The “Oceans” Experience

You call me out upon the waters 
The great unknown where feet may fail….

I sang the lyrics, standing on the altar during worship service. The words were deep and profound, filling my mind with great possibilities.

 “….When oceans rise 
My soul will rest in Your embrace 
For I am Yours and You are mine” 

Oh, how my spirit was filled with receiving that revelation: For I am YOURS! And you are MINE! I had lived my entire life looking for this, and even the “Christ & Church” experience I had, failed. I came to realize that no human could give me that, only my Lord and Savior could.

…….Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me 
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now” 

It was comforting to know that God has never failed me, even in the midst of what looked like a crisis. The love that he has for me transcends all things. He wouldn’t overlook me or forget me. The song was building my faith in a way that I had never conceived.

The chorus was the repetition of a promise that I still had yet to truly embrace. I came to understand my ability to focus was paramount in this season that was coming. I came to understand that the ocean was surely going to rise, but not all trouble was an indication that I was doing anything wrong. The fiery darts were coming, but my soul could be at peace, no matter what.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders 
Let me walk upon the waters 
Wherever You would call me 
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander 
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.. 

Oh, my!!! I had no clue of the magnitude of what I was praying. Trust without borders?? It was easy to say, “I trust you to no end.” When I was tested in this, I looked around and thought, “Wait a minute!” My eyes showed me one thing, and it didn’t look good at all to my human mind. My inclination was to do it my way because I knew what my plan was. But then I realized the very lyrics I sung and believed months prior: “You’ve never failed, and you won’t start now…” Ok. Now to get my bearings together and walk this thing out:

Wherever he would lead and call me.

No matter how it looked.

No matter how it felt.

As I looked around and saw that it was certainly deeper than my feet could ever wander, I had rest in knowing that in faith, and in his presence, I would be ok, no matter what.

The quicker I let go and stopped doing things in my own strength and power, the quicker I was able to receive what he had for me. The “Oceans” season is about learning to abide in him. It is my prayer that you will prayerfully give up your plans and agenda so that he can do the same for you. 🙂

Check out the song here: (Oceans) Where Feet May Fail

Sources:
Lyrics: www.google.com
Lyrics to “(Oceans) Where Feet May Fail” were written by Matt Crocker, Joel Houston, and Salomon Ligthelm and sung by Taya Smith.

How to Get Your Breakthrough

About a year ago, I created a meme about breakthrough. It was during a Vision Board event that I gained the inspiration for the words that were shared:
Breakthrough

I thought about the question I posed: “What if your ‘breakthrough’ required a fight from you? A push? A shift?” I realized that there really is no question on whether the breakthrough requires action.

The reality of breakthrough is that although there is beauty in the outcome, it is often an ugly process to get through. No matter the circumstance surrounding the need for breakthrough, the hopelessness, despair, and limitations can suck the life out of you. It’s quite a process.

But, I want to encourage you. I have learned the difference between giving up and letting go. I have learned that in the moment where I feel like giving up, that is the moment where I literally have to pick myself up and thank God for the goodness and provision that I have in that moment. When we are at rock bottom, there is only one way to go: UP!!

It is absolutely necessary to learn how to see the good in every situation. Yes, even the darkest of moments. It was very painful to lose my dad so suddenly, but the beauty in losing him was learning so many great things about him. The blessing is in being able to remember the good times. Even in my moments of grieving him, I LET myself release what I’m feeling in that moment so that I can move on with my life. Bottled up grief never served anyone well.

In essence, in order to receive a breakthrough, you must do exactly that: BREAK THROUGH.

Like the pearl wrapped in the oyster, it came as a grain of sand but one needed to BREAK THROUGH the shell to obtain it.

Like the butterfly that transitioned from being a caterpillar, it had to form in that cocoon in order to BREAK THROUGH.

Like the plant that started as a seed under a pile of dirt, it grew towards the light in order to BREAK THROUGH.

So, whatever you’re going through, keep going. Walk in faith knowing that your situation is temporary, not permanent.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. – Romans 8:25

I pray that these words have been a blessing to you!

