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Better Not Bitter

Responding God's Way to Life's Challenges

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December 2014

Overwhelmed By Grace

God did it!!!
I must admit that for a minute I was feeling like Job…well for a few months I suppose…

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I’m so thankful!!! I planned months ago that I would visit my brother and the rest of my family in LA for Christmas. What I didn’t plan for was all of the things that would attempt to make that trip impossible. The ER bill was the icing on the cake…$5200 due before I could even make the appointment for the specialist they recommended…throw in car trouble, electrical issues, washer and dryer gone out, luggage stolen, a break-up, and a disconnect notice from the water company… without the grace of God, I could have easily caved under the weight of these issues.

…so last night I finally cried…I hadn’t allowed real tears flow since seeing my mother and even then those turned quickly to tears of joy.  My tears were of a broken heart last night…silent ones…my children were not aware.  I waited until I finished cooking for them and suddenly I had no appetite of my own. I opted for an early slumber. Though I had begun feeling slightly better, I still clung to the excuse that I needed more rest…before getting in bed, I knelt, but midway through I stood and plopped in bed still talking breathlessly with my eyes swollen…There was too much I didn’t understand about the way things were going in my life.

My prayer was simple…

Lord, you know I want to visit my brother and family this Christmas…You said, if I delight myself in You, that I can ask anything in Your name and it will be done. Lord please allow my water to stay on until I get paid…I can’t let my children see me fail again.

This morning, I said to myself…I don’t know how He’s gonna do it, but I know He will. I admitted to my co-worker that my biggest issue is not a lack of faith, but resisting the urge to try to guess how He’s gonna do it.

My water was scheduled to be off yesterday…while many may think it small…it’s still running…but today is Tuesday…payday is Friday, but God did it!!!

I’ve been ballin’ all evening with gratitude over the huge hearts of my co-workers…God used them as my angels today…

My kids had already been okay with exchanging gifts after the holidays if then because they are aware of our financial situation…I just want you all to know…when you think no one is watching you God is and He allows others to be blessed by the way you go through…when asked if I needed anything for Christmas…I said a gas card…I’m not tooting my own horn, but God knows even though I give my last at times, I’ve always had a problem asking for help from anyone except Him.

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I admit there have been times when I’ve even hesitated asking Him for what I need…yesterday…He reminded me not to worry by allowing a car turn in front of me with John 14 on the license plate…Yet, my heart was heavy all morning dreading to have to make that call to my brother again to let him know that I wouldn’t be able to make it again.

When, my manager came over and began telling me how awesome I am…I’m a wuss so I was in tears just from the words, but then He gave me a gift bag with something for my son…a new Baseball glove…He’s playing baseball for Parkview this year…God was watching when my son chose it and I told him that I couldn’t afford that one yet. We chose a lesser one for practice. Yet, the blessings did not stop there…The card they gave me was not just stuffed with some of the warmest messages, but full of gift cards and cash!!!! And not some measly amount either! Hundreds…My God I’m grateful…I didn’t know how, but I knew He would#overwhelmed

Be the One

It’s been said that opposites attract.  However, more often than not in relationships you typically tend to attract who you are!

I know some of you might be shaking your head in protest but I did the same before I was able to swallow that giant pill too so hear me out.

Think about it.  If you have been one of those sisters who has had the misfortune of being involved with a young man who is jealous, insecure, or seemingly void of emotion, I challenge you to take a good long look in the mirror. What vibes are you emitting to make a man like this even come your way?  I’ll tell you…jealous, insecure, and emotionally numb ones.

Guys, I haven’t forgotten you either!  Say you keep running into women who seem to have the full package on the outside: beauty, brains, and about handling their business only to find out that they’re really needy, controlling, and have a low self-esteem.  Sound Familiar?

Well brothers, I invite you to flip that visor down and look at who you too are attracting.

So ladies and gentlemen, if this seems to be the hand you’ve been dealt lately, might I suggest you do an inventory on yourself, heal the wounds of your past, open yourself up for positive results in your future, and get you attitude in check…in essence…

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The bible says in Amos 3:3 ” Do two walk together unless they have agreed to meet? (ESV)

This clearly means if two people aren’t going in the same direction, there’s no way that they can walk together.

