Potential in the Good…

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“Love is not boastful”…
Love is not prideful… That’s what that means to me…
And it means it in the most obvious and clear way possible… It’s important that I learn this and learn it well right now… Because I need to clearly love without saying a word…
And for some reason that is a bit of a challenge for me… Because it takes me back to a thought of who God is to me right now… In this moment… In this chapter in my life… And I am reminded that he is simply found in the hearts of people… specifically children…
Now that doesn’t mean I don’t talk to him anymore because I do… But something hit me last night in a clear way… I actually haven’t had something hit me this clear in a while…
And it went a long with the comment I made to a 12-year-old… She was carrying on about an adult she doesn’t like… And describing her plans to foil the woman’s life because she dislikes her…
In the midst of it all… Well I stopped her and said, “Just be kind. Be kind and find the good in her. That’s your mission for the week. Everyone has good in them, so find the good in her”…
And that conversation led me to a thought… Hours later I realized… Right now… At this moment in my life… Well I find God when I see some type of goodness in people… Because it encourages me… It gives me hope… It allows me to see that there is potential there to work with… It helps me understand that not all is lost… That one day that person can become an incredibly loving, good, positive light for the world around them…
And I think in this moment it’s good that I saw that… Because I feel a little challenged… I feel very hopeful… But I feel challegened and kind of question whether or not I can do what God has asked me to do… But in the midst of it I want to follow the advice I gave the 12-year-old… Find the goodness… Find it and focus on it and allow it to lead me to the next part of my mission…
And for some reason.. Well I feel like focusing on the good in a person… Looking towards their strength… Well I feel like that’s what God is to me in a way right now… That I can find him within anyone around me if I am just willing to look hard enough…
And for now… Well for now that’s good enough…

Value Found

2015/01/img_2107.jpgIt’s taken a moment… But I’m learning that as my self-worth grows… As I begin to value me more and more… Well I don’t put up with those who undervalue me anymore…

A year ago… Moving to the west coast… Starting a new life… A new job… Being around everything new… Well I was at a place where I didn’t appreciate me at all…

And during the first six months of being here I grew but my self-worth didn’t…

So standing in this place now… Being here and feeling like I’m undervalued in a place of work… Well I don’t know what to do with it…

I feel like I woke up one day and realized “oh, I’ve changed. And I’ve been weak. And I’ve allowed people to push me around long enough.”

And within this realization I begin to see how much I go out of my way because I want to… And then it’s never appreciated… And I don’t do things to be appreciated… But how far is too far?…

When do I begin to set limits and boundaries?… And how do I stay true to myself and make sure my value doesn’t get looked over?… And that I don’t look over it myself?…

Because I used to say things… But now I just do them… And I don’t complain… But I find myself frustrated with moments…

And then when I think about the fact of getting a raise at work… And what that means…

Well I realize that money doesn’t determine my value… That you can’t place a price on someone… That money won’t really change my intangible life in any way… Because I’m already at a place of happiness and contentment… A place of peace… So as nice as it is to receive something like that… Well it doesn’t really determine my value…

And I think this is a good place for me to be… In this moment… This week… To realize that an increase in pay isn’t going to change the way people I work for and with view me… That I’m still going to be undervalued… And that things aren’t going to change here…

But then the important thing is that I’ve changed for the better… That I finally value me… Me for just being me… No more no less… And that I finally see what others that value me have seen for so long… And that it’s good…

And I don’t know what drives a person to remove themselves from an environment where they’re not cared for and appreciated… But I do know that when God says “move”… When he says “it’s time to move forward and close this chapter of your life”… Well I’ll do it with a grateful heart… One that finally values and appreciates me more than ever before…

And more than anything I feel like I’ll finally move forward with more of me than I’ve ever had before…

God

2015/01/img_2324.jpgOver the years my relationship with God has changed… It’s evolved so very much…

When I was a kid… Well he was the one all the adults around me talked about… The one I’d hear it was important to have a relationship with… And my grandmother taught me so much about the Spirit of God and how he was the one I should cultivate a very personal and intimate relationship with…

As I grew up… Well God became more of something instead of a someone… I learned more and more about him through people than for myself… At school, in church, at Bible Studies… It was my responsibility to have a relationship I knew… But everyone kept telling me what theirs was like so I watched as listen… Never truly trying to cultivate a relationship with him… Because I thought I knew… I thought I had all the answers…

Then when I turned 17 I began to hear the voice of God for the first time… And I realized how prideful I was in thinking I had so many answers… That I knew the personality of God, when all I truly knew was based on other experiences….

