I’m Not Who I Used To Be

Praise the Lord I’m not who I used to be. I am no longer the girl who is seeking acceptance where ever it is given. I am not the girl who is seeking approval from the wrong type of people. I am now the woman who is secure in who she is as an individual. I am a woman who is stepping into her purpose. And I am a woman who is learning to listen in the quiet for direction from the Lord and discerning His voice from my own.

There was a period in my life that I was not living a life that I am particularly proud of. I was making decisions that I knew were wrong. Decisions that I knew my mother would disapprove of, and if my mother would disapprove of those decisions, then I definitely know they were not decisions the Lord would smile upon. During that period of my life, I did what I wanted and I did these things in order to “fit”in, but also to please a boy, who at that time, was not worthy of my affections. No matter what I did to hold onto him, it was never enough. You see it was not meant for me to be with him then or to even keep him.

Let me backtrack just a little bit, throughout high school and into college, I was extremely involved in church. I was in the youth group in high school and after I graduated I became a leader in the youth group and also started attending the College and Career group. I had a close group of friends who fiercely loved the Lord and I have to say life was really good; however, there was an inner curiosity inside of me about the “world” that tugged at me. The inner wild child, as my mother calls it, that was itching to break out, and when I started my first job after high school the doors to the outside world burst open and I went running through them. For the first time in my short life I was surrounded by people who were living in the world and did not have the constraints of the church holding them back from experiencing life. I don’t say this meaning that the church holds people back, but in my marginal experience, as a teenager, all I could see were rules. Rules telling me what I could and could not do, rules telling me what I should and shouldn’t say, rules inside my mother’s house that I felt were so strict that I was not allowed to live the life I thought I wanted. It did not take long for the lifestyle of my coworkers to start appealing to me, and along with that life came a boy who started whispering in my ear all the things that my young and naïve heart wanted to hear.

In the beginning, I tried to integrate him into my world, but it didn’t take long for him to pull me from my comfortable life into his chaotic and careless lifestyle. Like me, he was running from strict parents and a comfortable lifestyle and for whatever reason, we found each other and saw something in the other person that we thought we wanted. As Christians, we learn the importance of being equally yoked, and it probably took 10 years, my entire 20s, for me to actually learn and understand what that truly means. At the tender age of 20 I fell in love and we were not equally yoked. When I say I fell in love, I mean truly, madly, deeply in love. I fell with both eyes closed and a heart completely open. I walked blindly into a relationship that pulled me away from everything that I knew to be right and true. I stopped hanging with my friends and replaced them with his friends, I stopped spending time at the church and replaced it with late night kickbacks in empty parking lots. I gave away my innocence because it is what I believed I should do in order to prove my love to this other person. I did this against my better judgment because I knew it was wrong, I knew it was not what the Lord wanted for me, but I also believed it was what I needed to do in order to solidify and keep my relationship. Trust me when I say this, sex does not ensure you will hold onto someone, all it does is give your power away to another person. It ensures that this other person can hurt you more deeply than you can ever imagine.

That relationship did not give me what I thought I was seeking out of life and out of a partnership, it pulled me further and further away from the Lord. It pulled me from my family, from my friends, it compromised my morals, and it left me completely broken. More broken than I had ever been, up until that point, in my entire life. But praise the Lord, I’m not her anymore.

Have you ever prayed for the Lord to do something, left it at the Lord’s feet, and walked away trusting He will answer your prayers? Well, in my complete and total brokeness I prayed for the Lord to make me forget the love I had for this person. To take away the hurt that shattered my tender heart into a million pieces and then I left it. I’m not sure if I really 100% believed that something as big as this prayer could be answered. Everyday I got up, I went through the motions and I trudged through the days until one day the tears dried up and it didn’t hurt to breathe anymore. I no longer kept my phone next to me waiting for a message that would never come. I can’t give you an exact time line because honestly I don’t know how long it took, but one day I was talking to a friend who was there from the beginning to the end of the tumultuous relationship and she asked me if I remembered something I had said or done in the midst of this relationship and I tried to recall various stories she would tell me, and to this day I have no recollections of certain time spans within that relationship. That is when I realized just how BIG AND MERCIFUL my God is. That is when I saw how REAL my God is because HE answered my prayers. Praise the Lord He delivered me from the dangerous path that I was on, and I would love to say I learned my lesson right away, but that wouldn’t be the truth. I made a few more bad choices along the way, but that is part of my journey. Mistakes allow us to see God work in our favor, it allows us to rely on Him. That is the cool thing about the Lord, everyday we mess up and fall short of His glory and He loves us anyhow. He is standing by waiting for us to seek Him and seek His forgiveness. He loves us fiercely and unconditionally. I don’t have children of my own, but I see how my friends love their children, I know how my mother loves us, and it gives me a glimpse into how much our heavenly Father must love us, His children. He wants nothing more than for us to turn away from our sinful nature and seek Him. Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (NIV).

