Distinguishing Mark


Do you have a distinguishing mark? 

I don’t mean a scar, tattoo or beauty mark on your body- I mean a personal signature, greeting or closing that genuinely shows it is from you. 

Of course everyone can guess mine- 

                        XXOO

I use XXOO which signifies for me love or kiss and hugs. People that know me in person know I am a big hugger. Not a side little pat hugger. I am a full on grab ya with both arms and squeeze ya tight hugger. I love to use XXOO as my distinguishing mark to tell people I love them and am sending a virtual big kiss and hug their way! 

In 2 Thessalonians 3:16-17 we read: 

Now may the Lord of peace Himself grant you His peace at all times and in every way that peace and spiritual well-being that comes to those who walk with Him, regardless of life’s circumstances. The Lord be with you all. I, Paul, write you this final greeting with my own hand. This is the distinguishing mark in every letter of mine, that shows it is genuine. It is the way I write my handwriting and signature. 

See Paul had a distinguishing mark on every letter to show it was genuine and from him.

   So what is your Distinguishing Mark? 
         ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

Living In The Overflow 

        Your grace is enough for me.

        Your grace is enough for me.

        Your grace is enough for me. 

And if I still struggle a week from now your grace is enough, and if I struggle a year from now your grace will be enough. 

And every time the devil tries to wound me, I’m going to turn it into worship and I’m going to turn what he brought as an attack into an advantage in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

I declare that your grace is more than enough!
                    ~ Thomas Joel Trevino 

Restoration Stories- Jaydee Graham 


My story may be much different than others you may hear. It’s the kind that seems painful, raw, jaded, but disastrously radically beautiful and that is exactly what it is, beautiful. I think at times what makes me extraordinary is that I consider myself a lioness and am currently combining my warrior traits with the beauty of love and vulnerability and my truth. Quite the combo, if I must say, but a beautiful one at that.

I carry warrior qualities, I’m a fighter for what I’m passionate about, I chase after my dreams to succeed and better my family’s lives but I also am a work of art, a rare find, and a source of beauty through a jaded and difficult journey. 

This isn’t to boast it’s to state that even those with hard times, difficult pasts, who have failed numerous times and had to repeatedly be humbled and get back up…that those people are beautiful also and capable of dreaming, doing, and succeeding. YES!!!

I also like to say that once I found my voice in the midst of being silenced and the midst of finding my true and authentic self that I now have the power and capability to ROAR my truth and to set myself free from the “bondage” that I have been entangled in.

The one thing I would love to tell, especially women, is that “You are worthy”. 
In times society wants to make us seem mediocre, small, microscopic and that our views, stories, our voices don’t matter. 

Well, I’m telling you that you can achieve your dreams, you can accomplish your goals, you most certainly have a voice and I encourage you to “roar” as a lioness and be the women that you are intended to be whether the world sees it as capable or not.
 

· Fight for your life, your dreams, and your soul, the love for yourself, your families safety and your voice.

 

· Love yourself

 

· Take each day at a time

 

· Don’t judge your journey amongst others

 

– dont rush your healing

 

· Offer yourself abundant amounts of grace when you do fall

 

· Find those who will support you back up

 

· keep going!

 

When I was young I began to explore the world and found myself on my different paths. At a young age I began to explore the world of sex, drugs and alcohol. I was not aware how this could deeply affect my life, my view of self, my view of others, my safety as well as my success as a woman in this world.

In high school I became very enraged and angered by my inability to be able to explore the world as I chose. I was uninterested in school and began falling behind, at one point having a .66 in high school and didn’t even think graduating with my high school degree would be possible nor did I desire it.

I was uneducated, wasn’t aware of what I was getting myself into and didn’t have the resources that were crucially important for me to succeed or protect myself.

I, like many, did not have any experience in relationships, drug or alcohol abuse or sexual encounters, ultimately this lack of educational resources prohibited me from making knowledgeable and educated decisions or be fully aware of what decisions I was making and how it was ultimately killing me.

