I love that man

My story takes place in a small local coffee shop in pawlys island sc. I was invited by a dear friend to attend a week long 3DM conference for developing missional communities. We met at 6pm at this coffee shop for praise and worship. They had a band, a sermon, and even communion. How awesome is that! The shop owners got it right by opening up for such an event despite what customers may think and God has blessed them for it. When is the last time any of you have walked into a Starbucks to see that taking place?! As amazing as that alone is, that is not the main point.

During reflection time and communion I went into prayer. Just thanking God for his perfectness and for his Son and for my many blessings. When I opened my eyes after prayer, I opened my eyes to see a man walking up to the register. He wasn’t a regular attender of the service. In all honesty, you would have looked at this man and labeled him homeless just off of looks alone.

Right there at that exact moment, God spoke to me as plain as day. He said, ” I lovE that man.” I stared at him, Lord if you love him I do too! I never met the man in my life but I felt the love God had for him and I was overjoyed.

Come to find out after the service that this man was a regular but never knew about the Sunday Church service going on there. He asked about it and said he was a little shy but was thinking of maybe coming back next week to attend. How awesome is that! If that isn’t a God moment I don’t know what is.

God loves each and every one of us just the same as he loves that man. He hears your cries and will come to you when you least expect it. He doesn’t care about your past, about all your accomplishment or failures, about your wealth or money. He just wants to love you and for you to love him. He wants to take care of you and to send you out to take care of others. What amazes me is how out of the million people on this earth and with everything going on at that exact moment, God took a minute to show me how much he loves us all individually Right where we are, just as we are.

I leave you with the words I left the man in the coffee shop with:

God loves you so much. You are his masterpiece. Perfect to him in every way.

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“His Vision”

I got to thinking this morning on my way to work about what my vision for a friends business project would be. It brought me back to a story, well a memory of something I experienced a few years back. The interesting part, is both my story and this business project involves sea turtles.

So you see, one night while walking around with a few friends from church, i stumbled upon a baby sea turtle. It was around sea turtle hatching season so this was not shocking. What was to me, was the point that this little turtle was going in the wrong direction. It was a cloudy night, so the moon wasn’t exactly visible. This is the main source of light these little guys use to find there way to the safety of the water.

Like all good things he does, God used this exact moment to share to me a glimpse of his vision for me. He whispered to me, ” You see, like this small turtle, you were to once lost. But I found you and set you in the right direction. Don’t be distracted by the other lights in this world, as glamorous as they may seem, but focus on my light that will lead you home, to safety. Do as I have done for you and be the light for others who are lost in the dark. Guide them home.”

While that may not be the exact words i remember hearing, it is pretty close. How amazing right! What i thought to be a normal Saturday night on the beach with friends ended up being something so special. I took from this two things:

We are called to be the light when all other lights go out. To climb into the deepest pits to save our fellow brothers and sisters who are lost and scrambling to survive, much like the baby turtle. On the other hand, we ourselves can also be the “other lights” who distract and mislead others in the wrong direction. I am guilty of this to some degree. We are all not perfect and never will be, but as followers of Christ, we have a duty to not become stumbling blocks to others. Everything we do, is on display for both God, his followers, and the lost.

So I believe I have found my answer to my friends question about what my vision for her business would look like. This place should be a place, rather a light, that guides all the lost in the world in the right direction. A place off refuge and safe keeping. A direction towards safety and home. The world has become a dark place and these kind of lights are getting few and far in between. Don’t let your beacon burn out, it just may be the one thing someone else is running towards and desperately needs.

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“Proof of your love”

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s word with power, revealing all of His mysteries and making everything as plain as day, and if I have faith to say to a mountain jump and it jumps but I don’t love I’m nothing. If I give all I earn to the poor or even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Written in the sand

 

imageOne day long ago I was walking the beach with Tears in my eyes. I was praying angrily with God. My life before that had been a roller coaster fueled by my mistakes and my selfish desire to pave my own path. My pasts hurts and insecurities got the best of me. I was so blinded by my anger that I didn’t see how loved I really was. How could anyone love a boy like me with so much sin, so little to offer.

