Lessons from Tybee

One of the greatest things about being at the beaches the sound of waves crashing on the shore, hearing the playful sounds of seagulls and watching the sun rise or set on the ocean. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being at the beach and when I thought of my yearly ‘me-cation’, I planned to visit Tybee Island, GA. For an overthinker such as myself, I researched everything I wanted to do, created a checklist for food spots, etc. What I didn’t plan on were so many in your face life lessons. For those who don’t know, I tend to look for the lesson in different situations, probably because this has been one way that God consistently speaks to me. Sometimes it’s a gentle nudge, other times, a smack in the face.

I got both of those today while exploring what is also known as ‘Savannah’s Beach’. First, In spite of my fear of heights, I climbed 178 steps to the top of the Tybee Island Lighthouse. Looking up from the bottom while in line to go up, I imagined every crazy scenario that could happen… Again, the mind of an over thinker. When I finally reached the top, the fear evaporated when the view of what God created came into sight. I could do a complete 360 around the top and see the entire island. It was beautiful.

Lesson 1: Stop allowing what if’s and unlikely scenarios to keep you from seeing what’s ahead of you. Every 25 or so steps, there was a landing and a window area where you could rest and acclimate yourself with the height and a different viewpoint. Once I reached the top, the feeling of accomplishment was high. (Trust me, if you are afraid of heights, you understand)

Lesson 2 was the slap in the face. I was venturing to downtown Savannah, found a great place to park and saw some awesome sights. I deliberated about catching a hop on hop off trolley to explore more of the city, but there were several other things I wanted to do. I went back to the car and found that I was sandwiched in between 2 cars that over parked… (so afraid to be in the middle of their space, so they were super close; THE NERVE). The crazy part was that the car in front of me came as I was walking away, so I could have asked them to pull up to the front of their space (Y’all, these were little cars and I’m so used to the Yukon, I tend to pick on people who can’t manage the itty bitties. SMH) Anyway, I didn’t say anything and kept going my way. Fast forward to returning to the car, I saw that I was STILL sandwiched in. SMH. There was a tiny margin of space, but even with my Yukon skills, I didn’t think I could get out. I sat there, talked trash, called names (don’t judge me), and prayed. Yes, prayed, because I literally felt trapped. I was overwhelmed and inconvenienced. The overthinking was starting again. It’s funny now that I reflect on it. But in the moment, I was pissed.

Why do we pray when we have an issue that needs to be resolved? Because we want a solution. I said out loud ‘Ok God, I believe one or two things will happen; one of these people will come back and leave OR I will be able to get out of this space with no issues. I moved the car forward and back, but the way I was parked on a busy downtown street and traffic was a hot mess, my nerves wouldn’t let me keep doing that. Then I proceeded to sit there and ruminate. Started that whole process over of talking trash, etc.. Then like a ton of bricks or in this case, a sharp back hand, I realized the truth in James 2:17 ‘Faith without works is dead’. What was I doing? Sitting there like I hadn’t already established what was going to happen. And the people didn’t come, so, option number 2 was still on the table. Move the car TT…

The lesson: You can have all the faith you want; you can even declare the decree of the Lord in terms of what will happen, but if you never take a step, God will also remain still. Don’t tie up his hands! Move! Take the first step! Open the business! Write the book ! (Talking to myself here) Register for the classes! Do whatever it is that you know you’ve been feeling the nudge to do. Stop making excuses and get to it. You can do It. And ESPECIALLY if God has spoken to you about it, MOVE! I hear you God.

I encourage you to conquer your fears. You’ll look back and wonder what took you so long to get that thing done. I even feel differently about driving over bridges after being here. Trust me, coming to an island will test your gansta if that’s a problem for you. When you pray, think about your course of action. Ask for wisdom and courage to make the first move. Don’t be afraid to fail. What seems like failure is really us getting our bearings before firm steps occur (think a child’s first few steps before walking). Above all, keep moving FORWARD! You only fail if you quit and you can’t move forward if you choose to stay stuck.

I love you and God loves you more! Be encouraged!


