Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Things I Have Learned

I am praying over these words as I type them. My heart is burdened, but I don't want anything I say to come out as just a rant. I can guarantee that no one wants that. Besides that rants rarely get anything positive done other than helping the ranter to feel better. I can't preach that I am all about love and grace then come blast people and gripe about things I don't like. I don't want this blog to be about me just getting stuff off of my chest. I want it to be about learning how to build better relationships with people and in turn letting them know they are loved by people here right now, but even more so by God....the Creator of the Universe.

I am a relational person. I LOVE to talk to people. You learn how to help them, how to pray for them. Maybe that's why what I'm writing about is so heavy on my heart.

Up until about 4 years ago Christmas was all about me and my family. Making sure they had everything they wanted. Making sure I had everything I wanted.
House perfectly decorated=check
Perfect gifts bought=check
Perfect amount of cookies baked=check
Perfect Christmas outfits=check
Christmas story read on Christmas morning (to make sure we got Jesus into "our" plans)=check

Then it happened.....I got out of my bubble.

I learned how things worked outside of my nice, happy, perfect bubble. Four years later, I'm still learning how things work outside of the bubble. In the circle that I have been in all of my adult life everyone had everything they needed and just about everything they wanted. We're all living that nice, comfortable American Christian life. We don't worry about having food in our fridge's (when we don't have food it's because we're so busy we haven't had time to go to the grocery store, so we make a quick run to McDonald's). We have a house with a two car garage. We have the cars to go into the garages. We gave to people to ease our conscience. Not because we actually cared about the people. This right here is how I lived my life.

I AM NOT PERFECT. I DO NOT HAVE THIS THING FIGURED OUT. But I have learned a thing or two on this journey God has sent me on. These things I have learned are accurate for every day, but they seem more to be more in my face during the holiday season.

1. Not all people have all they need. It's not just during the holiday's that they don't have all that they need. It's also from January-November that they need some help.
2. Food Baskets, Food Pantry's, Clothing Give A Ways are AWESOME, but they should just be a tool. Meeting physical needs is a necessity, but they shouldn't be the end. They should be the beginning. The way to form a relationship with the people you are helping.
3. Relationships are the key. Lots of people are trying to ease their conscience by doing something good (I can say that because I have been that person). But not a lot of people are on the streets trying to get to know they people they are helping. I think this part is key......we gripe because people don't/won't change their lives. What are we doing to help them? Are we spending more than just our money on them? Are we spending our time with them? Building a relationship is KEY! Being a friend is KEY! Not looking at others as a project is KEY!

So, let's keep helping people through the Christmas season, but remember they will need help as well when January rolls around. Keep doing those food and clothing give a ways, but use them as a tool, a way to connect. Don't just give your money, as a director of a non-profit we greatly appreciate the money, but lives are changed because relationships are built!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Our stay-iversary ! Check out Huntington, WV

As promised in my HomeTown Girl post here are some pictures and things that we did in our 24 hour break from life! 

We began with dinner at Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar! Love it! Locally owned! I am HUGE on atmosphere! I will take an awe inspiring atmosphere with mediocre food any day! I know, weird, right? This though is not at all mediocre food! This is atmosphere + amazing food!!! Great pizza and beer menu! The dessert menu looked awesome as well, but I was stuffed on breadsticks with cheese and pizza! I had the Memphis pizza and my mouth is still warring thinking about it! 

After that we wandered through the streets back to our car and watched them set up for Chili fest the next day. 

Saturday morning started with brunch at Bittersweet Coffeehouse. In case you've never seen me post about it it's seriously, without a doubt my FAVORITE place in Huntington (after ReBUILD of course). Atmosphere, again, gets me every time! Amy does a magnificent job with the brunch and Rita and the coffee drinks are out of this world! I had a S'mores Chata and a S'mores Waffle. I've been craving them ever since! I don't want to at all down any place, but I'm not sure why you would ever choose a national company when you have this local coffee shop right here. It's that good! The best part about Bittersweet is that after you drink your coffee you can walk right over and do some shopping as they are housed with A Southern Company.  Super cute stuff! I already have a dress picked out for a Christmas party we attend every year! Tomorrow's Saturday....make plans NOW to get to their brunch! 

Next up was the Chili fest. It was about a bazillion degrees outside, so I didn't eat chili. I left that up to Paul or baby daddy (as he was referred to in the last blog which he totally loved 🙄). I still enjoyed walking around town checking out the stores and always people watching! We wandered around down to Heritage Station and in a couple of stores there. Ok...let me say this...because I'm typically very real and honest....I don't get why Heritage Station isn't full and overflowing with people hanging out there? Birds of a Feather is a super cute clothing store. Sip is a neat little wine bar. Full Circle Ceramics (don't go in if you are offended by profanity....I am not) just opened. Brand Yourself has awesome local  tshirts. River and Rail is over there. I know there are other places. These just pop out at me.  Plus there's that cute little courtyard in the middle. Let's open our eyes Huntington at the unique little spots we have around here. We left there and headed back to our car to move down the road a little bit to do some tailgating before the Marshall game. 

