my  thoughts, in absolute silence​.

And laugh as I ponder over my favorite  photos of my  nieces and nephews.

As I allow them to simmer,  and  I can just meditate on  being grateful.

Thoughtless,  musings  …grateful ponderings,  simmerings of  tea and a good spirit of  nothingness…  yea  that’s  what it means to be  50.

 

Hashtag me on Instagram to read more as  I  microblog about #50daystofifty

Thanks for reading! If you can relate or liked something you’ve read, leave a comment and let me know you’re out  there.

The Day I visited Kuma, South Africa.

“Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be [content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.”
Philippians 4:11-13

One evening in in May 2003, I was Home. Experiencing South Africa. The sun was setting, and we all were on our way back home headed for an almost two-hour trip and I was taking pictures and captured this golden color in the sky. It sort of looked as if there was a slight rainbow in the sky, yet the opposite was true. Some of this color in the sky was the fires burning in the air. I asked my friends why there was so much smoke. They said the people would get rid of garbage that was days old in the shantytowns, and the smoke was the best way to do that. In some neighborhoods, it was really hard to breathe, so we had to leave for fear of breathing in too much smoke that evening.

I recall a few things: the burning smell. The smell of garbage and the suffocating air that made me feel sick to my stomach. I wondered how the people could live in this environment, then I realized they didn’t have much choice. That was the lucky one, I didn’t have to go back home to a polluted environment, and if I did, then maybe I would have the choice to move away.

My self and a family of four, a pastor, his wife and their two teenaged daughters were trying to get out of the neighborhoods before dusk disappeared, and there was no light. There were no garbage men to come and collect trash like we have the pleasures in America. What we have in our own neighborhoods, I realized is a luxury. The dilapidated “shanty homes” that are located in their small villages made me sad. Everything appeared to be so dark, that evening in a small town outside of Johannesburg, South Africa.

I watched the faces of the people I was with, and wondered if they were as sad
about this scene as I was. I saw their noses turned up, sadness? i wondered… or was it disgust? Perhaps t was memories of their past… I would never know.. they were not that open about their pasts. Yet it seemed as if they were remembering something from their pasts, and I felt their pain. The care was a
deafening quiet as we dove out of the area. It was if this area made them sadder they have ever been. I believed I saw some sense of apprehension
that was on their faces. They had much love for the people; however, for when their friend’s faces appeared at the doors – their faces lit up brightly, and they relished in seeing the warm smiles that welcomed them. Their frowns no longer there, and nothing but for the love of the people.

There were bright spots in that day, however. I was able to go by Diane’s house. ( I am so surprised I even recall her name, its been ten years now….) But I will never forget Diane. She lived in a room the size of of a large bathroom in a suburban home. I was embarrassed for her. That she lived with so much lack. Yet the home somehow seemed enough for her, in that moment. She had the brightest smile. And often seemed contemplative. Diane said she would come and spend the day with us, tomorrow. She said she was ‘happy to be alive’ and to have a job, and a very nice car. Her car was burgundy… shiny and new. It appeared it was worth much more than her home. Se said she was b “a diamond polisher”, but when we ended her home, I could see she really didn’t have much to show for this job. There was barely enough room to move around in. Her home was one room. Maybe he side of my living room, in my small apartment. She said she polished diamonds all day. I almost cied for her once I found out her wages. It made me sad to hear se made so little, and she worked at a diamond mine but barely bought home enough to live in a tin shack.

Yet Diane was happy. I felt she deserved so much more. Her personality and her warmth, her smile – even, informed me she was not one who wanted much more. She seemed content. Even in this state.

Driving though a neighborhood like this in S. Africa, you learn to appreciate what you have. You , the fresh air, a sun you can actually “see”, and it isn’t covered by smoke and haze….a smile on the faces of the people in the area, the flowers …in full bloom.

Other than people who I saw walking around in the area that day, I don’t recall seeing anything resembling having life other than people who lived there. This made me really saddened, but the people who HAD life… WOW… did they have it… indeed they did.

Today, …When I think about what I have and I don’t have, I go back to the thought of Diane. And her home, and her smile. And I realize that I cannot complain. God is good and I need to accept that what I have, and what I own… is enough.

I am learning to be content. In every moment and every situation, and perhaps even in every detail of my life. The silly boyish grin my husband gives me when he looks into my face’ the way the sun shine through my morning window… the way my nieces and nephews stare at me when they haven’t seen me in a while…

An so yes… my heart truly ached for the people in that small town outside of South Africa. I recall the laughter. the melodic voices, the singing and the greetings more than anything else from that visit. I enjoy remembering the company I kept with them, the contentment in their souls, and the smiles they kept close to their hearts.