I will end the way I started, Praise the Lord I’m no who I used to be and thank you Lord for the promise of who I will be!

How Are You…Really?

Good morning everyone!!!!! I have been absent for a few days attending a lovely wedding of a dear family friend in San Antonio, Texas; however, I am back and ready to jump right back in with you all.

On the drive back from San Antonio, I had quite a bit of time on my hands, I mean, we were in the car for 8 hours. So, I began reading a book, and it ask this question, “How are you…Really?” Why is this such a hard question for us to answer? I mean, everyday that we wake up, we know as soon as we open our eyes how we are feeling. Right? But, when someone asks us how we are we struggle to answer this question. We gloss over what we are really feeling, we lie, or we just shrug it off, I mean, who really wants to know exactly how I am. In my experience, sometimes, people don’t know how to respond when you answer honestly. I will be the first to raise my hand and say that when someone tells me, “I’m going through something and life is just really tough for me right now,” I don’t always know the right thing to say. The other side is, when someone asks us how we are , we immediately think, they don’t want to hear my problems. I’m going to raise my hand once again and say I don’t always answer honestly to this question either. Who wants to hear what is really going on in my life; they have enough problems of their own, why do they need to hear my #firstworldproblems.

Here’s something that we should keep in the front of our minds when it comes to this question, we don’t always have to have the “right” response! I know, sounds so easy right, but clearly, we all know this isn’t as easy as it sounds. I think our world teaches us that we always have to have a positive upbeat response to people. We have to fix whatever is wrong with them, so we are programmed to say; I’m good, I’m blessed, I’m well, or my favorite response, I could complain, but I won’t.

Here’s a simple truth, we’re not always good, we don’t always feel the blessings of the Lord, because sometimes we are going through some really heavy stuff, and we allow it to block our communication with the Lord. We allow it to block us from feeling grace towards ourselves. The first step is being honest with ourselves, and looking in the mirror and saying, “today, I don’t feel that great,” and from that step then we can take the next step to getting to where we need to be to be able to honestly answer the BIG question.

For those who ask this BIG question, know this, you don’t always have to have the “right” answer, or response. Sometimes, we are placed to just listen, and when we do respond, we should respond with love and sincerity.

As I have mentioned before in other post, I was raised in a Baptist church singing gospel songs. This morning when I woke up, a song that I have not heard in years and years was running through my head, the lyrics so like this;

                         Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet.  When God   gets through with me, I shall come forth as pure gold. 

Growing up, I did not really understand the meaning of this song, but today, I can understand it a little better…as long as we are walking on this earth, we are not going to be perfect, life is not going to be easy, we are not always going to respond in the way we should, BUT there will come a day when our work here is complete and we are on the other side of heaven, and we will shine like gold. As long as we are walking on Earth, we will be a work in progress, we won’t always be good or alright, we will face hard days and we will feel less than ok. When those days come, we can respond, “today, I don’t feel my best.” We can be honest with ourselves and others, and we don’t have to respond with the cookie cutter answer and say, “oh, well it will get better.” Because real talk, some days we don’t need an answer, we just need an ear that will listen and tell us, you don’t have to always be ok!

Today I will say this to you, I just (literally right now) pulled a white hair from my head, I feel just a little bit old. (LOL), actually I pulled out two. Be blessed today my friends.

 

Let’s Get Real

When I was thinking about my topic of discussion for the night, I thought I was going to share a completely different part of me tonight. Those of you who know me, and have known me for a long time, you know what I imagined my future husband to look like. I was very clear about what I was looking for in my life partner. Let me clarify, I knew what I wanted my partner to look like, but not what I wanted his heart to look like. In the past year or so, I’ve thought about what type of person I was interested in. I was no longer focusing on the physical but now on the mental and spiritual. I had these ridiculous deal breakers in my mind, and they were all superficial. I decided that I wanted my future husband to have dark skin, to have tattoos, to be able to sing, to love Jesus was not the first deal breaker on my list; these were the things I would say I was looking for. I shake my head now as I think about how flighty my list was. There was also one other thing I was clear on, this person had to have very different traits than the relationships from my past. When you have no true foundations or rules, you will accept what you have and not seek what you want or need for a successful relationship.

In September, I went to Dallas to visit with my sister, and while there we went to her church. (She attends an amazing church in the Dallas MetroPlex, and has a Pastor that leads his sheep with such grace and love). While in church, I felt that the Lord changed my heart as to what and who I was looking for in my future husband. In a church full of people, men, women, boys and girls, I felt that the Lord placed on my heart that I would marry a Pastor. I struggled with if I should share this with anyone, if maybe I just decided that I would marry a Pastor, but I felt it very strongly in my spirit. The other thing I thought; this is way too  out there for me to just come up with that idea. I mean, I have a lot of issues that I need to work on within myself, I am not pastor’s wife material. I mean, I see my pastor’s wife, and she is full of so much compassion for others, she is involved, she pays attention and knows people’s names. I mean, I am compassionate and I care about others, but I still have some work to do. LOL.