We headed down to tail gate and had hopes of attending the game, but we had to head home to the three yr. old instead. 

We picked up the three year old and headed to our last stop of the weekend for dinner, Fat Patty's. Baby Daddy's favorite place to grab a burger in town! 
The rest of Huntington had the same idea as well! 

So this was a glimpse into our little stay-iversary in downtown Huntington! I love every single part of this community! I'm super thankful and super blessed that I still love being with this man after 26 years! Happy #26 again, baby daddy 😘

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hometown Girl

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you begged God for it to happen? Have you ever begged God desperately for something to happen only to be met with a NO?

This is the story of my life. I was born in Huntington, West Virginia 44 years ago. As far back as I can remember all I ever wanted was to leave here. I had it all planned out. I was going to be either a fashion designer or a fashion merchandiser. I have all of the drawings from my childhood somewhere to prove that I was going to make it big and blow this joint. You see my dreams were far too big for this tiny town. There was no reason for me to stick around here. New York City-that’s where I was headed-that’s where the dreams would come to life. I stayed around all through high school and graduated from Milton High School. I am a proud member of the class of ’90. I began a little detour from the plan as I walked across the graduation stage 6 weeks pregnant. September after graduation I married my baby daddy and I did get to blow this joint, but only to Roanoke, Virginia (baby daddy is now 47 years old. He's gonna love that name now).That was not exactly the dream. Although, I did at least get out from West Virginia. I couldn’t hardly even say that name without gagging and rolling my eyes….you think I’m being dramatic? Uh no! Not hardly…..

At 18 years old I was out. You would think that I would have been happy right? Wrong….I was greeted by adulthood with generalized anxiety disorder and massive panic attacks. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t stay alone. I had a year old baby (our girl was born in February of 91) -+and was a prisoner of my own home. Baby daddy basically lost his job because of me. I’ve been a lot to deal with since day 1. He was so busy taking care of me that he couldn’t work. No one really knew what was going. I didn’t really have any friends at this point in life and who wants to go around bragging that you can’t leave your house. The care of me was really up to Paul and he couldn’t keep me and a job. So we packed up and moved…..guess where we headed back to? You got it….back to the hometown. I couldn’t even be filled with dread because I was in such horrible shape I would live anywhere to get help. My mom, step dad and grandmother lived here (I am a 5th generation West Virginian) and would be able to help me get to the places I need to go. They would also allow baby daddy to get a job and get back to work without worrying about having to take care of me. 

We got back here and got settled in. Paul found a job. We found a little house to rent in Barboursville and a about a year and a half later we bought our first house in East Pea Ridge. It was nice little “fixer upper”. Help! We made it the home of our growing family for 5 years. In that time we added the boy and baby girl to our tribe of children. We moved into a new home (another fixer upper…HELP! Why did we do this to ourselves).  It was a little larger and it accommodated the needs as these kids kept growing. About 5 years after that move, we made the move to where we are now.  FINALLY, a ready to move into house! Thank you, Jesus! Baby Daddy already said he wasn’t moving if it wasn’t in “move in condition”. Through the years and through these moves my mental health began to improve. I could drive! I could stay home alone! The panic was not disruptive to my life anymore. I just kind of lived life during these years. Enjoyed my husband. Enjoyed my kids. Enjoyed my church. I didn’t really pay too much attention to where all of this living was taking place. After homeschooling for a bit our children went to a Christian school. All of our friends were church friends. I didn’t work outside of the home. I wasn’t a daughter of Marshall (although I think if I weren’t so old I’d like to be now. I’m super proud to live in the city that’s the home of Marshall University), so I had no real ties to the community.  I was happy, but not because of where we lived. 

Then that inner “I hate this place” monster woke up again. And it came back with a vengeance. Paul and I were on a 20th anniversary trip in Charlotte, North Carolina (because that was THE dream city). I remember sitting outside at a restaurant talking about what it would take to live there. Paul owns his own business…..why couldn’t he just pack it up and do it in Charlotte?......Our boy and baby girl were still in high school at this point. Baby Girl made us promise not to move till she graduated high school. So, I figured we had like 5 years left to go. In my head I figured if planned a bunch of trips then we’d be gone all of the time and it wouldn’t even be like I lived here. Two years after I’d made all of these plans God stepped in and said “Good try! Now let’s do things My way”. 

