Category Archives: life changes

Life, perseverance & yoga

IMG_9486Droplets of sweat dripped steadily down my face & onto the black mat before me. How long is she going to make us hold this pose?  I grimaced as I struggled to stay in an uttanasana, in otherwords I was bent over attempting to touch my nose to my knees quite unsuccessfully.  The instructor continued speaking in her soft voice, which at the beginning of class I had found to be quite soothing; But after 45 minutes had become more of an annoyace than an assurance.  I didnt want to hear about softening my body to flow with the movements or how my breathing should bring me into a state of knowing.  Can we please just shavasana already I screamed in my head!  I was wobbly, unbalanced, my breathing was more of a deep pant refusing to coincide with any movements & Im quite sure I resembled a new born calf trying to hold poses that in my mind my body was never meant to attempt. My hands, feet, legs & arms all felt like they were on fire & I had no idea you could be so sore from yoga!  The embarrassment of gathering my belongings & limping out of the room was becoming less of a deterrent by the minute.

The thing is, I had put myself through this torture, I had paid $15 to participate in hot yoga & be tortured for an hour and fifteen minutes.  I berated myself, knowing that the word hot preceding anything would probably feel slightly like a dialed down hell.  Also, since the class was 15 minutes longer than most I should have opted for something that was appropriate for a woman that hadnt laid eyes on a yoga mat in over a year except to toss it into the trunk of her car.

When we finally reached my favorite pose, shavasana, I melted slowly onto my mat with a deep satisfied exhale & closed my eyes.   The room was silent aside from the steady beat of low music & periodic snores of a man that was obviously more spent than I had been, but my mind was blaring.  Thoughts flooded my mind & I eventually settled on thinking of how this class was much like my life.  You see, I have this vision of being a super bendy, impromptu split doing, yoga guru but In order to reach my goal I have to make the practice of perseverance in adversity a way of life.  I struggled through the pain of lotus position & wanted to stop at navasana but I eventually came to the realization that I had to push through or refuse to grow.

The urge to bypass the painful parts of growth in leui of quick relief is a universal human trait.  We want to be strong enough to hold ourselves up in an awe inspiring hand stand dont want to do the work to strengthen our arms.   We run from the hard work that will catapult us to the next level, seek refugee in partying or dead end dating instead of identifying the cause of & working through lonliness, or we put off tedious tasks opting for the much more pleaurable lure of procrastination.  I believe that we have so many options that can pull us away from the focus of our daily ‘practices’.  The pull of distraction & ease of giving up is something that can easily deter or delay success.  But if you keep your thoughts on your end goal, eventually you will get there.  You may be tired, sweaty & sore but you will arrive!

As we exited the class the instructor stopped me as the new girl in class & told me cheerfully that she hoped to see me again in class & guess what she did!

Love you lots & much success in all you endeavors!

Court

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Doors will open…

The store was small and quaint, but it still caught my eye as I walked down the street. There was no one in sight as I peered through the large glass window and was instantly intrigued, it was a book store.  It looked like it was full of old books and as a writer and avid reader (and shopper) stumbling upon a new bookstore was like finding a tiny piece of heaven on earth.  I hopped up the four crumbly cement stairs towards the chipping wooden red door and pulled the handle fully expecting it to open immediately.   But it resisted, so I pulled a second and third time with the same results.  I let go and walked back down the stairs to ensure the sign truly read ‘open’ which it did.  Determined, I bounded back up the stairs two at a time and tugged at the door, I jiggled and turned the handle but it just would not budge.  Maybe it’s closed, I thought to myself and just before I decided to retreat and make my back onto the sidewalk, defeated and bookless the door swung open.  ‘Sorry, I was in the back, sometimes that door sticks and the odd thing is, it will only open if you don’t try to force it.’ The merchant smiled as she held the door open for me.  I made polite conversation as I slid passed her to make my way to the nearest bookshelf.  I had been right in thinking that the bookstore was a gem, I purchased some great older books no longer in print and happily left the store, this time opening the door gently and easily.

As I made my way home, I thought about how that door was kind of like some instances in my life.  Sometimes I want in so badly and or to get to the next level or stage in life so quickly that I’m doing everything in my power to force things to happen except be patient and wait on God to open doors that I can not.  I tug, throw tantrums, scream, kick, or bang on doors & many times they still don’t open in my timing, it just leaves me breathless and frustrated.  And often times when they do open, I honestly am not too thrilled about the outcome.

