Monthly Archives: November 2017

Life-Changing Lessons from A Broken Leg (Part 2 of 2)

(continued from Life-Changing Lessons from A Broken Leg (Part 1 of 2))

 

giphy (50)By the fifth day of week two, my voice was functioning at about 87% and while I was physically tired and still feeling icky, the week wasn’t overwhelming – UNTIL – I walked into my parents’ house to my mother running around frantic and my grandma sitting awkwardly in her chair grimacing in silence. Once I asked my mom what was going on, she revealed just seconds before I’d walked into the house, my grandmother had fallen while exercising and she was contemplating on whether or not to call the ambulance. Since my grandmother is mere months away from her 90th birthday, no chances were taken and in the ambulance, to the ER she went. Mind you, it was freezing cold outside and despite still being sick myself, I immediately began to pray and joined my parents in the trek to the ER behind the ambulance. My grandmother was struggling not to go into hysteria as fears and statistics began to bombard her head. Within the hour, we found out that she’d broken her leg/hip. We were ALL stunned.giphy.gif

 

If you know anything about geriatrics or have been around an elderly person, you know that for a healthy adult, the same injury that could take 4 to 6 weeks to recover from, could take an elderly person a year to heal. I basically spent the night in the ER before going home for an hour of sleep them back to work to finish up the week.

#LIFE-CHANGING LESSON B: you can plan all you want, but you will NEVER be in full control of the future. Tread wisely.

Getting sick totally changed every plan I had in a day. Plans that I had in place for months – including church choir duties – instantly crumbled into nothing more than good intentions. My grandmother (who has NEVER had a major surgery) at the ripe old age of 89 had her life changed IN AN INSTANT as her break required surgery. This further solidified the truth that I always really knew about life here on this earth – we’re not 100% in control of it. Your job, your health, your money, your family, your friends, your possessions, your status could all SHIFT in a nanosecond without any warning. It CAN be a scary reality, but it doesn’t have to be. Being at peace with this life-truth challenges me to give people their flowers while they’re living and treat folks with respect. It challenges me to love the people who are for me and show grace to those who don’t understand me. It prompts me to really be clear about what I want in life, and do what I can and need to live my best life.

 

Well…. it’s now nearing the end of week three and while everyone has been running around getting themselves together for Halloween, I’ve been making daily arrangements to pack for work while staying the night with my grandmother at the hospital as she recovers from her surgery.  I’m dragging from fatigue and I am seriously behind on photography work, but I love my grandmother and desire to do what I can to help.  While I’M still not at 100% health myself, I’ll tell you, the conversations had and the laughs shared between my grandmother and I have forever altered my faith in genuine family connection.

#LIFE-CHANGING LESSON C: family connection in its purest form is more important than anything in this universe (behind a relationship with God through Christ).

My entire life I have never lived in the same town as anyone on either side of my family. My nuclear family (dad, mom and I) have pretty much been ‘loners’ in a sense. This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve been able to physically see someone from my extended family daily, drop in to say hi, eat dinner together, watch a movie, and talk about random memories without the pressure of the sun setting. My love for my grandmother and appreciation for my family, in general, has grown exponentially. Growing up (before cell phones, the internet, and texting)  I depended on my parents to “remind” me to call my family; not because I didn’t love them, but because I would always wonder “what will we talk about? I’d rather just wait until we drive up and visit them.” Which is what would usually happen.  I actually did myself a disservice because while I would eventually talk to my grandparents, cousins, long-distance friends, I missed out on so many opportunities to connect. This week recovering with my grandmother has challenged me to continue to put the phone down when talking with loved ones (because there will be time to business later). It’s also brought on regrets that my other grandparents didn’t live long enough to know me as I am now. A woman who can converse, laugh, take care of, and be there for them as a friend. I can only give what I have to my family now. Which brings me to the last life-changing lesson I’ve learned in the past several weeks….

