Sunday, December 29, 2013

Words of Thanks for my Friends

What a question to ask. Our friends, how important are they?
What a question to try and answer. Our friends, how important are they?

Here is where my heart and mind are currently.
*Oh, and I'm not talking about casual acquaintances. They are their own group. I mean, true and abiding friendships. The ones who seem to have seen it all, and yet the friendship gets stronger and better.*

I am thankful every single day for the friends that are in my life. According to there are 28 synonyms for the word friend. Here are my favorites.
I could not "do life" without my friends. I see more and more that their differences and life experiences add depth to my life. They give me reminders and inspire me to always reach for more. They have known me, and I have let them in, and all of the best ones have always treated me in ways that go beyond kindness.

Between the wedding and this holiday season (Thanksgiving-New Years) I have gotten to spend time in some way, with my friends. It might have been phone calls, or visits, cards, or sharing meals. It has also been time in prayer, and time singing, time celebrating, and time remembering. And through all of this, I have been restored by these amazing and wonderful people.

I do not say this to brag, but I have tried to invest in my friends. I have tried to be the friend that I want to have. And it has gone beyond me, and I have friends that I could never have asked for, and that I don't deserve. But, I see them and hear from them and I can't even express to them how much I am thankful for them. I know it to be true, that I need my friends in my life.

Lately, dear friends have been there to fill in and check in during this time of transition. They have seen this season of life and all of its changes. And they have let me talk, and question. They have been solid. And I guess that is the best way to describe it. My life is filled with solid, faithful friends. And I didn't want to begin a new year without writing what is in my heart. And that is profound gratefulness for the love, understanding and kindness that literally has been poured on me. It's so very good, and I am so very happy to share life with you all. To end, I will share a prayer/blessing from Numbers 6:24-26, that I would send out to all of these treasured friends.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’

Monday, December 23, 2013

Reflections on my 2013 Goals- Peace

It's the time of year, to look back over the entire year of 2013. My personal New Years goal was to be more peaceful. I wrote about it here if you want to peek.

Being peaceful on purpose came at just the right time. I was not liking the panicky and stressed part of Sabrina. And I did not want those things to become cemented in my character. I was afraid they already had. Anyway, with growth in peace comes growth in the tests. Ask for something, and then see how life will make you use it. But overall I was blessed to be much more peaceful this year, and I want to carry that on for as long as I live.

This year has been full. And I was able to bring peace with me as I worked and played and worshiped. And I tell you this, it is a much better quality of life that I am enjoying now! There is no need at all for me to stress myself to death about things. Everything will be as it was meant to be. There is no need to believe that I need to be the boss or head person in charge all of the time. I purposefully stepped back and did not volunteer for everything. And guess what? Everything got done.

So much of this goal of peace was internal work. The things that each person has to do for themselves, at just the right time. And I was past due for these lessons. Here are just a few things that I learned.

1. People just won't do right sometimes. And I can't make them, so I just acknowledge it and keep on going with the small set of things that I can control.

2. There is a Biblical principle, that God makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust. It is found in Matthew Chapter 5.
 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,[a] 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Yep! And the more I remembered that, the more peace I was able to find. And because I am growing in wisdom and faith, when the rain fell on me I accepted it, and when it fell on others I accepted it. And I remembered what I tell my kiddies everyday. Life is not fair, but that does not mean that we stop trying.

3. People are desperate for peace, and while you can share yours, you can't give it all to them. So, I work with many a crisis situation at my school. It's sad, but it is life in the very poor corner of GA, where my kids live. And my first year I gave until I was empty, and have never been in a worse place emotionally. And I did that to myself! People don't pay attention, and they will ask everything from you. And I saw that to be peaceful, I had to keep some in reserve. I also had to let it grow again, when the meter was low. How did I grow peace? Prayer and positive people, and reading my Bible more.

4. I stopped running myself ragged. I learned to treat Sabrina Maude much better this year:) There is only one unique me, and I had to be good to her again. I let myself rest. I turned off my phone and even ignored some calls until a later time. I walked in nature, during every season. I wrote down questions, and cried some tears. I laughed and became joyous and then shared that with others. I looked at my parents and Melanie, and incorporated lessons of peace. I was a little more silly and appreciative of ridiculous things!

So yeah, now that I look at it. Being peaceful changed my life! 2013, you set me up very nicely for brand new experiences in 2014.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Back to Blogging

I have been neglecting my blog lately. I tell you, life just keeps coming at you. And I have not had much time to do the reflection that generally leads to a blog post.

Today however, I am not in a rush. I woke up early, and got to work. But there was no pressure of the ticking clock. No papers and emails to answer in a time sensitive way. There was not freezing rain and other weather impediments.

