Caught Up in Silence.

Today I got kinda caught up. I had forgotten about my writing. That space where I seem to love creating.

I was in the middle of a week that was going on six days of pure sickness. I hated it. And right before Christmas! (Forget about shopping!…Okay?) In fact I can’t even recall the last day I even had time to embrace real quiet. I’ve been really keeping track, this time. I was beginning to like what I was experiencing,  …fully. Then,  all of a sudden, out of know where…a silent bomb falling bomb of the sky…out of  nowhere, it just happened.

Silence. 

I really enjoy the Netflix series, The Fosters. It’s really cool. It’s a really good series on television about a foster family trying to make it work. Families are my thing. I have a dream of working with families forever. I want to help a  ‘slew’ of families thrive – and help make them better and stronger, even in their communities. And of course, I always want to check off on my list of how ‘realistic’ the foster family is on this show, because I work with them in real life, of course. c. I find the writers to be pretty adept and realistic in their research. I was sitting there one moment ‘caught up”  in the rapture of the storyline, and then…nothing.

At first, I was like:” I have to finish this series…”and then of course…Silence captured me, between shows. I love that blank pause that offers room for more. I love to fill it with ideas and words and stretch that space with more excitement and overwhelm of good thoughts.

 Who knows what I may create next?

So I take on the challenge, and I rise to the occasion. I listen to silence and what it teaches me and speaks to my heart and how it molds me into this  ‘creative creature’ that I am with a vast imagination.

And so I take time and break for those moments of suspense, and I wrap myself lovingly in its Embrace‚̧…as I write.

 And by the way, that’s my word for 2017. Embrace.

I guess it’s started, huh? ūüėČ

Nthabiseng is My Name.‚̧

Nthabiseng ¬†is my African name,. It means: “Make Me Happy”.

I consider it to either be a statement of how I should be, or ¬†demand in that when people call me Nthabiseng, they make a demand of me, to bring happiness. For me, personally, its an infinite reminder that God wants me to be HAPPY. “Oh Lord, he Lord gave me a challenge on that one! ” When I visited South Africa in 2003, I never knew I would return with a new name.. How perfect, I thought, for God saw me. ¬†He used a 17 yr old girl named Ama, ¬†a name for me. ¬†She ¬†named me ¬†a name that helped breathe life into me, again. I was deep in unhappiness at the time trying to make some major decisions about my life and future. And God sends Ama. Blessed be the Name of the Lord , for showing me how names have power and intrigue and depth.

I was so intrigued by the name, as she sputtered it out. her name, Ama. She was seventeen in 2003. We sat in her living room in Sandton, S. Africa and I was trying on a South African dress. She must have seen something in me. A spark, maybe my dream come true To travel overseas. She saw me ignite. My fire, arise.

These days have no problem in letting that fire arise.

It comes naturally… sometimes as a spark, a flame, or even a rushing fire… but it doesn’t burn. Oh no, no burning…

Just purifying.

A cleansing awareness.

So I am thankful for the name, because it catapulted me forward into purpose. makes me realize why I am here on earth. To make others happy, but also “me”, happy.

Happiness became a journey for me. A destination. A venture. And I am so very glad this is my story. It makes  creating meaningful happy moments all  the mote more special.

How To Work For Free.

‚ÄčScripture: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galations 6:2

When I  ponder upon the term: Working for free”… I think of my first internship at Howard University,  while working on my Masters at  John Hopkins Hospital. It was my  very first  challenging “crisis as a social worker and I was terrified. I had never felt so inadequate. I  felt as if I couldn’t  be what I needed to be – for my client in the field of social work, but I was excited and  thrilled to be working at John Hopkins, and  challenged myself anyway, do it… I knew I could … with God’s help.

It was my first  job in  the field and in a hospital setting;  and I was in Baltimore, Maryland. My first counseling job that seemed to be too hard to do without worry.

I  was counseling a thirteen year old  parent with twins and her parents. I recall her parents being so angry with her,  I felt as if they couldn’t see that this was such a humongous turning point in her life, it  and the entire situation would either make or break her, and she would from this point on life determine whether she could ask for help freely, from anyone,  decide whether she was loved by family or rejected; and determine whether or not she was worthy of being a good mother. I didn’t want them to judge has age as an major inconvenience, cause I knew God could use this too, for His Glory.

