Truths Discovered Over Dinner

This weekend I celebrated my 36th birthday… I had the immense honor of celebrating with people who genuinely love me and that alone made this one of the best birthdays to date.

In years past I would spend the weeks before my birthday contemplating life and comparing my present to my desired future and a list of things I’d hoped to accomplish by now, oftentimes leaving me feeling unaccomplished and plain ol’ sad… This is the first year that I didn’t do that… Honestly, it wasn’t some plan of mine to enjoy the moment and not focus on the future… the truth is I just simply didn’t think to do it. I was so busy enjoying turning 36 that for the first time what I’ve accomplished and the plan I laid out for myself really didn’t matter… I found myself totally in love with the right now and so amazingly hopeful for what God has planned for me. I couldn’t help but be in awe of God at the undeniable transformation He has made and is continuing to make in my life…. I am right where I am supposed to be and it is GOOD.

Saturday evening I enjoyed an intimate dinner with family and friends who have become family… While sitting at the table, I had to hold back tears as I looked around at the love expressed through each person there… Some lessons that I have learned along the way became truths to live by…

What are these truths you ask??? Well since you asked…

15

You ARE Beautiful!!!

Your beauty is defined by you… not anyone else… We often hand the responsibility of defining beauty off to others, strangers mostly… but baby… beauty is whatever you decide it is… Bright eyes, dark hair, curves, teeth with a little character… those things can be great but they don’t make you beautiful (or unbeautiful)… because love, beautiful is who you are not how you look.

14

Your children will become whoever you are… So be ________(fill in the blank)

My oldest daughter had a difficult time building healthy friendships throughout Middle School and  her first year of High School. She often struggled alone simply because she didn’t have any close friends… when I would ask her about it she would say she has me and doesn’t need anyone else… She would jokingly say that she got it from me… I didn’t have anyone that I trusted enough to let into my life and that was something I passed down to her… I started letting my walls down and building real friendships and she followed suit… Today she has a strong circle of women that mentor her and speak into her life as well as young girls that she mentors as well… A few other qualities she picked up… Resilience, strength, faithfulness, a servants heart and a desire to bring joy to those around her… which was so evident while at dinner Saturday evening. It is by the grace of God that I allow Him to create those things in me so that my children have an example.

12

Sincere friends don’t care

Out of the 15 people who sat around the table to celebrate my life, there was one that I had spent time with in the past month. It is such a terrible feeling to carve time out of your schedule to spend with someone and the entire time you are with them they complain about feeling abandoned and neglected by all their so called friends (yes, that has really happened)… Your only thought is “well if that’s the case I could have been home writing this 10 page essay that’s due next week”… True, sincere friendship is selfless… In order to be a true friend we must abandon our expectations of those we call friends and allow them the space to receive our love in whatever way works best for them. My friends who celebrated with me didn’t care if we hadn’t spoken in the last month… each of them understands the call on my life and the commitments I have made and they also know that when they need me… I will drop it all to be there… My friends don’t expect perfection out of me… they give me the freedom to simply be me and that is enough for them.

13

Give up control once in a while

Ok really though… We suck as human beings planning out our own lives so if you haven’t started giving up control to Jesus (it’s a process… a LLLOOOONNNGGG process lol) then I highly recommend doing that right now… I’ll wait… Not sure where to start… Here’s a hint… the first thing that came to mind… OK, now that you have started that process… Try giving up control once in a while to those who have proven to love you… I get extreme anxiety anytime I am expected to attend any event with more than 4 people… This year, as my friends were planning my dinner, knowing me oh so well… they asked for a specific guest list. In my attempt to push myself out of my comfort zone, I asked them to just invite whoever they believed would want to be there… They sent out a Facebook post and that was that. I am not on Facebook so I couldn’t see who was invited… the night before the dinner; anxiety started to creep in and I asked my daughter to log onto her Facebook to see who all was coming… before we could get through everyone her phone died lol… I decided to not worry how many people would show up and committed to enjoying whoever did.

11

It’s ALL Good

Whatever you are facing right now or whatever battle wounds you are struggling with from your past can and will be made good through Jesus if you love Him. One birthday, as a teen, I was not allowed to celebrate with my family; my mother wasn’t getting along with them and therefore prohibited me from seeing them so I spent the day outside, sitting on a rock in a dirt yard, by myself… On my 16th birthday my mother called me to tell me her job was hiring… she forgot it was my birthday. As I sat around the dinner table with friends, my children, my step brother and my step mom… I felt like everything the devil tried to steal from me had been replaced by God. I have a mother who would never miss an opportunity to celebrate me… One who lets me know every chance she gets that she is proud of me… I am loved and honored by those in my life. Every single event in my life has brought me to this point and I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences… God is taking everything that the enemy tried to use to destroy me and using for Good… not just my good but the good of everyone He puts in my path…

I vowed to God a long time ago that I would not allow the pain to go to waste… I told Him that He could take every experience, every heartbreak, every tragic moment and use them for His glory… I will be honest, I was not aware of what that would entail… I didn’t know that it would require me to get real about the scars left behind… but looking back… It has been worth it and this is only the beginning….

Friends I pray that you are encouraged today… no matter what you are facing, God can and will restore to you all that has been stolen… One day does not define your story… neither does a year or even a few years…. and nothing is ever too far gone that God can’t redeem…

Enjoy this moment you have been given… there is so much wisdom and beauty to uncover… live intentionally and on purpose, never forgetting that you, beautiful, have been created with a purpose…. You are loved and valuable and I pray that you are reminded of that every morning that you open your eyes. ~ DeShawne Coleman

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