Saturday, February 28, 2009

Follow Your Dreams

Good Evening!

I promised you a blog entry on how God has worked things out in my life. In the previous blog entry I asked "Has death ever threatened your dreams?" My answer is " Yes! But God!" I also said there is a testimony in every test! And here is my testimony.
When I graduated high school, I went straight into college. I attended the University of Texas at Arlington and did well in my core courses. But I really didn't know what I wanted to major in. I'd chosen Accounting, but not really knowing what I wanted to do. I just picked it because a cousin of mine had studied it. And I stuck with it as long as I could--but failing class after class until I was placed on academic suspension. I didn't have the sense to just change my major to something I liked and could handle.
Well, fast forward a few years. After I stopped attending UTA I worked full-time--I mean what else was there? A few years into that I found myself with child. I gave birth to my son--all the time holding on to the dream that one day I would finish the degree I started a few years before. Well, a few years turned in to many years. I tried going back to school when my son was a toddler, then again while he was in elementary school, but neither time worked. I was working full time during the day, and my son needed me at home at night. But I didn't give up--I still held fast to the dream and prayed. At times, it seemed I wouldn't ever have a chance. At other times, I was hopeful. God gave me a dream. He gave me a desire to finish my degree.
Forward again to 2005. My son was in high school, becoming more self-reliable and independent. So, I decided to try it again. I decided to enroll at Tarrant County College and finish my science requirements, take a couple of electives and even took a Sociology class--just to see if I'd like it...and fell in love. I'd found my niche.
My sociology professor suggested to the class that we take other sociology classes and even transfer to Texas Wesleyan University, his alma mater. I'd never even considered TWU, even though it is close to home and the sociology department is one of the finest. Well, I prayed about applying and decided to give it a try. You see, since I hadn't done well at UTA, I figured that no other college would accept me. The application process was a bit unnerving. I had to request a transcript from my previous colleges--and looking at the transcript from UTA was painful. But I kept hearing God say He was making a way for me. A couple of weeks went by and I received a letter from TWU. They were still trying to decide whether to admit me or not. They wanted a statement from me-- a one page letter telling something about myself, my accomplishments, my hopes and dreams. I don't recall exactly what I put in the letter, but I decided to be as real and transparent as I could. The thought that came to mind was "to thine own self be true". I looked at my life with a critical but fair eye. I admitted to myself first that there are areas where I am/was weak. I admitted to myself first, the mistakes I'd made and my shortcomings. Then, I asked God to show me a more excellent way. I looked at ways that I could strengthen my weaknesses and overcome my shortcomings. I gave them a short intro of who I am--a hard worker, a single mother, employed full-time with the same company for 7 years ( at that time ), and that I'd returned to TCC and had made decent grades. I admitted that I hadn't done well while at UTA, however I had been working hard over the last 2 years--holding full time employment, being a single mom, and attending school. I was convinced that I could continue to do well if I were allowed the opportunity to attend TWU. I ended the letter with a quote from Michael Jordan. This quote moved me--it explain my situation in a nutshell and gave me hope to move forward. I'd found it while composing the letter and it has helped me to keep my head up over the last 2 years. Mike said, "You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them." This was a very powerful statement to me because I came to realize that if I am to attain my dream of achieving a college degree, first I need to BELIEVE that it can happen, and second EXPECT that I can do it.
Well, my letter convinced the board at TWU to give me a shot. I received a phone call about 3 weeks later that I'd been accepted as a transfer student to Texas Wesleyan. I shared this information with my brother the next day. It was to be the last good news I shared with him before he passed away one week later. Bittersweet.
Even though I lost my brother, my best friend, my confidant....I knew that I still had to attend TWU. He would want me to. He knew my struggle in college and my heart's desire to return and finish my degree. He was proud of me...and he said so.
Now, it's 2009. I have completed 27 college hours. I have made A's, B's and couple of C's and have a GPA of 3.85 in my major. I am taking 12 hours this semester--which means that in May I will have a total of 39 hours--6 hours shy of the 45 hours needed by transfer students for graduation. TWU has a stipulation that if a senior is within 6-8 hours of graduation in the Spring, said senior may participate in the ceremony in May. Guess what y'all?!!
I can finish the last 6 required hours in the summer. Now, everything is not official yet. I have to pass the 12hours I'm taking now and make sure that any fees, etc. are paid in full. But, I firmly believe that if God brings me to it, He will see me through it! So there it test in my testimony. I started out with many strikes against me, being full of fear, doubt and uncertainty. But I had a dream. And I have a God who makes dreams come to reality, even when you think that the dream is dead. So hold on--be strong--it's only a test!

my dream is yet alive

attaining a Bachelors of Arts and Sciences in Sociology 2009 Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth, TX.

simply beautiful

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's Just a Process!

