Inspiration in Infancy

My first encounter with God came when I was 11 years old. I knew something bigger than myself existed but I could not place what it was. I had no explanation for it until a friend invited me to spend the night at her house on a Saturday. I was granted permission and she told me to bring nice clothes as we would be going to church in the morning. I was excited! The only time I had been to church was for weddings.

It was at Calvary Baptist Church that I met an amazing lady. She was 19 and teaching Sunday School for the first time. She was also married to a man of God. I was young, vulnerable, and eager to learn. She taught me that Christ died for me and through the atonement, I was saved. I didn’t know I needed to be saved, but I knew I needed God something fierce. Miss Lorie taught me how to pray. Once I learned to pray and was ready, I asked Jesus to come into my heart.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬

God loved me. He still loves me. I can fully attest that I am a sinner by nature but now I have been blessed with the gift of eternal life through Jesus’ crucifixion. I’m not perfect, no where close. I still sin and make mistakes. But when I ask for forgiveness and repent, God is there to take care of me.

Miss Lorie and her wonderful husband, Prince Albert (not in a can), took me under their wings and welcomed me in their home. They did their best to teach me what it means to be a Christian and live a life for God’s glory. Unfortunately, as a teen, I chose a different direction and pushed God aside. I made a lot of bad decisions and plummeted into a life of sexual immorality, drugs, and deceit. I did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, without regard to the consequences. I hurt many people with my actions, attitudes, and behaviors.

All of those things have led me to where I am today. It is because of God’s amazing grace that I “once was blind but now I see”. I see how the errors of my foolish ways have affected others. Now, I am in the process of rebuilding. Not only am I correcting my sinful behaviors, I am asking for forgiveness for those I have mistreated or sinned against.

Luke 15:11-33 tells the story of the prodigal son.

“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

In many ways, I find myself to be the prodigal son… Ahem, daughter… to Miss Lorie and Prince Albert. I have been restored to God’s fold, which they (and many others) have been hoping for. It’s been a month and it hasn’t been easy. I’m still taking baby steps but I know who to lean on.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭

I am so grateful to Miss Lorie for first planting the seeds in me. I am in the process of strengthening the roots of those seeds and establishing a firm foundation in God.

Beauty is in the Eyes

Actually, true beauty is found in the heart.  It’s the one place where the Spirit of God lives. If the Spirit is not in our hearts, then how we appear to others may not be attractive.  Does that really matter? Does how I look on the outside really, truly matter to people? I’m not huge on wearing makeup daily or having the latest fashions. How important is that?

It never ceases to amaze me how much society values outer beauty. Take Hollywood for instance. Every year, People Magazine produces a “beautiful people” issue. The front cover displays the “most beautiful” person with a blurb on the inside of the magazine about why they were chosen for this descriptive title. What makes that person really more beautiful or attractive than say, someone like me? I won’t compare myself to the celebrities in Hollywood. I’m not them and they’re not me.  I used to idolize the women of Hollywood. I wanted to be an actress at one point in my life. The problem was that I never felt I could measure up to the societal standards that Hollywood set. I was never outwardly pretty enough. My thighs are too thick and my stomach isn’t flat.

Funny, that stuff doesn’t matter to God.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

God’s looking at my heart. He sees the beauty on the inside of me; the beauty that I am cultivating with His help. Think about it for a moment… What is attractive about a person’s outward appearance if they are mean, rude, crass, and volatile in spirit? What is manifested in the heart, shines on the outside.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” – Galatians 5:22

I cannot say enough about how God wants our hearts. He has my heart. My desire is to be the fruit of the Holy Spirit, becoming love, joy, peace, patience, and all those other things that come from believing in Christ’s atonement. When others look at me, I don’t want them to notice that I’m not wearing makeup or a trendy pair of jeans. I want them to see my smile and the way my eyes light up at acknowledging their presence. I don’t need compliments from men about my looks or my body.  Oh my gosh! At work, we utilize surveys to improve our customer service. Several weeks ago, there was a comment directed towards me. It was sexual in nature, discussing my “luscious breasts”. I was horrified! I was not viewed as a medical professional but rather as a sexual object. I felt degraded and dirty. I dress modestly, especially at work. My body is not on display to lure or entice the sexual appetite of others. That particular comment scared me. It made me wonder what I was doing wrong. Luckily, I have a boss who does not allow any of the women to be disrespected in that manner. He’s quick to step up to the plate and immediately asked our regional manager to look into the comment. Our corporate office has since removed the comment and that particular patient was transferred elsewhere.

