Saturday, January 12, 2013

smiling is my favorite

today i was singing and dancing in my room (as normal). i have been putting on these concerts since i was a little girl. the difference is that back then i had the dopest mic stand that had lights on it and a pedal to control what the lights did. best. present. ever. today i was singing and dancing because i love Jesus, He loves me and i'm getting back to that person in me that was never afraid to just say what i knew to be true about Jesus. i remember sharing at a banquet for a christian youth organization about the work i was doing with kids. i started dropping Jesus' name a lot, so much that the head of that organization said i should watch how much i say His name because people get turned off to it and we needed those donors to give money. little by little these kind of instances happened and instead of standing strong, i slowly compromised my mouth, said His name less and put on a shame that didn't belong to me. i've missed that girl. she was passionate. she was set apart. she was His and He was hers. the beauty is that it remains true that i belong to Him. living for Him is another story. speaking on Him is another story. and i'm here to tell mine and while i do, i tell His. one of the greatest things that i've allowed to hold me back in life is insecurity. no, people around me that should have been a better aid in this were not, but in the end, it is my choice on what i allow to lead and guide me. when i was about 8 years old, i went to the dentist. one of my baby teeth was not loose yet, but the permanent tooth began to grow in which meant the tooth was a whole row behind my other teeth. braces were not an option at the time because not all my teeth had grown in yet. i was a joyful spirit, smiling was my favorite and now i had this "snaggle tooth" as my older brother called it. i didn't want to smile anymore. i didn't want my flaw, my imperfection to be seen. i was embarrassed. what is crazy is people always told me how beautiful my smile was, but all i could see was the less than aspect. i learned how to just smile with my mouth closed. i would practice in the mirror how to smile just enough to show my teeth but cover up my shame. i would be photographed from only my left side, i learned my angles and i worked the camera so that i could hide. only half of me was seen, my full self was not accepted or exposed. almost two years ago i realized how deeply this had affected me. i was crying so hard one day about it and i knew i had to do something. it's a little embarrassing but on several occasions i prayed that God would just heal my teeth, that He would just set them straight. i believe with everything in me that this was possible. God had a different plan though. He did plan to straighten my teeth, but it was a PROCESS. lots of times we just want the miracle. we just want the fix without the work. i began the invisalign process and i was stoked. then the nurse told me that it was going to take two years. she looked at me and said, "you didn't know it was going to take that long?" clearly, i didn't. she smiled and said, "look at my teeth. they were the same as your and now look, they're straight. i promise that your teeth will be straight. the dr. wants your teeth to be perfect and he will make sure they are." i was all in. i wanted my teeth to be straight and time didn't matter and here was this woman showing me what the dr. had done for her. with regular braces you have to make sure you floss and clean your teeth after every meal, you go in and they tighten them for you, but they are on all the time. with invisalign you are an active participant. when it is in, i can only drink water. so in order to eat i have to take it out and remember to put it back on. part of my straightening is up to me. i have the tools and support to make it happen, but i have to choose everyday to put it on. i also had to change some things. i love eating, like all day. i'm a snacker. but it wasn't possible with invisalign because i would have to take the aligners out too much. i had to change the way i ate. i had to learn to plan ahead, to think about when i was going to eat and to remember to put them back on when i was done. what a life lesson! to be healed, to see change, to be different, we have to BE different! we can't ask for freedom and go on living the same. we can't ask for joy and continue to live in our sorrow. we cannot ask for change and remain the same. i look at pictures from when i first started the process and compare them to now. huge difference! it's noticeable. it's drastic! and yet it's still not done. i could choose to stop now, my smile is decent enough, i love smiling again. but i've got 4 months left to my goal. will i stop or do i want the WHOLE BLESSING? i want the whole thing. it's been hard at times. it hurts SO bad sometimes, but then i see the change and the pain is something i can rejoice about. and how much more can i rejoice as God is changing my heart, my mind, my spirit, my life, my brokenness, my family, my clients and their families? my last point and lesson i've learned is this. i chose invisalign because as the name suggests, it's invisible. i was just beginning as a therapist and my fear was that people would see this metal mouth and think i was too young to help them. at first no one could tell when i had it on. but then change started to happen, my mouth started to look different. i was also smiling a lot more and people started to see it. they knew i was wearing it. they wanted to know about this thing i had that was changing my smile. i could say i love Jesus, i could do good works, but if no one could see Him, it would mean nothing. as my life changes, as my choices change, people start to see the invisible and want to know what it is. what is this thing that is changing my life? it's Christ. it's His love. it's His call on me to live a life less ordinary. to be set apart. to be on display for His glory. to show the world that even our insecurities can be used to manifest His glory and power. and on this journey to a straight smile, i learned that the journey to His full abundance of life He promised me requires work, sacrifice, pain, trust and something, SOMEONE, outside of myself to do it fully and completely. without invisalign, i could not make my teeth straight. without Christ, i cannot live the promised life or do the work He has called me to do.

