Category Archives: life

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

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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

Not in vain…

It is with a heavy heart that I write this as I’ve recently learned about another senseless murder. It makes me think of all the hatred, racism and evilness in the world and wonder why? Why are there homeless, starving people in the world? Why are people hated because of race or religion? It doesn’t make sense in my book. Ultimately my focus shifts to what I can do about it besides shed tears in my bedroom. These are some thing that crossed my mind…

1. Pray: God does not make mistakes, but He does tell me that the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy. I know there is a battle between good and evil so even when I don’t understand why things happen the way they do I have to hold on to my faith in God and continue to pray for this fallen nation.

2. Think less about myself: yes I have my struggles in life but still I am greatly blessed. There are times when I get so overwhelmed or wrapped up in my world that I forget what this life is really about and it’s not me!  It’s easy to do as we live in a world that advocates selfishness and egocentricity. But usually when I raise my head from the fog that is my own little bubble I see that there is a bigger purpose to it all.  My purpose here on earth has little to do with my self-centered desires and more about how God wants me to interact with others. I know we are only here for a short amount of time and can waste no more of it focused on anything that isn’t fulfilling my kingdom purpose.

3. Give where and when I can: Giving doesn’t always necessarily equal money, in fact devoting my time to others can have more of an impact than shelling out a couple of dollars. Volunteering, checking up on someone I know is hurting or sharing a portion of my meal with a person that’s hungry can be just as helpful. God tells me that I am to give light to those who sit in darkness (Luke 1:79) for me this means helping out when I am called. God is light and as children of light it is our job to spread His love and peace to others (1John 1:5 & Thessalonians 5:5).

4. Spread the word: Silence speaks volumes and if we ignore what’s going on or simply turn away because it’s too much to handle we are becoming part of the problem.  For some people speaking out may be as simple as sharing stories on social media and refusing to stop because it makes other uncomfortable.  For others it may be starting a fund, a charity or getting involved politically. Becoming a part of the solution will not look identical for everyone. However you feel moved to move is what you should do. The only way to eliminate darkness is by introducing light. Injustices occur daily and by shedding light on situations it is an attempt to open the eyes of the world to such atrocities and hopefully motivate others to seek justice as well.

5. Don’t let it harden my heart: Sometimes the pressures of this world can try to crush our spirits. It can get to be too much at times but I try to remember and focus on the good. God tells us to fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8). After the sadness has passed I have to remember my resiliency and know that when the dust clears we will still stand tall.

Be blessed
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

But you say she’s just a friend

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The creation of security within the boundaries of a relationship should be a major priority between partners.  When this security is breached or not given the attention due it allows distrust, doubt and anger to creep through the door and settle into your relationship.  I was with someone who had a lot of friends, particularly of the female persuasion.  The issue wasn’t the gender of some of his friends but more so the way the relationships were presented and handled at least in my eyes, I’m sure he would beg to differ.  When I brought this to his attention, his stance on the issue was that they were my insecurities to deal with and had nothing to do with him.   I wasn’t completely sold on his position, but did partially agree as I believe my personal insecurities within myself are totally my responsibility to work on.  But insecurities felt in the relationship that were based on things he did or said had more than a little to do with him and vice versa.  I will admit that I may have over reacted slightly to all of his female friends initially, as I allowed my past experiences to guide my thinking many times in the relationship, but none the less I had some real concerns.

My ex had one female friend in particular, let’s call her Fern, that sent my cheating radar into alarm mode.  Granted I never found out they were anything more than friends but the entire situation didn’t sit well with me.  He initially told me they were just friends, but I found out later that they had been in a sexual relationship years prior, he still had photos and video of her in his phone, would pick her up from work and he texted or talked to her constantly.  When I began acting suspicious, I was made out to be the irrationally jealous girlfriend that just didn’t want him to have any friends, which wasn’t true at all, I just didn’t want the secrets that came along with these relationships.  This led to me looking at his other relationships with a bit more side in my eye because I wondered about what else he was hiding.  I’m not really the type to have a huge issue with my boyfriend having friends of the opposite sex as I do as well.  But I am a huge proponent of knowing exactly where the relationship stands and expect honesty.  If you are having similar concerns, I would suggest speaking to your significant other, communicating your concerns and ask them to do the following four things then watch for changes.

1. Be open and honest:  Had my ex disclosed the fact that he and this woman were more than friends in the past I may not have had such an issue with their friendship, but I felt that pertinent parts of their relationship were kept from me purposely and it made me extremely suspicious.  I understand that the past is the past and had their relationship remained in the past then fine, but she was still in his present.  You shouldnt have to feel as if you are being naggy because you ask questions about a relationship if they be reasonable and it shouldn’t be like pulling teeth to get a truthful answer.  Honesty should always be extended in regards to legitimate concerns. Relationships are all about communication, if one party feels as if that communication is one-sided it will only cause them to shut down, leave or continue the relationship in doubt, which only ends badly.

2.  Include you: if your partner and this person truly are ‘just friends’   they shouldn’t have an issue including you in their discussions or outings if that’s something you’re comfortable with.  When you enter into a serious commitment, the dynamics of your other relationships are bound to change and not necessarily for the worse, who knows you could gain a new friend out of the deal.  There were times when if I was at my ex’s house and he got a call from someone who asked what he was doing, his responses would never include me, except for with certain people in his life.  He was very selective about who knew we were together and who didn’t and I believe that Fern happened to fall into the latter category.  Had I been included in their discussions I would have felt somewhat more comfortable and not as if he was hiding the fact that we were together from her.

3. Be present: If your significant other spends tons of time on the phone or texting their friends everytime you are together, you’re bound to feel slightly neglected or at least slighted in some way, unless you’re doing the same.  I can recall a time when we were watching a movie together and he was constantly texting Fern.  Instead of focusing on our quality time he was focused on her, telling her how she would like the movie, sending memes and other messages but when I got upset and called him out about it, he saw nothing wrong with his actions.

4. Put themselves in your shoes:  I’m sure if the shoe was on the other foot, your significant other would feel some type of way, unless they really don’t care.  Unfortunately, I often learn from making mistakes and am a pro at playing tit for tat and I began doing many things to spite him.  Many of the things he did, I became guilty of and them some. Since he would constantly chat with his female friends, I began to engage more and more with my male friends (some of who I knew wanted more than a friendship), I would talk to them constantly, go out with them and entertain talk that I probably shouldn’t have.  It got to the point where I would actually be on my phone more than he was when we were together towards the end of our relationship.  This is not, I repeat not the correct way to let someone know you want them to know what you feel.  This only created a deeper divide between us, it was childish and unnecessary because it exacerbated the real issues we had.

Hope this helps someone!

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

Here comes the sun!

I’m super excited because judging by the fact that I can actually open my windows without getting frostbite we are finally, FINALLY on the verge of glorious summer!  Since I actually have a yard this summer, I am eager to get out and start my garden (or at least watch/help my mom & aunt plant some flowers until I develop my nonexistent green thumb!).

I’ve already started choosing what flowers I want and have a vision for the look of my garden.  One thing I love is growing herbs namely cilantro and peppermint (which I use in my peppermint water that I speak on here).  So I thought I’d share my very mini-haul of these two great planters from Ross, because I’m all about the discounts!  They are a little tall, but I’ll make it work.  What are you doing in your garden this summer?

Bonus … apparently they’re dog approved!