For me, restoration means reestablishingand discoveringwho I am outside ofwho I was. I am learning to find my own way with my rules. I can tell you in the past three years I have made tons and tons of mistakes. There were so many things I was not aware of or had never done. You must realize I went from my grandmother’s home to my husband’s house. My life was completely turned upside down in every single area! There are things I wish I knew, there are things I wish I hadn’t done, and many there are many things that I have done that I am very proud of.But…
For a while, I did whatever I wanted because I seriously was not planning on living for long. (Don’t be surprised or shocked... depression and grief are real, and I was suffering!) But then after hours of prayer and therapy, God convincedme of my worth on my own and thatI was NOT going anywhere! He said He had somethings I needed to do; He wasnotfinishwith me. Now I needed to get my act together! I do have some major cleaning up in my life to do, but I know that I am not alone!
My life now is nothing like I thought it would be. Nothing worked out the way I wanted or the way I planned. However, my life is not bad, it’s not easy, it’spretty good, but I am also learning every day how to move forward with the hand I have been given. God has placed some extraordinary people in my life that pray for me, check on me, and will continue to love me in spite of my defects, flaws, and imperfections.
They are my…
Let me leave you with this: Mostlywe mustknow that God will loveus, forgiveus, never leaveus, and guideusno matter whatwedo.He will always be there for us. Believe me; it took me a while to get back to this frame of mind and way of thinking.
What is left now… I continue to move forward, learn from my mistakes, and operate in the attitude of restoration. Meaning I will not be hard on myself forliving and makingmistakes. I am thankful to be alive, breathing, walking, testimony ofHISgreat love for me. I am a mess,but,HEwill take this mess and turn it into agreatmessage!
After all, that I have mentioned in previous posts, you would not believe that my home was my toughest area to purge. I would please ask that this become a no-judgment zone because you can’t imagine what we were going through to function every day. This area is tough for me to write about, probably because for me, it brought me the most shame. I was embarrassed that I let my home get into this condition. However, I did learn through my therapist that this is normal when you are grieving such a significant loss. There was no need for shame and condemnation, and I was taking action!
Purging and organizing was a huge deal and a significant overhaul for us, so I will break this up into parts, showing before and after going room by room after I introduce you to our Dream Team.
A House vs. A Home
There is a big difference between a house and a home. Merriam –Webster stats the proper definition for a house is, “a building that serves living quarters for one or a few families.” The description for home is, “one’s place of residence, a social unit formed by a family living together.” Those are excellent definitions, but, I believe that a house is somewhere you live, you sleep there, but it feels like a residence, dwelling, domicile, somewhere you exist. A home is a family. It is warm, inviting, and it is your refuge, your oasis. It should be your escape from the real world. When you walk into your home, you should feel joy, love, and warmth. My house was nothing like that. I knew I had to make a change in my home life when I wanted to spend more time at work or more time away instead of going home.
I would come home every evening and sigh. This house was not my haven, and it was not my escape. It was my prison. There was a room in my home that we called the “Man Cave” that looked like Michael had just left and was going to return any day. He kept that room immaculate and always told us when he left to go TDY to keep his room together. We all loved to hang out down there. At first, that room was comforting, and we all felt closer to him when we were in there, then it became overwhelming. Other areas of our home were disorganized, nothing had a place, and we needed a change, and we needed to purge.
Before: Man Cave
Before: Man Cave
Before: Man Cave Pictures
I started by deciding that it was time for me to do something with all of Michael’s things. I held on for two years, trying time after time to clean out my closet. Deep down, I knew that he was not coming back, but when I decided to start, I would get overwhelmed, start crying, and then walk out of the room. I knew It had to be done but, I was paralyzed, and I could not do it. No matter how much I wanted to or how hard I tried to do this, I could not! I needed help.
One-day months later, I was finally able to pack up all of most of Michael’s clothes and donate them. We have a free garage sale in our town called “God’s Open Closet,” ran by the Fortress of Faith Church,
2700 Wilson Ave, Leavenworth, Kansas
If you live in my area…
The ministry of God’s Open Closet is to provide clothes, coats, household items, and furniture to anyone who has a need. Individuals who come are never asked for personal or financial information.
