New Year’s Resolution

words

It’s been many, many years since I created a New Year’s Resolution.  I believe the work we must do is a daily resolution.  Therefore, I have been waking up every morning over the past few years with a resolve to be the best I can; slay my goals; pull music from the static and let the challenges chisel me into a champion.  I learned this neat trick from my minister, Bro. Jim Love, that I believe can help transform us all.  Make an acrostic poem with the word resolution(s) for your personal purpose and improvement.  Here is mine:

Read more, watch less.

Encourage others daily.

Separate myself from people who do not make me better.

Occupy my life with prayer, positive talk, and progressive learning.

Love and live more!

Understand God’s will for myself and attempt to better understand others.

Trust God more!

Ignore past mistakes, keep the lessons, and push through to the future.

Open my mind more to the guidance and Power of the Holy Spirit!

Need God more!

 

What are your goals, guiding words, and hopes for this day, month, or year?

In My Feelings

After seeing so many posts about the #InMyFeelingsChallenge, I finally watched the video.  Clearly, Drake is going through something.  But aren’t we all?  When I’m in my feelings, my thoughts go haywire and if I did everything that came to mind at the time,  I’d likely end up prison.  These past few months I have been working on being very intentional about not staying in my feelings when I get in them.  Here’s how:

  1. Don’t react right away. This used to be a BIG problem for me.  Something would happen and the minute I felt offended in any kind of way, I was popping off that the mouth and trying to run people over.  As much as I’d love to think of myself as a highly rational being, I’m sometimes not.  Knowing this about myself, I work extremely hard to not react right away.
  2. Prayer is my saving grace in my darkest moments. I take a moment to ask God for His divine intervention in revealing to me what is truth versus perception and what I must do.
  3. Mindful breathing. I learned this from my friend, Lilith.  Mindful breathing relaxes my body.  I start by taking a deep inhale through my nostrils, holding my breath for a few seconds, and then taking a long exhale through my mouth.  These deep and intentional breaths decrease my heart rate, relax my tensed muscles, and refocus my concentration.
  4. Apply 5Ws. I use the 5Ws (Who? What? When? Where? Why?) to write down what ACTUALLY happened.  Facts only.  Not my perception or feelings about what happened.
  5. Assess feelings. TRUTH BOMB: Our emotions don’t always represent the truth!  Just because I feel a certain way, doesn’t make it a reality. Once I have written down the facts, I can then start to assess why I am in my feelings.  Am I hurt because it’s true?  Did I receive the situation in the wrong way?  Do I have PMS?  Am I hungry?  Was I already upset about something else?  Will this situation even matter a week, month or year from now?
  6. See the bigger picture. I remind myself that every step is an ordered step and everything that has ever happened in my life, whether good or bad, has served a higher purpose. I try to see past the moment and distinguish the greater meaning, trusting that even in the midst of being in my feelings, there is purpose.
  7. Journal. Journal. Words are powerful and when I am in my feelings, I have trained myself to use my words to describe, improve, and transform my situation.  I write until my hand hurts in order to physically liberate myself from my pent up emotions.
  8. Thought exchange. I replace negative thoughts with more positive ones.  The thing about choosing to stay in your feelings is that you’re also choosing to bind yourself to negative thoughts which will eventually lead you to a cycle of negative life patterns.  The constantly bitter people in your life are probably allowing themselves to remain in their feelings so long that negativity becomes their new normal. Think on good things!
  9. Ask for Support. Sometimes we need someone to listen to us, pray with us, or guide us into a more positive place.  FYI:  The negative Nellies in your life are not the ones to go to!  Avoid toxic people!
  10. Help someone.  I find that when I am taking care of someone else’s problems, God takes care of mine!  You don’t have time to stay in your feelings when you’re out in the world changing it for the better!

 

What do you do when you’re in your feelings?

