Archive | November 2015

Facing Your Own Brokeness

2013 was a rough year. For the 2nd time in my life my world was turned upside down and the thing about it was it had nothing to do with me. But I felt like it did. Because I had unhealed wounds. I thought I had healed. I even was in the process of writing a book about it at that time. But there are so many layers to the human heart and anyone who thinks they have “arrived” has to think again.I was out for a run and in my mind I was thinking about current events and I was pointing the finger. I was blaming and casting judgement and not being a friend. I was being a Pharisee. And God in His grace showed me that the very one I was judging had in the past responded to my sin in love. How could I not do the same? But I did not know love then. I only knew pain and I had let my pain respond instead of love. It was during that run that He challenged me to look inward. I did not want to. I was afraid and knew I would see something ugly. But I did it anyway b/c He asked me to. Because who can say “no” to Jesus? That decision was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. It was making that decision and so many thereafter that set me on a path of wholeness. Up until then I had known His salvation and I had even known His healing but I did not yet know that even with His salvation and healing I was still a very broken person.  

After that run I had many other runs and so many of them felt hard. I was running but I was empty and I could not run away from my emptiness. Instead of choosing to numb my emptiness with alcohol, attempt to fill it with food or another unhealthy, toxic relationship, I went cold turkey. I let it burn. I had no idea if the emptiness would ever end but one day I cried out to God in the midst of it all. And I realized He is what I need. I had been looking to others to fill me and meet my needs, but He was the only One who could.

I spoke with her recently and she said that every day she is learning to love herself. I am too. We realize now what we did not know so long ago, that we are broken. That knowing Christ was not a quick fix to life’s problems. It did not exempt us from the need to heal and get healthy and be whole. But it did promise us that eventually we would get there.

I function now differently these days. I have carved out a life for myself. I do not put people in that place in my heart. Again, I have not arrived but I am better than before.  

Each day I learn wholeness.

I learn that my Maker is my Husband and He is for me no matter what I think or believe. I learn how to receive and give love. This will probably be a lifelong lesson, but I am so grateful He helped me to choose the more narrow way. I am so grateful that even though it has been so painful and humbling to face my brokenness, I chose not to self-medicate. I chose not to hide like Adam in the garden. But instead I turned to look inward and see what God was pointing at.  

And I have never been so grateful that I did.

 SHALOM

Dining from the Tree of Life

Do you ever feel like You are just Jesus’ best friend? Like He is just so into you? Everything about you, He is taking it in and soaking it up and saying, “It is good!” That is how I have felt in this season. His manifest presence and love was pouring out and every cell in my being was awakening to it. I experienced this in Haiti. I was surrounded by the sights and sounds of a beauty that can only be found in natural terrain. I was speechless because I knew it was God’s love for me that He was demonstrating. I felt it at both book release parties. I had so many fears going into both parties but everything was exactly the way I had wanted it to be. He had given me the desires of my heart. I felt His love so many times throughout the promotion of my book. His presence would overwhelm me and I would hear His heart saying, “I am so proud of you!” and I would feel unworthy. How could the Creator of all things, the I AM, the Eternal One, call me daughter and love me with such a fierce love? How could His affection for me be so great?
I have struggled with projecting religious, false notions of God onto Him. For much of my spiritual walk I felt He was against me. I didn’t understand His ways. I didn’t understand the relinquishment of desires that accompanies the path of surrender. But I have heard it said recently that if we cannot release our desires here on earth than how can we be entrusted to cast the very crowns at His feet that He gives us in eternity (Rev 4:10)? I would have held on tightly to my crown before this journey. Even now it is His grace that peels my fingers back one by one as I let go of what I thought was good. I learn humility with each step forward that is usually hidden in the waiting, and realize, I already had what was good.  

I had Him.  

For years I struggled to find my identity and purpose and security in the natural. I tried to find them in men and in jobs and in what the world termed as “success”, but now 13 years in I can finally see; He is what I was looking for. Because I am spirit, Spirit can only satisfy me. I wasn’t so sure before but now I know. He satisfies. 

Fear has tried to sabotage my intimacy and I have needed others to speak truth into me with heartfelt words of prayer. What a gift to have so many sisters there wiling to pray for me, if I only ask. Asking has been a new practice for me. But I am practicing.

There is nothing like being awakened to the Father’s love. There is nothing like laying down everything and discovering that He was all you wanted anyway. You thought it was the money, the car, the success, the man, but it was Him. And what’s so cool about Him is that so many times in my journey after I have laid it all down, He has given it to me anyway.

Truly He gives us the desires of our hearts if we first delight in Him.

Hope fulfilled is a tree of life.  