Now of course we meet people all the time in passing and though they may seem to be going the opposite direction, you should not necessarily disqualify them.  Instead, the question you must entertain in such an encounter is whether where this other person is headed will be mutually beneficial or mutually detrimental…whether it’s worth the risk of change…or better yet…whether you are willing to change directions for the better.

I admit I like things the way I like them.  I get used to something in a certain order and I shy away from change because there’s something comforting about knowing what to expect.

Well, if I’ve learned nothing else from the ghosts of my past relationships, it is that you really can’t have a clear set of expectations when it comes to love…that is other than what the bible describes of it.  After all, you may judge the outward appearance, but God judges the heart.

I mean you have control over one person in every relationship that you will ever be a part of…whether that is with family, friends, or romantic ones.  You are in charge of yourself!  As much as I would love to be able to write the script of my love life like I do in my fiction pieces, I have to understand that God alone knows how my story ends. He alone directs our paths and the paths of those He’s intended to plug into our lives to meet that lingering desire of our heart.

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…Notice I didn’t state to be the missing piece of our puzzle or some other euphemism indicating that we were somehow incomplete without “The One” at our side. That’s because we’re not! The only way that we as children of God are incomplete is if we neglect to accept Christ as our Savior.  I know it seems easier said than done, but it is true.

God’s shown me over the past year how much I need His presence to give me the wisdom to make the right decisions with regard to love, life, and lust!

Yes, I said lust…obviously it would seem as a Christian that dispelling lust would be a no brainer…but not the case if you’re unaware of the actual definition of the word itself.

Yes, lust of the flesh does not inherently mean sexual perversion or fornication alone.   By definition lust also means having a strong overmastering desire or craving for something or someone.  Now in my book that’s right up there with idolatry!!!  Don’t believe me…let check its definition out…hmm

Idolatry: excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion, etc.

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So I have been set in my ways for a while with regard to romantic relationships and guess what I’ve discovered?

My way does not work!!!!

So yes, I too have to be open to change.  And though I’ve come to realize this notion kicking and screaming, I am thankful My Father is coaxing me out of that old mindset.

While some opposites attract in terms of complimenting the other, too many opposites actually repel one another so the bottom line is if we are willing to say what we want in a mate  perhaps out main focus should be on being real with ourselves in the process.

For instance, a spiritually and emotionally whole person is not going to tolerate the foolishness of a broken person one moment longer than it takes for that person to show his or her true colors.  It’s simply unattractive.  Likewise, a broken person who doesn’t admit or realize the extent of his or her brokenness will continue to pursue another broken person in an ill-attempt to fix themselves while believing his or her efforts will fix that person. The result is chaos and more wounds on both sides.  It’s a lose/lose situation.

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Along the way, we are given choices.  Those choices can either lead to the love of our life or a disaster.  So as much as I hate to admit being wrong, I realize the peace I’ve gained in acknowledging God’s way as right is a much better deal.

So since I attract who I am as my history in some strange ways have shown, I’m no longer settling for “looking the part”, “playing the role” or even “trying to fix what only God can.” Rather, I think my time and energy is best spent on being the one and leaving the rest up to God.

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©2014-2015 Nadia Davis. All Rights Reserved.

Embracing the Heart of Forgiveness

Two days ago I arrived at work fuming…I was frustrated beyond everything, but I remained calm as I started a nearly 2000 word post in haste over what led to my issues before 8:30 am….I will have you know that this post is not going to be that long so don’t trip!!!

In fact, I deleted it altogether.  I admit, I have a bunch a drafts just waiting, but this one had to go!  Long story short…my son and I had a bit of a disagreement…I was in my feelings…he was in his…and Kayla was caught in the crossfire…I was late to work…got an email from one of his teachers…I felt the need to take his Xbox 360 load it in a garbage bag…take his baseball bat and bash it to itty-bitty pieces all while telling him, ” This is because I love you!”

The truth is my urge to destroy that contraption was warranted, but severely misguided.

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I’m grateful that God doesn’t allow us to do some of the things we might want to do in a moment of passion…

After some careful communication with my boss and future boss…I realized that when mercy has been given, it’s our privilege to offer it to others no matter how big the offense.

