Friday, December 9, 2011

Step Out on Faith

          I am learning more and more that when God pushes you in a certain direction eventually you need to give up the battle and step out on faith. When I look back on some of my "life decisions" I have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes I am in the position I am in because I did not seek God in my decisions. When it comes to my career I could not narrow down how to describe it. That is because I will not sit down long enough to hear from God on what my path should be. So my "path" has changed a lot! When life throws difficult moments at you it is usually a wake up call to pay attention. Apparently I rarely listen. Now that I am really starting to understand that what my career choices are will not only affect my future but my children and husbands future as well. It is so much easier when your paycheck is basically for the purpose of shopping. It is a hard transition from teenager to college particularly when it comes to finances. This is also the time when we are supposed to decide what we should do for the rest of our lives. Really? At eighteen? My priorities have changed significantly in the last ten years. It is so easy to say that if you could go back you would make a different decision. But would you? I know I would not. I chose Fashion Merchandising. I loved it. I loved going to class and I loved sewing in my sweatpants and eating take out while my room mates were at the library chugging coffee to stay awake while reading about the dynamics of statistics. Obviously now I look back and wonder why I did not consider that they would be making a lot more money than I would be. Recently it hit me why this was not my concern. It is because I have always wanted to be my own boss and I want my job to consist of what I love. And what I love is cooking, sewing and being domestic. I am truly in my element when I am at home and being able to express myself through these outlets. It feeds my soul. I am not made for the corporate world. I have certainly tried. It is just not in me.  My dream has always been to be a wife and mother. It is old fashioned yes, but it is me. It truly is. That is all I want. But it cost a lot to live. So  you have to find a career that will allow you to do all of it so you can truly love your life.
        I have never considered doing any at home business. In all honestly I have always been very turned off by them. I always viewed these women as "the crazy make up lady" or "the pushy handbag lady". However, recently I was introduced to the company Arbonne. A very close friend of mine started selling the product and my thought was "why in the world is she doing this?". I soon figured out she understood something I did not. After my miscarriage I did a lot of soul searching and admitted to myself, it is irrelevant how much money you make when you wake up every morning miserable to go to work. It just simply is not worth it. I do not want to start a family when I am this stressed all the time and when I am this tired at the end of the day. What I want out of a job is freedom. I want freedom to work but not allow it to interrupt the things I love most in this life. I also want to make a difference. I truly want a career that is helping people because what is more fulfilling than that? At the end of they day who really cares what anyone thinks because people have opinions based on things they do not understand. I know I certainly do. Once I allowed myself to understand this company and this business my entire perspective changed. Yes the products are amazing and using them is a huge perk. However, what drew me into this business is what this will do to my life. It will give me freedom!  It will allow me to help people. To provide a service that honestly benefits people. No this is not for everyone but apparently it is for me. I had to allow God to guide me in this direction. It is so far from my comfort zone. However once we let go and let God we surprise ourselves with what we are capable of. Yes I am nervous but I am so excited. I can not wait to see what God is going to bring me through this business. I am in love with the women I have met through this experience. I am inspired and motivated. I will never be what I consider "a crazy skin care lady" but if that title gets thrown my way a few times while on this path I will learn to ignore it. Because does it really matter what anyone thinks if you are happy and fulfilled in your life? I am in this for my future and for my families future. I am in this so I can give to the ministries I love, so I will have the time to do the things I love. I am in this to help other women who are searching and struggling with "the next step". It is the the opportunity that this will provide for women. It goes far beyond an incredible product. It is a journey that can lead to financial freedom but most of all it can lead someone to live life in the way they thought they could never get to. I never thought it would be possible to have it all. It is. Just let God lead you there. Quit fighting him on what you think your path should be. Sometimes his path is down a road we would never considered taking.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Makin' Plans

               When Byron and I got married there was one song that I kept singing in my head. Our first couple months of marriage I would play it on the computer when I was getting ready for work in the morning and it would give me the "warm and fuzzy" feeling. The song always brought a sense of excitement and peace to my heart because it fit us so well. I have been so blessed to marry a man that I can honestly say I have loved since I was fourteen years old. Of course it has not always been so blissful. There have been a lot of heartbreaking moments and tears but eventually we both learned no matter how much we tried to fight it and at times, deny it, we truly love each other. More than we could ever love anyone else. God brought us back together after we both realized it was time to let him guide our hearts. As soon as we let go of trying to make our own plans we ended up on the same path. What I consider our theme song is "Makin' Plans" by Miranda Lambert which is pretty ironic considering our plans never turn out how we expect. My favorite part of the song is...

