Sleeping on the Job

One of many reasons we can treasure God’s truths is the fact that the Bible is not a picture of perfect people. As we dive into the truths, we can see ourselves and others – victories and triumphs as well as mistakes and failures. We read of the delightful times folks got it right and the disastrous times they got it wrong. The times they ran to God, the times they ran from him, and the consequences of both. 

I find a special corner of comfort in the stories of the disciples, particularly. These men, chosen and handpicked to follow Jesus, were nonetheless human in heart. We read of their dreadful doubts, friendship failures and faulty faith – a faith that was much smaller than it should’ve been. We see them perplexed by circumstances and confused by miracles performed right before their eyes. As we read of their peaks and troughs, we might even be quick to judge their faultiness and imperfection – calling their shortcomings “foolish”.

“How could you not believe Jesus was capable of that miracle?”
“How could you betray the Lord?”
“How could you doubt the power He gave you?” 

Foolish foolish foolish. Shame on you guys. 

But the disciples are you. And they are me. 

I read ahead a few chapters as Brandon and I finish up our study of the book of Matthew. The final chapters and stories of Jesus’ preparation, crucifixion, and resurrection are falling during the week of Easter- unplanned and conveniently. I ran across another “foolish, shame on you” disciples story.

As Jesus entered into Gethsemane, with a sorrowful heart towards His imminent death, He gave the disciples one task.

“Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Followed by, “Remain here and watch with me.” 

Jesus poured out his heart in prayer and desperation. He was restless as He prepared to bear the burden of sin for you and for me. And when He was finished praying, what did he find the disciples doing? Sleeping on the job. 

“And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping” (Matthew 26:40).

I can’t help but imagine Jesus thinking, “Really? Sleeping? You had ONE job.” In the hours leading up to the event that would change history- the event that shaped salvation and exclaimed eternal victory- Jesus’ best and brightest were in a slumber. Resting their heads as the Son of Man was preparing for condemnation.

“So you could not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26: 41).
It is easy for me to read this story in disbelief at the disciples failure to be alert. It is easy for me to wonder how they could rest and be easy when their dear friend was so weary. Why weren’t they watching intentionally, like Jesus asked of them? 

Brothers and sisters, let’s take a moment to consider our own foolish decision to slumber. How often does God gives us clear directions that we sit on instead of act on? How many times does He have an assignment in mind for us, but we choose our own comfort instead? I don’t know about you, but I know that I’m guilty of slumbering instead of seizing the opportunity at times. 

I love how Jesus kindly redirects the disciples. He doesn’t say, “I caught ya sleepin’, so you’re fired!” Instead, He explicitly states what they should be doing instead. Watching and praying. Because temptation was waiting for them as they slumbered.

What purposes might we accomplish for the Lord if we waited intentionally instead of slumbering? If we chose to watch and pray instead of sitting idly. When we sit on our God given assignments, we do a disservice to the Kingdom. Our spirit can help us to accomplish these godly assignments, but only if we feed it enough to compete with the weakness of our flesh. 

So let’s not slumber by ignoring God’s directions.

Let’s not slumber by feeding our flesh with worldly information instead of God’s word.
Let’s not slumber by missing God given opportunities because we are too tired to bring them to fruition.
Let’s not slumber by neglecting fervent prayer and watching closely for temptations that become stumbling blocks.

“Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand…” (Matthew 26:45)

The time to act on our assignments is now. And Jesus is giving us a gentle nudge to wake us up from our slumber and to act on His behalf. Will we choose to sleep or to seize?

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,

Simone

Love and Life- A Relentless Pursuit

I was flat out frustrated. I was supposed to be meeting with human resources at 4 p.m. and it was now close to 5:15 p.m. Feeling like my time had been disrespected, I was on the verge of grabbing my work bag and walking reluctantly through the double doors I had entered an hour and fifteen minutes before -on time, early in fact. As I let out a sigh and uttered a prayer for patience, they finally called me to the back.

Eager to get in and out in time for my next meeting, I hurried back to the cubicle where the lady would put my information in the system. The complaints on the tip of my tongue took a backseat as I looked around the woman’s cubicle. Scriptures were posted on each little wall- some printed from the computer, others in a simple, sincere kind of penmanship. “I love all of the scriptures adorning your wall,” I said. “Thank you!” she said excitedly. Then we got to talking about life. As she filled out my information on the computer, I explained that my last name would be changing in a few months. “Not Diggs for long I guess. I will be getting married in the Fall. It’ll be Griffin then!” 

In the midst of her congratulations, she proudly told me about her marriage of 29 years. Told me about her and her husband turning their love for riding motorcycles into an opportunity for discipleship. They spread the Gospel to unreached communities of bike riders. And not just that- she spoke of the hard times. The times that their marriage was difficult, but hope from Christ and a strong community of Christians helped them to endure and persevere. “The best advice I can give you is to never stop having fun together or loving Jesus together, and never, EVER give up on one other,” she said. 

As I left the office and drove to my destination, her words stuck to me like command strips, holding a beautiful display steady in my heart. “Never, EVER give up.” You see, we live in a society that fawns over the idea of “happily ever afters” but dismisses the “hard work ever after” part that comes with it. We love songs and movies with mushy gushy feelings and cute couple pictures on social media. We idolize godly relationships and marriages, but we aren’t always willing to put in the grace, selflessness, and forgiveness that builds that kind of marriage.

Preparing for marriage through courtship and engagement has been a beautiful experience, thus far. My fiancee’ makes me feel like the most awesome person in the world, through his consistent love and affirmation. But during hard times and disagreements, it has often felt like looking into a mirror and realizing that there are a lot of ugly, undesirable traits about myself that my future husband has loved me through and is willing to love me through for life. A love that mimics the love that Christ has for us. 

