Category Archives: Faith over Fear

No Fingers Left to Point

I started this poem during a time when I was still using excuses as my crutch.  I was still relying on the good ole’ “I am this way because…” phrase.   The truth is that it is often easier to blame others than to accept and take on the challenge of change. It is easier to point fingers when you fail than to accept it a pathway to change.  In life, we must be careful though because soon we can be left with no more fingers to point.

 

No Fingers Left to Point

Finger points, gun ready aim,
fire
the broken glass is first,
because even shattered windshields require
blame.

First finger points
to their childish quarrels
as words expel more
an eye for an eye,
can they even remember
what that stands for?

Second finger points
he makes me do it
the choice is never my own
a squirrel cannot survive the streets
on such an indecisive throne.

Third finger points and cries
the ability to shoot back
depends on what her lonely heart lends
to her cheating hand
anything for a friend.

Fourth finger points
their words make her starve
to hunger differently
it is not her own
nor that of the skeleton they not see.

Fifth finger points
they fill her cup
like everyone does to fit in
as she still keeps track,
what even matters?
what even counts?
in drunkenness, she thirsts
a new way to silence, the crying within.

Sixth finger points
plaid skirts to her knees
try it the right way,
until rolls it to the waist
her morals to the curb
caves for someone to love
no one to save me
as if, no one watches above.

Seventh finger points
to her white dress
how can she still cry
how can she still yearn for more,
as he promises to stay
and plays the violin
over her broken seams
no longer knows herself
no longer the recipient
of her own dreams.

Eighth finger points
they judge her before
a mother they can see
babies she wraps in love
nurturing this new version

Of me.

Ninth finger points
these shoes teach me to be, just that
as they tiptoe into the dance
my feeble legs fake that seductive strength
of who they cannot understand
still broken in form,
but somehow, I still stand.

Tenth finger fires
and no more remain
leaves me as a fingerless pawn,
in this fruitless game.
For all these fingers, they point back too,
aimless, blameless, responsible,
and for the first time,
I face imperfection’s true attack:
no one to blame,
no where to point,
no where to run,
to face the truth, fingerless,
exposed accusations leaves me alone,
to do just that –
finally sells me back the truth
that accepts and forgives them all,
as I hold myself
in the unclenching of a fist,
for ten fingers I now lack.

Finally I accept it all to breathe free
responsible solely for me
with no fingers left to point,
I finally face
that I wish I had all ten of them back.


© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Freedom comes when we stop pointing fingers. It is then we can unfold our fists and soften our hearts to the life we deserve. Excuses are just that, excuses. They will never bring us to the more our lives are made for. Those excuses are crutches that steal so much more from us than they do from those we direct our anger, our sadness, our fingers to.

Freedom comes with patience and prayer.

Freedom comes from time used wisely instead of being wasted in the distractions, in the excuses.

Freedom comes from forgiveness.

It comes from letting go of the clenched fist and allowing the heart to beat freely again. Freedom comes from leaving all the excuses on the beach and getting into the living, healing waters, instead of waiting for someone else to save us.

That was a difficult message for me to hear because I didn’t want to hear it. It was easier to blame others for my battles and hardships than take the matters into my own hands. For the longest time I thought that it meant I needed to take on and carry all of that weight myself.

But that is never the case.

We are never meant to carry the burdens ourselves.

The resentment and excuses will never allow us to truly be free of anxiety, depression and pain.

But learning to let it go will.

So, please forgive me now for the mess. I’d rather walk proudly with the scars and with my fingers and arms ready to hug my loves, even if it means I may have to skip, jump or even limp over the clutter at times. But at least I have no more crutches laying around to trip me up too.


“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.””

‭‭John‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/jhn.5.6-8.niv


Get your mat and walk! Lay down the excuses no matter how long they have been stirring there, no matter how long you have been waiting. It’s your time to let go and live.

 

A Friday Rise

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

We all fall down sometimes. Unfortunately, when we have kids, they can witness these very falls. Their inquisitive eyes are always watching and learning …

However, we can rest easy knowing that it is not the fall that defines us …

Instead, it is how we rise and get up that matters.

And the best part is that our little loves watch that too.

They watch us become relentlessly stronger and more courageous. They watch beauty come from pain. They watch the greatest healings come from the largest scars. They watch us become warriors. They watch the peace that can come at any part… in, through and after the storm. They watch us trade in our umbrellas and join us in learning to dance in the rain.

We all have our own unique story.

It is the most powerful testimony we each have to share.

So when you fall, remember how strong you are and how much stronger you will become from it. Remember your story and how far you have come. Thank God for that and praise Him for where He is bringing you.