Not a second later, almost by accident I came across these words. The beach was deserted because it was nearly dark. I walked farther than I normally did. Not by chance or luck, I  stumbled across these words, ” Jesus loves you.” I fell to my knees and cried and cried.

he met me right where I was and touched my heart forever.  He did love me despite my weaknesses and faults. He cared enough about me that despite my anger and bitterness, he went out of his way to remind me of how loved I really was. It’s as if he came down and wrote those 3 words in the sand himself. He may have.

dont let your shame keep you from the best thing in the world. You are perfect in his eyes and he loves you just as you are. Yes, he loves even you. He’s waiting for you to come home. Go to him and set yourself free. Experience the world as he would like to show you. He is the only love that never fades, leaves, tarnishes or rusts.

He may just write his love for you in the sand.

 

“The Notebook”

Just a romance movie to some, but it is much more than that. I am not ashamed of my love for romance movies, after all it is the most unspoken issue we all deal with one time or another. How easy is it to just take things at face value and miss so many important details. For me The Notebook wasn’t just a movie but a way of life. Probably one of the most inspirational movies I have seen and I am not just saying that because part of it was filmed in my home town. Lets take a look at the themes of the movie and I will open up and explain how they are a living example in my life. 1. love conquers all. The story he reads is his written about how they met, fell in love, lost each other, and then found each other again. The end of the story is tragically altered by Allie’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but even that has no power over their love. 2. follow your heart. Allie had spent years in fear of hurting her family and friends if she deviated from the standard way of living for her social class. It was only then she realized that she and Noah were meant to be together that she made the right decision and followed her heart. 3. You cannot live your life in fear of hurting others. Allie nearly learned this the hard way when  she almost gave in to her fear of hurting her family and friends by choosing Noah. Only with the reading of his final letter to her written twelve years before was she able to see that is was her life to live, and no one should be able to force her in a direction she didn’t want to go. I have been fighting with these exact themes for days and eventually had to decide and follow my heart. Here is my Notebook Story.. I spent my life ever wondering if I would ever find someone who I would love. Not just love like you love your for instant gratification but love that would last. Real love that you couldn’t control or wasn’t even expecting. One day by sheer accident, I met you. I was only suppose to drop a friend off but for some strange reason I stuck around. I remember the first time I laid eyes on you, the whole world stopped and I felt like my heart might beat right out of my chest. It was different than any other love I have ever felt. It was real. That night, being able to lay next to you and hold your hand, I said to myself. I will marry that girl one day. All though I didn’t know when, I knew for certain that I just met the girl I have been searching for my whole life. I did not tell you those things then because I was afraid you didn’t feel the same way. After all, it was the first time we ever met. I knew that I had to wait, to see if this love i felt would last and withstand the test of time. Many times I have been fooled by feelings of love and I needed to prove to myself that it was real. Years went by and I kept my distance but my love for you never faded. I kept in touch the best I could. All though I engaged in other relationships, I always felt myself comparing the love I felt that night to the love I felt with them. I had some growing up to do and I saw that. We both did. Until one day, my biggest dream came true. You were single and willing to go on a date with me. I was so nervous and it went terrible. We ended up seeing the wrong movie and I was at loss for words most of the time because I was overwhelmed with emotions. I was just so happy to spend time with you finally after so many years. i remember how funny it was when you slammed the truck door so hard that the rearview mirror fell off. Despite my terrible attempt at a first date, you allowed me to see you more. The feelings I had from the first night where just as strong if not stronger. It had withstood the test of time. On April 26, 2012 my second greatest moment in my life came true. You gave this renegade kid the chance to be your boyfriend. Things went fast and progressed quickly. I was so in love that I didn’t stop to think and slow down, my biggest down fall. The moments of laying next to you at night filled my dreams and thoughts everyday. I knew what it felt like to be loved. As quickly as things went by, one day it all ended. life tore us apart but it couldnt crush my heart that beat for you. You hadn’t lived your life and needed space and time to find yourself. Forever is a scary thing, even for me. Your leaving made me love you even more because I saw how strong and determined you really are. Even now apart you still find ways to amaze me. it may be 12 years before we see each other again but I will never stop loving you. My heart tells me to not give up hope and I don’t intend too. You have the key to my heart and that is a thing to give to only one. The world wont let me give up as hard as I have tried. I withstood the test of time once before, I can do it again. I believe you only truly fall in love once in your life and I had that with you. I will be home living my life like at any moment you might come back and hug me. I remove the pillow for you every night from the bed just like you like, your towel is still hanging on the towel rack, I get the Sunday paper for the coupons just in case. i even wrap food before putting them in the fridge, especially pizza. as cleshay as it sounds, I will spend my time searching for the house we always dreamed about, the house you deserve. It will have everything we dreamed about and be a place to grow old in. why you might think this is no way to live, but it makes me happy. Time apart will do us both good, the timing wasn’t yet right. But i know in my heart that i have to be patient once again and keep the hope that we will be together again. I had things to work on still. I have no desire to find another love because I already found the best and nothing else would ever compare. You couldnt convince me other wise. I know you may find other loves but I will never abandon you or give up. dont give up on me. i will be here patiently waiting for your return, so like the notebook we can pass from this life together, holding each other in the end like we did the first time we met. If not, I will pass in time a happy man because I got to live the best year of life with you and because I know we will find each other in the next life. love you Always and forever.   Love, your Noah.

