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!

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!!!!

Relief Valve

Question: Are you experiencing failure in an area in your life? Do you find yourself lashing out or exploding on people? How is your temper? How is your attitude? Last question, how is your character? Now ask yourself could my lashing out or exploding or bad attitude be an expression of my built up pressure?

According to Wikipedia, yes I said Wikipedia because I love this definition, a relief valve or pressure relief valve is a type of safety valve used to control or limit the pressure in a system; pressure might otherwise build up and create a process upset, instrument or equipment failure, or fire. Pretty much self explanatory so we can cut straight to the point.

We all know what happens when pressure builds up and has no way of releasing. It eventually turns into some sort of disaster. Okay, as a person, we may not have pipes that will burst or body parts that will pop off but we do have actions that will express our pressure! We also have organs and fluid levels that will be affected by our pressure. Based on the definition, pressure could cause a process upset, failures, or fire! In short, WE CAN NOT AFFORD TO HAVE A PROCESS UPSET. Look, the process is already tough enough by itself. Don’t add unnecessary stress to it. You must find a valve and quick! You were not meant to carry that level of pressure and you do not have o subject yourself to it. Don’t upset your process by holding on to the unnecessary!

Find a relief valve and utilize it! You do not have time for the upset or the malfunction. There has already been too much time wasted and moving forward is our only option at this point. Have you ever slammed your finger in the door? As time goes on, that finger builds up pressure and my grandmother told me to take a needle and put a small pinhole in my finger. Once I did, some of the pressure was released and my finger felt better. Sticking my finger with the needle was uncomfortable but in the end I could tell the difference. So by any means necessary, you have to keep moving. Push the button, pull the lever, unscrew the top, puncture the surface, do whatever it takes! But you MUST release the pressure before you explode. At this point, exploding would cause you to lose time, cause regrets, and damage relationships. This can not happen. Think about it. Would you rather cause a delay or simply release it and keep moving? Everybody’s valve is different. Some people use prayer, some use music, some people may write, and some people may express theirs verbally. No matter what, find you a relief valve before you cause a process upset! Pair your valve with prayer and release it!

Impact Strength

img_2137-editIt all boils down to one thing, you have what it takes to survive!

This past week, I was blessed to sit under the teachings of Pastor T.L. Taylor of Memphis, TN. While he said many things that caught my attention, one thing really stuck with me though. He gave an analogy about a basketball and a bowling ball. He stated that if a basketball and a bowling ball were to be dropped simultaneously, at the same time, the basketball would bounce back up while the bowling ball would remain on the ground. The conclusion is, the basketball was just built out of the right material to handle the impact and bounce back while the bowling ball was not.

We could easily use this analogy and apply it to our lives. Let this be hope to you! Ever wondered how you were still going when life has hit you with so many blows? Maybe you’ve questioned why you’re able to bounce back and not quit after so many failed attempts. Or maybe you’re unsure how you’re able to handle the pressure and endure so much adversity. It’s simple. You’re made out of the right stuff! There may be times where you want to quit but your inner man keeps pushing forward.

Do we get tired sometimes? Yes. Do we want to quit? Yes. Does it feel good all the time? No. Definitely not. Truth be told, sometimes it may not seem worth it but because you have Impact Strength, you withstand and press on! Impact Strength keeps you from being broken when you’re dropped. Impact Strength keeps you from being destroyed when you’re mishandled. Impact Strength causes you to be able to smile when you’ve been wounded. Impact Strength keeps you focused in a world of confusion and disorder! You have impact Strength! How do I know? Because you’re still here! You haven’t given up! And you won’t! Because you’re built out of the right stuff!

You’re clothed in strength and grace! Your make up is unique! So, no matter the situation, you’ve been dressed for impact! Even when you think you’re not prepared, your strength shows you other wise! Don’t underestimate your ability to bounce back! The ground can’t kill you and the walls won’t destroy you! You were built for it!