I’m no expert, but I challenge you the next time you are upset about where you are in life to just chill out, find somethings to be grateful for in the moment and stop pushing against right now.  This isn’t to say stop dreaming, striving or grinding towards goals but it is to say to dispose of anxiousness and impatience that isn’t truly serving you. Maybe you will notice as I have, that when we wait on God, when we are patient and when the timing is right, doors will open.

God bless

Court

The desires of your heart: Do you really know what they are?

In the book of Psalms it states that if you ‘delight yourself in the LORD, He will give you the desires of your heart’.  For a long time I asked God to introduce me to my husband so we could get started on the family I’ve had tucked away in my mind for at least the past ten years!   Recently, in one of my discussions with God a thought popped in my head that although I had requested my God given husband many times, this had not truly been my heart’s desire.  I didn’t quite understand this immediately but as I continued to marinate on the thought it became clearer as to why what I thought was my heart’s desire to usher in love was actually quite the opposite.  When in relationship, my thoughts and actions did not align with someone seeking to give and receive love from a man.  They were the actions (many times) of someone bitter and highly suspicious of anyone of the male persuasion.  If introduced to a guy one of the first things I would wonder was what was wrong with him or immediately pick apart things I didn’t seem to like about him in an effort to keep myself from wanting to get close.

I can honestly say that I’ve had men in my life that truly loved me (as best they could) and for a long time I focused on the negative effects of the one mentally and physically damaging relationship I had many years prior instead of recognizing what was before me.  They had offered me love and I did not truly accept what they offered.  As a result, the relationships were dead before they began, buried under a mound of past hurts, insecurities, frustrations and fears.  Of course there were other issues at play, but I know this was my biggest part in the demise of our relationships.  I could see love, always just over the horizon and thought I was eagerly paddling towards it but since I refused to do the soul work of breaking through the waves of the past love always seemed to remain at bay. 

I had based my theory of love on the relationships I knew about which mainly consisted of womanizers, women that seemed to have perpetually broken hearts and first hand experiences of dealing with men that were not mentally mature enough for a relationship.  I accepted these ideals, ingrained them into my mental perception of what ‘all’ men were and lived them out through my speech and interactions with men.  Men were dangerous, they would cheat on you and never stick around.  Throughout my life I began to accumulate the burdens of distrust, insecurities, over-analyzation, fear and judgement some through my own experiences and many through observation and they continued to grow larger and heavier.  So when love did present itself I acted from a place  of a woman laden with baggage instead of one free to love.  The bright  side is that eventually, I became a woman eager to lighten her load!

When I take stock of my actions in relationships and in relation to men in general I can see that my heart’s desire was not for love.  The desires of my heart were for the perpetuation of what I had known in the past and so that’s what I chose to live out.  I  didn’t trust men, spoke extremely negatively of them and always seemed to focus on the worst possible outcome, for example if I texted my boyfriend and he didn’t text me back within a certain amount of time my mind automatically flooded with thoughts of him cheating (a bit cray, yes I know).  So in an effort to ensure that my heart and head are on the same track I’ve been taking the time to focus on the positive, to accept what is and truly grow in love (starting with myself).

If you are wondering if your heart’s desires are truly matching up with your thoughts I would recommend doing the following

  1. Do a soul check:  Regardless of what your heart’s desire is, be it a job, a house, a baby or relationship, take some time to sit and think about how you truly feel concerning these things. Ask yourself if this really is what you want in your future?  Do you want it because you’re on societies time table and think you should have them by now or  are you receiving pressure from a source outside of yourself to push for these goals?  Make the all too common pro/con list.  If it turns out that these are things you really do want ask yourself if you are profiting in some way by not having them or is there a false fear that comes along with having what you truly think you want.  For instance if you  want a new job but are afraid of leaving the security of the job you currently have or maybe possess anxieties around job interviews or change in general.  In my case, I am working through a tremendous fear of someone else attempting to control me, giving up freedoms I have grown accustomed to and being cheated on.
  2. Flip the technique:  Once you know some of the mindsets holding you back, begin to counteract these by speaking life into your situation.  In other words turn the negative thoughts into a positive one.  For instance with a job, there is the possibility (and hope) that you will be much happier in your new position and or have increased job security.  In my case one of the things I try to focus on is trusting men and always acknowledging the security and contentment that will come along with my desired relationship.  If you tend to focus on the negative always remember to envision the flip side of the outcome.  Condition your mind to focus on the positive shifts whenever a negative fear based thought attempts to thwart your progress.
  3. Take action:  Take some action consistently towards your desire, set a goal of daily, weekly or monthly action steps or whatever will fit your schedule and work towards your desire.  It could be applying to a job a day, attending resume workshops or joining a toastmasters group to improve your public speaking and interview skills.  For me, taking action to better myself in relationships isn’t quite as concrete, but I chose to begin by loving me and consistently taking stock of my feelings and thoughts when in certain situations.  I have begun a daily meditation practice in addition to reading scriptures, prayer, affirmations, loads of videos and podcast but mostly taking the time to fully love and accept myself while expressing love to the people God places in my life.

