Archive | February 2017

Giant Slayer

I remember at the beginning of this very difficult season Holy Spirit said “fight!” and I responded “I don’t want to”.  I’m usually honest in my responses to Him because that’s what happens when you have a close relationship with someone.  And He already knows my heart anyway so there’s no reason to dabble in pretense.  He was telling me I would need to walk out this season and I knew it was going to entail some horrors that I did not want to face.  And that I would feel so very alone when facing them.  But I made my decision long ago to follow Him so even though I said, “I don’t want to” that didn’t mean I wouldn’t.  It just meant that I was once again choosing to do things His way over my own.

The real reason I didn’t want to was because I didn’t trust Him and I didn’t trust myself.  Though we had been through many battles and I had seen victory every time I knew this particular battle would be a doozy and I was tired of the fight.  I wanted to rest.  But recently I heard a sermon where the minister advised that when you are called and chosen there is usually one thing after another that is going to come up against you.  I don’t like to have that view because it seems so negative but I couldn’t refute the fact that this was what had been happening in my journey: one thing after another.

Well, I have experienced much victory in this season though I am still walking it out, and upon reflection I can see that the Father was confident that I would be able to slay this giant when He called me to fight it.  He was confident because He knows who I am eternally.  Whereas I was insecure and fearful because I knew my weaknesses.

I remember a scene from “Hook” where Robin Williams who is Peter Pan, is standing in front of the lost boys and his competition Rufio opposes him.  Robin doesn’t remember he is Peter Pan.  He thinks he’s this old man who lives for his work and doesn’t spend enough time with his children.  Instead he is the leader of a group of zealous, bright boys who seek adventures, fly and fight pirates.  So Rufio says for all who think he’s Peter Pan to stand on one side of the room and all the lost boys go to that side.  Well, Peter starts to go to that side too because he himself doesn’t believe!  But Tink brings him back to the other side and eventually one of the boys convinces the rest that he is really The Peter Pan.  Well, I see myself in that moment of confusion over identity that Robin displays.  I didn’t see myself as being a slayer of a giant of this magnitude.  I started to go to the side of the room with the rest of my naysayers.  But God (symbolized as Tink in this analogy) pulled me back to the right side.

And I’m glad He did.

I was right about the horror and the darkness.  I was even right about my own weaknesses.  But I forgot about His strength in me.  I forgot that He who is in me is greater than He who is the world.

I am thankful that He promises in His Word victory every time (2 Cor 2:14).  It may not look the way we thought it would or come about in the time frame we desired, but it is promised.

No matter how great the giant, He who is in you is greater.

You were created in His image and nothing can conquer the Creator.

 

SHALOM

Soulmates & Singleness


Last night I had a good conversation with a dear friend.  We talked about one of our most frequented topics: singleness.  We reminisced about the times spent walking out this path we never thought we’d face and how much we’ve grown since those early days.  Where had the time gone?  We wondered.  I remembered an old video on black women finding love after 40 and some who never “found love” at all.  My friend had also watched that video way back when and shared her sentiments on it.  “It’s depressing” she said.  I can see why she would feel that way though I don’t remember having that perspective as a 20- something watching it.  I only remember thinking, “That won’t be me!”  Even if I didn’t verbally say those words, I feel that message was ingrained deeply in my heart.  You see at that time in my spiritual walk I didn’t understand that God could (and would) use time to work out some stuff that would hinder purpose and identity from being manifested through me.  I certainly didn’t see the stuff I needed working out at that point so of course I didn’t think He would need to do too much work on me.  Ah, to be young and naïve again😆.  My timeline was that of the culture’s timeline and even now I struggle against that mindset.  But what I have learned in the time that has occurred between then and now is this: Father knows best.  I now understand that when God says, “no” it is in my best interest whereas back then I only saw one side of the coin (when God said “no” He was just being mean).  So watching that video back then I interpreted it through that lens.  The one-sided coin lens.

Since I’m a little older now and am actually closer to the age of the women who were interviewed, I decided to re-watch it through these new-more mature lenses.  When I did, I felt grieved for the women who wanted love and for one reason or another did not find it.  I did relate to how they cultivated a full joyful life outside of a relationship.  And I did understand their desire to please God in a life of celibacy that they never envisioned in their future.  But there was one subtle question my heart was asking as the statistics of single, black-educated women rolled on the screen. How healthy are these women?  I wondered.  You see in the last few years I’ve had a lot of revelations as to why I needed singleness and everyone of them had to do with the fact that I myself was very unhealthy.  I wouldn’t have known a healthy relationship if it hit me in the face.  And I’m sure there were good men around me who avoided me like the plague because of my red flags.  Thankfully I had the Holy Spirit who guided me and pruned me and created something a little better than what existed before.  So I watched half of the video and felt their pain and empathized with their cup that I myself am also drinking from, but I also know that we can be limited in our understanding of God’s ways…

Statistics are statistics and I can’t say that I am exempt from them.  Maybe some of the reason I am single is because black men are incarcerated and gay and not educated.  Maybe I am affected by these facts.  But my experience trumps statistics.  And my experience is that I am chosen and God has been very intentional with me to deliver me and heal me and restore me (He is such a good Dad).  He has been very intentional with me to set me apart, teach me and grow me.

