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.

 

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!

Empower Yourself

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If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ll see that self empowerment is a big deal to me! I’m a firm believer of self empowerment! I truly believe that if we would take as much time to empower ourselves as we do looking for someone else to empower us, our lives would be much easier. We spend a great deal of time waiting for someone to tell us who we are and what our purpose for living is. Instead, we should be pushing ourselves to be better and to grow more. It’s not because we are being selfish or diminishing others, it’s because SELF MATTERS!

Think about how much of your life has been wasted on waiting. How much time have you spent preparing for a “shift” or a “movement” to happen? There is nothing wrong with expecting your “change to come” but the problem comes when we expect other people to cause the change to come. Let’s think about that…what if the other person is also waiting on their change? What if they are not assigned to you? Or better yet, what if they are assigned to you but they don’t feel like dealing with you? Now guess who’s being deprived? You are! And what’s even worse than that is, you’re being deprived because of your own personal choice! It’s because you choose to sit and wait on something from other people instead of empowering your own self!

Sometimes it’s as simple as educating yourself, or putting forth the effort to try, or stepping outside of the box, or just deciding to defeat laziness and complacency. One thing I always tell people is, “I do not promote division or separation, I promote self-empowerment!” We have too many people that are dependent on another person. Having support from others is good but please know that you may not always have the support you want. And when this happens, because you have empowered yourself, you will still remain in motion!

In my opinion, we would not have as many addictions and failed dreams if more people would empower themselves. Why is this my opinion? I’m glad you asked! This is my opinion because addictions and failed dreams often times stem from things like disappointments, hurt, fear, and temptations. But if we empower ourselves and build up our faith and confidence in God first and then build confidence in who He created us to be, those disappointments and hurts and fears and temptations would not rob us of our life! Our inner strength wouldn’t allow it! So I say, life is too short to wait on another person to talk you up or to reveal to you who you are. Be the person that you need! Then, count the extra as a bonus!

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

It’s Hard to Walk Forward While Looking Back

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

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

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

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

No More Excuses

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

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

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

Privacy Settings

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How many people have you deprived because of your privacy settings? How many times have you selected the audience to help and left out certain ones for unacceptable reasons? I understand discretion fully and I realize that we have to be careful. However, that is not what I am referring to. For my literal thinkers, this goes beyond a Facebook setting, think deeper. If the objective is to minister and witness to the loss or the broken or the whole world, why do we only stay within our circle? Why don’t we expand? I used to have a private fb page because I didn’t want certain people to see what I posted. Even though there were still ways that people could see, I felt better knowing that they had to send me a request in order to see my page or go through someone else to see it. But I started thinking, if I know that God has called me to give hope, I can not be selective as to who I chose to help or give hope to. It makes no since for me to distribute hope to the same people everyday and they’re getting stronger and stronger but there is someone out there that actually needs a word of hope but they can’t run across it because of my privacy settings! I challenge you to check your privacy settings. Are you limiting your reach because of personal issues with a hand full of people instead of giving hope to the masses? We can’t choose who we want to minister to, we can’t choose the people that we think deserve help. We form circles that are so strong and encouraged but we won’t share it with others.

Think about your bible classes, your prayer groups, your encouragement sessions, or even your testimonies. We have to stop thinking about the hand full of people and remember the masses that are thirsty for your word of hope! Just this week, I was messaged and contacted by several people that are NOT my friends on Facebook. They all had similar stories, they were inspired and encouraged by the hope they found on my page. All though I was not connected to these people personally, their words warmed my heart and through their words, my decision was confirmed to leave my page public. I realized that if my privacy settings had still been set to private, they may not have ever seen my posts or read my word of hope.

My goal is to inspire others to inspire others. And I feel that if someone was inspired by me, they will inspire another and so on! As children are using their blocks to build something, they don’t just pick the blue blocks, they use them all! We should do the same. Let’s not just pick those who fit our liking but reach all! Expand to the masses! They need to hear from you!

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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!

Being a Barrier Breaker

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

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

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

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

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

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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!