Category: Encouragement (Page 1 of 2)

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.

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

Sorry, not sorry

Last week I posted a meme with the words from Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I was sharing that this needs to be the foundation of our confidence. Our confidence MUST be rooted in God. When our confidence is not rooted in God, it wavers. As a matter of fact, anything we do or attempt will not last, if we are not rooted in God. I know that all to well.

There is a song called Confidence by Tasha Cobbs. Her delivery of the song speaks to a level of faith that we all should strive for.

“I’ve got so much faith in you, Lord I trust your word is true
No matter the circumstance, my life is in your hands
I’ve got confidence, so much confidence, in you…”

Whatever we choose to put our confidence in is what will drive and develop us. What comes to mind is how as teenagers, we often sought after approval and acceptance. Those whom we chose to follow or identify with, we put our confidence in them. We shared common interests, hobbies and even habits. We become who we connect with. This is just as true for adults.

Of course, this could go good or bad, and because as life happens, this is when we may (or may not) learn valuable life lessons. You cannot let your confidence be rooted in people. You cannot let your confidence be rooted in money. You cannot let your confidence be rooted in things. ALL of these things will pass away.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:7

When we realize who we are in God, we don’t have to seek acceptance or approval from anyone or anything. God has already accepted and approved us when he created us. You must own that, and be unapologetic about being a child of God. There is nothing that anyone can say or do to take away the fact that you are a child of God. Absolutely nothing. It is my prayer that as you grow in your walk, you will walk in who God created to to be. People may challenge it, but they certainly can’t change it without your consent.

Stay rooted in God. He will never let you down. I pray that these words have been a blessing to you.

Are you available?

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One Saturday evening , my daughter and I had just left a wedding rehearsal where she was a flower girl. We were overflowing with excitement, anticipating the impending nuptials. As we rode through the country back roads of Georgia, we marvelled at the beautiful homes on large plots of land, making plans for our own dream home.

Once we got back to our side of town, we decided to grab pizza for dinner. She is a foodie, so before we entered the restaurant, I established that we were on a $15 budget. She agreed, and we proceeded. Our server was a cheery young lady, engaging as though we were regular customers, although this was our first time there. As she finished taking our order, my daughter said, “Are we within the  budget, mommy?!” The server and I laughed as she said that she completely understood having to stick to the budget. We made small talk about buying houses and maintaining budgets. There was nothing out of the ordinary about our interaction.

We received our pizza and garlic knots, and everything was tasty. We wrapped it up and I asked for my tab. The server asked, “What was your budget again?” I smiled and looked at her suspiciously as I told her, “Fifteen dollars.” She grinned and walked away. Moments later, she came back and put the folded receipt in front of me.  I picked it up, and read off the items and found a total of $13.34 after a discount of a little over $4.00 was applied. My heart was filled and although it was a small amount, it was still a blessing in my eyes. It was a very thoughtful and considerate thing to do.

One thing that I love about being a child of God is that he does care about the details of our lives.  I believe he touched  her heart to meet my desire. As I prepared to leave, I felt a strong urge to leave her a little note. I declared a blessing over her life and invited her to church. Looking back, I think it was a better idea to tell her, but I couldn’t resist the urge to leave the note…after all, I am a writer 🙂

After leaving, I explained to my daughter that we never know the influence and impact we will have on someone’s life. It is my prayer that this server (whom I happened to not even get her name) knows the Lord. If she doesn’t, I feel like we were placed on the same path for that seed to be sown. We all have a purpose, and God will put people in your path to make sure your purpose is fulfilled, and for his glory. Dont miss the opportunity to be available, for someone’s deliverance is attached to your obedience, even if you don’t get to see it manifest.

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

Mondays…

 

keep-calm-and-love-monday

 

I’m reading a book called Progressive Thinking by Harold F. Grant. This book is so full of wisdom, and is evoking some great life changing thought processes for me.

The book is formatted in a way that references a day of the week for the first seven chapters. As I was reading the chapter titled “Motivational Mondays”, I came across something that reminded me of how I have conditioned myself to think about Mondays:

“Don’t be demotivated by a Monday moment. You have seen this day before, and it’s not how it’s looking at you that matters, but how you are looking at it.”

I love this!! You have seen this day many times before. This is about changing how you see it. Over the years, I have REFUSED to look at Monday as a bad day. Yeah, I know. It’s probably the job. You don’t want to go back. It could be your micro-managing boss, the jealous co-worker, your lack of pay or benefits…the list goes on. You just know you dread going back. But if you change the way you think about it, you could transform your Monday mornings into a more positive experience.

I think people often allow themselves to have such a negative outlook on their jobs because they look at the job as their source, rather than looking at God as the source. Your job is not your provider, God is. Understand that the job is what God provided as a resource, but if you lose that job, just like God gave you that one, he can give you another.

Another thing that causes people to have a negative outlook on their job situation is a lack of gratitude. It may be that this isn’t your ideal position or your dream job, but at the end of the day, you have something that many people don’t have: a job. You must learn to be grateful for what you do have, for there is always someone who is worse off than you.

Colossians 3:23-24 says,  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” 

Start to operate as though you are doing what you do for God himself, and not your supervisor, manager or the CEO. Take on a grateful attitude and watch how this changes how you look at Mondays. Know that although you have seen this day many times before, you don’t have to look at it the same.

 If you would like to order a copy of Progressive Thinking, send an email to info.cimaruba@gmail.com.

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

Be You….

Beautiful = Be You. Fully.

No one can be YOU better than you.

Becoming beautiful is a journey, where you continue to blossom, as long as you continue to cultivate yourself. It’s like the life cycle of a plant. The seed gets planted and watered, it grows, produces fruit or flowers and so on. Ultimately, the entire process starts from within.

When you recognize the value placed in you by God, no one on this earth can touch that. No one on this earth can devalue you. Just as God created the heavens and the earth, the moon, the stars and the mountains, he created YOU. And when he created you, he gave you something to contribute to this world that is different from anyone else. You were packaged for your purpose, including every gift and ability you would need to carry it out.

Don’t be afraid to share your gifts! You don’t see mountains hiding its snow capped beauty, or the dawn refusing to arise with a new day! The sun rises each and every day, whether or not a picturesque sky is visible. In all of the beauty of the Earth, you are a part of it. Yes. YOU are a part of it! It is imperative that your self esteem is rooted in God. Then you can be who God called you to be, unapologetically.

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