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Faith and Vision

Say it aint so…about 23 days left in 2019. Really??? December is upon us. It’s a great month to reflect on the year and to think about goals for the upcoming year. Although these last 3 months have been the most difficult for me, I’m fairly optimistic about 2020. I know I am because I went to the Dollar Tree and bought my daughter, Elise, and I a couple of poster boards for our 2020 vision boards. It was Elise’s idea. We’ll embark on this activity during the Christmas break. I’m looking forward to the time off and spending it with my family.

Why is it that the time flies by the fastest from September to December? To be honest, the first 5 months of the year were a blur. I can best summarize it as: work was gruesomely rewarding, my son graduated high school, my daughter completed 8th grade, my son and I traveled to the Dominican Republic for a life changing trip, and some family members came to visit us in Austin in between. It was a roller coaster ride, for sure. I was doing alright with 2019 until my husband started getting sick again.

What I’ve learned in these last few months, the hardest months of my 2019, is that God’s hand is on me and my family. He’s been trying to tell me something for a while. I’m listening. He’s got my attention. God has me where He wants me. I know this because my intellect, education, and experience can’t get me out of this. I have no where else to turn except to God.

I no longer believe in happenstance, coincidence, or the like. I’ve known since my twenties my God given purpose is to help people. However, I’m coming to terms that God has a plan for my destiny. I don’t know what it is yet, and that’s hard to live with.

I’ve been spending time daily reading and listening to teachings about Detours. My faith is being tested. I feel like this is the final exam. I’m recalling a time in college, where I was waiting on the results of a final exam. It was a difficult exam. Sometimes, you just know when you do well on a test or not, but in this case, it could have gone either way. This is where I am now.

The more I delve into the spiritual side of me, the more closed off I want to be. This means I want to spend less time on social media. I want to spend less time trying to impress people on purpose. I want to spend less time writing on my blog. I just want to get to understand God better. Can anyone relate?

With all of my life’s experiences thus far, I will say that God has molded me to be a STRONG and COURAGEOUS person. I can’t imagine what else He is preparing me for. Only God knows. I’m learning how to wait patiently and to wait well.

My words should have painted the picture that I’ve been struggling. The struggle is the underlying tug in my words. However, I know there are better days ahead. In fact, TODAY is a GOOD day and it really was(time for bed). It’s called FAITH. This blog site is about self-care and I would be remiss to not acknowledge the most important tool in my self-care box is FAITH. Faith in God and then faith that he’s equipping me to withstand anything. Admittedly, it’s a little scary to think about what other challenges I may face in this life, but whatever it is, I will withstand it.

In 2020, I’m looking forward to a fresh new year to start over. I want to make more meaningful connections with people, especially the people I love and those who love me. Life is too short to worry about people who don’t matter when the people who do matter are right under your nose. They deserve most of our attention and love. I also see more travel on the horizon.

I’ve been saving old magazines so Elise and I can work on our vision boards. I’ll be thinking about some other goals for 2020. I hope I find the pictures to capture it. Do you know that visualization in your mind increases the likeliness of achieving goals. I visualize in my mind often. However, the last time we did a vision board was in 2016. It’s been long overdo.

How about you? What lessons surfaced for you in 2019? What are you looking forward to in 2020?

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Making the path for the light at the end of the tunnel

OMG. Holy Moly. I don’t know about you, but it has been a rough past few weeks for me! However, I can see the LIGHT at the end of the tunnel and I’m in a much better place. What happened and how did I get to the light?

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6:12 NIV

I believe wholeheartedly I’ve been under spiritual attack. Six weeks ago, my husband, Bryan, and I joined a Lifegroup through our church, LifeAustin, and we’ve been studying the “Detours” series. I wrote about this new experience for us in a previous post, which you can read about here.

This experience has been beautiful and uncomfortable as we’ve been sharing with fellow believers in our church (whom we didn’t know previously) the detours that have surfaced in our lives. We’ve been learning the purpose, patterns, and promotion of detours according to God’s word.