The year of my enlightening journey was not easy; I found myself in a residential care facility for troubled teens for 7 and half months of my life with the intent to form respect, self-direction, counseling and ultimately support.
This time I was pulled from my current high school suddenly and found myself living in a home of 13 teen girls and went from being able to speak to anyone the way I chose, to having to ask for permission to even speak, eat, go up or down the stairs, in or out of rooms and in and out of the house.

I found support among women who were older than me. They heard my cry and desire to explore this world and ultimately understood who I was. I found support among the women who I lived with and shared difficult moments with, who were living in the same world of chaos, frustration and pain as I was. I began to see that I was not the only one struggling tremendously through my teen years.

Upon completing the program, I moved home and chose to shake these restrictions and feel free again. This turned into drug and alcohol abuse, consistent unhealthy relationships and ultimately choosing sleeping on friend’s beds and couches due to running away from home. 

I found myself waking up numb, and in random homes, several pregnancy scares and continual drug use.
Still, within my soul I knew there was more. I knew I was worth more. I knew my life meant more and that one day I would be able to find it.
 

I began to research how to enroll myself into school and had a friend drop me off at a University for yet another chapter of my life. Unfortunately, at this school my drug and alcohol use continued because it was much easier to obtain. I began to lose sight of the course of life I truly knew I needed to be on.
After one semester I was already back on academic probation, struggling to find financial assistance to stay in school and was once again losing hope. I was living a life of numbness. I worked hard but was so caught up on seeking social acceptance that I did not realize where my life was heading.  
I stayed numb.

At this university, I sought out the party scene and began to experiment sexually and dive into pill usage on a whole new level.
In a sense I was walking around with my eyes closed just trying to get by and manage life, thinking at times I had everything I had ever wanted, but so incredibly lost at the same time.
One evening, I found myself on my bathroom floor with a positive pregnancy test in my hand.
I remember leaving the University hospital, alone, on a very rainy day and getting in my car, after being told once again that I was pregnant and close to 6 weeks along.
Thinking….“Wait, I am only 20, not even close to being done with school, I am lost, completely unhappy and I am now growing a human being in my belly, when I can barely care for myself.”

For one second within the confines of my car I felt instant peace.

This was my day of awakening.

A child was growing in my belly and I had to radically change my life….


On this day I chose to better my life, not for me but for this soul that was begging me to be succeed, to be healthy, to be a powerful woman, an example, a mother, and for this,

I owe my son…my life.

At this point my mind, heart, and soul were focused on bettering our lives. My life became about becoming self-sufficient, growing together, and pressing forward to achieve my goals and dreams so that my son could have an example and a beautiful life

It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Elliot

I can tell you right now, it is NEVER too late to become more, to become better, to be who you were intended to be.  

We made our way back home, to be closer to family. We had been and were in a very toxic environment but I was able to find support and guidance and began to dive into studies. After a strenuous and difficult journey, I came to a realization; I had been silenced.

I had been an independent woman, strong willed, and felt no shame in declaring who I was or what I thought and slowly I found myself silenced, unheard and ultimately speechless.



One evening, I was on my knees weeping by my bedside begging for the lord to give me a sign and give me the power and voice to step away, for good, because I honestly couldn’t do it on my own. 
That night I had a very raw and real dream about my own life, but it was not happy, nor did it end well.

The next morning, I awoke from my own nightmare. I walked away from abuse and never went back. 

I had tremendous support in my mother, who had seen me weep in pain for years. We both began weeping, in relief.

I found my voice and knew that I wanted to be a survivor, not another statistic and that I wanted to help others overcome and find their voice as well.

My real friends came to my side and I was close to completing my bachelor’s Degree.

On Mother’s Day, with my son in the stands, I graduated with honors, Magnu Cum Laude and walked straight into my graduate degree, a one-year advanced program for obtaining my Masters in Science of Social Work.

I have walked with my classmates again, after a long year in the Master’s program and obtained my MSSW the summer of 2016.

I never imagined the life I have today…with not one, but two diplomas.

Life has radically changed and I have been incredibly blessed.

We have been so incredibly blessed with such love and support in our journey.

