Friday, 21 April 2017

The Big Issue

Today Jose and I went to Cambridge for a little shopping. Mostly for other people's care packages, but we did splurge a little for some fresh tea and coffee to make at home. As we walked around Cambridge, we noticed more homeless people camped out on the streets than usual. Heartbreaking for sure, but rest in knowing we always give a little something when we see them. We also saw a lot of people selling magazines and tours around Cambridge...you know those street vendors. One of the guys was very persistent and wouldn't let us cross the street, he wanted to give us a tour around. After Jose politely told him no thank you, we know our way around Cambridge I've (Jose) lived here for 12 years now; he took the hint and let us cross the street so we could be on our way. Let's be honest...or rather I'll be honest. Those people annoy the tarnation out of me! And I avoid eye contact at all costs. Jose, well being the friendliest man on the face of the planet makes eye contact with EVERYONE and says hello with a warm smile on his face just inviting you in for a heart to heart. And if you're really lucky and stop to conversate with him, he will give you the biggest hug to carry with you for the rest of your day. And that's usually how we end up in those awkward situations with people wanting to sell us everything and not taking no for an answer. I even told Jose, just don't make eye contact. He said, but I'm just saying hi Mamacita.

I'm not sure how to argue against that and since I'm sure I'm now the world's worst person by avoiding eye contact, I just stay quiet and endure those awkward moments. However, there are times when a hello and a smile are all that's needed to make someone's day. (Jose teaches me so much about life, and here's a perfect example)

For those of you living in the UK, when you go out in a city and you see people selling magazines, be sure to pay attention to the names of them. There is one that some sell called The Big Issue (pictures down below) The people that sell them have fallen on hard times and are looking for a hand up for themselves and their families. They buy these magazines for a £1.25 and sell them for £2.50. Some of these people live in shelters, some of them live in low income housing, and some might even live on the streets. Jose and I always buy these magazines when we see anyone selling them. Today was one of those times. Except it was different in a way that broke my heart. When Jose stopped to buy the magazine from the man, the man looked at him and said, "O good I'm not invisible".....on a street FULL of people coming and going as they pleased. Most with arms loaded with shopping bags full of their latest purchases, I realized I was one of those people. I didn't see the man selling the magazines until Jose stopped. I had my blinders on, I contributed to making that man feel invisible. It really melted away my "let's get what we came to get and avoid eye contact with everyone because I don't feel like talking to anyone today" attitude.

I thought of all the times that I've ever felt invisible in a crowd of people. All the times, I wished someone would acknowledge my existence because I have something to offer. It's a terrible feeling, one that I know everyone reading this can relate to. Today changed me. It's pretty ironic this whole day really. I've just recently lost the people I thought were my friends. They have stopped talking to me after I reached out to them for help, but I guess I wasn't "holy" enough for them to make the effort to help me. So for the past month or so, I have felt invisible, and I have been praying to God to send me a friend, or at least someone that I can help asking for nothing in return. Today, my heart was humbled and my eyes have been opened wide. So consumed with my self-pity concerning everyone that hurt me, that I never looked up to see the eyes that needed my smile. God answered my prayer today. And he probably answered it yesterday and the day before too. I just never took the time to stop and look.

The saying is true, If you need a friend, go out and be a friend. If you need love, go out and give love first. I always knew the saying, but I've never actually felt it in my heart as raw as I did today. I once heard a poem that goes a little something like this...

                                    I didn't exist for a moment today, for when we passed you
                                     looked away. Not acknowledging my needs or even my existence.
                                    But in the pain I realized how many times I've avoided eyes that
                                    were reaching out to me.
                                                                                                    -Author Unknown

Life Lesson #3,989,486-LEARNED

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Dressed to Impress

Let me tell you a little story before I begin the actual post. When I was a little girl I was afraid to raise my hands in church during worship. I wanted to, I really did. I was just afraid someone would see me and come up to me after church(as they so often did) and tell me I wasn't worthy enough to lift my hands to God because I had lied that week or I made bad grades on my report card. One day I was in the car with my big sis Sondra. She was my go to when I needed advice and the godliest person I knew back then. I asked her about the whole hand raising thing, really poured out my heart to her. She sat there and said, "well, Melissa, look at it this way." "When we go to church and worship God, he doesn't see our human bodies, he doesn't see what we wear or how many times we lift our hands. He only sees our hearts. And if your heart is right with him and you genuinely worship him with your heart, you don't HAVE to lift your hands. God knows." (do you see why I went to her for advice now?) So from then on and even still today, when I go before God in anything I do, I picture in my mind a clear see through body with a bright red beating heart right in the center and I know that that's the only thing I need to have right. Not my makeup, not my clothes, not even my hair.

Today, I'm going to probably step on some toes and hurt some feelings. Please know that it's not my intention in any way, and this post is not pointing fingers. In fact, I am just as guilty of doing these things I'm about to talk about. I just realized how "normal" it was for me and now that I don't do it, it seems so vain and I wonder how did I not ever see what I was doing.