Sometimes our heads and hearts won’t agree and that’s life.  But if we are the only one’s holding ourselves back from our goals we can always get them on one accord!  Here’s to your dreams!

Let me know what other things work for you in the comments!

God Bless,

Court 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

6 ways to speak love in your relationships…

From time to time in our relationships, including familial and platonic connections, we may begin to take the people in our lives for granted.  In these cases, we can often choose to direct our focus from the continued work of building our union to the laxity of disconnection, even if on a subconscious level.  When the stagnation begins to overtake a relationship it can be easily broken by the effort of speaking love to your partner, friend or family member.  Like fresh air this can ultimately breath new life into your connections!

Encouragement You can practice encouragement in many ways, but there are two that I’ll focus on here: verbaland  physical.  Verbally telling someone how proud you are of them or how great of a cook they are can truly build a sense of love in a relationship.  Physical encouragement comes in the form of support.  When I first started my t-shirt company I felt truly encouraged because I had the support of my family and friends.  My mom would encourage me to get my shirts in stores and she would tell anyone that fit the audience about my book.  I had friends that took cards and placed them all over the city and my ex attended shows with me all over the US helping me sell items for hours and hours all in the name of support (and love of course).  When you truly love someone you’re invested in them and their dreams because they are a part of who they are.  I knew my family and friends loved me not only because they said how proud they were of me pursuing my goals, but because they put actions to the words.  It didn’t have to be big, it could be as simple as sharing their current endeavor on social media.   But also keep in mind that the encouragement should always come from a genuine place, not one of manipulation, flattery or wanting to impose your views on someone else’s efforts. 

Respect Honoring that persons presence by speaking to them with tones and other verbal cues which reflect respect is a large part of speaking love into your connections.  Always attempt to Express gratitude for the gift of who they are and their role in your life through your expressions and interactions.

Protection Speaking from a sense of guarding each others hearts in relationship  and not just physically but showing that you are committed to keeping this person safe on all fronts is crucial to security.  If that person knows that you will use their own words against them later on, they won’t want to share with you who they really are.  Protection can consist of numerous concepts including protection of that persons character, heart and ultimately soul by pulling them closer to God consistently.

Silence Sometimes the best way to show love is by keeping your mouth shut or as one of my favorite preachers, Heather Lindsey, would say invoke he spirit of shut-up!  This one is might be difficult for me as I always have something to say and often feel as if I’ll burst if it doesn’t eventually topple off my tongue.  Practicing the self-control involved with quietly allowing someone to make their own mistakes without a big I told you so or not being spiteful and vindictive with your words can be difficult, but mastered. Taking the time to quietly mull things over before speaking or give them to God to work out can have a powerfully positive impact on your relationships.

Dependability Being a woman or man of your word, doing what you said you would or being where you said you would be are all large partsofbuildinf a string foundation in relationships.  We all have that flaky friend that says they are going to be somewhere but never shows up, unfortunately there are plenty of times that I have been her!  Once we come to expect someone to blow us off or not keep their word it often starts to place cracks in the foundation, your .  James and Matthew tells us to let our yes be yes and our no be no and in other words, do what you say you’re going to do.  Everyone falls short and within the expectation of dependability there has to be some grace shown simply for human frailty, no one can be perfect all of the time, but if it’s a consistent pattern it will make the person you’re in relationship with wonder about your integrity and seriousness. 

Grace As I stated previously grace plays a large part in speaking love.  By extending grace to our loved one we are allowing them to mess-up and not be constantly ridiculed or berated.  They know that you are a safe place where they can come and feel free to be themselves.

Do you have any other ways you choose to express love in your relationships?  Please feel free to share in the comments! 

God Bless!

