Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Past

The past is a time that is no longer in existence. It is the time that has gone by and will no longer be. It cannot be undone or changed. It cannot be revisited. The past is sometimes where we wish we could be, but we will never be in the past again. Here are our options…

1. Present - which is existing or occurring now.
2. Future - the time following the present. The time that is still to come.

Even as you read this you have to realize that time is passing and you cannot get that time back, undo it, or redo it. Sometimes we forget this. Sometimes we wish we were in the past or we could take something back. But, we can't!

Here's the best part to all of this. There is a present and there is a future. This is what we should be focusing on. It's hard sometimes to focus on this when the past creeps up and tries to get into our present or our future, but the past is in the past for a reason.

Living in the present is so much fun! You get to experience everything that is going on and you don't miss anything because you are too busy focused on something else. I love when I get to come home and just worry about what is going on in that moment and not what happened yesterday or what will be happening tomorrow. Now don't get me wrong, I do plan things and the future does excite me! But, I don't sit down and keep pondering about what happened before and how it could have been better.

So many times in my life I have said that I do not regret my past. I have really tried to live with that ideology because it works the best for me. The past is the past and you cannot change it so why regret it? Of course there are things that you have done or choices that you have made that you wish you possibly hadn't, but this does not mean that you should change them.

Everything that I have done and every moment I have endured or experienced was something that shaped me into who I am. I am unfinished. I am always and ever changing. We all are. We have to accept sometimes just that. Accept who you are and who you have become. Be honest with yourself about all of this and make whatever changes you feel you need to make in your life to better yourself because you want to. Never make changes for other people, because then they aren't whole hearted and you will not be able to stick with it. Never try to be someone you are not, it won't work out.

I have had a long journey to get to where I am and who I am. I know I have a much longer journey ahead of me, but I know that I am on the right path. Always before I had questions for God or myself about where I was going or what I was doing. Now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what happens or comes my way that I am where I am supposed to be and I am with who I am supposed to be with.

There are times in your life when the past will try to come back, but honestly, the past is in the past and it has no place in the present or the future. Move on. Live in the present and love it. Live for the future, dream and plan it! Be who you want to be and love you! Be where you want to be and love it!

Sometimes life, health, people, death will overpower you in a moment. Just remember that no matter what you are going through it's nothing compared to a mountain and we all know that with faith as small as a mustard seed, We Can Move Mountains! So move a mountain today! Don't let anything oversell you or take advantage of your heart or mind. I am learning this slowly but surely day in and day out. It is a difficult path to follow - this path of faith we are called to. Knowing that no matter what happens it is right because it is a part of God's plan or he is intending to use the outcome for His kingdom.

Every day we are growing, changing, molding, shaping. Be better than who you once were. Let go of what once was. Move on toward the future and keep your eyes focused on what is really important… The present of the future!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Joy

Today I had a patient with disabilities in the office and she was just so precious. A happy person, so grateful of our help and so loving. She gave everyone hugs and just couldn't say thank you enough. 

Just before that we had a gentleman who talk about his daughter loosing her baby at 7 months pregnant still born. How she went through depression and is coming back to some level of emotional normalcy and wanting to try for another baby. 

Life is such a roller coaster - seeing the ins and outs of others lives and hearing their stories. Wanting to hug a 60 year old man who looks as if he's gonna break down in front of you because of his daughters struggles and loss. Actually hugging a 46 year old a bit later because she just can't get enough. 

Realizing the ultimate levels of joy an in spite of the hardships and sadness we may be going trough that there is something bigger and better out there waiting for us. A few days ago I tweeted about how our plans don't always line up with Gods plans. It was one of those shake your fist and God moments, only later to come back and just be in the presene of God and know everything will be okay. It might not be great, amazing, what we expected or even wanted, but it will be okay. 

Life goes on - with us or without us. We have to remember sometimes to dig ourselves out of that rut we are in and get back up and keep going. I was saying yesterday that I felt like I had nothing else to give - then suddenly I hear Dori in my head... "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming..." Haha. It's silly moments like that when you know God is there, nudging you along and reminding you that there's more here for you. 

What are you focused on? Are your eyes set straight I are they straying? What is His plan? 

Waiting

Not knowing or being unsure and having to wait is just am absolute buzz kill. Honestly, waiting is one of my weaknesses and I really struggle with it. Give me daily thing to have patience with and I'm fine, but life things that I have to wait for.... Not fine. 