Desperation is a Place

*Disclaimer: This post contains sensitive content and may be offensive or traumatizing to some audiences.

I cringe when I think about some of the things I’ve suffered and endured; things that I thought disqualified me from being loved by God or anyone else. I know we’ve all been there. Sometimes it feels like ‘God, I don’t even deserve to get through this thing I did, this decision I made. It shouldn’t have been this way…’ The self depreciating goes on and on after we feel like we have failed and no longer have the capacity to do anything good.

I was in such a desperate place in 1997. I had to move from my apartment because of a roommate situation. Although I have 2 brothers I could have stayed with, I found myself ashamed at all that was going on and found myself in a familiar place: with the abusive ex-boyfriend from college. It’s funny how we say ‘I’ll never do this or that’, but we sometimes end up in that Lifetime movie anyway. Such was my life. While I was there, I also started seeing another guy and I ended up pregnant. This couldn’t be life! I already had 1 child out of wedlock and my parents were taking care of him while I get my life together after graduating from college! OMG, I couldn’t do it. I collected money from both men and had an abortion. Till this day, I can’t even tell you details about it. By now I was starting to get numb and hard hearted because of life anyway, so I didn’t think it would ever affect me. I didn’t tell anyone about it. The guilt was there, chipping away at whoever I was at that time.

Fast forward to 2001, I thought I was living a better life. I had my youngest son 2 years prior and his abusive father was not in our lives and I felt freer than I had in a long while. I was involved with someone I worked with at the time and we agreed it would just be a sexual relationship, no commitment required. At that point in my life, I thought I wasn’t good enough for a committed relationship anyway. After a while, I found myself pregnant again! What would people at my job and in my family think? I was a manager! I had some things going for me. And I also had a tough decision to make. At this point, I was actively being a mother to a child and knew the love that motherhood could bring. I fought with the decision, the stress and strain of it was agonizing. I couldn’t possible share this with anyone. The guy I was dealing with said he’d support whatever I chose to do….

I made another bad choice. While I still don’t remember everything about abortion #1, I remember every step of the second one, yes, an unbelievable second one. I was so distraught, depressed and guilty before even getting there. And although my friend drove me and stayed the entire time and even made sure I was ok afterwards; I’d never felt as alone as I did that day. Through the already jaded view of my life, I thought about all the choices I could have made and felt like this was the lesser of all other evils. I’d already been super judged as a teen mother. Although my parents supported me and pushed me to continue with my education, I still felt like a major failure. I didn’t want to face another round of judgement from the good people of Smalltown USA now that I had a second child out of wedlock and this baby would make 3.

It’s so easy to judge something you’ve never been faced with. Or caught in. No one can ever say they understand the effects of having an abortion if they’ve never lived it. Rather than think, oh this is another selfish irresponsible woman, it’s good to consider the background of why she thought that was her only choice. And that desperate choice took 30-45 minutes or less. Most of that time I was left alone while the valium took effect, and also a moment to make a final decision. It was literally the worst 30-45 minutes I’d ever lived through at that time, and at the ripe age of 27, I’d been through more than you’d think.

Afterwards, there was an emptiness I can’t even put into words; the feeling used to haunt me EVERYDAY up until a few years ago. I felt that I was a murderer, plain and simple. I couldn’t hold babies or be around people with babies. The guilt hurt so bad. Could anything else come from my life? The kicker – just prior to getting pregnant with my youngest son, I’d rededicated my life to Christ. I just knew God would leave me.

But he never did.

I felt led to share this, because someone out there is in this desperate place. I come not through the eyes of judgement, but to state facts from my perspective while IN this situation. It took me YEARS to even think about allowing God to heal me from the shame of all the desperate things I’ve done. I wasn’t being punished, I just felt like I should be. A few lessons I gained from this:

  • Pride will cause you to think you’re dealing with this alone, that it will be worse if someone else knows. Being desperate to keep a situation covered causes you to make quick, rash decisions. It took me YEARS to forgive myself for the two abortions. I made additional poor choices stemming from this that caused a domino effect in my life for years.
  • Because of the self esteem issues I already faced after the shame of a teen pregnancy, the abusive relationship I chose to stay in during college, the two abortions added to the cycle of shame and guilt in my life.

