Run Forrest, Run!

Before I had any business watching it, Forrest Gump became one of my favorite movies.  Although the content was too mature for my age, I always found Forrest easy to understand. He was simple. He made me feel better about my inability to comprehend why life was sometimes the way it was.

It came on television the other night, and even though I’ve seen it a hundred times, I couldn’t help watching it again. I came in at the scene where Jenny and Forrest had reunited in Greensboro. She stayed for a while, then- in true Jenny fashion- left unexpectedly. Heartbroken, Forrest did what Jenny had always taught him to do.

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Forrest ran for, “3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.”

As I watched the nationwide coverage and acclaim of his run, something struck me:

How ridiculous it was that a throng of people followed a man cross country on a run that had no clear intention or path. Reporters probed Forrest for answers as to what his run signified: world peace, women’s rights, the environment, animals, or nuclear arms?

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Though Forrest’s run lacked a profound why, people were inspired by his uninhibited and audacious spirit. Supporting someone with an unknown cause can be a wonderfully dangerous inspiration. Seeing individuals take extreme measures to better themselves gives others the courage to do the same. The problem arises when we rely too heavily on the journeys of others to fuel our own lives. When Forrest announced that his rove was over, his followers were distressed by the sudden decision. “Now what are we supposed to do?” one man called out.

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It’s beautiful to be motivated by the lives of others, but it’s not fair to invest everything we hope to be in the life of someone else. Yet, that’s exactly what those people did to Forrest, and it’s what we do to one another. We see what looks like happiness, wealth, or success in the lives of others and attempt to replicate their actions in hopes of biting off a piece for ourselves.

We follow blindly behind people and movements we know little about just to feel something that halfway resembles happy. The problem with this type of lifestyle is that it’s full of emptiness. Those people who followed Forrest on his run never came to know why he did it.

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Forrest’s journey was to run until his past was far enough behind him to move forward. It was for him to discover who he was in that iteration of himself.  What I love most about his passage was that it wasn’t until after Forrest returned home that he realized his why was indeed profound.

That’s exactly how life works at times. We don’t know why God allows us to go through certain hardships, but there’s always a reason. One that is exclusive to your journey, who you are and who you ultimately have the potential to be. Your why.  Yet, if we exhaust our lives trying to find ourselves on someone else’s path, it only leads to added unhappiness.

I know sometimes we just feel like running toward anything with a remote promise of happiness; anything that will take us away from where we are. I get it, but that’s when we have to be most vigilant because that’s when our spirits become clingy and susceptible to misplaced inspiration.

My goal isn’t to devalue the splendor of inspiration. On the contrary, my hope is to uphold it, to encourage us to apply it in a way that is beneficial to our lives.  It’s great to be heartened by someones actions and to even be encouraged to go a similar route. However, we shouldn’t base our decisions on what makes someone else happy.

You’re you and I’m me. What moves me may not drive you. What motivates you may not encourage me. We’re each on our own way, yet how wonderful it’d be for our journeys to cross paths. Maybe there’s something you can teach me. Perhaps there’s something I can give you. Maybe inspiration is a collision of two paths- or ten, or five million- meant to give hope, wisdom, and love so that another would be willing to war on against a world intent on their defeat.

36 Questions 

FYI: I originally wrote this post in October of last year. I’ve certainly grown since then, but I happened to stumble upon it today. It reminded me of how important it is to reflect on our growth. Enjoy 🙂 


I just finished watching a TED Talk called, “Falling in Love is the Easy Part.” It centered around a 1997 experiment that claimed two people could fall in love by answering 36 soul baring questions. Actually, it centered around a woman who tested this theory, and fell in love.

The idea that something as abstruse as love could be attained through a series of questions intrigued me. The more I listened, the more compelled I was to try it.

I knew immediately who the perfect candidate was for this experiment:

Myself.

I know, I know, cue the eye rolls.

But I’ve been so detached from myself lately; I thought, maybe crawling into the bowels of my mind through 36 vulnerable questions might offer some relief.

