Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Life

A couple weeks ago, I noticed my calla lily coming back to life. I feel like this flower has resembled my life this past year. I was doing okay after the breakup then the storm came in the form of a guy I dated in the spring. This led to my baptism and a renewal in faith.  

Ironically, this flower was given to me by my ex and it had died back to nothing over the summer. It was a fruitless summer as I personally struggled to find value and purpose in my life. I was just going through the motions in life. Work...food...sleep...an occasional workout. It was hard to be social. To be honest, I still wonder what my purpose is, even though I know what my different groups of friends would say. My Christian friends would say it's to share the Gospel. Spiritual but non-religious friends would probably say it's to show the Word through action. And my non-spiritual, non-religious friends would go with - you need to find something that you enjoy and strive for it. I've always wanted to inspire people. What better way to do that than defeat this weight issue.

When I pruned the calla lily in the early part of August, I noticed that it was hanging onto life by a thread. Similar to how I felt. I put the calla lily closer to a window (nutrition) and gave it some water. Nutrition and water sustain life. And God is called "living water" multiple times in the bible. It's not a coincidence. Remembering the weight loss I had five years ago, when I focused on myself, the more friends I had. I was also more giving. I'm heading back to that spot.

The song that has helped me over this past week is called "Who You Are" by Unspoken. I'll try to remember to post the video when I get home. Part of the song is "you can change who you are at the foot of the cross."




Sunday, September 14, 2014

Playing the Victim

After some considerable thought, I made a realization about why I keep procrastinating major life events. For both my dissertation and healthy living/losing weight, I think that deep down, I like playing the victim. I like the attention. It gives people a conversation starter with me. 

As soon as I determine not to be a victim anymore, the enemy always finds a way to attack. I just injured my calf/knee again after a day at bootcamp. Almost every three days, it either gives out or gets reaggravated. So I'm trying to work through it, but feel defeated.

I am slowly reintegrating myself into society. After talking with a friend, I realized that I place other people's burdens on me rather than giving it to God. Perhaps this will strengthen my relationship with God and I'll no longer choose to withdraw from the community that surrounds me. The fear of rejection is huge after a specific college experience I had. It's time to forgive and move on.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Intentional Living

At church, there's a lot of talk on intentional relationships. These relationships function based on making specific time for each other. I have a few friends in which we have to be very intentional since our life stages are currently different; if we weren't, we'd never get to see each other.

This past weekend, I started photo food journaling with my trainer. Anything that goes in my mouth, he gets a picture of. It's called accountability, and it's made me very intentional about the way I eat. So I've contemplated this thought about being intentional and am branding a new phrase - "intentional living." I know some are thinking that once you've received Christ, your life begins a season of intentional living, but I see it more than that. Any and every action I do and have directly impacts me and the world around me. If I lose weight through nutrition and exercise, I'd be more comfortable doing mission. If the house is kept up with, I have no reason to procrastinate my dissertation. Do I really need a venti at Starbucks or would a tall or grande suffice? Or better yet, do I really need Starbucks after all?

If we can be intentional with our relationships, we definitely can be intentional with ourselves, our bodies, and our thoughts. I am starting my intentional life today!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

First Sunday - Crazy, Hairy, Bold Prayer (Love)

Lord, I pray to you that I find the man that you have intended for me to marry and spend the rest of my life with. I pray that not only am I loved, but to love as your son loved. As I learned last night, I want to forget my past heartaches through forgiveness of those who have pretended to love me and have my best interests at hand. It is only through you and the strength that you give me that I can do this. I ask that you heal my heart and allow it to be open and vulnerable to those that I am close to. I ask that you strip me of all my fears. It is in your name that I pray. Amen.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Transformation

The first step on a new path is always the hardest.  My new path, though, is not necessarily new, but an old one that I had walked about six or seven years ago.  The past few days I reevaluated why I was so successful at weight loss then but not now and here's what I have noticed:

1)  I had time.  I've been stressing about my dissertation and about life that I have been paralyzed in fear of moving in any direction.  In essence, I've been wasting time just thinking about things and not doing things.  Once my degree is done, I'll have all the time in the world again.  Just get her done already!

2)  When I moved to Texas, I had no cable or internet at my apartment.  While I cannot do without the internet due to my dissertation, I can, however, get rid of the cable.  My contract is up very soon.  I actually worked out more because of this since if I wanted to watch a specific football game, I had to go to the gym to watch it.  I actually may unplug sooner just to unplug...

