We Are Better Together
We Are Better Together
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Most of our life is spent not knowing where our next steps will lead us to. Its effects can be very unnerving to those who would like to, at least have a notion of where they’re headed. That’s why trust and faith in God are absolutely essential on this life’s journey.
Believe these truths and know that things will change for the better. Not only for you, but for those that surround you as well.
Stay in the light! ~ Stacy McClendon
Scripture: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.’ – Proverbs 3:5-6
Today I got a random text from one of my middle school girls at church asking for guidance on
several different topics. Giving her the guidance she was seeking and doing it with the strength of God
gave me a feeling of accomplishment and humbleness, mainly because she trusts me enough to
come to me and she knows that whatever advice I give her will be honest and straight from God.
I didn’t have anyone like that when I was her age, someone I could trust who was around my age, who knew
exactly what I was going through and would lead me in the right direction. Growing up, I didn’t have
friends that I could count on and I knew I could trust; however, I did have my mother.
Over the past 16 years my mother has become my utmost best-friend, and #1 mentor. True, I
didn’t have a “friend” that I could count on, but I didn’t need one because anything that I would
normally tell my friend or anyone, I would tell my mother. To this day there isn’t anything that I
wouldn’t tell her or trust her with. It brings me great joy to be able to share everything my mom has
shared with me with others.
I would like to encourage all of you to not only be your child’s parent but be their best-friend
and #1 supporter. Be the person that they can trust with anything and everything; furthermore,
surround them with people that they can relate to, someone you trust being around your babies and
someone you know they will trust. Keeping them surrounded by positive influences will motivate and
empower them to do the same to someone younger than them. At that point we have an amazing chain
First off, we must thank Ashley Abercrombie (you seriously MUST check out her blog https://ashabercrombie.wordpress.com/) for encouraging me to write this as a blog… I threw a quick post up on Facebook about a moment I was experiencing and her comment was “next blog post!!!… With that many exclamation marks, how could I not write this up…
While sitting in my car this afternoon, on my lunch break, listening to music, the song “When a Heart Breaks” came on… My mind immediately went from daydreaming about the amazing weekend ahead to thoughts of this time two years ago.
This time, two years ago I suffered an immense heartbreak. My world was flooded with darkness and hope seemed to no longer exist in the world. There were 2 people who knew about the pain and one of them literally carried me through. There were times when I didn’t have the strength to eat or get off my couch. My one friend would come to my house and make me a meal just to be sure I ate something for the day…. Despite the pain I was experiencing, I continued to live life as normal as possible. I worked a full time job and led in several areas of a local church. On the outside I appeared to be thriving… but internally I was dying. I specifically remember one evening, going into my kitchen to get some water and feeling so weak from the pain, I fell to the floor and laid there crying… All I wanted was for God to take the pain away.
The pain began in May of 2013 and it wasn’t until September of 2013 that light began to break through the darkness… I was tired of feeling empty Monday through Saturday only to feel a brush of God on Sunday…. I told God that if He gave me another day that I would be different. I would start my day differently and although I had no clue what it would look like, I would live differently for that day. The next morning I woke up and I spent the entire day encouraging and praying for everyone I could think of…. by the end of the day I had a glimpse of hope. Shortly after that I decided it was time to find a new church… so I did and then I discovered the Single Parents Ministry at my new church. The first night of meeting together, I walked in feeling like I had just been in a fight for my life… I remember telling my one friend, on the way there, that I was too tired and I just wanted to go home… She insisted I go to meet these people and because of her faithfulness and genuine love for me, I went.
Two years later and I am living out my dreams… I have had the honor and privilege to lead groups in our Single Parents Ministry, record video blogs on parenting and being a woman after Gods heart, watch preschoolers unwrap the wonders of God, study and serve under some of the most amazing disciples of Christ and share my story with people who, like me, may be in need of a glimpse of hope. I am known as the woman who is ALWAYS smiling… not because of the mask I used to wear but because God has filled me with so much joy that it just flows out of me. I am excited about everyday that I am given and I am so full of the hope of Christ.
No matter what you are going through in this moment… please know that it is only temporary. God has a plan and a purpose for you and although you may not be able to see outside of the darkness… His plan is good! Never let anyone tell you that you need to “get over it” but surround yourself with people who love God and who can see the most beautiful parts of you… the parts you struggle to see. Get plugged into a church that breaths life and know that you are not alone.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit ~ Psalm 34:18
Last week I experienced the most difficult moment in parenting, to date… My children experienced their first loss. Their dog that their father got them when they were babies was hit by a car and died. When I learned of the news I sat on my sofa for a while, contemplating whether I should tell them or let their father tell them. After about 10 minutes I decided that I would tell them. I wanted to be able to console and nurture them through the pain.