Court 

 

 

 

A lifetime of Thanksgiving…

This year has been especially difficult for me, in fact one of the hardest that I’ve had to live through thus far.  I have, of course had friends and family to speak to, dole out an endless supply of hugs, spend time with or confide in when needed but I continued to feel quite isolated and alone in it all many times.  The realization that ultimately that thing, event, life circumstance is all yours to deal with can be crushing as you wonder how you will survive the aftermath.  It’s tough and no matter how many times someone says they feel your pain, they don’t, because it’s your pain.  No one else can cry your tears and in the end you are going to have deal with your internal struggles yourself.

This lesson I learned as my life pretty much crashed around me with a series of unfortunate events and diagnoses because I was (and still am) trying to make sense of it all.  It was so bad that I had no desire to do life any longer, I didn’t want to talk to people, write or go to work or class, I honestly just wanted to stay in bed and let life pass me by.   But I knew I couldn’t and life pushed forward so with a sometimes forced happy face I had to as well.

James tells us that when we encounter events that test our resolve and tribulations that torment us to count it all joy, but how? (James 1)  How are you grateful for the loss of a loved one, a diagnosis of cancer or the abandonment of divorce?  How are you grateful for that perverbial empty hole you have over a great loss or a transformational life shift? I have to apologize in advance because I don’t have all of the answers, but I can tell you what helped me get through some tough times this year and in the end give thanks for the realizations that came with them.

When you feel abandoned know that you are never alone: There were people that I thought I could beyond a shadow of a doubt depend on when the chips were down and although most proved to be dependable some showed me who they were & where they decided to stand in my life.  I found the sting of resentment rising up in my spirit against the latter, but I had to understand that everyone doesn’t have the capacity to love (I mean truly love) or to exhibit that love in a manner that’s recognizable to you.  And this doesn’t make them bad people, it just makes them unenlightened people.  Either way God will always be in our corner, so some nights when I cried into my pillow I would turn my tears into prayers.  Times when I was loneliest I decided to turn to God and read from His word, it really did make me feel better.  Thank God for people who you can call true friends but ultimately for God and the fact that He never leaves your side!

Don’t perpetuate more grief by focusing on what’s wrong:  There were times when I felt so down that my self talk was truly coming from a negative place because it was as if the bad news came back to back. I truly felt under attack, and it can be quite difficult to pull yourself out of the spiraling world of negativity, but even in the midst I would have to remind myself to focus on the positive aspects of a situation.  Someone in my family was diagnosed with cancer, but they are still here and we could love on them even more than before, so for that I’m grateful.  Life is but a vapor and sometimes the sting of the reality of death seems to wake people up to the fact that we aren’t here forever.  Thank God for the knowledge and wisdom to live in the moment and appreciate the good things in life and the people in our lives while we have the time to do so.

Focusing on others takes the pain away:  even if just for a moment.  While going through some things in my life I was a bridesmaid in a wedding I noticed that although we would spend some time focused on my circumstances, I was much happier to talk to her about the wedding or help her with planning.  It made me feel good to forget for a moment that my life wasn’t all fairy tales and sugarplums.  Getting your mind off of you and being less selfish will help you in dealing with your issues. Of course we will have times where wallowing can’t be helped as we are human but being less self-centered and caring for others is a great way to start to shift your mindset. Thank God for recognizing that selfishness only leads to increased loneliness and for opportunities to be a light in someone else’s world if only for a moment.

You will emerge from the fire:  knowing that there is another side to the anguish you feel is priority.  Most likely you will emerge stronger that before, I truly believe the adage that whatever doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger. Even if we feel as though we have nothing to be thankful for presently, we can praise Him in advance for blessings to come! Thank God for challenges in life that grow us up and make us stronger and more like him.

Be careful what you ask for: I remember saying a prayer just before I received some of the bad news for God to increase my faith because I wanted a faith like Sarahs, like David’s and Abraham.  I told God that whatever had to be done to do so and not long after the punches started to roll in.  Now, am I saying that it’s a result of that prayer, I don’t know.  But I do know that we receive test from God and we receive trials from satan, either way our response is the same and that’s to pray and pray some more while keeping focused on the optimal outcome and pushing towards Yahweh.   But with anything in life, be it kids, a degree or an increased faith walk, make sure you’re prepared to work for it and navigate your way through the test as best you can. Thank God for answered prayers and the strength, fortitude and ability to pass the test that sometimes come along with them.