Friday, June 22, 2012


This is for you. Yes. YOU. You are fantastic. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and yet, you are still worthy of love and blessings. Don't doubt yourself. You are acceptable for everything that you are. No mistake that you have made could take away from the fact that you are lovable. Don't live your life driven by fear. You are love. Love is in you. It is yours to give and to receive. Fear stops the flow of grace, love and mercy from your spirit to others. You are strong. You are courageous. You do not have to try, just be. Without you, lives would not be the same. There is always someone who would miss your laugh. Your smile. Your opinion. Your stubborn will. Your thirst for life. Do not judge yourself as the world would. The world is on a path of self-destruction and you are an agent of healing. You are a spark that will set the world ablaze with passion, zeal and purpose. You are the one the world has been waiting for. Your thoughts are precious and valid. Speak out because without your voice there is silence. Keep silent because without your voice, wisdom can be heard. You have a talent that is wonderful. It does not belong to her or him. It's not like theirs. This one was made for you. Use it in the fullness of your ability. Too many people waste their time trying to be good at what the world tells them is awesome. The only person you need to be is you. So yes, this is for you. To remind you that you are not alone. You are not forgotten. You are here. So live without doubting yourself. Accept fully who you are. This is for you. To remind you that YOU that when you are you, you will change the world in the way YOU were meant to. warmth&blessings.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Invite Joy, Hope and Vision

For the past three years I've been a grad school student. My schedule has been flexible yet quite demanding. For three years I knew what life would be like. Each semester held new classes and new ideas to learn and financial aid would be disbursed and I could live in denial of the increasing debt that would await me upon graduation. The day has come. I have graduated and entered a season I've been longing for ... days and days of doing whatever I please! It has been wonderful. Waking up later, reading books for fun, painting, gardening, watching movies and soaking in the wonderful act of just sitting and enjoying doing nothing. However, the novelty of this is quickly fading. There are many things I want to accomplish this summer, over the next year and over the course of my life. I've learned the beauty of balance of resting and working. I've learned they can actually co-exist in the same season. What has been intriguing to me is this lingering feeling of discontent. It began as a faint whisper that was easy to ignore and has grown to a feeling in my gut that greets me each morning. In fact, I'm sure I've written about this very feeling before. It's familiar in a few different ways. 1) It feels like my nasty inner-critic telling me I'm lazy and don't deserve to rest or do things I enjoy. That voice is beyond annoying. Such a difficult little creature to destroy and yet, I have full power to do so. 2) It feels like a call from the highest form of myself to live into my greatness. I have a purpose, dreams and visions of what's to come. It's bidding me to not let these things fall to the wayside. 3) An urging from God to not be satisfied with just temporary happiness. His calling to me is one that urges me to find joy. An author once wrote that joy has the strength to withstand what happiness cannot. With this familiar feeling growing stronger each day I have had to think about how to use it for good and not self-destruction. The inner-critic invites despair to take up a room in my spirit. But that is not my desire so I have to combat it. The calling to accomplish the visions I've been given need to be nurtured and paid attention to; they need to be given air, light, water and tender-care in order to grow. And God, well, I have found that the urges I attribute to Him have always led me to unbelievable blessings. I woke up the other morning and decided on a plan. I came up with four questions that would keep me focused each day: -what is excellent about me? -what am i looking forward to today? -what do i hope for today? -what brings me joy? I have discovered that if I do this before I get out of bed, I make sure that once my feet hit the ground they do so with purpose and direction. I also feel a sense of self-worth and value. Each day I'm doing two things: I'm growing a list of praiseworthy and excellent things to remind myself of who I am and a list of things that bring me joy so that when circumstances aren't pleasant, I can always find my joy in every season of life. Second, I'm intentionally giving hope to each day and creating a sense of seeking out things to look forward to. This blog began based on Philippians 3: 8 & 9 "Finally, brothers whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." The first two questions call for these things to be stated each day. The second two questions are inspired by Proverbs 29 that says,"Where there is no vision, the people perish..." Each day I encourage you to answer these questions and invite hope, joy and vision into your life. I pray that each of you would find your passion in life and go after it with all the excellent qualities you've been given to accomplish such things. Don't fade into a life of existence ... open yourself to a unique joy and hope and live your life to the fullest. warmth&blessings.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cherry Lemonade

