No matter what you are facing or what you have been through, recover well. Don’t look like what you’ve been through. God wants you to come out of the fire shining like pure gold. He wants to make your time in the fire valuable like diamonds. Recover well. When you speak more fervently about what you’ve been through than how you made it through, you continue to give your circumstances more power than your Sustainer. Talk like a winner. Walk like a winner. Dress like a winner. Recover well. Sometimes God takes you through to bring you out! Come out better. Come out stronger. Come out wiser. Recover well.
I’m skilled at several things which makes it challenging to define my craft. What I’m realizing is my craft is to create. I love to look at images of home decor styles and create the look in reality. I love creating new experiences for others that expands their ability to dream for themselves. I love to create new, innovative learning experiences for our son. I create an atmosphere of support as I lead others to total wellness through my fitness programs. I create genuine spiritual encounters as I lead in ministry. I love to create new vegan dishes as I lead our family to better health. I create unity as I intentionally build positive connections with people from different cultural backgrounds. I create new behaviors and new mindsets as I provide mental health therapy. I create businesses that meet needs. I create art with my written words. I create realities from dreams. What’s your craft?
Come together. Help one another. Share ideas. Share a vision. Accomplish goals. Build strength. Accomplish the impossible. Get ‘er done!
These are all the phrases that come to my mind when I think of the word collaborate. I had an impromptu collaborative conversation on yesterday that I think….just may have changed the pace of my dreams. The dreams/visions I have just got accelerated because of some ideas and support I received I didn’t know I had. And now, the manifestation of those dreams will show up sooner than expected.
When you connect yourself with the right person or group, your collaborative efforts can actually benefit every player involved. Sometimes the right collaborative team takes time and sometimes you may have to erase and start again and again until you find the right fit. But when you do, success is inevitable.
It takes 200 muscles to take a single step forward…
For this month, I have shared the benefits of physical exercise with my group fitness class. One fact I shared with them on last week was, “It takes 200 muscles to take a single step forward.” This fact put a lot of things in perspective for me and I think for others as well. I actually had them guess how many muscles it takes, and the guesses where all under 10. The look of shock that hit their faces as they learned it actually takes 200 muscles to take a single step forward demonstrated a valuable life learning moment.
200 muscles! I pondered this fact myself and immediately began to feel very accomplished. I believe this fact not only relates to the physical, but to the mental and spiritual aspects of life as well. I reflected on all the “steps I have taken forward” without realizing the value and impact that “one step forward” has had on my life. I did that! I went for it! I moved! I took risks. I went for my dreams. I lunged towards my purpose. I dove into the unknown. I followed my heart. I overcame fear time and time again. I obeyed. I won!
Did you know oftentimes God is only looking for that single step forward? I know the first step is usually the hardest. I know the first step is sometimes like lifting lead. I know the first step requires a lot of effort, sacrifice, and will power. But…the first step breaks barriers, moves mountains, and gives you the motivation to keep going. The first step is the most important step. The first step in the right direction signifies the beginning of a new phase in life. Think about the excitement in seeing a baby take their very first step. If you are a parent, this is by far one of the most exciting memories of parenthood.
I’m encouraging you to move. It’s amazing how after you have taken the first step, the next steps automatically become easier.
I Plead the Fifth. Pleading the Fifth means to refuse to answer questions for fear of incriminating yourself. I have been working really hard lately to keep my mouth closed! Not so much towards other people, but towards myself. I am practicing not cursing my own words, and more importantly not cursing God’s Word over my life by complaining and speaking doubt.
It’s challenging. I do not remember the day I realized that I was delaying my own blessings by releasing certain words from my mouth, but it has truly been a shift in thinking, feeling, and my spiritual behavior. If God says I have the “power to move mountains”, I can no longer say “I’m powerless”. If God says “I will be wealthy”, I can no longer say, “I can’t ever get out of this debt.” If God says, “a turn around is about to take place in your life”, I can no longer say, “nothing ever changes.”
These are all real examples of the conversations I’ve had with God, and with the enemy. The moment God releases a Word from His mouth about you, is the very moment you have to choose to Plead the Fifth. It is not only your constitutional right, but your spiritual weapon to receive all that God has for you. The enemy hears what God says about you and immediately springs into action to discount, destroy, and delay the Word God spoke over your life. Here’s where we go wrong, God releases a Word and the enemy immediately springs into action against what was spoken. When we hear the release of God’s Word over our lives, we sit back and try to process and qualify ourselves with what God says about us and do not immediately spring into action. Instead, we stand in disbelief, telling God he has the wrong person, trying to figure out how it will happen, etc. We don’t immediately spring into action to guard our hearts and minds against evil talk and evil thoughts concerning the Word of God. Many of us say things such as, “I don’t want to do that.” “I’m too old/young/not smart enough to do that.” “That is too much responsibility.” “What would people say?” “I didn’t ask for all of that, God.” Meanwhile, the enemy has already taken the lead in our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
The wonderful news, God holds our position through our transition, one of my favorite quotes. He loves us so much He does not take back His Word concerning us and our future. God’s Word cannot return to Him void! There may be some delays, but never denials, unless we choose to forfeit our own blessings.