I wanted there, in that moment to  reach out to her desperately and help her soul. ( Her mind, will and emotions.) I could only imagine how bleak her future may have seemed,  based on her outlook a the age of 13.   I guess that’s essentially when I became a “true burden-bearer” at work. I cared so much about her  and had compassion for her situation,  Not knowing what to say to her, or do…I remember at that moment praying and asking God to help me be the best social worker I could ever be, for Him. It’s like at that very moment I decided to tabernacle with God, and make  my life’s work an altar for him to come in and “alter” my own soul. I allowed my soul to be the place in which he could change me, develop me, shift m priorities, and right there I invited him into my work.  If my life  were to be a work of divine influence and transformation by working with people I wanted his light to shine through me as I helped His people.

As I searched for meaning with the word “alter”  by definition, I  found words like: ” transform,  shift, develop,  or change”.  This indeed was my charge: I had decided  long ago, I was called to do this work of working to change lives. The call to social work, was the type of field I was to influence and help wounded soldiers;  the type of work hat healed emotions and  soothed souls. This was my work. I  even saw I mirrored the life of Jesus:  He was the type of person that did the same, Jesus.  He was the best social worker there ever was, and he implemented His job with the greatest care and  the greatest compassion, and character there ever was.

I learned a humongous lesson, during my early years that lad the foundation for “free work”. Although I received a paycheck, I was living a calling and this work helped set others free. As I notice the  influence and trail I have left behind, I realize I  have been very blessed with a career full of  wonderful options and divine encounters with God through my work and I have learned  a few lessons along the way:

1. That  God’s work was my work.

I learned early on, I couldn’t do work without God. He needs me, to complete the work, and I needed Him to give it to me. This began a  career of fully offering my life to God, through my work. I believe it has blessed me significantly to finally end up in a place of becoming an entrepreneur and fully loving what I do.

2. That I should never take  anyone for granted that crosses  my path. It may be an opportunity to work for God.

Believing that every opportunity and every  situation  i experience already was determined and sent ahead for me, comforts me. It leaves an imprint of peace upon my life; when I was  discouraged or uncertain about my career and  unable to  be guided clearly.

3. That Compassion that has an arm rest name is: Jesus.

Whenever I feel like I am vulnerable and cannot  figure out where I am going and what God would have me to do, I will  call on Him for help. I have not ceased to do this, and as I do, God manages to preserve me. I have a certain kind of strength need to help me through any challenge, any story and any  valley as it pertain to  my career.

Freedom in your work involves an offering. A Sacrifice. Making a sacrifice for what is really something good and had lots of potential.  And determining that goodness really is… must be in the center of what your work involves.  It as a wonderful grace  flow when you allow God  to  be in the center of it, continually. God is  simply always looking for a sacrifice.  and if we make that altar  or “alter ” our lives, then we have an amazing chance to live it for His glory.

Questions for reflection:

1 .Has God ever prompted you to give more  on your job and turn it over to Him?

2. If you struggle with this decision, have you given that exact challenge unto God before addressing it?

3. Abraham had to sacrifice his own will and his good pleasure, His son –  at a time when he just seemed to  fall apart with the idea of what did not make any sense at all. Is there something in your life that does  not make sense, yet you  determine  in your heart to follow through, because the work and impact for Him,  may be just be that much greater?

Father, we  humbly submit our wills to you, as we struggle with  the notion that  we may not know the full essence of what you are offering us when you say, “Feed My Sheep.” If we mumble or complain a bit too loudly,  please forgive us and help us to  surrender all the more.  Help us to realize how we are called to transform, shift, develop,  or change.

On Brokenness.

Brokenness.

So.. I don’t claim to be the best at interpreting why God has to allow brokenness to be a blessing for us….but I want to explain  why it was a blessing for ME.
Brokenness sort of invades our lives like a sore, we didnt intend — to a injured part of our body we use to function every day. Yet injuries heal. If we let them. Choosing to hold onto the worst, and the ‘aching’ pain and bitterness prevents us from healing. And some of us, unfortunately dont get that doing this can make it much worse.

