Monday, April 18, 2016

#WriterWednesday I'm all but dying to tell you the truth about death

Complain and remain
Praise and be raised
-Joyce Meyer

Three years ago, we got a new neighbor. At first, my family was very sad to see our old neighbor leave after it felt as though we had really developed a solid friendship with said person. Yet, once we met Kathryn and her boyfriend Ken, it was easy to see this neighborhood friendship was off to a very friendly start. Most likely because my parents are from New Jersey and Kathryn and Ken are from Boston. Northerners tend to bond on some unspoken level. Mostly because the way we perceive the world is similar, and we build a bond based off that. 

Anyway, Kathryn went from being just our neighbor across the street from us to someone we held garage sales with, and then someone who gave us her extra fridge when our ten year old one crapped out, and my parents didn't have the financial means to get a brand new one from anywhere. Then, Kathryn started volunteering at a local church, and while there, she made friends with a man who worked for a grocery store and collected their leftover bread to donate to the churches food bank. Last summer, we didn't eat much cake but we had our own personal bread man. That was short-lived because Kathryn was volunteering a month or two ago and she ended up saying "crap" and "suck" too much for the taste of the high brow religious do-gooders of said church, telling her if she kept talking like that she wouldn't be welcome here. And the bread man blatantly told her that he wouldn't be giving her and her friends bread any longer. At the beginning of 2016, my family once again was in dire straights when our dryer crapped out, and Kathryn offered my parents her personal credit card so we could get a brand new one (she even said we should get the newest high-tech Samsung one). Kathryn was an active fixer of things she bought at garage sales, refurbishing old furniture and making it new again and she made the front of her house go from ghetto-looking to two green thumbs up. She even provided my sister a dresser when her old dresser purchased at Big Lots became a big pain in the ass with drawers that fell apart and all her clothes were exposed to anyone who walked inside the bedroom. 

Then, shortly after the incident at the church, Kathryn found our one of her tumors was malignant and she would need to start chemotherapy right away because the cancer was progressing.

Yes, you read that right. Sweet, give the shirt off her back, active older lady with the Boston accent Kathryn, who became like another family member to me and my family had stage four cancer.

Then, like the butt of a really bad joke, Kathryn passed away on April 1, leaving us all a fool for the legacy she left behind. 

Last Monday, I found myself in her empty house with free pass to take any movie in her collection that met my fancy, I ended up with a box of movies. Some of which I had wanted for my massive movie collection for years like childhood classic, Save The Last Dance.

Yet, it made me sad to find that some of her movies were still shrink-wrapped, some of her movies were opened but looked as though she had only watched them once or twice, and it made me realize the weightiness of death for those that stay living here on Earth. 

My mom was given so much baking goods and ingredients that it struck a heavy minor chord on my heartstrings to see that she was planning to make her own personal chocolate molds, and even chocolate covered pretzels. 

    Kathryn was a kind and compassionate soul and as she neared death, my family not only prayed for her but my parents visited her multiple times weekly, my mom made her plate after plate from different dinners she made like St. Patrick's Day and Easter, and we even asked healing ministers to come lay hands on her before she left us. Yet, they were one day too late. 

I share this story with all of you because as someone who experienced being at the brink of death herself, not knowing Christ as your personal savior and Lord, seems like such a quick and easy way to take the death out of dying. 

Plus, knowing Jesus is there with you, and his spirit lives in you, can mean a world of difference when life seems to knock you down, and no one whether they are of faith or not is subject to a free pass on the trial front. Everyone faces tough times and seasons in life. Yet, having Jesus means I have someone who goes to work on my behalf and who has already overcome the power the world has to harm me (John 16:33). Today while doing a study on the Holy Spirit I found some verses that spoke to me, breathed new breath in my lungs, ridded me of feeling winded by the worries of life:

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life -Romans 8:9-15, The MSG.

God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way. -1 Corinthians 2:12-13, The MSG

Until next time remember, though my story was a bit somber, I find glimmers of hope in the message it shares. Death is something we all face in this life but we don't have to allow the world's labels to define us but instead create a legacy that affects people and inspires those we leave behind to also make their life count, not by this world's standards but by God's.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#WriterWednesday: God Can See The Heart of the Matter

I'm sorry for my lack of updates but I've been busy working on lots of different things.

First, I got chosen to help Rachel Platten on Wildfire Tour when it stopped in Orlando. That was fun and I posted a video about it which you can view here.

Next, I was basically picked apart when I submitted my memoir into a Pitch contest and the editor wasn't helpful to me at all for both making my pitch better or for my self-esteem. I'm not someone who usually gets knocked down just because of one rejection but her feedback wasn't nice at all.

Then, out of nowhere, the day following receiving said email, I found out I was 1 of 25 picked to compete in this year's Pitchapalooza. I didn't end up winning but I'm totally okay with that.
 One thing I realized is how much I hate social media based contests even though I know that if I ever want to make it as an author, my social media platform is hella important. I'm not exactly popular in the eyes of social media standards although people have literally started arguments and debates over my tweets since I started my Twitter in 2009. For me, social media has always been  I started out the contest messaging people via Twitter and Facebook. The response on Twitter was pretty warm as people there are just basically welcoming and encouraging. Yet, I realized that my Facebook friends for the most part are cold-hearted snakes. They just ignored my message sent over Messenger or Facebook IM and one even deleted the post I placed on their Facebook timeline.

Then, I was advised by my fellow writer friend to message people via Goodreads, and I added LinkenIn to that list. For the most part, people here were the most responsive other than Twitter. My last minute effort was messaging a few accounts on Instagram and I only got one person to vote for me there. Another account who may have been a fake account messaged back: No please stop spamming us.

I just felt so defeated and THEN I realized that this wasn't my battle, this battle is the Lord's.

Beside the Rachel Platten dream come true- somebody please pinch me-did that really happen opportunity, I also got PAID to write my first blog post which was so amazing, and The Smart Cookie Philes is really taking off (I now am an official reviewer for REUTS Publications). Plus, I finally have an interview for a job I'd really enjoy having while I await my debut as a publicist.

   To sum up what I'm saying, I could have let that editors words, those people ignoring me, that blatant NO take me down and defeat me, forcing me like invisible chains to stay seated in a puddle of defeat and rejection.

Or I realized that God can see the heart of the matter. God can see my passion, my talent, my dedication, my heart for people, encouraging and inspiring them, whoever they may be, and he wants to honor that and my faith in Him.

Plus, I realized that Facebook is no longer productive for me as a human (post-grad realizations) so I've since deactivated my personal page and now ONLY have an Author Page. Since I deactivated, I noticed more people acknowledged my posts there and I know I've made the right choice.

Now, I am currently participating in CampNaNoWriMo, it's a virtual writer's retreat sponspored by National Novel Write Month. I have 30 days (less now: 24 days remaining) to write the word count which I set: I chose 30,599 because I want to finish my WIP: Kickflip My Heart. Yet, I've only written 599 so far in two days. Plus, I'm writing a stanza a day for #NationalPoetryMonth.

So, if like me, you are up for a vote of being Fan favorite please let me know because I will vote for you regardless of your religion, political views, race/ethnicity, or even if you happen to think Cats are better than dogs. I want to support people with love and encouragement regardless of what makes them who they are and just accept them for who they are period: A PERSON.

Whatever support I can lend, I would be happy to. Comment below if you would like my help or vote.

Until next time, remember

Love Times Infinity,
God Bless!
~Just Keep Swimming~