Strength Under Pressure.

I keep my worries bound in a carefully tied knot, held in place to my everyday obligations. I want to be free of concern–to get a break from doubting that I will eventually get what I need. Because honestly, I recognize that plenty of people go without. There are an innumerable amount of people who have nothing. People who regardless, always find a way to be happy. People who stand up and decide to keep moving.

It is believed that the more you obtain, the less satisfied you will become. I remember the months and years when I had little of the material but still felt I had everything. I remember being jobless and nearly homeless with a 1.5 year old. How I lived in a 3 BR apartment with 4 other adults and slept in a shared bedroom on a twin sized bed with my daughter. I remember when my first brand new car was repossessed in the middle of the night with my daughter’s car seat & stroller in the trunk. I remember walking miles back and forth to the library to spend 30 minutes applying for jobs because I did not have access to a computer at home. Running 3 blocks to the bus stop with a toddler on my hip and 2 bags on my shoulder.

It was here I could have decided to give up and accept that life was going to keep throwing punches that I was never going to be able to dodge. I could have sat down in the mess I created and allowed failure to reign in my thoughts. I could have ignored the silent roar for better in my heart. But I continued to fight in spite of everything I thought I had lost.

I feel a familiar twinge of panic now because struggle has a history of infinitely repeating. We will not be free of trouble in this world and it is one of the few things that we are absolutely guaranteed. Now, instead of complaining that “life is not fair” or blaming others for my circumstances–I try to take full responsibility for the gains and the losses. I cannot blame other people for my failures or ignore the consequences when I make mistakes. I can however, opt to face my sorrows and behave with the utmost of integrity.

Right now, it feels like I am being pulled in opposing directions. I feel like everything I fought so hard for is in constant jeopardy. Truthfully, sometimes we have deal with the consequences of our past decisions for decades. Even if I learned my lesson the first time, I still have to make peace with the fact that I deviated from God’s perfect plan for my life.

The beautiful thing about messing up is that it does not mean that we are:
unfixable or
unloveable or
unable to fix our stuff.

It just means we have to fight harder, get stronger and remember to get back up.

 

Open Invitation.

I get so sick of brokenness and the repercussions of mistakes that separate me from the one who first loved me. At first, it feels like I am in charge of this rebellion–like I intentionally chose to run against His grace. I realize I am not that powerful, but the results are still the same. When I am outside of God’s will it is only a matter of time before I run smack into a wall of dead ends.

But if He works all things for my good, then even detours will lead me back to where I am meant to be. I find this encouraging in the midst of missing people who are no longer a part of my life. I stand confident in the fact that there is a greater purpose in spite of my mistakes.

It is so easy to sit in your faults and to believe that you do not deserve happiness. I tend to isolate myself in a bubble away from people who want to help. The greatest tragedy is trying to ignore the voice of God, himself. But when I am quiet, when the world slows down around me–He reaches through my crowded thoughts and pulls at my heart strings.

He asked, Why won’t you talk to me?”

Immediately my eyes began to water and my vision grew blurry as I answered, “I don’t know.” I used to turn off the music during my morning commutes and just talk to God. I would pour out my thoughts and feelings and ask for His divine guidance. I would pray for my friends and family. Yesterday, He used a traffic jam to get my attention–and not just one accident, but two. He decided that enough was enough.

Enough running and hiding and casually living for Him. Enough with carrying shame and holding onto the past I cannot change. He gave me an open invitation to come. He asked me to drop all those heavy memories and regrets. He chose me. He wanted me.

And He will set me exactly where I am supposed to be.

God, faith, quotes, bible, life

Winter Commencement: 2017

The following is the speech I wrote and read to the Winter 2017 graduates from Union County College on Thursday, January 12th at 6 pm in Rahway, NJ. The speech was intended for my fellow classmates–however, I believe it holds a message for anyone who has ever felt like giving up but knew they had what it took to keep going. Regardless of how long it takes, or the difficulties you will inevitably face–I challenge you to keep fighting, and striving for excellence no matter what.

I hope this message inspires you.

When I was invited to speak today as a Student Representative for all of you—I thought to myself, who am I to speak on behalf of everyone else?

I thought that maybe I could tell you how easy it was to finish my associate’s degree. However, that would not be the complete truth. It is far easier to find student parking on Cranford’s campus.

When I look back at my last five semesters, I become aware of this present moment that I had not yet known was possible. It was not always easy, but we all made decisions over these last few years that led us successfully to where we are today. We made sacrifices because we believed our lives would flourish when we chose to be intentional about where we wanted to go.

For some of us, especially me, the decision to invest in our own success took an extraordinary amount of time. We were often not ready when life came knocking at our doors. We held on too tightly to comfortable things. We aggressively fought losing battles against time. We allowed the idea of taking a necessary risk—to knock us off our feet.

Sometimes, some of us gave up too easily.

Today we claim victory and achieve excellence for our families and ourselves. We made it to this significant checkpoint in part because of our individual efforts—but also with the support of everyone in this room. Let us take a moment now to applaud all of the faculty and staff, as well as our friends, family and loved ones who encouraged and walked with us through this journey. [Applause.]

You may not realize your strength, or the power you possess—but I look out at all of you and I can see the fruits of your determined perseverance. The fact that you are here today is the ultimate sign that you are doing more than just passing each test. So hold fast to what is good, positive, and true. Take a deep breath, dwell in this sweet moment now, and let go of any thoughts that make you feel doubtful or weak. Do not let anything hold you captive below the full range of your talents and capabilities.

Keep fighting to make your unique mark on the world.
You are all brilliant sparks just waiting to light up the sky.
But you have to keep going. There is still so much farther you can go.

commencement, graduation, selfie, union county college, speaker, 2017

Winter Commencement: 2017