This time I'm waiting for an appointment. Just a consultation, but the outcome could change me and my life forever. I long to be hopeful, but my struggle is  that I'm a realist and I know what weight this visit carries. I'm struggling with this let go and let God take control of the situation because I have a feeling I'm not going to like or agree with his plan... But then that's me behind a realist or pessimist instead of being hopeful or faithful. 

The waiting game really takes a toll on a person. On the mind, body, spirit... You want to be sure that nobody knows just how much inner turmoil you are facing and just the masking of it all is tiresome too. You have to be strong and courageous. Attempting to just be okay with how things are or will be... But on the inside all you want to do is mourn, be sad, and just hate the way things are. 

My body... If I could trade it in I would. Not because of my outward appearance, but because of how my body internally functions. I wonder sometimes why I'm the only on in my family who got all these ailments, but then I remind myself that I would have taken the burden any day for any if them if it meant they could live better. 

Such an ongoing struggle. I'm trying to combat the rheumatoid arthritis with eating well... So now I'm gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free. It's such a battle because it's not something I want to do but it's something I need to do. I have not yet found the joy in giving up everything .... But I'm sure that's part of the waiting game as well... Someday I will no longer crave these delicious foods I've been eating all my life...

Well, I presume it just all boils down to patience and willpower. How much if it do you have? How much do I have? And how much longer can I go before I crack, break, or go crazy... Lol. I guess that's a part of the waiting game too! 

In the meantime I am trying to focus on the positive and keep myself sidetracked by everything that's going on around me - like school or work or life in general - as stressful as it is, sometimes that helps. 

Still waiting... But I'm sure I'll update after I get some more answers....

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Publishing

oh the politics... lol

Sometimes I wonder what it takes to get your name on the cover of something and then I remember that there are so many politics involved and people to please. Even beyond that, sometimes you have no choice about what the publishers or editors do or how they do it. Then they go and remove all your pretty stuff you put in place to give your piece your touch and your vibe... not even thinking about the fact that they just removed your trademark.

Sometimes you get paid, but most of the time you do not. People think that being a published author is all this jazz, but I would much rather leave all the politics and a$$ kissing out of it and just be a writer instead of a published writer. I know that sounds silly and it makes no sense to most people, but what most people don't realize is that there is no money in publishing anyways, unless you make it big time a bunch of times.

Writing is something I do because I love doing it. I want to share it with the world because ... well... why not? If you have something to say then why keep it all to yourself? If you have a creative tendency of any kind - why keep it to yourself?

If you read my blog at all then you know that I self published a very raw unedited version of my story - not the entire story, but a life changing experience. I put it up on lulu.com and amazon.com and while I know people have read it, I have not made a dime on it and I most likely never will. My purpose of writing it was not to make money on it, but to share an experience so that others out there know they are not alone. It is hard for so many people to turn themselves inside out and become vulnerable, but we have to do it in order to be genuine.

Last semester I submitted to NEIU (my school) for their SEEDS publication and a few of my poetry pieces were selected. This was awesome I thought, but it was such a test of my patience and artistic self to undergo the crap that the editing team put at me ... such as ... it's too self centered... it's too much I.. they just don't like it... ugh!! Well, what else would something I write be about other than me?? lol. But then they published me anyways with a couple new submissions and I just took it because it's not about me, it's about the audience.

This semester my editor friend published one of my poems in the NEIU newspaper. I was gushing (to my self of course in the privacy of my own car) when I saw this in the SEEDS corner of the school newspaper. I'm sure not too many people pick that up and read it, but I was excited that anyone who did would see something I had written and would get to experience that. It's just a whole new idea to think of other people trying to think on or understand what you write and why you write it.

Then there was the SEEDS submission for this semester, which I submitted a couple chapters from the book I am currently working on (Hungry for More) and another poem. They of course rejected the poem - I am sure it was because it was too self centered and all... lol. But they did accept my submission for my book excerpt. This was that much more exciting. I would love to hear people's feedback on what I am writing and whether it is even something that would be enjoyed... but then again here we are with a reality check and understanding that nobody is going to give me feedback and I should be proud just to have it published in the schools SEEDS publication this semester.

I do think it is interesting to sit back and ponder the idea of what others think when they are reading your work. Like we sit in our English classes and scrutinize the works we are reading - trying to figure out what some writer meant when she was talking about the struggle of wearing her flippers as she climbed down the rungs of a ladder to the ocean... of course she couldn't have been talking so literally and meant she was actually doing that at all - she had to have been talking about her inner struggles - the rungs being what she was going through and the ocean being the unknown of what was to come... ugh!!

Can't a sea just be a sea and a ladder just be a ladder. This makes me want to jump off a ladder into the sea sometimes (and I mean that literally). It's funny how we think we are so much smarter or that someone is that much more unique because we read into something that might never have been meant that way.