As I read the questions to myself, a common theme surfaced in the heart of my answers and what I ended up getting from this experiment, was insight; a deeper understanding of how I view myself.

In particular, my answer to question 4 of the experiment sunk to the pit of my stomach


What would constitute a perfect day for you? 


Without hesitation, the answer all but leaped from my lips-

 

A day where I didn’t doubt myself. 


Doubt. Not a day goes by where I don’t question myself. I know having insecurities isn’t a novel emotion, but it’s counterproductive.. It takes up too much of my day, my life- my existence. It’s not that I’m a self loathing person, but sometimes, I’m too hard on myself.

 

I’ve always felt handicapped at life. Like, two plus two never seems to equal four in my case, and things that occur naturally for others, I can’t seem to figure out. It’s like after 26 years of living, I’m still trying to figure out how to breathe.

 

That’s my problem; I’ve been trying to do it on my own. We are not expected to be our own savior. Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross so that in our weakness, we could be lifted by His strength.

 

God awakened life in the first man by breathing into his nostrils. How much more satisfied we would be if we understood that in that breath, was everything God knew we would need as his creation. We weren’t shorted in love, worth, or anything else.

 

Our worth is not something to be gained or achieved, it is what we simply are because we were created in His image and likeness.

 

I allow the part of me that wants to be better to cast a shadow on the parts of me that God has already made good. Right now, drowning in my flaws, I am still more precious than all the riches of the Earth to God.

 

It’s time I start walking in that reality. If I fail, I fall on God’s grace. As long as my primary focus is on Him, he will direct my path. I trust His guidance in my life. I’m no longer going to view myself through my eyes, but through the lenses of The God that created me.

 

I wasn’t searching for love in those 36 questions; I was on a quest for worth. My heart was telling me that I had to prove myself worthy of love. It’s the biggest deception Satan tries to convince us of and it’s just not true. Two plus two will never equate to four if we continue to add our doubt.

 

I know it’s a journey, but I’m going to focus on being more loving and accepting toward myself. I know that what God has for me is right beyond the cloud of dust I’ve created, I just have to trust Him.

Alone in the Know

Focusing on the people filing in and out of the box size Pizza Hut is all I can do to keep the tears at bay.It isn’t working though. Defeated, I hang my head to hide the tears that sneak their way past my defenses. I immediately erase the evidence from my cheeks, but behind the shield of my glasses, my eyes remain wet with pain. I know no one will notice; I’m in an airport. Like a train station, there’s no acknowledging here, only coming and going. I’m grateful for the lack of attention. All I want to do is get my personal pan pizza and leave. I wish I could forget this feeling behind in the pizza shop where it can reside completely unnoticed. But as I make my way to the next flight, the aching solitude remains. I try to outsmart it by taking in deep and slow breaths, but that isn’t working either. The emotions return, overwhelming my ability to control them. I suck in a mouth full of oxygen, holding it until my cheeks begin to burn and the need to breathe becomes uncomfortable. Finally, I swallow the air. It rushes down my throat carrying the threat of a breakdown with it. 


There. It’s gone. For now. 



The suffocating dread of loneliness overtakes me at the oddest times. One minute, I’m fine, the next I’m falling apart. Lately, this feeling has been hounding me more than usual. Like a lion stalking its prey, loneliness lies beneath the surface of everything I do on some days. It hides in the corner of my smile or just beyond the soft sparkle people see in my eyes.
Loneliness is an opportunist. It launches its attack when we think we’re safest: amidst people.
As I  walked out of that Pizza Hut in the Denver Airport, I thought back to what had triggered the sudden loneliness.


I remember… 



My flying partner and I were talking about relationships. Typical girl stuff. I told her that I’d never had a boyfriend, and she had the same shocked reaction as everyone else. “What?!” She exclaimed turning to look at me as if I was some sort of enigma. “I’m just surprised. You’re cute and you have a great personality.” I shrugged and smiled, tickled by her confusion. I told her that I thought one reason why I’ve never dated is because I’m too deep and it pushes people away. The conversation then transitioned to the topic of marriage and divorce. I told her that I wanted to be married one day but revealed my concern about the number of marriages resulting in divorce in our culture.

