10 Day Walk Out of the Valley of Darkness Day 4 – Decisions

Day 4 – Decisions

God will give you strength for every battle, wisdom for every decision, the peace that surpasses understanding….

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting GOD know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of GOD’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when CHRIST displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4: 6-7 MSG)

This 4th Day 3 years ago, was overwhelming with FINAL decisions, choices, conclusions, and resolutions. Who, What, Why, When, and How were questions that had to be asked and answered.  Every tough, painful, agonizing, gut-wrenching decision made was made with GODLY wisdom, counsel, and much prayer. My future, our daughter’s future, my in-Loves (in-laws) future, our family, and friend’s futures were all at stake in our decisions. 

I had to consider and wonder about what that we were robbed of and things that will never happen. Future graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries that would be missing a heart.  Walks down the aisles, grandbabies being held and spoiled, days sitting and watching grandbabies play, futures were forever altered, and alternate realities were becoming real.

Day 4 was marked with suffering…

Yet, I was reminded not to fret or worry, and instead of worrying, pray. When I would look at this scripture over the years, I never thought it meant in a difficult circumstance like this. But you know our LORD, HE meant in all circumstances even the painful and agonizing circumstances! 

It was not easy, but I had to give it over GOD and lay it at the foot of the Cross.  I knew whatever happened. He was in control. 

This decision at this moment later saved my life…

Day 1-10 Day Walk Out Of The Valley of Darkness!

Day 1

I woke up this morning with such a heaviness in my spirit…

I remember…

This Day three years ago, I had entered into what I call my 10 day walk into the darkness…

This is the day three years ago, my hope was fading fast, and my walk with grief and depression started…

This is the day three years ago when the tears would not stop…

This is the day three years ago when the anger was uncompromising …

This is the day three years ago when prayers were needed the most…

This is the day three years ago when a beautiful life was coming to an end…

This is the day three years ago when we had to make the toughest decision of our lives..

This is the day three years ago when I had to put all my hope, faith, and trust in GOD.

This is the day three years ago when I had to accept HIS will…

I knew then, as I STILL know now that..

HE is STILL my GOOD and PERFECT SHEPHERD , MY LORD,

I STILL lack for nothing!

HE STILL makes me lie down in green pastures,

HE STILL leads me beside the quiet waters

HE STILL refreshes my soul!

HE is STILL guiding me along the right paths, for HIS namesake

LORD as I enter into this 10 day walk into the valley and shadow of death…

I am STILL NOT afraid

Because YOU are STILL with me

YOU STILL protect and comfort me!

YOU STILL prepare a table before me in the presence of those who wish to see harm come to my family and me.

YOU STILL anoint and refresh my head and my life with oil,

My cup STILL continues to run over.

YOUR goodness

YOUR mercy

YOUR agape love STILL follows my family and me

All of OUR lives, so that we can dwell in YOUR house forever and ever.

I Praise YOU, FATHER, STILL today!

YOU are GOOD

YOUR grace and mercies towards me are everlasting!

In JESUS name…

AMEN!

Forgiveness

 October 3, 2019

Okay, I know this won’t be the most popular opinion, but…

I try not to divulge into controversial issues on social media, but I felt I needed to speak out in support of a member of the Jean Family.

First…

Amber Guyger is definitely guilty of Murder and should have gotten a longer sentence.  There are black and brown people in prison that have received more time for selling drugs than she received for killing another human.  Both offenses are wrong, but the punishment should match the crime. 

Secondly, Now… Forgiveness….

I look at this from a Christian perspective, because that is what I am first and foremost a child of GOD.  You can say I am looking at things through rose-colored glasses, but I am just trying to see people the way Jesus does. 

The bottom line as Christians, the Bible tells us, “The Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13 

We forgive because God forgives. If He can do it, so can any of us. Right?