So I started cultivating my own relationship with him… Unfortunately I will still listening to those around me too much… It was still more about what I thought I knew versus what was real…

So not until I turned 21 did I truly begin to cultivate a relationship with him… And for the next 4-5 years I would stay on this amazing journey… Learning about God in ways of never thought about him before… And he’d speak to me and tell me things in the realist way I knew…

And I enjoyed that relationship so much… I learned for myself that I strongly disliked the church for what it had taught me about God… And that I strongly disliked the school I grew up in for the same reasons… And then I found myself strongly disliking my grandmother and her ministry too…

Of course I’ve had to come full-circle with all of it… Realizing that I was gaining something of my own… Not something that was someone else’s… Not something that was borrowed and then passed out and expected to be believed by everyone… But a relationship that truly belonged to me…

And then came the time that I realized that I wanted to study Jewish teachings and learn more principles about the way God designed the earth… And those things were and still are cool and so real to me…

And as I did that my relationship with him changed even more because I grew more annoyed by what I was being told versus what I knew God was directly saying to me…

In a way I can compare my relationship with God like the one I experience at work… I feel like God’s a celebrity… He’s printed about in the tabloids and everyone thinks they know him and who he is and what he stands for and does… But those that truly know him… The ones that talk to him on a daily basis like I do with my boss… Well they know for a fact that God is who they experience on a moment by moment basis…

So now… Now I’ve come this far… And being out here in Cali… Well I’m disconnected from the religion I was raised in… Meaning… I’m alone… And nothing is really familiar… So I’ve tried to connect myself to what I knew… To jump into a church… Something familiar…

And you know what I’ve learned… Well I’ve learned that my relationship with God is changing… It’s still not what I hear the preacher preach about… And honestly I still find myself annoyed with church as a whole…

I don’t read my Bible… I haven’t read my Bible in years… I don’t find anything really intriguing and interesting… Maybe it’s because of the years it was crammed down my throat through a Christian upbringing, Christian school and the Bible college…

It’s just not for me…

But you know where I do find God?… Where I feel like our relationship is at its realist?… Where I am at my realist right now?…

It’s in my drive to work… Or my drive anywhere for that matter… Of course I can always talk to him… But my relationship with him has changed because I’ve changed… I’ve changed through what I see… And what I see on a daily basis is so spectacular… The mountains… The hills… The trees… The sunsets… The 24/7 greenery…. The colors of a flower blooming year round…

God stopped becoming what’s in a book and what other people were telling me… He stopped becoming what he told me he was and what I assumed he’d always be… He became something more when he showed me the simplicity of his creation… When he opened an opportunity for me to move to Cali and stand in awe of his creation… Well that’s when it got real…

And even more than that… It became so much more real when I got this job and became a kind of mother to three kids… Because I’ve learned so many principles from them… And I stand in awe of the way love can overpower anger, hate and jealousy in a child and home… As long as I stay patient and willing…

So too me… Right now… Within my relationship with God… Well, I thought it was real before… But as I continue to live… Well I realized it’s so much more… And it’s truly alive now… More than ever before…

Because it’s no longer him talking to me while I sit behind a computer and piece information together… It’s no longer laying in bed at night and talking to him… It’s no longer the long walks to class I used to have in college… And it’s definitely not what everyone else is saying…

Because for the first time it’s a realness through what I see… And through what I experience through helping children learn and grow… It’s so real… It’s so much God that God isn’t even mentioned within it… I just know he’s there and I thank him for it…

And if being in awe is what this relationship is right now… If it’s what’s keeping me full on a constant basis… Well then I’m ok with that… Because I honestly don’t want to read another scripture or hear another message… I’m ok with just where I am…

And the best part is… It’s mine… It’s my relationship… Based on where I am in life… Standing in awe constantly… And I’m so ok with that…

Grateful for the Present

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Ten days into a new year… ten days in and I feel like life is moving along so swiftly… and I don’t really have time to live in the past anymore…

And I think the truth in not living in the past becomes more real everyday… almost like I feel as if I am wasting time by going back to the past to think about memories or to feel some kind of guilt, jealousy or even self-hatred… It’s all become so ridiculous…

