Do You Feel Worthy to Move Forward?

10606139_10204718277897721_8840112257559121325_nThe above picture was taken last year during the weekend of my fourteenth wedding anniversary. I remember asking my husband to take a picture of me at this exclusive hotel so that I could remember what it felt like to sit in a hotel suite in downtown Chicago writing my next big idea for a book or blog. In that moment I knew that all things were possible if I trusted and believed in what God was going to do through me.

I posted that picture a few months ago as my personal profile picture along with a cover photo that that says, “When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.” If I am honest, I had a lot of days to remind myself why I started this journey.

Thoughts of feeling unworthy, inadequate, and like a failure attempted to invade my thought space but I reminded myself that if my thoughts were not true, noble, just, pure, lovely, or of good report I would not meditate on those things (Ephesians 4:8). When my confidence was failing me, I reminded myself that Philippians 1:6 said that, I was to be confident of this very thing that He Who began a good work in me would complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. I have lot more scriptures to add but my husband would say that I am preaching. LOL That is not my gift but I accept that I am on mission to do what I was called to do.

As I shared last week, I did not make all of the right decisions in this process. I wrote things just to get noticed rather than sticking to the core of who I am. I attempted to copy the style of other popular writers without considering that a part of me died each time I wrote like them. I listened to other people’s unsolicited advice about where they thought that I should write who had no connection to the vision that I believe God gave me. Worst of all, I ignored offers to write for free not realizing that they could lead to paid opportunities. I messed up but this is a new day and I will not dwell in the past. I choose to move forward.

The picture above is a reminder that there are promises for me that I have not even begun to receive or go after. I never thought that it was possible for me to stay at a hotel where the more affluent would come when they are in town. I never thought that I deserved to receive anything more than what I could realistically reach but my dear sweet husband believes the total opposite. He believes in me and prays daily that I would see who God sees. His prayers are working. 🙂

That picture is not just a portrait of me sitting at a desk that chronicles a weekend celebration of my life with the greatest husband in the world in an exclusive hotel. It is a sneak preview of things to come, if I stick with the process and follow through in my journey. There are many other blessings that are in store for me when I am obedient and patient. There is work to do and I choose to do it.

What work are you choosing to do?

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Do You Need to Change Your Direction?

faith necklaceSometimes when God gives us instructions we think that we know what should logically be the next step but God is in control. Earlier this year I was obedient in resigning from my job to follow what I thought was a full time writing career. I had no idea what that phrase meant or understood how I would accomplish that goal. I left a job with a regular paycheck for no paycheck. I must have had faith like Abram when he left his home without knowing the next steps.

People who understood what I was doing on an intellectual level commented on my level of faith because they knew that I had bills. Truthfully, if it weren’t for the fact that I understood that I had to be obedient; I would have run back to that job. It’s been more than six months since I left and I still have not received a paycheck. I have had offers to write for free but didn’t see the value of simple exposure.

Admittedly, I wondered for a brief moment if God had told me to write but when I reread some of my favorite posts it reminded me that writing is a part of His plan for me. During this waiting period I considered helping God just like Sarah and Abraham did with their promised child. I wrote things that were outside of my comfort zone for the purpose of getting “noticed.” I considered writing a gossip blog or a soap box blog that focused on anything other than why my readers enjoy my work.

Although the pieces that I wrote may have gotten views, it is not the reason that my faithful readers join me on my journey. It is not why I choose to share my gift free or for desired pay. I want my readers to feel empowered, moved to action, or changed in some way when they finish reading whatever I have shared. That is exactly what inspired my post from two weeks ago. Just because I can write about certain topics does not mean that God intended for me to use my gift for that purpose. That is not me.

My pastor said to the congregation at the end of the service on Sunday that some of you may need to take a different perspective on what you are doing.  He used the illustration of one of the disciples who was fishing on one side of the boat that caught nothing. Jesus told him to change sides of the boat. He was reluctant at first but in the end was obedient. It was not until he changed direction on the boat did he catch a net full of fish. Do you need to change direction? I know that I do.

Out of everything that I heard that day, that message stuck with me. I haven’t caught any fish since I left my job but I also didn’t change my perspective about how to catch them either. I was stuck doing things the way I thought that I should to achieve my goal. My expectations along with my perspective had to change.

I decided last week, before I heard those words from my pastor that I needed to do something different if I wanted different results. My pastor’s words were confirmation of the actions that I took. I cannot explain why God chose this path for me any more than I can explain Sarah and Abraham’s long path to parenthood, David’s volatile path to kingship, or Jesus’ tumultuous path to promise and fulfilled prophecy. The only thing that I know for sure is that it is for His glory.