Items are donated by local families, churches and from area garage sales. Tax-deductible receipts are available upon request. To donate: bring items Saturday mornings or call (913) 683-3953, (913) 682-6779, or (913) 704-6033. Hours: Saturdays from 8 a.m. to Noon. Closed the 3rd Saturday of each month and Holiday weekends. Subject to weather conditions January to March.
You can donate what you do not need (in good conditions), and they give them away to the community. I know that Michael is pleased to know that someone in need was able to use his clothes and shoes; this made it easier for me. That was a big step in moving forward for me, but there was still more to be done.
For me to move forward, I needed not to let go but discover MY way to embrace my new normal, and I knew that this was one of the areas I needed to conquer. It is not about erasing what was it is about remembering all that was, what I have learned, how I have grown and built upon the strength that the Lord has given me to stand in my current life. I had no choice but to move forward because time was not waiting for me. Jeremiah 29:11 tells me that God has things planned for me, for my future, and I needed to learn how to embrace my past and also embrace my future.
I love you all
You cannot go through and experience what I have experiencedwithout changing. Change can be good and I think that my changes are wonderful, but some may thinkotherwise.Guess what…Not my problem. Iwill continue tolove you,but I must continue to live for me. Those whotrulylove me understand that and continue to stand in my corner and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
You must understand that deep grief and depression will change you and challenge your existence in this world. When you have to fight the enemy so hard just to exist… you change. You do not come out of the battle the same. There are some scars.
When I say that I have changed, I mean that God has made me stronger, resilient, and I realize that I can do more than survive. I can live! By any means necessary I will live.
Let me tell you this if I continue to not only get up out of my bed every morning but also have pure joy in my heart and my soul, those days are allverygood days. I am happy to report the most days are now very good days!
You see I have to change to adapt to the world I am living in, in my present state. Now before you say, “You do not suppose to change to fit into the world.” I am not changing to fit the world I am adjusting to my circumstances. I can no longer afford to be the Lolita I used to be. Financially, physically, or emotionally, my points of views have changed. Let me explain: I wear glasses,so it isas ifI am lookingthrough my eyesand everything is blurry and unclear, but I have worn this same prescription for years. However,now since my vision as changed so doesmy prescription. My prescriptionhad to beadjustedto adapt to the new changes in myeyes.Myvision isvery different thanit wasthis time three years ago.This time three years ago I lived with a different set of circumstances, responsibilities, and hopes, which I still have but they are now different because I am different.
I am continually evolving into something new.God is doing something wonderful in me! God is leading me down a new and different direction, a new path, and I am trying to follow his lead. The Lord knows His daughter, and I may not do everything to his specifications but I am trying. I am still a beautiful masterpiece, yet I am stilla workin progress, God is not through with me yet.
I love you all!!
Have a Wonderful and Amazing Morning!
There was an old song we used to sing in the choirwhen I was younger, by the Rev. James Cleveland;
Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet. Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet. When God gets through with me, when God gets through with me, I shall come forth, I shall come forth like pure gold. If you should see me and I’m not walking right, and if you should hear me and I’m not talking right; Please remember what God has done for me, When He goes through with me, I’ll be what He wants me to be.
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)
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.
FAITH OVER FEAR
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.
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.
Here is part 2 of Purging my Life. As I continue to write about my process, I am gaining more clarification on my purpose, and learning about who I am today. God is still molding me, making me into what he wants me to become. I am still a work in progress.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 )
Spiritual Purge is like the detoxification of my soul. When you go through a traumatic experience, you start to question every aspect of your life. My connection with the Lord is the most important connection I will ever have, yet I was questioning God’s importance in my life due to what I thought he did not do for my family and me. satan made a home for me and he was working in the darkness of my depression. He was trying to keep me in despair. I had to get rid of him; he needed to be purged from my life!