I would have not made it this far without the support of my incredible mother, who is our biggest fan, The Family Scholar House program, my peers and those in my cohort, teachers who supported and empowered me, case workers, advocates on our behalf, my sisters and even bystanders, who without knowing, empowered my weak spirit.

I have been empowered by women within the community who have challenged me to speak out and share my story. They have helped me see my real beauty and my inner-warrior and to use my voice. They have also blessed me with the opportunity to speak my truth to others as an outlet and support to those who may be going through or who are healing from the same things.

Most important, I would not be here without my son, who has given me my passion, my drive and has instilled in me the real meaning of love within my heart. He is my heart outside my body and the reason I found the drive to strive to be the woman I am today.

I am now asking you to listen, to empower and to advocate for those who are uneducated in regards to violence and their harmful current situations whether it be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual or mental abuse, as well as those who you are witness to violence in an extent that has drastically changed their lives. Many people have been silenced and are living in silence, so please offer them the opportunity to be heard and to find their voice once again. 

Choose to be that one person who makes a personal impact on another’s life that empowers them to be the person they were intended to be….so at this time please stand and face forward if you are able to commit to this…you are making a commitment to assist in diminishing the cycle of violence within this community, empowering those who have difficulty seeing any strengths within them, who have spent many nights and days weeping, bruised, naked, alone and emotional drained, who have spent days or even years in silence, who have difficult carrying for their children due to the abuse they are undergoing amongst the bills they are unable to pay, you are giving them an opportunity to be heard, to hear themselves, and to help them find safety and hope, you are allowing them to see support and to feel the presence of someone who sees them as more than just a statistic but yet giving them an opportunity to grow, flourish and be the beautiful soul that they have been trying so hard to be…. and recognize that you are not alone and others will be at the same time choosing to say no to violence and taking a stand in allowing survivors voices to be heard.  

You are WORTHY. 

Your journey is worthy. 

Your freedom is Worthy. 

Your Voice is Worthy.

My passion is to empower others by using my journey and my voice and so I began The Soul Grind, which is a place of self-exploration, radical self-love, soul searching, and some powerful empowerment! 

A community where your voice is heard and your soul can grow and flourish in the company of some beautiful other humans on the same journey. 

The Soul Grind pours love on wounds and allows you to be heard and also it emphasizes the importance of combining all of that with a big cup of coffee!

Join us! Let’s hear your ROAR.

~ Jaydee Graham 

Connect with Soul Grind- 

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Now She Is Set Free 

She is a universe

Her face is the sky holding constellations

Found in her eyes;

Her insides are the core breathing

Life into surrounding beauty;

Her feet have walked in intense darkness,

Stumbled and fallen many times

And yet she is still picking herself up,

To bleed wounds healed from memories

Encompassing her mind;

Freedom over enslavement,

Life over death;

Rhythms from the heart play her life in tune

To echo sounds coming from inner battles

Fought and won,

Felt and overcome;

To be more than a feeling,

More like the seed planted in severe conditions;

It endured storms and drought

Yet still remained in the ground,

Her roots held on and was birthed

A second time to the God who sent the rain

To cause her to grow and eventually bud

Underneath the Son, to be strong enough

To fight off the infections taken on by the weak;

This flower breathed beauty,

Overflowed in peace,

Her depths began to surface,

Causing her mind to free itself from enslavement

To profound pain;

She walks by the flower now budding

In profound beauty,

And understands the journey it went through

To embrace this day,

This moment,

This hour

Before time was forgotten,

Erased from the mind;

She now believes in His unfailing love;

Love use to be an ocean

She couldn’t baptize herself in,

But His faithfulness has endured

And her mind is allowing the light

To shine in her darkness,

His love to embrace her

Through all the pain,

Doubt,

Inner shame,

Fear,

And everything that was used

To envelope her in a world full of darkness,

Where she couldn’t touch the light

Even if she tried;

But now she is set free

And her wings pick the body up

To escape the cage she’s been living in

For far too long;

Before, she was a victim,

But now she is a victor

And her wings carry her above depths,

Into the light absorbing darkness;

She knows who she is

And whose she is;

No longer a slave to this world,

But living her life as a servant to God-

The One who created beauty from her ashes,

Peace from her storm;

She breathes truth now,

No more lies,

For she knows that’s all they are;

She trusts God, choosing to live for Him

From actions to spoken words,

She accepts the challenge to fight

Because she knows she’ll win

With God on her side;

No matter the problem or situation,

God is bigger than anything she’ll ever face

 

With God all things are possible;

Trust Him and see where He takes you

 
~ Bethany Anne 

Don’t Miss The Signs 


Sometimes we can miss the subtlest of signs laid out in front of us designed to help us take the right path God is laying out before us.  