The Bible says in Proverbs 4: 23-27 (MSG), “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.” So, the next time you receive a Word from the Lord concerning your life, choose to Plead the Fifth. Intentionally choose not to speak against the Word. Don’t disqualify yourself, don’t try and figure it out. Just receive and expect God’s Word to come to pass, no questions asked.
Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalms 23:6 (NIV)
We are living in a society where many of us are defined by the number of social media friends and followers. Honestly speaking, I do not think there is anything wrong with this, unless a person is only defined by these parameters. I think there are many people that do not know who they are or only feel valuable and special when someone comments, post a reaction, or “likes” their page or posts. This level of dependence on what others think or feel based on how they interact with you on social media may mask low self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-love.
I get it. I too have had fleeting moments of watching my followers and wondering why certain material gets more likes and followers more than material I produce, which is intentionally shared to uplift, encourage, and empower. These moments lasted only a short while until I allowed the Holy Spirit to speak to me…”Stop counting your followers, you only need two.” Of course, I was taken aback by this response and wondered, “What two followers are the most important ones to have (as I am scanning my friends list)?” And then the Holy Spirit said, “Goodness and Mercy (love)”. My emotions and spirit were immediately comforted and empowered to keep following the leading of the Holy Spirit with every written word I shared on social media, knowing that God was pleased with my work.
I’m not sure why I was inspired to share this post with others. I believe there are some out there that “people watch” on social media and are emotionally anguished when certain goals are not met. I also believe there are some that define their success solely by the number of followers they receive. Still, there are others that post material on social media because they are seeking to find their purpose, to have an impact (good or bad), or to be noticed. This is the audience I’m hoping to encourage. God defines your purpose, not people. God’s work in and through you are what will make you famous, not feedback from others. In 1 Chronicles 4, Jabez prays, “‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.” When God guides your words and your work, his Goodness and Love are the only followers you need to create opportunities, open doors, and blow your name on the wind! I too, hope to grow my audience, but not at the expense of God’s plan for my life and in the way He would have me walk in my purpose. Sometimes, too, you just have not yet reached your season.
Commit daily to checking your followers, Goodness and Love. Ask yourself, “Am I doing God’s will for my life?” “Am I allowing Him to guide my words, thoughts, and actions?” “Am I making a positive impact on the lives of people?” I guarantee, just like Jabez, if you surrender to His will, your territory (followers) will be enlarged and His blessings will flow abundantly!
Have you often wondered why you are “different”? If you are not a “different” kind of person than you wouldn’t get it. If you have ever been told that you are “different”, but never really told what that meant, then you understand exactly what I am trying to portray. I have been told that I am “different”. I never doubted it, I don’t believe, I just never really grasped what it meant to be “different”. In my recent reflection times, the concept of “different” continues to emerge from my unconscious mind to my conscious mind in my efforts to discover my “niche” in the world.
One thing that I am sure of is that I am creative. I have a creative brain, and that very well can make me “different”. It’s hard to describe how my creative mind words on a daily basis, and it is even more difficult to describe to others exactly how I “work”. The most sure thing I know is that I get bored with monotony and I have to constantly find new ways of “creating” something new. This itch for creating can be resolved internally or externally. I can create new perspectives, new insights about myself or the world; or, I can create new programs, services, or written works to satisfy my creative itch. I also enjoy using my influence to create something new in others. After all, it’s an art form to change lives. I came across an article of 25 inspiring quotes for creative people and began to process these quotes through my own reality of creativity. (And, to know me means to know that I LOVE quotes. Quotes are a sure way to ignite my creative juices.)
“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” -Ayn Rand
Creative people just want to know that the colors and patterns they chose have developed into a beautiful canvas. Has my work made a difference? Has my vision come to pass?