I don’t know my future, but I do know my past.  He is my past.  He is Father and Maker and Friend.  And most importantly He is trustworthy.

Job 13:15 (KJV)

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him…

I hate that we are called to very difficult things.  That sometimes we don’t have the answers this side of heaven.

But sometimes we do have the answers.

I have found many answers hidden within the crevices of my heart (Ephesians 3:11).  And often, almost too many times, He has confirmed those answers through dreams and prophecy.  I have lived my life this way for the last 15 years, and I am encouraged by the Spirit of the Lord within my heart that no matter what the statistics say, no matter what another person’s story is or perspective is, I need to stay true to what I know inside.

He has intentionally set me apart for such a time as this and for my own good.  And He will give me the desires of my heart as I have first delighted in Him.

SHALOM

The Reward

Thursday morning while driving to work I thought about the many times I have laid down my life in the area of relationships.  The many times I said “no” because Christ said “no”.  I had a speaking engagement that night where I would share my story about how I was so badly hurt by a break up that I would not have made it through if Christ had not manifested His power and love.  And though I appreciate that manifestation, I had no idea the level of surrender and sacrifice that would be on the other side of that event. 

runner

It is now nearly 12 years later since I first decided to surrender my most prized possession.  And in that time frame I can honestly say I have been immensely blessed.  But that morning in the car all I felt was the pain from the surrender and it seemed never ending.  Then all of a sudden I was in tears while driving and I heard my own voice crying out to a God I haven’t felt in over a year.  I cried out to Him in that familiar way I used to when I did feel Him and I knew He was near.  

“Where is the reward?!” I asked.  I screamed.  You see all I saw was the relentless pruning and dying to self and sacrifice.  The days that stretched out ahead mirrored the ones that were behind and I was leaning on my coping mechanisms to “make it”.  But as soon as I cried out the answer came:  “Fruit must come after the pruning”.  It wasn’t the manifestation of His presence and voice that I had experienced for most of my spiritual journey but it was a knowing.  “It is a natural law”, He said.  And I knew that He was showing me that He orchestrated the times and seasons in such a way that when there is pruning there must be fruit.  As the poet Lauren Hill said, “After winter must come spring”.

With this knowledge I suddenly knew that my mindset had been incorrect.  In attempting to “endure” I was missing a very important truth: God would bring the reward after the cost had been paid.  That same day I listened to a minister’s sermon who confirmed what I was hearing.  “God loves to reward His children for making the right choice” He said.  Instantly I was reminded of a key point in my life where I had chosen to yield and obey.  My pastor at the time said that God was going to reward my obedience in my career.  Within weeks that word came to pass.  I was surprised that God would give me a reward for doing what I was supposed to do.  But He did and I was overwhelmed with His blessings.

Then on Sunday at fellowship the prophetic flowed sweetly in a way it hadn’t in a while.  I knew as I saw the members coming in that He was going to speak that way through one particular woman.  And speak He did.  “Nicole, God has seen your faithfulness.  He has seen the many times you wanted to leave.  He has seen the sacrifices and the obedience.  He is going to reward you this day.”  I was in awe as the words flowed over me.  SO many words of confirmation.  Things I had spoken out loud myself.  Things I had just shared with a friend that morning.  Revelation and understanding in such a dry season.  I was encouraged to say the least.

As if that were not enough the very next day I listened to my favorite minister who has spoken into my life unknowingly the past few years.  “We are entering a season of reward, “ he said.  “God is distributing gifts through his angels to the faithful”.  I was elated.  And when I looked at the date of the message, it was from the day before.  That Sunday, the same day I had received that word at fellowship.  God had given me this word 3 times in 1 week.  And the way He went about it meant the most to me because first He spoke it to my spirit.  In a season I have felt He has not been speaking, this showed me that He has been and that I do hear Him.  “He is fine tuning your hearing” the woman at fellowship said and I knew that that is why this last year has been so difficult because He is speaking in the still small voice.

I want to extend this word to you.  If you have been waiting and faithful and sacrificing.  If you have given your all and then given your all again and then given your all again.  If you have felt gutted out and emptied and depleted for the sake of the Christ and His kingdom.  I want to let you know that He sees you.  

He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  

Prepare to receive your reward.

John‬ ‭15:2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ 

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭NKJV ‭‭

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

If you’d like to check out some tips on being single on V day check out this video!


To hear more about the reward click here!