today has made me think of two sayings: "life is a bowl full of cherries" and "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade". when i began this blog i was on a journey to seek out even the smallest things in life that brought me joy. during times of seeming despair, i would try to find one thing, just one little thing, that would allow me to hold on to hope. it has not been easy, but the results have been drastic. upon moving to san francisco in 2004, my life was not the awesome adventure i had imagined it would be. here i was, fresh out of college and ready to explore a brand new city. i was young and spunky (still spunky, by the way ... still young too) ;) and i had all the potential in the world. unfortunately, my potential and spunk came without a job. in those days, looking toward hope didn't seem possible. everywhere i turned there was negativity being poured into my life. there were people who actually wanted me to believe that life for me would not get better. it was by far the most horrible time in my life. i constantly felt like i was being handed lemons and i just did not give a crap about drinking lemonade. i wanted life to be a bowl full of cherries, but it was more like a bowl full of ... well, you know. the journey out of that darkness was a tough road. there has been a lot of pain, a lot of cutting toxic people out of my life and a whole lot of taking responsibility for myself. my mind is my own and i had given control to others, but that was my choice. i choose to allow those things to happen. once i reckoned with that, self-pity didn't allow me to dwell in my misery. since 2005 i have made an active decision to alter my thinking, reclaim my life, live into hope and take whatever comes my way with my potential, spunk and a newfound grace. obviously, that is a much larger and detailed story, which i will probably get to in other entries. however, today's is pretty simple. a few months back my boyfriend and i entered our names for the new york city marathon. it's a pretty big deal. they hold a lottery and only the people chosen get to run the race. i've toyed with the idea of running a half and a full marathon, but i'm not really a runner. i just thought it would be pretty dope to say i'd done it. i entered my name more as a support of him. he wanted this and i wanted it for him and if we could do it together ... even better. the results came out today ... i got in. i immediately text him reminding him to check his status. his reply back said he hadn't gotten in and asked i wanted him to check my account for me. i told him i got in. i felt a great sadness as i typed "i'm in." i thought, "this is stupid". i only wanted this because i wanted to do this with him. he was so happy for me. he thought it was great. i still wasn't convinced. my immediate thought process was, "why do these good things keep happening to me?" (lots of other awesome things have been going down in my life and i'm in a state of shock lately.) what was alarming about this thought process was the tone behind it was a creepy familiar one; one that implied i didn't deserve good things or i wasn't worthy of a good thing. ew. that stopped right there. here is what i know: i spent a lot of years wasting time thinking i wasn't worth much. i spent a lot of time telling myself and believing i was life's punching bag. and then i spent a lot of time realizing none of that is true. i believe i was created with purpose, value and gifts. i learned that i am not a punching bag, rather i'm a force to be reckoned with. life has not been perfect since my quest of looking to the little things has begun. i still get lemons, nasty ones too. as i was thinking over being chosen for the marathon i started to feel a bit of excitement. i would finally get to go to new york. i'd complete my goal of running a marathon by the time i'm 30. it started settling in me that this could be a great, unexpected gift on so many levels. as we walked around walgreens, i told my boyfriend that i felt bad because i had wanted this for him. if he had gotten in and i didn't, i would have been thrilled and just gong to NY as support or if we'd both been chosen we'd be running the race together. he agreed it was kind of funny that i'm the one who got in, but he thought it was a great opportunity. i said i felt bad because all these good things kept happening to me. of course, he laughed at me and said i didn't need to feel badly for that. as we were leaving the store i looked down ... yup, twenty bucks. life is simultaneously a bowl full of cherries and a lemon dispenser ... might as well make some cherry lemonade. all things in their own way, remind me that i was made for greatness and that i am worthy of receiving good and perfect gifts. warmth&blessings.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

hope: more than just obama's favorite word

What can we learn from people with joy?

I sat and stared at my professor. One, probably because it was 8:30ish in the morning and I was still adjusting to the fact that the new semester, had indeed, begun. Second, I started to believe more deeply than ever that my newly found joy in finding joy was not a mere coincidence. This quest is far greater than me just turning my frown upside down and rallying others to do so as well. No, this is truly as bad as I thought. A mass majority of people are living in a mere state of existence, not truly feeling anything. Others are living below the emotional poverty line and only feeling despair, suffering, sadness, and sorrow to some varying degree.

Where did the joy go? Have we been robbed? Or have we become bitter and cynical all on our own?

I believe that when we receive joy, good news, and happiness or feel content with our lives, we find ourselves under attack. But who is doing the attacking? For Christians, most would say they are being attacked by the enemy. As I do believe this is true, I also believe we attack ourselves. After awhile, our minds become so used to the attacks that it manipulates its way into our mode of thinking. We actually begin to allow our minds to repeat these negative messages, conspiracy theories, insecurities, fears and anxieties all our own.

It all comes back to us. At the end of our day … no, scratch that … at EVERY point of our day, we are responsible for our actions and reactions, thoughts and words. Example, I had an ordinary day yesterday. Nothing really super extraordinary but nothing on the opposite end of that spectrum either. Until the evening. I found myself in a less than desirable circumstance with someone I love. Their response to me was irrational and unjustified. I found myself containing the reaction that I wanted to give, which, in the end was rewarding, but as you know, suppressing that which we desire to do is not easy in the moment or even the few hours or days that come after that.