Later that afternoon, I got a call from my son.  He’d gotten out of school early because of semester exams so his call was one requesting that I come all the way home to unlock the door for him.

Yes, I work about 25 miles from home and yes I usually have to pick my daughter up from school another 25 miles in the opposite direction, but I knew he needed me.

We kept playing phone tag for a minute, but when he finally reached me…his words, “Mama, it’s cold out here.  I’m locked outside. ”

I could have just as easily told him,

“I told you to bring a coat” or ” I don’t have gas to waste to pick you up and then go back to get up Kayla and then go back to her concert!”

Yep…she had a concert last night too….and I had less than a quarter tank of gas at the time of his request.  Yet, my heart knew that God wouldn’t do me like that.

 That’s the beauty of a loving parent/child relationship.

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Yes, we get angry with one another, but ultimately, we want what’s best for the other and we don’t intentionally want to hurt the other in the long run.  

It’s taken me a long time to grasp that concept so I’m grateful for understanding.  I’ve had to learn that lesson so well lately with regard to my own mother so what did I do?

First, I received his apology.  He was sitting outside and jumped in my car just to ride the distance from the end of the drive way to the garage and he said,

“I’m sorry for this morning. I was wrong.”

Funny thing is that I completely understood now.  I could see how God deals with my attitudes and disobedience with such mercy and love because while he felt the need to apologize to me, when he asked for my help, my willingness to drop everything to ensure he was okay was evidence enough that in my heart, I’d already forgiven him.

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Perhaps, he didn’t know that.  In fact, I’m sure that he had no idea that  I’d already forgiven him.  He felt the need to tell me how sorry he was.  In my humanness I was satisfied with this exchange.  However, God’s love is much stronger in that. He doesn’t wait around withholding forgiveness just because we haven’t admitted our fault.  Rather, He lavishes us with unconditional love that compels our heart to offer the same to others.

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©2014 Nadia Davis. All Rights Reserved.

Me? Too Tired to Worship? Not Anymore!

A couple months ago, my pastor preached a sermon entitled, How to Worship Wounded. I really needed to hear it then but figuring out how to worship wounded hasn’t really been my plight lately. Rather, I’ve just been doggone tired!  I mean physically tired, spiritually tired, emotionally tired….just TIDE…yes I intended to spell it that way!!! Even as I type these words, I’m fighting to stay awake so that I can do what I’ve planned and failed to do for at least 6 months or more…I’m heading to 8 am service…determined to not allow the cares of my yesterdays bog me down today.

I’m determined to remember the Sabbath!  

Exodus 20:8-11(ESV)

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Now I’ve often run across those verses over the years and until last week, they really hadn’t convicted me all that much.  Concluding the bible study series about rest, my pastor outlined how we as Christians have forgotten to do as this verse says…that we tend to do everything we couldn’t manage to do during the week on Sunday instead of resting in His presence alone.  I was not just guilty by association, but over the last few months even when I’ve been in the house of God, I too have been focusing on “other things.”

I was so caught up with being a single mom, working, cooking, cleaning, and fussing that I was too tired to receive the gift Christ came to give me.

Notice I said receive?

Yep, Jesus came, bled, died, and rose so that we could receive that which we could never earn on our own.  He came to lighten my load, but over the years, it seemed the more He offered the more I took back…As if He couldn’t handle it.

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

If one were to look at my life five years ago and compare it with today, one might consider I was a more mature Christian then.  I kept God first. There was not a decision I made without His peace.  I was not concerned about what people thought or said.  I realize how the enemy used a lot of “little distractions” to knock me off track.

I was still a baby in Christ, a child eager to sit in my Father’s lap and hang onto every word He said.  I trusted without question.  Now the only question I’ve been asking myself is why have I begun to feel like I can’t go to my Daddy like I used to do?  The long answer is a list of things I’ve done and haven’t done, but the short one is just that I’ve allowed guilt to form a wedge between us.  It’s not that God has closed a door or that He’s ever turned His back on me, rather, it seemed that I allowed everything to come before Him.  I’ve repented many times only to do little differently.

