With God All Things Are Possible

I watched this show called This Time Next Year, and on it, there was a young man who was wheelchair bound after a car accident. His doctors told him he would never walk again, but he was determined to do it anyway. He confidently stated that with God the impossible is possible.

And you know what? After a year of therapy, he walked out on that stage! It inspired me so much that I had to share it. God’s word says that we can do all things throught Christ which gives us strength. No matter what you’re facing, even if the odds are stacked against you, with God it’s possible to overcome it.

Happy Sunday! ♥

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You Are Beautiful. You Are Loved.

I’ve already told you guys about my green smoothie fail earlier this week. But, even though I didn’t succeed completely, I did enjoy some of the process. Part of that process was meditation, and during one of my meditation sessions, I discovered a wonderful affirmation.

Something rose up in my spirit and said the following; “You are beautiful. You are loved.”

Isn’t that profound? Two simple phrases that resonated in the depths of my soul.

Many of you may not know that I’ve never thought of myself as pretty. I’ve always felt inferior to the natural beauty of all of my sisters. I considered myself the creative one, always ready to tell a funny story or lend a helping hand. But never even in the same league as them looks wise. Besides that, I had daddy issues to rival the best of them, so accepting that I am special and loved took a long time as well.

So you can see why the meditation mantra that swelled within me was so significant. The truth that I am beautiful in my own unique way, and that I am loved beyond measure were both statements that I needed to hear…that I needed to feel.

And maybe you do, too.

You are beautiful. You are loved.

Let that sink in. Let it penetrate your being and hold it in your heart.

Sometimes We Fail…

Sometimes we fail, y’all. It’s a fact of life I was reminded of when I set out to survive a green smoothie cleanse. Let me explain. I had high hopes of emerging from a long detox regimen with glowing, flawless skin, a flattened stomach and relief from the joint pain that plagues me do the inflammation in my body caused by chronic disease.

I went to the store with my mother, who generously offered to pay for half of the groceries in my cart that was loaded with spinach, frozen fruit, almond coconut milk and kale. I ordered some plant-based protein powder off Amazon, and busted open the box my sister’s Ninja blender arrived in well over a month ago. I scheduled several posts in advance for this blog and completed my school work so that when the detox symptoms set in, I wouldn’t have to try to think with brain fog. I was all set, and prepared for overwhelming success.

Until day 2.5 on the cleanse. Let me tell you something; days three and four of any sort of detox program is meant to separate the strong from the weak. It’s where heroes are born and you get to see exactly what you’re made of. Apparently, I’m made of the desire for something to chew!

I tried to hold out, you guys. I sat in my bed, watching Friends and noticing how borderline racist and outrageously fat shaming it is, willing myself to be satisfied with the herbal tea that was supposed to help my detoxing efforts along. But, I wanted a boiled egg so bad I could taste it. The salt, and the instant satiety called to me.

I made every effort to talk myself out of it. I told myself that I had all the nutrients I needed in those darn smoothies I had been drinking. Fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Any desire to eat an egg was not based on actual need, but rather on desire.

Logically, I knew that all of the above was true. But deep down, where my intuition dwells, I didn’t give a hoot! So…I boiled some eggs and ate them. They. Were. Phenomenal. Absolutely everything I thought they would be, and they satisfied me in a way that nothing had in days.

Then the guilt set it. I’d failed. I’d set out to do something, and I didn’t do it. I found myself spiraling down into the black and white thinking that used to make me binge eat at times like this, because I’d already blown it, so I might as well go to town. But, therapy taught me to arrest that kind of thinking, and understand that an all or nothing attitude hadn’t helped me in the past, so it wouldn’t help me then, either.

So, I counted it as a lost, but not the end of the world. Then I re-evaluated my goals for starting the cleanse in the first place. To lessen my pain, clean up my diet, and get a hold of my sweet tooth. I realized that I could accomplish all of those things while eating whole food, so that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I have a smoothie and eggs for breakfast, another smoothie for lunch and a nice dinner. It’s been working. My sugar cravings are almost non-existent, and the ones I do have can be solved with a Larabar. I’ve been sleeping better, I can do squats again without excruciating joint pain, and my energy is off the charts.

So I failed, that much is definitely true. But you know what else? I learned some things about myself along the way. Besides that, I also reaffirmed how much I’ve grown in my relationship with food, and the practice of self-love. I hope that you can see by my little anecdote that even when we fail, if we learn something along the way, it’s not a total loss.