Having one hour to be dressed and out the house in time for church, I walked into their room and sat them down. “Guys, I have some bad news”… “Scooby was hit by a car”… Now I expected sadness and a few tears but I would have never expected the reaction my children had. My 9 year old daughter fell to the ground, crying out “no, no, no… not my dog” and my son burst into tears, exclaiming that his first best friend is now gone. My daughter kept repeating, with tears running down her face, ” I will never see him again”… “I knew pets and people die, I just didn’t know it would be this hard”. I just sat there, quietly, holding them as they expressed their pain. Once the crying subsided I explained to them that Scooby is now in heaven, barking at the feet of Jesus and that he will be well taken care of…. They pulled themselves together enough to get dressed.
Moments later I received a text from my 9 year old (yes, she was in the living room)… She was too sad to do anything and wasn’t sure she was going to make it through the day…. My response…. Jesus is sad too…
I went into the living room and sat on the sofa with her and read her the story of Lazarus. We talked about how sad Jesus was when He lost His best friend and the fact that Jesus cried too. We then prayed for the Holy Spirit to bring comfort and joy and I encouraged them to share their emotions with their friends and mentors, people who could come along side of them and pray for them… In that moment, my 9 year old decided she was ready to get to church… so we were on our way.
I am currently interning with my church so that requires me to be there literally ALL day… My babies joyfully went through 3 services, smiling and playing as if that morning had never happened. They shared their pain with a few of their friends who were kind enough to share their own experiences with loss. They were loved on and reminded that they are not alone. I was in awe of the faithfulness of God… he was truly their comforter during their time of pain.
That night, when we were home and the silence set in, sadness began to creep back in. On the drive home from church, she let me know that she is still hurting. I let her know that it is ok to hurt, she isn’t expected to get over it… I promised her that while she will always miss Scooby, the pain will fade and everything will get better… She shared that while she knows he is in a better place and that he is happy and well taken care of in heaven, it doesn’t make living without him any easier. I told her about losing my Aunt ( more like my mom) and how even today, I talk with her, telling her how much I miss her, praying that she is proud of me… I explained that losing someone doesn’t remove them from your heart.
While tucking her into bed we prayed that God would replace the pain with joy and that He would restore everything that has been taken…. before falling asleep, my daughter thanked me for telling her… “It would have been harder if you hadn’t been the one to tell me”…
Their dad brought them home a new best friend to love…
Isn’t that just like the Character of God? He understands our loss and is sympathetic and compassionate towards us… and will always repay us for our loss.
This was a challenge on so many levels… I am soooo grateful for the relationship I have with Jesus… it was Him who guided me through this parenting moment and allowed me to be used by Him to show is perfect love for His children.
No matter what type of loss you are going through today, I encourage you to look to Jesus… He feels your pain and His desire is to replace that pain with His presence, His joy, His comfort and His plan.
I love you all… God Bless ~ DeShawne Coleman
This week I saw a documentary entitles Monkey Kingdom and it amazes me how similar they are to humans. The main monkey, Mya, was in the lowest tribe of the class and was looked down upon by everyone. At one point in the movie a male comes into her life and they mate. The alpha male runs him out of the kingdom in attempt to try to claim Mya as his girl (I’ll tell you about men now-a-days lol). Mya then becomes pregnant and a single parent. While the father is gone Mya goes through more than her share of trouble, doing everything she can to protect her baby boy. It reminds me of how much single human parents go through to protect us. Mya didn’t sit around waiting for someone to help her take care of Kip; she got up and made moves to attempt to get to the top of the kingdom to make a better life for her children.
As the oldest child of a single parent, like Kip (Mya’s son), I see and live the struggle with my mother all the time. But also like Kip, because of the strong and powerful woman I saw my mother to be, it only makes my want to push myself to do better.
Eventually Kips father comes back and with their strength as a family they end up leading the kingdom together as a family. If the father hadn’t left Mya would’ve never learned how to be as independent and strong as she is, and she would’ve solely leaned on her man. With the independence she found, she was able to accomplish so much. And when her family fully came back together, they were more powerful than ever.
Remember that God has the power to turn any challenge into a character building, life transforming event. I encourage you all to keep going, no matter what things look like right now. Eventually you will be ruling your kingdom. ~ Taylor Sims