There was just me.
Me looking around and saying some prayers.
Me breathing deep over and over again.
Me laughing and smiling and enjoying new things in my life.
Me doing some much needed cleaning and organizing.

2013, what a year you have been! You saw me through a plethora of experiences. You were unexpected, but you were good for me. So, in these last few days of December, I will be looking back. Thinking back with a glad heart, of all that has been included in these times.

These times that have housed.....
my daddy's broken nose and extended recovery
perseverance on the job front
sharing life and newness and sadness with friends and family
the loss of an uncle and great-aunt
the marriage of my sister
travels, and moves, and starts and finsihes

Then I will also look ahead to 2014. You know looking ahead is one of my favorite pastimes;)
I'll take some time and write about New Year's goals and what could be expected with the start of a fresh New Year.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Wedding and A Funeral

So, it is official. The Lee's are hitched and happily on their honeymoon.
The weekend really was spectacular. The perfect blend of family and friends and faith and love.
I can't even do it justice right now. But Melanie and Rashaan were absolutely glowing. And I look forward to their future as a new family.

Speaking of family, I am SO grateful for mine. It's not often you have a wedding and a funeral with one day in between them. But that is how it worked out. Got Melanie married on Saturday and buried my great-aunt on Monday. The emotions were all over the place of course. But it was faith in God and my family that kept me steady.

My sassy, and spunky great-aunt received a simple and heartfelt funeral service. The memories we shared reminded me that we only get one chance to make this life count. And she used her 99 years well. I got to see family from NYC that I have not seen in forever. And I got to remember that my cousin Teron, is growing into a respectable man. Which is crazy, because I feel like he was just a boy.

At the wedding, the weather was messy, but my family still came out to support my sister. Some had to leave early, but the love was genuine and I again remembered to block out the distractions (pouring down rain) and focus on what matters. Love, hope, and making memories.

As the year draws to a close. The future looks bright and promising. A wedding and a funeral, kinda just how life goes, up and then down. But when you have faith and belief in what truly matters, you can enjoy both parts of this season of life.

*OH, and my friends have been just wonderful, checking in on me, as I get used to having a married sister. Thank You all:)*

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Exciting and Bittersweet

It's a little under 2 weeks officially until the wedding. We have been hustling and bustling and I know it will all be well worth it. This marriage of Melanie and Rashaan is going to be a blessing both to them and to others.

In the busy moments, my excitement is like a shot of energy. My creativity is through the roof lately. And I've listed and planned and then listed and planned some more. I've traveled and celebrated. I've talked about details until I have them memorized, both in and out. My excitement has kept me motivated to eat out less, and take care of myself more. Though I do feel a cold trying to sneak up on me. No time for that!

However, in the quiet moments. Then this feeling of bittersweet happiness tends to come in. The other night my parents and I ate dinner and I looked at the new normal. And it was good because I love them deeply. But, it was different to not have Melanie with us. And there are more of these different times coming upon the Stewart family. And I think it's because we have been so close. I think it's because the 4 of us, have loved being a family. We spend a great deal of time together, even when we are apart. And so it will be an adjustment. And the funny thing is I think I will have the hardest time.

My parents are used to it. Mel and I have not lived at home since we were 18 respectively. And we have been in Georgia for the last 4 years. But this is new for me. As the oldest, I went off to college and left Melanie to start he Senior year in Jacksonville. If you look deeper in the past I started Pre-K first, and so started this pattern of me going and always having my sister to come back to. And I got to tell the tales of all of the experiences and then she got to come the next year and experience some of the same things.

And so this is the first time that she is going ahead of me. And it is a major life change. And she is beyond ready. There is no question about that. But, I am not quite there yet. I also realize that I am not going to be her go to person anymore. That is Lee, and I'm still in the mix. But it will be different. And I also realize that after years of giving advice and tips and solutions and ideas, I won't be able to do that on the topic of marriage. Though I will still try;) She will need to go to other married people for that kind of wisdom.

So maybe now it makes more sense why this is an exciting and bittersweet time. I'm so proud of the woman that Melanie has become, and my heart is overjoyed with the Godly man that Lee is. As a husband and wife they are going to be "unstoppable"! And with her health history, no one is more deserving of this season of joy, happiness, and numerous blessings.

So amidst the shuffle, I am going to be figuring out more about me. And I'm going to be adjusting and growing and probably discovering all sorts of things. And I am thankful already for the understanding friends I have, who are going to walk this new path with me. And I'm thankful that Lee and Melanie love me and all my quirks and aren't just going to abandon me;) I don't do change well, and this change is going to be a little challenging for me, if I am 100% honest. But, I'm strong and learning to be more flexible. I'm kinda looking forward to what lies ahead for me!