Our failures do not define us. How we respond to them does. I’m choosing to respond with compassion and grace towards myself. I really hope that when, or if, the time comes, you’ll do the same. ♥

When’s the last time you had a goal that you didn’t quite reach? How did you respond?

Extraordinary Lives #Quote

It’s that time again! Are y’all ready for a quote that I’m pretty sure I’m going to make my life’s mantra? Ok, then here goes!

You have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life?

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Is that not one of the most lovely sentiments you’ve ever read? For more (and if you can believe it, it gets better) go read the full scene from the book here. I read Little Women every year at Christmas when I was a little girl, and it just keeps getting better. Most recently, I’ve been inspired to write simple stories about ordinary people and the extraordinary impact they can have on the world. If I’m able to capture a fraction of what Ms. Alcott did, I’ll count myself a success.

But back to the quote. If you’ve every been discouraged by life not turning out the way you expected it to, remember this quote and remind yourself that sometimes there are plans greater than ours to be had. Embrace it.

 

Thank God for the Challenge #Sunday

Sometimes I read mini-devotionals from the Bible app, and I came across one a few weeks ago that had a sentence in it that resonated with me: “Thank God for the challenge that exposed the giant.” It’s from a book called Unashamed written by Christine Caine and it totally sums up the ways in which my life has been shaped over the last few years, and why. Sometimes we don’t even know the issues of faith we have until the giants in our lives are exposed. So today I want to encourage you to thank God for the things He’s allowed to come your way to show you who He is and what you can overcome through Him. Your problems may loom large in your mind right now, but remember, giants do fall. Happy Sunday, everyone!

 

Home is Where the Heart Is #HomeDecor (Pic Heavy)

As you can see in the picture, there’s about an inch of snow and ice around my way. Which, in the South, means that we’ve been staying inside for the most part. Thankfully, I’m not prone to cabin fever. In fact, since I work from home now, I pretty much spend every day in the house. It makes me think about home, and what that means. To me, home is supposed to be a safe haven. A place you can’t wait to get to on days like this, when it’s cold and dreary outside. Home should be a sanctuary and a place of supreme comfort and joy. My point is that you should never underestimate the importance of creating a space that is not only functional, but aesthetically pleasing as well. It can do wonders for your well-being. The best part is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make it happen. I shop discount stores and second-hand shops to make the space I live in a place that I actually want to be in.

Keep it tidy. This is a challenging part of making home comfortable for me. I’m a creative by nature, which means that sometimes I spend so much time in another world that I forget about the humdrum part of taking care of this one. I tend to leave a few pairs of shoes in one spot, and some shirts hanging off a door knob in another. But, when I take time to straighten up, I feel so much better. Plus, I get to see my home the way I envisioned it when I bought the stuff to put in it in the first place.

Choose colors that evoke the feelings you want to fill the room. For instance, cool tones like blue tend to lend a calm feeling. It’s why my bedroom is accented with it. Yellow sparks creativity and lifts the spirit, which is why by office is predominantly yellow. Think about what you want to feel and the mood you want to create, then choose colors and textures that lend themselves to it.

Art matters, and so do other aesthetics. I like to surround myself with things that are pretty and make me smile. It’s rarely ever fancy or expensive things that do this. Mostly patterned prints, whimsical curtains, candles and sentimental pieces. Pick objects that you fall in love with at first sight, or that hold special memories. Some things in your home don’t need to have a practical function, they just need to bring you joy. Art is one of those things. They provide warmth and dimension to any room. I have four pictures of art in my bathroom alone, all of them made of word art with phrases that inspire hope. It may be a little bit of overkill, but I like it, and that’s all that really matters.

Make sure it’s functional. I struggle with this, because I’m quick to get furniture or other objects that are pretty, but maybe not so functional. Case in point, I have a desk and a bookshelf that are too small, but look great, and a desk chair that’s gorgeous, but sits too low and isn’t ergonomic. I also don’t have a space for my printer. I was so focused on creating an open feel in my small office that I neglected to think about things from a practical standpoint. Make sure that the room you’re buying for will function like it’s supposed to, and add to that with things that are beautiful.

Live plants make a world of difference. This is something I’m still working on. I have a green thumb, but my sister doesn’t. When I had surgery, and then we moved, she left one of my plants at the old house. When I was sick for a few weeks last Spring, she killed my other plant. Now I’m plantless and seeking, lol. But anyway, plants give life and vibrancy to any space. They’re also a natural air filter, so if you can, get some plants. They’ll make you feel alive.

