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!!

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.

 

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 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?

Weeding Out

052A9F05-A0DE-4558-BBF5-E397ACEA161EIt’s time to address those that are constantly feeding off of you but are never able to feed you. Its time to address those unhealthy one-sided relationships. I’ve never been a fan of new year’s resolutions.  However, I do know some people that are and in addition to new year’s resolutions, people tend to go through a “weeding” process and decipher what and who to take in to the new year. If you are one of these people, the time for you to start is now. No longer can you afford to entertain unhealthy relationships that only drain you.

I have grown interest in the plant developing process. From the planting to the nurturing to the growing, it just amazes me. Today, I want to focus on one step in the gardening process. It’s called weeding out. This has to happen when you have purposeless grass and unwanted weeds growing around your seed. What happens is, your ground is tilled and cultivated, ready to transform your seeds into blossoms and the weeds seize the opportunity to be planted in a healthy environment along with your expected harvest. So the weeds begin to feed from the vitamins and nurturing of the good stuff but the thing is, the good stuff is not benefiting from the weeds. If the weeds are not separated and removed, they simply take over the entire garden. And before you know it, the vision of a beautiful garden is simply a bed of wild grass and weeds.
Nothing is worse than having an “expected harvest” but not being able to see it because of the “extra” that’s crowding it out. Another thing I found out is that when there is too much “extra” going on around the expected harvest, it taints the appearance. The harvest could actually be manifesting but the unnecessary and the unhealthy is causing it to look un-kept and shabby.

Walk through your garden and look around. Do you keep a clean area around your seeds? Or have you simply cultivated your ground as a breeding place for wild grass and weeds? Take a minute to think about the weeds in your life. Sometimes it’s not easy to separate from those things and people that we love and cherish but reality is, this one-sided relationship is crowding out your expected harvest. Your ground may be cultivated and ready to transform your seed but because you refuse to clean and maintain a health environment for your seed, it’s struggling to grow and survive.

Conscious effort time. Do you want to weed out? Or are you content with the extra? Decide.

Off-Season: Part 3- Knowledge VS Endurance

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One thing I’ve learned about the off-season is that emotions change constantly. One day training may make you feel like you’re ready to tackle the battle. Another day, the training may be so intense until you cringe at the thought of facing the real challenge. However, on a good day of training or a bad one, you can not deny the fact that training makes you better. And if nothing else, training reveals! How? I’m glad you asked! Often times, we are caught unprepared because we simply rely on our knowledge. This is not enough. My God-Sister plays professional basketball. She has great knowledge of the game. She will probably be one of the greatest coaches of all times but her knowledge of the game isn’t enough without the strength to endure. Even though she knows how to win the game, she also knows that she has to complete the game to earn the title as a winner. One thing I’ve learned from her is endurance is developed year around. When she’s not on the court, she’s still training and she’s still active. Why? Because we don’t win by just knowing, we win by being able to finish!
There’s an article on ‪stack.com‬ that says “In order to effectively perform at your peak during the season, you can’t slack off once regular practices and games end. Keep game ready all year long!” This is so true. We must be ready at all times. Not just to pick up the microphone or to be in the spotlight. We must be ready for the tough times. We must be ready for the unexpected. Now we know that being ready for the unexpected means conditioning, planning, and preparing at all times.
Think about taking a test. When we were preparing to take the ACT, we went through several rounds of training. There were days when we were made to study only science and there were days when we were made to work tons of math problems over and over. It was tiresome and boring! It was tedious and exhausting. Some days I wanted to take a nap. Some days I felt like I was being forced to re-learn something I already knew but the instructor still made me sit there the entire time and say awake. She knew my potential but she also knew that I could be lazy. I was always a bright student and I’ve always been pretty intelligent. In many areas, I was above the average student my age and I knew it. So I was lazy and sometimes self-reliant. I was easily distracted and I hated to read or study for long periods of time. My instructor could tell the moments when I got distracted and she would make me refocus. She knew when I got sleepy, I would just select any answer just to finish and lay my head down. So she would push me harder. She fussed constantly and if I finished early, she would give me another test to take.  I didn’t understand why until the actual test day. While I was taking the ACT, I noticed that while I was in the middle of answering questions, I got terribly sleepy. I knew the score I needed to make in order to be accepted into the college I had chosen so I did all I could to stay awake and alert. My body was saying “just lay your head down for a minute and then get back up and finish it before the time runs out” but my brain was saying, “You knew this was coming and this is what we’ve been preparing for. REFOCUS!” My instructor was not only teaching me the knowledge I needed to pass the test, she was also training and conditioning my brain to stay awake and alert in order to complete the test.
Don’t be like me. I thought that because I was a little smart, I would be okay. Turns out, the ACT was a little smarter than me. We think that just because we know the right answers to some things, we’re able to master all things. This is not true. We don’t know it all and the time will come when you will have to show what you know. And when this time comes, it won’t be a question of knowledge only but it’ll also be a display of your endurance based on your off-season training. Once again, don’t be caught off guard. Be prepared to play year around!