Admittance and Recovery (Codependency)

Dear friend,

I hate to admit it. I wish it weren’t true. But I know what it’s like to be a “closet codependent.” I know what it’s like to compromise my conscience in order to comply, to be a ‘peace-at-any-price” person to appease, to put up with chaos in order to avoid conflict. Although I myself had not heard of ‘codependency,” I found myself in an exhilarating, yet fearful relationship of highs an lows-in a roller-coaster relationship with continual ups and downs. In truth, even though i knew something in the relationship was wrong and something needed to change, I was desperately “needy” of connection an deathly fearful of rejection. When my “friend” would threaten to leave, I would beg, plead, and promise whatever was necessary in a desperate attempt to stay connected. My immense fear of being abandoned led me into a long season of insecurity. At the time, I viewed my loyalty as noble. Today, I see my loyalty as excessive. Sadly, I didn’t know that these high/low swings were not “normal.” After all, that destructive dynamic was part of my normal-the normal, volatile relationship I witnessed between my parents. Loyalty to my mother became the highest priority in my life. I had a never-spoken commitment, to take care of my mother. Ultimately, I felt responsible for her welfare. In truth, we had a role reversal. Later, when i became an adult, I found myself having excessive loyalty ‘excessive” because my highest loyalty was to a person. I was controlled more by fear in a friendship than by my faith.

What is dependency?

A dependency is a reliance on something or someone else for support or existence.

“I have to have this to live.”

A dependency can be an addiction to any object, behavior, or person that represents an underlying attempt to get emotional needs met.

“I must do this to meet my needs to make me happy.”

We should have a healthy “interdependence” on others in the sense that we should value each other and enjoy each other, love and learn from each other, but we should not be totally dependent on each other. Essentially, this kind of relationship involves a health, mutual give-and-take, where neither person looks to the other to meet each and every need. However, I had a misplaced dependency on others.

In a codependent relationship, one person is seen as weak and the other as strong. The weak one appears totally dependent on the strong one. But the one who appears strong is actually weak because of the excessive need to be needed by the weak one. In fact, the strong one needs for the weak one to stay weak, which in turn keeps the strong one feeling strong.

Codependent people may appear capable and self-sufficient, yet in reality they are insecure, self-doubting, and in need of approval. This need for approval results in an excessive sense of responsibility and a dependence on people-pleasing performance.