 

 

Be Somebody….

I attended Marietta High School, where the motto is “Be Somebody”. Through research, I found out that this was initiated by Coach Ben T. Wilkins, who was an educator and great person of influence at my Alma Mater. It was great to learn how this motto came about. I also found that Coach Wilkins not only encouraged the students to be somebody but lived it out himself by being a part of the Marietta City Schools’ integration in 1966. Coach Wilkins passed away in 1984 and as a result of his service and legacy, his picture is now on a plaque at Northcutt Stadium.

I graduated in 2002 and remember feeling proud that I could go out into the world and share that I came from a place that encouraged me in so many ways to “be somebody.” I learned to believe I was somebody because the words were in my environment and in the atmosphere everyday. Beyond that, I was surrounded by teachers and administrators who saw the potential in me and encouraged me, even through my difficult moments. I was often told that I was a bright student and had a great future ahead of me. Not every student has the blessing of going to school and encountering educators who actually encourage them and believe in them. It’s an unfortunate reality, and Marietta High School allowed me to experience something that I don’t take for granted. The standard of excellence gave me a foundation on which to build, work and BE.

As I thought about what it means to BE, I wanted to define it with simplicity, but I’m naturally a deep thinker and couldn’t reduce it to its literary function as a present subjunctive. I didn’t want to incorporate the past tense plural form “were”. It’s the past. I wanted to focus on what it is to just “BE”. For the sake amplifying the action required, I’ll capitalize it throughout the rest of your reading experience. 🙂

To BE requires the active engagement of some element of living. Often when I send my daughter off, I encourage her to “be good.” She understands that this requires her to BEhave according to the principles she is BEing taught in order to live an effective and productive life.

To BE is subtle in the way of not BEing tangible, but rather a state of taking action internally, with the manifestation being external. One must make a decision to act out a qualification or characterization in order to BE. Coach Wilkins was a catalyst for change. He made a decision to BE a positive influence. As a result, he has inspired those who have encountered the motto “Be Somebody” years and years beyond his tenure with the school.

 There are a few specific words that resonated with me that I heard many times while a part of a ministry in the last several years:

BElieve – To accept something as true. 

BElong – To BE an attribute, part or function of a person or thing.

BEcome – To come into existence.

Each of these words requires intangible action in order to provide an outward manifestation. They require effort on your part as an individual to engage yourself in life. So, no matter what you do internally, it will always manifest externally.

Now, as a kingdom helper, I would be remiss to exclude how the word of God has influenced my thought process on this subject.

One of my favorite bible verses is Joshua 1:9 which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NKJV)

This verse got me through a few tough decisions, and my faith has been increased as a result. Joshua was commanded to go, as he was being called to a position of leadership.  He was promised many things as he carried out his calling to lead. God instructed him to BE strong and courageous, not to fear or be discouraged and that he would BE with Joshua wherever he went. This was a command given to Joshua. Why would God tell Joshua to BE something if he was not going to endow him to carry it out? It’s amazing to me.

Then, in Exodus 3:14, God says to Moses, “….“I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”(NKJV). Do you understand what it means for God to tell Moses this??! The state of being, which is so definitive, that it can’t be broken down? The Great I AM.

God IS, not was. God can never be a “was” or a “hasbeen.” Amazing. He’s eternal, all powerful, all knowing, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Nothing can trump him. So as a child of God, you can be anything he calls you to be, you can do whatever he calls you to do. You ARE somebody, so BE somebody.

Lesson: Strive to cause a ripple effect with whatever you choose to BE.

I pray that these words have been a blessing to you.

 

 

Encouragement for parents

Babies don’t come with training manuals, much less instructions on how to raise them up to be upstanding citizens. In this video, I share how a conversation with my daughter inspired me to realize how I’m doing. Click the link to watch:

A moment in parenthood….