Not Like The Last Time

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Every experience is not like the last experience. Often times, we treat new opportunities like our old experiences. In reality, we should treat every new opportunity as just that. Just because the last time was a disaster does not mean it has to be this time. Think about how many times we miss great opportunities because we are applying the old mindset and the old experience. Instead, we should embrace the new opportunity with a new mindset. You can not automatically assume that this time will be a replay of last time. That could be the reason you don’t see progress.

Do you even see an opportunity for better or do you only see the same results? If this is the case, the problem may not be that the opportunities are not being presented, the problem could be that you are addressing the opportunities wrong and you’re destroying your door before it even opens. Some people have gotten so used to rejection until it becomes difficult for them to receive acceptance.

Change your mindset. Change your approach. Think different. Expect different. Be brave. Plan wisely. React accordingly. See better!

Every situation is different. This means, every situation should be handled different. Remember, there is always a chance that this time could be different so don’t kill it before it even comes to life.

Price Check

IMG_0278How do you measure your value? Do you measure it by your current status or by your past? Or are you measuring your value by your thoughts and dreams for your future? Either way is completely wrong! The only way you should measure your value is by the way God sees you! Not by the “miles on your tires” or by the “word on the street,” but by your Maker and Creator. He places so much value on you! Sometimes we need to do a price check! Think about your life and see if you can find any areas that you have discounted or devalued. Raise the price because you’re worth it!

Listen, people value you based on the way THEY see you. This is TOTALLY their opinion of you! THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT WHAT THEY SEE IS THE TRUTH! People decide how they want to see other people! That’s our choice, which is fine. But you CANNOT allow their opinions to persuade you to see yourself from their perspective! Stop allowing people to devalue you and put you on the “SALE” rack because of their perception of you. If you are not confident in yourself and who God has made you, these opinions will become your mindset for yourself. So you have to be confident in your being! You’re worth more than they give you credit for!

If God Almighty thought enough of you to give His ONLY Son, you must be worth much more than they think! Too many times we lower our standards or our worth for no reason! You should NEVER feel worthless or devalued for any reason! You’re worth it! You always have been and you always will be!

It’s Hard to Walk Forward While Looking Back

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I remember praying constantly to God and asking Him to help me to release a certain stronghold in my life. It seemed as if the harder I prayed, the stronger the hold would get. Many times I made up my mind that I was letting it go and everything that came with it but I always found myself creeping back to it one way or another. Then He showed me, my heart was trying to move forward but my feet were walking backwards! I was praying one thing but my actions were contradicting my prayer. God was trying to honor my request but because He gives us free will and I was pulling in the opposite direction.

I could see my future ahead of me and I knew that the situation I was in would only prolong my journey. I knew that if I could only release myself and be free from my stronghold, my life would take off and productivity would take place. But I was in so deep until some days I would convince myself that I didn’t have to release my stronghold, I could just adjust my life to it! I couldn’t have been further from the truth. When we compromise our freedom to stay bound we are basically saying our future can wait. We allow our struggles and our circumstances to overpower our purpose.

Make a conscious decision to not waste anymore time by looking back. If you want to walk forward, pick up your feet and make the biggest step you’ve ever made! Not only is it a step towards your freedom, you’re making a step out of your situation! Once you make that first step, you’ll notice the weight on your ankles will become lighter and it’ll become easier to put one foot in front of the other! And just like that, you’re walking in the same direction as your prayers!

It’s time to leave it all behind and face forward! It’s time to line your feet up with your words!

No More Excuses

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There should be a point where you say enough is enough and I’ve run out of excuses! There is absolutely no reason to still be in the same position you were in last year! There is absolutely no reason why you’re still contemplating the same decisions based on the exact same situation from years ago! Seeking God for guidance and direction is one thing but being lazy and making excuses is another!