Let us dine…

 SHALOM

When Dreams Change

10 years ago I was a college grad who wanted to travel the world, spread the gospel and when I was “old” (around age 40), I would settle down, marry and have kids. I thought I had it all figured out. Before then I was caught up with my boo. I was all about him and his dream and supporting his calling. So initially I was all about my man and then I was all about me. Except I didn’t know it. I thought these were God-given dreams. I thought the best way for me to glorify my Maker was for me to spread the gospel to all nations. Instead, I had to learn to first spread it in my city. To my co-workers. I had to go through a lot of refining myself before I could even think about the harvest He had promised.

Fast forward 10 years later, there have been many afflictions and they have all worked for my good. I couldn’t have fathomed how the waiting and the testing and the BEING was going to transform me into His original intent. This transformation has been so evident to me that even as I am presented with one of my very biggest dreams that I held onto for so long, I do not choose it.

Because my dream has changed.

I am in awe. How can something I wanted so intensely and for so long change?? The opportunity to relocate, the chance to work in my preferred area. How could I say “no”? But I did. Because I am different now. I am learning in this season my purpose is not attached to a job position. It is attached to the will of God and God’s will looks different depending on the season.

We need to know our season.

10 years ago I was unemployed and my mom’s coworker said I needed to look for work b/c “a man who doesn’t work doesn’t eat”. He even used scripture to support his logic. But God had told me not to work during this time.

People will not understand your journey and your choices as you follow Him. But will you still follow Him?

I marvel at my Father’s hand on my life. I marvel at the path I have walked thus far. This path of surrender that has led me to die a plethora of deaths; each one seeming more fatal than the one before. And still, I have not yet “resisted unto blood shed” as He did. The deaths I have experienced have been His mercy and grace to remove the carnal, selfish, immature girl who started this journey with Him as a 19 year old. He has developed her into a less selfish, more mature and more eternally-focused person. I am still growing, still learning, and awakening everyday. But O’ it is so nice to get to this point and stand in awe, and worship Him! And marvel at His work! He has made me into a testimony of His hand.

And I’m just getting started.

Just today I received a card my friend had us address to ourselves this summer during her b day party. The purpose is to encourage your future self. I must say this card arrived right on time as I am celebrating the latest spiritual accomplishments God has done in my life!


 I also listened to a very timely sermon this morning, which confirmed so much of my season. I hope you are blessed with this message as well.

Below are pics from time with my sisters earlier this week:

  
  
SHALOM

Sealing the Cracks

Yesterday at fellowship we talked about the importance of having a good foundation. Whether it’s a spiritual foundation, the foundation of a building or even the foundation of a relationship, one fact is consistent: whatever is built upon that foundation cannot be expected to last if the foundation is weak.   In regards to our spiritual foundation, every person on earth was born with cracks. We were born into sin and sin creates cracks in a person’s foundation. Our mental, emotional and spiritual perspective is filtered through a negative belief system. In the beginning we were given all but sin made us feel we were going without. We were loved but we felt rejected. We were in deep fellowship and relationship but we felt alone. I like to think I am not the only person on the planet who has felt these things even while walking with Christ.  

Of course God in His love and mercy became the solution to our cracks. He saw that we had holes and gaps and missing components to our personhood and He filled them all.  

With His blood.  

The only thing is, this completion, though done on the cross, does not manifest in our lives overnight. Instead, it is the day-by-day journeying with Him in deep relationship that brings about our true selves. 

But since His ways are not our ways, most of this journeying with Him is difficult. It feels like you are being stretched. It makes you uncomfortable.

And often it is painful.  

I have experienced several forms of waiting in my journey and I’m blessed to say I have passed many of these tests. I can see the pattern in my life that the waiting times have been so needed because He was refocusing me on what truly mattered. He helped me to learn to not wait on the gift but to wait on Him. I could be frustrated that We (He and I) have gone through the same tests over and over and learned the same lessons (me learning, Him teaching), but I realize it is about wholeness. He is peeling back the layers of immaturity and dysfunction. I am not wandering aimlessly in the wilderness like the children of Israel like I once thought I was. Instead I am moving forward on a path of purpose that is designed like a helix. Just as the Jews see time, I now see time; b/c God sees time that way.   It is in these moments of waiting, He is repairing my foundation. He is filling in the cracks. And in this particular season of waiting, He is revealing the oneness that the Son and the Father had while Christ walked the earth. It is the oneness we are all called to but we do not all choose it.

Many are called, few are chosen.  

But there is grace to choose.