I don’t know what my next steps are but I know that I must trust God with all of my heart and not lean on my understanding.  I understand that I have to acknowledge Him in all my ways and He shall direct my path. (ref. Proverbs 3:5-6)

Do you need to change your direction in your journey?

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Why Are You Waiting?

waterThere was a man who went to a restaurant with his friends after work. He and his friends asked for water for the table and then each ordered their individual drinks. The man asked for his beverage to come out with his meal. The server finished taking the other orders and disappeared into the kitchen.

When the server reemerged he placed all the drinks on the table except for the man’s. He apologized and said it will be right out. The server came back again with the meals but still no drink. Once again the server apologized and said he would bring his drink out. Silence came over the table as the men ate and drank. The man’s drink never came. Even though his meal was spicy he did not drink the water because he chose to wait for the promised drink. One of his friends looked up from his plate and said, “Man! Drink the water!”  He told his friend that he was waiting for his drink that he had ordered. His friend told him, “Man, either you are going to drink the water or go thirsty!”

The man in the story was so busy waiting on the promised drink that he forgot about the water. How often do you want to do something different but you tell yourself that I have to wait until something else happens first? I have to wait until the kids are older, buy a house, or meet the right people.  All he wanted was to quench his thirst but he would not. He had access to something but would not take it because it was not what he really wanted.

Some of us live our lives like this. We are waiting for some special event to happen in our lives before we live, before we change, before we take the next step, before we take a risk on our dream but we are discounting the things that we have access to in the mean time. When will we stop overlooking the thing that we have access to before we begin to live the life that was meant for us?

Don’t overlook what you have now while you are waiting for your promise. Work while you are waiting. Your promise might be wrapped in a package in which you did not order.

What are you missing while you are waiting?

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Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean That You Should

2 Samuel 12:7-8 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!

We live in a society where we do or say whatever we feel without considering the larger picture. We don’t thoughtfully consider how what we say or do could affect our neighbor because we feel our rights are more important than theirs. We sit behind keyboards and computer screens and do whatever we feel is right in the moment but just because we can doesn’t mean that we should.

David was king of Israel and had access to anything that he needed and wanted. He could change laws to suit his own personal desires. People would go out of their way to assure his happiness. Some would say that—that type of power is dangerous in the hands of one man. David abused his power not once but twice. Fortunately he had someone close to him that was wise enough to help him see his actions were wrong.

Nathan reminded David of his anointing, his deliverance, and blessings. He reminded him that he had a direct line to God to ask for whatever he desired. He even shared that he would make an honest attempt to fulfill his requests, too. In short he was telling him not to forget his purpose.

Much like David I needed a reminder, too. As a blogger and writer it is a serious balancing act of knowing what to write and what needs to stay a kitchen table discussion. When I see things in the news, on someone’s timeline, or have personal conversations I want to respond in writing. I want to abuse my gift for a purpose in which God has not given me permission.

I saw something on someone’s timeline that offended me beyond my normal frustration and disappointment. I wanted to set them straight but my wonderful husband reminded me, like Nathan that just because I can doesn’t mean that I should.

He reminded me that the people that I wanted to respond to didn’t care about the bigger picture. They only cared about having a one way conversation in which only their point was heard. He told me that my pure intentions would not be received and would only add fuel to the fire. I reluctantly conceded.

After that conversation I realized that God had been telling me this message for a while now but I ignored it. Yesterday’s experience and conversation with my husband helped me to understand that I have a responsibility that is bigger than just my own personal desire. It helped me to refocus on what is most important.

My gift is not to be abused or misused to make a point about something that is not a part of my journey. Just because I can doesn’t mean that I should.

Have you had an experience like mine or David’s on your job, at church, at home, …? Leave a comment.

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Breaking Through: Why You Should Color Outside the Lines

Coloring is therapeutic for me. I enjoy the idea of putting colors together and making a picture seem to come alive by adding my own special touches. As a kindergartener I colored outside of the lines because my hands would not cooperate with the vision that my teacher had for a “great” paper. I cut and colored outside of the lines until my hands finally cooperated with my teacher’s vision.

Today, I color as I was taught but decided to intentionally go outside the lines. I also intentionally decided to use colors that would not normally be used for my picture. I almost colored Scooby Doo ® a different color but liked the idea of him being the color that the cartoonist chose for him. As for the rest of the picture– I broke all the rules.