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

WOAH. That’s a weighty task for husbands. Especially on the days when our faces are pretty but our attitudes are less than. We all have those days. But just like our heavenly Father shows us grace and continuously redeems us back to Him, the people who want to “do life” with us do the same. Maybe you can’t relate to a significant other demonstrating this, I’m sure you can have experienced this love through your parents or children. Each time I think of the Lord’s relentless pursuit of His people, I love my future husband more, because he walks in a way that shows me what the love of Christ looks like on this earth. I begin to see how the two loves align:

 I am a sinner on a daily basis, but God continues to respond with forgiveness. 
In the same way, I sometimes say or do hurtful things, but my future husband takes the high road, and responds with a gentle “I still love you.” 

 I get frustrated with God when I don’t understand why He does certain things, but He patiently sits back then reveals His plan in time.
In the same way, I get frustrated with my future husband when He doesn’t do things exactly my way, but he patiently reminds me that we don’t think exactly the same- and that’s okay.

I get busy with life and some of my quiet time gets pushed to the back burner, but God is still waiting there when I am ready to get quiet before Him.
In the same way, I have days when I’m exhausted with prioritizing the needs of others (including his), but my future husband reminds me to persevere instead of running away.

Each day, I am noticing more that life and love are relentless pursuits. Jesus chases after our hearts and lives, regardless of whether it is reciprocated or not. And He blesses us with significant others or friends and family who do the same. The thought of a God who pursues us relentlessly should change us from the inside out. And the thought of a person who pursues us relentlessly should have the same effect. Thinking on all of the times that grace has been extended to me from the folks who know me best, helps me to desire to reciprocate it when it is my turn. True love forces us to change for the better, even when the process requires us looking our character flaws straight in the eyes, and telling them that Jesus is bigger. 

As my fiancee’ and I continue to prepare our hearts and minds for a lifetime union, I am going to thank God in advance for tests, trials, and disagreements. It is in those moments that couples grow more in the image of a God who loves unconditionally. Partnership prunes us and allows us to look outside of ourselves and love sacrificially. This love creates loving spouses, who turn into loving parents, who turn into people who learn to love better, overall. I’m listening Lord. And I’m learning. 

“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up….
 
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me. So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love” 
(1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, 11-13).

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,

Simone 

The Blessing of Home

I opened my eyes to the familiar, purple walls with the new york city skyline painted on them- the room that inhabited all my middle school and high school hopes and dreams. There’s nothing quite like mama’s house- home. Her perfectly vacuumed floors, evident from the lines that meander neatly from wall to wall. Her calming, sage green walls throughout the living area. And the unorganized array of pictures and announcements -graduations, weddings, and babies of loved ones- adorning the fridge and freezer. 

As I walked around the house, I couldn’t help but notice more memories. With my cup of coffee, I cozied up on the couch with feelings of nostalgia. I thought back to when we bought the furniture I was sitting on. We haven’t had it forever, this home or this furniture. 

After moving a few times post-divorce, God eventually blessed mama to buy a home. I remember my embarrassment and confusion. Having to move out of the gigantic, brick home on a hill, in a country club neighborhood. And moving with a family friend temporarily, before we could even find a decent house to rent. That big, brick house we moved out of- even in its glamour- inhabited hurtful memories and painful days, but it was all I knew. Mama always said, “it was a house not a home.” And after years of picking up the pieces when Daddy left, she finally got the chance to create a home. Not a huge house that was full of fancy things and empty hearts. But a little, cozy home that elicited feelings of genuine peace. Years and years later, I have a special appreciation for these little pieces of furniture we found to fill our home as we started a new life. Pieces purchased by a hardworking, single mother trying her best to make ends meet, to create a “new normal” for her girls.

My brain fast forwarded as I looked at all the more recent memories around our home. Signs of my three year old niece are evident in each room. Her baby pictures – with a big smile and sweet eyes- brighten up the walls. My room is crowded now- with a princess castle and a pink and purple mini bed. Our once orderly living room is now filled with little girl joys- a pretend play kitchen and hot pink sofa. The dish rack in the kitchen is overflowing with sippy cups.And through the transparent curtains on the back door, I can see the grand swingset mama got my niece for Christmas.

Home is known when new circumstances are unknown. Home is comfort when life slides you into uncomfortable. And home is not just the old pictures, vivid memories, and nostalgic moments. It is the people who make it special – the people who are there and have always been there. 

On the first day of the year as we talked resolutions, Brandon suggested that “visiting family more often” be one for both of us. There was even talk of once a month visits to family members in driving distance. Since then, we’ve tried to squeeze in visits to my daddy in the nursing home, visits to his dad in the country, babysitting his local nieces from time to time, and I’ve trekked to Aiken for baby shower and now baby. All these visits- short and sweet- are never enough. But I thank God for the familiarity of home and the moments we can share in it. I’m thankful that no matter how imperfect life has been or how imperfect we continue to be, my family was handpicked for me and me for them. I’m thankful that as circumstances have changed for better or for worse, that love and peace can always be found at home when you intentionally look for it. 

Maybe your family is broken. Maybe home has painful memories or current realities for you. Or maybe life has carried you in a direction that is far from home- voluntarily or involuntarily. I want to encourage you to find the special blessings in home and in family. After all, God placed you in your family for a reason. Even if you feel like they cannot be a blessing to you, you can certainly strive to be one to them.

I’m gonna find joy in looking at the blessings around us now and the dark days we had to endure before receiving them. I’m gonna find joy in the way God used hard times and new normals to mold and prune our family for His glory. I’m gonna find joy in hoping that I can create a home one day- one in which my family always desires to return. 

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,

Simone

13 Reasons Why- Thoughts from a Counselor and Survivor of Suicide

The pang of the word “suicide” sends a shockwave of emotion through the hearts of those of us  who have grieved our way through this tragic departure. Years before I became a counselor or experienced a personal loss to suicide, I was a mental health advocate. I dedicated countless hours of undergrad to promoting suicide awareness through leadership in several student organizations. I recognized the importance in the absence of experiencing the impact. At that stage in life, I might have made the choice to indulge in the Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why”.

