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.

 

Transparency

mychandrakAs you all know, I’m a transparent person. I believe that my experiences are meant to be shared at the appointed time to help someone else. I also believe that writing is not worth reading if it’s not inspiring or if there is nothing to be gained from it. So hopefully, something written here can be deemed worthy of remembering.

I went through a situation that I thought was impossible to overcome. I questioned my entire life and everyone in it. I became stagnant and ineffective in every way possible! I often hosted major pity parties that lasted for days at a time. I found myself being cynical and angry. I had become so consumed with being defensive, that I assumed everybody was an enemy and they could not be trusted. My whole life had become dedicated to correcting lies and addressing rumors. Simply put, I stayed there too long. My time should have never been wasted on such immaturity. I willingly surrendered to the captivity of others by allowing irrelevant opinions and assumptions to control my decisions.

I allowed the betrayal of a few people to change the person God created me to be. I lost focus of everything I once stood for because I was consumed with the thoughts and opinions of others concerning the life that God had entrusted me with. I knew that I was called to be bubbly and spread hope to those around me. However, circumstances made me think I was too “extra” because my desire was to be light to everyone. But that’s who I was. That’s who I am. Unapologetically positive! Unapologetically happy!

There is a meme floating around on social media that says “Everyone thought Noah was foolish until it started raining.” To me, this says, the weight of what I’m called to do is greater than the weight of the whispers around me. Noah knew who he was and what He was called to do in the Earth. So he did it! Unapologetically, he faced it head on and kept building!

So I say to you, be you! Be who you were created to be! Hurt is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Allow yourself time to heal and get back to the purpose. Nobody can make the same impact that you were created to make. The world is waiting for your thumb print to be impressed into it!

One question: What are you waiting for? For people to like you? For people to accept you? For persecution to stop? For opposition to cease? Ok….it’ll never happen! Living for people is too expensive and it costs too much! So my next question is this: What weighs the most? The pressure of people or the pressure of purpose?

 

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.

 

Start With Me; One Year Later

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This is more of an informal blog. More like a journal.

Today makes one year that my blog has been published. Looking back over the last 365 days, it hasn’t been easy. I know some people may say “You’re just writing a blog. It’s not a complex study.” This may be true. But the difficult part for me has been discipline. Some days I don’t feel like writing, some days what I write doesn’t make much sense to me, and some days I just can’t think of anything to write about. The main thing I’ve learned about myself during this journey is I have a long way to go with being disciplined but I have proven to myself that I can do it.

Over a year ago, I remember God telling me that I needed to start with myself. Meaning, before I could correct or encourage anyone else, I needed to do a self check to make sure I was taking my own advice. Not only that, but before I pointed out anyone else’s short comings, I needed to make sure I was upholding the standard myself. Even if we don’t admit it, self-checks don’t feel good. Mainly because, we like to feel as if we are okay. Not that we are perfect, but to us, our issues are minute, or very small. This was my mindset, as well as some of yours I’m sure. However, God wanted me to see that just as others are a work in progress, so am I! As I began to grasp this concept, not only did this help me to show love differently, it also helped me to see God differently. He showed me, me! No, I didn’t like it because there was so much in my life that was not pleasing to Him but He showed me so I could change it! I realized at that moment that God loved me so much that He gave me a mirror! And in this mirror, I had the ability to see only me! I couldn’t see through the mirror and look at others, I could only see me and my reflection! He loved me so much that instead of killing me, He gave me a tool to correct my flaws! As I was correcting my flaws, I found it easier to show compassion to those around me. I found it easier to practice patience and forgiveness because the mirror showed me areas that required the patience and forgiveness of others towards me! The mirror saved my life and it kept me from hurting others. As I stated, the use of a mirror for some may be difficult to accept and acknowledge but the mirror is much needed.

I am excited about my journey as a writer and I am anxious to see where this takes me! My mission and my purpose is to spread hope to all that I can reach. Hopefully within this past year, I’ve written something to encourage my readers and spread hope!

My prayer is that my writing never magnifies my struggles but my strength to overcome them, as well as the same for my readers.

 

 

Influences Speak

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How good or bad are your influences? The things that you are under the influence of tend to speak louder than your voice sometimes. I’ve learned that before we can release words from our mouths, our influences have the ability to express our involvements and attachments. So my question is, what is your influence saying on your behalf?

Someone I know was recently pulled over for driving under the influence. The arresting police officer wrote in a statement that when he arrested this person, he could smell the alcohol in the vehicle before the driver even started speaking. The officer also stated that when the driver began to speak, his breath smelled like alcohol and his speech indicated that he was impaired. Basically, the alcohol spoke louder than the words of the driver. There was no need to ask the driver if they had been drinking because it was evident that the driver had been involved with alcohol.