“The scariest part is the uncertainty. If so many people have failed at marriage, how will I succeed?”


“Wow Celestial, you are deep! I’ve never heard a young person talk like that or acknowledge those types of things!” 

“See, I told you!” I laughed. “I don’t mean to be that way, I just am, and I don’t know how to turn it off.” 

“Well, as long as you’re comfortable with yourself, that’s all that matters.”


“I am.” I assured her
.

And I am, but my mindset often makes me feel disconnected from others. I don’t think my ideas are novel. I know they’re different, but I don’t believe they’re difficult to grasp. When I talk to people, it’s like they’re studying me, instead of trying to understand me.

I love connecting, understanding, and seeing life through the eyes of others. However, I don’t feel connected to. There are times when I’m having conversations with people and I realize (after it’s too late) that I’ve gone off on some tangent into the depths of my thoughts. I’m always having to reel myself back in. And while people are generally intrigued by my perspective, they’re not necessarily creating a bond with me.

I’ve always been told that I’m wise for my age. It’s a compliment, yes, but I certainly don’t view myself that way. I know my mindset is different from most, but I hadn’t realized the burden that came with it.

Sometimes, I daydream about my brain having an off button. How wonderful it’d be to think of nothing. Or to have a thought without picking it apart and over analyzing its meaning.

Then, there are days when I just want to be on the same brain wave as everyone else, just so I can feel at home in the world.
But, that’s just it- I’m not made for this world.

God instructs His people to focus on the things of Heaven, not of Earth. Romans 12:2 says

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

Even in my bouts of loneliness and disconnect, I am ultimately thankful for the way God has molded my perception and protected me from the deceit of this world.

We all know what it’s like to feel alone and misunderstood, but the worst disservice we can do ourselves is abandoning what makes us unique, for conformity and false acceptance. We need to use our individuality to promote God’s love in a world that’s rapidly closing in on itself.
Sometimes, we don’t know how to accept the aspects of ourselves that set us apart. That’s okay. We don’t have to know it all right away, we just have to be willing to embark on the journey to discover the unique gifts God has embedded in each of us.

The reason we often feel alienated by society is because many times, we are. Our thoughts, beliefs, and spirits are not made to connect to the carnal, but when we try to force it, we are met with rejection. Truthfully, none of us are meant for this world. God wants us all to depend on Him regarding every aspect of our lives. But, it’s a free world and God has not made us slaves. Therefore, many of us have created our own ideas and beliefs, and have decided to live our lives in ways we deem appropiate.

When we accept ourselves for who God created us to be and embrace our differences from the world, feeling out of place won’t be such a bad thing. As long as we’re in place in the eyes of God, that’s all that matters. We have to choose who we want to please and who we want to allow control over our lives.

We aren’t doing the world any favors by denying it the beauty of our authentic selves. It’s okay to cry a few tears and feel a little out of place sometimes, because truly, we are.

Hearts, Pins, and Likes

I have a horrible habit of saving things for later. The problem is, I never seem to get around to later. For example, Pinterest, one of my favorite websites: I literally have thousands of pins saved for things I want to do and places I want to go. And while I obviously can’t go everywhere all at once, trying to find a cool place to visit on my travel board sometimes gives me a headache. It’s too much.

When we let things pile up for too long, they get lost and we forget about their importance. Even here, on WordPress, there are so many posts I like with the intention of going back to comment and interact on, but as the days pass and new posts file in, the old ones sort of get lost in time.

If we go about trying to bookmark life, we’ll never get around to actually living it. As we well know, tomorrow holds no promises. We have to learn to live in the now. Of course we all have responsibilities that don’t afford us the luxury of being able to go on spontaneous vacations. But, we can plan to do those spontaneous activities. Which, I know is an oxymoron, but hear me out.