   That’s  Diane to the far left, the next day she came to see us.south africa friends

4 Reasons Not To Live with Regret.

So… I remember a time in my life when I was really  indecisive.

I remember I was trying to please others so much, I forgot about myself.  In that process, I  made  a lot of decisions that  didn’t give much regard to my life, or  emotional safety. What I wanted out of life, was on the back burner.  I basically lived for the enjoyment and delight of someone else, because I thought that was how you  show you love  someone. I was so wrong. I had love all confused. And because of that, I had so much inner conflict, insecurity and so much  doubt inside of myself. Discord was often in my relationships  and I just had no peace with anyone, so I stayed away from people, mostly. As long as they were not talking about my life, then I was okay with them. I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do and if they offered without my asking,  then I was ready to run from them, even my ex.

When you don’t have peace inside, everything you do or don’t do,  feels like a mistake. You second guess yourself all the time, and you cannot trust your instincts. And when you ignore your instincts, man… you are in T-R-O-U-B-L-E!  I operated in this way so often, I didn’t know who I was , or whether I was coming or going. That means I was lost. After a while, I became so hopeless,  I just lost hope altogether. I was just existing. I apologized for everything,   I had many qualms with people  and the places where I was in life. I carried resentments and as a result, I  was  just plain miserable. I was annoyed to the point  that accepting annoyance was how I lived. But I was so blind to this fact, I simply endured it. It became the norm. I was living with regret. When I looked up  the word regret I  found in the thesaurus these words: ”  to prey on the mind…have a weight on the mind; leave an aching void.” That’s what regrets feels like. Sorrow,  pain, hurt – all the time, and  guilt.

Growing up in an alcoholic family, I realized this was the norm for me, ( living with annoyances) which is why I didn’t recognize it when it occurred in a daily basis in my life and relationships. (I know, crazy… right?) But we  do this, because we tend to go with what’s familiar and yet become so comfortable with it, we consider it to be  normal?  How does this happen? You recognize you were annoyed and miserable, yet every single day you find comfort with it? I think deep down inside I knew I was miserable, but I didn’t want to admit it.  I was living with a denial and a numbness that honestly, felt very good, because if I didn’t have to acknowledge it, then  I thought  it was not bothering me. But then, after 11 years of depression, it finally caught up  with me. I was at my wits end.My mental health took a toll on me and I knew I had to change something.

One day my spirit cried out to God, and revealed I was  living with sorrow. I had much so much REGRET about the  situations I found myself in life, the  decisions I had made and  I was suffering from so much sorrow. I was  sad about my life  and I felt trapped. I felt responsible for things I wasn’t even responsible for. The adults in my life blamed me and I took on their issues and their grief to the point, I had no resolve, no contentment and no harmony in my life. It took a lot to admit I was sad. I was really depressed and I had chosen to live like that for  several years. Living in regret.

I remember one morning I spent the entire morning with God in prayer on my back porch.  I was angry, bitter and I was hurting. I was also very stubborn and God used a lot of my grief to help me to recognize  some of the things I held on to were because of pride. I remember  crying out to God with so much pain and  telling God I was  ‘fed up’ and I wanted a new life, and new hope, and a new way of being and doing. As I sat there,  I had a vision in my head of the  image of the woman in the  Bible with whom they  cast stones . (John 8)   These people brought her to Jesus to be condemned. Jesus response  to her accusers was to write on the ground. No one knows what Jesus wrote. But her accusers all left after Jesus  wrote on the ground. He then said : “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”  I envisioned Jesus as I sat on my porch (with my eyes closed);  write in the ground for me.  As He  wrote, He basically wrote some things  that only I saw, of course.  But what he wrote reminded me of what He desired for me to have.His promises.  I saw that He had much greater intention for me to have good, in my life. I believe it was like that with her accusers, as well. What was important was not what He wrote, but what He said and how what he said, made me feel.  I didn’t feel sorrowful any longer, I was no longer troubled, I was no longer hurting and burdened deeply with regret, and  I  became decisive. I knew instantly that I deserved more, I wanted more and  that I could have more; and I made the decision to do it.

 John 8:7, 10,11 “But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” NASB

Jesus dealt with this woman with such tenderness and grace, that she was in awe.  All the accusers surrounding her also  were also surprised, but they must have understood, because they left too. If we condemn ourselves, with LIVE WITH REGRET.  My relationship with God has taught me I am not worthy of punishment for the  decisions I have made.That’s why he died for us. Once I repent, ask God for help, receive it, then move on. then  comes release. Just like it did for the woman in John 8. This is very important. It’s necessary for living with a clear conscious.