I know it is hard because I have had to forgive people for some horrendous things in my life. But you know what? I felt better because once I let that burden go, I left it at the foot of the cross and the feet of Jesus.  Until I forgave, I was bitter and consumed with what happened to me and the hate I was embracing.  It was eating at me from the inside. It was affecting my family and me. You have no idea how hard it is to grieve and forgive. Once I truly forgave, I was at peace in my heart, my mind, and my soul. 

Now with that being said, I have not forgotten because I won’t allow myself to be hurt again, but I am at peace to move on with my life without harboring hate in my heart. I refused to be held hostage or give the power of my thoughts, feelings, life, and soul to anyone, but Christ.  When my time comes, and I stand before God, I don’t want to have any hate or unforgiveness in my heart for anyone.

You cannot have hate in your heart and say that you love God.  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) 

I chose to forgive mostly for me, and other people benefited from my obedience.

The Jean family are a Christian family, and I am sure that Botham’s brother, Brandt, prayed and received enough peace and understanding from God to forgive.  It was reported that he carried a Bible into court with him most days, and he was seen reading during court.  He will never forget, and yes, there is still hurt, questions, and some anger. He is not weak, as some have said, but he is strong because he forgave.

He has decided to have the peace of knowing that because God has forgiven him many times over, he chose to forgive. 

Amber has received an amazing gift of grace from Brandt, and the last thing she heard from him was, “I pray you find Jesus Christ” Brandt has done his job and planted a seed for Christ to cultivate it and cause it to grow.  We don’t repay evil with evil. If she does not receive the grace and mercy that has been afforded to her and make a change, then that is between her and God. 

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21)

Botham’s mother said that she is not ready for forgiveness, but she is getting closer to it.  This is okay and perfectly normal.  Forgiveness is a process that we have to go through to get to the point where we can forgive. BUT we must forgive! I can’t stress that enough; from my own experience, we must forgive. 

I am not sure if they are going to appeal (I imagine they will), but just the pure act of grace that Brandt showed is not a sign of weakness, but it is an excellent sign of faith in God and the strength he has drawn from Him. 

“Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong; it makes you bitter, forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free.” (Anonymous) 

May we all continue to pray for everyone involved.

Okay I am off my soapbox

I love you all with the love of Christ in me!

Have a blessed rest of your day!

 

 

Purging my Life 5.2 Purging the House Making my House into a Home “Meet My Dream Team”

September 2, 2019

My Dream Team

Now before I get further into this part of the Blog, you must know that I did not do this by myself.  Remember I said above I tried and tried to do this. But we (my daughters and I) were paralyzed and overwhelmed.  We could not do anything but survive the pain that consumes our heart.  We knew that this was not the way to live, nor was it the way we wanted to live.  Our house was not nasty by any means. It was just cluttered and unorganized.  I have to give you the back story about who we call our Dream Team and our deep connection to them.

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Meet my organizers Lauren Poe & Kike Ojo, Clutter to Clean.

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Jose and Elaine Belardo

Elaine Belardo (also my one of Spiritual Advisor) will beautify, and turn your house into a home by making it a cozy, warm, oasis. She is also the founder of the “Deeper Windows Project” that she founded when her husband Jose’ Belardo, was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Ironically he was diagnosed around the same time Michael was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in 2016.

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Elaine, Mike, and Jose

I want to tell you how God works in our lives.  I know for a fact that He knows what we need before we know we will need it. He prepares us for things that we are going to go through in our future, and he places the people you will need to lean on and glean from in your life and specific times.  Only God can orchestrate our lives like this.

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The book of Jeremiah states, “For I know that plans I have for you. Declares the LORD. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you a home and a future.”   God knew what was ahead for my life from the moment I was born, and when I looked back on my life, I can see where God was preparing me for such a time.  He has always had, and He still does have my best interest always in mind. I prayed for a way out and trusted in the LORD, and He answered my prayers!

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Tragedies can pull people apart, but they can also bond you for life!