Yesterday's blog is still on my mind, which I guess is really a good thing. I am such a private person--so for me to open up about what I'm going through is a big thing for me. I may have given way too much truth. I've heard it said that the truth shall set (me) free. But, I'm really uneasy about this-- I don't want you to see me in a bad light, but at the same time I need you to know that I, too go through. I don't want you to feel bad for me...I do that enough for myself...But I hope you will pray for simply beautiful. As she can always use prayer. Now only pray if you stand in agreement with me. And standing in agreement with me is simply asking God that His will, His plans and preparations are carried out in my life. Thanks! I really love and appreciate you!!
Now, on to today. It's a good day--I cried my last tears yesterday (thank you MaryMary) over this situation. I realize that God is moving me to a place that I would not be able to handle until I go through this test...this trial...experience this pressure, pain ...and endure the fire. Speaking of going through, I got an email yesterday from a close friend ( thanks Dee), regarding precisely that...going through. It's called It's Just a Process. And I want to highlight a few sentences and comment throughout. You know simply beautiful always has something to say and I say it boldly. (in bold print, that is)
" Have you, in your life, experienced tragedy? Maybe a close relative passed away ? (yes) Have you ever been the topic of discussion or rumors? (yes, again) People sat around and talked bad about you. (And not just any people--family members, church folk, and so called friends) Have you ever endured betrayal ?(yep-- been there,too) The one person you thought could be trusted, a close friend, a mate, a parent even, left you to “die” alone.( yeah, each parent at different times-- and that really hurt!) Ughm. Have you ever been deceived ? You had good intentions but the enemy tricked you. (yeah, just plain ol' mani-pu-dipted, chile! the parents, again) Have you ever questioned your calling? ( yes. and shame on me!) Have you ever walked away from a promise? (trying my best not to do that right now!!) Have you ever experienced depression or loneliness? ( way too often ) Has death ever threatened your dreams? ( yes, but God bought my dreams back to life! I'll give that testimony in another blog) Hmmmmm...yes it's in these times when believing seems harder than giving up. (don't I know it!!) Through all you have experienced in life, you must understand this important point: Whatever you are currently going through : It's Just A Process! "
Now, I've learned some things about the Process. I'll share 6 important points to remember:
  • Your trouble will only last a season... a season could be 24hrs, a week, a month...a year,15 years-- maybe longer. Know this--God is with you. He never allows you to endure the battle alone. One of my favorite quotes is: "If He brings you to it, He'll see you through it!"
  • Trouble's not designed to kill you-- It can't . Although the enemy thinks it will, God will not allow it. While watching one of my son's favorite cartoons I heard the main character say that 'what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.' Wisdom from a cartoon? umph imagine that?!
  • Everything happens for a reason. You may not see the reason. You may not even understand. It's not meant for you to see or understand. What God wants from you is called 'trust'. How many times have you sang in church "I will trust in the Lord!...I will trust in the Lord!...til I die...." Well, now is the time, trust in Him!
  • You will make it! Have no fear. No matter how awful it appears, you will make it because God has equipped you to make it. Tests and trials are the process God allows in order to move you from where you are now to where He has ordained for you to be. The Word says it like this-- Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Psalm 23:4 Remember the test or trial is what you're going through--i.e. the valley of the shadow of death... ( as in a journey), not where you're going to (as in a destination. Also notice that the valley does not have a name, just a description.)
  • God will get the glory. Although you are going through...really it's not about you. It's about God using you to advance His Kingdom.

A Final Word: God has to try us by fire and/or extreme pressure--much like what's involved in processing gold and diamonds. The first step is to burn off the impurities in us, which in gold separates the lesser metals (the impure) from the fine metal (the pure). And look, think about how a diamond comes about--the black coal on the outside (sin in us) only gives way when it's put under extreme pressure (resistance-- like from the Word of God which convicts us). The pressure we go through removes impurities, molds, and shapes us into the image of our Father and reveals His brilliant light that shines and sparkles on the inside of us. God allows trials and tribulations in our lives so that He can move us to the next level in Him. So when the heat is up, and you're pressured on every side, be encouraged-- it's Just a Process. Yes, we will resist, it's only natural because we're human, but don't miss the lesson in the trial. Learn to give thanks in every thing and in every season. Realize that in every testimony, there's a test! Be blessed!!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you!