I got very sick. Truthfully, I should not be here writing this, but God decided there was more He wanted me to do. I figured that if He left me here I needed to get busy doing what He wanted me to be doing. I got involved in the Brown Bag Ministry taking food to girls on the streets. I started spending a lot of time in downtown Huntington. At some point along the way I began to fall in love with her people. The people no one really sees. I began to learn more about her problems and the uphill battle she was facing. I wanted to do something. I wanted to help….inside I’m thinking “Help? This city? These people? NO! This is the place I want out of.” Baby daddy and I began doing prayer walks over the city. We began taking date nights that ended up sitting in a car praying over buildings. Inside I’m thinking “What are you doing God”? I began going to Community Leaders Prayer Breakfasts. I began to fall in love with the people leading our city. I sat in prayer meetings listening to our mayor talk about the good we have going on around here. Baby daddy and I even began a non-profit to help our people. 

I also began to explore around here a little bit. I found some pretty cool stuff that our city has going on. I went from falling in love with our marginalized people to falling in love with our city officials to actually falling in love with this city! I have no idea how it happened, but it did and I’m ok with it!  I find myself wanting to tell everyone about all of the good that’s going on around this place! Baby daddy and I just celebrated anniversary #26 on the 8th of this month. We really needed a break from our life, so we got a baby sitter for our two foster girls and we did a “stayiversary”. You know like a staycation =). We didn’t want to travel too far and we didn’t want to spend too much money…..also I’d rather spend any money that we were going to spend locally. I can’t wait to come back next time and share all that we did around town. But until then let me leave you with this……

I am a Huntington HOMETOWN GIRL and I’m proud of it!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Love Like Jesus

Dang....I just suck at trying to keep a blog up to date! I promise that my friends and I are going to do a much better job at this! Right friends 😊! 
So much has been going on. I don't even know how to update. When God called my husband and I to build this community we had no idea what we were doing. Uh...just to be real....we still don't know what we're doing. We are just trying our best to follow God and love our city. 

Some (most) days the needs overwhelm my mind. The needs of people I meet. I needs of the buildings we have (they are four abandoned buildings that need as much love as my city needs). It's hard to watch everything that happens around you. You want so desperately to just wrap everyone you meet in your arms and love them. But the needs are great and I get overwhelmed. Which is a perfect combination for satan to enter in my mind.....this week this was my thought pattern.....What's the point? Why are we even doing this? We're not making a difference? Nothing's being fixed. No one wants to help. I CAN'T DO THIS ALONE! But then God says're right! YOU can't do this! YOU can't make a difference! YOU can't fix anything! BUT I CAN! 

He reminded me that He has given me one job! One calling. One mission with this community.....LOVE LIKE JESUS! Not judge. Not fix. Not make things perfect. Only LOVE! So that is what I will do! The rest I will leave to Him!

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
Romans 12:9-10 NLT

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

This Place We Live

I wonder if we truly realize what we have in this town we call home....

You see I was never impressed with this place. I counted the days till I could get out. This place was not big enough for me. It didn't have enough to do to capture my attention. I got out after my marriage only to end up back here due to some issues with my mental health. Panic and anxiety issues cause huge amounts of stress in your life. I needed to be near family. Once the panic and anxiety was under control and I was functioning like a "normal" adult I was ready to blow this joint again. 

But there were problems with being able to do that. We had 3 children in school. My husband had atarted his own company. We needed to stick around till at least the youngest graduated from high school. That was last year (2015). Over the past few years I took every chance j could get to visit all of the "cool" cities. I had a kid living in Charlotte, so it was such a joy to visit her. We had a family in Virginia so I loved going to see them. 

Then in the middle of all of this. In the middle of me counting down the days till I could get out something happened. Something I wasn't prepared for. I fell in love with this place. Took me totally by surprise! I mean this is never where I meant to settle. But God opened these doors to work in the community. To get to know the people. To pray over this city. To do ministry in this city. 

And now I'm in I'm all in! I know we have struggles. We have problems that need to be fixed. But I don't worry about those things because 1. I know Jesus can fix it all! And 2. We have some amazing community leaders who are working their butts off to make Huntington a great place! 

I was sitting downtown the other night while out with my husband. We'd just been to Fat Patty's for dinner. We were stopped at a stoplight and I looked around. My first thought was what a beautiful city we live in! I'm so thankful that God didn't listen to me and let me leave! Let's not sit around and bash our city. Let's roll up our sleeves, dig out heels in and get to work!  