I also want to encourage you, if you don’t already, to designate time each week to spending quality time with your child or children. We started “Mommy & Me Monday” where my daughter chooses the activity, and I follow suit….within reason (lol). Here are a few activities we have done or considered for our special time together:

  • Bake a cake
  • Play a board game
  • Go to the park
  • Movie and snacks
  • Bible Study
  • Painting
  • Crafts

No matter the activity, the goal is always to spend time together, uninterrupted by work and/or technology.

I hope you enjoyed the video, and feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite family activity. Be blessed!

 

A piece of wisdom

legacy.jpg

 

 

As a kingdom helper, I am not only here to provide words of inspiration and truth, but to also share words of wisdom. The subject of life insurance is tricky for some, but I would like to share the importance of why it is needed.

Often, people look at having life insurance as a negative thing, and dread the idea of “preparing to die”. It is a daunting thing for some to get coverage, because it reminds them of the end of their lives, which they are not mentally prepared to face.

I know from experience that there are few things more devastating than having to plan a funeral AND figuring out how to pay for it at the same time. When my father passed away in August of 2016, it was hard enough losing him so suddenly, but the burden of making funeral arrangements became much heavier when I discovered he stopped paying on his policy just a year prior.

I cannot pretend that I wasn’t disappointed. I cannot act as if I wasn’t mad at him for not letting us know that he stopped paying his policy. It was an emotional roller coaster that I wouldn’t pray on my worst enemy. By God’s grace and the generosity of famiily and friends, we were able to have a decent memorial service for Daddy.

Having life insurance is not “preparing to die”. It is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it’s just as important as your rent or electricity. It is preparation for the inevitable, and a way of providing a peace of mind for your family during what will most likely be a difficult time.

The word of God also tells us in Proverbs 13:22, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”

Life insurance should cover your final expenses, from your funeral arrangements, to outstanding debts. However, the word clearly indicates that we should strive in our daily lives to build a legacy for our children. If this applies for you, great, if not, that’s ok too. The goal is to leave an inheritance for those who are coming after you. You could choose to leave your inheritance to a non profit organization if you don’t have any children.

All in all, having life insurance is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As we move closer to starting a new year, be intentional about living a better life and making better decisions. Make sure you are covered and have some financial security in place for your family.

If you are in the state of Georgia and don’t have life insurance, You NEED it. Contact The Firm & Associates for more information.

It’s Already There

its-already-there

 

She flipped her legs up, and came back down. She tried again, leaning against the front door. Her feet came back down to the floor. I watched as my daughter continued trying to do a handstand. She didn’t stop. For twenty minutes, she flipped upside down, over and over. She was determined to do a handstand.

Then she said, “I can do it. I can do it. I know I can! I can feel it right here!”

She pointed to her hips.

I have no idea how to do a handstand, and I got ready to google it, but I wanted to see how much longer she would go. That’s a part of parenting sometimes. You just have to let them figure it out on their own.

But hearing her words enlightened me. We often work towards different things in life, and the going gets tough. We forge forward, with the motivation to get the task done. And we sometimes have to stop and remind ourselves of the reason WHY we are still pushing. In the case of my daughter and the quest to do that handstand, minutes prior, she had done it and held it for six seconds.  There was a muscle memory of sorts that allowed her to have some inkling that she knew what occurred when she did it before, and that she could do it again.

So I say to you, whether or not you have previously accomplished what you’re working towards, it’s ok to give yourself a pep talk, and remind yourself of why you’re pursuing that thing.

Know that God has equipped you for all that he has ordained for you. Iantha Taylor of Haven Enterprises once had a conference which was themed “Packaged for your Purpose”. I’ll never forget that. It is a beautiful reminder of God’s provision: that he has placed everything you will ever need to walk out your purpose, right inside of you.

Be encouraged. 🙂

 

 

The Difference Between Giving up and Letting Go

let-go

I love to write. I’ve been writing since I could remember, but I started to write grammatically sound literature when I was in third grade. In the last 5 years, the Lord impressed it upon my heart to start a blog and inspirational page on Facebook, which is titled, Kingdom Helper. It is always an undeniable experience when God drops words into my spirit. I have come to a point in my tenure as a writer, where I don’t even want my pen to touch paper, for the purpose of those words to grace the eyes, ears and minds of others, unless I hear directly from God.

