Let’s Be Free

Today, it seems like being offended is the new trend. Don’t get me wrong, we all feel and experience hurt but I’m referring to the voluntary action of remaining offended, just because you feel as if you have “right” to. It seems as if people are preparing themselves to be offended. Think about it this way….

How many times have you convinced yourself that you have a “right” live in offense? How many times have you made a decision based on your offense? Now think about how many minutes, hours, days, or even years you’ve spent living in offense…crazy, huh?! As “right” as you may think you are, the truth is, you’re only creating a 6×8 frame for someone to live in. And guess who the prisoner is? Its YOU!

Living in offense keeps you captivated. Your decision making is not as stable as it should be. Your moods and emotions shift with the wind. Your drive and stride is fueled by irrelevant matters, such as haters and revenge. You lose focus of your goals. And the things that should really matter begins to fade into the backgrounds of insignificant time wasters.

Life is too precious to not live free. It’s time to free yourself. Go on and forgive that person. Let go of the guilt. Accept the apology that you may never hear. Set up the meeting to talk it out. Reconcile. Do what ever you have to do. But what you CAN NOT afford to do is live another day in offense. It doesn’t matter what kind of “right” you feel entitled to, stop hurting yourself because you have a “right” to. Is it really worth holding up your own progress? Is it really worth wasting more minutes, hours, days, or even years?

Lets decide to be free!

Environmental Growth

cropped-mychandrak.jpgI remember having a conversation with someone and they explained to me why they chose to remain in the same environment that they were complaining about being “stuck” in. So my question was simple, “why are you still there?” Their response was, “Because I feel like I’d be running away from my problems if I leave.” While, I sort of understood what they may have meant, I still couldn’t quite understand how a person would subject themselves to “dry places” just to say, “at least I didn’t run away.” Then I thought about it, we do it all the time! We will remain in a toxic situation for months and sometimes years, holding on to hopes of something changing. But maybe the thing that needs to change is us! Have you ever thought that may be these things have happened in “this place” because it’s time for me to move to the “next place?” Maybe this season is complete but I’m forcing myself to remain in it just to satisfy my ego of not “running.” Which could, in turn, be foolishness! Especially if “this place” is no longer helping you to grow. How long are you willing to hold up your growth just for the sake of saying “I stayed?”

The fact still remains that you are responsible for your own growth…and if the environment isn’t conducive for what you are carrying, why wouldn’t you migrate to a more fertile ground? Even though flowers are designed to grow from the ground, they can still be stunted if the ground doesn’t produce the necessary nutrients. The flower doesn’t have the ability to dig itself up and pick a more fertile area. It has no choice but to die. Why? Because it lacked proper nutrients needed for growth. But you have a choice. You can change your surroundings. You can migrate to a more sustainable environment. Or…you can be a flower and remain planted in dry ground and eventually, just die.

Why is it that we as people feel bound to the opinions of others concerning our well-being, in regards to change? Don’t get me wrong. I am not referring to those who offer wise counsel. I’m referring to those who disagree with your want of change because of their familiarity of you being in the same place. Don’t let this be your hold back. Remember, it is you who is responsible for your growth. Yes, we have teachers, pastors, mentors, leaders and etc., but ultimately, you decide if you grow or remain stagnant.

Seasons change so that atmospheres can change. Certain things can’t grow in certain seasons. We know this from science. So just think, what if winter remained for 12 months? How many plants, trees, crops, and other things would never exist? Simply because winter is not their atmosphere! Spring brings those things. So the sunlight and the warm weather is necessary for their growth. Now say these plants, trees, and crops grew in the spring time and now it’s time for summer….but the summer remains for the next 12 months. Yes, they benefit from the sunlight and the warm weather but the constant summer heat may be too extreme to continue the cycle of growth needed. The seasons have to change because the atmosphere has to change. Our life works the same way. We have to continue to remain in the atmosphere that nourishes what we carry. And sometimes this involves finding the next well that provides the water that you need.

 

 

Surviving The Storm

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I think we could all agree that storms are uncomfortable. Not only are they uncomfortable, they are also an inconvenience, especially when you are trying to get somewhere. The torrential rain, the boisterous winds, and the loud thunder can sometimes be a deciding factor in if we choose to move or stand still. This can easily be related to life. When we experience the storms of life, we tend to let that particular storm be the deciding factor of if we will continue to move forward or not. This should not be.