 

#LIFE-CHANGING LESSON D: I desire to be some man’s wife and somebody’s mama some day and if that has to be later than sooner, I’ll be okay. I’d rather keep moving forward and learn all I can before the next season in my life.

The past year as a single woman has ushered me into a period of reflection: What type of marriage do I see myself having? What type of wife and mother do I see myself being? What type of man do I TRULY see myself marrying? What do I need to work on personally?

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The time spent with my grandmother has answered virtually every question on the list. This week I did things I NEVER thought I’d do and sacrificed comforts that I would rather not give up – but I did them out of my love and respect for family. I’ve confirmed in my heart that if I’m going to be some man’s wife and somebody’s mama, I want to BE present. I want to nurture, support, and comfort my family – even if that means sacrificing reasonable comforts of my own. While it took some time to reacclimate to the ‘single life’, I realized that aside from my ex-boyfriend and I having different ideas, I’m single at this very moment for another purpose – to help take care of my grandmother and to grow more into the woman I say I want to be. If I were married right now, there is NO WAY I’d be able to learn all that I’ve recently learned because I’d be splitting my time with my husband and taking care of my own home. If I was a mother, I’d be doing the same. My mind, and time would be split IF I weren’t in the space that I’m in now. While I do desire to be married before I’m 90, I’ve realized that if I say I truly want to be the best wife I can be and marry the best husband for me and be the best mom my kids could ever ask for – I have no choice but to keep moving forward, take the lessons I’ve learned, get back out there/apply them, and leave the rest up to God.

If you see me around town this weekend let me know what your thoughts are on what I’ve had to say. I know I’m not alone. I’d love to hear your story and cheer you on in your journey to a better you!

 

Be blessed, Joc

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Life-Changing Lessons from A Broken Leg (Part 1 of 2)

These past two to three weeks have been what I would consider ‘life-changing’.

On November 16, I caught a terrible virus from a family member and overnight I was in Urgent Care getting a shot in the ‘hip’ and contemplating if I could push through the work day or not. It turns out (per doctor’s orders.)  I was forced to call it a day HOPING I’d get better soon so I could get back to work.

It turns out, God didn’t plan it that way.

Tuesday afternoon brought on a new symptom (other than the sinus drainage and a terribly scratchy throat/sneezing) ……. one large order of VOICE LOSS! Nevermind that my job as an insurance agent requires me to TALK 95% of the time! ** insert a “what are you telling me LORD?!**

With one fell swoop, my entire year supply of sick days was wiped out and I was forced the following Monday to return to work, with a hazmat mask on, barely being able to speak above a scraggly whisper.d21b601d09f254a6301b0c4004f8045b.620x400x1

Most of you who read my blog know that I’m a freelance photographer and will undoubtedly feel my pain to know that in addition to being out of work and running out of paid sick leave, I also had to reschedule a slew of fall special shoots I’d already rescheduled due to an emergency family conflict. I was calling on the LORD (in my heart) heavy now! Appearing unprofessional and flaky was NOT my goal when I initially set up these shoots months earlier.

**in a 60-something year old black pastor voice** Somebody turn to your neighbor and say BUT GOD!

Thankfully God heard my cry and blessed me with my go-to videographer-friend Rashaad (who is my second photographer on weddings and events) and allowed him to be off work so he could step in for me.

# LIFE-CHANGING LESSON A: Be thankful for the good people God has placed in your life and be good to them.

One of the things that bothers me most as a business person is when a situation legitimately makes me appear as unprofessional or unknowledgeable. I love photography. It will always be in my heart; and while there will always be people who will try to “get over” on me or dislike my art, I don’t always take it well when “life” happens and interferes with how customers perceive my business.  This is why I’m thankful to have someone like Rashaad on my team and I always try to be a good as a friend as he is to me. He didn’t have to take on those shoots for me. He could’ve said “well to heck with you, I ain’t got time for it!”, and watched as I crashed and burned – but he didn’t. The importance of true friendship and partnership was illuminated to me in this moment. I was inspired to try and be there for my loved ones when they really need me (although I may not be able to help all of the time.) God divinely orchestrates certain relationships to help us live our best lives and live great.