I’ve come to look forward to my Tuesday evenings. Our hosts welcomed us into their beautiful home each week, prepared a delicious meal, played the video that accompanied the week’s lesson, and led us into discussions about detours. It’s a great experience because I enjoy sharing my perspective, learning from the Bible scriptures, learning from others, especially Bryan, and bonding with new people.

In the midst of our Detours Lifegroup, I was feeling increasingly burned out at work and home. I’m a giver. I’m an overachiever. My hormones were out of whack (all over the place). I was not getting enough sleep. I was in the process of interviewing and hiring for one of my vacant positions. Deadlines I’ve been juggling for years began to feel impossible. My team was noticing I seemed different. My boss was noticing. Bryan needed an urgent heart procedure to determine if he needed a more invasive surgery. I was feeling overwhelmed…too overwhelmed to write a blog post last week.

My internal thoughts were attacking me, but I can only take so much. Despite how positive I am and how much I preach about self-care, I’m susceptible to setbacks like most people. We’re also susceptible to spiritual attacks. I must be doing something good and right because I felt the weight of the attacks on my spirit, mind, and body. Then, this week, the weight was lifted.

The path that led me to the light was this:

  1. Awareness – I knew I was off kilter.
  2. Vulnerability- I shared how I was feeling with others – my Lifegroup family, my husband, my sister, and a friend.
  3. Prayer – My husband prayed over me, our Lifegroup family prayed with and for us, and I prayed.
  4. The Word – On my commutes to and from work, I listened to sermons that encouraged me.

In the meantime, I also surrounded myself with people and the furry animals who love me.

Beignet and Cannoli. LPC

I got out and enjoyed the glorious weather when we had it.

Trip to an asian market. LPC

Lucrece and Bryan at the Capitol. LPC

I entertained my sister in law visiting from Illinois.

Sadie, Bryan, and me. LPC

I’ve continued to do my favorite form of exercise…DANCE!💃🏾

A little sweat session in the garage Thursday morning. LPC

I’ve been catching up on my zzzzz’s. Thank you time change. I’ve been going to bed earlier because of it.

I love this sleep mask. LPC

By the end of this week, I could appreciate my accomplishments and most importantly what God is doing in my life. We completed our 6 week Lifegroup, I hired an excellent candidate for my team, I continue to use my position at work to mentor and uplift others, my daughter got all A’s in her second semester as a freshman in high school, my son registered for his community college classes, I have a game plan for the dance I’m coordinating for our office holiday party, my spiritual and mental energy has been restored, and Bryan doesn’t need an invasive heart surgery.

My final thoughts are: Life is GOOD. Hang in there. Appreciate what you have. Pray incessantly. Have FAITH. Keep moving forward.

What encourages you during difficult times?

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Be still

Sometimes, it’s the small things that go unnoticed, yet make the biggest impact. As I think about this upcoming week, I’ll share a quick story. This mug was a gift and sits on my work desk. I use it for tea…I’m not a coffee drinker. It actually took me a few months before I started using it because I have several “favorite” mugs on my desk. It quickly became my favorite because of the soothing color and the size holds just the right amount of liquid. I also love the bible scripture although I honestly hadn’t paid much attention.

One particular day, the feeling of stress was beginning to smother me. My self-care coping skills kicked in and I felt the urge to drink a soothing cup of tea. I leaned over my desk and grabbed the mug. I felt compelled to read it. The message was so clear. I didn’t know at the time I needed the verse. I opened my bible app, in that moment, while at work, and read the whole chapter (wasn’t very long) for context.

“Be still and know that I am God.” I, Lucrece, am not God. I’m not in control. I’m not the architect of my own life. But I have comfort, peace, joy, and strength in knowing God is God and God is in control. The stress subsided.

I’m not a deeply religious person, but I strive daily to be more spiritual, to listen, to be more obedient to what God calls me to do. Our lives are so busy today. It’s almost like a badge of honor to boast about how busy we are. However, I believe we need to make room to be still everyday. Be still to hear own thoughts. Be still to examine our hearts and desires. Be still to unplug from the clutter. Be still to solve a problem. Be still to read the bible. Be still to be grateful. Be still to hear God. I often have to remind myself I’m not in this alone. In all aspects of my life, I’m expected to solve problems…have the answers, but I don’t do it alone. God is on my side. I can lean on Him.