When will we realize that our excuses and laziness only holds us back from the future? We tend to blame others or our circumstances when we feel like our life isn’t moving fast enough. However, this is not the reality of the situation. The reality is this, it sounds good to pray for an open door or a golden opportunity but it’s hard to back up the prayer for the impossible with action! It’s easy to make excuses and say “I’m waiting on God or my time is coming” and all the time, we just sit back and let blessing after blessing pass us by. Why? Because we are lazy and we make excuses just to make us feel better about still being stuck in the same place! It’s almost like going to a restaurant and the waiter takes your order at your request. The waiter delivers the food to your table and places your silverware directly beside your order. He verifies that your order is correct and it is exactly what you asked for. You check your plate and confirm that it is correct. The waiter then walks away from your table and leaves you to eat your food. While you’re starving, you sit there and look at the food, as if you’re waiting for the waiter to return and feed it to you. Even though it’s as simple as picking up the fork and eating what’s placed directly in front of you, you find every excuse to not pick up your fork and feed yourself. When will it become a reality that if you don’t pick up the fork, you won’t eat? You asked for food and it was provided. You were even given utensils to make it easier but you decide to not eat because no one is sitting at the table cheering you own while you pick up the fork on YOUR plate to feed YOUR OWN SELF! Maybe you didn’t pick up the fork because you felt like someone should fix your plate and feed it to you too. Either way is unacceptable! No one has to feed you! No one has to boost you up! Does it feel good to have that type of encouragement? Of course it does! People that push you are a blessing! But the reality is, it’s not going to happen everyday. Some days you will have to encourage and push yourself! Does that mean you should stop or slow down? Certainly not! It just means you have to hold up your own sign, wave your own pom poms, yell out your own name, and still go up to bat all at the same time!

You have to make a personal choice to eat regardless! Meaning, your self-will must outweigh your excuses! It’s a great thing to be talented but it’s even greater to use it! It’s awesome to have a dream but it’s even more awesome to act on it! It’s good to have faith- we are not pleasing to God without it- but our faith is void without works to back it up! I’m just saying, we spend countless hours, years and decades asking and praying. We seem to have that part down packed. But we tend to fail when it’s time to move our own feet and walk towards our request! Stop waiting for something to fall in your lap when all you have to do is reach up above your head and grab it!

Being a Barrier Breaker

Barrier: a fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access; a circumstance or obstacle that keeps people or things apart or prevents communication or progress; a starting point for a racecourse
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IMG_0209What if you knew you had the ability to go 10 miles but there was a fence in the middle of the road at 8 miles? What if you could actually see something that you’ve been chasing for so long and the only thing standing in between you and the object is a 3 foot wall? What if you desired so badly to cross from one side of the yard to the other side but there were bushes and hedges in the way? Would you let those things stop you? Would you get to the point of being that close and turn around because of a fence or a wall that’s shorter than you or some bushes? What type of barrier would have to be put into place for you to stop and turn around? How do you identify which barriers to penetrate and which ones are guardrails?

Ask yourself a question, am I being held back by barriers? What will it take for me to break out of my barriers? Do I even know what my barriers are? We can’t break out of what we don’t know. In order to be a barrier breaker, we must be able to identify the barriers. We have to recognize what’s holding us back and what’s limiting us. Take a minute to think about your barriers. Not the effects or the emotions that are attached to it but the actual barrier itself. Often times we address the wrong issue.

For example, I had a friend who went to school and graduated with the dream of being a daycare owner. She found a building to start the daycare and she even got a grant to open it. One day, someone mentioned something to her about her dream being to big for a beginner and they told my friend that she should start off in someone else’s daycare as a helper before she opens her own. My friend has yet to open her own daycare because she thinks that she is ill-equipped to own her own so she settles for helping at someone else’s daycare. My friend mentioned that if that person hadn’t ever said that to her, she would be a daycare owner. Now, she’s held back by the opinion of someone else. Even if that were true, the fact still remains that the barrier is not the person that came and shared their opinion with my friend. The barrier itself is fear! If we can directly address the barrier itself, we can then conquer the opinions and insecurities that are brought to us by others. Because we are so afraid to recognize and address the real barrier, we prolong valuable time and we live within the standard.

Think about what’s limiting you. When you decide to become a barrier breaker, standards are changed, bars are raised and limits expand further than the sky! Be the one that breaks out…you’re to great to be restricted!

Now that we’ve identified our barriers, ask yourself one last question. In reference to the above definition, is my barrier a restriction or a starting point?

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