Category Archives: life changes

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

Taking flight

 I took a (very) mini  vaca a couple weekends ago and had sooooo much fun!  There was nothing epic or super spectacular about the trip, but I did get to catch up with old friends, meet new people and not concern myself with the worries of normal life. Usually by the end of any trip I’m ready and eager to get home & back to my life.  But this time was different.  I found myself sad about returning back to cold weather, papers, presentations, bills, homework, work and more stress.  The majority of the stresses like the bills, papers, homework (because I chose to return to school)  I created because I have a tendency to take on more than one person should attempt to handle in a life time.  And the time spent not having to deal with or think about cleaning up the mess I made was freeing.  Without the busyness of life, I had a chance to actually enjoy it.

I can remember about ten years ago asking God to make my life like a vacation.  By this I meant worry free, fun and enjoyable, and there are times that I feel this way.  But lately I have found myself in a situation where being bogged down with the things of this world made it quite difficult to lighten up.   I don’t know if you’ve every had this feeling, but there are times when I just want to run away and start a brand new, shiny life and this was one of those times.  But ultimately, while it may seem like a plausible solution I knew that running away is rarely if ever the solution to a problem.   The bills would most likely track me down anyway, I would have to find another job,  and troubles would always rear their ugly heads, as it is a part of life no matter what part of globe we call home.  James tells us that ‘when we fall into divers temptations’, not if. 

If you have similar experiences, feelings or urgings to take flight and jet off to a new fabulous life then congrats as it might be in the cards for you to do so.  But if you truly know that you are to grow where you’re planted, I would encourage you to do one of three things, map out solid goals to make your life more enjoyable, take inventory of the blessings you have at home and know that running from problems solves nothing because they always find you.  You may have momentary happiness, but it will be short lived if you are leaving for all the wrong reasons. 

For me, the plus is that I know I can solve a lot of the things I don’t like about my life, I can choose to spend money wisely and pay down my debt quickly, I can purposely make time to truly enjoy my friendships, take less classes and not take on so much work.  Plus, without a doubt I would miss so much if I moved right now, my home, my job and ultimately my family which since they are here, my heart truly is as well.  Although I am planning a move years down the line, I know jumping up and moving now wouldn’t serve me well, so in the end I readied myself for the two hour flight to the tune of an obviously equally unhappy little boy with the vocal expertise of a banshee behind me, wiped away the could’ve beens from my mental rolodex and headed home, where at this point in my life at least is where I know I belong.

God bless
Court

Flaws and all

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Recently, I read about the leaking of Beyoncé’s photos sans retouching, in which she looks like a woman with some blemishes, smile lines and other imperfections that you would expect to see on any human walking the earth.   My mind immediately jumped to Cindy Crawford’s consented release of untouched photos, bearing stomach stretch marks and all.  It was refreshing to see a beautiful woman embrace what a culture of perfectionist has deemed unattractive as Cindy unapologetically flaunts her cellulite, flawed skin and other imperfections before the world.

Both of these instances garnered mega uproars in the social media realm and as expected, people applauded Cindy’s candor and the gifting of her middle finger to the world of retouching.  But the reaction to Beyoncé’s photos caused me to say hmmmmm.   Some fan’s were heated to say the least because she wasn’t the impeccable and unblemished woman they were used to seeing.  She seemed, well, human.   As a Beyoncé fan myself I thought she still looked great untouched and while she worked hard for her title of Queen Bey and her immaculate image,  it is just that, an image.  I also felt a twinge of empathy for the tremendous pressure she and other celebrities must receive to constantly remain that flawless face splashed across the television screen or print ads.  It can’t be easy to live up to those standards and yet many women try, while ultimately failing because no one, not even Queen B herself is perfect.  I see it in myself and those I love all the time, the negative self talk, ridiculous diets, and caked on make up to hide what society deems ugly.  There is a constant pressure on women to reach impossible goals of whatever is considered perfection at the time, even going as far as  disfiguring and harming  organs attempting to achieve the perfect hour glass shape or Minaj-esque butt.  It is an epidemic of self-hatred mostly due to a widespread massacre on our esteem.

But, what else is to be expected when we are constantly bombarded with a stream of ‘ideal’ women, when our husbands or boyfriends gawk at them, when we are compared to them or are criticized for not fitting the mold?  In a study researchers found that the amount of time spent on-line, watching television and reading magazines was directly related to the internalization of the thin ideal, body surveillance, reduced body esteem, and increased dieting in teens (NetTweens).  This alerts us to the fact that constantly taking in these portraits of supposed perfection will eventually have an effect on one’s esteem, especially if that person is already insecure and nothing like the images they view.  Although this study focused on teens, there is no age limit to the effects, young and old women are suffering alike.  In 2013 there were 15.1 million cosmetic surgery procedures performed in the United States and the number continues to rise each year (Plastic surgery.org).  Unfortunately, I have no answers as to how to stop such a systemic and deliberate attack on women’s body images that even some of the most monetarily successful women in the world aren’t immune to.  But I will begin with discontinuing negative self talk and urging those closest to me to do so as well, also I will try to embrace my imperfections, and love myself as I am, flaws and all.  Won’t you join me?