1Thess 5:18

simply beautiful.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Season for Change

Hi! It's been a few days since I've posted. Rest assured, I'm always around. I've just been busy with work, school, internship and church--getting about 3-4 hours of sleep each night. And on top of that, fighting a cold on last week. Whew...simply beautiful is simply worn-out. But, my soul is renewed! It all started with an email I got this morning from Tyler Perry. I love getting those emails because he is always right on time with the Word. No matter what he seems to be going through at the time, he has a word that is on the money for me. I often wonder, 'how does he do that?' The same word that works for him in his situation, works for me in my situation. I'll tell you how that works--it's a God thing. In His infinite wisdom, He's worked it out that way. So, I'll share with you a snippet of TP's word that helped me on today. If you've read it before, just pretend like you haven't--hopefully I'll be able to put a spin on it that will make it new again. Tyler wrote: "When I think about how close I came to giving up... When I think about all the hell I went through to get here...When I think about all the people who told me I wasn't going to be anything...To know that (someone) stands shoulder to shoulder with me--God, that makes me feel good. There is a simple scripture in the Bible that I think about often, and it says when you have favor with God then you have favor with man. I hope somebody is paying attention to this. Not the number one movie, not the TV shows, not the studio, but simply paying attention to the fact that all things are possible to them that will believe. No matter what is going on in your life. No matter what you're faced with. ONLY BELIEVE! Believe for the best outcome and that's what you will receive." Tyler Perry
I cried when I read this. You see, nobody knows what I'm going through. I haven't told anyone. If I told you how I live, you wouldn't believe me. If I told you what I go through, just to make it day to day-you'd think I was lying. If I showed you, you'd cry and ask me why I do it. Right now I have no choice. It is a burden to have no alternatives. I'm sure I'm not the only one--but right now I feel like it. I can feel the words Tyler wrote, I literally see them--because it's me. I have been close--many times-- to giving up. There are days that I tell God that I just want to walk away and leave everything and everyone behind. You don't know the hell that I've been through, that I'm going through sharing this with you. My only sibling, my older brother died in June 2007--sometimes I'm fine..sometimes I grieve like he died today. My parents are no longer together, something that's been a looong time coming, but only came about because my brother died. Nobody talks about the pain--of losing my brother nor of my parents' separation. Nobody talks about the future--will my parents divorce already? or will they continue with the charade as if they are together and a happy family? I'm being really transparent and allowing you to see inside of me, which is quite difficult. I know that I could not make it from day to day if I didn't have God in my life. If I didn't have my son, I'd have nothing to live for. There are days that I double over--not because of some physical ailment that causes me pain--but from the pain in my soul. I am sometimes overtaken with grief and the pain inside. I am the familys' 'appointed' peacemaker, the mediator that no one listens to--and it is a burden. But, I go on as if it doesn't matter. I smile through the pain. I cry and wipe away my tears to put on yet another smile for another day. I hold my head high and keep walking like I don't have a care in the world. But underneath it all, my head hurts and my heart aches.
But, God is good and His mercy endures forever. God has given me a promise-- and He is preparing me for the next thing that comes into my life. I've got to move on, move out and move up. The next step in my life requires it. I can't stay where I am and receive the things I'm to receive. I must put new wine in new wineskins, for God has opened doors for me. He's a light unto my path, or in today's language, He's "mapquested" my route. Now all I have to do is walk. I have His favor. And He will use somebody, somewhere to offer their influence, finances, gifts and abilities that will allow me to fulfill the purpose that He has for me!

Before I close, let me remind you: Live. Love. Laugh. and don't forget to pee.

simply beautiful


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Get this in your Spirit!!

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than it does for itself. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always 'me first', doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel. Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies. 1Corinthians 13:4-8

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ten Things I'd Like To Do

Hello My Sweet Peas!! simply beautiful has had a wonderful day and she is simply excited!!Things are going well and I'm getting set for May. Before I get ahead of myself, I'll be making that announcement soon. But today, I just wanted to share my 'wish list'. There are some things I'd like to do, some places I'd like to go, and some experiences I'd like to experience in my life. These are my goals in random order:

1. Travel to New York. I'd like to ride the subway, visit Times Square, and see the Alvin Ailey Dance Troup. I'd like to visit the gravesite of Malcolm X while I'm there and go to Harlem. and Travel to Washington, DC. again. I wanna see the Obamas. and Travel to Atlanta, Hawaii, California, the Caribbean, and Canada. and International Travel to Europe, Africa, Australia, and other exotic places.

2. Further my education.

3.Date. Marry. Have sex. ( in that order ) yeah it sounds a bit primitive doesn't it? This is where I am. I'm just keeping it real.

4.Become a proud homeowner.

5.Learn to cook gumbo like Mrs. K.

6. Buy a Chevy Tahoe. fully loaded. without blinking or batting an eye.

7. Make a difference in a child's life. Help them get to, stay in, and finish college.

I'd like to see a child realize his/her dreams.

8. I'd like to view the earth from outer space. Yeah. really.

9. I'd like more than a job--but an adventure. I want 2 love what I do and be able to make a living at it.

10. It's my dream to find something to do with those pesky plastic shopping bags that clutter empty lots hanging in trees, bushes, and floating in lakes.