Here a few things I discovered that opened my eyes to being a codependent person:

  • I felt responsible for the feelings, needs, and actions of the other person.
  • I tried to fix the problems of this person, even to the detriment of my own well being.
  • I knew the feelings and needs of the other person but did not know my own.
  • I did things for others that they were capable of doing for themselves.
  • I judged myself more harshly than I judged others.
  • I denied my own feelings and needs.
  • I felt guilty when I stood up for myself.
  • I felt good about giving but had difficulty receiving.
  • I tried to be perfect in order to void anger or criticism.

The classic codependent relationship is typically characterized by an emotionally weak person who feels the need to be connected to an emotionally strong person. The so-called strong one is actually weak because of the need to be needed. Both are insecure and become entangled in a web of emotional bondage. The two combine to produce a destructive cycle of manipulation and control, draining joy and happiness out of life. Because this destructive dynamic is often subconscious, both parties can feel innocent of any wrongdoing.

The Codependent Relationship Profile;

  • Both feel a loss of personal identity.
  • Both violate their consciences.
  • Both have difficulty establishing healthy intimate relationships.
  • Both struggle with low self-worth.
  • Both have difficulty setting boundaries.
  • Both become jealous and possessive.
  • Both fear abandonment.
  • Both experience extreme ups and downs.
  • Both have a false sense of security.
  • Both usually have one other addiction besides the relationship.

What draws people into destructive codependent relationships? The answer is most often found in their childhood pain-a past pain that impacts their adult choices. In reality, codependent people are grown-ups who have never grown up. All children progress through five developmental stages on their way to maturity and adulthood. If as children we fail to progress successfully from one certain stage to another, our development will be stunted at that stage, and we will grow up to be emotionally immature adults. We will develop adult bodies, but like children, we will be underdeveloped emotionally. As a result, we will be inclined to be drawn into codependent, needy relationships. Children who grow up being emotionally needy and who are not allowed to learn the skills necessary for forming healthy adult relationships never learn healthy independence. They have difficulty speaking the truth, asking for what they want, and setting boundaries. They become codependent adults who are addicted to unhealthy relationships because they never learned anything different. Ultimately, they are desperately trying to finish what they started in infancy-to grow up!

No one sets out to be emotionally addicted to another person, to constantly crave love from another person. These cravings were created in childhood because there was “no water in the well’- their “love buckets” were and still are empty. They are truly love-starved. Rejected children live for any moment of acceptance. Any hint of love becomes an emotional high that temporarily relieves their pain. These children may become adult love addicts because they..

  • did not receive enough positive affirmation as children.
  • grew up feeling unloved, insignificant, and insecure.
  • experienced a traumatic separation or a lack of bonding.
  • felt and continue to feel intense sadness and a profound loss at being abandoned.
  • felt and continue to feel extreme fear, helplessness, and emptiness.

Children with empty “love buckets” create a fantasy about some ‘savior” who will remove their fear and finally make them feel whole. but no matter how much love they receive, it’s not enough because they themselves are not whole. As adults, they are still emotionally needy “children” who….

  • Believe that being loved by someone-anyone-is the solution to their emptiness.
  • enter relationships believing they cannot take care of themselves.
  • Assign to much value and power to the other person in a relationship.
  • have tremendously unrealistic expectations of the other person.
  • live in fear that those who truly love them will ultimately leave them.

Everyone is created with three inner needs-the need for love, for significance, and for security. If we expect or demand that another person meet all of our needs or if we become dependent on another person to do so, we have a misplaced dependency. Codependency does not flow from an unchangeable personality flaw or some genetic fluke. A codependent relationship is rooted in immaturity, a fact that should give great hope to those caught in its addictive cycle. Any of us can move from codependency to a healthy, mutual give-and-take in our relationships. The key to change is motivation. What kind of motivation? When your pain in the relationship is greater than your fear of abandonment, the motivation for change is powerful. Moving away from the pain of codependency then becomes a matter of choice and commitment.

 

Confront the fact that you are codependent.

  • Admit the truth to yourself.
  • Admit the truth to someone else.
  • accept responsibility for how your past experiences and reactions have hurt your adult relationships.