I tried to look for the positive’s aspects of my life, but I could not find any. Yes, I did have many positives in my life. However, I was so clouded with grief that I could not see the goodness of God in my life. I was choosing to focus on the darkness, the negative, my grief, and pain.
Now do not get me wrong I am not saying that we should not experience our grief and pain, but I am saying it is how we choose to go through it. As long as I was enabling the darkness in my life, it was taking over every aspect of my life. My lack of joy and happiness was centered on that fact I was allowing the darkness to rule.
I think that in the depth of our darkness is where depression finds its roots. I was enabling my residence in darkness and despair. This is also where Satan, the enemy of our soul dwells. If he could keep me in this darkness where my focus was only on my grief and pain, he had control over my emotion and thoughts.
He was the cause of my suicidal thoughts.
He was the cause of my darkness and despair.
He was the cause of the pain I was feeling.
He was the cause of my negative feelings
But, I gave him access.
But, I gave him power over me.
I allowed him to keep me in the darkness!
I allowed him to push God further and further away.
I allowed his voice to dominate God’s voice.
I chose not to pray!
I chose not to have faith and hope in God!
I chose to focus on my grief and only that!
Things had to change in my spiritual walk, or I was not going to survive!
The not so funny thing about this darkness and depression was that everyone thought I was fine! I was strong and resilient, but I was screaming and dying on the inside!
I could have been easily one of those scenarios where if I had decided to commit suicide people would have said, “She seemed so together and doing so well” No one knew the real pain and turmoil I was going through!
I have always told my teens that they could get through any adversity no matter how hard it was because God was always with them! Here I was going through the biggest fight of my life and I could not heed my own words!
I was a hypocrite!
I was a living walking facade!
I was a FAKE!
One night I prayed and cried out to God, “I can’t do this anymore!” I wanted this pain to end, but God grabbed hold of me. You see, he NEVER left me. He was by my side, even in the darkness, in the pain, counteracting the enemy’s voice.
When the enemy was telling me:
I was useless.
I was dumb and I would never finish my degree!
I cannot run this house by myself and do the things that Michael used to do.
My daughters do not respect me the way they respected him.
They would be better off without me!
“You are nothing without him!”
“God does not even want you!”
To say that I was devastated would be an understatement! I was broken!!!
My heart was shattered into a million pieces!!
However, God intervened and told me he still had great things planned for me. My work was not done, and my journey is not complete! God was there with His hand outstretched for me to take it. I not only saw my babies; I saw the people who love me, and I knew I had a choice to make!
I HAD to make a choice to trust God and live!
Set your mind on things that are above and not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)
I had to purposely set my mind and focus on the things of God. Through a lot of crying, deliberation (with God) and myself, praying, and therapy, I was able to put my focus on the Lord, and not on my circumstance. I was still sad, lonely, broken, and sometimes angry but those are normal feelings when you are going through grief, and I had to go through them, and I am still going through them. Regardless of the deep hole of despair, I was living in, I chose to focus on the positive things in my life.
I had lost focus of the prize.
I had lost focus of God.
I had lost focus of His love for me.
When my focus changed, (Thank you JESUS) I was able to kick the enemy to the curb and focus my concentration on my healing and moving my life forward to the next chapter.
Where the enemy had me convinced, that God had not just forgotten about me but that He had thrown me away, I chose to step out on all the faith I had! I had a foundation that was set long before tragedy had struck and turned my life upside down. I believe that God knew this day was coming and he prepared my family and me! From the time that Michael was diagnosed, we took a stand of FAITH!
“And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.” Zechariah 13:9
It may not have been the outcome that we wanted, but it was the one that occurred. I was already equipped with the strength and courage to handle this, but not on my own. I had to plug into the source of my strength, and courage. I had to reconnect with the One who created me and knows me like no other! I had to find my focused again. I had to reconnect with my Lord! It was time! Because I had a voice and a story to tell and it was time to use it!