Everything doesn’t have to match. I grew up in an era when everything had to be coordinated to a ‘T’. The 80’s were all about matching accesories and tube socks. So it took a while for me to get out of that way of thinking and enjoy mixing, colors, shades, metals and textures. When you do, it makes for a much more interesting room, offering dimension and interest.

A coat of paint makes a world of difference. And it’s an inexpensive way to quickly transform any room in your house. Stick to muted, light colors if you’re a novice painter and planning to do it yourself. It’ll hide your mistakes and beginner’s technique better. Light colors also make rooms appear larger, while darker colors do the opposite. Factor in the amount of natural light available and remember that colors tend to look a shade darker once they dry. Patch tests are a must if you’re picky. Also, keep in mind that painting is a lot of hard work. The movies showing a very pregnant woman painting her baby’s nursery are a joke. My sister and I painted when my mother moved back in with us last month, and we were both sore and jacked up afterwards. If you can afford it, pay someone else to do it. It’s worth it!

I hope you all enjoyed my little tips. I don’t know where my desire to write about home decor came from! I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve spent the last several months at home pretty much all of the time. What’s that? Oh, yeah, I know. Getting a life is most definitely on my to-do list.

Any decorating tips for me? Where are your favorite places to shop for home decor deals? Mine are Ross, Target, Salvation Army/Goodwill and Wal-Mart.

And here are some pictures of my unfinished office space. I still have a few little touches to add (like pictures of my family and wire hiding baseboard thingys), but it has been a space that has inspired me to start writing my novels again, amongst other creative undertakings. 🙂

Office Couch: Craig’s List. Yellow pillows:Target. “Believe” pillow: Ross. White Mirrored Clock: Ross. Empty frames: Michael’s. I spray painted them with gold glitter and a matt light blue. I may put pictures in them later, but for now I like them empty.
Yellow curtains: Target. White Privacy curtains: Target. Stool/Ottoman: Ross. Dream picure: Ross
End table made of various crates: Wal-Mart. Lamp: Ikea Frame: Ross
White Shelf: Wal-Mart. Vases: Ross. Decorative risers: Hobby Lobby. Jelly Mason Jars: Amazon. Battery operated tea lights: Amazon. Glass frame: Ross. My ugly printer that I don’t know where to put: Best Buy. (I’m thinking of getting a decorative scarf or something to put over it.)
Tray: Ross. Joy cup: Bed Bath & Beyond. Word Art/Frame: Target and Ross.
Chair: Ross. Desk: Target. Mason Jar Pencil Holder Set: Target.
Pin Cushion Board: Ross
A painting made for me by my therapy group. It’s of one of my favorite scriptures, with a heart made out of their hands. Absolutely priceless.
Textured rug: Ross

 

 

Jen’s Secret #ShortStory #Series

I hope y’all are ready for another installment of our short story series. I need to think of a title for it, but for now let just call it “Jen’s Secret”. If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here

♥♥♥

My legs feel like lead. I struggle to pull myself from the deep sleep I so desperately needed. Surviving on fours hours a night is catching up to me big time. A spring from the thin sleeper sofa mattress juts into my hip, but still, I don’t want to get up. What I wouldn’t give for five more minutes of peace.

I gingerly disentangle myself from Sienna, her moist skin sticking to mine as I slide my arm out from under her. Why do children sweat so much when they sleep? She sighs, and rolls over towards her sister, automatically seeking the comfort of another warm body. My youngest has always been needy. I’m pretty sure it’s my fault. Ever since she was born, things have been tough. Working odd jobs and keeping crazy hours doesn’t allow me to spend much time with her. I may not have a college degree, but I work with kids every day and I know how important it is for them to have a secure attachment and a routine.

I also know how important it is for them to have a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs.

Which is why I’m tiptoeing around my converted garage apartment, trying to get ready for my overnight shift at Wal-Mart, without waking up my kids. I stub my toe on the metal bar at the bottom of the bed and puff out a breath of air from the pain, stifling a groan. I’m inspecting my foot for damage when I hear a soft whisper, “Ma? You OK?”

Theresa’s face is illuminated by a halo of warmth from Mrs. Posada’s back porch light. She’s half sitting up, resting on her elbows, a look of concern etched across her pretty face. I reassure her, “I’m fine, baby. Go back to sleep.”