Then that gets me thinking about why I want to publish at all, but here is the vicious cycle of wanting to be heard and wanting others to enjoy what you are writing and what you have to say. So what my periods and commas aren't placed where you would like them to be, maybe I did that on purpose or maybe I wanted to add a dramatic pause. But, by golly my writing be different than a cookie cutter because in order for it to be published it has to look like everyone else's work.

Oh the woes of the world of writers. So here I am just blogging about it instead of sending hate mail to the person who has offended me by removing my artistic pauses and period/comma placements. Because when all is said and done - the editors are the ones who control what gets published and how it gets published. Any back talk or refusal to cooperate with what they says or their opinion and you run the risk of getting your work removed from the publishing line....

Now tell me... does that involve stress at all?! Because when I dreamed of writing I always thought I would be sitting at a desk looking out a window at the mountains and beautiful lakes with my Macbook in front of me typing away avidly, all the while holding a coffee or tea in my hand and hearing the loves of my life running and dancing around me. <- Now edit that! lol.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Time

Time is a funny concept. Sometimes it moves quickly, other times slow. At times we may feel as if time is basically standing still or we can feel our lives flash before our eyes or we think we are seeing the future. Sometimes we want to be frozen in time because we never want that moment to stop or go away. I always feel like time is moving by so quickly and if I do not grab ahold of something or freeze time then I will miss out on one thing or another. It is likely because I always overload my schedule and overwork myself, but I don't really know why I am always feeling like this.

Yesterday I felt like I had a moment and really got to ask myself what I was excited for or looking forward to...

Rest!!! This was the first thing that came to mind. A little vacation getaway in July to the mountains and fresh air. A little sun and water time with no responsibilities or stress for an entire week (hopefully).

Graduation!!! Not that I will be done with school, but this will be a huge accomplishment a long time coming. I am really excited this is finally approaching soon!

Grad school!!! Eek! This feels like it is so far away, but I know it will be here before I know it and I have to pick a place to further my education. It is so difficult and costs so much money to even apply to schools, but I really want to get the ball rolling on this. I did have one open house visit already, but feeling like maybe I should schedule at least one more.

Future planning!!! I cannot even express my excitement about all of this enough, but I am just so very excited for what is to come! I am so ready and just cannot wait!

Here's the thing... all of this is within the next year or so and I know it will have come and gone before I know it. I wonder how much I will really appreciate the time I have and how much I will pack more in just to get thing done and out of the way?!

So - what does that time look like? Is it quality time? Is it time suffocated by obligations?

I have found that intentional time is the best time. Time well spent intentionally focused on getting the best outcome possible is so very rewarding. What conversations are had and when they are had. What time is spent and what is planned for that time. Sometimes we think that just being together is enough, but it needs to be intentional time spent together. That makes the difference between quality and just quantity. You can spend hours with someone, but unless they are intentional hours, that was a waste of time.

I have really been focusing a lot lately on how I am spending my time and why I always feel like I am running out of it. I know I do a lot of driving, I also work full time and attend university full time. I have a family to help take care of and friends to spend time with. It is often difficult to divide my time in a way that I don't feel like I am sacrificing something. But I assume it is because my heart is in everything that I do that I often feel as if I am giving something up to do something else.

It's funny when you question what you should do and a child tells you that you have to pick what is most important to you.... lol... Well, if only it were that easy. What I want to do and what I need to do are not always on the same page with one another. For instance, this time I am spending blogging, should be allocated for writing term papers, but I am procrastinating on that one... lol. Sometimes you just need to get something out before you can make room for anything else.

Someday I am not doing to have school and work and life and everything else and I honestly think I will be lost and not know what to do with myself because I will have spare time...

Spare time.. what is that? lol. So my first step to recovering pieces of me and my mind is blogging. I know I was away for a while, but I am trying to set intentional time aside to blog, get my fingers typing and my mind flowing so that I can just unwind a little. But also to set a schedule and make the time I have far more effective because it is intentional time.

When was the last time you spent intentional time? What did you do? Why?

Monday, April 7, 2014

How do you love?

Love means a many different things to different people, but at the core of it we all find ourselves searching for love of some kind. There are many resources out there to teach you what your "love language" is and what others may be. There are so many ways for us to learn about ourselves and other people. Do we use these resources? Do we use what we already know? Or do we remain selfish and continue on this path of trying to fill up our love before we fill up others? 