We can go on and on
Won’t ever feel too long
I’ll always call you home
And we’ll go on and on

‘Cause I know you like the back of my hand
Got a heart of gold and a piece of land
I’m your girl and you’re my man
And we’re makin’ plans

          This hit me the other day like a ton of bricks when I was having a hard time dealing with a "change of plans". You see Byron and I were expecting our first child. It seemed surreal. My whole life I have been so excited to be a mom. Sure I was into the wedding and all the exciting landmarks that lead up to it but being a mom, now that is the ultimate goal! That is my dream. I always joke about how I am running out of time. I mean the Mayan calender is ending right around the corner. We have to hurry this up. I was just as shocked as Byron was when I told him. I couldn't believe the time had actually come. A baby! Wow. How do you really wrap you mind around that? It is incredible to see your body start to change, you get sick and you could care less because it is for a reason so much bigger than yourself. We were keeping this quiet. After working at an OBGYN office I knew all about the risk and all the scary things that could go wrong. But I never actually thought it would happen to us. It is just something you think you should worry about but preparation for an actual loss does not really seem realistic. Well it didn't to me at least. Just like every other anxious mother waiting for the first appointment it seems like an eternity. But you spend hours reading on the internet about what to eat and how to exercise. You feel overwhelmed with all the information but you take it all in and buy your time until you get to go in and hear that amazing heartbeat.
            I know all women know very well about a woman's instinct. I know the men out there don't really buy into it but it is a real as it gets. I woke up the morning of our first appointment and immediately I felt a gloom take over. I started brushing my teeth and I realized there was no excitement. What was wrong with me? I had been waiting weeks for this day. As Byron and I were driving to the appointment I was telling him how I had a feeling something was wrong. He tried his best to assure me that everything was fine but I could tell he knew my instincts had come through before. He was not about to let me worry about something that had not even happened yet so he stayed as positive as he could.
               We went into the sono room and Dr. Perret came in. She was amazing and her attitude immediately soothed me. But the pit was still there. It never left. She knew I was nervous and so she started joking and laughing and for a moment I though that maybe I am just being a worrier. However, when she started the ultrasound her tone off voice completely changed and I knew what she was going to say. There was no heartbeat.
               I can not explain the moments that followed that statement because it all seems a little fuzzy now. There was a lot of blood work and a procedure that followed a couple days later. And then there I was, back home laying in bed to recover and no longer pregnant. Just like that, that life was gone. How do you go back to where you were before? Well, the answer is simple, you don't. I sat there thinking about all the plans I had been making the last couple of months. All the ideas and events that were supposed to happen. They were gone too. Once again I had to remind myself, I can make all the plans I want but my plans are not always God's plans. I love planning and dreaming, it is fun and I find it to be therapeutic. What is so hard to accept is that we don't get to choose our future. We just get to make decisions to alter the paths we go down. After a lot of tears and lots of quiet time I have come to the conclusion that I am not the only one that has gone through this or will go through this. But no one ever talks about it because it is so sad. I have days where I am an open book and some where if someone mentions it I burst into tears. I have had some long talks with some dear friends who have gone through the same thing. But I know full well that God has this taken care of. Just like all the other moments in our lives, once we are willing to give up the battle and let him guide us, he will.
            This blog is for all the other women (and men) out there that have gone through this or will go through this. At the end of the day we have to give it to him. We have to give the baby to him. All of them. The ones that make it into this world and the ones that are taken before we ever even hear a heartbeat.
            One verse that has been my saving grace during this process is "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4".  God knows our hearts and our desires. In his time I will be a mother again. I am holding on to that truth and I want every woman who has gone through this to hold onto that too. God KNOWS your desires. He knows. He has the plans and the perfect timing. We just have to allow him to get get us there. In the mean time just hold on to that truth. God has great plans for us, greater than we could ever plan for ourselves. So keep making your plans and when they change just allow yourself to change with them. Take it as growth and use it in your future. A future that will be greater than anything we could have planned for.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

God Bless America

I had a little wake up call the other day. Byron and I were riding in the car and the recent Toby Keith song came on the radio, “Made in America”. I have heard this numerous times throughout the summer and decided to express my irritation about it to Byron. I pointed out that it seems all of Toby Keith’s songs are corny and about “American stuff” all the time now. Typically, when I express my opinion about music Byron and I agree. I was shocked with his response, he brought up the point that as corny as it may be, he is overseas constantly seeing these troops first hand and hearing their stories. It has been ten years since the tragedy on 9/11 and that has given us ten years to become de-sensitized again. Yes, my husband is in the Coast Guard, so obviously we can relate more to songs and statements about the military. However, even I did not take the time to listen to the words of this song and think about how much we as Americans would be effected if we all felt the same way.  The words to this song are powerful, and may have been spoken or sung a million times (particularly in the short time following 9/11) but we still do not choose to listen….