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Statistical scare tactics

Yesterday I had a very interesting conversation with an associate. The conversation started out fine but somehow took a wrong turn once he found out I had recently broken up with my boyfriend. Once this little tidbit of information was leaked he jumped at the opportunity to tell me how I’m too old to wait for marriage, how slim the pickings were and the odds not in my favor. I entertained the conversation until he informed me that I should consider making a drastic change to my dating style, which included getting back with my previous ex because my parents liked him, dating a thug, dating one of his friends (who he had previously described as gorillas ) because I apparently need a more aggressive guy in my life, and considering the possibility of divulging in one night stands just so that I didn’t waste my time on someone that doesn’t quite measure up (his words exactly) as he gestured towards his privates! At this point all I could do was laugh and think to myself devil be gone! But I did agree with him on one thing, the fact that a change was needed!

Although yes I do want to be married I can’t for the life of me figure out why men and apparently society in general think women are so desperate to be married. I told him that I was in no rush and if it happened it happened, if not I’ve asked God to make me okay with that and I’ll have to adjust accordingly. I’ve also asked God to keep counterfeits away from me! I did not tell my associate that within a couple days if breaking up with my ex I had been asked on a date and gotten a call from my previous boyfriend wanting to rekindle our relationship. What I’m saying is that there are men out there, even if society tells us there is a shortage. I’m not buying into statistical scare tactics because I know I’m worth the wait & my husband is too. It only takes one awesome guy to recognize how special I am and he’ll come along at the right time God willing regardless of what the studies show.

The change that I’m making is to focus on other things, Jesus being my main focus while also working on strengthening my friendships and familial bonds, seeking Gods guidance on single motherhood (I’m looking into adoption & IVF) and pursuing my career. Meanwhile I’ll take the lessons I’ve learned and use them to better myself so that whatever God has in store for my future be it marriage or single motherhood I’ll be at my best.

God bless,
Court

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When life doesn’t go as planned

Recently I’ve gone through a lot of small life changes financially and relationally that have stressed me ALL the way out and I’m quite sure contributed to this periodic uncontrollable twitch under my left eye.  Aside from the fact that as I write this there’s a huge snow storm going on & I have no power or heat; the situations include some unexpected (extremely expensive) financial woes and the culmination of my on/off again 2.5 year relationship. These situations have undoubtedly made me think long and hard about life in general.  If ever you have found yourself exclaiming, ‘it’s one thing after another’ to no one in particular,  then you definitely understand my plight.

During times when the trials of life seem to hit hardest it can be near impossible to remain positive and we can easily berate ourselves for making terrible decisions that lead to us hitting that brick wall.  The brick wall which we could have skirted around had we listened to our inner GPS (God, family, friends, intuition), but ultimately didn’t.  After much introspection I thought of a few things these experiences and other tough times have given me (and you) the opportunity to do.

1. Draw closer to God.  There are many times in my life where I feel I ramp up my prayer life or time spent with God during a crisis or hard time.  When I do, it helps me realize not only that I need to constantly pray and seek Him, but also that I am nothing without Him.  When in trouble, I usually ask for His help first, even if it’s just a short God help me!

2. Realize just how strong you really are.  Although it’s nice to have assistance in getting through a tough time, when forced to do things alone or get through inner trials you learn to appreciate your own strength.  When I look back on times that should have broken me and didn’t, I kind of recognize the fact that I am one bad mammajamma!  When we go through the fire and come out unscathed, maybe just a little hotter, it’s always a plus to know that you can rely on you.

3. Recognize the people that have your back.  Next to relying on God and yourself there’s nothing I more thankful for than the angels God has given me here on earth. There are certain people that I can call if needed and they are right there, consistently and without complaint.  It’s truly a blessing.

4. Woman(man) up and take ownership for the predicament you’re in and make better decisions going forward.  Towards the end of last year I decided to make better choices in life as I’m a pro at making ‘meh’ type choices. Although many of the things that occurred recently were a snowball from years or months prior.  I found a way to blame other people for the sadness I felt around the situation, which is the wrong way to handle any situation. Eventually, I had to take ownership for my poor choices in the past and forge ahead.   A lot of financial woes, were my fault and stemmed from years of building up debt on credit cards, not saving or investing as I should, unnecessary shopping sprees instead of paying bills, trips that I could almost afford but not quite and simply put just not being a good stewart of the funds I was blessed with.

5. Make room to rectify mistakes .  They say mistakes are lifes way of teaching you lessons and if that’s the case I’ve learned a LOT! But now is the time reflect on what went wrong and how it’s possible to make amends for those choices. One thing I recognized was that I had allowed myself to become super unorganized in the way I paid my bills. And since I knew better, I had to do better!

6. See the sunny side of the situation. I can’t say for sure that there are silver linings to every grey cloud, but I know there is at least one positive that can be drawn from most situations.  And if we love God and are doing what He has called us to do then we should believe that everything will work out for our good (Romans 8:28).  Even now, as I sit here afraid that I could turn into a popsicle any minute now, I’m grateful for the solitude and time to catch up on some reading. Of course we all get down for a minute, but cry it out, watch a comedy but do what needs to be done to help you get it out and find the good in a bad situation. Focusing on the bright side is far more productive than wallowing in the negativity.   The thing with negative thinking is that the more you focus on it the deeper you sink until you’re drowing in it and in some cases unable to save yourself.

2 Corinthians 12:9-And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God bless,
Court

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