As most of you know, today is Easter. The beloved holiday where we celebrate the ressurection of Jesus! I know, I'm pretty excited too. I laid in bed this morning and I thanked God for sending his son to die for me so that I can be worthy to enter heaven even after all the things I've done and no doubt will most certainly do in just one day's time. Then I opened up facebook and instagram for my quick morning scroll to make sure no one died and to catch up on any big happenings in the world...because let's face it, social media is a dumping ground for all of our garbage (definitely guilty of this). And the first thing I saw was a picture of a sweet couple headed to church with their little one, the husband had his bible in his hand and the caption read, "I tried to get us to match a little today"..."aww how sweet they look", I thought. Keep scrolling, I see another picture of another family all matching for easter service at church, with the caption, "We would have all matched today, but (kids name's) bowtie didn't come in on time. Darn you amazon." "Such a cute family anyway" I thought. More scrolling, more pictures of matching families headed to church to celebrate this amazing day. It was really a cuteness overload on social media.

So I shut down my facebook, came in the kitchen and made my breakfast and tea all the while reminiscing on past easter's growing up. My favorite thing about Easter, (after I got too old to hunt easter eggs) was going dress shopping and buying that one colorful spring dress that would get me so many compliments from my friends and the adults at church. (because what girl doesn't love shopping for clothes and then receiving compliments for them? I know I do) But then I also got to thinking how I'm not going to a church house this morning to celebrate, and I haven't been in a very long time. Instead I am wearing one of Jose's giant hoodies, in the biggest pair of sweatpants I own, and my hair is in absolute disarray at the top of my head. If someone saw me right now, they would say "Melissa, you look rough." But what if I did walk down to the church up the road from me just the way I am? Pretty sure I would be sent packing right quick in a hurry.

I don't mean to sound condescending, but why do we dress up all matchy matchy for Easter? The last time I checked, Jesus didn't care what we looked like on the outside right? I mean unless things have changed, I have been away from mainstream christian thinking for over 5 years now. <----sarcasm---->

I kind of feel like Easter has become a holiday of vanity. I mean, that's the message we portray when we have to match for church right? Why else would we do it, if not for the compliments of "how cute" "I love your dress" etc. In doing so, we take the focus off of why we really celebrate Easter and we bring it to ourselves. What ever happened to come as you are? When did we start leaving the house making sure our makeup and hair were perfect before we made sure our hearts were right before God? (again so so guilty of this!) Jesus didn't die on the cross dressed in his fanciest suit and tie, nor did he ressurect dressed to the nines. He was naked on the cross. His body and soul bared to the world for everyone to see and mock. He was vulnerable and bloody, not dressed to impress. No other image has ever brought me to my knees in humility, no other face has ever made me feel so worthy of being loved. No other scarred hand has ever reached out to me in my darkest hour and made me feel so whole. It takes all my easter dresses and hours upon hours that I spent in front of my mirror making myself up to perfection, and puts them to shame.

Today as I sit in my living room and I spend time with God, in the mess that I am, God only sees my heart. There will be no pictures of Jose and I in our sunday best posted on facebook, no easter egg hunts to participate in (although, chocolate WILL be consumed at some point today if it hasn't been already...I'll never tell). Just me, raw and real, coming as I am to love on my Jesus and to bare my soul to him as he did for me. Maybe instead of dressing to impress this easter, we can make sure we match our lives to that of Jesus. Starting with the inside, heartbeat to heartbeat.

Happy Easter Everyone. Be blessed today. xoxo

Monday, 23 January 2017

A Reason to March

So much comes in and so very little comes out.  I try to get my brain to start connecting with my mouth.  I have a voice too you know and now I've got something to say, if you've got a weak stomach for honesty,  then nows the time to look away.

Turn your heads from the truth as it screams from the homeless man's eyes, though he fought for your freedom, you got the better deal from life. Today, homeless soldier, I March for you.

Deafen your ears to the cries of the unborn babies that never had a chance, you felt your life was more important so you took a pill and  passed it quietly  with just some minor cramps. Today, aborted children, I March for you.

Close your eyes to the women in the city standing under the red lights, not caring if they were kidnapped as you look for the perfect one to give you a good time. Today, sex trafficked victim, I March for you.

Clench your fists tight at the drug addict needing a hand of grace, they get high to escape their torment, it helps to numb the pain.  Today, struggling drug addict, I March for you.

Keep your head down as you pass them, their cries for help reflected on their faces, your problems are much more important, but a simple smile is all it would have taken...to give them hope, to save their life. Today, Suicide victims and everyone with depression, I March for you.

You see my point is pretty simple, our bodies were made for a purpose, but not in the way you'd ever see, because in the end it's not about anyone else its always been about me, me, me.

You have arms to be extended to those who need your hope, you have feet to walk beside them when life gets to be too tough for them to cope. You have a shoulder for them to lean on and maybe shed a few tears, you have eyes that can see their suffering as their pleas fall on deaf ears.

You have a voice that can be heard, and it's not because of your gender or your race,  but because you want to use your whole body as it was created to finally make a change.  Change of perspective, change of heart and change of mind.

You March for equal rights but turn your head away from those three feet from you with a cardboard sign begging for a warm place to stay.

So tell me who is the real oppressor now?
Today, marching oppressors, I March for them.

-Melissa Garcia