Made in America Lyrics

my old man's that old man,
spent his life livin' off the land,
dirty hands, and a clean soul.
breaks his heart seein' foreign cars,
filled with fuel that isn't ours
and wearin' cotton he didn't grow

he's got the red, white, and blue flyin' high on the farm
semper fi tattooed on his left arm
spends a little more at the store for a tag in the back that says u.s.a.
won't buy nothin' that he can't fix,
with wd40 and a craftsman wrench
he ain't prejudice he's just, made in America

his wife, she's that wife that decorates on the 4th of july
but says "every day's independence day"
she's golden rule, teaches school,
some folks say it isn't cool but she says the pledge of allegiance anyway.

got the red, white, and blue flyin' high on the farm
semper fi tattooed on his left arm
spends a little more at the store for a tag in the back that says u.s.a.
won't buy nothin' that he can't fix,
with wd40 and a craftsman wrench
he ain't prejudice he's just, made in America

born in the heartland, raised up a family
of king james and uncle saml

got the red, white, and blue flyin' high on the farm
semper fi tattooed on his left arm
spends a little more at the store for a tag in the back that says u.s.a.
won't buy nothin' that he can't fix,
with wd40 and a craftsman wrench
he ain't prejudice he's just, made in America

made in America
made in America

my old man's that old man,
he's made in America


It does seem pretty crazy that we do not pay any attention to the fact that we depend so heavily on foreign products, particularly when we have such a poor employment rate in this country. Can you imagine the change that would happen in this country if we turned things around and started paying attention? We should buy, use and sell American products. We should remember how fortunate we are to be born into this country. I am among many Americans that get chills when I hear the old classic songs like the great Alabama hit “Proud to be an American”. Unfortunately I am in the same majority that does not pay attention to what I can do to protect this country. It is not just up to the politicians and military. I am pretty sure we as citizens can have a pretty huge impact if we would just open up our eyes and see how we can help. God bless America.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dear God,

I have always heard, you have to have quiet time with God every day. Throughout my spiritual life I have done this off and on, and yet time and time again I find myself getting out of the "habit". When this happens it seems my focus in life quickly becomes superficial and selfish. It is amazing to me that when I give God a little bit of time everyday (when the TV is not on) I find that quickly my worries and concerns about my own life seem to be placed on the back burner and I start praying for other people. I love how God will always bring you back to reality and remind you that there are other people with worse problems. I am then able to be so grateful for all I do have and all of the amazing blessings in my life. There are always going to be trials and "irritating moments" but at the end of the day God is always there to remind you to put him in the center and watch it all fall into place. There are a lot of "journal writers" out there, and I know they can relate to looking back at previous entries and seeing how much has changed in their lives. I started a few years ago with my prayers. During my quiet time with God I write down my prayers. My prayer journal has truly become an outlet where I feel God speaking to me. I begin to write down things I did not even know I needed to pray for. I pray for other people even if I don't know exactly what is going on. There are even moments when I feel led to let them know I am praying. I cannot explain how amazing it has been to look back at all the answered prayers in the last few years. My grandmother, Jo, was the first person I ever saw do this. I have numerous stories where her written prayers have been answered years later. However, several weeks ago God really reminded me of how perfect his timing is. When I first asked Jesus to come into my heart I was six years old riding in a car with my grandmother and mother. Jo was always a true testimony of a woman who lived for Christ. She gave me "a Christian basket" as my gift at my baptism.  She told me to put all the special items throughout my life that remind me of how God is working. Byron and I moved to New Orleans in April of this year and brought entirely too much with us, of course. Fortunately we have a storage unit at our house. One night I could not sleep and I felt a strong sense of urgency to go to the storage unit and look in my Christian basket. A part of me thought this is insane but after laying there for a couple hours I finally decided to listen to my gut feeling. I dug through the storage unit and finally found the basket. I started to go through the items and I saw a letter in an envelope addressed to me from 1993. I of course could not remember what this letter was about. It was from Jo and as I started reading it I was overwhelmed with emotion. During the time of this letter I was in third grade and facing normal "elementary problems" that I vaguely remember now. As I kept reading she spoke about three different prayer concerns at that time and how God led her to write me this letter. What is absolutely amazing and can only be from God is that the three issues my family and I were going through in 1993 were also issues in our lives now! They were in different forms but the same struggles! Then I read the line that sent chills running up my spine, she stated what she believed was in store for our family. I knew that in two days we were going to know if what she stated 18 years ago was going to be true or not. Guess what, it was! How amazing is our God? I just sat there in amazement. I could not believe that I still had that letter 18 years later, when I lived in New Orleans and at the exact moment when my family needed it the most. I was reminded of God's presence and guidance in prayers the other day when I decided to vent through social media about something that was I was going through. There were two amazing Christian women in my life that both wrote and told me how God spoke to them to talk to me about what I was going through. I felt comforted and humbled through two amazing women that listened when God told them to contact me. Thank you Lord for always finding a way to be heard even when we are not listening! I am so glad that my grandmother had that quiet time with God that evening in 1993 and that he revealed himself to me through that letter almost two decades later. I now know that my prayer journal is not only for growth in my personal relationship with God but for others as well. It is not so bad when we realize that if we learn to not focus on ourselves it all just seems to come together much easier. This is a daily stuggle but I pray through time God will turn this selfish heart into one that learns to live for him all the time, not just when things seem to be going "my way."