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
Creative people are always imaging the next project, developing the next vision, working towards the next goal. A creative brain cannot rest. It has to create something…always. I love creating new experiences and opportunities for myself and others. Whatever it is I desire to do in life, I don’t apply for it, I create it. I find a way to start a course of action that moves towards that desire, which leads to the next reality…
“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin Land
I’m not afraid of failure, I just don’t like it. I take risk, I utilize faith, and I am not afraid to be the one to try something no one else has in my circle. Again, a creative mind wants to achieve, that is our greatest success, to create something that works, that is effective for the purpose it was created for. Whoa…I just had an intrusive thought…isn’t that just like God?
“Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it”. – Dee Hock
There is no empty space in a creative brain. It always fills the space with something new to develop. Creative people do not like feeling “stuck”. Why? Because being stuck means you are not using your creativity to grow, develop, and move forward. Creative people create paths that don’t exist. Creative people see color on blank canvases. Creative people create worlds from nothing. Now, that’s God!
“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” -James Whistler
Whew…this quote resonates deep within me. The visions I have are so mind blowing, so beyond what I can do, yet seem so achievable I can’t rest. Vision. vision. vision. My vision is clear, the journey there is muddled. The journey is sometimes discouraging, the vision is always awe inspiring. Creative people can not let go of vision. Creative people always see what is not there and create the reality of it, first in their minds and then in reality. Creative people are problem-solvers. Creating solutions is a great reward.
If these words resonated with you, fit your personality in some way, then continue to dare to be different. The world was created by the Creator of creativity, the master Creator. Your creative mind can take what seems like nothing and create something great. Your creativity helps solve problems and create solutions in the most beautiful, colorful way.
When I think about my relationship with myself, I ask myself do I like all of me. Do I like the way I look? Do I like the way I talk? Do I like my character? My personality? Do I like my successes? My failures? Am I satisfied with my my wins? Am I content with my deficits? Do I admire my strengths and willingly share my weaknesses?
As I have reflected on these things, I have come to conclude I like all of me. My relationship with me is solid. I know I am not perfect, but I believe my imperfections show my humanness and I am not blinded by those areas that need healing. I am not an emotionless shell of a person and I am not an overemotional bomb. I have been both, and I have learned to always come back to my place of grounding, the place where I give myself permission to experience my emotional realities deeply and without shame. I also give myself permission to surrender my emotional realities to God.
It brings tears to my eyes, as I am facing some difficult emotional realities presently. I’m vulnerable, but in this, the only way I know how to survive until my healing comes is to serve. I offer my story to demonstrate the power of sharing. I offer my story to demonstrate the power of connection. I offer my story to demonstrate the commonalities among us more than the differences between us.
There is someone somewhere who needs to hear your story. They need to hear your truth, the reality of your experience. Those things that have broken you and developed you. That experience that nearly destroyed you. Someone needs to hear your testimony of God’s grace, healing, & deliverance. I want to give you a safe space to use your voice to tell your story, to be intentionally vulnerable to tell your story, to heal yourself and others. So many times the most painful parts of our stories identified as traumatizing or shameful, silence us. But what if trauma and shame are our greatest strengths? What if sharing those parts of our story is the real game changer? You don’t have to be an elaborate orator or professional author of any degree. Your experience, your autobiography told from your unique perspective qualifies your story to be a best seller. Nothing more is required than your courage.
The true He(art) of storytelling is being willing to tell your story for His glory!
The state of motion or activity. At this time in life, living in quarantine, the tempo of life certainly has slowed down. I have written previously on my appreciation of the slow pace. My experience is different from others around me who are eager to get back “to normal life”. I’m more eager to figure out how to keep this same tempo when everything else starts “moving” again.
It’s interesting because I love living in fast tempo cities where there is always something to do and something to see. It excites me. I don’t get bored. I can find “something” to do even when there is “nothing” to do. Nevertheless, I am realizing how much power I have to create a new melody that complements, not competes with the tempo around me. I can create a polyphony, which is, “the style of simultaneously combining a number of parts, each forming an individual melody and harmonizing with each other.”
As the world is seemingly preparing to “reopen”, I challenge you to decide your tempo. What tempo in life is most productive? What tempo sparks the most creativity? What tempo brings your mind, body, and spirit the most peace? Although some may choose to live a more fast paced tempo, I do believe all of us need moments of “rest” to refocus and recharge, no matter the tempo we choose to live.
Instrumental Moments…A Time of Reflection and Appreciation
This post is for someone somewhere! Someone needs to stop and take some time to reflect on those instrumental moments in life that have made you who you are at this very moment. Maybe you are so focused on your present you have not taken the time to reflect on where you’ve come from and where you are going. Maybe your current circumstances feel hopeless and stagnate. Maybe you are not sure what to do, how to think, how to act next because it seems as if every action leads to detrimental outcomes.