Coloring outside the linesLife dictates rules for almost everything that we do including how we should follow our dreams. It tells us that we should follow certain steps to obtain the “greatness” that the world has to offer. The only problem is that sometimes those steps don’t cooperate with the vision we have for great success in our own life. We do not understand why we feel so empty and uninspired. We don’t understand why the world’s version of success does not feel that way to us.

I am not advocating for anyone to stop following rules that will keep you and others safe, however I am challenging you who are creative, innovative and visionaries to stop allowing the rules to hinder your ability to follow your goals and dreams. Don’t throw away your potential because the picture that you have does not cooperate with the vision that someone else dictates. Do not allow yourself to become stuck because your picture looks different from the majority.

Older parents do go to college to follow the dream that was delayed for a time. Teenage parents do finish school and obtain degrees that seemed impossible to achieve. College drop-outs find their life’s purpose and create companies that can compete with those who did finish college. Ex-Felons find purpose outside of the life that they lived in the past. A person who has seemingly lost it all can regain all that they lost and more by not following the rules that says that homelessness is their place. People who grew up with little to no parenting can become the best parent to their children.

The possibilities are endless just as the combination of colors in my picture. I choose to not lose hope in a situation because my vision does not cooperate with the rules. I respect the rules as they are but accept that it is fine for me to challenge the rules, too. I accept that coloring outside the lines are necessary for some people to discover a passion inside of them that helps the rule change for the better.

Almost anything that you enjoy today is because someone decided that coloring outside the lines was beautiful to them. Electricity, blood plasma, civil rights, personal computers, charities, and grassroots organizations all began because someone decided that coloring outside the lines was necessary.

How do you or will you color outside of your lines?

Just another day’s journey of challenging myself to color outside the lines. Peace.

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Real Talk: Are You Hiding From Purpose by Helping Others?

Have you ever met someone who gives the best advice to others but rarely uses the wisdom that they share for themselves? They are the most helpful people who you will ever meet but they seem to lack the ability to accept or ask for the same help. They are usually the people who will help you mold your million dollar idea and cheer you on to victory while doing nothing with their own. They are usually the first to offer support and encourage you on good and bad days but their day seems to go unnoticed.

No one knows that they have goals and dreams because they are too busy pushing others in front of them. I wonder what are they really afraid of and do they realize what they are avoiding?

The truth is that a watchful eye sees the gifts in them but do not want to appear pushy or presumptuous about their intention…unless of course they are like Jesus in the story about the man at the side of the pool in John 5.

I can imagine this man who had been paralyzed for 38 years who finally decided to go the pool at Bethesda encouraging people to go and get what they needed. I can almost hear him sharing wisdom with the people who carried him up the five porches on how to best execute their plans for their future. I can see him in line with the other sick people who may have lost hope encouraging them to take another step towards the pool but when it was his turn…he seemed to have more questions than answers.

Giving advice and encouragement was easier than living it. He was only a few feet away from his desired destination but he let his own negative thoughts defeat him. He could only see obstacles where as if he was talking to someone else they were only challenges that could be overcome. Even though he laid there in line with others seeking the same thing he felt all alone and helpless.

I imagine this once talkative man has no words as he is faced with real change in his life. He would no longer be paralyzed and needing the services of others.  The conversations that he once had about others activating their hopes and dreams would now have to be about his own.

Fear and doubt gripped him as he laid there thinking about all the possibilities. He was no longer just physically paralyzed but now mentally paralyzed, too. What was he to do? Should he just make his way back home without trying and unchanged? Should he go all in—taking the risk to get what he went to Bethesda (which means house of mercy) to receive?

His mind was in overload and it seemed that nothing could bring him back to the present moment –until Jesus spoke. Jesus asked the man a simple yet complex question. “Do you want to be well?” That question was loaded with so much yet so little. Jesus was asking him if he really wanted what he went to the pool to receive. He wanted him to know that he was at the edge of change minus his decision to act.

The man still paralyzed by his past and unable to make a positive connection answered with excuses. He told Jesus about the obstacles that seemed to prevent him from getting what he wanted. I guess he must have forgotten that he was not born at the pool so he must have had help to get there.  He must have asked someone, right?

Jesus sees through his sincere fear and encourages him just as I imagine that he had done for others. He tells the man to, “Rise up and walk.” Two simple instructions move this man to the action that he desired. He heard the words that he needed to hear to get him out of his mental and physical paralyzed state.change

What are you sitting on the sidelines thinking about doing that you need to rise up and begin walking towards? What action do you need to take towards purpose in your life? Encouraging others and cheering them on is noble but God has so much more for you. I challenge you to Rise up and Begin Walking!