And I feel like in this moment… this particular one in general… well… once again I am learning so much… and I feel like it’s true… that I’ll look back on this time… this time where I got to become me… that I’ll look back and realize I was growing faster than I even realized or imagined… and that life was taking me on this amazing journey… and that God was guiding me right along… and that he continued to surprise me and just give…

And sometimes it seems difficult to continue to live in the moment… and love the moment I am living in…

To me… well… to me it’s much simpler to plan and create what might happen next… then I can control what my life will become… and nothing will sneak up on me… but I’ve learned that I like the surprise… the sneak attacks and not knowing what card I’ll be dealt next…

And it’s taken me so long to come to this place…

But today… well today I am just grateful… grateful that I can continue to look around me in amazement… that everything I see on the west coast is so spectacular and beautiful… it’s designed in such a way that I feel like speechless…

And I’ve never been good at being grateful… but it’s something that I’m striving towards… because I am learning… that in the midst of moving towards what I want… which is my own family one day… well life is giving me so much along the way…

And if I can’t stop and smell the roses on my journey to that destination… well then I’ll miss out on the goodness God has provided me with right now… and I can only enjoy all of this right now.. because it is after all in the present…

So saying this… well it encourages me to continue to just live…

The Provider

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Yesterday I starred thinking about the Yarbrough house…. the house I lived in for 16 years… the house my parents lived in for 20 years… the area of Shreveport we lived in before dad really got his business off the ground… the places where I spent my childhood.. and advantages I had in being so close to my grandparents house…. I could ride my bike there….

In the midst of those thoughts I began to think about the struggles my parents went through… the arguments they had… the misunderstandings I had… How could they be married if they argued so much?… How could they really, truly love each other?…

And then I thought about how hard my parents worked so that my sister and I could have a good life… My dad probably wasn’t trying… but he became a great homebuilder in the midst of providing for his family….

It’s funny and at the same time really sad…. but I feel like I am learning the greatest lessons from my father now that he’s dead… Now that he’s gone, I’m actually able to look at his life…. I never took the time to do that before…. I’ve always been so selfish and focused on me, my emotions and my problems with life…

But I continue to see who my dad was and it inspires me so much… And the thoughts I have of him lately are “gosh he was an excellent provider.”

But really the man never let us go without… He always made a way and provided for his family… And when we wanted to go on vacations, participate in activities or even have certain gifts for Christmas… well he made a way…

And I’ve never thought about provision until lately… I’ve never thought about what an honor it must be to provide for your family…. to make sure they are all taken care of… and I’m sure it can be a burden at many times… I know it was a burden for my dad…

But he always made a way… He almost always said yes… and if he didn’t say yes… well I asked mom, who I knew could talk dad into saying yes…

And in the midst of thinking about him providing… I felt ashamed that I never really truly thanked him for it… I’m not a grateful person… It’s something I am working on…. And so I feel ashamed that I wasn’t able to truly see how amazing he was when he was alive…

I took him and what he did for granted…. He always said “ya’ll don’t appreciate me or even care about what I do.” And although I denied it… it was the truth and he knew it so well… Now I wish… I wish with everything in me that I could express how grateful I am for him…

It took a conversation with someone at work to help me realize that dad has given me so much… Because of him, I have really good credit… He put my car and other things in my name and then paid for them in full… And today I am able to build on that credit because I pay things off on time…. Those are things he taught me…. things that I took for granted…

I have to call other people today so they can provide answers for me… I’m so used to calling dad… but now I find myself calling uncles, friends, co-workers… even mom…. mostly mom… and it does hurt… it hurts to know that I can’t pick up the phone and have him provide me with an answer….

I actually miss that provision way more… the provision of answers from him when I needed them the most…. And I’m working on allowing God to be the person I go too…. I’m working on asking him the things I’d ask my father…. And God does answer me… but it’s still not the same….

It’s funny what God told me the other day… “it’ll never be the same Amanda. I’m not your dad. I can’t replace him. I can’t be your dad. I can be like him, but I can never be him.” And I think that honesty, that truth, that amazing amount of vulnerability from God is one of the reasons I love him the most…

Because he knows as well as I do that no one will ever replace my father…. he knows that he can provide for me in so many different ways… but he can’t be the tangible man I called dad…. And you know what… that’s ok… I’m grateful that I was able to someone in my life that makes missing so challenging… I am grateful that no one can replace him… not even God….

And I am also grateful that God is willing to fill in the pieces and help provide for me… To help provide with answers and resources and just conversation…. And although it will never be the same… I am grateful for the lesson of provision from my father…