If this is you…I want you to get in a quiet, still place and just allow your mind to reflect on those instrumental moments in your life that motivated you, strengthened you, encouraged you, or maybe pushed you into your destiny. If you have any age on you, there are so many moments you can reflect on. But, when you lead this reflection time with your heart and not your head…your spirit will guide you to the exact moments God showed up BIG in your life. Your body will remember the shift in your life caused by these moments. You will know exactly which moments were instrumental on your life journey.
I will take the journey with you. I will share some of my instrumental moments as a model for your work. Here we go…
Instrumental Moment #1: Affirming Me and What I Could Be
I attended an elementary school in a rural area and experienced racism in the manner of verbal bullying at a very early age, triggered by my intelligence. I was too smart to be so black. This was the moment I could have told myself I am not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough to really be anything. With the confident support of a God-fearing mother and my second grade teacher who believed in my abilities and affirmed who I was daily, I know I would not be where I am today personally or professionally.
Instrumental Moment #2: Developing Self-Worth and Self-Confidence
I was a thumb sucker, which caused bucked teeth. I also have an astigmatism and needed glasses at the age of 4, maybe earlier. Well you know…back then, cute glasses for kids did not exist. So, here I was with bucked teeth and Coke bottle glasses during the prime years of social development…middle school. I had just moved to a new area where my mother and I knew absolutely no one else in the entire county. We had a raggedy station wagon with a shattered windshield as I entered the first day of middle school in my new city. At some point in 6th grade, I got braces. I don’t remember having really deep identity issues based on my appearance. However, I do absolutely remember the day I had a HUGE boost in confidence when my braces were removed after almost 3 years, and getting my first pair of contacts just as middle school ended. I do remember how it felt to walk down the hall with straight teeth and no Coke bottles glasses in my way. I actually had people that were so used to seeing me in my Coke bottle glasses, they were adversed when I started wearing contacts. Really? This is when I really begin to pay attention to my sense of self-worth and self-confidence regardless of what others thought. I liked who I was becoming and that was all that mattered.
Instrumental Moment #3: Being OK with loss
I have always experienced a lot of fear and anxiety with just the mere thought of death. Growing up in a single parent, mother-headed household, I remember constantly crying to my mother and telling her “I don’t want you to die!” Losing people you care about was the the biggest fear for me. It would cause me to to react physically and emotionally to just the thought of death. Then…I experienced loss. My most instrumental experiences of loss actually started in college. I loss a group of friends that were instrumental to me, in a way that was unexpected. I think that is what made the loss so much deeper…I couldn’t understand what exactly I did wrong and why this was happening. I have always at least tried to be a good friend and still feel confident in my relational skills, however, I definitely now understand loss has no respect of person. It took years for me to accept the fact that I loss what I thought were going to be lifetime friends, mainly because I kept begging God to replace what I loss and he didn’t…at least not in a way I could initially understand. I am now developing a greater sense of the vision God has for me that makes me OK with the loss and more open to God’s choice of friends at this stage in my life. (Just sent out thank you messages to my tribe! 💞)
Losing my grandmother and my first cousin were other more recent experiences of loss that affected me deeply. Losing these two family members really showed me how much God is in control. I have always had a close relationship with my grandmother and still have fond memories. The last couple of years, right before her death, threatened my fond memories as Dementia changed her personality and my desire to be around her. It is very difficult to interact with someone who is completely different than your previous experiences. Since her death, I have definitely had my personal moments to reflect on the good times, to cry, and pray God lets her know in heaven, just how much I appreciated her presence in my life.
The loss of my first cousin was also difficult and is still fresh. She was the oldest of the 5 first (female) cousins, who all have names beginning with the letter “T”. We call ourselves the “5 Ts”. The difficulty in this situation was finding out how deeply she was suffering physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually…within 24 hours of the funeral. I knew her story and her journey in life were difficult, I just didn’t know the magnitude of her challenges until after her death. It’s heartbreaking to feel as if you could have helped or should have helped sooner, but didn’t! Guilt tries to creep in, but then I have to remind myself, “you can only get in where you are let in!” Dr. TC
The privacy of her life did not allow me or anyone else to have the ability to help but so much. It’s hurtful to watch someone suffer and you can’t do anything about it. Again, this was a loss that showed God’s sovereignty and full control in some of the most painful moments in life.
Ok…so I’m going to end my journey here as I could write for days. I hope my reflections of some of the instrumental moments along my journey inspires you to do the same. I am moved emotionally and spiritually in writing my own truths. Some truths are painful, yet necessary.
Take the journey! Playback your instrumental moments like beautiful elevator music as you move up and down your journey of life. It makes the ride much more pleasant.