Confront your codependent focus.

  • Stop focusing on what the other person is doing and start focusing on what you need to do in order to become emotionally healthy.
  • stop focusing on the other person’s problems and start focusing on solving your own problems ( those resulting from your neglect of people and projects in your life).

Confront what you need to leave in order to receive.

  • Leave your childhood and your dependent thinking ( I can’t live without you). Then enter into healthy adulthood. ( I want you in my life, but if something were to happen, I could still live without you). That is reality.
  • leave your immature need to be dependent on someone else and embrace your mature need to be dependent on The Lord.
  • leave your fantasy relationships (thinking, You are my all-in-all) and instead nurture several balanced relationships of healthy give-and-take.

In conclusion, when you are behaving in a codependent way, you are trying to get your needs met through a drive to “do it all” or to be another persons ” all-in-all”. However, you can “travel the road to recovery” by releasing your desire to control or to change the person you love.

 

My Eureka moment!

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Yes I borrowed the title from an author I was I introduced to, John Green. Amazing author by the way. I have just had my eureka moment! In practicing good humility I want to admit to my newly found weakness. I struggle with codependency. I never knew it and saw it but after hours of reading and praying I was led to a book that have opened my eyes to the truth that will set me free. I was right however that I knew my childhood had something to do with how I often acted and felt. I will go into much more detail over the next couple posts but I have to run to church for now. I will break this life long chain and learn to be self dependent. I am very excited about this discovery because now I understand and finally everything makes actual sense. Until later, have a wonderful Sunday 🙂

Changing your outlook

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Hey everyone! Sorry for the delay. I have been spending sometime really digesting life and really diving into my feelings and understanding them and what causes them. I feel compelled to share some of the things I have experienced growing up and sharing how changing my perception of these things helped me heal and develop a sense of peace with them. So here it goes! Keep in mind that I am thankful for all the things I went through and I wouldn’t have changed anything if I had the choice.

I grew up like many without a father. He left when I was a very little. The few memories I have of him involve sitting next to him while he smoked drugs and drank. I often found myself drinking with him just so I could be apart of something with him. Silly I know but I was young and did what I thought was best. Despite all of this, I honestly can say I love my dad and am thankful for his faults as a father. He did care in his own way and I know he did love me despite his long absence. I say this because now as an adult I understand how to be a good father and a positive roe-model thanks to him showing me what not to do. I can visually see how the things fathers do can influence and mold there children for better or for worse. Little things as a child can stay with you for a long time. Thanks to my dad, I know the kind of man it takes to be a great father and I plan to be just that. I made a conscious decision to look at it positively rather then allowing myself to turn out like him and blame everything on my childhood. I have sense found many great men who I can look up to and go to for fatherly advice. This story can be a positive motivator for others in similar situations. You are your own person, be who you want to be. Become someone your proud of.

This lack of a father figure made my love for mother stronger. She had to become the Lone supporter, disciplinarian, and roe-model. When she passed away from cancer quickly and unexpectedly in 2007 my life was devastated. It was now me against the world. It was easy to become angry with everything, even God. It took awhile to recover from the loss but overtime, like everything else, I eventually found peace. Instead of being angry, I looked at the positive in the situation. I learned the importance of how special time is and family. I don’t think you truly can understand and appreciate that until you experience loss. I have learned that each day is a gift and to treat each day like its the last. I remember to tell all those I care about that I love them and how special they are too me. All though I miss her like crazy all the time, I know she watches over me and loves me and wants me to be happy. I am positive the loved ones you may have lost feel the same. You can choose to be in despair and angry but you can also choose to learn from it and start to love with no regrets. Allowing yourself to no longer be angry about it isn’t you giving up on them or selfish. Your allowing yourself to heal and realize that you can’t change the past but you can change how you spend your finite time here on earth. Don’t take time for granite and never be afraid to tell those you love how much they mean to you.