God bless and Happy Thanksgiving (let’s eat)! ☺️🎉

The freedom in letting go…

Something I have been hard at work on in life is not holding on to things or people that should no longer be in my inner circle.  For me it’s a necessary step in my journey towards maturity and a relationship with God. It has been a difficult task for me to not grasp so firmly to some of the things I felt played a pivitol role in my life up until now.  But eventually I realized that I had focused only on the anguish and trauma perceived in releasing the things, dreams and people that I thought I couldn’t do without but hadn’t focused on the joy and freedom found in the beauty and satisfaction of letting go. Many of us find it challenging to let go of things, situations or people but learning to do so at any age in life will ultimately bring you more fulfillment and greater joy!  Below I chronicle five areas in life where I have or am currently learning to release and maybe they might help you on your journey to freedom.

Toxic people: research has shown that although people in contented and fulfilling relationships are generally healthier, the same does not hold true for those in tumultuous or trying relationships. Not only do these interactions cause stress and anxiety in your life mentally but can take a toll on your body physically as well. Women are especially vulnerable to these negative effects which includes a lowered immune system by decreasing the T-cells, heart issues and sleep abnormalities. (WebMD) The studies that I found focused heavily on romantic centered relationships, but evidence also existed for other types of relationships such as friendships or colleagues. The ability to distance yourself may be easier said than done in these cases and may require more mental distance than physical. Ignoring or confronting the behavior will eventually come into play to help decrease the toll it is taking on you mentally and physically. Reducing your stress while in a negatively influenced relationship may look different for different people, yoga, meditation, exercise, journaling and praying are all viable options for some people.

Bible verses to remember in dealing with toxic people: Titus 3:10, Galatians 5:25

Clutter: I’ll be the first to admit that my ‘office/prayer room’ has slowly converted to a  storage closet/junk room. It’s full of clutter, things I don’t need, use or wear. The original purpose of the room has vanished amongst a pile of shoes, books and clothes some with tags still attached.  Since I’ve been on my journey of letting go, I’ve started to slowly declutter this room by finding good homes to the things that are in optimal quality or tossing things that aren’t. By now most of us have heard that clutter can actually cause us to become less focused and can limit our ability to process information (Princeton University Neuroscience Institute) so decluttering can not only be a burden releaser but also make you more productive!

Bible verse to remember in dealing with a cluttered home: Proverbs 24:3

3. Stresses: as mentioned previously not only can unhealthy relationships cause undue stress, but situations that bring us feelings of anxiety or frustration also create a great deal of stress in our everyday lives.  The best and worst thing about stress is that most of it is brought on by ourselves!  Which means there are steps we can take to decrease the amount of stress in our lives and it can end with you.  Something as simple as clearing out your email inbox, getting more rest or not worrying about situations that are beyond your control can begin to eliminate a lot of the stress that we cause ourselves.

Bible verses to remember if dealing with worry and stress: Philippians 4: 6-7, Matthew 6: 24, 1Peter 5:7

4. Outcomes: learning to detach myself from outcomes has been a major task in my growth journey. It can be quite difficult to deal with the frustration and disappointment of not having things go as planned or the way I desired.  But learning to release these desires is a great way to bring peace to a less than optimal situation.  I discuss some ways to do so here.

Bible verses to remember if dealing with letting go of outcomes: Proverbs 3:5-6, Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28

Baggage: Carrying over baggage from one relationships will definitely ruin the second before it’s begun.  By baggage I’m specifically talking about destructive emotions and stinking thinking including bitterness, jealousy, rage, anger, hatred, cynicism, malice, un-forgiveness, self-deprecation and vengefulness. Of course we will experience some of these negative emotions at some point in our human existence as a natural occurrence and to an extent they help us make our way through the maze of life. However, research has shown that living with them on a consistent basis can be deteremental to your health with the ability to cause heart disease and a higher risk of stroke (news health.com). The goal is accepting that feelings such as anger, jealousy or vengefulness arise but are not necessarily beneficial to act upon in a salacious manner or even react to immediately instead of responding at a later time and are definitely not worth holding on to. Using your emotions as indicators and not dictators could possibly save your life!

