Taking My Shoes Off

Image

As a young professionals, we have days where we wake up and think, yes I am looking good. That was me today, pencil skirt to my knees nice black shirt. I was looking right. Until I finished my 10 minute walk from my parking garage to my building and realized that my skirt had completely turned and the split was now on the side of my thigh instead of behind me (like it started). So imagine me trying to fix my skirt in horror and hope that no one is in the stair well so I can fix it, only to have a man graciously come out of the stairwell as I am entering it in utter distress. He leaves; I attempt to straighten my skirt. Then I think “okay I will fix the rest when I get to my office.” As I am walking to my office I see my reflection in the windows and realized the 10 minute walk also destroyed my hair and of course, humidity has permission to take hold of any hairdo and mess it up.

Needless to say I thought I looked cute until I got work and had to “get dressed” all over again.

Today with my outfit all messed up, I was reminded that life happens. Skirts get turned around and your hair gets messed up. Nothing is perfect. I have wrestled with trying to be the perfect in my relationship with God, it was tiring and stressful. I’ve spent a lot of time dressing up for church and “dressing” up as a Christian. All the while, I was feeling like I was in a box and had to love and serve Jesus a certain way. Recently, Romans 14:22-23 has helped me a lot in this area.

I graduated from college with bachelors in social work and an associate’s degree in Biblical Studies- and I still had questions about God. I wondered if that was allowed, but inwardly I wondered if all of the things I had been told growing up truly reflected the heart of God.

I’ll admit I have had moments of real unbalance where I was just angry with Christians and really did not want to be associated with the callus words that were brought to life through their fb status. I just did not want to be a part of showing hatred to people with different views than me. I really wondered if this was who we have become as Christians. Do we really treat people this way? Do I treat people this way?

I was wrestling with why I believed what I believed but I wasn’t talking about it.

RELIGION NEVER BECKONED ME TO TAKE MY SHOES OFF and get dirty.

I watched this TED talk with Brene Brown about vulnerability.

I realized that I was not a vulnerable person. Am I honest with people, like really honest? No. Remember I am the one trying to put myself together in the stairwell before I get to my desk. I have not been really vulnerable with anyone except my family and two friends.

I talked with my “brother” Jerome and Shonda and they gave me some life changing advice. 

They gave me the Permission to Wrestle and did not condemn me.

That changed everything.

The permission to wrestle led me through a deep season of self-evaluation.

Earlier this year in a matter of months, everything I had in place and all my plans had been stripped away. It was me and Jesus and that was when the work began.  During this time I never heard the audible voice of God but through these books 7 by Jen Hatmaker and Love Does by Bob Goff, reading my Bible, worship, and prayer I put myself in the position to ask some hard questions. How was I behaving? Was any of my behavior reflecting the heart of Jesus? How long had I been missing the main point of my whole existence on this earth- to love people and lead them to Jesus? Not lead them to believe they had to do all this STUFF to stay right with Him. I was worn out from being regimented in my faith.

I have spent more time in the past two months digging deep and addressing real issues of my heart than I have in my whole life. Granted I am young, but it’s so easy to use age as an excuse. I refuse to use age as a reason to not address my mess and my issues. Yes I said mess and issues because guess what, we all have STUFF. Everyone’s stuff looks different. For me lately is has been defining who Jesus is to me. It has been about dissecting everything I was taught and searching out the heart of God. It’s been about me truly finding him and him wrecking me and changing my view of this world.

So here is what I have found out over the past months:

  • My desire to love Jesus and please him has increased
  • My longing to love people like Jesus has caused me to be more compassionate and less judgmental
  • I used to be awful with talking about people, it was easy, now I barely do it (I am not going to lie and say I don’t do it all because that is not the truth however it’s greatly improved and I am really growing in this area.)
  • I spend less time trying to figure out why people do what they do, and more time loving them
  • I am even more passionate about justice, the orphan, and teen mothers
  • I haven’t invited someone to church since I was in junior high (because all my friends were Christians) until yesterday when I invited a co-worker who said they would think about it.
  • I have found freedom in defining my relationship with Christ and not feeling like it needs to look like someone else’s relationship.
  • I need the Bible. I tried to go without it for a while but that did not work out too well. I need to read the Bible in order to learn how to live more like Jesus. I do not have a regimented “quiet time” but I make time to read my bible and pray through out my day. No day looks the same. Sometimes I miss days reading my Bible. That is okay too. 
  • Having a body of believers to fellowship with is essential and it is great to be plugged into a church. Also, you also won’t be stoned if you don’t get to church on a Sunday morning or if you watched online. It is important to connect with people that can encourage you.
  • I’ve found that being honest with myself has allowed me to embrace who I am and to really love myself.
  • Keep Jesus Simple.