I allowed myself to feel what I needed to, as unpleasant as it was. I went through all the emotions by myself, anger, hurt, frustration, pride, etc. Now, I could have sat there all night and said, see that’s what I get, I try to help someone and they lash out. I should give up. Or, they did this and said that and it was not right. They are wrong! I should have done this and that or said this. Now, I’m human, I’m not going to lie. I started to go through that mental process. I even went as far as saying, see, things are going well in my life and Satan comes up and tries to ruin everything.

That’s where I stopped. I had been saying all these things in my own head. I was the one telling myself these things. I was the one perpetuating these lies. I stopped. I thought. I called my mentor. I realized that no, the person was not right. But, what had I done that was wrong? How had I conducted myself in a way that was not right? What could I have done and what can I do now to rectify the situation?

Part of me says, screw that … they need to apologize, they need to fix it, they were wrong. But I am not responsible for them. So thinking of everything they need to do is not going to help me be free of the sadness that was trying to overpower me. I had to choose to rise above the situation. I had to choose to accept it for what it was, a moment of time that was unpleasant and hurtful. I dealt with my emotions and the choices were laid before me:

1) continue to live in the hurt and anger
2) choose to forgive (even without and apology) and allow myself to once again think on pure, true, love and praiseworthy things

Choosing the first option is easier. I mean, truly. It’s so easy to sink into our feelings, they are ours, and we feel them deeply. But the second is work. It is reaching out, above, beyond, past and through what we are feeling. It is grasping and reaching out for the lovely to pull us from the ugliness.

The good news is that the lovely is there. It is attainable. It will do what it promises to do. It will lift us up out of our despair and put us into the light where what we seek can be found. From experience, I have discovered that sometimes coming into the light doesn’t immediately solve my problems. Sometimes there is residue left over. But the more I stay out of the darkness of sorrow, the more I am able to see the excellent and praiseworthy.

I am still in the midst of this situation. But today has been a day of adventure and laughter. And cramps. Which, that is not lovely, but at least I had a clear day to be able to just lie down and get the rest I needed. I will not give up living my life just because something went in a direction I did not expect. Big or small, I can still find something that gives me hope that the situation will somehow be worked out or resolved.

Ask yourself today; what is the lovely that is attached to the ugliness? Where is the branch of peace that is being extended to me? What can I do to change my thought patterns?

Isaiah 40: 29 – 31
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

joy : the verb

There is an epidemic sweeping our nation. It is not a new plague, but rather, one that we have allowed to infect our mass population. It is not H1N1, HIV/AIDS, it is not cancer and it is not a disease that is without a cure. In fact, this deadly disease has a remedy, but we have become lazy in taking the proper procedures that would prevent us from contracting the virus. We have become neglectful in taking the proper medication to rid us of this nasty infection.

Yes, I’m talking about complaining.

Harmless as it seems, complaining is a slow and sure death trap. It slowly begins to contaminate our brain causing us to change our outlook on life and our present circumstances through moldy, green colored glasses. Once the disease has overtaken the brain, it quickly spreads to the heart. The heart and the mind can no longer function as a cohesive pair. There is a communication breakdown in the nervous system that does not allow messages to be sent through a clear channel between the two. Wants and needs become mixed up which causes the response to these thoughts to become irrational or, often times, unmet. Motives become unclear. Life transforms into a vile foe that is out to laugh at us, or worse, destroy us.

I suppose this would be the appropriate time to give a personal admission; I too suffer from this disease. I have hidden it away, allowing it to consume me in devastating ways. Shamefully, I have not come forward and told my story. But as I have looked around, I have seen that many suffer from the affliction. My heart began to weep for what we were missing out on. Life is not our enemy, life is our gift. It is our opportunity to live it to the full. But it is not merely just these things, more so, it is a promise given to us by Jesus.

I have begun treatment for the sickness and have found that the darkness inside is being shined out by a great light; a light of hope and gratefulness. The cure? Simple. It is finding the joy in all things. It is being content, whatever the circumstance. It is finding whatever is lovely, and true, and praiseworthy and admirable and thinking on these things.

For me, my recovery has consisted of a small but greatly effective exercise. Each day I find something to be excited about. Mostly, it has been in the little things. When added together, these small joys bring a great joy that becomes a mighty force against the symptoms of complaining.

This is my road to recovery. This is my story of finding great joy in the little treasures that each day holds. This is my life’s adventure in which I find a place beyond complaining. This is my quest to capture the small and glorious gems that this life hides throughout each day for me to find and store in my treasure chest, that is, my heart.

My inspiration comes from Philippians 4: 8

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."