Now I understand that it was really that I lacked faith in His willingness to assist me when I needed it.  Let me explain.  I know that God is able to help me…He’s done it over and over, but because of the misguided underlying nagging that I needed to “do something” to receive His help was where I’ve erred.

Now I know I allowed myself to get so consumed by all that little stuff that  I completely neglected the notion that my emotional, physical, and mental rest all were directly impacted by the amount of spiritual rest I received.  Of course now that I type it, I can see how completely moronic it would seem not to realize this in the beginning, but life happens and we all make mistakes.

I suppose the only thing that separates us in wisdom and foolishness is that wisdom is achieved by learning from the mistakes made, while foolishness is marked by dwelling on them as if a different result would occur by doing the same thing.

Since I’ve been a Christian, I’ve learned what works…Keeping God first…so tired or not, I’m choosing to be wise and remember the Sabbath.

So I’ve finally broken up with my past…

For years, I blamed my mother for my lack of happiness as a child and in some ways even as an adult. I hung onto those feelings so tight that I believed they were just another part of me- something I couldn’t get rid of no matter how I tried.

I mean why else would I stay away so long?

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…Yet, as I drove to a place I once called home, I unpacked my heart.

I used my fight or flight instincts all wrong for years.  It doesn’t take much courage to run away. Instead of facing the hard moments head on, with few exceptions, I took the rode too often taken…

What might have been green once was now only laden with pebbles of broken promises, unfulfilled desires, missed opportunities, and those unfamiliar pieces-fragments of a beat-less heart.

Despite the barrenness of this path, my actions proved I was comfortable with uncomfortable.  It was familiar.

This road led to my new norm.  Though breathing daily, I became one of the dearly departed…

I expected a miracle with my mother’s recovery.  I assumed my faith was enough to reverse the illnesses that mercilessly waged war on her mind and body with each passing day.  But of what I saw was left of her in April brewed something I wish I could reject now.  I wish I hadn’t stuffed it.  I wish I hadn’t retreated.  I wish I had not done what I thought God should have done for me.

I disappeared.

…7 months I remained away…7 months I thought I had peacefully accepted the inevitable, but there had been anything but peace of mind available to me…

I hid that part of me from those I should have held the closest…a brother…I promised to keep in touch…somehow all else superseded that task…a son and daughter… they longed for attention, but a more fitting luxury was to be there, yet not be …potential for new love…snuffed by insecurities bred and nurtured by isolation…promotion just beyond reach…too exhausted to fully comply…I chose to remain detached…

…from my mother, from my family, from my fears, from commitment, from true friendships, from real love, from my calling, from myself, and even from God…

FEAR OF CHANGE was my fuel!

Delays with travel threatened to keep me in my bedroom even on Thanksgiving Day, but that’s when He came to see about me.

My Heavenly Father reminded me I’d been bent for too long…crippled for 18 years… bent by toxic words, vindictive glares, and rages because I was just being me…so at 18, I fled…I intended to never look back…

But how could I look forward when the lure of my past still taunted me day and night?  I was held captive by an unforgiveness that seethed in my heart…

Still my Redeemer comforted me with His word:

Luke 7:47 New Living Translation 

47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

In order for me to finally move forward, it was time to stand still…no more vanishing acts.

…and with every passing mile, I unpacked my mind.

She clung to life awaiting my return….

When I arrived at Grace, I expected the icy stare from the nurse who saw to my mother’s daily needs.  So as my daughter whittled our names on the register, I promised myself I would not cry.

The prognosis was bleak.

“Let me see if I can speak to you, what’s your name? Who are you?” she sneered flipping through a worn manila folder 2 inches thick.

Her gasp was expected too .  Still I managed the words, “I’m her daughter.”

In the fours years my mother had been housed there, she and I’d never met.

Resting the closed folder on her chest with arms folded as if she had a right to protect the details, she sighed, “It’s not good.  Every other day, we think she’s getting ready to pass, but she hangs in there.”

A tear escaped.

I knew why she fought.  The nurse’s olive eyes brightened for a moment as she continued with the details of the medicinal regimen she’d administered to her.  I inhaled her words methodically picking apart those I understood in silence.