10 Things about Forgiveness

Image result for forgive

Photo Credit: CHOATphotographer/Shutterstock

I have a friend named Courtney.  Some of you know her.  And those of you who know her well know that her relationship with her other has been tumultuous to say the least.  She’s openly shared some of their trials and at times I’ve cringed at some of the things that have transpired between the two of them, yet here she is once again nurturing her mother through another bout with cancer and doing it like an angel!  I tell her all the time she is the epitome of forgiveness. So here’s what I have learned about forgiveness from watching her:

  1. Forgiveness is a decision. You have to make a choice to forgive.  And when I say “choice” this is not to be misconstrued with the “snap decision” of saying you forgive someone just so you don’t have to face the wounds.
  2. Forgiveness is not a Band-Aid choice. It’s a stitches choices complete with mending, medicating (not drugs and alcohol, my dear non-coping friends), healing time, and scars.  This choice doesn’t say “I disregard what you have done” but instead says, “I am letting go of my right to punish you for what you have done.”
  3. Forgiveness is intentional. This means you are deliberately choosing to listen to the voice that tells you to “repair” instead of the one that says “rip them apart.”
  4. Forgiveness is not doling out your own justice. The reality is, when we try to exact justice, we usually make the situation worse and extend the pain for ourselves and all parties involved. We start a ripple effect of heartache.
  5. Forgiveness is a sacrifice. You will sacrifice payback (which momentarily feels so good…until it doesn’t).  You will sacrifice the comfort of concealing your pain.  You give up avoiding your emotions.  You relinquish your walls so that you can do some real work.  You forego your anger to get down to the real reason you are wounded.  You have to give up all the #pettyBetty ways that help you hide your true feelings.  And sometimes the sacrifice is the relationship that is bringing you these constant betrayals.  From time to time, you have to give up that person so that you can move forward.  That does not mean you stop loving, praying for, and being genuinely concerned about the other party; it simply means you love them from a distance.
  6. Sometimes you need wise council to help you on the road to forgiveness. You forfeit gossiping about it with your superficial, bitter friends and instead turn to a person who can offer guidance in the most righteous way.
  7. Forgiveness means trusting that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). This is also a tough one because we all have more trust issues than Drake.  Let’s just be honest.  We don’t trust ourselves.  We don’t trust our peers.  We don’t trust God.  And now you have to trust that this embarrassment, this hurt, this betrayal, this crappy situation is going to work out for your good?!    You do.  You have to believe that.  And it’s not easy.  We don’t like to be made to look like idiots.  But when people say, “Oh, you just gonna take that?”  Yes.  All things are working together for my good.   “You gonna let them just get away with that?”  Yes.  All things are working together for my good.   “You gonna forgive someone who didn’t even apologize for what they did?”  Yes.  All things are working together for my good. 
  8. Not forgiving is bad for your health! Yes! It’s true.  Many people who are carrying around the hurt and bitterness overeat, drink way too much, and utilize other non-healthy ways to dampen the pain.  All these bad habits lead to obesity, heart conditions, hypertension, stress, anxiety, and other ailments. In other words, if you let your spirit dwell in the dark, your body will look like it!
  9. Forgiveness is for you more than the forgivee. It’s your soul’s way of saying, ”I am worthy of being healed and being whole.” You still have to hold people accountable for their actions, but you don’t have to hold it over their heads.  That hurts you.  Your arms are the ones that will tire of carrying that weight.
  10. Lastly, forgiveness is a process. It does not happen overnight. Sometimes it’ll be easy.  Other times the memories will be as fresh as the day it happened and you’ll want to go fifty shades of Cray on someone.  It’s a process.  Does it mean that you let bad things keep occurring to you while you wait or you just forget?    It’s not forgetting.  It’s transferring.  It’s a conscious effort to transition from a focus on that person’s actions to a focus on your own attitude towards their actions.  At the end of the day, the only mind you can change is your own. –Sean Johnson 

10 Things You Should Do For Your Daughter

Daddy and Me

My Daddy and I at one of my college graduations.

Father’s Day is just a few days away and I would LOVE to see my daddy once again.  I miss him terribly.   Even after all these years, I still adore my father.  I still live to make him proud, heed his warnings, hear his words.  And if after almost 9 years of his absence I still consider myself daddy’s girl, he must have done something right.  Here are ten things you should do for your daughter:

  1. Remind her daily that she is created by the Most High with High Purpose.
  2. Don’t just tell her she’s smart; tell her that she is gifted and name the ways she’s gifted. Does she have a way with words? Is she great at math?  A people person?  Gifted with pets?  Tell her that you see her gifts.
  3. Don’t just tell her that she is beautiful; tell her why she is beautiful. Give her specific praise.  What is it within your daughter that makes her beautiful?
  4. Listen to her. Hear her.  Turn the TV off.  Put your phone on silent.  Even when she is babbling on about boys and girl drama, listen to your daughter.  If you don’t listen to her, some raggedy boy will…and he may not reply with her best interest in mind.
  5. Teach her to be a lady. My daddy taught me how to be a lady.  My mama taught me about womanly things like thinking smart, periods, bras, cleaning house, not taking ish from anyone, etc.  But it was my daddy that said, “Cross your ankles when you sit down, Lady.  A lady lays her napkin on her lap.  A lady always smells good and dresses well.”  And not only did he teach me about being a lady, he taught me what a lady should expect from a gentleman.
  6. Fight for her. Protect her.  Make a scene if the need arises.  Let her know that you’ll start a war, move heaven and earth to defend her.
  7. Be honest about sex. My daddy told me exactly what men thought so I’d be prepared for the game.  Don’t just say, “Don’t get pregnant.”  Tell her the about the responsibilities and consequences that come with sex including the physical, emotional and most importantly…spiritual.  Arm her with the truth.
  8. Teach her. From you, your daughter will learn how to treat a man, what a man should do, how to navigate the world around her, and so much more! Daddy, though it may be hard at times, one of the most important lessons you will teach your daughter is how a man treats a woman.  You will teach her this lesson in the way you treat her mother.   Now I know her mother may not always deserve respect, but respect her anyway.  She may not always deserve kindness, be kind anyway.  Sometimes you might want to shake her, don’t shake her.  Your daughter is watching you, and how you treat her mother is how she will let men treat her.
  9. Be consistent. My daddy was home every night at the same time.  Even when he was preaching in other cities, he was never gone too long.  Not every father lives in the same house with his child, but this is no excuse for inconsistency.  If your job only paid you when they felt like it or if they had nothing better to do, would you accept that?  How much more important is the job of raising your daughter?  If you only see your child once a week, see your child once EVERY week.  If you only see your child the first Friday of the month, be there EVERY first Friday of the month.  Women thrive in relationships with men they can depend on.  Teach her while she’s young that a real man consistently shows up for the girl that he loves.
  10. Respect her.  Know that though she may be like you, but she is not you.  She is not her mother.  She is the best parts of both of you.  Respect her as an individual and in doing so you will show her that she was made to stand out, not fit in.

I could go on and on about all the things your daughter needs from you.  She needs your encouragement, your trust, and your time.  She needs you to teach her respect and show her respect so that she’ll always expect respect.  She needs your affection because if you are loving on her, she’ll be far less apt to let any old knuckle head get in her pants.  But above all, she needs your unconditional love.  You are the first man in her life, the navigator that sets the course for all her future relationships.  Ask yourself, “Am I the kind of man I would want my daughter to marry?”  And if the answer if no, today is as good a day as any to begin again.

10 Reasons it’s Okay to Fail Epically

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As I was sitting in Bible class Sunday, my mind began to wonder.  For some reason, I kept writing my favorite hashtag again and again, #epicfail.  Crazy, right?  One, why did that # of all things come to mind?  Two, why is that my favorite hashtag?  Honestly, I just love the word epic.  Originally, it was used to refer to a long poem about the adventures (or misadventures) of a hero(ine); but as with everything else these days…it’s lost its significance.  We apply “epic” to just about everything…especially the mundane.  Nonetheless, of all the things we’ve overused and misconstrued in this era where pop culture reigns, I believe #epicfail is pretty spectacular.

If you feel like you’ve failed epically, congratulations!