Most writers glean from their personal experiences, and even the experience of others, to create some of their best writings. 2016 has definitely been a year of personal transition for me. I went from severing broken relationships to losing my father, then taking great leaps of faith with my career. These were all very heavy decisions or situations to handle. It sparked a thought process that helped me to understand why God was allowing me to experience all of these situations in what seemed to be a short time span:. Learning the difference between giving up and letting go.

We have often heard the phrase “Never give up!!” For those of us who are go getters, it is natural for us to keep pushing, to keep striving and keep our heads above the water…we were not built to break. There is an innate ability to keep pushing, because our spirits just won’t let us quit. There comes those moments of frustration, those moments of exhaustion. Usually the physical goes before the mental, and the mental before the spiritual. We get a second wind. And a third wind. Then we have those moments when we just don’t have anymore wind, and we have to coast on God’s strength.

If you have found yourself coasting on God’s strength, congratulations on NOT giving up. It is usually in our darkest hour that we truly learn how much strength we have, but also how much more strength we can tap into, when we are connected to God. Being connected to God is imperative in not giving up. When we choose to give up on something we are usually operating in our flesh, and make the decision because we just don’t WANT to push anymore, not because we CAN’T. If you don’t want to push, that’s your sign to push ANYWAY!

Giving up is sometimes the byproduct of laziness and we must be careful as believers, that we don’t allow the enemy to convince us to give up on that which we have been assigned. We know that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, and there is danger and destruction connected to lazy or lukewarm believers.

On the flip side, if you can’t push, well, that could be a sign that it’s time to let it go. Sometimes we have to let go of things because God NEVER told us to pick them up. It takes a certain level of maturity to take a step back and look at a situation and be clear on whether God ordained it for you, or if you made the choice to take it on. There is a difference between operating in obedience to the Holy Spirit, and operating in fleshly desires.

We have to be careful with this. The closer you are to God, you will have a better ability to discern if you’re being led by your flesh, or by His Spirit. God will ultimately lead you to let go of anything that is not a part of His will for your life. These are often recognized as “dead” situations that you keep trying to rekindle, or dead weight that you keep trying to carry. You find yourself exhausted and overwhelmed because it is “too much.” Prophetess Tonya Hall of Victory Way Christian Center once said, “Peace is the highest form of prosperity.” I have come to understand that if there is no peace in a situation, it is time to LET IT GO.

I’ll close with this: The pages of your story are beautifully scripted as the Father guides and directs you. As your life plays out, page by page, be clear on whether you’re giving up or letting go. If you don’t know, prayerfully give up your concerns to the Lord, and watch and listen as he guides you towards actually letting go. For those things that you must let go of, you must then have the courage to walk away.

Peace and Blessings to you.

 

Cycle of Influence

The first time a prophet spoke over me, he said, “You feel like when you are somewhere, if there is a problem, you were put there to fix it.” He went on to tell the leader of the children’s ministry at that time that I would be an important part of the transition of the ministry.

This all blew my mind. He was certainly correct in his statement about my innate desire to be a problem solver. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a season of God giving me a deeper understanding on why I loved working with and being around children.

Over the next four years, I committed myself to teaching them the basic fundamentals of the bible. Each lesson was just as much for me to embrace and receive personally, as it was for me to teach them. I learned that the three to four year old children needed a different approach than those who were seven and eight years old. I learned that the older children were more inclined to ask challenging questions concerning the things of faith.

I also learned how to discern those whose hope somewhat depended on their interaction with me for those few hours we spent together. I was a light of inspiration, of love, and of peace, to those who didn’t have that at home. On occasion, I needed to take the little hands of a dear, precious child and pray for them because I could literally feel their brokenness in my own spirit.