When I met Elaine, her daughter Lauren was in high school. Looking back, both of our families were in a high season of our lives.  Michael was retired after 21 years in the military and had a good after the military carrier going and Jose’ was a distinguished officer with U.S. Public Health Service.  We were all very active in our churches and communities.  Elaine was in charge of one of our Chapels Women’s group here at Fort Leavenworth, where we became friends.  When our husbands were diagnosed with their respective debilitating diseases, we shared the bond of becoming caregivers to our husbands who were both the STRONG head of their household, something at our age we were not expecting!

Unfortunately, as you know, Michael made his transition home to be with God, but we both soon discovered that we were both grieving what was to be our future and we became each other’s shoulders to lean on. She has been there for me even though all of the work, pain, and grief she is going through.  We have been each other’s sounding boards because some people, as well-meaning as they are, do not understand this type of grief and what it takes to keep going day by day.  She has helped my girls and me through some of our darkest days and is always there to help us celebrate the good times in this new normal of our lives. I hope I am doing the same for her. I am proud to not only call her a part of our village, but she and our dream team are a part of our family. (I am still waiting on my adoption papers to come through)

So, to have them come in a do a total overhaul on our house was more comfortable than having strangers in my home.  They had stock in our memories and an investment in our lives. Because they knew us personally, they knew how difficult this was and would be.  They were very gentle and loving throughout the entire process, which took a couple of months.  If the girls and I had to do this on our own, it would have taken us years to complete this type of project.  Lauren and Kike kindly encouraged us to purge and did not push if something was too difficult to process or get rid of; they just found a way to organize it.  Wait, now I am getting ahead of myself.  Purging and reorganizing in the middle of a difficult situation is very hard and can be excruciating.  But our Dream Team made the task bearable and yes, sometimes even fun!

I love you all

Have a blessed and Amazing Day

 

Sleep Won’t Come

August 23, 2019, 2:51 AM

I tried to close my eyes,
I tried to shut down but my mind is still humming,
but sleep won’t come.

My mind wonders and worries about things that I can’t control
I give them to God, but I keep picking them like my soul can’t be consoled
Because sleep won’t come.

When I close my eyes, the images from the day’s events won’t let my mind shut down
There is a soundtrack in my head that plays a familiar sound
But sleep won’t come.

Most of the time it is that God loves me, and I am enough
But the voice of doubt that keeps me awake at night tries to rebuff
It makes sure that sleep won’t come.

Even though I know that God will see me through and Jesus is on my side,
I sometimes feel as if I am going through the motions and my mind is misapplied
Because sleep won’t come.

Even though I feel botched, bungled, mishandle, misunderstood, I still go on
I don’t give up no matter what the enemy throws at me, my mind is tired
Yet sleep still won’t come.

HIS light, that’s the light of the world, is always shining upon me.
I am a light in the midst of the darkness,
But still…sleep won’t come.

Rest is fleeting, and I am fatigued.,
But still… sleep won’t come, but nevertheless, I am intrigued.

Because I remember… “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

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I will come to you Lord and seek the rest that you give.
I will go on, and I will continue to live the life that you want me to live.

I will rest in you LORD, and I will continue to seek YOUR face.
I won’t grow weary because I am covered my YOUR amazing grace.

I have prayed, and now I will close my eyes and trust in Your Lord

Finally, my sleep will be restored

And yes, REST will finally come.

Purging my Life 4: Physically Purging the house and the body Body Purge/ Heart Matters

July 18, 2019

The Body

I am still developing this area; it is a work in progress.  This is a two-step process for me.  One involves the heart the other involves the physical body. There will be more to come on the physical body.  I am working on my plan to become physically healthy.  My daughter and I are adopting the Keto Diet and an exercising program.  I am doing the meal prep and she is coordinating our exercise program.  I will make sure to keep you updated on our progress and what we are doing, and how we are doing.  Y’all keep praying for me! (lol)