Bible verses to remember if dealing with negative emotions: Ephesians 4:31-32, Proverbs 14:29, Philippians 4:8 and Ephesians 4:26

God Bless,
Court 🙂

Burn the highlight reel

This morning as I scrolled through my facebook feed I ran across a post that threw me, one of my friends announced her decision to file for divorce from her husband of over thirteen years.  There are two things that caught me off guard, one was the fact that she had the guts to blast the news all over social media because as a semi-private person that is just getting comfortable with opening up to the world, I don’t think I would have had the desire to allow people into my business on that level, but different strokes.  The second and real thing that shocked me was that just days before I ran across another post of she and her husband in what looked like an extremely joyous situation.  They were out on a date night, celebrating the brief freedom from daily responsibilities, taking cuddly, kissy selfies and posting it all for the world to see.  I had never seen anything on her newsfeed that would remotely point to an unhappy situation.  We aren’t that close and in real life we’re maybe distant associates so I didn’t feel comfortable asking about the situation or even commenting on the status, but I did want to know how and why it happened?  Partially because I’m nosey but mostly because I used to long for a successful marriage and family of my own based off of the glimpses of happiness portrayed in her and a couple others feeds.  I didn’t want to see another marriage bite the dust, especially one that I looked up to from a far.

Unfortunately, it’s the tragedy of the highlight reel.  We get to edit, Photoshop and tweak our lives into our personal perfection even if we aren’t truly living it.  I honestly don’t even think many of us do it consciously as I can’t see too may people stopping in the middle of a heated argument to announce, we should take a selfie!  Most of us try to keep the lowlights of our lives locked tightly behind closed doors and definitely off of social media (although I have seen a couple of pretty comical FB fights). If we lose sight of this key fact, we can find ourselves in the dreaded comparison trap where we are pitting our blooper reel against someone elses highlight reel.  I’m guilty of it and fell prey easily because I pined for a family of my own, so when I looked at photos or videos of my friends sharing the brightest moments with their significant others and kids it would at times make me unhappy with where I was in my life. That’s the biggest problem with comparing your life to someone else’s, it becomes easy to be unsatisfied with the blessings God has given you.  In turn you choose to be unhappy and unappreciative based off of a perception that your life would be so much better ‘if’.

To be happy with our true authentic selves we must burn the highlight reel (as one of my favorite speakers would say) and stop comparing our lives whether it’s to gain a sense of superiority or to wallow in what we don’t have.  Always keep in mind that there are so many facets to human beings that no one can possibly get every aspect of that across on a social media network and that these are just glimpses of imperfect people leading imperfect lives. And even if they truly are living their highlight reels try to set aside thoughts of  jealousy or envy, pray that their blessings continue to overflow, embrace your own journey and keep it moving because you are needed as the star in your own movie, no one else can play that part.

Be Blessed
Court

We all fall

I can definitely say that within the past couple of weeks I have failed in some areas that in my mind were under control but somehow, when tested, I found myself back at square one going through the motions of dealing with the discouragement of failure.  I don’t know what it is for you, not keeping a consistent schedule for reading the bible, breaking a diet, drug usage, falling back into sexual sin, or blowing your budget, it can be devastating to make progress but continually backtrack, especially if it’s something you’ve dealt with for years.  Sometimes you may want to give up completely, especially if you feel like you’ve let God or people in your life down.  I’ve been there A LOT, but please don’t give up, continue to strive for excellence and keep pushing forward. This quote puts it perfectly, ‘failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker, failure is delay, not defeat, it is a temporary detour, not a dead end.  To be totally honest, I wrote this particular blog out of the failures I’ve encountered within the past couple of weeks,  it helps me to move forward and I hope it will be helpful on your journey to success as well.