Saying we want to do something or liking a pretty destination on Pinterest is a lot different than putting a plan into motion to actually do it. I think that’s the key, deciding how badly we want it. So maybe you can’t afford that European Cruise this year, but you can commit to setting aside money every month to go next year. We must commit ourselves to the things we want to achieve!

It makes me sad when I hear people say, ‘I wish I could’ do this or go there. We spend entirely too much time wishing and dreaming, when we could be doing and seeing. Yes, there will be obstacles, but so what?! To someone who is determined, the purpose of an obstacle is to be conquered.
Truly and most sincerely, the only thing standing in the way of our happiness is ourselves.

Happy tough love Monday:)

Looking forward to catching up with you all on Wednesday!

Celestial

Song of the Week: “Love You Forever,” by Bri Babineaux

Listen! 

🎤🎶I will love you forever, love you forever, love you forever. Even if it never gets better, it never gets better🎶🎤

This song gives me straight up chills every single time I listen to it. It’s my heart’s ultimate prayer! Bri Babineaux’s debut album is absolutely fantastic anyway, so I do encourage purchasing it in its entirety! But this song in particular, is so special to me. 

This lyrics paint a picture of the way I want to love God. Not for what He can do for me or because He is powerful. No, I want to be in love with Him for who He is and how beautiful His spirit is. I want to love Him with no strings attached. 

Because that’s how He loves me. It’s not based on the good I do in His name or how obedient I am. He loves me exactly as I am and because of that I am able to work toward becoming who He designed me to be without fear of losing His love. 

Happy Friday guys! Have a good weekend! 

Celestial❤️

Date Night

How many couples can attest to the fact that date nights are essential?

Look, as much as I can, from the perspective of a single, kidless woman-I get it. Amidst dirty diapers, school plays, and demanding bosses, penciling in a dinner date with a needy spouse just isn’t a priority.

 Too often overlooked though, is that precious time we (should) set aside for our partners. It has a lot more power than we give it credit for.

Someone once said, there are only two things in life that are constant: change and change. The world around us and within us is in a constant state of transformation. I was watching a T.D. Jakes sermon the other day and He made an interesting point: “Every stage of our lives requires a different version of ourselves.”

 Even as a single individual, I can remember a few years ago, thinking I needed certain things in my life to be happy. Having experienced loss, love, and new understanding, those ideals no longer play a part in my happiness. Or at least, a much smaller part than before. I view life through a different lens now and those wants I thought were necessities, are no longer relevant to me.

If you knew me five years ago, you don’t know me today. 

 If we choose to put routine before our emotional needs and connections, we will certainly lose one another in this wild ocean of life.

While you’re focusing on being promoted at work, your wife may be feeling overwhelmed. And while you’re making sure little Susie is in every extracurricular activity known to man, your husband may be suffering from loneliness.

In the back of my mind, I’m thinking toughen up, there are too many other, more important things to worry about.

 But are there really? 

The result of worrying about more important things is waking up one morning to a complete stranger. Bickering constantly because you no longer see eye to eye with your spouse. Frustration closing in like the darkest of nights because you don’t understand them anymore. It must be like trying to read with no light or running with no feet, thinking with no words, nothing makes sense.

Sadly, many times, it’s too late by then and people aren’t willing or don’t have the emotional energy to put in the overtime work to mend the relationship. Although two people may commit to devoting their lives to one another, the way they experience that life can become vastly different without conscious upkeep.

 Ergo, date nights!

 It’s an opportunity to realign and reconnect with your partner. Talk about your week, discuss their day. Ask them what you can do to be more supportive. Give compliments and hold hands.

Falling in love isn’t a one time deal. The trick is to fall in love over and over and over and over again with the same person.

Our nature is much too complex to be loved on the same note forever. Alluding to the sentiment of pastor Jakes, different stages of life require exploring new ways to keep love alive. In order to understand and appreciate your partner’s journey, you must be a part of it.