Romans 8:26
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Good o'l Days

So I must admit I have two, very obvious to those who know me well,  guilty pleasures....

 The first is too watch the Food Network (mainly Paula Deen) and then make the delicious creations with my own little spin on them. I know exactly where I got my love for cooking and eating from, my wonderful paternal grandmother, Rose Ellen Bolick. She mastered everything she ever made. It was the absolute best version of the dish imaginable. I find myself craving her meals and sometimes I feel like I walk into a kitchen and the smell takes me right back to sitting at her table. Every bite just melting in your mouth with her very contagious laughter at her own stories in the background. When I was little I used to love it when she would get done cooking and give me the leftover "scraps" like the peelings from her vegetables and I could go outside and create the most elaborate mud pies you have ever seen! It was a passion that has always been with me and I know it was passed down from her to me. She passed away on a rainy day in April last year. We knew it was coming but the sense of loss and tradition that left our family that day was what we all knew was coming. And it is true it has not been the same without her.

I have been blessed beyond measure because God gave me and absolute amazing maternal grandmother as well. This precious woman was a second mother to me, someone I went to for advice from everything from what earrings to wear to what boys to not date! And through her I developed my second guilty pleasure which is shopping! I know most girls can say this however with this woman, Jo Fortune Williams, she made it an art. She could consignment shop like no one had ever seen. She found treasures every time, and I get that same passion from her, I love the hunt! But don't worry she could also find some amazing deals at the highest end retail stores out there. And boy could the woman accessorize! She loved big chunky pieces of jewelry and bright bold colors. When I was little I had no interest in going to the toy store, I wanted clothes. That is what made my Christmas list every year! My senior year of college I was working at a clothing boutique and I was sitting at the counter and glanced over and saw a keepsake box that had been unpacked for the accessory table. It was made of old colored glass and had an angel on top of it. I thought to myself  "Mamaz" would love this. Just a couple hours later my mother calls me and says that Mamaz had been taken to the emergency room. A few days later she went on to be with Jesus. I went to the boutique a couple days after the funeral and saw the box again and purchased it for my mother. I have noticed more and more throughout the years I find different pieces in stores that are hidden and unnoticed and it feels "therapeutic" in some way. I love it, just as much as she did. She is and will always be part of who I am, especially when I shop!

I find myself going back to my life when they were here and I think to myself "life is just not as sweet without them here" and that is true. However, we are always living in a time where one day we will look back and say "God was teaching me this at that time and I wish I would have paid closer attention to that". So in reality, we are always living in the "good o'l days". There is always something we can miss. We just have to remember what it taught us. I can not wait to relive my grandmothers lives with my children one day. Byron and I went to dinner the other night and we ended up sitting in the restaurant and talking about our grandfathers for two hours. All four men impacted our lives in so many ways even though we were children when they passed on. What legacies they have left for future generations. Isn't that what life is all about? Trying to live in the moment today and even though we are so far way from our friends and family these days we still carry with us all they have taught and shared with us. Life is sweet, even when a little sweetness is lost when those we love pass on, there is still so much left to share and remember.

Why I wrote this today is because my sister just called me to say my Aunt Harriett just passed away. She was the sister of Jo. I feel such a sense of loss about losing this entire generation. But what God has shown me today is that we can find a true comfort in their memory and to pass those memories on. And how cool is it when we find that their influence has developed some of the same passions we find in ourselves?