It is difficult to love others sometimes, but we are called to do it no matter what. It's funny to try to teach this to a child, especially one who is a pre-teen. What do you mean I have to still love her even though she ruined my artwork, crushed my toys, or called me names? What do you mean I still have to love him even though he was mean to me or ignored me in the hallway? To adults: What do you mean I still have to love him even after he hurt me? What do you mean I still have to love her even after she broke my heart? What do you mean I still have to love even after I was made to look a fool in front of my boss? 

It's difficult to learn to love even when we don't like. It is so very easy to forget about what love is when we are hurting or empty. When we have nothing left to give and yet we are still called to give more. Where does that come from? That never ending supply of love that we are supposed to be giving out? 

What does love mean to you? 

I could say that a kiss could change the way I was feeling loved. Coming home after a long day of work and not having to clean or cook dinner (I have been loving myself this way for a long time = takeout!!) I know that I feel loved through words of affection and endearment. I know that little notes here and there left behind just put a smile on my face and make a world of a difference. 

I could turn around and do these things for other people, but they might not feel the same level of love that I do. They might just see expectations being met, not exceeded, not surprised by actions or words, etc. It is difficult to find what works and doesn't work. And sometimes it is not as simple as asking because people might not know themselves well enough to answer that question. 

Love is... 
I love those little strips that give millions of ideas for what love is. Some of them are silly, some of them are romantic, and others are down right adorable. 

How do you love? 

Do you love selfishly or selflessly? Do you give back what has been given to you? Do you love with  judgement or no judgement? 

Love your neighbor as yourself -  it's the second greatest commandment. And what does that mean? How are we supposed to be loving? 

How do you love yourself? How are you allowing yourself to be loved? How are you loving others? 

Think about how your life could change if you loved yourself differently. Think about how the lives of those around you could change just by simply loving them. What do you think the world would look like if we just loved everyone the same?

We could talk about world peace, equality, love, justice, etc. But what would all of that look like if we just loved first? Why is there so much hate, dislike and distrust? 

How do you love? How could you love differently? How could your loving differently change your life and the lives around you?

Think about it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Who's in your bed?

So ... who's in your bed?

Not under your bed like the boogie man or on your bed like bed bugs, but in your bed with you?! It's funny often this topic comes up or doesn't come up and should be talked about. It seems as if talking about sex is uncomfortable, but having sex isn't so uncomfortable? How is that? If something is so good then why is it so bad to talk about? I know what you might be thinking... well sex is private and it is just between me and the person that I love. But is that really the case?

Think about it this way... there are at least three people in your bed. You, the person you love, and God. That is, there are only three people if both participants are virgins and have never partook in any  level of physical intimacy before. But now let's think about what happens when you start to realize that you have had sex before and your partner has had sex before.... start adding all those people into the bed with you and things start to get crowded. Is this why nobody wants to talk about sex anymore? Because talking about how many people are in that bed with you is an uncomfortable subject? Or because you are ashamed and don't want God or your partner to know the truth?

NEWSFLASH!!! God already knows... and no relationship should be based on any sort of lie if you want it to succeed.

So ... who's in your bed?

When is the right time or appropriate time to be in a bed with anyone other than yourself?

When I think about this I cannot help but hear my father's voice ringing in my head.... "Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of your soul". He would always say that quoting Proverbs 4:23. I used to roll my eyes at my father, but now I know what he meant and why he used to say that to me over and over again. Because he loved me! My earthly father and my heavenly Father had a few things in common. One of them, they loved me so dearly and wanted me to guard my heart. Another thing was that they both had my best interests at heart and were obviously wiser than me at any age.

I remember being younger and thinking that people did not understand what I was going through or these feelings I was feeling. How could God make something so good and keep it away from us? Why would God say no to something that was a way to show how much you loved another person?

There is something about having sex that brings two people together, God refers to it as two becoming one (1Corinthians 6:16). Every time you have sex with someone you leave a piece of you with them and you take a piece of them with you. There is a connection that is formed that cannot be undone. God wants us to guard our hearts. He wants to protect us from loosing ourselves to others who are not there to stay, who are not committed in his eyes, and who will break our hearts and our souls for that matter. God doesn't want us to be distracted. He wants us to be focused on what is before us and it is not a man or woman, there is a bigger picture than that.

Think about how many times you have dated. Think about how many of those boys or girls you have been intimate with. Now think about how many of those people broke your heart and took a piece of you with them and left you with a piece of their own baggage. Now think about how much lighter your load would be if you had not made that choice. If you had been with one less person. Think about what your life would look like and how you could prepare for your future mate in a way that preserves your heart, mind and soul for just them.