God has equipped us with everything necessary to not only withstand but to also keep moving during a storm. Think about your car. Your car doesn’t have the option to say, “I only drive when its sunny.” The car was made to drive through any weather conditions. The body of the car can take the impact of rain and hail without falling apart. Not only can the car continue to move during these conditions, it also protects what’s on the inside. The riders or contents on the inside of the car is shielded from the storm that’s going on outside. This can also be related to life. We must protect the purpose and the contents that have been placed on the inside of us. Don’t allow the situations to drown out your gifts and ideas. Don’t allow the winds to blow away your passions.

One area the enemy specializes in is blurred vision. He makes the path look cloudy and dark because he knows that instead of walking by faith as we should, we often times walk by sight. And if we can’t see, we become discouraged because our human senses are limited. When we become discouraged, we tend to stand still. Now think about the car again. What are windshield wipers? They clean the windshield from things that blur your vision. Your windshield wipers have the capability to perform faster or slower, depending on the level or storm you’re facing. You also have a defrost feature in your car. This function controls the humidity and the visibility on the inside of the car. Without this feature, the windows would be foggy and visibility would be limited. But when you pair the defrost and the windshield wipers, you’re able to continue driving through the storm without fear of crashing into the unseen or the unknown. This is how God is with us! When we acknowledge Him, He directs the pathway for us. Not only does He direct it, He also clears it. He shows us why our faith in Him is so much more important than our human sight. He is waiting to direct your path, even in the stormy conditions. But you have to acknowledge Him in all of your ways. Your 5 senses are not able to give you the navigation that you need. Let Him direct you.

God has given us every thing needed to survive the storm. Even if it looks scary and it seems unending, you have to know that storms must pass over. But while you’re in it, don’t fret. Don’t stop driving. Don’t stop moving. You’re protected. You’re covered. And your direction is clear. Sitting in the storm waiting for it to pass only prolongs the rain in your life. Make a decision to move out of the storm. Just like the car, you were built to withstand the conditions. True, it may bang up the shell a little but what’s on the inside of you will still remain protected and the manufacturer can repair any and every piece of damage.

Storms eventually die and you were not made to die in it. You were made to outlive it!!

Hello, December!

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December! The last month of the year! There are many great things to look forward to this month. Many are preparing to celebrate Christmas. People are preparing to give as well as receive for the holidays. Many are traveling to see loved ones that have been separated by distance all year. While, some are just looking forward to ending the year and bringing in a new one. Whatever the celebration is, no one can deny that the happiest month of the year is definitely December. In the month of December, love and joy is almost tangible!

We’ve watched the leaves transform to their fall colors and cover the grass that has now turned brown. We’ve watched the trees go from being fully dressed to now being partially covered, all in preparation for the new layer to develop. We now have to dress in boots and sweaters instead of sandals and shorts. Clouds are preparing to bring in snow and the heat from the sun seems to be diminishing. As I said in Hello November, when you understand how important it is for seasons to change, you’ll embrace transformation. So as nature prepares for the next season, we should follow suit and prepare too! Its time to embrace the end of one year and prepare for the next one to come in.

December is the month that represents the end but presents the opportunity to prepare for the next beginning. What better month to perform an evaluation than December?!December is the only month in the year where you can equally evaluate and visualize two years at the same time. Think about it. There are no more months to come in this particular year but there are 12 open months of opportunities lying ahead! So as you reflect back on the past 12 months, you should begin to write the vision for your next 12 months. As we embrace this last month of the year, I challenge you to use it as your month of planning. So often we jump in to the new year with superficial goals and sometimes this causes us to set ourselves up for 12 months of disappointments. Instead of first counting the cost and planning, we dive in head first as if we go through metamorphosis from December 31 to January 1.  We have to be realistic. Give your mind time to develop and embrace what is to come. Let the plan sink in so that the execution will be precise. Properly planning can sometimes prevent those frustrations that causes us to quit.

So as you celebrate giving and receiving, as you decorate your houses and trees, as you change your wardrobe, I encourage you to use the upcoming days to plan. A resolution is only as good and stable as the plan that holds it up.