Just another day’s journey of reminding myself to not hide behind helping others. Peace.

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Pushing Beyond Your Achieved Goals

I briefly visited with my former late pastor’s wife and as usual she was sharing some of the same stories that I have heard for years about the accomplishments of her family. The stories have changed over the years to fit the accomplishments but she makes sure to share each one with great pride and enthusiasm as if they were just accomplished today. Admittedly, I used to “half listen” to her stories because they seemed a little boastful but in recent years I have learned to appreciate them.

If you knew this woman you would have had one of two opinions about her because of her delivery but I think that I understand her even more today. I believe that she shared those stories as an encouragement of what can be accomplished despite the challenges in a person’s life. Most of the people that she bragged about hit brick walls, fell down, and/or had a rough start in life. They all in her words “came from nothing and made something out of themselves.”

The delivery of her message was rough sometimes because she was trying to get through to our hearts. She was trying to get us to see our true value and worth beyond the moment that we were living. She was trying to help us see our lives as launching pads for our futures and not a cork to hold us in from all the possibilities that life had to offer.

Unfortunately most people who heard those stories over the years including me missed the point of her message. Although I have achieved a few of my goals I haven’t done much else. I realized that the message from her was not just to achieve success but to do something with it.

We are charged to think about others within our success. Once we meet our goal it is our duty to reach back and pull someone up like she did. Her success was her family. She reached back and attempted to pull up as many that were willing to take her direction.

Today I accept the charge from her to fully live the life that I am meant to live and to help pull someone else up once I get there. Will you do the same?

Just another day’s journey of pushing beyond my achieved goals. Peace.

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Think About It: Either Celebrate Father’s Day or Be Quiet, Please!

I know that I haven’t written in this format in a while but I felt a need to put this out there and hope for the best.

Celebrate FathersEvery year since I have joined social media, I realize that there are a lot of sad, bitter, unresolved people on Father’s Day. They unfortunately overshadow the ones that are happy and genuinely want to celebrate the father in their life. I end up editing my feed so that I can’t see the usual suspects comments because it is draining to see such negative and depressing comments about fathers that people wish that they had for themselves or their children on a day that is meant to celebrate the men who did nothing wrong.

Talking about bad fathers on Father’s day is like talking about death before someone’s surgery. It’s just plain rude and selfish. Would you want to hear about how someone’s aunt died from a similar surgery before going under the knife? No you would not. So why would you do the same to those who want to celebrate the great men in their lives. You leave them feeling bad for you and your loss when they need your strength to get through their surgery.

Father’s day is not a day to rid yourself of all of your anger, frustration, and pinned up aggression about a person who did not do what you expected them to do. It’s a time of celebration for those who choose to sincerely celebrate. There are people out there who wish that they had another day with their “Superman” but he is resting in The Father’s arms.  They wish they had another day to love on him because they know that no matter how many days they were upset with or without him it does not compare to the love they shared before he left this earth. They would give him a “two arm” hug and never let go.

This special day is also not a time to cheapen the celebration by slipping in a quick insult to the one who didn’t stand by honoring the one who did. You can’t say something like, “Thanks for standing in for my sperm donor” and think that the recipient feels good about that. It’s like saying, “You look nice in that outfit that I wanted to buy but couldn’t afford it. Good for you.” Just say, “Thank you for being a father figure. I appreciate it.”

If you are one who normally participates in this annual tradition of bashing father’s every year on Father’s Day, I challenge you to honor the men in your life on Father’s day and nothing else. Speak positive without slipping anything negative into your comment. If you don’t know any positive men but have a relationship with God, honor him. If that’s too deep for you, it’s fine to simply be quiet. It won’t hurt to say nothing on this day.

If you are one who celebrates the fathers in your life, share this with someone who might need some help with understanding how they cheapen your celebration every year. They can’t get mad at you because I am the one that said it. J Keep celebrating the fathers in your life and let them know how much you appreciate what they do.

Just another day’s journey of thinking about how to silence the negative Father’s Day celebrations. Peace.

Please enjoy this video by DJ LV called Daddy inspired by Pharrell’s Happy.

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Refocus Your Thinking

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

When you are in the midst of challenges it’s tough to stay focused on spiritual things or to remember God’s promises for you. It seems that the more you try to move closer to your purpose, dream or goal that the circumstances of your present situation screams for your attention. Your present reality pulls you out of the clouds of your deepest desire of changing to remind you just how far you are from reaching your destination.

