S-U-N vs S-O-N

I was on a road trip with my best friend a while ago and we were driving in the direction of the sun. My best friend loves taking pictures. So as you can guess, she was attempting to take a selfie on Snapchat while I was driving. Quite naturally, being that the sun is the best natural filter, she held out her iPhone and positioned it perfectly in front of her face. As the sun offered her the perfect amount of light, I heard her phone click multiple times in a row. She captured one photo after another, deleting each one directly after capturing it. I asked her, “sooo how many are you going to take?” She laughed and said, “The sun is showing every imperfection that I have! You know I have to get a good angle.” She went on to say, “Its different trying to take pictures in the sun because the sun exposes certain spots that you can’t see in the bathroom mirror; mainly because the lighting is dimmer inside the house. The lighting from the sun makes beautiful pictures but it also exposes blemishes.”

How does this apply to our life?

We know that light exposes everything it comes in contact with. However, instead of thinking about the S-U-N, consider the S-O-N. If Jesus is the Light and He is our point of direction, doesn’t this mean that our blemishes are uncovered, if we are drawing closer to Him? The S-O-N drives out darkness and brings light to those dark hidden places where unhealthy things like to fester. We’ve been programmed to think this is a bad thing. However, this is actually what saves us! The light that He gives, shows us the areas that may not be as “clean” as we think they are and this heightens our awareness to certain areas that need our attention. Not for us to conceal them but to actually fix them. We find ways to hide our imperfections by using filters, masks, make-up, and even dark atmospheres but true light reveals it all. No MAC or Fenty (make-up) can conceal a filthy life.

The Light makes us “See-Through.” We talk a lot about transparency and being “real” but in all honesty, the thought of our “flaws” being exposed, scares us. So we tend to pretend that either they don’t exist, or we cover them up. When we draw closer to the S-O-N, He makes us transparent. His righteousness shows us our mess and gives us the true realness. Being honest and dealing with YOURSELF may be a tough task but it’s necessary. Our walk with Christ should cause us to constantly evolve internally; mainly because as we follow Him we also draw closer to Him. And as we draw closer to Him, we become more like Him and less like ourselves. And just like metamorphosis, stages of transformation must take place. Once we allow His light to transform us, we will not find ourselves hiding from the light but rather walking in it!

Note To Self

When people say “note to self,” they’re usually referring to making a reminder to do something important. This is their way of relaying a message, to their future self, that important actions need to be taken. Regardless if it’s an appointment that can not be missed, a meeting that needs to be rescheduled, a message that needs to be conveyed, a job that needs to be completed, or just a thought that needs to be remembered, the “note to self” is an indication that ‘IT’ is of great importance.

Question: When was the last time you made a note to your future-self? Or have you ever even considered your future-self? As simple as it may sound, it makes a bold statement. When you make a “note to self,” you’re stating this:

“Future me, (INSERT YOUR NAME), in 12 daysyou have a meeting with Mr. Johnson concerning your next endeavor.”

Now, this may seem elementary but when you consider perspective, it changes from just an appointment to preparation. Meaning, I have 12 days to prepare and equip myself for my upcoming meeting. I have 12 days to plan and execute. This note to myself prepares me today to be the best version of me in the future. 

Sometimes, the best notes aren’t the ones we make to ourselves, but the ones that are addressed to us from others. Biblically, Jeremiah 29:11 is a note to your future-self from your Father. This note is laced with hope and promises for your “unseen.” Center your plans and notes around His note written to you. His note guarantees to give you a future!

Lastly, consider your goals and make a note to yourself for the next 30 days. Speak to your future-self about the important things that are to take place on that particular day and prepare your current self for what’s to come in the future. When you speak to and evaluate the future, you give yourself time to prepare. When you’re prepared, the best version of you always shows up!

The Other Side of Fear

Have you ever wondered what could possibly be on the other side of fear? Think about it. What could be on the other side of the thing that has you paralyzed?

When we allow ourselves to be gripped by fear, we limit our opportunities. Our decision making process becomes cloudy and our determining factor becomes “comfort.” When we operate in fear, we tend to choose whatever makes us comfortable. Instead of overcoming the fear and seizing the opportunity, we settle for whatever feels safe. It’s time to do it; even if you have to do it afraid. You can not afford to keep missing opportunities because of fear. And what’s really bad is the fact that there is nothing identifiable to be afraid of. So it becomes the fear of the unknown.

There are doors set before you and there are rooms waiting to be occupied by your presence….but where are you? You’re somewhere in a safe zone; avoiding the unknown. There could be a room of endless opportunities waiting for you but because you’re afraid to face the other side of the door, you never get the chance to experience any of it. Ask yourself this question. What do I actually have to be afraid of? Is it failure? Is failure really the worse thing you can think of? Let’s say it is. You try and you fail. Guess what? You have just discovered a way that won’t work. So what’s the solution to that? Try another way.

Your ideas are actually great but the great idea never has a chance to come alive because of an unseen feeling, called fear. That great idea could be a game changer for the world….but on the other hand; your fear could, too.

So ask yourself…Is the world lacking something because you refuse to conquer fear and push forward?

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!!

Past To Purpose

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

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

 

Failures

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

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

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

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

You shouldn’t either.

Protect Your Surroundings

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

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

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

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

Your surroundings matter. Be sure to protect them.

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!