3)  I had cooking days in which I made all my meals for the week and stuck to a grocery budget.  These are things I can start with right off the bat.

4)  I had a support system.  I verbally announced my intentions during my bible study group this past Monday.

Movement forward, even if on an old path, is better than staying stagnant.  Look out world, the old me is on the verge of being present again!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Adoption is a Promise of Forever

Meet Monty; he is named after Tavares Montgomery (Monty) Williams, Jr., a former NBA player and current head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.  I received Monty as a birthday gift from my sister when I was in high school; this was about a year after our cat Sandy ran off before a snow storm.  I had found Sandy as a stray at our old house, so she was an indoor/outdoor cat.

Monty is now 18.5 years old (91 in human years), and he's been mine for over half my life.  Adoption is a promise of forever...a lifetime commitment.  Trust me when I say that there are days I want to give up on him as he ages, but I remember plenty of his quirky personality characteristics that make me smile and make me a proud momma.  As a kitten, his favorite game was fetch down the stairs or taking a walk on his leash and to this day, his favorite snack is plastic bags (not that I encourage this behavior).  I found out later that some chemicals or oils used in manufacturing plastic bags resemble catnip, but he probably does have the disorder pica and was genetically predisposed to this condition since he is part Siamese.  (I know, he doesn't look Siamese, but the crook in his tail gave it away!) 

Lately, with my new job having me travel more, I feel guilty that he's alone so much.  I've been debating about getting a dog so that he has somebody, but also so that I get out of the house and walk more.  I even visited a few dogs at one location.  During this process, I have read one too many times in which animals have been either owner-surrendered or owner-abandoned.  Both of these have prompted me to write this blog, especially since I believe adoption is a promise and a commitment to forever.  I will not deny the fact that my parents helped me by taking care of Monty the years I was in college, but they made it clear from the beginning that he was my cat and my responsibility.

I consider an owner-surrendered animal to be one in which the owner could either no longer care for it appropriately or the owner, through no fault of their own, had to get rid of the animal.  I appreciate that these owners want to do what is best for their pets, but I wish they would try to rehome their pet themselves either through a rehoming program or using their networks.  My sister rehomed one of her cats to a family friend and that gave them the ability to follow-up with my sister about anything that may have come up in the first few months.  In the local area, Austin Pets Alive! has a rehoming program.  Shelters can stress out an animal very easily, and let's not forget that there are still many shelters who euthanize animals when there isn't room.

An owner-abandoned animal, in my opinion, is one in which the owner moves and abandons the animal on the current property thus forcing the animal to become a stray.  I have seen this most frequently with cats, but it seems that this is now occurring more frequently with dogs too.  These animals are left to fend for themselves on the streets.  I have a hard time forgiving the owners who do this to an animal.  At the very least, surrender the animal to the shelter.

Since I'm not sure I want another 18+ year commitment, I have decided that if I was going to adopt either a cat or a dog, it will not be a young one.  While older ones may have some behavioral issues that need to be addressed due to being left at the shelter or abandoned, I rather make the shorter commitment.  The other thing that I've been thinking about is fostering animals for a bit.  This way, I'm saving another life at a shelter that still uses euthanasia as a means to fix the problem and not making a lifelong commitment to an animal.  Our neighborhood has adopted a stray cat, socialized and fixed a feral cat, and are working on capturing another feral to have him fixed as well. 

Animal owners need to realize that they have committed to taking care of their pets for the duration of their lives.  I never imagined Monty would live this long, but he has brought me a lot of joy throughout the years and I wouldn't trade that in heartbeat.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Did I Do It All Wrong?

An old high school friend has been in town on business, and we finally got together after not seeing each other for 15 years. While we reminisced about friends and classmates from back in the day, I realized that I always tried to be something I wasn't. I was friends with a variety of people in high school, but I was never part of a clique because I kept striving to be "cooler" instead of being just myself. I think I lost out a lot on close friendships because of this. This behavior pursued into college, but I think it ended up changing in graduate school. This led me into some deep thoughts last night - why am I afraid to be exactly who I am? To be exactly who God intended me to be? I really needed that night with my old high school friend where we shared some of the scars from our youth. He grew past his...I don't think I've grown past mine yet. No matter how many times I try to move past the wounds, I'm too afraid to make myself vulnerable to those I love and care about. Maybe this friend was brought back into my life for this reason, to come to terms with my past and move forward. I truly believe real friends will always be friends, no matter how long it has been. I'm excited about where life is about to take me.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

First Sunday - Crazy, Hairy, Bold Prayer (Weight Loss)

The lead pastor of my church, Will Davis Jr (http://www.willdavisjr.com), is inspiring. His fearlessness is something I wish I could obtain overnight, but it takes time, dedication, obedience, and faithfulness. Will is the only man that I know who has gone public with his prayer to end the drought and fill the lakes. By public, I mean, he has done this in front of City Council and the whole city. I wish I had that confidence, but I'd be afraid that God would let me down and make a mockery of me and the religion I have chosen.