 

 It’s in the moments where I am not rushing to “fix” myself and keep it together that I can actually take my shoes off and give them away to a homeless woman with gladness. It’s in those moments where Jesus works on me the most, when I am tangibly living how he lived and not just reading it and memorizing it. 

 

XoXo,

Image

 

Born to Dream

Elizabeth Beaman Newman Photography
Elizabeth Beaman Newman Photography

 

I have always felt that I was born to be a dreamer. I spent most of my time as a child writing and dreaming about my future. I often dreamt about who I would become or changing the world at a young age. Although “what I wanted to be when I grew up” changed quite a bit; the one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do things at a young age because age shouldn’t define me. These were my anchors as a child. I wrote about them. Dreamed about them. Daydreamed about them. Prayed about them. And cried over these anchors, that glued my heart to cling to the belief that one day I would fulfill this passion I had inside of me. I really did not know what that passion was, YET.

But I was hooked. I was dreaming all the time.

When I was 14 at a small youth group a man prayed over me and I got a picture in my heart of what God called me to do. I quite quickly gained a heart for teen mothers. So much so I have journals filled with pictures and drawings. I talked about having a non-profit for teen mom’s all the time. My parents just encouraged me to keep dreaming. I made up a vision collage of my dreams for the children and teen mothers (it’s till hanging on my wall). This dream and passion consumed me in the best possible way.

If my parents didn’t encourage me to act upon my dreams, I would have become content with just writing about this dream and never daring to step out in faith and launch it. I would just pray for a long-long-long time and hope that maybe one day I would have everything I needed to start it without stepping out in faith and trusting God to meet me. Its way easier to dream and dream some more; but it is a whole different idea to step out of the box and trust that the dream won’t always be a dream- it was meant to be birthed.

There is something sacred about the celebration of a new life entering this world. It’s as if the room builds with anticipation to hear that baby cry and take its first breath outside of the womb. Nine months of intense development and intricate design go into creating a new life. Once that baby is born a whole new adventure begins for parents-Its sacred and hard and beautiful all at same time.

I think of dreams in the same way. They are not meant to stay dreams. They are meant to be birthed. I dare to say that we all have dreams. We are all dreamers. The greater question would be, are any of us actually in labor? You know who you are- maybe your notebook(s) are full of vision and dreams and plans. What are we doing? Will our God given dreams ever breathe life into those around us? People need your music, writing, accounting abilities, dance, science, and technology. Whatever you are passionate about- don’t just let your dreams fall by the wayside.  Bring them into action. Do something. Trust that God will meet you on the water and you will not sink. He will never fail you.

“What about you and your non-profit for teen moms?” Glad you brought that back up, It’s happening. The name of my non-profit is Hannah’s Hope. I have wrestled for years about when I should begin the process of starting a non-profit. Do I really have what it takes? Am I making the right decision? What about finances and raising money? Volunteers? Am I old enough- will people listen to me?

I have a lot of questions but I have also learned to have a lot of faith too. I could wrestle about this forever but for me if I truly trust him, I will walk on water and I will not sink.

So that means the process for beginning my own non-profit has begun. If you want to learn more about it or give towards the filing cost with the state of Texas and IRS let me know. We are all in this together.

I believe our generation has the power to change things-to shake things up.

So lets dream. Step-Out. & Trust Jesus as we walk with him through every mountain top, valley, victory, and storm.

 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6

 

Always,

 

Faitth

We weren’t always this close…

MOTHERS DAY is a day to celebrate these wonderful selfless human beings that raise children who eventually become presidents, doctors, pastors, scientist, architects, athletes, musicians, and daughters that one day become mothers. 

As a child I was closer to my dad than my mom. I thought my mom was not cool. She did not dress cool like the other moms. She was not “hip” like I wanted her to be (real selfish right?!) and I did not understand her. We are already completely opposite personality wise. I could have sworn that God gave me the wrong mother. I was a good kid but once I turned 10 my mom and I had a rough road ahead. I never wanted her to be around my friends. She was not cool enough. I even had the audacity to try (notice I said try because it did not work) and ignore her in public. I remember a season where weren’t getting along. I was constantly saying hurtful things and giving her a hard time. It was rough #TheStruggle. There are so many stories I could tell but just know, I had plenty of come to Jesus meetings with my mom during those pre-teen/teen years. She was a force to be reckoned with and Lord knows you do not mess with a black momma.

