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!!

The Fear of Judgement

I had a conversation with someone recently and we discussed the reason why this person felt insecure and scared to take the next step in life. This person shared how excited they were about the path that God was taking them on and how they’ve long awaited to have the relationship with God that they have now. But there was one issue. This person stated that they sometimes resented talking to some people about the “great change” that has taken place in their life. The reason why was because they felt as if people would over shadow their new found life with the past mistakes and decisions they had made. This person even shared with me their passion for reaching out to younger women and men about the street life and ministering to those who have been involved in drugs and gang activities. But once again, the fear of being judged was determined to be the factor in holding them back. At first this didn’t make sense to me. I was thinking, if God had done such a tremendous thing with me and had blessed me with another chance at this thing called life, why would I even care about the opinions and judgements of others.

Then I asked myself….how many times have I backed out of an assignment or not showed up to an event because of the fear of the judgement of others? How many times have I started typing a Facebook post about something that God had given me but deleted it because I felt like someone wouldn’t receive it because they know who I once were?

Maybe it’s the thought of that one person or even that one group of people that won’t see the good in you but will magnify your “used to.” You know, those people that love to say “he used to steal” or “she used to lie all the time” or “he used to curse everybody out.” Those people. Yeah, they make change and decision making difficult but the reality is this, they’re not going anywhere! You’ll always have those people who point to your “used to’s” because that’s all they have on you, is the person you used to be! Which is a good thing for you because that’s not who you are anymore. So their judgement can only be based on who you once were, not who you are now! And if you know that all things have become new, the “used to’s” don’t bother you as much.

So I say, go for the gold! Chase your dreams. Activate your faith and step out on it! Speak to those people. Start the organization! Start the ministry! Follow the voice of God! Eventually, the “she used to be something serious” will turn into “I used to go to school with her” or “we used to live in the same neighborhood”…because now their proud to even know you! Even if it’s only based on a “used to.”

No one is saying they’re ashamed of the Gospel but simply not wanting to be reminded of their short comings. It can be quite embarrassing. And let’s not mention the unspoken pressure of trying to explain the transition. This can definitely make a person feel not qualified for a task. Especially if you’re young in Faith. But however……

It’s time to get passed the fear of judgement. After all, we’ll all be judged one day, anyway. Right? The main difference is, on that day, we’ll actually face the judgement that really matters.

It’s time to be the person that used to be afraid but is now going for it all!!!!

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.

Transparency

mychandrakAs you all know, I’m a transparent person. I believe that my experiences are meant to be shared at the appointed time to help someone else. I also believe that writing is not worth reading if it’s not inspiring or if there is nothing to be gained from it. So hopefully, something written here can be deemed worthy of remembering.

I went through a situation that I thought was impossible to overcome. I questioned my entire life and everyone in it. I became stagnant and ineffective in every way possible! I often hosted major pity parties that lasted for days at a time. I found myself being cynical and angry. I had become so consumed with being defensive, that I assumed everybody was an enemy and they could not be trusted. My whole life had become dedicated to correcting lies and addressing rumors. Simply put, I stayed there too long. My time should have never been wasted on such immaturity. I willingly surrendered to the captivity of others by allowing irrelevant opinions and assumptions to control my decisions.

I allowed the betrayal of a few people to change the person God created me to be. I lost focus of everything I once stood for because I was consumed with the thoughts and opinions of others concerning the life that God had entrusted me with. I knew that I was called to be bubbly and spread hope to those around me. However, circumstances made me think I was too “extra” because my desire was to be light to everyone. But that’s who I was. That’s who I am. Unapologetically positive! Unapologetically happy!

There is a meme floating around on social media that says “Everyone thought Noah was foolish until it started raining.” To me, this says, the weight of what I’m called to do is greater than the weight of the whispers around me. Noah knew who he was and what He was called to do in the Earth. So he did it! Unapologetically, he faced it head on and kept building!

So I say to you, be you! Be who you were created to be! Hurt is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Allow yourself time to heal and get back to the purpose. Nobody can make the same impact that you were created to make. The world is waiting for your thumb print to be impressed into it!