“I told you to get a night-light.”

She had, because she’s the kind of little girl who thinks far too much about practical things. “I know. I’ll pick one up from work tonight.”

“And some wood glue for my project?”

Shoot! I’d forgotten she was supposed to build one of the California missions. “Yeah, that too.”

“Thanks.”

“Sleep, missy.”

She settles back onto the bed, but a few seconds later, she announces, “Mrs. Stevenson said that a chronic lack of sleep increases a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke and a lot of other illnesses.”

I finish pulling a navy blue polo shirt over my head, my shoulders slumping. My daughter shouldn’t be concerning herself with things like that, and obviously her teacher, Mrs. Stevenson, doesn’t have kids of her own. Otherwise, she would know that a lack of sleep is part of the parental job description. “I’m healthy as a horse. Now, Go. To. Sleep.”

She’s silent, so that’s a start. I finish getting ready, then kiss each child on her forehead. Theresa’s only pretending to be asleep, so I pat her cheek, and she looks up at me solemnly. She’s so serious, this kid. I tap her nose, “Tomorrow’s Saturday. I promise I’ll sleep in. OK?”

“OK.”

I grab the monitor and set the alarm on my way out. Like clockwork, Mrs. Posada opens her back door, and takes the monitor. She hands me a travel mug of coffee, “You’re sure you don’t want to borrow my car?” she asks, her lilting accent rolling the R’s.

“No, thanks.” Just the thought of getting behind the wheel of a car makes my throat dry.

“You know I would at least give you a ride to the bus…but the girls.”

“I know, Mrs. Posada. You watching them is more than enough. Listen, I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Be careful!”

I smile and head down the long drive way towards the street. If I time it just right, I’ll get to the bus stop moments before the bus arrives, decreasing the time I have to sit and wait. Hopefully, no one will harass me tonight, and I can get to work without incident.

♥♥♥

Even as I stock the shelves, I can’t stop thinking about Mrs. Posada’s offer to drive her car occasionally. It’s not the first time Mrs. Posada has made such an offer. She even said I could buy her deceased husband’s car, on time, when we first moved in. It would be so much safer than walking the streets at all hours of the night and early morning.  I don’t mind catching the bus in the daytime with the girls. By myself at night is another question. But, I can’t drive again. The thought of it is terrifying.

My pulse increases and my hands shake as I line up packages of Oreos. I can’t believe I even allowed myself to go there while I’m at work. I concentrate on filling the shelves in front of me, hoping to calm myself.

“Hey, you all right?”

I look over my shoulder at Jared, one of my co-workers. “I’m fine,” the lie slips out haltingly.

He glances at my trembling hands, then looks aways when he sees me noticing. “You need a minute?”

“Yeah.”

I expect him to walk away and leave me alone. Instead, he gestures for me to follow him. I glance at my cart full of go-backs, then at the aisle void of people. I guess I’ve got a minute to see what he’s up to.

I follow him to the warehouse area at the back of the store, past towers of metal shelves, boxes and pallets wrapped in shrink-wrap. He turns down a narrow passage way, which leads to a door. When he opens it, I see an office of sorts. There’s a beat up old desk, along with a smattering of chairs.

“You can chill here for a while. If anybody asks, I’ll tell them you’re picking up some stuff from the warehouse.”

I sink onto one of the chairs. “Thanks.”

“You cool?”

I nod, and put my hands under my thighs.

He exits without another word, and for the first time in months, I’m alone. Tears well up in my chest and leak from my eyes. I’m so tired. My chest and face heat from the effort of holding it all in. Finally, I give up and let it all out, my body hiccupping from the force of my sobs.

I don’t know if I can do this anymore. Should I turn myself in? What will happen to my kids if I do? I have to pull it together. That little boy is dead, and there’s nothing I can do to bring him back. There’s a mother out there. Someone like me, who loved that child with all her heart. And she’ll never hold him again. Never see him grow up. Never know what animal ran him over and kept driving…Never see justice served.

What kind of person does that? What kind of person am I?

♥♥♥

Whoa. Look, I’ma be honest and say even I didn’t see that coming! I know this installment may not seem all that inspirational, but stick with me and it will be. What do you think about Jen’s secret so far? Did you see that coming? Does it fit with what you thought of Jen and her story after the first installment of this short story series?

 

© Faith Simone 2018