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Gotta have faith

Gotta have faith

The Art of Listening

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

I’ve always been good at taking time for myself. I’m all about a girls trip, buying myself something I want just because or just getting in “me” time whenever I see fit.  For the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus more on how to be still with my inner thoughts. As I get older and continue to search for direction, I feel a growing need to not only really think about what I want but to also hone in and listen to the answers.  I spend a lot of time  praying for things and asking for guidance, but I’m not sure I’ve perfected how to listen for the answers or decipher what I truly want and need.

When I can’t figure things out, my first go to is research, research, research. I volunteer to spend an hour a week in our church’s Adoration Chapel. During my devotional hours, I’ve discovered books that provide guidance on the process of preparing my self for prayer so that I’m most clear and free from distraction. Over that last year or so I’ve come across 4 books that have provided me with those infamous “aha” moments Auntie O is always talking about. I loved these books because they’re centered around listening to your gut and doing what will allow you to live and enjoy your life, authentically.  That is such an Oprah way of wording it, but it’s true.  I’ve found the search for a deeper understanding of self and perfecting the art of listening to what God or the universe is trying to tell me is a process. I’m the type of person who needs a toolkit to help me figure this out. It’s not an easy process for me, but one that I’m finding increasingly necessary on my journey. The other aspect I’m working on is consistency. Now, this is the hardest for me. I’ll be the first to admit, I suck at consistency. See also,  my exercise life and the last few years with this blog!  Look, I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all?

Here are the four books that have been extremely helpful for me:

“Four Signs of Being a Dynamic Catholic” by Matthew Kelly – Provides an outline for preparing yourself for prayer and establishing consistency.

“Into the Deep” by Dan Burke – Helps create a deeper more meaningful prayer life.

“The Power of Silence” by Robert Cardinal Sarah – Focuses on blocking out external and internal noise so you can hear God.

“What I know for Sure” by Oprah Winfrey – Through her life lessons, you learn how to be true to yourself in all aspects of life.


*Just So You Know: The first 3 books are Catholic-based. However, if you struggle with the process of intentional prayer or strive for a deeper more connected prayer life, as I do, I think you can find them full of great nuggets of information. I didn’t find them to be preachy or centered on conversion. I’m not about that life, you do you. I’m still in reading “The Power of Silence” so if it goes left at the end, my bad!


Do you have a prayer or mediation ritual? Do you think you’ve perfected the art of blocking out the world’s noise and listening to what God or the universe is trying to tell you?

Gotta have faith

The Art of Letting Go

Sometimes the hardest thing for a person to do is to let go. We’ve all experienced it in some aspect of our lives from relationships to careers. I know several people, including myself, who are currently in the process of letting go of something or someone in hopes of allowing a sense of renewal or calm into our lives. The question is how do you know when it’s time to let go?

Months ago I listened to the first episode of the podcast Making Oprah. Twenty-two minutes into that episode, Oprah said something that made me cry as I listened and still nearly brings me to tears when I think about it. She said,”Everybody knows that there is a time that comes in your life, when where you are is no longer where you are supposed to be.”  In other words, something deep within you lets you know when to move on.  I think that statement makes me cry because I know it’s true and I’m finally ready.  That’s the key to letting go. You have to be ready. No matter how much can see it or tell us, it doesn’t happen until our mind, body and spirit are one and we act on it.  Sometimes we don’t want to let go because of love for or devotion to family members or friends even when they show no signs of love or devotion to us.  Sometimes we don’t let go because we are simply afraid of the unknowns and the what ifs.

I learned a long time ago that there are times when you just have let go of family and friends. This doesn’t mean you don’t love them or wish them any ill will. It means you choose yourself. It means you choose your calm. You should not have to live in a constant state of pissivity, because you love your family or the person you’ve been friends with for years. Loving from a distance is still love.

There have been instances where I have removed people from my life and through my own growth and healing I was able to allow them back in and have healthy relationships.  It happens.

I’m still working through overcoming fear of the unknown. Hello, my name is Jennifer and I need exactly how things will turn out and if the outcome is good, I’m in! Please and thank you. However, that’s just not life. So, I’m working on learning to follow my happy even if that means I have to let go and face my fear of the unknown.


How you do you know when it’s time to let go? Is the process easy or hard for you?

Gotta have faith

Words at a Funeral

I never knew my grandparents. My mother’s father died before I was born and her mother died when I was very young. My step-father’s parents died before he and my mom got together. My biological father’s parents are still alive, but I’m not close with him and I’ve never met them…maybe one day…maybe.

Anyway, due to the absence of grandparents, I adopted my own. There was an older couple who lived down the street from us that I adopted as my grandparents. I’m not sure how I went about it, I was very young, but they agreed and allowed me to call them Grandma and Grandpa Fields. My mother was very close with a cousin of ours, who was a few years older than her. Our families spent a lot of time together. She had grandchildren who were a little younger than me. Of course, the kids always referred to her as “Grandma”. So, one day I asked if I could call her “Grandma”, too. She agreed and she became my “Grandma Mudda”. As I got older, I learned her actual name wasn’t “Mudda”, but Lillie Bell! However, she remained Grandma Mudda to me.

This past Sunday, one of her daughters, she has four, called and told me Grandma Mudda died suddenly from stroke or heartattack. I was devastated.