That day on my back porch, I contended with Jesus, in my soul . But I learned three things after my wrangling with God:

1. I had to let go of my past.

2., I couldn’t live in the condemnation, because if I did, I would accept the guilt and regret from my past.

3. I learned I had to move on, because  HE didn’t condemn me, and so I had to stop condemning myself.

4. I had to forgive myself.

When you cannot forgive yourself, you don’t remember to be kind, nurturing and self-loving. You forget to  forgive yourself. It took years for me to forgive myself for  things in my past, even after I made a decision to live a better life and leave those things behind I knew I was worth more, I knew I deserved more, but it didn’t make me leave the situation or change anything. Here’s what made  the difference: accepting  God’s forgiveness and allowing His love for me to redeem me.  For me, this was what unraveled  the love confusionI learned that if I  accepted God’s love first  and  allowed this to be my foundation for loving others and BEING LOVED… then I would be alright.  Once I was certain God has forgiven me and wanted more for me, I began to  move towards freedom, and I never looked back. I fond resolve. But I have to give God my regrets. 

People are often amazed by how much peace I seem to have.  Let me tell you, I am not perfect. I still struggle, even. And although I have peace , now…  It took a very long time to get here. After I  got through the muck and the mess of my own regrets, I was able to stand again on my own two feet.   Of course,  some of the way, God carried me to be honest. But I made it to the other side. Now that I am here, it ‘s pertinent I tell the story of how I made it here, so others could be set free as well.

Amen & Selah.reflection

On Being Content.

 

Philippians 4:11, 12 

Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be [content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.”

 

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Myself & two good friends ministering in homes in S. Africa.

One evening in  in May 2003, in South Africa, the sun was setting, and we all were on our way back home headed for an almost two-hour trip and  I captured this  golden color in the sky.   Although it looked as if there is a slight yellowish haze in the sky,  the opposite is true. Some of this color was the fires  in the air they  would use to  rid garbage that was days old in the shantytowns.  In some neighborhoods, it was really hard to breathe, so  we had to leave for fear of breathing in too much smoke.

We were trying to get out of the neighborhoods before dusk disappeared, and there was no light on the streets. They said after a certain time in the evening we had to make certain we were out of the small towns in order to be safe. There were no garbage men to come and collect trash like we have the pleasures in America. What we have in our own neighborhoods is a luxury.

Above,   are the  pictures of the dilapidated  “shanty homes” that are  located in their small villages  In the air were strong smells of smoke and garbage.

I watched the people’s face I was with, and saw their noses turned up, sadness…. as if they were remembering something from the past. As if this area made them sadder they have ever been. and as if dread were on their faces. They had much love for the people; however, for when their faces  came out of the homes, their faces lit up brightly, and they relished in seeing  the smile they were welcomed with  and quickly put away their frowns for the love of the people.

There were bright spots in the day; however. I was able to go by Diane’s house.  ( I am so surprised I even recall her name, its been ten years now….) But I will never forget Diane. she lived in a room the size of  of a large bathroom in a suburban home. I was embarrassed for her. She had the brightest smile. ( Diane is the one to the far right, above). She  was happy to be alive and  to have a job and a nice car. and that she did, but with her job as “a diamond polisher”, she really didn’t have much to show for it. She had sitting outside a nice maroon car, but  barely enough room to move around in. she said she polished diamonds all day. And for her wages, she  barely lived in a home the size of my den. it made me sad. But Diane was happy. I felt she deserved so much more. But her smile informed me she was not one who wanted much more.She was content. Even  in this state.

Driving though a neighborhood like this in S. Africa, you learn to appreciate what you have. fresh air,  a sun you can see, and smile on the faces of the people in the area, the flowers in full bloom. Other than people who I  saw walking around in the area that day, I don’t recall seeing anything  resembling having life other than people who lived there.

This profoundly affected me.

I remember a time living in Syracuse one summer and I was just angry, literally angry because the sun didn’t come out. It was a cold, cloudy summer and it affected my mood. It was then I decided I would not always live in Syracuse, NY. I decided if I needed anything, I needed the Sun.

It made me content. Warm. Made me smile.

Imagine what this felt like for the people in Kuma. Imagine not being able to see the sun. Imagine not being able to feel it’s heat and it’s warmth. Imagine having to breathe through fumes, daily.

When I think about  (today in my life) what I have and I don’t have, I go back to the thought of Diane. And her home,  and her smile. And I realize that I cannot complain. God is good and  I need to accept that and that alone. Selah.

I am learning to be content. every day of my life.  Though my heart aches for the people in Kuma, S. Africa, I enjoy remembering   the company and the warm smiles and hearts.