Fast-forward to today. Life has a funny way of using our experiences – good and bad- to mold our minds and prune our perceptions. Here, I sit- three and a half years after a tragic loss to suicide. Two years into my career as a school counselor. And while these life changes have further propelled my purpose to increase suicide awareness, the lense in which I view “awareness” has drastically changed.

Several friends, loved ones, or folks who simply know about my experience with suicide, have inquired about my opinions of this show. Well- I cannot provide feedback that will validate or invalidate the plot of the show, because I have not watched the show. My refusal to watch the show is not an intentional attempt to discredit the story-line. For those who choose to watch, the matter of choice is your own. However, I would like to shed some light on the gray areas about what suicide is and what suicide is not. 

Suicide is not anyone else’s fault. My understanding of this series is that it captures the stories, events, and people that contributed to the character’s decision to commit suicide. As a survivor, I will be the first to say that this is a dangerous perspective. Pointing a finger of blame for a life being taken will not bring a person back to life. However, it will plague the people being “blamed” with the heaviness of guilt that will haunt their lives like a curse, forever. 
I remember it clearly -the empty feeling at the pit of my stomach- having been the last one to see my boyfriend just hours before he took his life- ten days shy of Christmas.
I vividly remember the hollowness in my heart when the police came to me at the scene to confirm that him not answering the door was because he was not alive.
I cringe as I remember the blood-curdling scream of his mother as I blankly stated the news over the phone. And my inability to walk, talk, or drive on my own in the hours that followed.
Numb. Perplexed. Empty. Guilty. – These are the immediate, natural reactions of the people who are left behind.  And whether it be folks who were supportive or folks who were hateful towards the person who took their life- nobody deserves to live consumed by the extra guilt of being deemed responsible. These feelings can cripple the mind and lead to a downward spiral of depression for those being blamed. 

Suicide is misunderstood by many young people. In my short time as a school counselor, I have conducted several suicide assessments- some high risk, some low. Each time, I struggle to keep my composure- to muster up the courage to ask the hard questions and be prepared for what might be graphic answers. Sometimes the kids share an impractical plan- one that would be expected for their underdeveloped brains. But more often than I’d like to accept, there is a detailed plan. Explicit details of how to end a moment’s pain for a lifetime. Low or high risk- behind every plan is the inability to truly conceptualize what that decision will mean. Developmentally, they cannot think analytically about the impact of that decision. 

Let’s face it. We live in a society that has grown accustomed to instant gratification. For these young people, this gratification is essentially all they know. Validation is one “like” away, answers are one Google search away, and many of the things they wish to indulge in are literally at their fingertips – one click away, one tap away. Why do we expect that their views of suffering would be any more advanced? With such a low tolerance for enduring and suffering, suicide looks like a quick answer to some of them – a “fast” route that they have the ability to control when life seems out of control. Watching shows such as this one could potentially have a negative impact on their (already) limited perspectives. 

Suicide is dangerous in its aftermath. My concerns about this show are not directed towards the viewers who are mentally stable. Rather, I am concerned for the countless viewers who are watching in the midst of a mental health storm. The one with the addiction. The one who has been bullied for their entire life. The one who is battling depressed feelings and “life or death” thoughts on a daily basis – struggling to choose life. For the mentally unstable person, an unintended consequence can result, in which suicide is glamorized. We must remember that these folks may be chemically imbalanced and unable to view this as “just an innocent series”. For some, this is not just entertainment- it mirrors their realities.

“If I kill myself, I will finally be noticed.” 
“If I kill myself, the people who hurt me will be sorry.”
“If I can’t find a way to defend myself in life, at least my struggle will be defended in death.”

These are not just my words and perceptions. These are words that I hear uttered from the very mouths of students with suicidal ideation. 

That is precisely why handling death by suicide is so tricky. We see the gray areas firsthand as school counselors. The careful way in which the death is announced. The common denying of students being able to decorate the deceased’s locker or facilitate a memorial. All because we recognize that many students see suicide as a way to finally be noticed by the kids and adults who treat them like they are invisible. We have seen the research and seen the numbers- the way one suicide can produce a domino effect. For the mentally unstable, the attention that this show is receiving may lead to further glamorizing suicide and the acknowledgement that is received upon deciding to end one’s life. 

Suicide is painful to envision.  Much of the commentary I have read, has touched on the graphic nature of this series. Particularly as it pertains to survivors of suicide, visuals can be disturbing. Unfortunately, some people have seen the death with their own eyes. Others found the body. Then, there are survivors like myself who were only left with knowledge of the method that the deceased chose to use – the gun, the rope, the pills, etc. While I am thankful that God spared me from seeing the death with my own eyes, my imagination was left running wild – playing out the “whats” and “hows” in my head like a shrieking, broken record. My friends, trauma is real. For a person who has never experienced trauma, some of these images may indeed be harmless. However, people who are consumed with trauma can be instantly reminded by a painful image. From a psychological perspective, even if that image is not the one they experienced, the visual still has the ability to evoke the heightened sense of emotions and trigger a painful response. I am making the choice to spare myself of this.

After reading these thoughts, I hope I have provided perspective for anyone who might be considering watching the series. My best advice is to consider where you stand, mentally. If you are confident in the stability of your mental health, watching it will likely be fine. But to any of you who are struggling with events that have impacted your past and present mental health, I would encourage you to consider preserving your future. Guard your heart and your mind.