  1. To fail epically means you declared yourself a hero(ine) of unbelievable stature. And you are!
  2. Whatever you bombed at, you did it with Odysseus swag.
  3. You attempted what no one else would and that in and of itself is a win! When everyone else said you couldn’t be chaste, overcome your past, write a book, build a brand, be a plus sized model, counsel others, live an abundant life after the Pen, do missionary work, be president, raise kids alone, bounce back after divorce, shed unwanted weight, own a company, etc.…you tried it anyway!
  4. To fail epically means you have declared that you can do deeds of superhuman strength. And you can!  Now before you go and try to stop a train in your stilettos (or steel toe boots), let me define what I mean by “superhuman strength.”  Super=Marvelous.  Human=You. You do deeds that only marvelous you can do!
  5. You were afraid, but you leapt anyway. It doesn’t matter if you landed with a thud instead of soaring that first time.  What matters is, you had courage.
  6. To fail epically means you were willing to travel (despite your fears) across vast settings to accomplish your goals. You pushed past your own mindscape and set off across the land of haters, sea of self-doubt, the underworld of depression, outer space of disorganization, and whatever other terrain, to accomplish something amazing.
  7. To fail epically means you have declared your journey must involve supernatural forces. And it must!  Regardless of what you call It, we are nothing without a Higher Power.
  8. You took a chance but you also know that nothing about you is by chance. You realize that you are made purposefully because you are purposed.  Not to mention, when you’re in a position where you cannot see how your story will turn out, He is the all-seeing narrator and has vantage points that have not come into view for you just yet.  His Providence will make all the various plots, conflicts, and broken metaphors of your life come together into an #epicstory.
  9. You pushed through when the odds were stacked against you because you believed in you! You believed that the goals you have are worth achieving!
  10. To fail epically means you are trying, that you are daring, that you are a hero(ine) with superhuman strength who has decided she would rather #failepically than live #insignificantly.

10 Things about Being a Diamond

  1. Diamonds form below the surface. It’s what happens in your heart and mind that reflects who and what you really are.
  2. Diamonds are rare. Not everyone will own real diamonds (especially the red ones).  This means that if you are truly a diamond, not everyone should be able to have you. Don’t pass yourself around like glass.
  3. Diamonds form under immense heat and pressure. Unfortunately, no one wants to go through anything anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d prefer not to be hurt or experience pain in life.  We all would.  But some people are so afraid of the heat and pressure that they’d rather blend in with the dirt than risk becoming diamonds.
  4. While you are below the surface being consumed by the elements, Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12). God is grooming you to become what you were always meant to be.
  5. Jewelry cleaner is not what makes a diamond shine. Did you know that diamonds are naturally dull?  It is the cut of the jeweler that determines the brilliance of the stone.
  6. God is the Master Jeweler. You’re going to get cut sometimes.  Life is going to slice you at some very complex angles and it won’t feel good; but it will prepare you to be a prism for His Light.
  7. The cut of the diamond impacts the reflection, refraction, and dispersion of The Light. Reflection is the Light that will hit you and be immediately bounced back, giving you an instantaneous shine.  The rest of His Light will travel through you where it will be scattered and fractured, creating that sparkle that only YOU are known for.  And no matter what you’re going through, eventually His Light will be aimed back towards the surface where your dispersion of His Light will shine for others to admire.
  8. No diamond is completely flawless. What we label as “a flawless diamond” actually has inclusions or natural imperfections.  There are some natural imperfections about you that God deems as perfectly polished for your purpose.
  9. Flawlessness is actually based on the grade of clarity, the polishing of the facets.
  10. A diamond does not utilize external measures to assign value to her inner self.

Therefore, my dear diamonds spend just a little less time being superficially #flawless and figure out what it means to truly shine. 

Before you jump stupid…10 Things

I definitely used to be that girl who spoke before she thought.  Many friendships were lost, many feelings hurt, many loves irreparably damaged as a result of my jumping stupid but now that I am more seasoned, I’ve learned:

  1. Realize that often you aren’t even responding to what actually happened. You’re responding to your interpretation of it.
  2. Many times, even the most abrasive things people say are a cry for help.
  3. With that being said, to respond in a way that denies their cry for help is to deny yourself the same mercy when you need it (and you will need it).
  4. You can never interpret anyone’s motives. That is the work of the Spirit. If you misinterpret someone’s motives, the truth will become what you want it to be; not what it is.
  5. Let your response be appropriate TO THE PERSON YOU SAY YOU ARE as opposed to the situation.
  6. When you respond in error, you give power to chaos.
  7. Remember that what we perceive as an attack can also be a call for love, a listening ear, a moment of something unconditional.
  8. Recognize that we live in a world where people are experiencing a 24/7 sense of loss. Your response holds the power to supply the loss or further deplete someone.
  9. If you are in a public situation, do not let people influence your response. Unfortunately, people with personal investments tend to be the most antagonistic.
  10. Lastly, examine yourself.  Are you as connected to the Spirit as you should be?  It is only the Spirit of God within you that can ever accurately translate what we PERCEIVE into TRUTH.  So before you jump stupid ask the Spirit to intervene so that you can use your powerful words in the most life affirming way possible