Thankfully college and distance helped our relationship to really have time to grow and develop. After I graduated from college I needed a roommate to live with in Houston. I desperately wanted to live in the city. So my mom packed up her stuff and moved to the city a few months before me. We had a rough start as “grown” up roommates. Let me tell you, I have been trying for a year to get another roommate but it just doesn’t work out. We have become such buddies. My mom has literally become my best friend. I completely understand her now. In fact, I am so humbled that I get to be her daughter. She may have held me up in 300 + prayer meetings growing up but she taught me how to talk to God and listen for his voice. She taught me how to serve others, how to forgive quickly, extend grace, be a lady, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and chase after my dreams. If I tell my mom my biggest dream, she says, “Yes I can see that. Lets get started, lets make it happen!” She is the most incredible human being I have ever met. I wouldn’t trade her as a roommate for anything! What fun we have! Movie nights, running together, praying together, laughing together, and watching our favorite shows. Did I mention that she is a counselor? So yes, I get free informal counseling sessions. She is keeping me in line people. She is the best. I want to love and display Jesus to people the way she does to me on a daily basis.

So to all you mommies out there. You are doing a great job. If in moments we kids don’t seem to like you, don’t worry it will get better. We will learn that you were right about a lot of stuff. We will learn how much we need you and value you. Its a process but trust me, we will get it. You all are the most precious people and I admire each and everyone of you.

 

Happy Mothers Day to all!

 

ImageImageImageImage

Solitude

I have just spent 20 days in Solitude. No social media. Now I thought this would be easy, I even tried to journal about my experience daily and I’ll include a few entries below.

Day one of solitude and I’ve probably looked at my phone to click on Instagram or Twitter about 15-20 times already. Giving up Facebook hasn’t been that bad since signed off a few days ago but I was still looking at instagram. Pretty much all the pics on instagram are on fb which means I’m not missing anything. So thus, I strip away instagram and twitter along with fb and I am in for 20 solid days of no social media. I may not know what to do with myself. The whole purpose of me doing this is to read and pray and write. And get my head on straight. Whatever that looks like. Who is really “straight” and perfectly together? No one. Absolutely no one. So whatever. I’m trying to get focused.

Its been two hours of me being at home and I feel like my brain is going crazy. I am trying to find something to do. I feel like time is passing by slowly. I sit and read (I am seriously enjoying 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Get the book and read it.). Yep, only 20 minutes has passed. Also, I’m not watching my shows this week so things are quiet in my room, real quiet.

My mom asked me to go run so I conceded with the motivation that I was going to stop at the galleria and get a Cinnabon. Yes. I love Cinnabon and I haven’t had one in a year. So I felt that I could negate my run eat 880 calories unashamedly. At least I ran to get it and ran home to eat it? That probably doesn’t make this any better. Oh well:)

ImageMy cinnabon.

 

Even with our little detour, my mom and I still finished our 3 miles in under 30 minutes. She ran while eating ice cream and I ran with my cinnabon. It was quite hilarious & a great memory.

–The rest of the 20 days consisted of me reading, praying, and seeking God. Truly letting go of old stuff that has hindered me and recieving healing in areas I didn’t know needed healing. It’s really freeing to just be honest with yourself but it’s also painful. Those 20 days were full of joy, pain, and surrender.

On my last day I wrote this:

Its only fitting that at the end of this solitude time away from social media that I finish 7 by Jen Hatmaker and cry. lol This is becoming quite typical of me. My emotions and passion meet and often I am crying happy/sad tears at the same time.

During solitude, I have learned my entitlement to the “best” has led me farther from God because I was the one choosing my will. My vision was so blurred and I couldn’t hear God’s subtle whispers. I felt like I was doing everything right and yet nothing was going my way. I have served God faithfully and stayed out of “trouble”. I would think to myself: “For real God, quit playing, I know I haven’t been acting crazy and stuff. Have you forgotten about me?” My actions were “right” but my heart was all wrong. “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9

No amount of perfection will help you to earn what you want. Entitelment doesn’t move the hand of God. Any blessing we receive is simply because he loves us. Not because of how good we are. So here I am passionately pursing the heart of God (or so I thought) and nothing is going my way. I thought I deserved what my heat desired in the timing I wanted and the way I wanted. Instead, God is closing doors left and right. I am trying to go back and open them.