My prayer for all who may be contemplating suicide: “Dear Father in Heaven, please cover each and every person struggling, with your peace – a peace that surpasses all understanding. Lord, I know that the mountains in their lives seem too big and intimidating to climb. And it is true- they cannot climb through their own strength. Help them to cry out to You. Reach Your hand down so You can pull them up. I pray that they find the hope that awaits them. I pray that they find their worth and validation in You and You, alone. Lead them to the help and encouragement they need to conquer these temporary feelings of defeat. And when they have overcome, help them to look back and see how You worked their circumstances out for good. Then lead them to help others in similar situations. I ask this sincerely in Your name. Amen.”

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,
Simone

The Most Wonderful (or Hardest) Time of the Year

Inevitable, it is. Red and green adorn everything- sometimes a stylish white and gold expression, instead. Christmas villages, winter wonderlands, and nativity scenes are carefully curated. Coffee shops, stores, streets, and houses boast decor- basking in the glory of  “the most wonderful time of the year.” I cracked a smile as I looked at the world around me, painted in hues of holiday cheer and vibrant celebration. Then my mental, rear-view mirror took me back to life at this time, three years ago – a time less than glorious, hardly cheerful.

​I considered, for a moment, how planning for the perfect gift for my dear friend unexpectedly turned into planning the perfect funeral for him- just five days shy of Christmas. Laughs turned into ugly cries. Comfort turned into chaos. Excitement turned into dread. The presents that year were abundant, but so were the unanswered questions. 

There are heavy hearts surrounding us, right this moment. Hearts that are heavy in this otherwise “light” season. Hearts that are blind to the reds, the greens, the white and golds – only able to see darkness. The approaching of the holiday season does not transform their tough realities. There is still a family member they will miss, still a disease they will have to fight, still an addiction they will have to battle. Another hungry day and cold night awaits them. The struggle to provide gifts (or basic necessities) for their family grows more evident. And as many of these people look at the happiness of the world that surrounds them, they suffer silently. Many feel the need to blend, to be “okay”. But regardless of the countless smiles that they force, the pain sits stubbornly on the inside.

“Tis the season to be jolly!”… I pondered whether or not I was able to “be jolly” in my dark, Christmas season, past. I didn’t have a 100% “happy heart”, but there was something that sustained me- joy. In the midst of unpleasant emotions and bleak circumstances, the Lord helped me to rejoice. Rejoicing wasn’t the result of pretty decorations and sweet gifts. It didn’t come through being surrounded by loved ones or being comforted with cards expressing sympathy. I rejoiced in the fact that Christmas symbolizes the one gift to this world that can provide an everlasting peace- Jesus Christ.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). 

The truth embedded in this scripture will not make your outward circumstances change. But truly believing in this promise will give you something to be joyful about. Hallelujah! A Savior was born into this world to give us abundant life on Earth and the hope of Eternity in Heaven! A Savior was born to fulfill God’s perfect plan for our lives! A Savior was born so that no earthly trial or tribulation can steal our eternal joy!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). 

My friend, if this time of year is not filled with all “feel goods” and happy thoughts in your world, it is okay. This Christmas may be cheerful for me, but my hard Christmas past will forever be a vivid memory. Never let anyone make you feel guilty for acknowledging that difficult things can dim the glee of the holiday season . Even if you can’t seem to find joy and peace in the comfort food, gifts, or your loved ones- I encourage you to rejoice at the thought of the miracle that Christmas truly represents. 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). 

The prophecy was fulfilled. Christ was born of a virgin. He walked in this world without spot or blame. And He died to bear the burden of sin and grant salvation if believe. So in the midst of your sorrow, REJOICE, my friend! When life’s circumstances change, this truth will remain the same. 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). 

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,

Simone 

Keep Praying, Keep Hoping

It’s simple, my little “war room” – a tiny corner of my closet. The only part that’s consistently clean, in fact. Two walls meet and share a few inches, adorned with motivational quotes on multi-sized canvases- gifted to me by various friends and relatives. They figure I love that sort of thing. They’re right. Two tattered pieces of notebook paper are secured to the walls- a cheap, reused thumbtack holding each one in its place. The uneven edges display my lack of care in ripping the pages out of their notebook binding. Being neat isn’t very important when you’re desperate for Jesus. In the moment, I didn’t care. I just wanted to start filling the two blank pages. 

One page was labeled “prayers” and the other “answered prayers”. My list of prayer requests was so lengthy that the words began fighting one another for space. Then I looked over at my list of answered prayers- much shorter, slightly disheartening.”Don’t grow discouraged”, I thought. God isn’t finished working yet.

So there I sat- day in and day out, talking to God for the entire summer. Short breaks happened in the form of showers, mealtimes, sleeping and writing. Then it was back to my cushion on the floor- a cute little couch pillow, resting in the corner. My knees grew weary. My back grew achy. My faith wavered. 
But I kept praying, kept hoping.  

What brought me to this place? I wish I could say it was simply my strong, daily commitment to steadfastness. I wish I could say all things were good and I just wanted to pray without ceasing. Nope. Another wrench had been thrown my way. If it was a scheme from the enemy, I’d like to think it was because he has grown weary with attacking my faith, only for me to draw nearer to the cross. Nonetheless, it happened- another test. My relationship was suddenly taken away- not in the form of an unexpected death this time- but an unexpected loss, nonetheless. 

I failed to understand how God would see it fit to allow a relationship that glorified Him to become extinct. But one thing I knew (one thing I know) is that I will never allow moments of suffering to lead me to sink. I’ll choose God, even in the deepest waters. Stay anchored in faith and trust His better plan, I will. And so I prayed for understanding, like the good Word directs us to. 

Then a thought penetrated my mind with great power. I had been so caught up in planning for the future in my relationship that I neglected to be intentional about the purpose God called me to in this season of my life. He created me to encourage others. I have always known this truth. Focusing on using my spiritual gift for a project that could encourage other women had been on my heart for a long time. But in the midst of the Holy Spirit directing me, I selfishly postponed my assignment. “I’ll establish my future first and I’ll get to working on this later,” I thought. But when God’s plan prevailed, I regained focus on my mission. No distractions from myself or others. Just daily dates with my sweet Jesus.