Remember that while these little eyes are watching, they too will learn your strength and bravery. They too will learn to rise just like you.

 

Untitled design (75)

So be easy on yourself and learn self care and self love. Be kind to yourself. But most importantly, forgive yourself. For trials and brokenness are all over, yet what matters most is what you do with that hurt.

For you will be remembered for your rise above the rest… above the mess. And that is something to be proud of!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

How will you be remembered?

james & katie

During a few teachable moments throughout each year, I ask my students to think about how they wish to be remembered. However, it is not just a message for middle school students. It is also one everyone can reflect on including myself. Despite any mess we may be walking or even sitting in, we all have purpose. Our stories are our greatest testimonies.

On the toughest days, place your hand on your heart. Feel that? That is purpose! You are alive for a reason. Keep moving and believingkeep learning to live.

Keep moving forward step by step even if it is uncomfortable at first. And forgive yourself if you slip up and fall back. Today is a new day for a reason. Never give up, no matter how messy life gets. For it is in the mess, new beauty can be found. So hold on boldly to this wild and precious ride we call life.

For it will change you as you change the world in your own unique, and beautiful way. But first remember the change starts within…

Morning Routine

A person’s morning routine is so important.   More and more studies and research are showing that the way someone starts their morning sets the stage for how productive their day will be. Search it up! There is sooooo much information out there around this very topic.

Since my early 20s, I have woken up early to go for a run.   It did not matter where I was… at the beach, on an island, at a hotel, wherever and whenever, I found a way to get this run in. The endorphins were beyond addicting at the time; they were life changing.

However, like any addiction, it is important to be able to break it for several reasons.  Still, I ran and I ran…I refused to do anything else in my routine and if I did a class like spin or yoga, I would still find time to run.   I knew it was not healthy to depend on anything so much even if it was something healthy  like running.   Balance…balance…balance and there was no balance.

Since I had run throughout my entire pregnancy with my son, I pretty much started running right after delivering him.  Knowing my running history, my doctor had told me that I could restart again after almost a week but slowly.   This then turned into months later, I was running 6-8 miles a day.   It was too much on my body and soon I started to experiencing knee pains and other related running issues. I was overused, worn-down and my muscles were yelling at me to, “Slooooooow down!”

Still, it took my daughter and that second full-term pregnancy to slow me down.  I could not run once I hit the third trimester.  It was not possible without terrible pains and so then I was forced to find a new morning routine… Thank you God for that!

So, I started to walk every morning on my treadmill instead.  This was unless I was tired, which then I would take off against my will for my body and baby. Still during these first morning hours I continued to write. It started after a miscarriage that I started to pray each morning and then write scripture-based poems.  This continued for two years until I started to desire even more of the Word and writing.

This is how my morning routine gradually turned into one of balance and peace.   And while I am sure it will change over the years to come, I know that this is where morning need to start:

  1. Wake up early (weekdays at 4 and weekends usually around 6 thanks to my son… ha) Early riding definitely means early bedtime as much as possible too.
  2. Pray
  3. Read the Bible (There are great plans out there to help guide you through the Bible.  I am currently doing read the Bible in a year on the Bible app.  I highly recommend.)
  4. Scripture-based poetry that I send to close friends and family as a daily devotional/reflection/motivation.
  5. WAR – This is what I call it… I write for this blog, poetry or my book as I run (on my treadmill of course).   I use the Mutu System for my abs (my goal once summer hits is to become more constant with that) and I run still.   However, I now only do 3 miles when I run.  And the best part is…. I no longer NEEEED to run.  Although I do enjoy it, I skip it and do the elliptical sometimes and plan on branching out more this summer as well. Running is just a part of my morning routine. Therefore, I do not NEED it like I used to.
  6. Celery juice (16 ounces) on an empty stomach
  7. Warm lemon juice (16 ounces) 30 minutes after the celery (Sometimes, I switch these up but always waiting the time in between.)

And then I am ready for the craziness to begin as I finish the last minute touches of breakfasts and lunches and jump right into the day knowing that my mind, body and heart, and if needed some Kombucha, will continue to power and empower me throughout it all…

Food Allergy Awareness Week- May 12-18, 2019

This week is food allergy awareness week. It is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about food allergies and anaphylaxis, and help remove the isolation that can be associated with having an allergy.