Be encouraged that regardless what detour you may have taken- you can always get back on the right road to redemption, restoration and wholeness with God.  

He always provides a way out when we seek Him! 

Enjoy this archive post ” I Saw The Sign” by Kelley Allison Here now. 

https://restoredministriesblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/i-saw-the-sign/

Renewed Focus 

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, KJV)

 
I just want to send you a little attitude checkup today. If you are feeling like joy has left your life, then I suggest you take a look at where you’ve allowed your mind to wander. Odds are, that’s where your joy went!

 
If you’ve spent more time thinking about bills than God’s supply, then most likely you’re stressed about money. If you’ve spent more time worrying about the future rather than trusting that God has a good plan for you, then you’re most likely full of anxiety about what’s to come.

 

Joy is waiting for you today… in the place of renewed focus. 
                   ~ Thomas Joel Trevino 

Lenses

WORTHY THOUGHT: Our core values are the lenses that determines the way we see things in life.

Our core values (how we view life through our lenses) has been created by our past experiences, our ethnic origin, our belief system and so on. Most often our challenges comes when our lenses get cracks, smudged, and or crushed. We often then question what we see.

An example would be a girl who suffer’s anorexia a skeleton-like figure, with brittle hair, yellowed gaunt skin stares at her reflection in the mirror and the lenses through which she views herself, she see’s an overweight girl.

This girl is in bondage of the lies which has affected the way she views herself.

When we have pain or brokenness in our hearts it is like wearing dark lenses over our souls and it obscures our insight.

 Truth is Reality

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ( John 14:6)

What Jesus means by truth when he says” He is the truth.” Jesus is talking about the true nature of God who cannot lie. He came to combat the lies of Satan.

Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32)

“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. ( John 8:17 )

 
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issue’s of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

When we have the mind of Christ it filters what we see and gives us the amazing ability to process truth and interpret reality correctly. Having the mind of Christ radically changes how we see things. 
                 ~Angela Lipe-Pattengill 

Our Quest 

To live and live well, to enjoy every moment, to look forward to moments ahead and especially to our eternal, immortal future awaiting us. To live fearlessly, hopefully, faithfully, and lovingly. To please our Heavenly Father, so that he can pour out his grace on us and fill us with his Spirit – the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self control – the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord, to delight ourselves in the fear of the Lord. This is our aim, our ambition, our quest.

To love and love well. Ah, this is life; this is God’s life; this is the God life in us. To worship the Father and the Son, to walk by the Spirit, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us – this is our calling, our inheritance, our life.

Life is hidden behind the mundane and the ordinary – work days, weekends, families and friends. If we are not careful, life can pass us by, and we will miss the purpose of our days. To redeem the time well, to not waste time, to use time to gain eternal wealth – this we must not miss. Our time here on planet earth is short, we will be gone before we know it if we are not prayerful to ascertain our calling and our purpose here. If we find our purpose then every day is filled with meaning, every hour is precious, and the moments are recognized and accounted for.  

We find our life in Christ, in building up the church, in bringing pleasure to the Father, and in helping our fellow man. We are not here for ourselves. We belong to Christ, to the church, to the Father, and to one another. We are a community, an eternal community, neighbors for millions and millions of years. Never ending life, ever expanding relationships, growth in grace forever. Our finite minds can scarcely grasp the infinite life God has planned for us.