I began praying for Him to use me in a mighty way. To refocus my attention- less self-consumption, more extending encouragement. My pity party for myself was transformed into an uplifting undertaking for others – writing a book. And as my focus shifted from self to others, my heart began to heal. Little by little, my less than impressive, shabby page of answered prayers began to fill up. I didn’t know what His plan was…But I kept praying, kept hoping.

In due season, He used my suffering for good, like He always does. My prayers were answered, my blessings increased. In a few short months, a shattered situation was rebuilt more beautifully  than it was before. Many of the  prayers I prayed were answered, plus a few unexpected blessings- a healed heart, progress towards my purpose, a chance to uplift others and a pleasantly unanticipated encounter with a kind and loving gentleman as I was quietly writing my book in the bookstore- (a bonus blessing that has kept my face smiling and my heart skippin’ a beat, every day since). 

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). 

Maybe sometimes God allows parts of our lives to fall apart so that we are forced to rely on Him to be the glue that molds it back together. Maybe He wants us to remember that He is our first love. Or perhaps He desires for us to fulfill the purpose He has for us, instead being hyper-focused on the plans we have for ourselves. He wants us to experience those lowly places where we can truly learn what it feels like to rest in His promises. It is easiest to rest in His promises in the moments when His promises are all you have. So regardless of what is leading you to doubt Him, I encourage you…

Keep praying, keep hoping.

There is a purpose in what He is doing. And I assure you that He is way better at being God than we ever could be. It doesn’t matter if you have a war room, are praying at your desk, behind the wheel, or in the shower. I encourage you to pray fervently and watch Him reveal the answers in His way and His time.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). 

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). 

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,

Simone

Sabotaging Our Peace

The Most Wonderful (or Hardest) Time of Year

12/13/2016

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Picture

Inevitable, it is. Red and green adorn everything- sometimes a stylish white and gold expression, instead. Christmas villages, winter wonderlands, and nativity scenes are carefully curated. Coffee shops, stores, streets, and houses boast decor- basking in the glory of  “the most wonderful time of the year.” I cracked a smile as I looked at the world around me, painted in hues of holiday cheer and vibrant celebration. Then my mental, rear-view mirror took me back to life at this time, three years ago – a time less than glorious, hardly cheerful.

​I considered, for a moment, how planning for the perfect gift for my dear friend unexpectedly turned into planning the perfect funeral for him- just five days shy of Christmas. Laughs turned into ugly cries. Comfort turned into chaos. Excitement turned into dread. The presents that year were abundant, but so were the unanswered questions. 

There are heavy hearts surrounding us, right this moment. Hearts that are heavy in this otherwise “light” season. Hearts that are blind to the reds, the greens, the white and golds – only able to see darkness. The approaching of the holiday season does not transform their tough realities. There is still a family member they will miss, still a disease they will have to fight, still an addiction they will have to battle. Another hungry day and cold night awaits them. The struggle to provide gifts (or basic necessities) for their family grows more evident. And as many of these people look at the happiness of the world that surrounds them, they suffer silently. Many feel the need to blend, to be “okay”. But regardless of the countless smiles that they force, the pain sits stubbornly on the inside.

“Tis the season to be jolly!”… I pondered whether or not I was able to “be jolly” in my dark, Christmas season, past. I didn’t have a 100% “happy heart”, but there was something that sustained me- joy. In the midst of unpleasant emotions and bleak circumstances, the Lord helped me to rejoice. Rejoicing wasn’t the result of pretty decorations and sweet gifts. It didn’t come through being surrounded by loved ones or being comforted with cards expressing sympathy. I rejoiced in the fact that Christmas symbolizes the one gift to this world that can provide an everlasting peace- Jesus Christ.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). 

The truth embedded in this scripture will not make your outward circumstances change. But truly believing in this promise will give you something to be joyful about. Hallelujah! A Savior was born into this world to give us abundant life on Earth and the hope of Eternity in Heaven! A Savior was born to fulfill God’s perfect plan for our lives! A Savior was born so that no earthly trial or tribulation can steal our eternal joy!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). 

My friend, if this time of year is not filled with all “feel goods” and happy thoughts in your world, it is okay. This Christmas may be cheerful for me, but my hard Christmas past will forever be a vivid memory. Never let anyone make you feel guilty for acknowledging that difficult things can dim the glee of the holiday season . Even if you can’t seem to find joy and peace in the comfort food, gifts, or your loved ones- I encourage you to rejoice at the thought of the miracle that Christmas truly represents. 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). 

The prophecy was fulfilled. Christ was born of a virgin. He walked in this world without spot or blame. And He died to bear the burden of sin and grant salvation if believe. So in the midst of your sorrow, REJOICE, my friend! When life’s circumstances change, this truth will remain the same. 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). 

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,

Simone 

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When God Changes Your Assignment 

12/5/2016

1 Comment

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Hearing other people’s testimonies warms my heart. There’s something powerful about listening to the redemption stories of folks with different backgrounds and life experiences – very different stories with the common thread of God’s grace woven through every word, every encounter. His power to restore, revitalize, and redeem is almost magical. Sometimes it’s a testimony with a “WOW factor”- not always, though. Sometimes His strength is seen in the simple- the way He picks up His children and carries them through day to day storms.