SHALOM

Live As You Are Called

woman-at-home

I have been listening to a woman’s testimony online who has been single 57 years and is getting married today. You may know of this woman. Her name is Nancy De Moss. I haven’t really followed her ministry “Revive Our Hearts” too much in the past but given she has lived a full single life for 57 years and is now being called to marriage, well, that is a topic that greatly interests me! I definitely tuned in b/c I wanted the wisdom she had acquired for nearly 60 years that didn’t just allow her to live an abundant single life, but that allowed her to thrive in the will of God for her life. Much of what she shared in her series “Before I Become a Mrs.” really resonated with what God has been teaching me in my journey and especially in this season. She shared that we should “live as we are called” just as Paul admonished (1 Cor 7:17). But she elaborated on that teaching and said that until God calls you to something different, keep doing what you are doing. So until God calls you to marriage, remain single. It really is about the will of the Father. We should not seek to be outside of His will for any reason, but remain as we are called.

Some other great tips she gave were to be content regardless of one’s circumstances and to live our lives as unto the Lord. I have learned recently how important contentment is regardless of my circumstances. I had to fight for joy b/c I was unhappy in both my personal and professional life. That meant most days I was unhappy! I realized I had to find this joy on my own and not seek it in another person otherwise I would be needy and dependent. I had done that enough in the past. It was time for something different.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with a group of teenagers about having healthy relationships. I shared from my book, my own story and all that I have been learning in this season about emotional health. I was in awe that God had opened this door for me when this has been my area of weakness. I did not have examples growing up of healthy marriages. I would have benefited greatly if I had someone to come alongside me and mentor me in the area of emotional health and healthy relationships. But yesterday I was able to speak to people around the same age I was when I found misguided love. In a sense I was able to mentor my younger self. And just as a new friend recently told me, though I did not have this guidance myself, I can now guide others.

I was speaking to a fellow single sister about relationships over lunch after sharing my teaching to the kids. We both have experienced God confirming marriage in our future. But I asked her, how should our single sisters feel about marriage if God has not confirmed to them that this is in their future? The statistics are against us as African American, educated women. Should they have hope for marriage? She made a really great point. She said that we should want the Father’s original intent. In the beginning He made them both male and female to reproduce His image throughout the earth and establish His kingdom. That was His original intent. We now live in a fallen world and there is dysfunction and people have choices. But as new creatures in Christ we should desire the Father’s heart as it was in the beginning.

This too pertains to calling. In the beginning men and women were called to be whole people, know their identity in Elohim outside of the relationship and come together for a purpose. That is the Father’s heart. We should live as we are called. And when He changes our calling, we should live in that too.

Regardless of whether our calling changes, there is One who stays the same. It is the One who stays the same that matters most.

Here is a great blog post that I have really enjoyed that encourages us when we are facing odds that seem to be against us: “The Odds Are Against Us, But It Don’t Even Matter”.

SHALOM!

The Release


You wake up that morning like you always do. Get dressed like you always do. Make your breakfast, lunch and snacks for the day like you always do. Everything is normal. You even create a new hairstyle; send a text to friends for their approval and head out the door to make your way to work. Work. The place that has been both promise land and testing ground for 8 ½ years. Sure you know the company has been struggling. They have been laying people off for a while now. But b/c you have tried your best these last 3 years to make your exit with no such luck you hardly expect to be one of those people. Even when you get there and see your boss waiting for you on your way to your cubicle, which is out of the norm. It never crosses your mind. And why should it? You have finally found purpose in the cube. You have finally discovered your calling is more than this job position (again). You have finally become content (again). It is not until you follow your boss’ lead into the office and sit down next to the HR lady that it starts dawning on you.   “I’m being laid off”.

It is still taking some getting used to. I am still processing. And it is not because this is a loss in my life or a traumatic event like it is for others. No. It is simply b/c I had finally embraced my cup. I had finally found grace and purpose in the stretching. After 3 years of crying out to the Lord I finally surrendered. I was in it for the long haul. I was committed. God was my refuge and my strength. And now I can clearly see, that was the work He was doing in me.

And my work is done.

In corporate you do not get to say goodbye. You do not even get to pack up your personal items. You hand over your badge and as nicely as they can they escort you out of the building like an outcast to a community you were formally apart of. A community you added value to, and in most cases gave decades of your life to. And just like that, it is over. You are driving home with your severance package laying on the passenger seat, talking to your best friend on the phone who went through a similar experience just a month prior and share that you haven’t just been laid off. You have been RELEASED. God Himself has released you. Because He is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He is your Commander in Chief. He is the One who all men go through when deciding the navigation of your career.

There are times while waiting it really seems like the waiting will go on forever. I look forward and the days stretch into months and the months stretch into years and there is no end. It is like the waiting is eternal. But it’s not. It never is. At some point in time He says, “You are done”.

Even when it’s not in the way I thought it would be, I am learning the natural hardly looks like the supernatural. Unemployment and layoffs, which typically are setbacks, actually are His promotion in my life. So while others are struggling with the change in season I rejoice.

Because I hear Him say, “God job my good and faithful servant! You have finished well!” And I respond, “Father, Your Word is true. Your grace was SOOO sufficient!”

SHALOM