 

Back to the sickness.

By the fifth day of week two, my voice was functioning at about 87% and while I was physically tired and still feeling icky, the week wasn’t overwhelming – UNTIL – I walked into my parents’ house ….

(to be continued)

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SEX: The fight your flesh does not want to win (Commentary)

So this morning while eating breakfast I came across a blog post on a friend’s social media page titled: SEX: The fight your flesh does not want to win. I immediately knew that this was something I wanted to read.

I’m so glad I did.

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you’ll learn a few things about my story; one being I am a woman practicing celibacy after sex. Though it’s gotten somewhat easier over time, it’s still a struggle to stay sexually pure … ESPECIALLY since everything and [seemingly] everyone around us advocates for the antithesis. Yet, being a Christian doesn’t require you to be “in the crowd” or always agree with popular opinion. CELIBATE

This brings me to the blog.

Now that I’m on the other side of sex, I can say with a sober mind that it’s harder to stop than it is to abstain. Once you know the experience, it’s tougher to stop than it is to hold on to the V-Card (while that’s a challenge in its own right.) It’s not impossible though. Lyss (the author) does a fantastic job laying it out in her blog post. It’s a daily journey and it takes work and care — even if it seems extreme, do what you have to do for YOU! I’m still single so I’m not going to say at the end of the journey God will bless you with the best husband ever or a satisfying sex life after marriage, but I DO know, it will bring you closer to God and help you date with a CLEAR mind and CLEAR heart. Enough of my chitter chatter, take a look at the post below:

 

-Be blessed, Joc

Your stomach balls up, clenched by shame and regret.

You never thought you would get to this point… Your mind races back to the first moments as you scramble to figure out why and how this could have happened.

This person wasn’t you… It’s not who you are supposed to be and it certainly was never who you sought out to be.

 

You’re panicked.

 

You remain silent.

 

The pattern repeats.

 

You are convinced that he is the one… We will get married.

You find yourself reasoning. You justify the cost.

You cry.  Silent tears that only you see. Silent tears that want to scream.

 

“HOW?”

How do I escape this? How can I stop?

You think back to the first time you crossed the line…

Every time was easier after that.

You’re ashamed. You’re stuck.

 

You’re not alone…

 

This is the story of many young women.

 

What I am about to say is for the girls who are struggling, lost, and filled with guilt. It’s also for the girl who has never had her first kiss.Because the truth is, no matter who you are, where you come from, or what you believe— purity is one of the hardest things you will commit to do.

 

First, friends, please understand this: No matter your physical past, you are NOT stuck. If you want forgiveness, it’s yours. Jesus gives it freely and He has His arms wide open to envelope you in love. Please do not live in the prison of shame.

Colossians 1:14 (MSG) says, “God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.”

 

Wherever you are, know that my heart is to see you have the most beautiful relationship that glorifies Jesus, and because of this I am willing to challenge you to get there.

Before you even enter a relationship I want you to come face-to-face with the reality of three things:

 

  1. (If you are alive in this world) you WILL be tempted with sexual sin.
  2. EVERYTHING, good and bad, in a relationship starts small.
  3. Without a plan, you will not succeed.

 

The battle of purity is the fight your flesh does not want to win.

How can we realistically save ourselves for marriage when we know the world tells us “it’s okay”?

How can we actively fight our flesh? And maybe even more important, how can we stop when we have found ourselves crossing lines we never intended to cross?

No one is immune to falling into sexual sin. I sure wasn’t. It was a battle to stay pure at every new season in my relationship with Austyn. We had to be intentional and prepared and even though it was hard, I can tell you today – it’s so worth it.

In just a few days we will be getting married… Waiting was hard— there is no doubt about that. But what God has for us in marriage is beautiful.

Here are six things that helped us win the battle for purity, and I know it will help you too.

1. PUT JESUS FIRST IN YOUR LIFE. 

You always hear people say “Keep Jesus at the center of your relationship.”