I sat in Sunday morning class and listened to the testimony of an unexpected job loss turned into greater opportunities – not an uncommon story. But there was a statement that moved me; stamped itself on my heart. “What if we viewed a termination more like a graduation? What if we celebrated the end of a thing, having faith, knowing that God is working everything out for our good and promoting us to something better?” I let the words sink in and my soul was “WOWed”. There was great power in this simple perspective.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Sometimes we read the scriptures with a yearning- looking for reassurance. But we fail to find the obvious reassurance in the way that God’s truths have already been manifested in our lives. I pondered the many instances where I’ve dealt with a “termination” of some sort. Times in which I thought my life was being deprived or ridded of a good thing, and God was working it out for the good. These changes- these “terminations”- were graduating me from one assignment in order to prepare me for the next one.

What about you, Friend? Can you look back on times in your life in which a “termination” graduated you into a new blessing? In the absence of  the termination, we would miss the magnitude of the blessing that follows the loss. We each have a sort of “assignment” from God- a task to bless others and be used for His glory, regardless of where life takes us. And although the outside circumstances often change (who, what, and where)- the mission of the assignment never changes. 

If you’re reading this, I do not know what changes you are enduring. I do not know what areas of your life are presenting themselves as a “termination”, but God is not finished yet. God has plans to use you in your new season. Stand firm in your faith, knowing that our Lord is working your situation out for good. 

He is working your job loss out for good to graduate you to a place where other people need you. He is working your sickness out for good to remind you to keep your eyes on the cross and rely on His strength. He is working your breakup out for good to claim first place in your heart, again. He is working your marriage issues out for good to remind you and your spouse to follow His perfect example of love. He is working your move out for good to send you to a place where you can interact with new people and introduce them to His love. He is working your grief out for good to remind you that this world is temporary, but He is forever. He is graduating you from these places of comfort to be used for good as you adjust to your new situation. 

If your circumstances have changed, I encourage you to remain focused on your assignment. There is a peace that surpasses all understanding when you view your termination as a graduation. If you view your circumstance as just a loss, you will miss the joy, hope, and opportunities that are waiting to be found. So acknowledge that the past, good and bad, has brought you to the present. But put on your cap and gown and receive your new assignment with gladness of heart, so that you can make a difference right where you are. I pray that this positive attitude cloaks you in the same comfort, peace, and assurance that it has for me.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,

Simone

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Keep Praying, Keep Hoping

11/27/2016

4 Comments

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It’s simple, my little “war room” – a tiny corner of my closet. The only part that’s consistently clean, in fact. Two walls meet and share a few inches, adorned with motivational quotes on multi-sized canvases- gifted to me by various friends and relatives. They figure I love that sort of thing. They’re right. Two tattered pieces of notebook paper are secured to the walls- a cheap, reused thumbtack holding each one in its place. The uneven edges display my lack of care in ripping the pages out of their notebook binding. Being neat isn’t very important when you’re desperate for Jesus. In the moment, I didn’t care. I just wanted to start filling the two blank pages. 

One page was labeled “prayers” and the other “answered prayers”. My list of prayer requests was so lengthy that the words began fighting one another for space. Then I looked over at my list of answered prayers- much shorter, slightly disheartening.”Don’t grow discouraged”, I thought. God isn’t finished working yet.

So there I sat- day in and day out, talking to God for the entire summer. Short breaks happened in the form of showers, mealtimes, sleeping and writing. Then it was back to my cushion on the floor- a cute little couch pillow, resting in the corner. My knees grew weary. My back grew achy. My faith wavered. 
But I kept praying, kept hoping.  

What brought me to this place? I wish I could say it was simply my strong, daily commitment to steadfastness. I wish I could say all things were good and I just wanted to pray without ceasing. Nope. Another wrench had been thrown my way. If it was a scheme from the enemy, I’d like to think it was because he has grown weary with attacking my faith, only for me to draw nearer to the cross. Nonetheless, it happened- another test. My relationship was suddenly taken away- not in the form of an unexpected death this time- but an unexpected loss, nonetheless. 

I failed to understand how God would see it fit to allow a relationship that glorified Him to become extinct. But one thing I knew (one thing I know) is that I will never allow moments of suffering to lead me to sink. I’ll choose God, even in the deepest waters. Stay anchored in faith and trust His better plan, I will. And so I prayed for understanding, like the good Word directs us to. 

Then a thought penetrated my mind with great power. I had been so caught up in planning for the future in my relationship that I neglected to be intentional about the purpose God called me to in this season of my life. He created me to encourage others. I have always known this truth. Focusing on using my spiritual gift for a project that could encourage other women had been on my heart for a long time. But in the midst of the Holy Spirit directing me, I selfishly postponed my assignment. “I’ll establish my future first and I’ll get to working on this later,” I thought. But when God’s plan prevailed, I regained focus on my mission. No distractions from myself or others. Just daily dates with my sweet Jesus.

I began praying for Him to use me in a mighty way. To refocus my attention- less self-consumption, more extending encouragement. My pity party for myself was transformed into an uplifting undertaking for others – writing a book. And as my focus shifted from self to others, my heart began to heal. Little by little, my less than impressive, shabby page of answered prayers began to fill up. I didn’t know what His plan was…But I kept praying, kept hoping.

In due season, He used my suffering for good, like He always does. My prayers were answered, my blessings increased. In a few short months, a shattered situation was rebuilt more beautifully  than it was before. Many of the  prayers I prayed were answered, plus a few unexpected blessings- a healed heart, progress towards my purpose, a chance to uplift others and a pleasantly unanticipated encounter with a kind and loving gentleman as I was quietly writing my book in the bookstore- (a bonus blessing that has kept my face smiling and my heart skippin’ a beat, every day since). 

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). 

Maybe sometimes God allows parts of our lives to fall apart so that we are forced to rely on Him to be the glue that molds it back together. Maybe He wants us to remember that He is our first love. Or perhaps He desires for us to fulfill the purpose He has for us, instead being hyper-focused on the plans we have for ourselves. He wants us to experience those lowly places where we can truly learn what it feels like to rest in His promises. It is easiest to rest in His promises in the moments when His promises are all you have. So regardless of what is leading you to doubt Him, I encourage you…

Keep praying, keep hoping.