And here’s a pic of how I spent this weekend😊


SHALOM

Jesus Started With Twelve


Last night I had my second speaking engagement and it went so well!  The whole process of me receiving this opportunity was so unexpected that I can’t help but see God’s hand in it.  While I was unemployed last year I worked filing individual tax returns during the tax season.  One day a client came in to sign off on his paperwork.  He was not my client but my coworker’s client, however because my coworker was unavailable I handled the sign off.  Although this should have been a simple task, things did not run so smoothly.  There were a few errors that needed fixing and I had to speak with management to correct them.  This caused a few trips to the back room, getting on the phone with management and working feverishly to fix the issue.  I was so worried the client would think I was the cause of the error and that I was unprofessional.  Instead he was laid back and very pleasant.  He made small talk and asked me what I did professionally in the off season.  Well, since I was unemployed I didn’t want to mention that aspect of my life so instead I said off handedly, “Oh, I’m a local author”, to which his eyes lit up!  Turns out he was a higher up at a local library and they featured local authors in the library!  He asked for my book but I had just sold out at my first speaking engagement (thank You Lord).  Instead I took his card and agreed to contact his assistant.  Fast forward one year later and I found myself walking into a library that has my picture in the lobby on an easel along with 3 other stellar individuals, a shelf with a row of my book so that readers could “check it out” and a podium and mic set up on stage.  Oh yea and a parking spot that said “Reserved for speaker”.  “Wow!” I thought.  “Where is God taking us?!”  (I was referring to both myself and my mom who was faithfully by my side.)  Mom had mentioned she was praying for the event and hoped for a large crowd.  While we definitely had a good group, it was not the large crowd she desired.  I know to her and others there were just a few individuals present but to my eyes the room was full.  It was full of His glory, His purpose and maybe even a few angels.


Last night I met a guest who shared some personal challenges he was having in this season.  I knew that even if no one else showed up, I was there for him.  The evening was such a blessing as I got to share my testimony of the pain I faced and how God met me in that pain.  I then shared on what I’ve been learning in becoming a healthy single and looking for a healthy dating relationship.  I was so encouraged and inspired by this open door that I sailed home that night on a cloud and woke up this morning with a smile😊.


4 years ago I started this little blog not knowing it would eventually lead to me becoming a published author.  Now a business is developing and income is being received.  Speaking engagements are being booked and skype calls are being made and I am just trying to keep up.  It truly is exceedingly abundantly more than I could have thought of.  So even if there are just a few present, those few matter to God.  I firmly believe that if we are faithful over a few He will make us rulers over much.  He will give the increase.  All we have to do is be faithful and keep moving forward.  Even Christ Himself practiced this protocol.  Because He was faithful with just 12 the gospel has now spread to most of the world over thousands of years.

And He only lived until the age of 33.

Imagine what He could do through you in your lifetime!

SHALOM

When Life Looks Different

Can I be honest with you?  Because I’d like to.  It is my hope that this little blog brings hope and causes people to grow closer to God, but it is also my hope that I am transparent.

When I was 19 years old something or rather, Someone got a hold of me.  I was taught about God at a very young age and feel that I had a relationship with Him.  Back then it was like God and I were in the same house but He was in the attic and I was in the basement.  He was around (somewhere) and I had access to Him but there was still distance.  And then something happened.  I was away at school and dealing with depression, only I didn’t know I was depressed.  A faculty member actually told me I was.  That same faculty member told me to join a gospel choir.  I didn’t know it but God was speaking through him.  In many ways I think that faculty member saved my life.  At the very least he introduced me to life.  Singing in the gospel choir ignited something in me and it was the perfect outlet for two very great passions I had: God and music.  And then something else happened.  Someone in the choir announced a weekly Bible Study they were having.  I went and my life was never the same.  After that God and I were no longer separated by walls and floors. We were standing in the same room, Face to face, talking, like you would a close friend.

And then we were lovers.

And I couldn’t get enough of His love.

Anything He asked me to do I would because He had my heart.  I was passionate and zealous and quite verbal about my experience and He put people in my life who shared that passion.  We were on fire.  That fire lasted and did not go out.  Not even through the darkest of storms.  And there were storms.  There were times the enemy tried to “gut me out” I believe were the prophet’s words.  There were times the unthinkable happened over and over again.  But still, He kept me standing, and used the hard things to be a testimony.


Life looks different now then I thought it would as that young, zealous, passionate teenager.  I’m a planner so I had my life planned out a few different ways.  I was going to marry the man who broke my heart.  Then I was going to be a missionary and spread the gospel all over the world.  Then I was going to climb the corporate ladder and make my way to the top of a Fortune 500 company.  But all of those plans failed.  Instead His purpose prevailed.

Proverbs 19:21

His purpose consisted of several seasons of unemployment, several years of downtime and walking out nearly 12 years of singleness after declining several marriage proposals.  His plan included becoming a local author and publishing 2 books, obtaining an MBA in Accounting and simultaneously growing as a business woman and writer.

I realize now as I near the big 3-4 I cannot control my life.  I can make choices and I can lay down my choice for His but I do not have control.  A  long time ago I chose His way, His will, b/c I had seen something I couldn’t resist.

I had seen Love.

Love in its finest fashion.  And that love caused me to count it all dung.

I am still counting.

Most days it is a painful counting in this season of waiting but I can’t help but think about those early days and have hope that eventually the reward, whether it be earthly or heavenly, will come.

If you haven’t yet checked out my youtube channel you may be interested in the latest video “Trading Your Dream for God’s”.


AND if you’re in the area…don’t miss this!!! 

SHALOM