Much like the union of a marriage, should our relationship be with God.  We should be going on as many dates with God as possible. Which, I won’t lie, has an element of do we have to? to it.

As you can tell, I’ve skipped out on a few too many date nights. That disconnect I spoke of earlier: I feel it. God’s voice has been like a faint whisper. I don’t know where He wants me right now or what I should be doing or if He’s changed the trajectory of my life. That’s because we’re not in sync. And it’s completely my fault. I’m constantly standing up God’s open invitation for date night. I suck.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not especially fond of being in the dark when it comes to my life. So, I’m taking action.

Next month, I’m eliminating the distractions. One of my biggest road blocks-YouTube. It’s gotta go, and fast. So, for the month of April, no more Jlo ondaytime or late night t.v. and no more obsessively watching clips of Lana Parrilla on Once Upon a Time.

That hurt just writing it, but I know it’s the right thing to do.

The more ways I find to fall in love with God and the more I recognize His divine ability to love me past my faults, the more love I’ll have to give others, which is the ultimate purpose of each of our lives.

 

Song of the Week: “Moments” by Emerson Drive 

                          Listen here! 

It’s Friday- we made it! 

I chose “Moments,” by Emerson Drive for this week because it’s such a beautifully heartbreaking (and restoring) song. It tells a story, one I think we can all relate to on some level. 

It’s so easy for us to look at someone and decide who they are based on what we see in a moment. Truth is, we’ve all got a story, full of triumphs and defeat, happy times and sad, on top of the world and sometimes crushing beneath it. 

But should the lows make us any less? Do we only have purpose when we’re doing well? 

No matter what page we’re on in our book, we have to know that we are still here to serve a purpose. Even when this world lives in the shadow of the night, we have a responsibility to be the light. 

Never underestimate God’s ability to use absolutely anyone to show His love and power. 

The next time you see a homeless person, an addict, or a drunk, don’t be so dismissive of them, because we never know how God plans to use them. 

Enjoy your weekend! 

Celestial Nicole

Vision Test

Prior to four months ago, I had been walking around blind for a year and a half, after losing my glasses on a flight I was working back in 2015. The same pair of glasses my mother bought for me during my freshman year of high-school in 2004. That’s at least a decade I spent wearing the same pair of glasses. And if I’m being honest, had they not slipped off the rim of my shirt, I’m 97.8% sure I’d still be wearing them right now.

They, of course lost their effectiveness long before I lost them. But I figured they were better than nothing and I’d eventually get around to getting new ones. The problem, was that my vision was steadily deteriorating and I was forced to alter (at first) little things to accommodate not being able to see. Subsequently, those little alterations turned into larger life adjustments. I had to learn to navigate this handicap, which meant limiting myself in various ways. I had to refrain from driving at night because all the lines in the roads blended together. Recognizing faces became a nightmare and I didn’t speak to people if they were more than ten feet away from me.

The ridiculous thing, is that I could’ve avoided all  of the unnecessary trouble by simply going to the eye doctor and addressing the real problem- my eyes. 
Right before the new year, I finally made the adult decision to have my vision checked. It had been so long since I’d been to an opthamologist, that I was a little lost in the exam room. I didn’t realize how detailed the process is. The ability or inability to see one line of letters can have a major impact on the overall vision result. 
Putting on my new glasses was like… 

Immediately, everything was sharper and colors were more vivid than I’d ever remembered! Being able to trust my vision was an incredible feeling! It made me confident and more reliant on my sight because I knew that those glasses were made especially for my eyes and attuned to their current condition. 
It made me realize how easy it is to lose sight when we have no vision. And surrounded by the harsh realities of this world, our ability to see clearly, is always in jeopardy. Our physical sight is in a constant state of deterioration and only way to combat it is to ensure regular visits to have our sight checked.