Food allergies like many diagnosis in life have the ability to isolate, ONLY if we let it…

The first step in eliminating ignorance is to EDUCATE! So here it goes…

  • 1 in every 13 children in America has a food allergy. That is two in every classroom!
  • Food allergies can be life threatening and need to be taken seriously.
  • Strict avoidance of the allergen is the ONLY way to prevent a reaction.
  • 35% of children with allergies have been bullied due to their allergy. That. Is. Not. Okay. Bullying is NEVER okay!
  • People can be allergic to ANYTHING! However, 90% of children are allergic to the top 8 allergens:
  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Peanuts
  4. Tree nuts (all nuts other than peanuts)
  5. Fish
  6. Shellfish
  7. Wheat
  8. Soybeans
  9. Sesame (which still does not yet have to be labels on food packaging)
  • The top 8 allergens must be labeled on packaging.
  • However, more than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions.

The symptoms can range from mild to moderate ones like hives and stomach pain to severe ones like anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction). Reactions are NOT all the same. Symptoms can change from reaction to reaction. Just because someone didn’t have an anaphylactic reaction the first time, doesn’t mean they can’t the next. Also, just because you were not born with an allergy, does not mean you can not develop one.

* These facts are not to provoke fear, but instead to spark awareness and instill understanding. Once we have the facts, we combat the fear that tries to associate itself with it all … with faith.

“But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/isa.43.1.niv


What is important for us all to know?

  • Reactions DO NOT just happen when someone ingests the allergen itself.

    • They can happen due to cross contact (the presence of unintended allergens), inhaling it, and from saliva (sharing utensils, instruments, chapstick, drinks, kissing).

    • My son’s last reaction at the age of 2.5 was this type of reaction. He had tried a new oat milk and while the company did not have the container labeled for it, the production lines were not thoroughly cleaned from his other allergens. Thus, it caused a reaction that was less severe and very different from his initial one, but still needed epinephrine and a trip to the ER.

    • Cross contact issues and food allergies in general take diligence. Just because the product dues not have the cross contact information labeled doesn’t mean we don’t need to call the companies or do more researching and double checking on line. Also, even products that we have used for years, we still must double check their labels as companies sometimes change the makeup and ingredients in their products. It is not a burden; it is a way of life that ensures safety.

  • Many of these people must carry EpiPens (Epinephrine) with them everywhere they go. It’s beneficial for everyone to know how to use an EpiPen. So reach out to someone who is trained in it and ask to learn. It does not take long to learn, but it also does not take long to react and need assistance. So spend the time now. It is greatly appreciated.

What can we all do? – nationwide initiatives to get involved with

Join the Teal Pumpkin Project

  • Halloween can be a difficult time for those with allergies.
  • This project promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies.

How can you participate?

  • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters (see FARE website for suggestions)
  • Place a teal pumpkin (the color of food allergy awareness) in front of your home to indicate you have non-food treats available
  • Spread the word! Tell your families, friends and neighbors about this initiative.

Snack Safely

  1. Check out the Snack Safely website.
  2. This is a site that has safe snacks and foods for those with allergies.  
  3. Schools use this. We all should use this. 
  4. When you are planning an event or party, check it out to ensure everyone is safe and included. It’s not always easy or convenient to “think outside of the box.” But, that’s often where the difference is made. What may seem small to one person is huge to another.  “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”Aesop

Turn It Teal

  • Teal is the color that represents food allergy awareness.
  • This initiative started in 2014 and now their mission has expanded into going throughout the country, lighting up buildings, bridges, and attractions in teal everywhere.
  • You don’t need to light up a building to spread awareness. You can do this at your school, work or church, by setting a day in May to “turn it teal” and encourage everyone to wear teal! We are doing this at my work this Friday!
  • For more information: Turn it Teal

What can we do? – ways to help everyday

Be Mindful

  1. Wash your hands after eating.
  2. Wipe down surfaces after eating an allergen.
  3. Don’t share food or utensils.

Empathy/Ask

  1. Get the specifics. Find out which foods your friends, family members, classmates, co workers, church members, etc. are allergic to and what the symptoms of a reaction are.
  2. Simply be aware and have an open mind to it. Empathy goes a long way.
  3. If hosting an event, ask what products and foods are safe.
  4. Take it seriously. It is not a joking matter.

Like with anything in life, listening wholeheartedly and empathetically goes a long way. So while our messy counter top may not have everything others have on it, we all deserve to feel included, safe and loved.

For more information, visit: FARE website

 

 


“Peace requires everyone to be in the circle – wholeness, inclusion.” – Isabel Allende

 “When everyone is included, everyone wins.” – Jesse Jackson

 “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Untitled design (70).png

 

 

 

Scripture Strength

One of my favorite scriptures that hangs above my daughter’s crib since before she was born is Proverbs 31:25: “She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” 

 

_She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future._..png

Every night before bed, we have prayed this scripture over Madison since birth. Interestingly enough, it fits her little, but big personality perfectly.

Isn’t it what we all hope for our daughters!? For our youth!? For our future?!