I’ve never really thought I was pretty until the last 10 years. I thought I was okay looking and I used sarcastic humor to attract others. Never felt gorgeous or that I lived up to Hollywood standards. It was a blow to my self-esteem for many years. Now, I don’t particularly care if others find me attractive. I know I’m beautiful. On the inside. Where it COUNTS! I’ve never had a consistently ugly personality, thankfully. I know several women who are pretty on the outside but the minute their mouths open, the ugliness spews forth.

“likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,” – 1 Timothy 2:9

I wish I could say that I truly didn’t care about my looks. I don’t to a degree. I’ve decided that I’m reserving my physical appearance for the man God needs me to have according to His will. On occasion I’ll wear makeup. I might even do my hair or wear a dress and heels. For now, I’ll wear the beauty of God’s Spirit, which is in me.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I understand that it is my heart that makes me beautiful. I must give credit to You and Your Holy Spirit which dwells in me. Please help me to let the wondrous beauty of who You are shine on the outside. Please continue to fill me with Your fruits and help me to cultivate them. My desire is to bring forth the characteristics of Christ in all I do, so that others may see You as the Creator of all things.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He Sees Me

The darkness has turned to light

The cup of joy overflows into a river of happiness long overdue

Tides of a ripple effect, washes over my heart

He sees me

The whole of my heart, bathed in light

His care is for me alone, as I walk with trepidation for the new-founded love

He sees me

Unabridged, unedited, raw with hidden emotions and an unbridled yearning

My heart has waited, patiently, to feel the strength of a single beat in unison

He sees me, for all that I am

He sees me, for who I am and what I will become

He sees me

Toxicity and Boundaries

Today’s sermon at church was a really hard one for me to hear.

For many years, I had no boundaries. I had no morals, scruples, or standards. I was in my twenties, a time when I was meant to be free yet not allowed to make mistakes. I had no idea what life was supposed to be or how to even live it. I had bound myself to the whims of others. I molded myself into what I believed others wanted me to be. I had no clue how to be myself. I hadn’t the slightest as to who I was. Only what others required of me without asking about me.

This is some treacherous territory for me.

It was only a few years ago that I truly realized who I was. I had fought for several years to establish my own identity. I knew exactly who I was and where I was headed. I was strong. I was independent (to a degree). I was fearless.

While I knew I could not conquer the world on my own, I knew I didn’t want to be alone. God didn’t create just Adam; He brought Eve into the world, straight out of the side. I knew I was not meant to be without someone. I went in a few dates, made a very small handful of friends, then set forth on a relationship.

The roses smelled so sweet in the beginning. I had few established boundaries. I knew what I would or wouldn’t do. I had no expectations of someone else. Perhaps I should have though. It may have saved me from a lot of heartache.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Subtlety is a cruel animal. It blinds us to the natural erosion of time. I did not wake up one morning and say, “whoa! When did this happen?” No, it happened over time. Very slowly and gradually.

I allowed myself to become molded into what someone else wanted.

I was the newborn butterfly returned to its cocoon. I was no longer free to fly. No longer allowed to be what had been attracted to in the first place.

Others saw it before I did. Again, hindsight is perfection at its finest. I never saw it until I availed myself the opportunity to step outside of my environment. I, Mia, had slowly eroded my joy of self-establishment. Who was I? What had I allowed to happen that I lost my identity? I did not recognize the person in the mirror staring back at me.

Like the path a flowing river creates, the tides of my personality had ebbed.

What few boundaries I had were gone. My toxicity levels were high. I began to search for the root of my bane existence. Existence. That was it in a nutshell. I existed. I was not living. I was not surviving. I was not thriving. I was simply existing. I was not even present in the moments of time.

My life, in its lackluster essence, was toxic.

Was it me directly? Was it the people around me? Was it my job that I supposedly loved? Was it my day-to-day routine?

What was the base element of the poison that adhered to my disposition, thus creating a deplorable shell of self?

I had allowed poison into my life. A person who was toxic within themselves. My personal boundaries had withered away and were replaced. Granted, the new boundaries were a higher set of moral standards, they should never have been set to replace my personality and who I was. Instead, the new boundaries should have been imposed gradually so as to not destroy the butterfly inside the cocoon!

With the toxicity safely removed, I am emerging once again. I still have no expectations of others, as we are all human and prone to failures of sorts. However, the standards and boundaries I have set for myself have changed. Never again will I allow a poisonous element eradicate or alter who I know I am to be.

I know what I will allow. I know what I will not accept.

Remove the toxic elements and set your boundaries. You are in control of your happiness.