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…

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

 

Paralyzation (Pronounced Par-uh-lah-za-shun)

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Paralyzation is the state of being paralyzed. It derives from the word “paralyze.” There are mixed reviews about whether this is a “real” word or not, but the term was real to me.

Frequently I will have other Christians ask me, “Why are you in therapy.”  Can you just pray to God about it?  Their questions got me to thinking.  Was I a weak Christian because I decided to go the route of therapy and prayer instead of just trusting only in prayer?  “Just wait on the Lord.” I really wanted to yell at them, “THAT’S EASY FOR YOU TO SAY! YOUR HUSBAND OR WIFE KISSES YOU GOODNIGHT EVERY NIGHT.  I HAVE TO VISIT MINE IN A CEMETERY!” It was not have been very nice, but it would have been what I was actually feeling.  But I kept my mouth shut and smiled.  I did wonder if my twice a week, and now monthly therapy appointments make me less of a believer and other believers?  Does this somehow make my testimony less impressive or less powerful?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!

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The more I have thought about; I have come to realize that I was paralyzed.  I was in a state of Paralyzation. Have you seen the show, ‘The Walking Dead”, that perfectly describes this time frame in my life. I was walking around going about the activities of my life, but I was not really there.  My body was there, but I was far from it.

I was very good in my paralyzed state.  I direct our plays, choirs, ran my different ministries in the church.  I participated in community service, and community activities, I worked and interacted with people, and I received my degree, all with a huge fake smile on my face.  I WAS IN A STATE OF PARALYZATION!  Only by the grace of GOD, I was I able to function.  If you paid close attention to my life… you could tell I was falling apart.

Like I have stated in previous blogs, I was pretty good at hiding what was really going on in my head.  The reality was the everything in my head was all jumbled up. I prayed, and I know that God heard my prayers.  That was not the problem.  The real problem was that I could not hear from Him.  Our relationship with God is two way.  We pray and petition, and make a request, but then we have to listen to His instruction.  There lies the problem; I could not hear His instructions. I was having trouble hearing from God.  This is where my wonderful therapist comes into my life.

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I said earlier that my mind was jumbled, right?  It was jumbled with dark, depressing, harmful, and unpleasant thoughts. I did not want to live, I could not breathe, I was barely functioning, and everything led me to tears!  I was in my very own state of Paralyzation. This is the reason why I needed to be in therapy.  I needed help dissolving the harmful thoughts in my mind.  It was as if these thoughts were banging loudly in my head, distracting me from hearing God’s voice.  I kept hearing the enemy say that, “I was worthless,” “I was better off dead,” and that, “I was not going to make it!”  I felt as if I had lost a big part of my inner self.  I felt as if I had failed God, and he left me.  This was more than grief I was experiencing.  The grief triggered this journey into darkness, but the darkness was starting to consume me.

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As I have always said, I was let by God to a Christian, a therapist. When I first met with my therapist, after I had cried my eyes out telling her what was going on in my life she told me, “Lolita, first I want to tell you that God loves you and HE is always with you.”  Little by little as we worked through my issues, God was able to make some significant replacements in my life.

My darkness was replaced with HIS light.
My depression was replaced with HIS hope and joy!
My harmful and unpleasant thoughts were replaced with HIS thoughts of peace, love, and happiness!
Praise GOD!!! The paralysis was gone, and I was able to face what was in front of me.  The enemy did not get to have his way, because I was able to hear GOD promises again whispering deeply into my spirit and my soul.

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I was able to hear that HE still love me.
I was able to hear that I am beautiful.
I was able to hear that I am worthy.
I was able to hear that I will survive this.
I was able to hear that my life was not done.
I was able to hear that HE has big plans for me.
I was able to hear that I need to help others.
I was just finally able to hear from GOD again.

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That was truly the sweetest sound I had heard in a long time.

I love you all!
Have a Blessed Evening!

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 5.1 Purging the House: Making my House into a Home “Taking the Plunge”

August 9, 2019

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 Pictures

Turning Point

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,

GodsCloset
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.

Moving Forward

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

Have a blessed and Amazing Day

Yes, I Have Changed, Wouldn’t You?

July 23, 2019

 

Yep, I sure have changed.  

You cannot go through and experience what I have experienced without changing.  Change can be good and I think that my changes are wonderful, but some may think otherwise. Guess what… Not my problem.  I will continue to love you, but I must continue to live for me.  Those who truly love 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 all very good days.  I am happy to report the most days are now very good days! 

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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 is as if I am looking through my eyes and everything is blurry and unclear, but I have worn this same prescription for years. However, now since my vision as changed so does my prescription.  My prescription had to be adjusted to adapt to the new changes in my eyes. My vision is very different than it was this 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 still a work in progress, God is not through with me yet.  

I love you all!!
Have a Wonderful and Amazing Morning!

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There was an old song we used to sing in the choir when 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.

 

Please Be Patient With Me “God Is Not Through with Me Yet”

 

Okay, I had one of those white blouses with the ruffles in the video!! It was a choir requirement! LOL

***Video and Picture courtesy of Youtube[Merlin] The Malaco Music Group (on behalf of Malaco Records); Peermusic, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., and 2 Music Rights Societies

(James Clevland and Albertina Walker)

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!