Morphine every 8 hours

High Blood Pressure Meds

Ventilator

Feeding Tube

With that, my mind immediately regurgitated memories when she preferred the taste of my daughter’s kid’s meal as she quickly confiscated a handful of fries the moment we entered her room that first time we were there.

She’d been able to eat on her own then.

“Do you want to see her?”

I’m sure her question hadn’t been the reason for my jolt back to the blank corridor where we stood.  Rather, her attempt to shove the few tissues she grabbed from her cart into my trembling hands sparked recognition that I was doing the very thing I promised myself I wouldn’t mere minutes earlier.

Acknowledging her question, I nodded and offered a muddled response of, “I just couldn’t see her like this.”  Her grimace softened as if for at least a minute she understood.

I rested in this glimmer of hope that maybe I wouldn’t be judged for my absence and  followed her to the place I’d successfully avoided for so long.

…I unpacked my will

She led me to the room with the number 707 on the door.  The one I’d ironically just passed without taking notice of her name on the placard above the digits that symbolize completion.  I walked in at a little after 5 pm, but the room was serene and dark.  She was sleeping soundly.  Still tiny in comparison to the way I would have preferred to remember her.

Those Cherokee roots were more evident than ever now.  A single band corralled her crimped tresses in a side bun. Coal black strands concealed her true age though few iridescent stragglers remained…She still appeared only 10 years older than I.  As I stood there, I became weak.

So My Father picked me up and carried me the distance I knew I needed to travel…He knew that the shards of brokenness beneath my feet on that road I’d been wandering on before were too painful to endure alone.  Still, He understood my need to revisit that barren place, if only for a final time…to say goodbye…as only a Father could…He consoled me and allowed me to heal as he lowered me at her bedside.

For the first time in a long time, I opened up my heart to my mother.

Running from every other issue in my life had been my norm for nearly 2 decades.  I guess the enemy thought by witnessing my mother’s condition for perhaps the last time I’d continue to feel robbed of my childhood or that I’d turn my anger back on God for her suffering.

Instead I felt relief.  Soon she would no longer suffer….she’d suffered much longer than I had.  I realized that the pain she inflicted on me was only the residue left from her own similar afflictions she endured as a child.

Though she never was able to mouth the confirmation of her pain to me directly, her eyes said it all.

Before  I visited her, God prepared me.  I came across photos I had never seen…as I flipped through endless albums a progression of life, love, and family were revealed.  With it the snapshots also exposed an evolution of pain.

She was sexually abused as a child. Now I realize why in many ways her tyrannical behavior towards me was in some ways protective.   She distanced herself from me emotionally and perhaps this is what ingrained in me a fear of intimacy that would take years for me to own.  I could see why she possibly felt responsible for the violations she endured at the hands of the one she should have been able to trust.

Both sequences were simultaneously authentic and counterfeit foreign and familiar to me…authentic and counterfeit…manufactured too shared the same fake smile once my world was interrupted by intolerable cruelty.  It seemed as a child, my last genuine smile was when I was 7 years old.  Hmph…there’s that number again…One such picture that I uncovered of my mother shared that same smile.

She was captured in mid curtsy smiling ear to ear looking straight at the camera in her white laced Sunday’s best!  I wondered in that moment who had been the photographer.  Who brought her so much joy then?  Who was responsible for taking it?  The next shots canvassed were entirely different.  They captured a brokenness.  Again I understood the pasted facade for those required at school while others taken at home never quite held the same enchantment ….pictures where she clung to her mother’s leg as if that were her only hope of surviving the storm that raged within her.

That weekend bits and pieces of my mother’s existence were revealed as I fought through the urge to selfishly cling to the cancer that linked us.  I realized with God’s grace that I not only had permission to let the pain of my past go, but that I had the obligation to let my mother go as well. So as I gathered the strength to sing in her ear as she did to me before what ailed her surfaced.  The tune was so familiar…I realized why she constantly hummed it…”We only just begun to live…white lace and promises…” I understood that white lace and promises were what we shared once and as I hesitated to close the blinds and turn out the lights to what might have been, I did so beaming because I knew that we still would share that time again together someday.

©2014 Nadia Davis. All Rights Reserved.

Hey Ladies and Gents,

I’m curious. Are you still holding onto past hurts and regrets? How’s that working out for you? Tell me your story below!

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