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.

 

Move At Your Own Pace

IMG_0214Where did all of this pressure come from? It seems as if out of nowhere, there became this extreme weight to “become.” Well regardless as to what we think, “becoming” takes time. It’s truly a process. And being that it is a process, we shouldn’t rush it to finish prematurely. There is a reason for the timing and each step is necessary. There is more to being “great” than just being able to say it.

Could we feel rushed because of society? Maybe it’s the status changes and excitement of the constantly updating timelines of social media. What about becoming distracted by the success of mentors? Instead of being inspired by their endeavors, are you becoming envious that yours have not flourished yet? After all, they are your mentor for a reason. Or maybe it’s the common questions posed by family members such as, “You’re not married yet?” “You’re still going to school?” “You’re still living in an apartment?” “How long are you planning to wait to have children?”

No matter the reason, you can not allow this pressure to deter you. If you’re not careful, being driven by the pressures of life will cause jealousy to take root inside of your heart. This is mainly because your focus is now on what someone else has in comparison to what you feel you’re lacking. So you work in vain just to gain the life of someone else in order to feel “updated.” This shouldn’t be. Don’t conform and become another person because you feel behind a few steps. It’s okay. Move at your own pace. Who knows how miserable those people may be behind closed doors or even what they had to go through to get what they have. There is no age limit on success and there is no standard of when it should begin. Take your time. Grow and mature. This way, you’ll know how to keep what you’ve waited for, for so long.

 

Start With Me; One Year Later

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This is more of an informal blog. More like a journal.

Today makes one year that my blog has been published. Looking back over the last 365 days, it hasn’t been easy. I know some people may say “You’re just writing a blog. It’s not a complex study.” This may be true. But the difficult part for me has been discipline. Some days I don’t feel like writing, some days what I write doesn’t make much sense to me, and some days I just can’t think of anything to write about. The main thing I’ve learned about myself during this journey is I have a long way to go with being disciplined but I have proven to myself that I can do it.

Over a year ago, I remember God telling me that I needed to start with myself. Meaning, before I could correct or encourage anyone else, I needed to do a self check to make sure I was taking my own advice. Not only that, but before I pointed out anyone else’s short comings, I needed to make sure I was upholding the standard myself. Even if we don’t admit it, self-checks don’t feel good. Mainly because, we like to feel as if we are okay. Not that we are perfect, but to us, our issues are minute, or very small. This was my mindset, as well as some of yours I’m sure. However, God wanted me to see that just as others are a work in progress, so am I! As I began to grasp this concept, not only did this help me to show love differently, it also helped me to see God differently. He showed me, me! No, I didn’t like it because there was so much in my life that was not pleasing to Him but He showed me so I could change it! I realized at that moment that God loved me so much that He gave me a mirror! And in this mirror, I had the ability to see only me! I couldn’t see through the mirror and look at others, I could only see me and my reflection! He loved me so much that instead of killing me, He gave me a tool to correct my flaws! As I was correcting my flaws, I found it easier to show compassion to those around me. I found it easier to practice patience and forgiveness because the mirror showed me areas that required the patience and forgiveness of others towards me! The mirror saved my life and it kept me from hurting others. As I stated, the use of a mirror for some may be difficult to accept and acknowledge but the mirror is much needed.

I am excited about my journey as a writer and I am anxious to see where this takes me! My mission and my purpose is to spread hope to all that I can reach. Hopefully within this past year, I’ve written something to encourage my readers and spread hope!

My prayer is that my writing never magnifies my struggles but my strength to overcome them, as well as the same for my readers.

 

 

Relief Valve

Question: Are you experiencing failure in an area in your life? Do you find yourself lashing out or exploding on people? How is your temper? How is your attitude? Last question, how is your character? Now ask yourself could my lashing out or exploding or bad attitude be an expression of my built up pressure?

According to Wikipedia, yes I said Wikipedia because I love this definition, a relief valve or pressure relief valve is a type of safety valve used to control or limit the pressure in a system; pressure might otherwise build up and create a process upset, instrument or equipment failure, or fire. Pretty much self explanatory so we can cut straight to the point.

We all know what happens when pressure builds up and has no way of releasing. It eventually turns into some sort of disaster. Okay, as a person, we may not have pipes that will burst or body parts that will pop off but we do have actions that will express our pressure! We also have organs and fluid levels that will be affected by our pressure. Based on the definition, pressure could cause a process upset, failures, or fire! In short, WE CAN NOT AFFORD TO HAVE A PROCESS UPSET. Look, the process is already tough enough by itself. Don’t add unnecessary stress to it. You must find a valve and quick! You were not meant to carry that level of pressure and you do not have o subject yourself to it. Don’t upset your process by holding on to the unnecessary!

Find a relief valve and utilize it! You do not have time for the upset or the malfunction. There has already been too much time wasted and moving forward is our only option at this point. Have you ever slammed your finger in the door? As time goes on, that finger builds up pressure and my grandmother told me to take a needle and put a small pinhole in my finger. Once I did, some of the pressure was released and my finger felt better. Sticking my finger with the needle was uncomfortable but in the end I could tell the difference. So by any means necessary, you have to keep moving. Push the button, pull the lever, unscrew the top, puncture the surface, do whatever it takes! But you MUST release the pressure before you explode. At this point, exploding would cause you to lose time, cause regrets, and damage relationships. This can not happen. Think about it. Would you rather cause a delay or simply release it and keep moving? Everybody’s valve is different. Some people use prayer, some use music, some people may write, and some people may express theirs verbally. No matter what, find you a relief valve before you cause a process upset! Pair your valve with prayer and release it!

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.

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!