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( how beautiful she was, how beautiful they both are)

To be honest, those two events in my life had led to many failed relationships. I dreadfully used many to indirectly fill the whole in my heart I had. While its OK to love and want a relationship, I never confronted these needs and understood why I had them. I never gave myself the time to heal. All though I was a good, caring, supportive partner, I carried this feeling of abandonment. Thanks to my psychiatrist I know see how that was true due to my actions and how I perceived things. I would bend over backwards for my other and do anything and everything I could to make them happy. While that seems like all good things, it had the opposite effect of what I hoped it would of had. By doing so many nice things and always putting them first, I forgot who I was. I ended up smothering them. Crazy huh, the whole time I thought I was doing what I was suppose too. Being a great boyfriend. I never considered the fear or worry the other person would have knowing that your whole life and happiness revolved around them. Truth is, it shouldn’t. So like all the rest, instead of being angry or upset, I chose to look at in a positive light and learn from it. I can honestly can say for the first time I know what true love is even though In the end it didn’t work out. She opened my eyes to the world and set my heart on fire for working at becoming a better person daily. She taught me to be patient, how to not worry so much, how to love and how to focus on what’s really important in this world. I carried a lot of baggage from my childhood that she couldn’t fix. Only I can do that and I am one day at a time. I am taking time for me each day, building my self confidence, and even seeing a psychiatrist. I am not ashamed of that, I am that devoted to understanding my past and moving past it. In the end, she did probably the hardest thing she has had too and let me go but she did it out of love. I never would have seen the things I was carrying around if she hadn’t. I know that because of it, I will be better grounded and ready for my next relationship. Whether or not that’s with her or someone else, life will go on and unfold as it should. The only thing we have control over is ourselves.

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(the moments you will never forget and can never be taken from you)

So that’s just a few things I have been through that I believe many of you have experienced yourselves. Life doesn’t always pan out like we would like and sometimes it hurts but you have the choice to let it bring you down or you learn how to except things and turn that negative into a positive. I promise you will be much happier if you do. You will grow, become stronger, and learn how to love yourself and become content with yourself. It’s OK to put yourself first sometimes and love yourself. When you become truly happy with yourself, all of your relationships will become stronger. Make the choice today to stop finding the negative in everything and make the conscious decision to find the good in everything. Start small but keep doing it. After awhile, it will become an instant habit and the freedom and peace you gain from it will forever change your life for the better. If you don’t believe in yourself, know that I believe in you. Nothing is impossible to overcome and you are stronger than you know. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope it gives you hope. Remember that all though sorrow may come at night, joy comes in the morning.  Things can only go up from here and if they don’t, take pleasure in knowing that you will be an even better person in the end. God bless all of you, I love you all very much.

 

My inspiration

My inspiration

Have you ever had one of those days where you were searching for answers and looking for anything to help answer and of the questions you were having? Well I did and I was searching the Internet for anything to hold on to, anything to give me hope for my current situation when I came across a video that forever changed me. A video by a Godly man named Nick Vujicic. This man was born with struggles you and I probably have never had to deal with. He has also felt rejection, no self worth, not worthy of love like I have felt and you probably have too. Despite all of this, he managed to turn his disabilities into something that defined him and used them to inspire others. Simply beautiful. He is the reason I decided to start blogging. There is healing in helping others. Many times, we are left to go through tough experiences to grow, learn, and to share them with others who are in the same position you are. He is now a 24 year old man who is happily in love with himself and Jesus. He recently became married to the love of his life and started his own non profit organization to speak to children and adults all across the globe. He spoke about his disabilities and his fear that he would never have a wife and a family because who would want to be with someone who he couldn’t even hold because he was born with no arms and legs. Despite all that, God took his life and made him whole and gave him a purpose. He too has a purpose for me and you! He is the happiest person I have seen with all the reasons in the world no to be. If he can do it, so can we. Just remain strong, know that the valley doesn’t last forever. Watch his you-tube videos at times when you feel like giving up and I know you will find inspiration to pick yourself back up again. Beware though, this video may make you cry 🙂

 

chow for now