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A week in the life

It’s been a week! It started last Sunday with me at the airport for my monthly business trip and ended on Saturday (yesterday) with an unexpected job opportunity that stirred up lingering insecurities that are difficult to shake. Confidence and doubt. Courage and fear. Bold and reticent. Extrovert and introvert. It is possible to live with conflicting traits. I’m a living testimony. At the end of the day, I have nothing to lose…or do I? There is a beginning, middle and end to my story, but I’ll stick with 2 out of 3 since it’s Sunday and I’m a little tired. Here it goes.

The Beginning

Towards the end to my flight to Lubbock, Texas last Sunday, there was a ridiculous amount of turbulence. Turbulence to the point where I didn’t know if I needed the barf bag or a toilet because my stomach was doing somersaults.

This is bad. As a side note, I had actually typed “summer saults”, then changed it to “summer salts” because I forgot how to spell the word “somersault”. I knew it was wrong, but couldn’t remember so I looked it up. I’ve had recent conversations with people about the phenomenon of losing our ability to spell. I blame the constant reliance computers. Are we the only ones?

I occasionally glanced at my neighbor and we made exchanges about the turbulence, but then after a while, I noticed that she was staring at me rather intently…too intently for my comfort. She asked me if I lived in Lubbock, and before I knew it, I learned that she was a clinical social work therapist in private practice, working with the elderly and that she was returning from visiting one of her 7 kids in Austin. I’m usually hesitant about telling strangers my state business in Lubbock. However, as a fellow social worker, I gave her a vague snippet. I won’t talk about it here either, but for the record, it’s official state business and it’s not really in Lubbock. Lubbock is just the biggest city to fly in.

That Sunday, I wasn’t in the mood for small talk because I was somewhat sad about leaving my family on a Sunday and was prepping my mind for Monday’s meeting. However, I usually end up caught in random conversations because I’ve accepted the fact that folks in Texas are chatty and I think I have one of those faces that say, “You can tell me anything…I’ll listen”. She might have noticed that I was reading a book about difficult conversations. If I remember, I will come back to cite it later, but I believe the author’s name is Harrier Lerner, a psychotherapist, and it’s one of the “Dance with…” books. (UPDATE: Harriet Lerner, PhD, The Dance of Connection). Her first one was called the “The Dance of Anger”. I have that one too. I learned about her through social worker and researcher Brene Brown’s references.

My flight neighbor and I had a nice conversation, exchanged business cards, and despite her offer to call me whenever I’m in town, I knew that was the end of that exchange. Unless, I see her next month. I’m from Chicago, I come from a long line of suspicious people, so I’ll leave that at that. But seriously, I’ll keep her card just in case.

I spent part of Sunday night shopping for some healthy snacks/foods while away from home and prepping for my Monday meeting. The visit went well. I always feel better when I prepare. I pray that I am relaxed, professional, and myself. I channel my higher self and then everything else goes smoothly. I’m sharing this because on these trips, I’m sure that it would be preferred that I not be there. However, I am there representing the state, the agency that allocated funds to this entity to provide a service, so my hosts tend to be attentive and on their best behavior.

The End (of the week)

Yesterday, I was presented with an opportunity that I had not expected. It would mean a great amount of responsibility at work and I know that there are people who have their doubts about me. However, there are also people in high places that think highly of me. My insecurities bubbled up. Never mind, what they think of me…do I think I can do it? This is what I’m faced with. I can’t go into detail now, but I decided that now is as best a time as ever to have faith in myself. I’ve been making moves already. I simply need to decide. I activated my personal prayer warriors…people who I know will pray for me and I asked them to pray for me about this particular thing. I really want to and need to hear God on this. It’s not about the money although that definitely helps. If I am still in consideration for this opportunity, I’m going to give it my best shot. I deserve to do this for myself. Confidence and doubt. Courage and Fear. Bold and reticent. Extrovert and introvert. I have all of these traits. Some of them can be euphoric, and others downright painful, but I still move forward. It’s about growth.