How do we break out of a cycle of desperation, bad decisions, then shame and guilt?

  • Acknowledge feeling out of control. This is where desperation stems from. There is a situation that seems insurmountable and we’re trying to figure out a way to resolve it. Praying and surrendering the issue or situation to God is always a great first step. I was basically a ‘Babe in Christ’ during these years of my life. So I didn’t have the same knowledge or wisdom I have today to apply this. Also confiding in someone you trust and sharing the issue is a good way to reduce the initial panic. They may of may not be able to resolve the issue, but they may offer better perspective.
  • If you feel you’ve failed morally, accept God’s forgiveness. Every failure is not sin, but guilt is definitely not far behind what we consider failure. Shame is the by-product of guilt. The enemy loves to pull us back into guilt and shame after God has wiped our slate clear. Apostle Paul gives us a clear image of God’s forgiveness in the first chapter of Ephesians verses 6 & 7. When God forgives, the slate is wiped clean Colossians 2:13-15.
  • Change the way you process decision making. Although you may not be able to control various situations in life, control what you can and always be mindful of the decisions you make before making them. A mindset change is necessary. Biblically, shame is an imagination that can be cast down, as stated in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. Admit it, submit it, receive it (forgiveness) and forget it. Repeat.
  • Remember my statement earlier? That I thought God would have nothing more to do with me? Well, as I stated, he never left me and He never will. (Hebrews 13:5) We have to know this truth. Whether we choose to live a life as believers or not, He loves us and is always here for us.

Desperation IS a place. But it’s not a place in which you are doomed to stay. Remember other times you were desperate and things worked out for your good. If you can’t think of one time, contact me, I’ll be happy to be your ambassador to the place of grace.

I love you, but God loves you GREATER.

Lost and Found

When my kids were young, they’d sometimes come home with less than I sent with them to school – especially in the winter. New jacket, coat, etc… “Where’s your…..?” I’m sure if you’re a parent, you’ve asked this question many times! And kids RARELY know where they left something. So the parent then tries to ‘help’ them remember: “Where was the last place you had it? Inside/Outside?” Finally, the child is told to look in the Lost and Found area when they return to school.

/ˌlɑːst.ənˈfaʊnd/ The term ‘Lost and found’ defined: an office in a public building or area where people can go to retrieve lost articles that may have been found by others; practically all will either sell, give away, or discard items after a certain period has passed to clear their storage.

Why are you telling us this TT, we know what Lost and found means.

I’m glad you asked! It’s important to know where you are; where life and its experiences have taken you. What course are you presently on and whether or not it lead you to your God ordained destiny? This year has thrown so many for a loop. Sickness, Death, family drama and family destruction, catastrophe, pandemic, repeat… and not all of us have landed in the right places. I literally got the downloaded reminder from God today that I was rescued from Lost and found! I’m no longer in that place! The cycle that previously sucked me in was no longer holding me. I was reminded that the curse was broken back on Calvary… I just had to return (or be returned in this case) to my proper place…. GOD FOUND ME!

Just like the shepherd in Luke 15, he left the 99 to search for the one (us) when we stepped out of place and got lost. Who else searched for you when you were lost? Who selflessly left everyone else to make sure you made it back safely and didn’t get thrown away by the world?

Let this be your reminder that you are recklessly loved by God; he made you in his image; nothing can separate you from his love, He cares about everything concerning you; he has promised you a secure future, he rejoices over you with singing; His love for you will never change or end; He sacrificed his ONLY son to secure your connection to him; He called you righteous. I could go on and on about how much he loves you and me!

Be encouraged my friend. When you feel like you’re no longer necessary, that life has chewed you up and spit you out, when you think you can no longer hold on, GOD IS LOOKING TO RESCUE YOU!!! You don’t have to remain lost. You don’t have to be strong; I love the way Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me” The Passion Translation.

Live in victory….