So...I'm walking out in faith. For the remainder of the year, each month, I'm going to outline one crazy, hairy, bold prayer that I'll be praying for. Sometimes I'll give it a timeline, other times, I'll let it work itself out. 

4 Take delight in The Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to The Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: 6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. (Psalm 37:4-6)

24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (John 16:24)

Therefore, the following is my prayer - 
To further your Kindom, Lord, I ask you to walk by my side in my weight loss journey. Without my health, I cannot do the work you have tasked me to do. Please give me the strength to say "yes" to life and "no" to the sins I struggle with. My faith is strong and you know the intimate details of this request.  As a first step in our journey, it is my desire to wear the dress pictured below on my birthday (March). I give you all the glory. In your name, Amen.





Sunday, June 15, 2014

My walk...

This post is mainly to share a few pictures from my baptism. The devil is trying to keep me busy, but I will conquer it. I'm excited to see what God has planned for me especially as I overcome my fears.

“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8 NIV)





Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Where do I belong?

I ask myself this question quite a bit - where do I belong?  I feel like I'm constantly wandering the desert trying to figure this out.  Some days I feel like I belong in Africa.  Other days, I feel like I belong in Austin.  Yet other times, it's either San Diego or Atlanta.  A few things I have figured out the past few months:  1) I doubt I'll ever go back to the northeast.  After having been out with a couple of New Yorkers; they are too high strung for me.  Austin has definitely taught me to slow down and calm down.  2) I don't think I want to own a house.  Don't get me wrong, I love my house and it's been a great investment, but I'm tired of doing "house" things.  I rather be with people and hang out with people.  3) While I could easily work for the federal government in Atlanta or DC, I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with bureaucracy again.

This trip to San Diego has been rather interesting.  I love how friendly everybody is.  Austin used to be that way, but I feel that over the eight years I have been there, it's become a bit more vain.  And I can't complain about the San Diego weather either.  At the same time, I'm not ready to let go.  I know I have about a year left to go with my degree, so I don't need to make any rash decisions.  I'm hoping God will clarify soon where I belong.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Missed Connection

On Tuesday, I stopped at Starbucks on my way into work.  I accidentally overslept by two hours, which wasn't an issue since we were having a long day in training and that started a couple hours after I usually would have gotten to work.  Although I rarely do it, that evening I decided to check the missed connections section on Craigslist and I saw one that seemed like it could have been for me; it happened earlier that same day.  It was!

With all these coincidences occurring, and since this individual did not have the opportunity to approach me, I sent him a reply.  We went back and forth for a couple of days and I was able to verify it truly was me who he saw.  Because I'm a hopeless romantic, I wondered if this was my "movie-like" encounter do-over, since the first one did not work out.  It seemed to be something right out of the movies after all.  How many people can claim that their missed connection was no longer a missed connection?

Thankfully, this individual was open enough to let me know he was attached before it went past just e-mailing one another.  When he disclosed this, I e-mailed him one last time and mentioned that he needed to share the raw emotions he shared with me with his wife or girlfriend.  I asked him to think about what he was doing to her and to himself by putting these missed connections out there on Craigslist and to be fair to her.  How could they work on those problems if she didn't know they existed?  I hope I got through to him.

Alas, perhaps my third "movie-like" encounter will be the charm.  Until then, this year will be the year focused on my health, career, school, and the Lord.  I definitely don't need any additional drama.  (Can you feel me rolling my eyes?)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

ENFJ Personality

Apparently, I have ENFJ personality (according to two tests I took).  I'm not sure how that's calculated since my percentages were so low, but the description seems to fit!

From www.16personalities.com:

Group Type:  Diplomats:  Intuitive and Feeling types - they are cooperative, empathetic and imaginative, focusing on empathy, morality and cooperation.