 

The Fear of Judgement

I had a conversation with someone recently and we discussed the reason why this person felt insecure and scared to take the next step in life. This person shared how excited they were about the path that God was taking them on and how they’ve long awaited to have the relationship with God that they have now. But there was one issue. This person stated that they sometimes resented talking to some people about the “great change” that has taken place in their life. The reason why was because they felt as if people would over shadow their new found life with the past mistakes and decisions they had made. This person even shared with me their passion for reaching out to younger women and men about the street life and ministering to those who have been involved in drugs and gang activities. But once again, the fear of being judged was determined to be the factor in holding them back. At first this didn’t make sense to me. I was thinking, if God had done such a tremendous thing with me and had blessed me with another chance at this thing called life, why would I even care about the opinions and judgements of others.

Then I asked myself….how many times have I backed out of an assignment or not showed up to an event because of the fear of the judgement of others? How many times have I started typing a Facebook post about something that God had given me but deleted it because I felt like someone wouldn’t receive it because they know who I once were?

Maybe it’s the thought of that one person or even that one group of people that won’t see the good in you but will magnify your “used to.” You know, those people that love to say “he used to steal” or “she used to lie all the time” or “he used to curse everybody out.” Those people. Yeah, they make change and decision making difficult but the reality is this, they’re not going anywhere! You’ll always have those people who point to your “used to’s” because that’s all they have on you, is the person you used to be! Which is a good thing for you because that’s not who you are anymore. So their judgement can only be based on who you once were, not who you are now! And if you know that all things have become new, the “used to’s” don’t bother you as much.

So I say, go for the gold! Chase your dreams. Activate your faith and step out on it! Speak to those people. Start the organization! Start the ministry! Follow the voice of God! Eventually, the “she used to be something serious” will turn into “I used to go to school with her” or “we used to live in the same neighborhood”…because now their proud to even know you! Even if it’s only based on a “used to.”

No one is saying they’re ashamed of the Gospel but simply not wanting to be reminded of their short comings. It can be quite embarrassing. And let’s not mention the unspoken pressure of trying to explain the transition. This can definitely make a person feel not qualified for a task. Especially if you’re young in Faith. But however……

It’s time to get passed the fear of judgement. After all, we’ll all be judged one day, anyway. Right? The main difference is, on that day, we’ll actually face the judgement that really matters.

It’s time to be the person that used to be afraid but is now going for it all!!!!

Past To Purpose

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I will start off by saying, when we are trying to step into our purpose, initially you may struggle with who you currently are versus the person that purpose is calling you to become. One reason for this struggle is because we constantly question ourselves because of our past experiences and the person we once were. When purpose calls, pressure rises. There is this inward standard that seems bigger and greater than we have the capability of being. Our mindsets second guess the calling and we search through the history of our lives and find our short comings and failures, all so we can convince ourselves that we are not worthy of our purpose. At that point, you may even find yourself thinking that maybe it would be easier to walk into your purpose if you had not have done certain things in your past. Not only that, you may even find yourself thinking that you would be walking in your purpose now if you had not have lived a certain life style. While some of these things may be true, the fact still remains that the past is the past. We learned from it and we lived through it! We have to stop spending so much time living in regrets. What has happened, has happened and there is nothing you can do to go back and change it. When you spend time reminiscing and regretting the past, you actually lose time that could be used for working towards the future!

One key scripture that relates to this directly is Romans 8:28. It says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This means that no matter what, all things will work together for your good! The criteria is this, you must love God and you must be called according to HIS purpose. Being called according to HIS purpose means that we are not walking according to our own knowledge and we are not establishing our own way but we are abiding in HIM and allowing HIM to be the conductor of our lives. When we fall in love with God and surrender our lives to HIM, at that moment HIS purpose becomes our purpose! So actually what we think is our idea, has been HIS plan for our lives the whole time! When we abide in HIM, we find ourselves being enlightened on stuff that we never knew existed! We find ourselves being interested in things and discovering talents that we never knew we had. While some may have already discovered their talents and passions prior to falling in love with HIM, when we find ourselves abiding in HIM, those talents and passions become stronger and we discover it to be our purpose! Allowing your love to meet HIS love for you and allowing your life to abide in HIM, births FULL purpose! This has been HIS plan for you all along, to be PURPOSE-FULL!

