Tag Archive | joy

After The Storm

There is a quiet these days.  Each morning I wake up and its not like the mornings of years past but its not like the mornings of months past either.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the Father’s love, or being tormented with fear (which has been the case), I feel–quiet.  I feel stillness.  I feel a victory from overcoming this season and an encouragement to keep moving forward.

I’ve been writing a lot lately.  Not on this here blog, but on my laptop, with the cat, under my fleece.  My roommate has been so gracious to listen each evening as I share the short story I’ve been working on.  She is so affirming.  A fellow writer and with much more experience, her compliments and feedback hold even greater weight.  This story I’m writing (which is actually almost complete) brings me such joy.  There are some prophetic elements to it as well which has been very interesting.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share more on that in the future.  I’m reminded that a while back Jesus told me to fight for joy.  He said, You need to find things in life that give you joy.  A naturally melancholic personality, this didn’t come easy.  But we can do all things through Christ and I have learned (am still learning) the art of joy. 

Writing brings me joy.

My bestie visited me recently and we stayed up ’til 4am.  I haven’t done that in YEARS.  We reminisced on college days, when we were just teenagers and in love with Jesus.  Now we are in our 30s.  She’s a mom and a divorcée.  I’m an author, still single with no children.  We have come a long way.  “We are the best of the best” I told her.  And I meant it.  I believe God desires His best to be manifested in our lives.  And I believe that best can only be manifested if we stick with the path He created for each of us.

She and I have stuck with that path.

It has not been easy.  Anyone reading this blog sees clearly my ups and downs, but always He sustains me.

Writing my short story shows me how the author uses circumstances and people  to get the protagonist to where she is going.  I’m sure that’s how the Father is when He writes our story.  He puts people and situations in our lives, ultimately to bring out the person He created before the fall.  Before the womb.  Before the dysfunction.

There was a period of time where I was shocked by the storm.  Shocked by the darkness.  Now looking back, I can see that it was just a shadow, it was not death itself.  If it were death it would have taken me out.  I thought it almost did, and maybe it almost did but I know to Him, it was just a shadow.

Now that I’m on the other side (still fighting of course) I can see I was bigger than that storm.

And I wouldn’t be a better version of myself had I not gone through it.

I pray the same for you.

A few things that bring me joy…


SHALOM

Summer

Each morning I wake up to sunlight cascading into my bedroom window. Birds are singing songs of praise and everything is light and airy.  Summer came swiftly and I found myself hurrying to catch up with the new season. I put away my sweaters and pulled out my sandals. Summer is here!  Only a few weeks before we had snow!  Such an odd occurence but a reminder to me that each day is new. I can’t remember a time when there was snow and then 80 degree weather in my city. God makes each day its own.

I scrubbed the house from top to bottom in preperation for a special visitor. All the windows are up and the back door is left open. I spend most mornings having quiet time on the porch. My Bible and journal wait in expectation. 

  

 
It’s so much easier to feel joy when there is sun. It’s so freeing to not have on layers. But would I really appreciate this season if not for the cold? 

I’ve grown to love Fall. I’ve grown to love layers. But I don’t know if Summer will ever be a bore.  It is always a welcome refreshment from the times of hybernation.

Enjoying this new season…   

   
SHALOM

One Month In

This week will be one month since the lay off. It has flown by. My how I have grown! 8 years ago when I faced unemployment I was ready to cash out my savings from fear that God would not provide and everyday that eeked by felt like eternity. I was so stressed I lost my hair and felt like God had abandoned me. Now my hair has been its own source of joy.
  When I first graduated college I was so worried about my lack of experience. I did not have the internships lined up like my peers or the savvy business connects. I felt like a fish out of water. All I had was a very expensive college degree and a call from God. Turns out that was all I needed. Actually, I didn’t even need the degree-He was enough. So now 10 years later I marvel at His hand. I marvel at His provision and how He is transforming me and writing a story I never knew I wanted written. He is now even using me to write other people’s stories. I tried so hard to box myself in. I felt boxed in that cube for 3 years and thought it would be the death of me. But I learned joy. I chose to make the best of that cube and that was what He was waiting for. So often we think we are waiting on Him. I bet you He’s waiting on you even more!

I met with my career coach and let her fine tune my resume, my cover letter and my Linked In profile. My business cards for both my professional endeavors as well as my book are on their way. It all looks so amazing and yet it doesn’t even cover all of the other professional experiences I am getting with writing in this season. Whatever God has for me is going to be phenomenal.