The Heart

Now the matters of the heart are different altogether.  Shortly after Michael’s transition in 2016, I had a talk with my Pop, (Pop Skipp), and he told me not to close off my heart. I asked him what did he mean by that because surely he did not mean what I was thinking.  He did.  He said that Michael would not want me to be alone and that he would want me to be happy. I told him I know but that would never happen, ever! It was the furthest thing from my mind.  Actually, I told one of my brothers at church that God would have to put someone right in front of me for that to happen. This will have to wait for another blog post discussion at a later date. (Smile)

Matters of the heart involve more than just the love of another person.  Yes, that is very important; because we all desire the need to be wanted and loved but matters of the heart also include your passions.  What you are passionate about should fuel your heart, encourage you, and stimulate you to move forward.  This was a time that I used to work on myself.

Life-Long Goal #1: Bachelor’s Degree

Despite the enemy’s rude accusations and intrusion in my life, in 2017 I DID finish a lifelong dream that he said I could never accomplish!

I completed my Undergraduate Degree!

From the time that I had to leave school in the ’80s, I have always had the desire to finish my degree.  I grew up in Highland Park Michigan in a small town surrounded by the Detroit Metro area, with my cousins, the Heaths.  My Grandmother’s married last name was Shaw, but she was born in Warrington GA. Yes, she is the one who taught me how to cook.

I had been in school from 2008 to 2017!  So yes, I was discouraged and especially then because I seriously doubted myself.  I was very close in In May of 2016, but due to Michael declining health, I decided to take a break. This was important for me because I wanted to be there fully for him as his caregiver.

In January 2017 a few months after his transition, I thought I was ready. You know the enemy was waiting on me! I enrolled in classes and I started getting anxious, and the thoughts came that I was not ready, I could not do this, and I was going to fail. I dropped the classes I and I had succumbed to defeat. Nevertheless, we serve an awesome GOD that does not give up on us that easily!

A few weeks later, my academic advisor called me, and he noticed that I had dropped out of classes for this session.  His exact words were, “I know you are having a rough time and dealing with many things right now. But I wanted you to know that you only need 3 elective classes to graduate” I said “What!” He said, “Yes ma’am you only need three classes and they are electives to receive your diploma” Let me tell you taking two online classes in an 8-week period is not an easy task and I needed to take three!  However, was determined to finish!

One of the last conversations I had with Michael was about school, and how much it was costing and how long I had been going. He said “Lita, I don’t care about all of that, I just want you to finish” I pushed and prayed through those 8 weeks and on May 15, 2017, I received my Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies!

 

I am finally a college graduate!! GOD IS GOOD!!

Life-Long Goal #2: Membership

For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be a part of a Sorority, but not just any sorority.  I admired different women in my life that were members of this organization for years.  I knew to be a part of a group of strong, extraordinary, educated women; I needed to step up my game. I did not just watch from the shadows, I continued life.  I worked in my church and my community among many of these women.  They are already my friends and sisters.

On January 13, 2018, I went to a meeting to gather more information and to let it be known that I was interested in starting the application process for membership into their organization.  After receiving all of the necessary information, I began to gather my own documents and information needed for the application.  Once I completed the application process, I waited and prayed hoping that I was among those selected to be granted the opportunity to seek membership into this illustrious organization.  I finally received a call that I was selected, and I was ecstatic!!  My 13 line sisters and I entered into an exhilarating, enlightening, and knowledgeable process, and on April 15, one day shy of what would have been my 30th wedding anniversary; I fulfilled a lifelong dream we were granted membership into the greatest sorority on the planet, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Even though it was the day before what was our wedding anniversary, this day turned out remarkable!  Here I was still healing and dealing with my grief, anger, sadness, and depression.  Thinking about what could have been and once again, God showed up and gave me a new reason to celebrate during this period.  It could have been a week before or a week earlier, but it was the same week.  (God’s divine plan) From that day on this time from in April will NOT be a source of sorrow and regret it will be a time of reflection, remembrance, and celebration.  I will always remember April 16th but I will celebrate the time that I gain not only 13 new sisters, but I also became a part of a worldwide sisterhood.

