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!

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!!

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!!!!

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.

 

 

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!

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!

The Wounded Warrior and Her Friends

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To all of my friends who refused to let me die in the struggle, I thank you! Transparency has always been key to me. So in order to share todays blog, allow me to paint a picture for you!

Just like a wounded soldier, I was shot on the battlefield, as many of us has been. The wound didn’t kill me but it disabled me. It kept me from functioning as a healthy soldier. I was still able to report to battle but because I was partially disabled, I wasn’t as effective as I once were. The smart thing for me to do would have been to take a leave in order to recover and then continue my battle.

I didn’t realize that I was holding up the progress of my fellow soldiers because instead of focusing on the battle itself, they were busy attending to me; one who should’ve been helping in the fight. But being me, I kept trying to fight. By now, my breastplate is hanging off and my armor isn’t properly secured because my injuries are preventing me from suiting up as I should. So instead of taking a leave, I’m still showing up crippled and half-functional. However, since I was still showing up to battle unarmed and unprepared, I suffered harder blows that only crippled me worse!

Finally, I decided to take a leave, I had taken all I could take and my health was beginning to fail. I accepted the fact that I needed to rest up if I ever wanted to fight again. I needed to be healed and regain my strength. While I was resting, I had friends who not only continued the battle but they fought on my behalf as well! The enemy saw that I was weak so he attacked even harder, but my friends held up the shield and blocked the fiery darts for me. They prayed and sent encouragement constantly! Even though I wasn’t able to help them fight, they still pushed me to recover because they knew I would be back! They refused to let me die on the field. They carried me off to safety when my enemies were overpowering me. They nurtured the call. They pushed my purpose and they kept me covered. Now, that’s what friends are for!

Truth be told, there are plenty of wounded soldiers out there. Some have been left to die on the battlefield. And some were saved by friends and fellow soldiers. I am blessed enough to have people around me who genuinely care and they came to my aid! They didn’t let me die in the battle. They cared for me during the struggle.

What about your friends? Do you have any fellow soldiers that will refuse to let you die in your struggle? Are they willing to carry you to safety? Or will they stand by and watch you bleed to death?

Mutualistic Interactions

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One thing I’ve learned is everybody is not assigned to you! There will be some who will cling to you because of the idea of you or because of the benefits you can bring to them but ultimately, they are not for you.

For a long time I struggled with that. I thought I could help everybody and I actually tried until I found out that some people didn’t genuinely want my help. They just wanted to be connected to me! I quickly found out that this was dangerous because they didn’t have my best interest at heart. This showed me that they really didn’t care about my well-being or my purpose but at any cost, they just wanted to be able to say we were connected some kind of way. It was more of a leech relationship than a mutualistic interaction. After all, all leeches need is a steady supply and a ride to the next destination.

I realized that more drama and confusion was being created in my life because I was subjecting myself to this one-sided relationship! I’ve never lived a drama-filled life and I didn’t like it. I hated the fact that my peace had been disturbed and I constantly felt drained. It was because I allowed leeches to suck the life out of me. Not only that, but I noticed how I had began to lose focus and distractions started multiplying. This was because I was giving all I had to help the leech but I wasn’t receiving anything to replenish what I had given out. I had developed and harvested way too many one-sided relationships and it was greatly affecting me. So I released.

I shut off the valve that was supplying fuel to the leeches. And I realized that once I shut off the valve, the leeches didn’t die. They simply found another place to draw fuel from. And from that, some continued to drain others and some actually developed mutualistic interactions. Those that developed mutualistic interactions puzzled me. I wondered why wasn’t it a mutualistic interaction when they were connected to me. As time progressed, I realized that I had become comfortable with supplying and that’s all they were searching for at that moment, a supplier! But the next place demanded that mutualistic interaction. This meant that the leech would either grow up or die because the supplier demanded it!

Outside of the biology world now, think about the leeches in your life. Have you lost sight of your vision due to constantly giving your all to one specific area? Is it a one-sided relationship?

Important question: Can the same people you are pouring into, pour into you?

Conscious effort time. Are you okay with being a supplier? Is it that important to you just to be connected to someone but not experience a healthy growth from it? You decide.

Finding Me in Him

IMG_0279There are no words to describe how I felt when I came in contact with Jesus for the first time! All I knew was, there was a connection established that I could not afford to lose! At the time, I was searching but I didn’t quite know what I was searching for. I remember being baptized at the age of 7 and confessing that I believed, but I had never had a conscious experience with Him!

As I was growing up, I made my life much harder than it had to be. I was born into a great family, we were not rich but we were not poor either, I was a fairly bright student, and I was raised in the church. However, as time passed, curiosity began to grow, as it would with any other child. I took a lot of wrong paths, I made horrible decisions, and failed countless times. And after all of my bad decision making, around the age of 21, I found my self lost in a world full of mixed emotions and turmoil. Yet in all of this, I was searching for something. At the time, I didn’t know what I was searching for, I just knew I was searching. In retrospect, I see that I was searching for a way, The Way. And this Way would lead me to the exit of all of my self-inflicted pain!

I was very gullible and easily persuaded, so I believed most of what people were saying to me, even the wrong things. In my world of confusion, lies seemed to be the truth and the truth seemed to be a lie. I trusted so easily until it backfired. I had given out all of my trust but just to get nothing but lies in return. So I stopped believing all together. Everything and everybody was a liar to me. Yet, in all of this, I was still searching for something. At the time, I didn’t know what I was searching for but I knew something was missing. In retrospect, I was searching for The Truth, My Truth, His Truth.

Another issue I had was death. Not physically, of course, but in every area of my life. My dreams were dead, I had no hope, nothing I put my hand to would prosper, and all I seemed to be doing was existing. There was no life around me! Nothing was growing and the little that I had earned was quickly fading away! It was a place of no vegetation! Yet, in all of this, I was searching for something. I was searching for something to give me life, something to make me feel like I had a reason to exist. In retrospect, I was searching for Him the whole time!

It was like I knew that I had found the Truth. And once I discovered that He was The Truth, I knew that I had found the Way and through that He had given me Life! Maybe you feel like you’re lost without direction, or its hard for you to trust and believe what you hear, or maybe you’re just in a place of little to no vegetation. The truth is, at some point or another, we’ve all experienced this! So I’ll leave you with this, Jesus has the ability to be your Way out of the darkest and toughest times. He also has the ability to show you the Truth again, the truth about yourself and your life. And He’s able to give you a Life that you can’t even imagine!

When I found Him, I found Me! The search was over!

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

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!