People, places and things threaten to remind you of whom you have been and where you have lived. Lies of never being able to overcome your procrastinating, missed opportunities, and repeated failures try to overtake your desire of a different way of living. You try to motivate yourself with positive affirmations and goal setting but it is no longer working.

You throw your hands up out of frustration as if to admit defeat but then you remember—you remember that God has your back. You remind yourself that the same God that kept you even in the midst of everything that you have experienced, will see you through this new challenge. You decide to trust Him knowing that all things will work out for good.

I have a friend who is on what I like to call a faith walk this past year and she has had to live this scripture. She has seen some ups and downs along the way and I know that she has wanted to “throw in the towel” or at least take back control from God. Somehow she is able to remember that although her journey may seem simple to some that she is on assignment from God and she cannot give up or give in to the lies of the enemy.

When she feels weak, she calls on her team of prayer warriors to help pray her through the tough times. Someone will share something that they are studying in the bible to remind her of God’s promises or send an encouraging devotional message. There is always something that draws her mind back to God and things above to stay focused on the journey instead of her destination.

She is not a super Christian with super human strength where trouble just rolls off her shoulders. She has real struggles like you and me. She has frustrations and challenges with insecurities about what her future holds but she chooses to remind herself of the things above and not on the earth.

My friend reminds me that this is a spiritual marathon and not a sprint. This is not a race to perfection but a journey with a perfect God who wants to be there with us for the duration of the trip. So the next time your past threatens to derail you from your destiny, refocus yourself and choose to set your mind on things above.

Just another day’s journey of learning how to refocus myself. Peace.

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Accepting and Activating Your Change

change

John 5:8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

Change is a challenge for most people because it reminds us that time does not stop for anyone (including us).  We fight against the potential of change because we have learned the “ins and outs” of our present situations. We push back against change because it tells us that our celebrated pasts are now over and we aren’t sure if we have another victory in us. We try to stop change because we think that it will prevent the inevitable from happening.

The truth is that change is happening all around us every day but it’s that one thing that we just have to stop. We are not sure what we can expect in the next step. I have a “friend” who was challenged with change so much that he laid paralyzed by both his past and present circumstances. He actually wanted to change but fear of the unknown kept him at the door step of his change. He was lost in his thoughts of different scenarios about what was next.

When questioned about if he really wanted change in his life he made excuses about why he had not taken the first step.  He said that he did not have anyone to help him– never mind that someone helped him to this point. Then he shared with this Person that every time he tries to move forward someone jumps over him–never mind that there were people who had passed him up on his way to this point to change. He forgot that he never stopped.

His fear made him temporarily forget how resourceful he was. He had made it through all these obstacles and challenges because of his determination to change. Ironically when faced with the real moment to change, he became paralyzed by fear. Fortunately for my “friend” the Person that asked him the question told him to just get up and do it. In short, He told him to stop thinking about the possibilities in the change and just do it.

My “friend” was so worried about the past coming to an end that he did not focus on the next thing. He did not focus on all the great possibilities for his future. He only saw the negatives and not the positives for his future. He counted himself out before he ever got started. He unfairly compared his present self to his future self. This Man, which my “friend” talked to, reminded him of his purpose for going to the place where they met. Sometimes we need to be reminded of why we are at the point to change.

We cannot stop time. We cannot thrive on past successes if we are not using them to propel us to our next journey of success. We cannot stop life from happening by not participating. We have to keep living and keep moving forward like my “friend.” He found truth in the words spoken to him by this Man that he never met before that day but he accepted the challenge to move to action by faith.

My “friend” could have easily told the Man that he was crazy and just continued to lay there unchanged. He could have made more excuses on why getting up would not work but he did not. Something inside of him wanted that change more than he wanted to stay the same. Maybe he realized that making an attempt at change could not hurt any more than him continuing to lay there unchanged? Maybe he realized the power and authority of the Man speaking to him. Either way he got up.

My “friend’s” struggle is like many of us today. We are at the edge of our change almost trying to talk ourselves out of moving forward. We tell ourselves all the reasons that it won’t work even when God has told us that He knows our end. We are looking for some guarantees that there will not be any challenges along the way. We forget that His Word says that all things work together for good (ref. Romans 8:28).

I’m so glad that my “friend” listened to the Person that told him to do what he came to do. Yes. Change is challenging but with the right motives and effort, it is possible to achieve.

Just another day’s journey of accepting and activating my change. Peace.

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