Personality Traits:  
Mind - Extroverted (10%):  prefer group activities, think while speaking, get energized by social interaction.
Energy - Intuitive (9%):  imaginative, rely on their intuition, absorbed in ideas, focus on what might happen.
Nature - Feeling (11%):  sensitive, follow their hearts, focus on harmony and cooperation.
Tactics - Judging (1%):  decisive, prefer clear rules and guidelines, see deadlines as sacred, seek closure.
Identity - Turbulent (55%):  self-conscious, care about their image, success-driven, perfectionists.

Representing approximately 2 percent of all people, the ENFJ personality type tends to be very influential, often without making any conscious effort to increase their influence. As part of the Diplomats (NF) group, ENFJs are genuinely interested in other people and radiate authenticity, concern, and altruism. Not surprisingly, those who surround ENFJs usually find them very inspiring and likable.

ENFJs are usually very charismatic and eloquent and find it natural and easy to communicate their ideas and opinions, especially in person. It does not really matter whether they are presenting cold facts or expressing raging emotions; the ENFJ will not be afraid to stand up and speak, regardless of the audience.

This is one of the reasons why ENFJs can be so convincing and mesmerizing when they speak: they instinctively know how to combine passion and rational arguments, drawing the audience’s attention and reaching every mind. People with this personality type can be great leaders, and they do not necessarily have to get into politics to make a difference. An ENFJ teacher or coach can have a strong positive effect on many people’s lives as well.

ENFJ personalities are very intuitive. They find it easy to sense other people’s motives and find connections between seemingly unrelated events. ENFJs also tend to be quite good at analyzing their own feelings and questioning them if necessary.

On the other hand, such intuitiveness and sensitivity can also cause significant difficulties for people with this personality type. They may be too altruistic and empathetic, getting too involved in other people’s problems. They may then find it difficult to detach and stop worrying. In extreme cases, this can even affect the ENFJs’ perception of themselves.

ENFJs are optimistic idealists, often trusting other people more than they should—although this usually turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. As already mentioned above, ENFJs can be very convincing and inspiring. People are drawn toward strong personalities, and the ENFJ’s charisma can often be a uniting and motivating factor.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Forgiveness

It's always super fun when things interrelate without anything being planned; God's amazing that way.  Last Monday, I was discussing at our bible study that I need to learn how to forgive.  For five years, all I wanted to hear from somebody was that they had wronged me, and when I finally heard it a few months ago, I still did not feel release from the chains that held me.  So this past week was focused on bible verses about forgiveness, and as usual, one stuck out to me.

Matthew 9:  4-8 (NIV)
4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?  5 Which is easier:  to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?  6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins."  So he said to the paralyzed man, "Get up, take your mat and go home."  7 Then the man got up and went home.  8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.


This weekend's sermon was on authority, and how through Jesus Christ, we have the authority to do good works (John 14).  It is my duty to forgive the people who have scarred me in the past.  Going into next weekend, it's all about breaking these past chains and bondages as I move forward in my walk.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's time to be dunked...

People tend to be shocked when I give my testimony since I have been a Christian for about 10 years now, but yet I have not been baptized.  In part, I always had hesitancy in being re-baptized outside of the Catholic Church, but this past week, God has called me to take this step of obedience and commitment.  And ironically, I believe this rounds out the year I call "the year of obedience" as it relates to my faith.

My post yesterday outlines how God made me listen earlier in the week by blessing me with a case of strep which left me speechless.  I revisited Colossians 2, which has been weighing on my mind and heart for the past couple of weeks.

Colossians 2: 6-15 (NIV) 
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces  of this world rather than on Christ.  9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.  11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands.  Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.  13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you  alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.  15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. 

Colossians 2: 18-19 (NIV) 
18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you.  Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.  19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
 
On Friday, I dumped the guy I had been dating.

On Saturday, I heard our pastor preach, and maybe for the first time ever, I clearly heard God speak to me.  Everything was connecting in my head all at once.  I think the most powerful portion of the sermon was when re-visited John 1: 12-13 - God gives us the right/authority/power/ability to become His children, but through belief in Jesus' name.  We believe in His name by confessing His nature, embracing His mission, and seeking His glory. 

On Sunday, I was blessed to hear the sermon again since I was not needed in Camp Fun.  It confirmed everything I already knew. 

Indecisiveness wiped.  A new beginning.  A child of God - innocent and believing.  Freedom through baptism.  Perfect for this blog - Transformation.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?

Can you hear me?
A whisper exists in your ear.  Every bible passage you pull out and read tells you what you need to do in your current situation, but you choose not to listen.  You are in control of the given situation.