  In the years of 2004 and 2005, man I went through a brokenness that felt like I would not return from wherever I was lost.  When I sought God, I knew he was there, but I couldn’t really tell by how I was living. He seemed so very far away. But when I chose to feel, he showed up. Miraculously. What I mean by that is, I acjnowledged my pain. I shared and talked with Him, I opened up.

In The Midst of My Brokenness.

And sometimes, I really didn’t care, honestly,  if God was there, or not. I thought He had forgotten me, anyway. Not that this meant I didn’t love God, still, but I was just too hurt. And licking my wounds just seemed to feel better than talking to God about them.

Ever tried to reach for God and felt like your arms were just way too short?? Well, that was me. I knew God was real, but I was so very angry at Him.

My life had fallen apart. I was divorcing, I felt like relocation was my only option for beginning a new life, and I felt like the Spirit of God was forcing me to leave the city where I lived. I was ashamed. Hurt. DEFEATED. At least that’s how Ifelt, anyway.

Divorce made me feel as if I had failed.
So I felt like I needed a new start.

And that, I did.

But things became sort of blurry along the way. I felt like my entire life had changed, and I didn’t know where  God lived. Church was not a place to call home, and neither was the new place I had moved. I felt like life took a grave turn and I had to find my way back home.

Brokenness feels like youre almost dead. But you know youre alive, because youre still moving.
So.. what I have found is– that no matter how dead you feel, you survive – because its a “go through ” moment that has merit. HIS MERIT. God’s merit looks like grace. Undeserved favor. He sfill lifts you up, vives you a reason to smile, if wend are look outside ourselves fkr one moment. We recive rewards for going through,  with God. Somehow when I was going through, I knew God would spare my life, because what I endured, I just knew it was for someone’s benefit, just like Jesus’ stuff, his mess – the stuff He didnt create,  was  blessing, for me.

So here I am. On the other side of brokenness,  and I feel real FREE. I HAVE HOPE.
I can’t quite explain it all… all I know is I no longer feel bound; I am not crying all the time; I am not heartbroken- going through crazy cycles of shame anymore…I don’t use anything like “aids to help me sleep”; nor am I still trying to find myself. How about this: I DON’T FEEL LOST.
I just feel… NEW.
DIFFERENT.
SPECIAL.
LOVED.
And… I LOVE MYSELF.
Because… I know myself.
So there it is.
The secret  is out.
With brokenness, just ask God for help with surrending.
Healing, is on the other side.
Selah.

(If this post blessed you, please leave a comment, below and let us know. )

No Longer A Wounded Soldier.

‚Äč9/2013¬†(written initially)

One day, I was in the woods, and I freed my soul.

I really cannot recall the exact¬†¬†‘wounded soldier story’;¬†but perhaps this one fits.

I went to an awesome retreat a few months back, maybe ten months ago  and  did some soul work. I came back feeling so invigorated.

It was in the fall. It had begun to get cool in the mornings, and I was  trying to rejuvenate my soul. I was soul-weary. Just tired. The kind of tired you can be when  no one else can understand it, kind of tired.

During the ¬†retreat, I noticed the weariness of my soul. I didn’t quite know it was weary til I really took the time to pull away and spend time on myself. Alone.

Yet observing Self.

Well, if you read the story above, you will understand the  place where I was.

Sometimes, our souls can become weary because of ourselves. We then find ourselves without aid or assistance even we are really in a hard place.

I never want to be there, ever again.

So we were given this exercise on the retreat asking us to nurture and care for our wounded soldier by walking out into the woods and comforting her. Taking time to  empathize with her and tell her that she had every right to protect this space inside of her and  to stop fighting fires and putting out other battles but to learn to fight our own battle, and not feel quilty or alone any  more  about doing it. So  sympathize and empathize with our need for compassion and herald the battles we have fought, but also  congratulate ourselves for a job well done. And for having the COURAGE to endure.

We were encouraged to take time to HEAL.

And I made a declaration in the woods,¬†that day¬†that I would ¬†build my own fortress and support my own cause and begin to ¬†herald my own work before I supported another’s cause.

And I  was set free.

Like a bird, I flew that day in the woods.

Since that day, many things have been born. And I am grateful.

So even if you don’t have time, today,¬†read that story, ¬†( either here, or above).