So, I am staying with that, and believing that I will find my pastor in the future, and I will be everything that a pastor’s wife should be. One thing that I also think about though is, when you are in that role, there are eyes on you at all times, and people can place some unhealthy and hurtful expectations upon you. I think, am I ready for this? If this is truly of the Lord, He will continue to work with and on me, to prepare me for the future.

Here’s another thing, this is not what I was supposed to discuss with you all tonight. I was supposed to talk about the crossroads in my life and what I my future looked like in the aspect of employment. Funny thing, speaking about my future husband was my initial plan for this post tonight. I guess this is what I was meant to share with you after all.

Be blessed, and as I have asked before, please continue to pray for me as I pray for you all too!

Man, When Will It Be My Turn?

As I have mentioned before, I am currently reading through “Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans” by Wendy Pope. I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone who is in a season of waiting, because this will let you know that you are not alone in your wait, and it will also give you direction while in your wait. But moving on, today discussed waiting turning into a wilderness experience. This particular chapter reiterated a topic that I have discussed more than once with my friends and family. This topic is when we get impatient in our wait and we try to force God’s timing.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with my friend about when we pray to God for something and it is not happening; so we make a move on our own. We are like, God this is what I want, and He says No, this is not what you need. Then, we in turn say, but this is really what want, and again He say’s No. And, in our selfishness and impatience we insist that YES this is what we want, and God finally says, Fine then here you go. And what is the end result? A huge mess, and we end up dissatisfied with what we insisted was right for us. When we get impatient in our wait, it is important to remember that God’s timing is perfect, and prayer can redirect our focus to God and away from the object of our wait.

I have learned in my 30+ years of living, that rushing into decisions leaves me wanting more. I get to where I think I want to be, or doing what I want to do, and I am dissatisfied with the end results. I am left empty and wanting more out of my day-to-day interactions and activities. This is why I have chosen to be still in this season of my life and listen for God direction. To wait for His perfect timing. Can I tell y’all, I have been feeling content with my day to day activities and life lately. I am applying what I am learning to my life and I am sharing with my friends and coworkers my journey. There is a contentment within my spirit that I haven’t felt in a long time. I know I have said this before, I am excited with what the Lord has planned for me. I am not choosing to focus on what I am waiting on, but instead I am praising the Lord in the hallway I am currently in and waiting for a door or a window to open.

So, I question, when will it be my turn? Well the answer to that question is…When the Lord says “Tia, it’s your time!”

Remember Who’s Really In Charge

I keep going back and forth on if I should comment on this election or not. I should preface this by saying, that I am not the most political person. I don’t get caught up in the arguments on Facebook, and I rarely stand on a soapbox to give long drawn out speeches. However, in the past few days I have read such disturbing comments and post that it is getting increasingly hard for me to bite my tongue. When I say I’ve read disturbing post, it is coming from both sides of the spectrum. Somewhere along the way, we’ve thrown our morals and ethics out the window and it has become a free for all. People are getting diarrhea of the mouth, and they could care less who they offend with their words. When did we become so insensitive to the plight of others? Regardless of who is voted into the office, it does not give a pass to spew hate, and this did not just start 2 days ago, or even a year ago. (So please don’t twist my words around for your own agenda, this post is not to endorse one group over another)

As a country we are going through big changes, and regardless who won the office, today people would be feeling the same exact way. Why? Well because their candidate did not win, and they are upset about it. The problem is, people are in the streets and behind computer screens losing their minds, and how is this productive to our country? How is this making us better?

As Christians, we need to remember who is really in charge and who our true leader is. We do not serve man, but we serve an ever-loving God. Regardless of who is running the US, God is still on His thrown! We live in a country where we have been afforded so many freedoms that others do not. We are blessed beyond measure, and no we are all not going to agree on everything, but that does not mean that we begin to treat each other as less than because I voted differently than you. What we need to do is try and understand each other. My experiences in life are completely different that the next person. I see speaking on race relationships, and it breaks my heart. Some people can not see past their privilege to understand the strife of the next person.

Now I mention privilege, I am not going to say white privilege, I am opening up to American Privilege. This is the title of a song by an amazing singer songwriter Allen Stone, and it talks about this touchy topic. In America we have privileges that we shouldn’t take advantage of; however, we should also try to understand each other and understand that we are not all on the same journey, and we do not all have the same struggles. Our own privilege has blinded us to what is happening in the lives of our neighbors, and it has kept us from being compassionate Let’s be a little sensitive to one another and stop pointing fingers and name calling.