The Temporary Place

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I have a question. How long are you going to prepare? How long are you going to stay on the practice field? How long will it take you to actually be ready for the permanent?

You got stuck in the temporary. The temporary was only the testing grounds for patience. The temporary was only the growing place. You were supposed to pass thru, not dwell there. The temporary was meant to bring out that which you didn’t even know was inside of you. And in all of that, the temporary was still only meant to prepare you for that which is eternal and permanent.

Too often we get caught up in the temporary. Maybe it’s because we get comfortable and stop pushing towards greater or maybe it’s because we fail to recognize that this is only a temporary place. You must always be able to distinguish the temporary from the permanent. If not, you’ll always find yourself veering off course or missing your permanent season. As I stated before, the temporary place produces patience. It also builds character. There are tests and trials that you have to pass in the temporary stage before the permanent can be released to you. Why? Because if you don’t master the temporary, you won’t be able to handle the permanent. But just because the temporary stage is for the building and making, does not mean you’re supposed to stay there. That’s like always having practice but never actually playing the real game. You live on the practice field but you never experience real victory because you’re stuck in practice mode. Master the temporary and keep moving! Don’t get stuck in the temporary.

Don’t get stuck practicing and always preparing just to stay in the same place! Permanent is waiting for you!

Impact Strength

img_2137-editIt all boils down to one thing, you have what it takes to survive!

This past week, I was blessed to sit under the teachings of Pastor T.L. Taylor of Memphis, TN. While he said many things that caught my attention, one thing really stuck with me though. He gave an analogy about a basketball and a bowling ball. He stated that if a basketball and a bowling ball were to be dropped simultaneously, at the same time, the basketball would bounce back up while the bowling ball would remain on the ground. The conclusion is, the basketball was just built out of the right material to handle the impact and bounce back while the bowling ball was not.

We could easily use this analogy and apply it to our lives. Let this be hope to you! Ever wondered how you were still going when life has hit you with so many blows? Maybe you’ve questioned why you’re able to bounce back and not quit after so many failed attempts. Or maybe you’re unsure how you’re able to handle the pressure and endure so much adversity. It’s simple. You’re made out of the right stuff! There may be times where you want to quit but your inner man keeps pushing forward.

Do we get tired sometimes? Yes. Do we want to quit? Yes. Does it feel good all the time? No. Definitely not. Truth be told, sometimes it may not seem worth it but because you have Impact Strength, you withstand and press on! Impact Strength keeps you from being broken when you’re dropped. Impact Strength keeps you from being destroyed when you’re mishandled. Impact Strength causes you to be able to smile when you’ve been wounded. Impact Strength keeps you focused in a world of confusion and disorder! You have impact Strength! How do I know? Because you’re still here! You haven’t given up! And you won’t! Because you’re built out of the right stuff!

You’re clothed in strength and grace! Your make up is unique! So, no matter the situation, you’ve been dressed for impact! Even when you think you’re not prepared, your strength shows you other wise! Don’t underestimate your ability to bounce back! The ground can’t kill you and the walls won’t destroy you! You were built for it!