I had a phenomenal weekend hanging out with my beautiful Sorors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc for my 1st Founders Day Celebrations! We celebrated 106 glorious years of our sisterhood! If you know me, then you know this is definitely a dream come true for me. It was thirty plus years in the making!
This morning I heard such a good word on both of my prayer lines, so I just had to share!
Many of you know I love music and I love to sing. One of my favorite songs that we sing in church is called, “Trading my Sorrows”
I’m trading my sorrows
And I’m trading my shame
And I’m laying it down
For the joy of the Lord
And I’m trading my sickness
And I’m trading my pain
I’m laying it, laying it, laying it down
For the joy of the Lord
I’m pressed but not crushed
Persecuted, not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
And I am blessed beyond the curse
For His PROMISE will endure
That His joy is going to be my strength
Though my sorrows may last for the night,
His joy comes with the morning
The words to this song have taken special meaning to me in the past few years.
I can tell you from my own life experiences, I have has my share of difficulties in these past few years but I can tell you this…
I am never defeated, dejected, hopeless, or destroyed. God plucked my out of the darkness, where I wanted to stay and die, and HE broke through that curse of depression that the enemy tired to place over my life. I prayed and I read GOD healing words of love, redemption, and his promises to me.
Minister Kai told us to “Stand on the word of GOD and let it bless you.” He said, “Let the word do what it is going to do.”
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
Meaning, wait on the LORD and let his word accomplish its purposes for our life.
My Sis Aisha Dudley said in our team prayer this morning, we are NOT to focus on our problems for put our energy and our focus towards the PROMISES of GOD.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)
No matter what the enemy throws at us, no matter what it may looks like, no matter what it may feel like we have to focus on the PROMISES of the LORD and know that HE has already won the victory! Without LORD, we can accomplish nothing. He has HIS plans for our life already laid out for us we just need to continue to hold on and believe that with God NOTHING is impossible.
I know that my LORD PROMISES:
And so much more (read HIS Word)
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with GOD. (Luke 18:27)
I can testify that my sorrows may have lasted for a night but HIS amazing, remarkable, supernatural, joy always come in the morning! I have traded all my sickness, shame, worry doubt, and I have laid it down for the JOY of the LORD
There is a song that my teen choir sings called, “It’s A New Season”
“It’s a new season, it’s a new day
A fresh anointing is flowing my way
It’s a season of power and prosperity
It’s a new season coming to me”
When Michael passed, it left a tremendous void in my life. For a while, I did not know what I was going to do or how I was going to survive the next second. Every aspect of my life totally changed. Every dream, every goal, my future plans, even my own purpose had to be reconfirmed, redefined, and reevaluated.
When tragedy strikes in your life, we have to take the time to reevaluate our lives. While I was learning to live through my worst nightmare, I still had to learn who I was without him, and rediscover who I am with GOD.
The year of 2016 was the worst her of my entire life. We went from diagnoses, treatment, and then death. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
The year of 2017 was a year of crying, anger, sadness, depression, love, connection, healing, learning, prayer, and trusting in GOD. “Weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
SO, last year, 2018, was a season of rediscovery, redefining who I am, and who GOD is now molding me to become. The LORD helped me to make some dreams a reality. “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)
This year, 2019 is a new year and a brand new season.
BUT, let me tell you what is NOT going to happen.
There will be…
No room for regrets
I will let my faith be bigger than my fears.
I will continue to trust in GOD.
I will be stronger
I will be braver
I will love and love hard
I will be happy
I will serve
I will grow
I will live my life with purpose
I will worry less and pray more
I will expect the unexpected
I will be persistent in my dreams and goals
I will NOT GIVE UP!
I will NOT GIVE IN!
I am not sure what you are going through in this phase of your life but know this… GOD is always in control and he is only a prayer away. Maybe this is your year for rediscovery, growth, or increase.
Is this your year to not only step outside of box but to crush the box?
Only you can look deep into yourself and determine this.
My prayer is, LORD, I know you are always by my side and I know I have a fresh anointing coming! “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
Lord I am ready to move to the next level.
Lord, I am ready to CRUSH the BOX!