Friday, February 26, 2016

No Harm . No Foul

 I've been focusing on cutting the limits I seem to give myself. I feel I have passed some sort of CheckPoint & sharing that, I only hope someone comes across this, and feels the joy of possibly doing the same to get the feeling I have. It's Amazing, just saying. Only way I can describe it is Mentally Healthy & it's definently Exciting, PeaceOfMind. I've focused a lot on My thought processing & I now fully understand that everything comes down to a decision for me. I know I can not ignore a thought or emotion I have to deal with all things I put my mind through. PROCESS is Key. 
  I have trimmed away the excess fat, the unnecessary and I'm left with nothing but a Heathy State Of Mind. It's something I only want to pass down. ReBuild & the team has helped me in the Battle. Other than pointing at a person I should be like or setting examples I should only meet up to, we have back tracked & help me shied out of all the roles I've played. I had to Personally Clarify who I was, also face OldWays & just "Erase The Hard Drive". ReBoot. No BrainWashing Methods, I swear on that! That would've been easier :P. Where I'm going is when you learn to manage your distorted mind and clear the air, only then could I, Myself hear the message, Gods Calling. My Calling, My Role, Me. There's a You too!
  That's the only way I feel you can have Self Acceptance, Happiness with Self, & get in gear with Self Driven... SELF! When you're being You, there's no feeling of being set up for failure. That's what always scared me away from Change. I knew I couldn't put up any sort of Act & lead by example of a Perfect,Happy,Productive,Approved Member of Society, No Thanks! I'd rather be Kayla. We don't aim to make Copies, or expect from others to cover up their True Identity. I wanna know You. I wanna know if You know You & if not, why you don't? How to get you where you feel Mentally Healthy, Focused & then, My Favorite - Determined. Being honest with yourself & the people building with you is a way to kinda cheat this, people to share opinions and hold you accountable. MyFriends. The Real Kind. 
  You will only Tap into Your Potential . Expand Creativity . Discover Solutions to Life Challenges . See Opportunities instead of Problems . Awaken a Sense of Purpose . Ignite Personal Growth & only Maximize Potential. I just want to pass it on so you can do the Same!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Outward Gaze

For a while I’ve super fed up while looking at social media. I couldn’t figure it out. I mean the eye rolling I do is horrible and the things I mumble to myself are even worse. I say frequently that it’s time to take a Facebook break because my frustration level, on a scale of 1-10, gets to a +20. And it’s not just Facebook it’s things that happen all over. I’ve had a terrible time trying to figure out why. I pray and ask God to forgive me for having a critical spirit. And then I start it all over again. Today while talking some feelings out with a friend, I was like DANG……I got it.

Because of the ministry I do, my eyes and my heart have seen many things. I’ve seen where people live. I’ve seen how they’ve been taught to live. I’ve talked to people who don’t have food to eat.  I’ve seen what is happening to the[R1]  children. In seeing these things it’s changed my perspective. There are things that don’t bother me anymore.  There are things I will not argue about. Don’t look for me to judge or point out that beer bottle in someone’s picture or the curse word they said. Do not come to me if you want to argue about church denominations. WON’T. DO. IT. There are also things that I’m not going to jump for joy about that are posted on social media. Mainly because we all (myself included) live such shallow lives. That shallowness makes me nauseous. We are out for ourselves and our family and others get our leftovers. We somehow think that we have done something to deserve what we have and others have done something to deserve what they don’t have. I’m not sure how that shares Jesus at all. None of us deserve anything. I’m not trying to come off holier than thou. I don’t need to do that….I’m well aware of who I am and things I’ve done. I have lived the shallowest of lives and it makes me sick thinking about it. Thinking about the time and money I’ve wasted on things that DO.NOT.MATTER. We spent $50,000 on the last car we bought for ourselves. Do you know how many people you can feed for $50,000?

Because of images that are burned into my brain. Because of the things I have seen. Because of the stories that have been shared with me. I will not complain about petty things. We all have down days. We all have days that don’t go how we want them to. But take a look around you every day and tell me if someone has it worse than you. Our hot water tank went out last week. We were without hot water for 5 days. It was an inconvenience to us each night because we had to load our stuff and ourselves up each night to go to my parent’s and shower. It was incredibly frustrating then I remembered 1. I have clean water. It’s cold, but it’s clean. 2. I have parent’s 5 minutes from me who have hot water and 2 showers. What was there to complain about? I know people right now who don’t have heat in their home. It’s 21 degrees and they have no heat. We can whine and complain all we want about how rough we have it, but I can guarantee that there is always going to be someone who has it worse.

What is wrong with us? I’ve been doing a Bible Study on Jesus. He lived with a level of humility that is obviously unattainable to us. Yet, we are still to model our lives after Him. We can justify everything we do to death, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are to put others first. We are not to be so consumed with ourselves that we don’t see the needs around us. The people around us.

I do not have this way of living down to a science. My shallowness comes out more often than I want. But I am trying to do a better job of being aware of people around me. I am trying to keep my gaze turned outwards!