Now I know and have been on the other end of the purity talk. I have been given the abstinent speech and have endured many years of preaching on what would happen to me if I did not stay pure or make the right decisions. In my life at one point I did wear a purity ring. I even had this goal of staying pure for my future husband so that I could give my whole self to him and not just the leftovers from whatever I could mangle together from the pieces left behind. If you know me or have read my blog or my book, then you know that obviously did not happen. There are bad people in this world who make bad decisions that affect us. There are circumstances that are out of our control. Either way, after that happened, I could have still turned around and recommitted myself to this idea of purity and this conviction in my heart to do what I knew was right. I chose not to.

So here I am, a sinner, talking to you all about this very sin. I have been there. I have done this. I have pieces scattered that I can never get back and my future husband will not get all of me and our wedding bed will have more than just three. But even if you are in this place I want to encourage you because there is never a time in your life that you can't just stop in your tracks, turn the other way and live differently. Nobody ever said it would be easy, but if you are willing it can be done. Mind you, it will be challenging and it will be trying, but it will be worth it.

"Two are better than one... If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three stands is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

So here we are back at the beginning. God thinks two is better than one and encourages us to be with one another, in order to keep each other strong and protect each other. A cord of three - representing you, your partner, and God is not easily broken because God binds it together. You must know that the entire book of Song of Songs is about a husband and wife, how they love each other, and can be pretty graphic in their descriptions. This is God's way of saying that love and sex are phenomenal things - in the context of marriage.

When I was younger I had a friend who started a journal. She wrote letters to her future husband. She told him how much she was preparing herself for him and preparing her life. She wanted to ensure that she was whole and pure, able to present herself with as little baggage as possible. She kept writing to him throughout her life even after she met him and married him. On her wedding night she gave him that journal. They cried together and there was a bond formed that could have never been formed any other way.

I wrote a blog: Dear Future. It was a snip it of what I think of, pray for, and yearn for in a future. My future husband that is. I have on multiple occasions written little things like that in a way to encourage myself that it is a good thing to pray about what will be and know that I am preparing myself for that.

How can you prepare yourself for your future husband or wife if you are too worried about who is in your bed? How can you focus on what you need to do, who you are or need to become if you are too worried about what boy or girl you are going out with this weekend?

There are times when it is good to be alone. You must allow yourself to replenish, run a self checkup and ensure you are whole as a person. You cannot give love to anyone else unless you first love yourself. If your love tank is empty then there is nothing left to give. This is unfair to your partner and unfair to you... it only puts you in a hard place that is challenging and opens you up for future harm. Trust me when I say that love is not everything and love is not enough.

So the next time someone tries to push you to do something because they "love you", then be sure to respond... "then you will understand that because I love you and want our relationship to be a healthy one I must say no".... DO NOT ever let anyone persuade you to do something you are not confident is the right thing. And just know that the right thing is not always the thing you want to do. Most of the time we are tempted with amazing things, because who would be tempted by something that was not amazing? Obviously.

"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure" (Hebrews 13:4)

Think about it... who's in your bed? Who do you want in your bed? How do you want to prepare yourself for a blessing filled marriage? What kind of an example do you want to set for yourself and others? How do you want to start your relationship of right?

Understand me when I say that I am a sinner. I have been there and this is why I appreciate God, his radical mercy and forgiveness more than others. There is not a moment that we are weak that God is not with us. He tells us, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" and I says "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in perceptions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

There is no other way to conquer this than to set yourself up for success. DO NOT be afraid to set boundaries and have difficult challenging discussions. This is the only way you will ensure your success and that you will also be help accountable for it all. Get yourself a friend who has the same beliefs that you can talk to, that you can vent to, but that is able to breathe life back into you and keep you on the right path.

The objective of all of this is to force yourself to connect with another human being in a loving intimate way that does not involve sex or sexual actions. I know this sounds crazy, but it can be done. In doing research for this blog I ran across another that I found very insightful. A young woman writes about 8 ways to beat sexual temptation. How she did it and I found this information very insightful. There are a lot of things each individual can do and should do in order to not be a distraction to the person they love. There are a lot of things the couple needs to do together in order to help strengthen their bond and ensure they make it through this temptation filled battle field.

Honestly, I feel like anything else, Satan is preying on the hearts and minds of us all in a way that we cave very easily. We are physical creatures. We are sexual creatures. We enjoy company of others and physical touch is such a significant way to show love and affection. It is interesting how large of a bond you are able to form without that final act of physicality that should only be tied with marriage.

So... who's in your bed? What do you want to change about this scenario? How can you make the changes and allow yourself to grow?