I had it all wrong. Not a little wrong but all wrong. I have wrestled with these feelings of entitlement for so long. I have wrestled with feeling left out. I was too focused on everyone else’s lane/life and comparing my journey to theirs. This toxic mentality did not bring me closer to the heart of God. It led me further away from him.

In my solitude I was sweetly broken. Humbled. Put in a place to really hear His heart and repent for my selfish behavior. It was so ugly and awful. It’s in my ugly and awful moments that I am thankful for his unconditional love. He loves me well and displayed his unconditional love through my family and friends over those 20 days. I am truly blessed to be loved by such an amazing group of people.

Of course I ended my solitude time in His presence at his feet with some amazing women. God met me there.

Untitled.jpg

Stupid People

Lately, I have feel like I have been surrounded by “grown up” children. I find myself ranting to my mom about the people I am graced to interact with on a daily basis in this season of my life. It’s seriously been one of the most stretching seasons of my life (interacting with immature adults). As I am venting and pointing out all of my great qualities, my mom is quick to bring me down to earth. You see, the people very well can be stupid in moments and drive me nuts, but I am no better than them. There is such a fine line between pride and confidence. I find myself walking that tightrope. I am sure if I spent more time praying and less time complaining about these people, they would probably get on my nerves less. It’s great to let your feelings out (I do it daily) but I always have to remind myself to change my perspective, put myself in their shoes, and extend the same grace I would like to recieve. That is easier said than done. In the moment, all I can think of is how they are driving me crazy or how I just want them to leave me alone. Pretty much every reason I can think of to be annyoyed and selfish-I find it and nurse it and become friends with it. Which leads me to the problem, I focus too much on why they are stupid and why I am better.

Ah, doesn’t Jesus demand that we love our neighbor as ourselves. I got smacked in the face today by Galations 5:13 (MSG)…Use your freedom to serve one another in love;that’s how freedom grows. Those key words love and freedom. Walking in love=Freedom. If I truly want to stay free and focused. I have to love. It doesn’t mean I need to be bff with these people. It just means I need to love people because God loves me and I am a mess somedays, overly emotional, and demanding. He still loves me and pursues my heart. For the people that don’t know him, they are missing a huge piece of freedom and unconditional love. If I am just focused on myself then they will never see his love reflected through me.

So I vent, I think, and pray. “God help me not to kill these people, instead, help me to love”. Its not a one time prayer, for me its a daily prayer. Daily, I am being humbled and honestly I am so thankful because otherwise I would be wrapped up in pride.

Image

Meal Planning

Meal Planning

Several of you asked me about how I meal plan so I decided to blog about it. I have always loved the idea of meal planning but when I really began to look closely at my finances, I realized that I spent far too much money eating out. So in order to be a better stewart of my money, I decided meal planning was the best way to stay healthy and keep more money in my pocket.

I love to follow recipes so of course I have looked at Pinterest for some meal ideas. I have learned what types of food I really love and I try to find meals including those foods.
So last week I cooked talapia (which I am trying to stay away from since they are bottom feeders) and veggies with brown rice
Large kale salads
Turkey and potato Casserole with veggies
Baked chicken wings with kale salad
Spaghetti squash with chicken sausage
Spaghetti squash with garlic and spinach
Spaghetti squash with Tomato sauce
Chicken sausage with wheat pita bread

I expected these meals to last me about 20 days and so far, I still have about 5 meals left excluding my kale (I have two bags left!). I have saved so much money. Not only that, it has been easier to prepare my lunch for work and not give into the temptation of spending my money at one of the resturants in the hospital.

1. Find meals you would like to prepare and build your grocery list according to the ingredients needed.
2. Find a day to cook your meals, I would say expect to spend 2 1/2-3 hours preparing your meals.
3. Freeze your meals. Try to leave meals for 3 days in the refrigeratior and then freeze the rest (besides any salads of course).

Preparing my meals has helped me maintain a healthier diet. I really needed discipline and consitency in my daily diet. I was often eating junky food or sweets with the idea that I would “do better” next week. Doing better next week often turned into next year and the year after that. After, gaining 23 pounds since college, I knew something had to change and it would start with me. Now I am on the journey to a healthier life and taking care of my body by working out and making healthier choices.

If you all would like to see some of the recipes I have found then let me know and I will post the links.

-FRB