But what does that actually look like?

Putting Jesus at the center of your relationship will not happen unless you both are putting Him first, daily, in your own personal lives.

When you pursue a relationship with Jesus and put Him first, you are laying down your own flesh and selfish desires before you ever run into temptation. Check your heart.

How can you fight if you are spiritually running on empty?

 

2. KNOW YOUR “WHY”.

Why do you believe in not having sex before marriage? Do you actually know?

Genuinely ask yourself this question! It’s okay to realize that you may not have a good answer. You have identified a weak spot beforehand, now you can go find answers!

The Bible tells us very clearly why we should not have sex before marriage, but you need to seek those answers in the Word on your own so they can be real to you.

 

3. YOU ARE NOT THE EXCEPTION, YOU ARE THE RULE. 

We cannot allow room for ANY evil, or even the appearance of evil. No matter what. Even if you know 100% that “We would never do that.”

This lie we tell ourselves is the perfect opportunity for the devil to come in.

Is it worth it? Nope.

Here is the truth: You are not superwoman with your ability to battle temptations, and you can’t treat yourself as such.

For instance, when Austyn and I began dating we made a rule that being alone in a house together was not an option. This was decided before we even kissed, so why should it matter? If we hadn’t even kissed we certainly would not be tempted to have sex.

Fast forward a year later – if we had not set that boundary early on, we could easily have fallen into temptation… Because I am not superwoman. I am a young woman who is capable of falling into temptation like anyone else.

Always treat yourself as the rule, never the exception, and you will be helping your future self.

4. SET UNWAVERING BOUNDARIES. 

A common thing I tell girls, who have found themselves crossing boundaries they never thought they would cross, is to “Put the line down where it hurts.”

If you find yourself crossing boundaries in a car, maybe you need to save the kissing for when you’re out of the car. If something “hurts” to cut out, that can be a good indication that you should draw a line and make a new boundary. Boundaries can be added, but they should never be taken away.

The truth is, if you move it even a little bit you will find it easy to disregard your boundaries altogether. And to be honest, that is exactly what will happen.

5. GET ACCOUNTABILITY.

Nope, your accountability partner is not your boyfriend or fiancé.

You need someone from the outside who can see things clearer than you and who will boldly ask you the uncomfortable questions.

Oh yeah. The questions you hope they will not ask, but need them to.

The healthy fear of knowing someone will check up on you will help you in hard moments. Make sure you trust your accountability partner and verbally give them permission to ask the hard questions.

It is so powerful to have someone running alongside you and cheering you on!

6. PHYSICALLY PACE YOURSELF.

This one is the hardest for people to apply…

Why? Because it requires being honest with yourself and, typically, doing the opposite of what you want.

I can tell you from personal experience – this is the most critical step, next to your relationship with Jesus. Where are you headed, physically?

If you’re dating, let’s assume that you have plans (or, at least in your head) for marriage.

 

Are you in school?

How many years do you have before you both can make that commitment?

Do you even want to get married soon?

 

Let’s say that you think you will get married in 2-3 years or have at least two years before you would even consider marriage.

You have already been dating for a few months and the likelihood that you will have your first kiss soon is very high. If you kiss now, and still have a while of dating left, do you think you are physically pacing yourself for success?

Are you going to be able to handle that level of temptation in the long run? If you are human, the odds are against you because the truth is the longer you wait, the harder it becomes.

The reason I am asking the hard questions, and challenging you to do the hard things, is because not falling into sexual sin before marriage IS HARD.

But, I know you can do it….

 

This week I will walk down the aisle and marry the man of my dreams. I remember when I was young and I made the decision to wait and give everything to my husband.

I waited.

He waited.

And together we fought to wait.

 

Even if you have struggled with sexual sin in the past, what the devil meant for shame, hurt, and brokenness, can be redeemed. God wants your story to be beautiful.

Waiting is worth it. The fight is worth it. Saying no now is actually saying an ecstatic “YES” later on.

Always cheering you on,

Lyss

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