Have you ever met someone who tends to conform to the people around them just like a chameleon conforms to the color of a tree? I’m talking about people who may have their own opinion about something but they take on the opinions of those they are surrounded by. These are the people who are easily influenced by other people. When I was younger, I remember one of my friends speaking very proper because she was from a different city. One summer she came to visit some of her older cousins and they didn’t speak as proper as she did. They had somewhat of a southern accent and they sounded very different from her. Well she called me one afternoon and I noticed that she purposely enunciated every word in a heavy southern accent. She was attempting to take on the personality and the characteristics of her older cousins instead of just being herself. We’ve all done it at one point or another in our lives. Maybe it was unconsciously done, but we’ve all done it. We’ve all been influenced by something; alcohol, drugs, or even people.

Good Influence Example: I was having a conversation with one of my friends recently and she rebuked me, as she does so willingly. But when she rebuked me, I didn’t get upset. As a matter of fact, her correction caused me to be convicted and I grew from it. But, anyway, when she corrected me, she sounded just like our Pastor. And all I could do was smile and obey. Because I knew she was right! But more importantly, I could see what and who was influencing her! The reason I can say that is because at one point in her life, she wouldn’t have corrected me, she would have agreed with me! She showed great growth and she showed positive influence.

What’s influencing you? Or a better question may be, what are you allowing to speak for you? Who or what are you allowing to speak in the absence of your words? Be watchful! Better yet, be the opposite. Be the good influence. Can you be the one that people desire to follow to a better place? Evaluate your influences.

Becoming A Better You

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There should always be a desire to be better. What good is it to go through hardships and struggles but not grow from them? Don’t go through in vain. Why would you want to go through a trial just to stay the same? Apply what you learned. Become a better you. Allow the old things to pass away so you can be better. When old things die, the opportunity for new and better is presented.

Even snakes become better. After they go through a period of being stretched, they shed and grow. Reason being, their skin can only stretch so far and once that point is reached, the snake comes out of the old and embraces the better. I know no one wants to be compared to a snake but there is something to learn here. Don’t be stretched just to stay in the same skin. Allow your stretching to bring you into a better place.

There are people who are waiting to watch you evolve into a better you and there is someone who needs the better you. The old you has officially reached maximum capacity. Its time to grow. Its time to become! Transformation and evolution should always take place in the life of the believer. Faith to faith should be goal. Constant growth indicates that you’re learning from life. This brings further confirmation to James 1:2-4 that states “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” This scripture clearly shows you that trials and tests are our opportunities to become a better us! As I stated before, don’t go through the struggle in vain. Grow through it! Become a better you!

Growing The Right Way

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In life we have many choices. We can choose to go to work or stay at home. We can choose to save our money or spend it. We can choose to relocate or remain in the same place. We can choose to advance ourself or we can choose to settle for where we are now. We can choose to grow in one direction or the other but one thing for sure is we can not choose to not grow. That’s just not a choice that we have. Let me explain.

One way or another, you will continue to grow. Either you’ll grow in the right direction or you’ll grow in the wrong direction. But no matter what, you will continue to grow. I used to think that growth automatically meant that I was doing good but as I grew older, I discovered how wrong I was. It is possible to grow in the wrong direction. Have you ever met someone who was rich in complacency? Or someone who is abundant in laziness? Or maybe they were walking in the overflow of negativity. I’m talking about someone who wants absolutely nothing more than what they have now. Someone who has no will to advance themselves. Someone who doesn’t care to get better at anything. The person who has tons of potential but settles for whatever is given to them. The person that may applaud everybody else for advancing but makes no effort to find their own or establish themselves. That level of complacency wasn’t obtained overnight, it took some downward growing to get there. Even if you are this person, make a conscious effort to make a u-turn!

You’ve spent enough time growing in the wrong direction. It’s time to grow right! You have absolutely nothing to lose and so much more to gain! Choose the right growth. Doors are opened when the door knob is turned. You have to do something! Growth in the right direction simply starts with doing something! But you have to do the right something. You can do it! Just get started!

We can choose to grow towards the wrong things or we can gravitate to what’s good and grow there. In this new year, let’s choose to grow in the right direction. Make connections that help you to grow in the right direction. Disconnect from those situations that either hinder your growth or that encourages you to grow in the wrong direction. Small challenge: Take a minute and think about the direction of growth your closest friends are walking in. Are you walking in the same direction? I asked because sometimes we tend to grow in the same direction of those that surround us. Our influences are so important. Evaluate and make your decision. Make it count, grow the right way!

The What. The When. The Why.