One verse I want to leave with you all before I sign off for the day is Deuteronomy 8:10 You shall bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given to you. As I stated before, regardless who is in charge of this country, we need to remember who governs our lives and that is the Lord.

Gaining the Unexpected

Today I had the thought, I’m not going to write anything today, but as I was going through my daily study, the message resonated in me to share with you all today. Today, I read about when waiting meets the unexpected. I’m not sure if I have mentioned what I am currently reading, but it is titled “Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans” and the author is Wendy Pope. I HIGHLY recommend this book to you, it is blessing me in ways I never expected. So, in the insight portion, Pope asks the question, “Who has God unexpectedly brought into your life to help you as you wait?”

Well, at first, I thought, I just decided I was in a season of waiting a week ago, and no one has really come into my life to help me with this time as of yet. But, the more I thought about it, I realized, I have been in a season of waiting for longer than a week; I just cognitively  decided to be “actively” waiting within the past week. I began to think more about my life over the past year and a half, and I quickly realized that YES the Lord has indeed placed someone new in my life to help me as I wait.

I really hope she does not get upset with me for sharing her with the world, but the person the Lord placed into my life started as just my boss. I was her assistant, Leticia Morales. We have talked about this before, and I honestly think the Lord placed us in each others lives at the perfect time. She was going through her issues, and I was being placed into her store and I was struggling with finding my confidence again. I have known who Leticia was for many years, we’ve worked for the same company for almost 10 years and had mutual friends, however, I never actually knew her on a personal level. I hesitantly walked into her store and we sat down and talked. Over the days, weeks, and months, we grew a new friendship, and kind of became each others rocks through some difficult times in each of our lives.

I value this woman, and she has become my hero over the past year. Many of you know, and others don’t, but my birth father passed away in March. After he passed, I lost my joy for a little bit. I put on a brave face for everyone around me and went on with my life until I sat across the desk from Leticia and bawled my eyes out, and was more emotionally raw with her than I have been with another person in a long time, and she let me feel. She did not judge me, she did not give me any meaningless words to try to make me feel better, she just let me feel. That was the day that I realized, she is more than just my boss, this woman is my friend, and she has an amazing heart. We share our faith with each other, and that is such an awesome feeling to be working side by side with someone who shares the same beliefs with you and you are able to talk about it freely and listen to worship music while completing inventory counts.

Around 4 months ago, my dear friend was diagnosed with cancer and started going through treatment. Throughout this season of her life, her spirit has shown stronger than any other time in her life. I called her one day, just to check on her, and she said you know, I’m not going to complain because this is part of the process that I have to go through to get through this, and the Lord is taking care of me. Those words shook me deeply, because she could have complained and cried and told me all the things that she was actually feeling, but she responded positively. Right then and there, I saw the strength that was inside of this woman. Also, in the midst of all of this, I called her with my problems, and she gave me such an encouraging word that continues to resonate with me.

God placed Leticia in my life and I did not even know it was part of his plan. Before I even recognized I was in my season of waiting He was preparing me. She has been her true self and carried herself with such grace and dignity when facing the biggest giants of her adult life. I am so blessed to be able to know her and call her my friend!

Waiting…

So, I’ve been reading all over social media today this particular quote “Regardless who wins the election tonight, tomorrow God will still be on the throne.” This is very true, whoever becomes our president tomorrow, does not change who we as Christians serve. It does not change our salvation, and it does not determine our blessings. However, tonight as I am sittings watching the news tonight and waiting impatiently to see who our next leader will be I can’t help but think, this is the ultimate symbol of waiting.

We oftentimes wait to see God move in our lives and we wait impatiently. We want to know what is going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and how it will happen. Although, by the end of the night, we will have an answer to the leader of our country, we should be aware that this journey did not just start today. These people have been on the trail for days, months, and years to get to this ultimate destination. In our lives, waiting on the Lord, is the same concept. Yes we want immediate gratification, but the Lord tells us that we must be still and wait for His perfect timing. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in prayer for everything…let your request be known to God.”

I’ve never though about what it truly means to be still. Yes, life is hectic, we constantly have things going on that interrupt the stillness, but I’ve never actually took time to think about being still in the Lord. It actually means taking time out of the day and embracing the quiet. Seeking His word and listening for His voice. When life gets too loud and the nonsense starts to creep in and take over, we need to know where to seek refuge. Times like today, we need to seek refuge in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding.
Waiting on God is NOT wasting time; it’s training time. It is our time to not doubt and complain, but it is our time to build our foundation and build our trust in Him.

Lord, help me to hear Your voice clearly. Help me to quiet all the noise and distractions and really get to know You on a more personal level. Lord help me to continually seek refuge in You and not in the world. Help me to be pleasing in Your sight.