The Comfort of Fear

The Comfort of Fear

Many times when we talk about fear, we focus on all the things fear keeps us from doing. We think about the times when we wanted to or needed to do something but was unable to follow through because fear gripped us and said it wasn’t going to turn out well/ you’re not qualified for that/ you don’t know what you’re doing, blah blah blah. For many years, I have allowed fear to stop me from doing things that I knew God put in my spirit to do but I was too concerned about what people would think of me. Thoughts like, will they like it? Will I be received well? Will they think differently of me? would plague my mind. I have come to the conclusion that it. does. not. matter.

What does matter is how I fulfill my destiny. It is important for me to share my journey with others to hopefully inspire them to seek refuge in their gifts and talents, whatever they may be. I was teased in college and was told that I was great at helping people develop a backbone. I encouraged others to challenge anyone who dared to deny their truth and attempted to diminish their value. I guess I am passionate about this because I remember a time when my backbone was none existent, when I was tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, every empty promise, every empty experience, and every time I was overlooked and undervalued. While I was reflecting on this tonight, I realized that I was resting in the comfort of my fear. 

I once heard someone say, “Well, I can’t fail if I don’t try and if I don’t have any goals.” This saddened me because I thought about how little this individual knew about the power they possessed. But when I realized that there is an even more desperate side of this quote, I wanted to weep. Not having goals is child’s play compared to having one and allowing fear to comfort you in a way that paralyzes you from ever coming out of hiding. Not only does fear hold back the one who wants to catapult forward, but it also anchors the individual who seeks refuge and security in all the wrong places. If you’re not careful, fear will convince you that it is better to you than your friends, family, lover, and your dreams. Some people are risk takers and many are not. For those who like to play it safe (like me), they often entertain fear because it gives the false impression that there is safety and security there. And you know what? To some extent, this is true because when you dare to venture out into unknown territory, you are going to face opposition, frustration, disappointment, and setbacks. 

Once I realized I was receiving comfort from fear AND it was something I did not ask for, I knew I had to get rid of it! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cloak myself in fear from time to time just to have some sense of peace from the world of unknowns. However, I know that there is something more out there, I can feel it and I know you can too. I know you feel the tug on your heart and in your spirit. No more I should’ve, I could’ve. Make the decision today that new territory and the unknown is where you want to seek comfort knowing that the Comforter has you as you go. You got this! How do I know? Because I got this too. 

Peace

There is often a misconception that peace means everything is going well. Peace is when the storm is raging, but the impact of it does not harm you as much as it could. Peace is not external, it is internal. It requires work. It involves you coming to the conclusion that no matter what is happening around you, you are going to shine as bright as you can. Is it easy? No. But is it possible? Absolutely.

Now I Know that I Know

There is a difference between establishing boundaries and guidelines to work within and being too rigid. Our boundaries are usually established due to our experiences, perceptions, values and beliefs and to some degree, our biases. These boundaries are intended to keep us safe and operating in what we believe to be our maximum potential. However, what happens when we encounter an individual or situations that threaten those boundaries? Is this a time to remain firm, or is it an opportunity to expand our mindset?

Since I am going to ask you to be honest and transparent, I will go first. I am a Christian, a Believer in Jesus Christ, and I do not agree with or condone the LGBTQ+ community preferences. My faith tells me this is an abomination to God; however, I am in conflict. As a Social Work (SW) student, I am consistently placed in positions where my beliefs, self-imposed laws and boundaries are challenged and stretched. Although I have not changed my beliefs concerning the LGBTQ+ community, I have softened my approach to them. I do not believe in or condone any physical, emotional, or mental aggressions towards the community. Instead, I have intentionally educated myself by taking a course, watching documentaries, reading books, blogs, and have received hours of training on their history, terminology, and how to address and engage in a non-judgmental manner. The most rewarding education has come through conversation. I am so grateful to those who have been patient and willing to let me ask questions and better understand their culture and community. Your acceptance of my ignorance was impressive and eye-opening. Due to these exposures, I have found myself engaging with the members in ways that I have not before. I was rigid in my thinking and recognized that I needed to expand.

I was reading my SW book one day and a question popped in my head- is it possible to be a social worker and exemplify -isms (racism, classism, ageism, colorism, etc.) at the same time? How can I purposefully and knowingly be a member of a community that promotes the safety of the most vulnerable populations and treat the same population poorly? It seemed like a contradiction. So I ventured out to educate myself. I needed to know more about the LGBTQ+ community so that I better understood what I was opposing. “… because the Bible said so” was no longer an excuse or a valid argument.