 

Failures

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A few days ago, my husband, Keven, asked me about my failures in life. In the conversation, he asked me if I would be willing to share some of my failures in my writing. Reason being, some people gain hope from hearing that they are not the only person experiencing failures. This is true but when I started thinking about it, my thoughts were drowned in so many failures, I had to ask him, “which one should I write about?” I recalled countless times that I had failed. I thought about it so much until I discouraged myself. Then I started thinking, “If I had gotten that right, my life would be so much different today” or “I shouldn’t have even attempted to do that.” Finally, I had to just tell myself to stop. Stop thinking about your what if’s and why’s. Look at where those failures have pushed you to! So, hopefully, as always, I can say something here to make you see where your failures have pushed you to!

I’ve always been a smart person and I’ve always liked to learn. Throughout school, I was always a straight “A” student. I didn’t make my first “B” until the 10th grade. One day, my focus diverted and grades were not as important to me anymore. Knowing that I could do better, I became lazy and sort of applied cruise control to the last few years of my high school career. I ended up graduating somewhere between number 30-40 in my class, which shouldn’t have been. But I made it. I refocused and went to college. My first semester, I finished with a 3.3 GPA, which wasn’t too bad for a first year freshman. But again, my focus diverted and it was all downhill from there. In the midst of my bad grades, I had become very promiscuous and my main focus was a boyfriend. I barely made it through my Sophomore year with a 2.0. I went into the second semester of my Junior year on academic probation and I eventually ended up on academic suspension. I was embarrassed and ashamed to move back home. Instead of just refocusing and trying to turn my life around, I made it worse. I found a job and got me an apartment in my college town. School had become a thing of the past. I had accepted that failure and moved on to something else. My promiscuity worsened and I found myself being opened to any and everybody that made me feel like somebody. Well, the job I had played out and I was laid off. So I eventually lost my apartment and had no choice but to move back home. My boyfriend at the time, which is now my husband, was a student at our local community college. He encouraged me to go back to school at the community college with him and finish my degree. I figured that would be impossible because I had exhausted all of my financial aid avenues and they wouldn’t pay for me to go to school anymore. I tried anyway. I enrolled and scheduled a meeting with a financial aid counselor. Her exact words were “I shouldn’t give you anything. You basically blew through $30,000 in 2 years.” My heart dropped and I did everything I could to not cry in her office. She allowed me to get financial aid for one semester but I had to see her again before I could continue after that semester was over. Eventually, I ended up finishing my degree at the community college in 1 year because most of my previous college courses transferred over. What should have been a celebratory moment ended up being ruined by my pride. I opted out of the graduation ceremony because I was embarrassed that I didn’t finish at the college of my first choice. Now, I have no pictures of a cap and gown moment with my college degree because I discounted that moment. I still regret it. Even though this all came back to me being at fault, I didn’t allow this situation to stop me from trying again. Now, I am just 33 hours away from finishing another degree!

This is just one of my many examples of failures. But all of that was said to say, there is still hope. As long as you can breathe, there will still be hope. As a little red country girl from a small town of Independence, Mississippi, I never thought I would be able to live the life God has blessed me with now, especially with as many failures as I have. From being dismissed from school, countless failed relationships, being careless with my body, being rejected, having a bad reputation, and coming from a place that does not have too much to offer, I can honestly tell you that failures do not have the power to stop you! Your failures only have as much power as you allow them to have! I own my failures. Are they pretty? No. And they’re not supposed to be. But the ugliness of it should remind you of what it COULD be if you don’t get up from it!

Last thing, Sammy Sosa is known for his outstanding baseball career. He finised his career with over 600 home runs. However, he also finished his career with over 2,000 strikeouts, more than twice the amount of homeruns. What can we learn from this? Sammy Sosa didn’t stop swinging just because he missed.

You shouldn’t either.

Protect Your Surroundings

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I remember writing a blog a few months ago about leeches. You know, leeches, the ones that just want to benefit from you and ride your wave and that’s their only way of surviving? Yea, those. But this is a little different. These are the friends that may be their own definition of a boss. They may have their own successful businesses or be book writers or even be in ministry but their character and personality are just not conducive to where you are or where you may be headed. Those friends. Does this make them less of a friend? Certainly not. They could very well be great friends but the atmosphere they create could be toxic to your purpose.