One of the most important things I keep in mind is that children are impressionable. They see what you do, and whether you make it look “cool” or not, they want to follow in the footsteps of those whom they admire. I too, was once that child that looked up to certain people and decided, “I want to be like you!”. I realized how important it is to watch my words and my actions in dealing with children to avoid teaching them something without even trying. They look at adults and generally accept what we do as permissible. We are being watched, and no matter whether you have children or not, there is a child who will probably be impacted and influenced by their experience with you.

I took some time to think about those from my childhood who impacted me most by tapping into my gifts and abilities, which contributed to the woman that I am today.

Mrs. Muhondro, my first grade teacher who made coming to school an oasis experience, in the midst of my brothers and me going through the foster care system.

Mrs. Gilbert, a third grade teacher who ignited my love for words and poetry with her lessons on literature. It was then that I grew to love writing, whether it was poetry, short stories or essays.

Mr. Richfield, a sixth grade math teacher who made learning math a great experience. I hated math growing up, because it seemed so difficult to understand, yet I ended up specializing in Freight Audit for nearly 10 years of my corporate career, which required a level of analysis and mathematical acuity that I never imagined I’d utilize, because math “wasn’t my thing”.

Coach Gazaway, my 12th Grade History teacher. I wasn’t a big fan of history class. I took a Sharpie and wrote on my class binder, “I hate U.S. History.” Coach Gazaway saw this one day and I’ll never forget the look of amusement on his face. He reassured me that I would change my mind about that. Needless to say, I did.

Pamela Green and Renee Little. Two women who were on staff at non profit organizations I was a part of growing up (Girls Inc and Anderson Boys & Girls Club). These two were great examples of strong women with a love and desire to pour into children. They both had a great impact on me at a time when I had very little self esteem as a teen.

Although they raised me, one of the most valuable things that my grandmother and grandfather taught me by example is to being willing to serve people. You cannot lead unless you know how to serve.

There were many other great teachers and people of influence who have been a part of my journey, but these were some of the most memorable. I’m grateful to have cross paths with them, and will always cherish the positive experiences I had through their willingness to share their passion.

One thing that is embedded in my heart and mind is the fact that children don’t forget those who make an impact on them. I strive to make my experience with children full of love, happiness and most of all, teachable moments. I have had the beautiful blessing of experiencing the love of children who appreciate what God does through me. Their smiles, their hugs, their little voices….it motivates me to be a great example. To hear, “I want to be like you when I grow up!” is such a humbling thing. I have friends who joke about how I usually end up with the little children when we’re in a group setting. I can’t help it. The joy that I feel when interacting with them is something I can’t really explain. I’m grateful to be called to our little ones. I’m grateful to be able to share the values that have been passed to me from those who have poured into me. It is a never ending cycle of influence, and we must be intentional about making a positive impact.

I pray that these words have been a blessing to you.

Color doesn’t matter

I was at the Dollar Tree earlier, and a lady in front of me was sharing a story with the cashier about how terrified she was one time that she was going to get arrested for accidentally pocketing something she didn’t pay for.

I wanted to say, “Imagine if you were a black man…”

But I didn’t. I was feeling some type of way though. She was entitled to feel the way she did, but it certainly could have been worse.

I have five brothers among other family and friends that I continue to cover in prayer. Because fighting hate with hate doesn’t work. But I can’t help but wonder if one day, I’ll get a call that they had an encounter with law enforcement that went all the way wrong.

I have never been a big fan of race. Never cared.

Even through what I learned about my history.

I have always just wanted to love and be good to people, no matter where you were from.

Color or background didn’t matter.

Even the time I was walking home from school at the old Marietta High and a car full of white guys passed me and one yelled, “Nigger!!”

Yep. That happened in 2001. That car could have hit a tree and I still would have taken my little Nokia and called 911. Because I care about PEOPLE.

Color doesn’t matter.

Joyce Bettis Roberts, Nena Hollifield, Bonita Labby, Leah Scott-Mullins are all white people I couldn’t imagine not knowing. A few of the many white people that I am connected to that have loved me and never even attempted to make race a factor in our being connected. All because we love the Lord and were saved by the same blood.

Color doesn’t matter.

