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!!

What’s holding you back?

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Sometimes we have to just face the fact that they only thing that’s holding us back is us! What if I told you that you could really move forward if you wanted to and that thing you keep waiting on to happen may never happen? So will you keep waiting? Is it an apology you’re waiting on? Is it closure that you’re seeking? What’s holding you back from moving forward with your life?

We waste entirely too much time waiting on other people. We wait on someone to validate our ideas. We wait on someone to fund our dreams. We wait on someone to push us to the next level. We even wait on people to get on board with us before we decide to move. You can not afford to wait anymore! We don’t have time to waste. You don’t have time to worry about who doesn’t like you or who doesn’t support or who doesn’t wanna be a part. When you use your time for things like that, you lose time for the important stuff.

The solution is this: accept and move! Accept whatever happened and move forward towards what’s waiting for you. Don’t spend time focusing and pondering on the past, you don’t live there anymore! The future is much greater and it’s waiting for you! But you must decide to stop waiting and go for it. Catapult into it! Once you move yourself out of the way, you’ll realize how unstoppable you are! You’ll realize how awesome and amazing your dreams are! You’ll see how much potential you have! Stop waiting. No more holding back! Face forward like you have a chip on your shoulder and go for it!

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!

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.

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!

Perfectly Imperfect!

img_2167-editSo many times we think that because we made some bad choices or since we made some horrible mistakes, we can’t be used in certain areas. Sometimes we think that our past is so horrible until we have disqualified ourselves from speaking out against certain things and helping others. We have to remember that we’ve faced challenges and overcome obstacles just to be used! That means, YOU ARE NOT DISQUALIFIED BECAUSE OF YOUR SHORTCOMINGS! Your past failures and hang-ups actually makes it even better! Why? Because you can identify now! You understand better and you can relate to the issues of people. Never feel like you’re too much because of your past mistakes and failures or never feel like you’re not enough because of what you didn’t live up to. You’re perfectly imperfect, which makes you the perfect person for the job! We don’t get it right all the time. We don’t always say or do the right things at the right moments. We don’t even think the right thoughts sometimes, whether its admitted or not! But those imperfections qualify you to reach another imperfectly striving individual. I used to think that I couldn’t talk to people about God because I hadn’t reached perfection yet. Not knowing that I never would! But just as I was, God wanted to use me- to inspire others, to give hope, to spread love, to give the Gospel. Why? Because I was useable, I was willing to grow because I knew I didn’t know it all- or maybe it was because I was imperfect and He knew I would stumble across another imperfect person and I didn’t mind sharing my testimony- or maybe it was because I was willing to be used. Your imperfections can be used to tell a story of hope! Someone needs to hear about you!

If we are to be the hands and feet of God in this realm, we have to be able to reach and walk not only in the clean places, but in the most grimy and even desolate places of the earth. Which means that while we are walking in the coolness and the enjoyment of our destiny, we also have a mandate to visit and heal the dirty places. And what better person for the job than one who has first hand experience! You’re still useable!

Prime Before You Paint

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As I was preparing to paint my patio furniture, I went to Home Depot. I went directly to the paint section. In my mind, I could just get the paint and start painting. When I was picking up the can of paint, which was the wrong one anyway, the associate stopped me and asked if I needed help. I said “no, I got it.” He wanted to know why I was buying paint so I told him. He said, “So you’ve already primed it?” I responded, “Uh…no. I figured I would just skip that step and start painting it.” He told me, “Ok, well that’s fine if that’s what you want to do but can I explain something to you?” I told him that he could. He went on to say, “Your primer is your base, it prepares the surface for the paint. You can paint the surface without the primer and it’ll still look good but when the rain comes, you’ll notice that your paint will fade and start looking old. That happens because you didn’t properly prepare for the paint.” He went on to say, “Ma’am, you cant just make the outside look good without the preparation. When you prime before you paint, you secure the outer layer. The rain and outside conditions wont strip or fade the paint.”

So I began to think, its just like life. When we properly prepare, we won’t be stripped of our blessing or our outer coat. Sometimes we jump straight to paint level without priming- so we don’t have anything holding our paint together. I wanted to skip the priming stage because it was tedious and I felt like it was a waste of time! I was just ready to see the finished product. I know the process seems tedious sometimes and we are so ready to see the results until we tend to skip some VERY IMPORTANT steps. But if I could just encourage you for one minute…When you’ve had to work hard and toil to get something that you’ve wanted so bad, you’ll appreciate it more and not only that, you will do whatever you have to do to protect it. That’s because you’ve been through the preparation stage, you’ve been primed, and now you’re equipped to keep what you’ve been blessed with. Even though the primer can’t be seen in the end result, it still serves as the gravity for the blessing.

We are all called to be great but we must prepare for greatness! The priming is necessary! Don’t skip it!

Majoring In The Minors

IMG_0141Growing up, many times I got it backwards. I put my social life before my family. I put fun before responsibility. I put appearance before actual substance. I even put church before God! Now, before someone calls me, I’m not saying church isn’t important- I’m simply saying that I thought it was more important to be at church on Sunday than to actually have a relationship with God outside of church. I was majoring in the minors and didn’t even know it! I was more concerned about looking like someone important than actually being important. I majored in the minors for a loooong time and truth be told, I still find myself doing it. How many times have we made a big deal about being betrayed by so called friends but we forget to love and appreciate the family members that are there? How many times have we overspent to buy a certain brand of something but we neglect to make sure we have gas money? How many times have we wasted valuable time and energy trying to make a point to someone who shouldn’t even have a voice in our decision making? We spend time trying to prove, trying to impress, and trying to be- and we end up missing the big picture! We start looking at who don’t like us and what someone thinks about us. When we make these things major, we find ourselves altering our mindset and our daily habits according to their opinions of us. Or, we find ourselves getting caught up in shallow stuff like the latest trends and the hot topics of society, when in reality, those things change with the wind! Don’t major in the minors and lose focus on what really matters! In my photo, both jars are full but one contains all of the elemens and the other appears to have the bigger objects on top because they wouldn’t fit in the jar! Your life is the jar, once you place the bigger objects inside first, the smaller elements will fit around the bigger and everything will fit! But because the smaller elements were put in the jar first, that left little to no room for the bigger elements which in this case, represents the major!

Minors are only meant to be backdrops for the bigger picture, the Majors!