After my mother died I would go visit and talk to grandma, often. When I went home on breaks from college I always went to see her. She was always happy to see me, her “Grandbaby”. When my dad died in ’05, I stopped going home as often. So, I didn’t get to see Grandma as much. I would call occasionally or keep up with how she was doing through her daughter. When I was pregnant, I had a baby shower back home. I was looking forward to seeing her there, but unfortunately, her sister died that same weekend and she wasn’t able to make it. I wanted her see her Grandbaby all big and pregnant. Last October, one of her daughters, Niecy, got sick and I drove to Atlanta to visit her. Grandma was there and I finally got to see her. She was disappointed that didn’t have RJ with me, but he had a cold and I didn’t want to make Niecy sicker. *I really wish she had seen him, just once…*

So, now to the the title of this post. Yesterday, her daughters asked if I wanted to speak at the funeral. Honestly, the thought crossed my mind before they called to ask. I’ve never spoken at a funeral, not to read a scripture, or a card and definitely not to talk about the deceased person. *Sometimes I wish I had said something at my mother’s funeral.* I believe there can be something cathartic about it. So, I agreed to do it. I think I’ll be able to get through it and I think she would like to have her “Grandbaby” talk about her.

Gotta have faith

Dear Bobbie Kristina,

Yesterday afternoon, your world was turned upside down and NOTHING will ever be the same for you.  I, too, loss my mother when I was 18.   My mom was not a public figure, so my grief wasn’t compounded by millions of people or media outlets prying into what was the most unfathomable time in my life.  I have step and half-siblings, but  I am my mother’s only child, she was my everything and I was her shadow.  That seems to be the relationship you had with your mother.  Right about now, you maybe still be processing what happened and are going through the motions and emotions with your support system is surrounding you.  In the coming days, you will plan funeral services, scour through old photos for an obituary, and choose that final dress.  You will spend the days before the funeral with family and friends, who you haven’t seen in years, and they will share great memories of your mother.  Finally, the dreaded day of the funeral will arrive. This will be the LONGEST and HARDEST day of your life. You will need an aspirin by the days end.  All of this, you may have already thought of, but it’s what happens after the funeral, after the last covered dish has been delivered, after the final out-of-town guest leaves, that I want to prepare you for.

When everyone leaves, and you mother is no longer headline news or trending on Twitter, the magnitude of your loss will sink in.  Everyone goes back to their “normal” lives and you are left to find your “normal”, at 18.  Yes, you will have your father, grandmother, family and friends around. I had my dad, siblings, cousins, etc, but I loss my glue, my confidante, my best friend an it took some time to figure out what that meant for me and my life.  This type of loss is hard at any age, but extremely difficult at 18 because you are just becoming an independent woman and you were relying on your mother to help you navigate the next phase in life.  You will rack your brain with your future decisions wondering what your mother would advise. Don’t do that!  I’ve learned that in my 18 years with my mother, she taught and I learned more than I thought.  It will come to you. Now, you will make mistakes and some of them will be major, but learn from them and use them to build on the foundation your mother laid out for you.  After the death of my mom, my inner circle got smaller. I had to re-evaluate people in my life because not everyone who will claim to be “for you” right now is not telling the truth.

As the days turn into weeks and the weeks become months and the months years, the day-to-day pain will lessen. Sometimes, you may go days without consciously thinking about your mother. Other days, something will trigger a memory and you will find yourself in the shower, cooking dinner or driving down the highway, crying your eyes out.  Through it all, you will live the life you were meant to live and it will be well.    However, life’s big events:  major work accomplishments, marriage, the birth of your children, will bring you back to  the fact that she isn’t here and your heart will hurt.

The most important advice I can give you is to be strong and pray.  You will hear that a lot over the next few days, but it’s true.  Please, don’t confuse being strong with not grieving or not taking the time to grieve.  Being strong, will take every bit of willpower you can muster up.  It will have to be conscience decision you make each and every day.  It will be very easy to curl up in a ball, say screw the world and wither away. It will be easy to use this as an excuse for your life spin out of control in a downward spiral.  Not everyone can do it, but I know you can. When you think you can’t, just remember all the conversations you’ve had with your mother about your future. Remember what you wanted out of life before February, 11 2012.  If there are days when even those memories aren’t enough, know that there is 32year old who stood in your shoes 14 years ago, and I’m praying hard for you, just as I know someone prayed hard for me.



image source: BCK

Gotta have faith

Live Laugh Love

At my job, we offer Adult Basic Education and English has a Second Language classes.  Though I work with both programs and students, the ESL program is largely my responsibility.  I love all of our students but my ESL students are special.  They are a very close knit group and some of the kindest, sweetest people I’ve met.  Monday morning we learned that one of our beloved Colombian students died of a heart attack over the weekend.  He was 48 years old and he and his wife were both students in our program. We were and still are in heart broken and in shock.  He was full of life, funny, sweet and caring.  He had a history of heart problems, and he had been having more problems lately.  Doctors found an issue and had plans to fix it this coming Friday.  Last night, my co-worker and I attended the visitation at the funeral home.  I was very happy to see so many of our students, tutors and their friends there as well.  The couple have no children or family in the area.  They were a very close couple, if you saw one, the other was not far behind.  So, I take comfort that his wife will have lots of support.

I know people say it all of the time, but lives can and do change in a instant.  Close friends of ours recently loss a loved one unexpectedly.  A seemingly healthy and vibrant person one day and gone the next.  Life is very short and not guaranteed.  Often times we fill it with unnecessary worry and drama and it clouds the important aspects of our lives. Also, spending time trying to accommodate and adjust your life  to please those who never reciprocate is for the birds.  Life is filled with relationships, and a good healthy relationship, be it with a lover, friend or family member, isn’t one-sided!  So, enjoy your life, and take stock of the important people and things in it.  Make them your priority today because you may not have tomorrow.

                                            While you can…