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As humans, we depend on a few things to make our daily decisions. We usually depend on the what, the when, and the why. We wake up everyday and get started based on what we have to accomplish, when it needs to be accomplished, and why it has to be accomplished. These things tend to push us to progress. When all three questions are answered, we feel secure in handling our business and doing what needs to be done. One thing I’ve noticed is that when we don’t have the answers to the what, when, and why, we tend to procrastinate or prioritize it much lower on our to-do list. Have you ever been in an uncomfortable situation and maybe you felt like you didn’t know what was going on?  I have. I don’t like uncertainty and I hate to not know what’s coming next in my life. When I can’t answer the questions of why am I supposed to do this and what happened to change that and when will this take place, I tend to back off and not want to do anything because I can’t find reasoning. We find security in reasoning. Once we find out the reasons, we can operate effectively with confidence. But the question is what happens when you don’t know the reason? What happens when the why is not answered? Do you tend to slow down? Or do you do like me and just stop?

As believers, we are called to perform and continue no matter if we never know the what, the when, or the why because we are SUPPOSED to walk by faith at all times. Am I saying that information is not important? Of course not! The Bible tells us that we are supposed to seek an understanding in all of our seeking. I am simply saying that sometimes we won’t know the why. Sometimes we won’t understand the what. And many times we will not know the when. All we know is that our beliefs and our actions should always be based on faith. Especially in the moments when those questions are not answered!

In other words, blessed are those who continue to walk, continue to sow, continue to remain faithful, and continue to push, before you find out the why. I say this all the time, the situation doesn’t feel good. And the one thing we all would like to know is, “when will it end? When will it get better? Why am I going through this? What have I done wrong?” Just remember blessed are those who believe without seeing!

We know that no matter how dark and lonely the road is, He promised to ne a light unto our pathway! So, continue to walk, even when you can’t see because the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord!

Trust the Plan

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Not too long ago, my mother and I attended an event together. We had to park down the road from the event center and walk to the destination. The walk was very long; it was raining, and extremely cold. Due to the conditions of the weather, we decided to walk faster to get to a warm place. While walking fast, I noticed that the shoes I was wearing made it difficult to keep up with my mother. She had on flat boots and I had on heels. Due to the weather conditions, the sidewalks and pathways were both muddy and slippery. So a few times, my mother had to slow down and give me a chance to catch up because I couldn’t walk as fast as she could. However, we finally made it to our destination. We sat down and got comfortable. We warmed up as we were enjoying the event. As it came closer to the end, my mother told me she was ready to go because she wanted to beat the crowd. I wanted to stay in the event because it was cold and I was comfortable. I was not in a hurry to take that tedious walk so I wanted to stay where I was because it was comfortable.  Plus, we would be walking back with more people if we stayed until the end of the event and I figured that would make the walk less tedious. But because my mom was very adamant, I said ok. I decided to be obedient. So we left. Me and my mother we’re walking and a Good Samaritan drove up on a golf cart and offered to give us a ride so we wouldn’t have to take the long walk back in that weather. There were two other ladies that also decided to leave early and they wanted to ride to their vehicle as well. At first, my thoughts were, “He asked us, as in me and my mom, if we wanted a ride. Not them!” But I knew that wasn’t right so we all jumped on the cart and took off. While we were driving, the wind was so cold until it felt like it was cutting my face! I had tears in my eyes and my clothes were wet from the rain. I started to think, it may have been easier if we just walked. Then, I found out that we had to detour because the driver wanted to drop the other ladies off first! But mom and I stayed on the cart. Once we dropped them off, the driver cut back across the parking lot and took me and my mother as close as he could to our vehicle and dropped us off. Once I got off the cart, I realized that we had only been riding the card for maybe a minute and a half. But because of the wind pressure and the rain, it seemed much longer. Once we made it to the car, my mom kept saying how good God was and how He allowed the guy on the golf cart to ride up and give us a ride to the car. She kept saying how we could’ve still been walking in the cold rain and wind if we had chosen to stay. She kept declaring how blessed we were by leaving at the right time.

This made me think. His plan is always better. Sometimes we want to stay where it’s comfortable and even amongst other people to make the journey seem more entertaining and less lonely. But sometimes, He just wants us to be obedient and move at the appointed time. He has a golf cart waiting on you, just to make your journey less tedious. Another thing I noticed was that even with the detours, His way is still the best option. Did I want to drop those ladies off at their vehicle? I’m embarrassed to say but truthfully, no. I wanted him to take us straight to our vehicle because I was freezing and I didn’t want to sit through the detour. But because I chose to be obedient to my mother and leave with her, there was a better option waiting.

The revelation is this; no, we don’t always understand the plan of God. No, we don’t always understand His will for our life. But what we do know is that His plan contains the best option for not only our future but also for our today! Often times we subject ourselves to the long route and the more tedious journey simply because we refuse to be obedient and trust His plan for us. He made us! So of course He wants what’s best for us! All I had to do was ride it out, even with the wind, the rain, and the detours, and the rest was taken care of. His plan and his way are always better. Choose to trust Him and His plan for your life.