I was doing more than learning to survive in this new phase, this new chapter of my life, I was learning to live.  I am stepping out into new horizons and experiencing things I have never experienced before. I have people who love and encourage me to be myself and not to fear what God has in store for me.

Someone very special told me “I could do anything I put my mind to do.”

 

I am stepping out on faith and giving this new chapter in my life a try. Does it terrify me to think about putting my heart and myself out there after 30 years? YES, it does.  Nevertheless, it is all a part of the process of moving forward.

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I am activating God’s plan for the rest of my life.  I am plugging into what he has already instilled in me.  I may not have known what the future holds but God did, and HE has prepared me for it, and I am ready for whatever HE has in store for me next. Chapter 2 is underway.

I love you all!

Be at peace & Have a Beautifully & Blessed Day!

Purging my Life: Part 3 (continue..) Mentally Learning How to Breathe Again Purging the Toxins Out of My Mind and Finding Joy Again

July 5, 2019

My Therapy Experience

My experience with therapy has been nothing but awesome and positive.  God had led me to an amazing therapist, which I connected with, and I started my journey to healing and wellness. 

Remember those stages of grief I told you about earlier, I have hit them all and I sometimes bounce back and forth between them depending on the triggers or what is going on in my life at the time. In February of 2017, when I sat down with my therapist the first thing she said was, “Lolita, tell me what is going on with you.” I started to tell her all the things that had been going on in my life thus far. After about 30 minutes and many Kleenex later, I finally let her speak.  She said, “Lolita, I first want you to know that you have done nothing wrong and God is always with you.”  I knew that because she first acknowledged God before anything else I knew that I was in the right place and that God had led me to the right therapist.  

I started out seeing my therapist twice a month.  I had a lot of things I needed to work out and my emotions, my moods, and my thoughts were all over the place. My therapist was able to give me the tools I needed to combat and battle depression.   After attending a few sessions, I knew that there was no way would I be able to do this on my own.  Yes, I did pray and I prayed a lot.  My village was praying for me and getting therapy was the answer to our prayers.  However, I had to get off my butt and seek help instead of sinking deeper and deeper into depression.  God would not let me give up, so off to therapy I went. 

Session after session I felt myself becoming stronger and coping with my emotions. I was able to be a strong mother for my daughters and others who were grieving along with us. I remember after one of my sessions I thought to myself, “I am going to make it,” “The enemy will NOT win,” “I will survive this,” “Victory is mine because I have victory in JESUS.”  

It was because of my therapy that I am writing this blog.  It is because of therapy I am alive to write this blog! I wanted others to know that therapy is not a bad thing. Therapy is not the taboo or this evil that has been wrongly categorized in our community for years.  Therapy is very healthy and I believe that for me it is essential to my self-care.

I have been in therapy for over two years now.  By now, monthly sessions have been crucial to my overall well-being. My head is clearer, I can think straight, and my therapist is helping me to work on future goals, now that I know that I still have a future.  Yes, I believe the Lord always had a plan for me but I also know that I could not see past my own hurt, pain, misery, destruction and whatever negative word you can insert, to accept and embrace HIS plan.  

Therapy for me is a gateway to help me see past any negative thoughts or perceptions I have about my life or myself.  This has enabled me to see the bright and prosperous future that the Lord has intended for me. Remember you are stronger than you think you are. Do not be afraid to seek the help you need. Make that appointment with a therapist today.  You should be afraid if you do not seek help and end up staying in the same depressive state you may be currently experiencing, and THAT is NOT healthy!

It is not about “telling your business,” or “keeping things in the house”. It is about making sure you are mentally healthy.  It is about taking care of yourself. It is about self-motivation, self-care, and self-preservation.  It is about learning how to breathe again and discovering that joy again in your life. 

I know that if I can do it so can everyone else!

 

I love you all! 

Be at peace & Have a Beautifully Blessed Day!