So we pray; we hope; we love, and we wait, but we work while we wait; we have but a short season to store up treasures that will last an eternity. Life doesn’t stop in heaven, but there are things that we can do here that we will not be able to do there. Helping the poor, reaching out to the lost, encouraging one another, and keeping faith with the Father through yielding to the Son – these things are for the days of earth. It is enough for us now, enough for a full life, a satisfying, God glorifying life. Heaven will wait for us to finish our work here, and there will be time enough there to relish all of the treasures that we laid up while we were here. Let us not miss our life here while waiting for our life there.



                     ~ Brad Heilhecker 

Unanswered Questions 

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.~1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV

I remember the day I found out about you. A smile still emerges. And even though it was unexpected, I found myself sweetly delighted and anticipated your coming.

I became a bit nervous over the small age difference that would lie between you and your brother. And I often wondered if I would have the energy to chase after you both.

Naturally, fear caused me to question many things; but mostly, I questioned myself and my ability at being a great mother.

It wouldn’t take long before the idea of you settled, and so did the joy within the secret places of my heart.

After hearing the sound of your heartbeat, for the first time, there was a confirmation that provided comfort to my soul. I would sit back and patiently wait to hear that distinct swishing noise mixed with the sounds of my own heartbeat.

It was a duet, sweetly arranged, and beautifully spoken between us both. And I found my soul needing to search for it over and over again.

You were alive inside of me, and though our lives weren’t connected by the outside world, we shared the same breath, it was the one breathed into us both.

There was peace knowing [that my body] offered [yours] a covering of protection. It was like a cleansing rain that washed over all doubt.

I found myself getting lost and easily entertained by your mystery.
What would you be like? Would you mirror me?

Would I be yours as you were already mine?

Additionally…I questioned if it would be possible to love you as much as I already loved your brother? How could I love more when my heart was already so full?

I didn’t grasp that love is immeasurable by height or depth.

Love just IS.

It was clear.

There was no question.

                 You were love.

Part one. Please join me next Tuesday for the rest of the message.

~ Baring His Beauty 

    Tiffany Thomas 

Celebrate Rejection 


Rejection:

noun re·jec·tion \ri-ˈjek-shən\

Definition of rejection

* :  the act of not accepting, believing, or considering something :  the state of being rejected

In the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus’ disciples fell asleep on Him I wonder if Jesus felt rejection?  
Disappointment? Sadness? Irritated? Angry? 
     Maybe a little bit of all of these things….

From the definition of rejection, I am sure it is true that Jesus must have felt a lot of rejection at times. Many were not accepting, believing or considering of Him.  

Many times we are not accepted, included or considered by others. That is what makes up rejection.  

No one is exempt from rejection.  

We can be rejected for no reason. 

Rejected because of something we said or did in our past.

Rejected because of something we have changed about ourselves that some people aren’t comfortable with the changes.

Rejected by how we look.

Rejected by how we talk.

Rejected by others because they want someone or something better than they think we have to offer. 

Rejected because of what we believe.

We can be rejected by strangers, friends, and even our family.  

I may not know what all emotions Jesus felt in the garden but what I do know for sure about rejection is…. 


Jesus wasn’t exempt so we surely won’t be. 

But….
If we change our perception of rejection, it is easier to move beyond those hurt feelings.


Take on the new perspective that rejection is simply God’s protection.

No matter the situation, no matter the person, no matter the reasons….. Trust that God is protecting you.
Just like Jesus trusted in His Father in the garden and at the cross amidst all the rejection He faced by so many that didn’t accept, believe, or consider that He was the Messiah.

Some people will only want you around when they can gain or benefit from you or something you have. Some only want you around when they can control you. Many will not have your back and fall asleep on you when you need them the most. Some won’t accept you no matter what you say or do. Some won’t ever believe in you, or even consider to include you or give you a chance. 
Rejection will always come- but the most important things to remember:

People’s behavior and their exclusion or rejection of you does not reflect or diminish your worth, your ability, or your value. You are so much more valuable to God that He uses the rejection of others to simply protect you. Don’t settle for less than God’s perfect best for you or your life. 

Trust in the only One who never will reject you. 
Begin to celebrate rejection because you know that when rejection comes, God is protecting you and that He ultimately has something far far greater in store for you. 
         ~XXOO Michelle Bollom