Case in point, if you hang around people who pride themselves in being rude, being disrespectful to others, and are trouble makers, chances are, some of their attributes will rub off on you. Before you know it, you’ll find your self-revenge or “clapping back” when you know you should just ignore and move on. So ask yourself a question, are my friends healthy for me? Of course a self-check is always in order. This means that we should always look at ourselves in the mirror and evaluate what we see. Honestly ask yourself, be it good or bad, am I displaying some of the attributes of my friends? Have I conformed to who they are? Have I become my friend?

This is very important in the life of a believer. Your surroundings are the breeding ground for whatever seed is being planted in your life! Maybe you heard a life changing word over the weekend and it pumped you up about your next level…but you got around that one friend that carries negative vibes and just like that, the word that had you so excited has been silenced. The word was planted but the environment did not carry the necessary items to help it grow and manifest. This may seem like a shallow point but it happens daily.

Watch your surroundings. Protect your atmosphere. I’m not saying cut anybody off or disconnect from anyone. I’m simply saying, learn the level of friendship and the limits that come with it. I heard a Pastor say “emotional immaturity causes us to think that cutting people off is the solution.” This is so true. But what if God has not told you to disconnect, rather to just step back and guard your environment? Maybe you’re still supposed to be connected but the space invasion is too much.

Your surroundings matter. Be sure to protect them.

Move At Your Own Pace

IMG_0214Where did all of this pressure come from? It seems as if out of nowhere, there became this extreme weight to “become.” Well regardless as to what we think, “becoming” takes time. It’s truly a process. And being that it is a process, we shouldn’t rush it to finish prematurely. There is a reason for the timing and each step is necessary. There is more to being “great” than just being able to say it.

Could we feel rushed because of society? Maybe it’s the status changes and excitement of the constantly updating timelines of social media. What about becoming distracted by the success of mentors? Instead of being inspired by their endeavors, are you becoming envious that yours have not flourished yet? After all, they are your mentor for a reason. Or maybe it’s the common questions posed by family members such as, “You’re not married yet?” “You’re still going to school?” “You’re still living in an apartment?” “How long are you planning to wait to have children?”

No matter the reason, you can not allow this pressure to deter you. If you’re not careful, being driven by the pressures of life will cause jealousy to take root inside of your heart. This is mainly because your focus is now on what someone else has in comparison to what you feel you’re lacking. So you work in vain just to gain the life of someone else in order to feel “updated.” This shouldn’t be. Don’t conform and become another person because you feel behind a few steps. It’s okay. Move at your own pace. Who knows how miserable those people may be behind closed doors or even what they had to go through to get what they have. There is no age limit on success and there is no standard of when it should begin. Take your time. Grow and mature. This way, you’ll know how to keep what you’ve waited for, for so long.

 

Live Through It!

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The definition of live is simply to stay alive. Often times, we plan our own demise. We go through tough times and in the midst of it, instead of seeing ourselves living through it, we slowly die while we’re in it. The situation itself could not kill you but your mindset and your reaction to the situation is usually the deal breaker. Of course I am not speaking about dying a physical death but death to your dreams, your purpose, your future. It’s hard to have a positive outlook on going through something if you can not see yourself coming out of it. So what is the solution? I’m glad you asked. The solution is this, change your perspective and see yourself coming out alive! Just think about it. What if someone said “I want you to go through a house made of wood while it’s on fire and when you come out alive, you will be given $1 million.” Your task is to walk in the house through the front door, navigate through the house while its on fire, and come out through the back door. Sounds crazy right. But what if they added, you will be wearing a fireproof suit, a smoke mask, and the house is only a 350 sq ft. cottage home? Considering it under those circumstances, you would reconsider. Why? Because you could actually see yourself surviving that and coming out alive. Not only coming out alive, but coming out alive, $1 million richer!. Your perspective of the “burning house challenge” has changed. It’s the same thing with life. Of course you don’t have $1 million waiting on you at the end but you will come out alive with something. You’ll come out alive with a stronger will to live and hopefully a determined mindset to build from your experiences.

Just like the burning house scenario, we have been given everything we need to live and survive the flames of life. But instead of strapping up our boots and walking through the fire, we stand in the middle of the fire and subject ourselves to being burned. Sometimes we even settle in the fire and remove the very things that we have been given to protect us.

All I’m saying is, choose to live through it. Dying from it is a decision you don’t have to make. The fire can only consume you if you stand in too long. Don’t commit suicide by not choosing to live. You have way too many reasons to remain alive.