There is a purpose in what He is doing. And I assure you that He is way better at being God than we ever could be. It doesn’t matter if you have a war room, are praying at your desk, behind the wheel, or in the shower. I encourage you to pray fervently and watch Him reveal the answers in His way and His time.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). 

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). 

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,

Simone

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Sabotaging Our Peace 

10/19/2016

1 Comment

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Peace. We claim to desire it, but we willingly compromise it. Difficult circumstances slap us in the face and we feel bruised with helplessness. Then suddenly, peace feels distant. I am not referencing living in peace with others. I am talking about living at peace with ourselves and our situations. The latter is where the real challenge lies. 

There is great power in perception. Too often, our perception is that our peace is hiding- waiting to be discovered in something or somebody. We desperately grasp for peace that we hope to attain from…

Relationships- then we realize that all humans are broken and imperfect, thus we can’t depend solely on a person for our peace.
Material things- then we realize that possessions and accolades can’t love us back.
Guilty pleasures- then we realize that temporary distractions and pleasures will never make a problem disappear permanently.
Our feelings- then we realize that feelings are volatile and often lead us to err.

Each time we have an expectation of gaining peace in the aforementioned ways, we lose a little hope. We grow discontent and disgruntled as peace from these things seems intangible. We roll our eyes, whine, complain, and want God to give us a magic formula for peace.

​Our peace is within reach, but we have to be intentional. We cannot continue to compromise our inner peace by submitting to our unproductive, outward responses. Our mouths claim that we want peace, but our thoughts and actions contradict our words.

​“I want to be at peace with where I’m at in life.” [But then I am going to scroll through social media and compare my success to those around me].
“I want to be at peace with my past mistakes.” [But then I am going to spend hours drowning in guilt and shame and thinking about what I could have done differently].
“I want to be at peace with my failed relationships and friendships.” [But then I am going to continue to cling to those strongholds and soul ties].
“I want to be at peace with who I am.” [But then I am going to dwell on what other people think of me, instead].

​I imagine that God is shaking His head as we play tug of war with ourselves. He is watching our actions lose to our words, every time. We are filling the atmosphere with our wasted complaints about having no peace, then filling our time with all of the negative actions and thoughts that obliterate the very same peace that we say we want. 

So how do we attain peace instead of compromising it? The answer is not profound. We have to entertain the thoughts and actions that move us closer to peace, instead of pull us away from it. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

God has already given us the magic formula in His Word. He directs us to meditate on the positive things that bring us peace and He created us with the power of choice. We choose which thoughts we entertain. We choose how we act in response to those thoughts. And that is how our perception becomes our power and our power becomes our peace. 

So if you are feeling like God, a situation, or a person is depriving you of your peace, ask yourself an important question. “Am I a victim of my peace being removed or am I the culpritresponsible for compromising my peace?

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,

Simone 

When God Shakes Things Up

Riding roller coasters might just be one of the most exhilarating and equally terrifying activities in my life. Many fellow roller coaster enthusiasts live for the drop- that moment where you look down and see the never-ending stretch of metal or wood that lies before you. Despite the dive into the unknown adventure, we make the choice to ride – confident that we will think it was worth it when it’s all said and done.

Have you ever asked yourself why we choose to ride? What makes us courageous enough to believe that a latch and a rickety-rackety seat can carry us safely through the drops, the loops, the dark tunnels? Well- it all boils down to one concept. Trust. We trust that we will make it through the adventure that lies before us and come out laughing on the other side- sharing stories of the cool, unexpected twists and turns that we conquered like a champ.

Can you imagine the power of trusting God with our lives in this very same manner? (For those of you, like my mama, who would never even get in the seat of a roller coaster- bear with me in this analogy). But truly, consider some of the rough circumstances in our lives – that terminal illness, loss of a loved one, break up, job loss, move to a city where you’re all alone. That broken friendship, sick child, job that makes you miserable. We are sent on what seems like the steepest drops of our lives, then shaken up, jolted, turned upside down, and sent through the darkest of tunnels.

God shakes things up to help us keep perspective. If you’re anything like me (or just human for that matter), the roller coaster of life starts shaking and you are ready to demand off! “God, okay it’s been an adventure for sure, but can we just fast-forward to the smooth sailing part at the end…you know, where we get off on stable ground and look back and say this crazy ride was worth it?” Sound familiar? I’ve got some news we might not like to accept, my friend. God is going to keep us on this ride until HE pleases. He knows that just a drop or two is not enough to build character. He knows that in order to help us to seek help from above, we must first see that this ride is not ours to control. He knows that it will take a few extra twists and turns to give us that heart change we really need.

So there you have it- that’s the bad news. We ultimately don’t have the power to control the ride. I know- you might be ready to stop reading this because your brain has reached its bad news capacity for the day. But there is good news! It all goes back to that one word from a few paragraphs ago- trust.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Here’s the thing. We will drive ourselves into misery if we try to understand all the details of our circumstance to the point of dwelling on how we got to this place and focusing on how to get out. We might even start to resent God for not allowing us to flee. But when we trust that the Lord is shaking things up for a purpose we cannot see or fathom, we learn and grow.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4

We have a bad habit of being a fan of God when he is blessing us with the desires of our heart, then forgetting he is still a good father when things don’t go our way. We like progress but not process. Our attitudes in the midst of these circumstances, hinder us from learning the lessons he is trying to teach us when the ride gets shaky.
Ask yourself:

  1. Are you shaking a fist at God because he’s shaking things up in your life? Is being angry with him helping any?
  2. What lessons might God be trying to teach you through this experience? What Christ-like attributes (patience, longsuffering, diligence, sacrificial love, etc.) can you acquire through this circumstance? Also- Think of a time in the past where he shook things up and you were able to look back and see the positive lesson in it all.