Then I think of a family member who once told me to never trust white people because they are snakes. Meanwhile my childhood best friend (and first best friend at that) Ashliegh Tabor taught me what trust is in friendships. So has Leah Scott Mullins. Two white women who have trekked life with me at different points. Two women who have shared some of the same struggles, and strengths too, whom I can truly say have had my back.

Color never mattered.

But then I think back on a time I called the police because I was in a serious situation, threatened by a black man.

Color didn’t matter.

I called for help. This man had a complete meltdown, because he was sure he was going to lose his life, his identity, because in a split second he lost self control and now had to face the reality that his life could end at the hands of law enforcement if he made the wrong move.

It wasn’t until recent shootings of some innocent black men that I realized what went through his head that night I called the cops. And it hurt me to realize what was going on in his mind, even if in that moment I felt like my own life may be in danger. No, I didn’t want him to die. I just wanted to feel protected. And it was my life or his life at stake. That was quite a proposition!

That realization left me with the thought of, should I even call the authorities when I feel helpless in a situation like this?? Should I just fend for myself and deal with the aftermath, because I’m less likely to use deadly force on a whim?? I absolutely hope and pray there ISN’T a “next time”. But the irony of it all is mind blowing.

I know that not all police are bad. I will never believe all white people are racist or that innocent people, no matter their color, deserve for their dear blood to be shed at the hands of evil.

I chalk it up to this:

Color doesn’t matter. It’s the condition of the heart that causes people to commit these heinous acts.

I will continue to love, no matter who you are. I don’t care what “your people” did to “my people”. I’m grateful that God made me the way I am. I proud of who I am and what I was born as. I represent my family and myself accordingly. I am an upstanding citizen. But most importantly, I represent God.

Color doesn’t matter. Unless it’s red, and it’s blood. #Jesus

Why you can’t throw shade at the sun…

As I was listening to a sermon one day, something crossed my mind. The pastor was speaking on Mother’s Day, and the statement he made was about the fact that before you’re a mother, before you’re a wife, you are a woman. You’re more than the job you do, the children you have, the ring on your finger. Your success is not defined by your relationships. You are an entity on your own and your titles and responsibilities are like embellishments that enhance who you are.

For some reason, this sparked a thought process about the new school colloquialism: “throwing shade”.

In essence, throwing shade means to talk trash. In my opinion shade throwing is usually underhanded, however the words used can still be direct and to the point. The “spirit” or attitude behind the words spoken can be subtle and unintentional or mean and downright malicious.

Ok, so now that my interpretation of it is out of the way, here is what I gathered in my thoughts which was way deeper than I really thought it was going to go:

God created us as individuals then allowed us to connect to one another. He gave everyone something unique that is tailored to each of us individually, and this is a part of our contribution to life while we are here.

The sun is a distinct and independent creation. So are the clouds. The sun doesn’t cease to exist on a cloudy day. As a matter of fact, the day is lit because the sun is still there, behind the clouds. Wow. God is awesome.

No matter why or how shade is “thrown” at you, you are who you are. Just like the sun and the clouds, you are a distinct and independent creation. There will be days where there are no clouds, (no shade), and other days, it will be complete overcast. Although it is much easier to deal with one over the other, you have to know who you are through both scenarios.

Shade is temporary.

Shade doesn’t define you.

Shade can “cover” you, but can’t remove you.

Like clouds, shade has to keep it moving. Life goes on!!

What I love about this analogy is that shade comes whether we want it to or not. There will always be people who don’t like what you have, who you are, or what you do. Sometimes, people don’t need a reason. In Job chapter one, Satan was given permission to test Job. Job wasn’t aware that this was coming, but as it happened, he praised God anyway. He let go of what God had given him, because he had faith to believe that God was in control, and that nothing that came to him was out of God’s hands. And Job was right!

 So, I say to you my friend, no matter what kind of shade comes your way, remember who you are. And like the sun as it peeks through the passing clouds, SHINE!!

I pray that these words have been a blessing to you! 🙂

 

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