  1. Remember that God loves you and will forgive you:  We serve an awesome God, who truly loves and wants a relationship with us.  Although sin can separate us from Him and we are definitely outside of His will when in sin, we are able to repent (read about true repentance here) and seek His forgiveness, which He has promised to extend as we extend  that same forgiveness to others. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14).
  2. Forgive yourself: I notice that Many times after I make a mistake or fail at something important, like blowing my budget when I have a gazillion bills to pay or falling into sexual sin with my boyfriend I am the only one beating myself up about it for days or weeks at a time.  I can be extremely hard on myself and at times this crosses over to other people I’m in relationship with as I can force my expectations of perfection onto them.  But by reliving the moment I’m keeping it alive and allowing past occurrences to play a major part in my present.  Worrying, calling myself names, dwelling on the false sense of being a failure all contributes to a feeling of being stuck and of pain.   Whereas if I focus on forgiving myself and recognize my humanity while taking full responsibility for my mistake while learning from the lesson it brings a sense of strength and true compassion for one of the most important people in my world, me!
  3. Recognize that everyone fails at some point in their lives:  Scripture tells us that we ALL fall short (Romans 3:32). but through His grace and by our faith we are saved!  I am so happy that I have a God that truly loves me and understands that I will fail, but gives me the strength and provision to get up again and continue on my journey with Him.  Although perfection is the goal it is a continuous effort that I’m not sure I will reach in this lifetimes.  Failures will happen, but it’s how you recover that matters the most.
  4. Right your wrongs (if you can):  If you’re able to return the dress you bought that blew your budget do so or if you failed at practicing patience with your kids or speaking kindly to your husband when frustrated then truly apologize and make an effort to search out strategies that will help prevent future occurrences.  Although, you can’t actually go back in time you can rectify or try to make amends for some mistakes.  As long as sorry doesn’t continually cross your lips for the same infraction and it’s genuine those that love you will most likely find it in their hearts to forgive and let it go.
  5. Focus on the future not your failures:  In Philippians 3, Paul tells us not to focus on things in the past but to push forward towards what Christ has for us.  This may be more difficult for some, as we have to get in a habit of controlling our thoughts and not allow them to control us.  It is an art, which honestly I have yet to conquer myself but will as I grow and practice. There are many great resources online and books on the topic, but to start off try this: when a thought comes into your head that drags you back to that failure focus on the lessons learned and not the negatives, think about something else or a positive that came out of it.  The bible tells us to think on positive things and replaying a mistake is doing just the opposite of what God told us to do.
  6. Get your game plan together:  Life is kind of like a game, full of obstacles, set backs, wins and successes but the best players always have a plan!  While our plans may not always work out as we’d like, I truly believe that a failure to plan is a plan to fail.  In His word, God tells us that He will always give us a way out of temptation and that we have the power to resist temptation and flee the devil.  We have power, we just have to use it.  If you find yourself constantly falling into the same trap or giving into the same sin make a plan to help prevent even taking that route in the future.

I hope these pointers help, what are some things you do to prevent wallowing in failures, please share below!
God Bless,
Court 🙂

Beyond Winter

winterFor many of us spiritual winter is a time of brutal coldness, boredom or lonliness.  Generally, as a population that thrives on the hustle and bustle of summer life seasons, it can be difficult to appreciate the stillness of winter because since there is always something to do our minds are kept occupied.  In contrast, during winter seasons we can’t think of anything else except the feeling of being stuck and frozen in the bitter coldness.  We can eagerly long for warmer days in opposition to recognizing the usefulness of winter.  I am guilty of it, I literally can’t stand winter and going through a life season of it is so painful that my gut reaction is to immediately want out!  Because who wants to live with pain right?  But in the book of James he clearly tells us that we should count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations.  In my case I have in the past done the opposite and tried to find happiness in through escaping on a vacation or preoccupying my time with frivolous activities or tv shows so I don’t have to think about the issues of life, basically anything to not deal with the frigidness winter.  From time to time I can also have spiritual tantrums where I am very angry with God instead of thanking Him for the time of spiritual growth and education while in this stage of life.

As I look back on these times in my life wether it’s being jobless, single or just going through a heartbreaking time I can recognize the necessity of embracing the stillness of winter.  While this wasn’t easily done in the midst of it, I can clearly see the needed time of rest and self reflection.  I also often find myself depending on God the most for answers & companionship in these times.  It’s important to try and look beyond now, towards a seasonal shift while patiently waiting, growing and preparing for a time of bloom.

My advice to you, while difficult I know, is to practice knowing that this is a season bound to change and be grateful for it.  You will work again, love again and feel so much joy that laughter is uncontrollable.  Believe this with your heart and know it in your spirit because that is where the only meaningful truth lives.

Be blessed & live purposeFULLy

Court

A year of grace

A little over a year ago after a three-day spiritual fast I dreamt about a website and groggily scribbled the name on a piece of paper before drifting back to sleep.  As I typed in the webpage the next day I was shocked to find that it was a website dedicated to Christian writers who wanted to start their own blog.  I had been fasting for clarity in a situation and although the message received in the dream seemed to be totally out of left field, as a self-proclaimed writer I got the message and promptly started Grace Provided.  I wanted to share with you some of the lessons that I have learned (or had to relearn) throughout this year of growth.