“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18

My prayer for all of us: Lord, you have a will and a way greater than we could ever imagine. Thank you for shaking things up and reminding us that our trust should be in you alone. Help us to develop character and be open to the heart changes we need on this roller coaster called life. In your precious name we ask these things- Amen.

Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,
Simone

Welcomes and Farewells

It was a day of celebrating life– tears and smiles, an entrance and an exit. One moment, I was gazing into the innocent eyes of a best friend’s new baby, Isaiah James – just over a day old, with a life of unknown possibilities ahead. An hour later, I was sitting in my usual seat at the church building- my comfy corner on a pew in the back. I sat among my church family, memorializing one of our dear sisters, Ms. Juanita, whose earthly days came to end.  

Tears filled my eyes as I met the baby for the first time. I wondered what he was thinking as he stared back at me in curiosity- if he felt the warm hugs I gave his mama and heard the silly words I spoke to him, before his arrival to this world. Sixty minutes later, those joyful, baby tears I had sucked back in at the hospital decided to make a grand appearance during the memorial service- my strong and careful baby-holdin’ hands now shaky and frail, holding my copy of the tear-soaked program with sweet stories and tributes to Juanita’s life.

As I held him close to me, I pondered what great things baby Isaiah James might accomplish one day – if he’ll grow to be brilliant, strong, and beautiful like his mommy. If he will invent something amazing or  just make an impact in someone’s life by spreading love like his parents do. As I listened to the sweet words about Ms. Juanita’s life, I pondered how many people she impacted – all across the nation, moving from place to place in support of her husband’s pursuit of spreading the Gospel. I thought of her encouraging smile, positive outlook and warm greetings on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, even in the midst of being bound to a wheelchair.

I surveyed the eyes of my dear friend as she locked eyes with her baby boy- the perfect little result of herself, her husband, and God’s faithfulness. I recognized the indescribable love of a baby connecting with their mommy – a natural and irreplaceable love. She wonders how her life will be with him here. I surveyed the eyes of Ms. Juanita’s husband, our beloved Guy, sitting on the front pew and replaying 64 years of timeless memories they created together. I recognized the indescribable love between husband and wife – a love that grows with the days, years, decades, and lasts beyond the goodbyes. He wonders how his life will be with her gone.

How can it be that a life and a death produced the same, recognizable peace and serenity in these two situations? Very different, yet very much the same. Uncertainty is the theme in the welcomes and the farewells. But Christ provides a certainty that we do not have to worry about the unknown- beginnings, middles, or ends alike- when our lives are in his hands. And so this new mama and this newly grieving husband share the certainty of God’s love and protection.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

I hope you have that certainty, my friend. If not, consider finding it. We closed the memorial service with the perfect song, “Because He Lives”.  The lyrics matched my heart and experiences today.

“How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives,
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain day because he lives.

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because i know he holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives

​And then one day I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know he reigns


Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because i know he holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives”

 
Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.
 
Sincerely,

Simone 

Goodbye Later, Hello Now.

I hesitated a bit before I hit those delete buttons. Tiny X’s in the center- a first step to saying goodbye to phone apps. As I parted ways with my daily habits, I started to wonder what would fill that extra bit of time. What would replace those quick, mindless moments of scrolling down a news feed. Those little apps allow me to keep up with other humans- to encourage them, rejoice with them, weep with them. Like (love) or dislike the moments they share. Validate, invalidate and affirm their experiences.

Fast-forward to somewhere around day three of disconnecting- I woke up with a light heart and a focused mind. Something felt different in a way I could not quite put my finger on. After a few minutes in deep thought, the change became apparent- Gratitude.

I like to fool myself to think I’m accomplished at practicing gratitude.  I practice all the things a good, “gracious” person would- sending up praise for my unanticipated blessings throughout the day, thanking folks who make my life a little brighter, recording in my “Daily Gratitude Journal”, regularly. An ugly truth graced me with perspective- these routines of gratitude are surface level.

Living a life of gratitude reaches depths far beyond these basic practices. Perhaps the greatest way to show gratitude is living in the now. I began to connect the dots and see how social media plays a role in all of this. How these little apps that help us to avoid missing other people’s moments, can lead us to miss our own.

We open an app and we are instantly bombarded with new information- some good news and some bad. A loss, an engagement, a baby, a natural disaster, a wedding, a national uproar. As we scroll “mindlessly”, we are actually internalizing these things. A hyper-focus on other people’s news. Our mind shift gears to the future. What will happen next? – in other people’s lives. Then we are prompted to consider our own futures- the potential for good and for bad. What will happen in the future with our jobs, our relationships, our families?

“Be anxious for nothing. But in all things by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

During the quiet moments, disconnected from social media, gratitude and intentionality became my mantras. I realized that God reveals life’s beauty in all of the little moments. The crisp air of a new morning, the exchange of a smile and nod with a stranger in passing, the sound of the rain, the scent of the seasons changing. Instead of consuming myself with keeping up with people (literally and figuratively), I asked the Lord to help me self-reflect.

I was able to keep up with the people I needed to- no details missed. In fact, time away actually prompted me to contact the people I love a little more. I replaced the time I spent following my plethora of social media friends, with calling and writing cards to my real friends. I neglected relying on hitting a thumbs up symbol to acknowledge that what was going on in their lives was seen, important to me. And I took the time to reconnect with my two best friends- myself and the Lord.

​All of the little moments add up. All of the time, here and there, spent on social media adds up. And when we put time with God and ourselves in the place of it, those tiny moments end up creating a day full of recognizing God’s grace and the blessings we are surrounded with. That, my friends, is gratitude- overwhelming gratitude. Be careful not to miss the now, while focusing on the later. After all, the later is not guaranteed.
 
Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.

Sincerely,

Simone