Well, here's my short list- diverse, serious and whimsical. Some of these are already in the works. And others I'll need to get started on in the near future. I encourage you to make a list. Be as wild and creative as you like. Think of life as a game. When you want to have fun, you take the game out of the box. So, keep this in mind when you make your list, think outside the box. Because outside the box is where the fun is!

Addendum: The Tahoe has been replaced. Outside of the box is the fully loaded Lincoln Navigator--leather seats, moon roof, Voice Activated Navigation System with integrated SIRIUS® Travel Link, etc, etc...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Black History Month- Honor The Steps

"Honor those who have stepped forward when others were thinking backwards."

Black history is full of stories about those who stepped forward. Think Fannie Lou Hamer, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Sojourner Truth, Martin L. King, Jr...and the list goes on. If I have named some names you do not recognize, I beseech you to do some research. Find out who they were, why they stepped forward, and how their steps yesterday benefit your steps today.

I'm going to highlight--Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. She coined the phrase "sick and tired of being sick and tired". Mrs Hamer was born to share-croppers in Mississippi. She, too became a field worker at age 6. When she grew up she married a share-cropper. Get it? All she knew was share-cropping. But there's something else. She had a desire to vote. Not only for herself, but for her family and generations to come. She desired that we all have the right to vote no matter your race, color, gender, creed, or religion. She stood up, stepped forward, and spoke out for those rights. Her story always brings me to tears. I can't believe she endured this torture to secure the right to vote for black people. Here's part of her story:

On June 3, 1963, Fannie Lou Hamer and other civil rights workers arrived in Winona, MS by bus. They were ordered off the bus and taken to Montgomery County Jail. The story continues "...Then three white men came into my room. One was a state highway policeman (he had the marking on his sleeve)... They said they were going to make me wish I was dead. They made me lay down on my face and they ordered two Negro prisoners to beat me with a blackjack. That was unbearable. The first prisoner beat me until he was exhausted, then the second Negro began to beat me. I had polio when I was about six years old. I was limp. I was holding my hands behind me to protect my weak side. I began to work my feet. My dress pulled up and I tried to smooth it down. One of the policemen walked over and raised my dress as high as he could. They beat me until my body was hard, 'til I couldn't bend my fingers or get up when they told me to. That's how I got this blood clot in my eye - the sight's nearly gone now. My kidney was injured from the blows they gave me on the back."

Fannie Lou Hamer 1917 - 1977. An icon in African-American History.

simply beautiful

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Give Me an Exit!!!

I love it when I learn something new. And I love it even more when I've learned something new about myself. And I am ever so grateful for the lesson. It means I'm growing and maturing ... moving from milk to meat. I've learned that I am a conqueror and I am an overcomer. Yes, I said it! So here is my story--there is an issue that I've struggled with in the past---it left me but it's come back for about the last 12 months--off and on-- it comes, lingers and it goes. Suddenly, yesterday it hit me hard. I wanted so much to just slide into what feels good and familiar...but I knew it would be the wrong thing to do. I knew that if I did it just once, I would be doing it again and again. I wanted to pray about it...but at the same time I didn't want to pray about it. I wanted to just do it. Besides that, I was afraid that I'd pray, slide into it,and then have to pray again to repent--like I've done so many times before. See, you have to understand. I know me. The carnal me. The me that wants to do what I want, when I want, how I want, where I want, and how long I want. Even though it was a struggle to pray, I had to do something. I was sinking I simply asked God "GIVE ME AN EXIT!!" His word says "But when you are tempted, he will also give you the ability to endure the temptation and (He will provide) a way of escape." 1 Cor 10:13 . God will honor his Word. When I called out to Him, I was able to overcome temptation and go to sleep. I felt really good this morning knowing that I didn't give in to my issue. On my way to work this morning, a thought occurred to me...GOD IS BIGGER THAN MY PROBLEMS. It's not like I didn't know that already--I just hadn't taken the time to let it marinate. As I begin to reflect on it and ask myself...If God is bigger than this issue-- then isn't He bigger than my other issues and concerns? Like, my finances? Love life? Family relationships? School? Work? Church? Career? Recreation?
Yep. He's big enough to handle al'at!! I can hear Him telling me, 'Cast your cares on me for I care for you' (my paraphrase from 1 Peter 5:7). I learned that whatsoever ( I just love that word!!) there is that I care about, He cares about, too. No matter how large, nor how small.
So here's my word of encouragement to you: When faced with a situation that will compromise you-- break you- shake you, and take you off course-
If the issue dismays you- delays you- tried to slay you--
or cause you to fall-- simply give God a call.
"God--Give me an exit!!"