Can you hear me now?
As you head to urgent care on Easter Sunday, you're still oblivious to the fact that God is talking and providing advice.  All you can think about is that you need to start antibiotics today in order to still present to the CEO on Tuesday.  Yet you still don't even know if you have a bacterial infection, you're just basing your diagnosis on prior illnesses.

The diagnosis is strep.  Your throat and tonsils swell to make even swallowing water difficult and painful.  When you try to talk, all you do is croak.  You need to find a 24-hour pharmacy to get started on that antibiotic because you still need to present to the CEO.  You continue to ignore that whisper in your ear.

Finally home and on an antibiotic, you don't know what to do.  Everybody is visiting with family and friends on Easter and you can't even call your family to wish them a Happy Easter and catch up on life because your throat is too swollen.  You choose to send a few quick texts and work on that presentation you need to give the CEO on Tuesday.

Monday arrives and you are quarantined at your house since you're still contagious.  You still brush off that whisper in your ear.  You take a break and open Facebook to see everybody's spring family photos from the day before.  One of your more spiritual friends had posted on Easter something along the lines "He has RISEN!  Let us celebrate!"  You are reminded about what the holiday signifies.  The last few years you always brushed it off as "just another day," but you begin to realize that it isn't just another day.

You begin to listen.  It only took getting strep on Easter Sunday, being stuck home alone while in quarantine, and a dear friend's post to be reminded that sometimes you need to listen and hear what God has to say.  By not allowing you to talk, you had to withdraw from the situation that needed a solution and become analytical about what was going on.  You had to address and deal with it straight on.  You feel better about it.

The presentation to the CEO went better than expected.

True story.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Carrot-based recipes

Since I missed yesterday's post, but saw this on my phone this morning. It was perfect timing! I have oodles of carrots from my farm share and other than stir fry, chicken noodle soup and pot roast, I have no idea what to do with them. I'll try and fix the link later today. Bon Appetit!

It's Winter, So It's Time to Cook with Carrots—Here's How

Monday, February 03, 2014

Song of the Week: Musiq - Don't Change

At the very end of the song, he states:  "If you find someone that you know you love, just love that person.  God will see you through the rest of the way."  This has made me think about love as more of decision than a feeling, but I do believe that at some point you just know if you are going to spend the rest of your life with that person.  This is the song of the week.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

New adventures in obedience...

Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.  For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.  He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.  And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.  Fear the Lord your God and serve him.  Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. (Deuteronomy 10:16-20)
I forecast that this will be an uncomfortable year of growth for me, but I am willing to step into the unknown as well as renew the heart I once had.  I am not going to let the chains from my past hold me down any longer.  The first part of my development is assisting our new church campus in Pflugerville/NE Austin by attending, volunteering, and growing in Christ with this community.  It's been awhile since I've been a part of a small church and I miss the feeling those communities give.  This will be a good thing for my growth and I know I have something to offer as well.  At the commissioning last weekend, our lead pastor nailed it for me when he closed by talking about following in obedience and since I've been talking about obedience for weeks now; I am going.  Alright Lord, Step 1 is complete...next?
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 12:2) 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Peaceful Revelations

I have never felt more myself than I have in the past month.  I'm not sure exactly what has changed, but I feel alive again.  The anger that used to stir up at simple things is gone, and I am now grateful for the blessings that I have had this past year.  I no longer feel out of control, but yet perfectly disciplined within my chaos.  Dare I even say it, since it's been creeping into my life for the past nine months?  Obedience - this is the main reason why I feel peaceful.  I have given up control over my life and have started following the path that I'm being lead onto.  I'm no longer in a rush to get to the destination because I'm enjoying the journey.  Trials and obstacles will always be in the direct path, but as in James 1:2-3, trials will test my faith and will produce perseverance. 

As I continue on the journey to become healthy, I'm not stressed out about losing weight anymore.  I'm enjoying the mental release that exercise gives me and the cleaner I eat, the more energy I have.  I'm tracking my calories in and my calories out.  It's pretty simple.  The human mind creates the chaos.  I am not perfect, but I am perfectly human.  This was the first year I did not make a New Year's resolution.  I didn't need to resolve any issue that I've dealing with because it's not for me to fix; it's already being acted on from up above.  In the past 10 days, I have lost 6.25 pounds, and yet I feel like I haven't put in 100%.

Quiet contentment.  So that's what peace feels like.  I can't help but smile.  Or perhaps make a goofy face.
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.  (Proverbs 14:30)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7)