  • When you give, you get:  I began this blog not only as an acceptance to what I believe was a call from God, but also to assist others who deal with many of the same situations I’ve struggled with in life and to prevent people from falling into similar traps.  Many times I find myself re-reading older post if making that treck around the mountain again or writing the pain away in times of sadness which  usually  provides the woo-sah needed in that moment.  What I have come to understand is that this blog is as much for me as my readers and perhaps the clarification I sought while fasting.  My suggestion release the fear of giving if it’s something you struggle with.  Wether it be through sharing your story, devoting time to someone, giving much-needed information or even a material possession, it’s worth it in the end.  Even if you don’t actually receive anything physical in return knowing that you helped someone in need is actually a pretty great reward.
  • Follow your passion: I have a multitude of passions, teaching, working with animals, skating but by far my love for writing exceeds them all.   Each time I sit down to write an article I’m blessed  in that many times my fingers can’t keep up with the thoughts in my head and it feels like a joy not a chore.  If it were something I disliked doing I’m sure I would not have made it to a year and some change.  My advice to those that don’t currently see an opportunity to follow their passion coming up on the horizon is to make your way towards it anyway.  If you want to write begin writing, if your desire is to become a singer start lessons, you want to be a nurse seek volunteer opportunities, you want to play the guitar look up YouTube vids on how to get started.  There is way too much information out there for us to live on excuses and not follow our dreams if we devote the time and resources (not always monetarily) necessary.  Instead of watching television for an extra hour or two at night use that time to work toward your dreams.  Many times our determination determines our destiny and even a small step is still a step in the direction of your dreams.  Keep taking baby steps towards your passion and I bet you’ll see it coming up on the horizon in no time.
  • Commitment phobia permeates :  By this I mean if you have a fear of commitment you may see evidence of it in more than one area of your life.  This pertains to writing my blog because towards the beginning of the year I set a goal to write a post every week throughout the remainder of 2015.  Although I love writing, this was a lofty goal to set for myself with school, work and so many other things going on at the moment that I didn’t realistically think I could do it. Honestly, I didn’t even want to put my self-imposed goal out there because I know that I will be even more apt to keep it if I may be held accountable.  As I stated previously, lack of commitment may be prominent in one area of your life, but eventually you may see it trickle down to others.  For me, in the past I hesitated to commit to anything without a definite end goal, like earning my degree, I knew I’d be finished in four years so that commitment didn’t scare me, but something like marriage was another thing.  My lack of commitment is evident not only in relationships but also in finding a church home and even the amount of times I’ve moved, over the past 16 years I’ve moved a total of 12 times (and no I’m not in the army).  For many years I deemed myself a church hopper and it was always because something was wrong with the church, it was either too big, too small, too far etc, you get the point.  I went from church to church searching for the perfect one and was truly hoping that God would literally yell at me from His heavenly throne as I entered the church doors to tell me that this was the one.  In a way it was fear of making a wrong decision as I had in the past, but that fear prevented me from making any decision.  Speaking for these two past issues, within this year I have purchased a home and about three weeks ago joined my church and am well on my way to kicking any other necessary committal phobias out the door which by the way is a goal I’m committed to!
  • Writing does a body good:  This blog for me has been somewhat of a public journal and keeping a journal has been proven to help people reduce stress, manage anxiety and cope with depression (University of Rochester Medical Center).  It’s kind of like telling your best friend your darkest secrets, fears or anxieties without the fear of it getting out or being criticized, not if it’s a blog of course!   If you consistently read my blog you’ll know that towards the beginning of the year I broke up with my then boyfriend of almost 3 years and although I wasn’t destroyed, I was truly heart-broken.  Releasing the would’ve been’s and moving towards the unknown wasn’t something that I  wanted to do initially but as we know life is a series of choices and the option of wallowing in the past wouldn’t work for me.  Blogging my way through this break up was a God send because as I stated before once I wrote about the experience and got it out I always felt so much better.  In addition,  I think writing helped me shift my focus towards future possibilities and embrace the positives of my current relationship status. Many times talking to God does the same thing for me, it is a cathartic and cleansing experience.   Not everyone wants to blog about their life but keeping a journal by your bedside may help for personal issues.  It’s also a great way to keep a memory of what’s going on in your life at the moment so you can look back and see how God has blessed you or how far you’ve come.
  • Share your dreams (but not with everyone) :  When I initially started my blog, I told no one.  The main reason was because I didn’t want those I know to support just for supports sake, but I also didn’t want the critiques or negativity that may have come from those that felt they knew my heart but in actuality did not because of past views.  I didn’t want likes on my blog simply because people knew me but hadn’t even taken the time to read an article.  Simply stated I wasn’t here for likes.   Don’t get me wrong, I love it when someone truly obtains a nugget of inspiration from my post because my goal is to truly help other’s but I rest in the fact that God will send those that need to hear what I have to say as He see’s fit.  Go for your dreams, but  always know who is going with you, rooting for you or just waiting for you to fail, although if God is in it, you can’t fail!

God Bless
Court