But it’s not just our physical sight that matters, is it? 
We each have hopes, dreams, and mountains we want to conquer. But in order for us to reach our destinations, our sight has to be aligned to our vision. 
We first have to define our vision, so that we can then, create a plane to get there. Expectations must be set in order to keep our sight in line with what we ultimately envision for ourselves. If we don’t create goals and hold ourselves accountable to them, we’ll slowly begin to settle for blurred vision. Then, we will begin to accept the limitations imposed on us by our lack of sight. 

But how can we be expected to envision something different than what we see?

 
Easy, put on your glasses.
Your glasses were hand crafted by God for your life, and mine, for my own. But we have to put them on if we wish to see the path He has created for our purposes to come to fruition.
            

Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God had a plan for our lives even before we were conceived in our mother’s wombs. How beautiful is that?! That God hand selected each and everyone of us and has given us purpose on Earth. 

Sometimes we lose our glasses or take them off when people make fun of our sight. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Romans 12:2
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
We don’t answer to the vision of this world because this world did not implant purpose in us, God did. Therefore,  we should be living our lives through the eyes of God, not man. 
In order to remain on the path of God’s vision for our lives, we need to be taking our glasses to Him on a regular basis to ensure that they are filtering our sight through His vision. 
These checkups include going before God in prayer and committing our day to Him before it even begins. It means reading His word for spiritual nourishment and understanding. We wouldn’t go an entire day without feeding our physical bodies. How much more then, should we keep our spiritual lives in good health? 

The more time we spend in God’s presence and obeying His holy spirit, the easier it becomes to ignore the roadblocks on the way to our purpose. The world can trick us into thinking that any pair of glasses will provide clear sight, but we have to know the difference between glasses that distort our vision and the ones that restore it. 

So, if you’re having issues with your sight, maybe it’s time for a visit to the ophthalmologist. 

Song of the Week: “I Am,” by JoJo

Listen! 

First of all, please tell me you guys remember who Jojo is?! Don’t fail me 90’s babies!  Anyway, she’s back! Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy her album due to some of the content, but I bought this song! I’ve always been in love with Jojo’s soulful voice and it is even more piercing in this song of affirmation! 

I chose, “I Am,” for this week because I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed the past few days. Not by anything in particular, but just by being here in this world. 

As I was spending time with God this morning, I came across some devotional plans and scriptures that reminded me to remember who God is during my times of distress and who has said that I am through receiving His salvation. 

This song speaks to that same theme. When we feel worthless, unloved, or like a disappointment, we need to consult scripture on who God says we are. 

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

Also, listen to the live acoustic version of, “I Am,” here! I love it more than the actual record!

Happy Friday! 

Barefoot Faith 


God has blessed me immensely and everything I have is a direct result of my dependence on Him. During the most unexpected moments, He shows up and does the impossible. Yet, His perfect timing still seems to surprise me. 

Why? 

Like a bad aftertaste, doubt trails my confidence. It lurks in the shadows of my prayers and mocks my effort to abolish it. Even though I know God is in control, my emotions have a tricky way of slithering through the crevices of my faith. 

A breach in faith is an opportunity for deception. The devil is always on the prowl, waiting for us to trip up, reliant on the second we lose sight. The realist in me is not suggesting that we can have complete and unwavering faith in God- but the childlike hope in me is. 

As children, remember how we took everything our parents said exactly for what it was. Despite how insanely ridiculous it may have been, if they said it, we believed it. God wants the same thing; He wants us to become blind to circumstances and focus solely on His promises. 

Think about Peter’s experience. By having faith in God, Peter was literally able to do the impossible. However, recall the mistake that nearly claimed his life. 

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid…”

As we do, Peter took his eyes off of God. He became aware of the chaos surrounding him and in that moment, became victim to his circumstance. 
By keeping ourselves in God’s presence and maintaining a childlike faith toward Him, we can avoid the repetition of Peter’s mistake.

The key is in knowing God’s promises to us. Understanding His will for our lives and walking in that knowledge.
Struggles are often lessons of faith in disguise that give God the opportunity to display his faithfulness.