To be strong and respectable in a world that often tries to strip that from us…

To laugh through life not allowing worldly fears to steal that from us in an attempt to hold us back from who we are meant to become…

To stand confident in how we are beautiful just the way we are no matter what makeup and filters lie to us about …

And those imperfections that make is human, are perfectly designed to make us just that, beautifully and wonderfully made…

At only two, Madison is already so strong-willed and decisive, which makes some moments quite challenging. And she is quite fearless and independent too (The sprained foot, giant knot on her forehead and slight bruise under her eye, all within a month and a half of each other, were proof of that.) So as we continue to guide her and maybe even lead her down the stairs for now, we are confident that she will continue to be just that: strong, confident and of course, kind. For those qualities define true beauty and what we want for her.

Interestingly enough in reciting this over Madi, I didn’t realize at the time the overwhelming and uplifting effect all of this was also having over me. It’s amazing to see how much change can happen over 2.5 years. How much I’ve changed! And I’m not talking about those few added pounds that came and made a home in my hips over that time. Instead, I’m talking about learning the beauty of them. I’m talking about the beauty and strength that comes from having a daughter.

But that strength doesn’t just come from having kids, it truly comes from having a purpose. It comes from praying and asking God to reveal and confirm that purpose. It comes when we are walking in that purpose, His purpose for our lives.

So on the days when I am feeling worn down and like I need a break and more time, it is nice to know I still have the strength to get me through. And it’s even more empowering to know, she has it too.

 

img_0078

*It’s also on my phone case too, thanks to my thoughtful husband.

 

Shake Up Your Morning

It was in September that I saw my OBGYN about intense ovulation and menstrual pain. It had been several months of this so I wanted answers. I started to assume it was the endometriosis my mom may have so “kindly” passed down to me.

After an ultrasound, I received a phone call from another doctor telling me that I had a cyst on my ovary the size of a baseball!

A BASEBALL! I freaked out… ain’t gonna lie… especially when they then instructed me that I should have blood work done to double check…cancer levels… That was it! I quickly lost it!

Untitled design (36).png

Then, the doctor went right into talking about having to monitor it for a few months and then discussed going on the pill or even surgery.  That was not a good night for me or my husband to say the least. (It was also the night I found out he would be traveling to Paris for business without me….double whammy!!)

After I gathered myself again, I turned to prayer, believing everything would be okay.  Instead, of my typical reaction of panic, panic and more panic.   I consciously chose to train my brain to believe that: I. WOULD. BE. TOTALLY. OKAY. AND. HEALTHY.

A week later, the blood work came back with the wonderful news that my inflammation number was in the normal range.   So now it was just waiting game until I would be rechecked in a couple months. Therefore, I reached out to a holistic doctor about what I could do. She gave some supplements to help decrease estrogen levels and also suggested lots of cruciferous vegetables and as many greens as possible. Sadly, she also recommended that I cut out alcohol and dairy for 30 days. Noooo not the wine!

So, I loaded up on broccoli and cauliflower in my lunches and dinners.  Riced cauliflower was my best friend in my stir frys, salads, and even soups. I already wasn’t eating dairy during the week, only on the weekends with pizza.  With liquor, I stopped the random glass of wine during the week, only a glass or two on the weekends.  But as far as the other greens…. how many greens could I actually eat? That is when I decided to play around with morning shakes, finding my favorite green one.

I called it my morning “Shake Up” or as my daughter calls it, a green “milk shake.”

And here it is… with some variations. I like to vary it up too.  My husband turned me into a creature of habit, or maybe I always was one.  Regardless, variety is important so I try my hardest to vary it up.

SHAKE IT UP RECIPE #1

  1. ice cubes (a couple handfuls)
  2. 2 Tablespoons almond butter
  3. 1 cup almond milk or Silk’s Protein Milk (almond, cashew, pea)
  4. 2 dates (You can add up to 4.  I keep it light for sugar purposes)
  5. 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  6. 1 Tablespoon flax seeds
  7. 1 Tablespoon – a good sourced Cacao powder (optional)
  8. A teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
  9. a cup of spinach or kale (I usually stick to spinach although lately I’m on a kale kick)
  10. 1-2 stalks of celery or even cucumber
  11. Maca powder (optional)
  12. Organic protein powder (optional)

Directions:  Combine and blend well. We use a Vitamix to blend. (It was by far one of my best purchases as far as kitchen items.)

Two months later, when I was retested, the cyst was almost completely undetectable.  Thank you God! Thank you for shakin’ it up and making my faith grow even more.  Thank you for those morning shakes that kick start my days right, even as we rush out of the house with the Vitamix still dirty in the sink.