10 years ago I couldn’t see my future. I couldn’t see where I was going. I had a totally different view of how my life would look and who would be in it. I thought I knew myself. I had no clue I would keep changing. That much of what made me “me” back then was actually not me at all. It was brokenness, wounds, pain, and lies believed since childhood. There is still brokenness, and there is still pain, and lies, but He has made it His mission to keep making me better.

The pruning is worth it. It’s hard, but so worth it.

I finally see now that the path God creates for each of us is to bring out our best. He does not allow us to stay immature and selfish and needy. He keeps us walking by faith so that we are being developed into His image. This image for me has been long luscious locks of natural hair, a 25lb weight loss, clean eating life style, improved fashion style and a radiant dark chocolate skin tone. And that doesn’t even cover my improved character!

I thought I needed a man to make me worthy. I thought I needed a relationship to have value and be beautiful. Actually it was a relationship I needed to make me amazing. But it was a relationship with Christ.

If you are on Periscope please check out my guest spot on TriF.Y.R.E’s “Transparent Tuesdays”! I will be weighing in on the topic of “Christian Singles Being Sexy”.


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!

Redefining Success, Choosing Joy, Learning Grace

I’m reading a book called “Single & Free to Be Me” by Dr. Clarence Shuler. In it he shares a counseling session he has with a 40 year-old single, successful business woman. She tells him she does not feel successful as a person and he helps her to see that she feels like a failure b/c she is basing her value on her relationship status. He then leads her in redefining success in a sense. This takes several sessions I’m sure but his approach at “peeling back the layers” assists me in my own self-evaluation.  
How do I define success for myself? Instantly I know that I would easily define success by my career. Yet God has led me these 10 years on a path to remove that type of thinking from my mindset. I cannot feel successful in my career even though I really would like to. And of course, there is the relationship status. But since I cannot go to those things to find success, b/c Holy Spirit has been and is teaching me those are not sturdy foundations, I went to Him.  

How does God define success? And here is what I wrote:

1) Success to Him is doing the Father’s will (obedience).

2) Success to Him is perseverance (long suffering, patience).

3) Success to Him is faith.

And after discussing these things with a friend, I will add that success to God is when we evolve and manifest wholeness. When we learn and grow each day.  

Upon further reflection I realize that my tendency is to place value on temporary things and the outward demonstration of talent, gifts, and accomplishments. Yet God values what is inside. The inner being. He values character and maturity and mindsets. Understanding His definition of success makes me feel like more of a successful individual and I’m sure helps to expose lies I have believed, just as I’m sure Dr. Shuler’s client experienced in his office.

3 days ago I woke up full of joy. The whole day I had such joy and it was unexplainable. I had a very “normal” day, like many days in this season. I went to work, ran a few errands after work, cooked, did dishes, and watched a movie. But every single event was filled with joy. I was enjoying the Lord. I was enjoying myself. I was in such a great mood and I knew it was the joy of the Spirit. I knew God was teaching me that the fear and anxiety I have been battling in this season is the real enemy. My circumstances had not changed one bit yet I was able to feel elated and led to celebrate the day. I’m learning that I have to fight for joy. My personality is more melancholy, serious and reflective which serves its purpose in my own self-evolvement but also can lead to pessimism and anxiety. Being type A does the same thing. Knowing this about myself, and realizing b/c I have absolutely no control over changing my circumstances in life, well, I must choose joy if I want to enjoy the life I have been given. I actually have to fight for it as joy is not a natural tendency for me.  

You have probably heard me talk a little bit about grace on this blog lately. That is another revelation I have been getting. I am seeing it is the Father’s grace that I have had joy these 3 days. I realize that whatever life He has called me to, He has given me grace to walk it out. He has given me grace to stay and wait. That grace can look like joy in the midst of frustration. It can look like the disappearance of anxiety and sorrow. It can look like peace where there used to be fear. 

His grace is amazing.

I was caught in such a dark place of anxiety and I did not know how to escape. Anxiety gave me a false sense of control and it was an illusion that entangled me in an addiction of worrying. But He humbled me which allowed me to release control.  

He met me. He heard my cry. And He showed me the way to peace. And hope. And joy.

Gal 5:22-23

Psalm 18

SHALOM