One question: What are you waiting for? For people to like you? For people to accept you? For persecution to stop? For opposition to cease? Ok….it’ll never happen! Living for people is too expensive and it costs too much! So my next question is this: What weighs the most? The pressure of people or the pressure of purpose?

 

Live Through It!

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The definition of live is simply to stay alive. Often times, we plan our own demise. We go through tough times and in the midst of it, instead of seeing ourselves living through it, we slowly die while we’re in it. The situation itself could not kill you but your mindset and your reaction to the situation is usually the deal breaker. Of course I am not speaking about dying a physical death but death to your dreams, your purpose, your future. It’s hard to have a positive outlook on going through something if you can not see yourself coming out of it. So what is the solution? I’m glad you asked. The solution is this, change your perspective and see yourself coming out alive! Just think about it. What if someone said “I want you to go through a house made of wood while it’s on fire and when you come out alive, you will be given $1 million.” Your task is to walk in the house through the front door, navigate through the house while its on fire, and come out through the back door. Sounds crazy right. But what if they added, you will be wearing a fireproof suit, a smoke mask, and the house is only a 350 sq ft. cottage home? Considering it under those circumstances, you would reconsider. Why? Because you could actually see yourself surviving that and coming out alive. Not only coming out alive, but coming out alive, $1 million richer!. Your perspective of the “burning house challenge” has changed. It’s the same thing with life. Of course you don’t have $1 million waiting on you at the end but you will come out alive with something. You’ll come out alive with a stronger will to live and hopefully a determined mindset to build from your experiences.

Just like the burning house scenario, we have been given everything we need to live and survive the flames of life. But instead of strapping up our boots and walking through the fire, we stand in the middle of the fire and subject ourselves to being burned. Sometimes we even settle in the fire and remove the very things that we have been given to protect us.

All I’m saying is, choose to live through it. Dying from it is a decision you don’t have to make. The fire can only consume you if you stand in too long. Don’t commit suicide by not choosing to live. You have way too many reasons to remain alive.

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.

 

 

Influences Speak

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How good or bad are your influences? The things that you are under the influence of tend to speak louder than your voice sometimes. I’ve learned that before we can release words from our mouths, our influences have the ability to express our involvements and attachments. So my question is, what is your influence saying on your behalf?

Someone I know was recently pulled over for driving under the influence. The arresting police officer wrote in a statement that when he arrested this person, he could smell the alcohol in the vehicle before the driver even started speaking. The officer also stated that when the driver began to speak, his breath smelled like alcohol and his speech indicated that he was impaired. Basically, the alcohol spoke louder than the words of the driver. There was no need to ask the driver if they had been drinking because it was evident that the driver had been involved with alcohol.

Have you ever met someone who tends to conform to the people around them just like a chameleon conforms to the color of a tree? I’m talking about people who may have their own opinion about something but they take on the opinions of those they are surrounded by. These are the people who are easily influenced by other people. When I was younger, I remember one of my friends speaking very proper because she was from a different city. One summer she came to visit some of her older cousins and they didn’t speak as proper as she did. They had somewhat of a southern accent and they sounded very different from her. Well she called me one afternoon and I noticed that she purposely enunciated every word in a heavy southern accent. She was attempting to take on the personality and the characteristics of her older cousins instead of just being herself. We’ve all done it at one point or another in our lives. Maybe it was unconsciously done, but we’ve all done it. We’ve all been influenced by something; alcohol, drugs, or even people.

Good Influence Example: I was having a conversation with one of my friends recently and she rebuked me, as she does so willingly. But when she rebuked me, I didn’t get upset. As a matter of fact, her correction caused me to be convicted and I grew from it. But, anyway, when she corrected me, she sounded just like our Pastor. And all I could do was smile and obey. Because I knew she was right! But more importantly, I could see what and who was influencing her! The reason I can say that is because at one point in her life, she wouldn’t have corrected me, she would have agreed with me! She showed great growth and she showed positive influence.

What’s influencing you? Or a better question may be, what are you allowing to speak for you? Who or what are you allowing to speak in the absence of your words? Be watchful! Better yet, be the opposite. Be the good influence. Can you be the one that people desire to follow to a better place? Evaluate your influences.

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!