And herald your own cause, fight your own battle, and save yourself.

You’re so worth it.

High Time for ‘Getting Away Time’!

So last weekend I did this…

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Walking the path.

I went with a very special friend to Robber’s Cave, a small woods and cabin retreat in Wilburton, OK. It was all of two hours away and just a nice get away for the fall weather. It really brought back memories about being with my Mom , Dad and siblings when I was very small and feeding the raccoons. Funny how memories fade, until they are renewed again.

My cousin Kim, spoke to me about saying “Yes” to things you enjoy doing over the holiday, and I wouldn’t shake me. I knew this retreat was what would get me back on track with my writing after a long, dry spell.

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Friends…How many of us have them?

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KB

I got away with a friend to focus on writing. It was a mini-writing  retreat, but so much fun to do this with a friend. Friendship has always been this ambiguous kind of relationship for me, since I’ve been in Oklahoma. I’m not sure why, but instead of complaining about it, I decided to finally DO something about it. It’s was Kristi’s idea, but what a good one!

We ate  shrimp and scallops and grilled outside and I found out and remembered I could really grill food!

And now, I know I HAVE to just go ahead and buy a grill. I love grilling so much.

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Kristi is the cook and I am the griller person, I guess….but I’ll get better. Here was one thing In was really good at…and that was, taking pictures. My love for photography was renewed and re-established. Not sure where all this went, over the past few months, but I was so glad to get away again and find myself in fun.

More than anything, I think this was confirmation of my word for 2017: EMBRACE.

Many  to my friend Kristi and God …for the love of nature, and Kim, for helping me to say YES.

Again.

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Greater..is Who We Are On The Inside.

There’s no denying who we really are. Once  I   got a hold on  who  I was in Christ, the possibilities of what I could DO, became  so very believable.  I began to  take more risks, and really pursue my calling, but all of it  was  done by faith and trust in the “God-message” in me.

People are often amazed by how much peace I seem to have. I just laugh inside, because byou know, it’s so funny, only we know how we really were, right?

I am not perfect. I still struggle. But after having lived 49 years and seeing God change me from the inside out… I now know it’s not about me. Yes, I have peace , now… But it sure took a very long time to get here. After I  got through the muck and the mess of my past regrets,  insecurities and shame, I was able to stand again on my own two feet.   Of course,  some of the way, God carried me to be honest. But although  I  made it to the other side, and  the journey’s not over. 

I am learning, there is always a better place to be in God, and as we grow, it does get easier, we we learn to be in agreement with His plan for our lives.  Sometimes we have to let go of trying to understand it all. Or trying to figure it all out.

There was a man in the Bible who was courageous and didn’t  really know he was innately courageous. His name was Gideon. Now Gideon has a long story in the Bible, but he  also had a lot of fortitude. He had to listen for God’s ” specific instructions”and as he did, he was blessed immensely, and his call and his assignment was  magnified immensely, by God ridding him and others around him, of the  fear in his camp.

As I was studying this last week, I found out Gideon’s’ name  means “hewer” – he was a woodcutter –  and  a hewer is one that holds or sticks fast to what he believes, in terms of his or her purpose .  The men Gideon were to pick  to be in  his tribe were also men that  were of  similar stature, and they too, stood fast to what they believed and walked in it, with  great commitment. I am learning, even as I write, “really” who God intends to be a part of  my tribe.

How wonderful for God to give Gideon men of similar stature as himself,  when he  was ready to fight great  battles.  When God first called Gideon, he didnt want to fight, and he was afraid.  Even before God built his army, he called Gideon a “mighty man of valor.”  Because he knew what was on the inside of Gideon.

We too, are wonderful, and we have great stature inside,. When God calls us – he calls us from the inside

On the inside… is who we really are. Whom he made us to be…once we RISE UP “choose” healing and walk in faith, and  truly conquer our fears – we  can prevail. We prevail over our insecurities, our  vulnerabilities, our hurts and our  weaknesses.  All God  ever sees in us –  is our strength and that’s often where he is trying to get us back  to being: Strong. Once God gives us  greater strength , he gives us greater   ability, greater capacity, greater armies to defeat,  greater tribes and a  greater revelation of knowing  who we really are, in Him.