One of my SW professors said something that was so profound that I continue to chew on it. He said, “learning is when you can still believe what you believe knowing the information that contradicts it”. I usually pride myself on questioning everything, but was I really doing that? Was I really questioning EVERYTHING? No, I wasn’t. I spent time questioning only the things that I was comfortable with exploring, not the things that made me avoid eye contact and shift in my seat. I was not really expanding my learning as I assumed, instead I was reaffirming what I knew. I was open to learning only the things that were within my comfort zone. And that… that is not learning. I was a counterfeit.

I have decided that I am no longer going to blindly believe in anyone or anything because of tradition, generational values or because it sounded good on the radio. I am on a quest to reassess, reevaluate and relearn what I know so that I know that I KNOW! It may seem like this would shake my faith, but actually, it’s had the opposite effect. I am now more confident as a Believer because I have placed myself in vulnerable positions for my advancement. That’s what faith is all about, right?! Making yourself vulnerable and having faith in something that is bigger than you. I don’t just think I know, now I know that I know.

  1. Now, it’s your turn :-). Reflect on the questions below and enjoy the journey.
    What do you believe and why do you believe that? Who is the provider of this belief (i.e. family, yourself, mentor)?
  2. What are somethings you’re willing to relearn?
  3. What boundaries have you set that you recognize may need to be reassessed?
  4. When do you plan to start?

 

 

Time and Energy

One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the years in marriage is the importance of focusing my time and energy. For those who do not know the difference, let me break it down for you real quick. Time management answers the following questions- what do I need to accomplish? When do I need to have it done? When is the best time for me to do that? Where do I need to go to achieve this goal and how long is it going to take me to get there? Whereas energy management looks at the focus and attention you’re going to devote to the task or project. It asks, how am I going to accomplish this? What distractions do I need to address in advance so I can increase my productivity?

In my marriage, I had to reassess and ask myself- Am I just putting in time, or both time and energy? I realized that if I wanted the outcomes I was looking for, I had to do more than just show up everyday. No, that’s not enough. Instead, I needed to show up and do something. Have you ever attended a conference or an event and you got nothing out of it? It started at 6pm and you were there at 6pm. You stayed until 9pm and walked away knowing nothing new and not even sure of the purpose of what you just attended. This is a typical time vs. energy dilemma. Now think about where this has shown up in your marriage, friendships, and other relationships. How many times did you show up (time), but did not engage or was not committed (energy)?

Remember, time and energy, while different in function, do not have to be exclusive. In fact, you’ll find that you feel most accomplished when they take place together. So, with this new information, what are you prepared to do next? How are you going to bridge these two together in your relationship?

 

Decide to show up today!

 

Image result for quote on determination

The quote is self-explanatory. If you’re not happy with where you are, change it. Only you have the power to make decisions about your life. At one point in my life I would just dream about all the things I wanted to do. Then I started over analyzing things. I would “think it through” to the point I wouldn’t act on anything because I felt like I had more questions about my goals than answers. My aspirations didn’t scare me, I did. The final straw was when I was making too many excuses and was blaming other people for why I couldn’t move forward with my goals. Seriously? Why do we give other people so much power over our lives? Not anymore!

My life isn’t perfect, but I have decided that I am going to show up to the masterpiece everyday. I am committed to adding brush strokes of determination, grace, and umph until it becomes what I desire.

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. – Phil. 4:13

Five Quick Leadership Tips/ Reminders

I have been in a leadership role, and have followed others, for some years now. It amazes me how I still have different experiences almost daily. While driving home one night, I began to reflect and these five tips/ reminders came to me and I wanted to share.

1. Don’t be afraid to let your team shine. A leader is versatile, sometimes they lead in front, other times they lead in the back. At some point, leadership will require you to stand in the shadow and receive instruction from the leader at the moment. Be willing and be supportive; don’t power trip. There is no need to upstage anyone. If you’re effective in your leadership everyone already knows who you are.

2. Support your team member even when you do not agree. Every idea that will be carried out doesn’t have to be your idea. Give your team creative freedom and support them. Provide your thoughts and give feedback, but if a team member wants to go in a direction that is not your personal preference and it could be advantageous for the vision and mission at hand, give your blessing and let them run with it. If it is a success- great! If it fails- great! Don’t use it as a moment to reaffirm your position, instead encourage them through the process and coach them on what can be done differently next time.

3. Encourage and allow the team members to be themselves. You don’t need a bunch of yous. Your focus shouldn’t be on duplicating you, but building better individuals who are adequately equipped to fulfill their mission and assignment. Celebrate the diversity on your team and appreciate their strengths. Great leaders know how to properly apply their team’s strengths to the vision.

4. Provide timely feedback. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to share it. This is particularly true in moments where your team is overwhelmed. Feedback should be timely and well thought out. Yes, you’re the leader, but that doesn’t mean you have freedom to say what you want. Feedback should be on time, not on your time.

5. Celebrate and give praise when warranted. Don’t hold back praise, especially when it is earned. When someone does something exceptional, tell them. If you’re apprehensive about giving others credit, your confidence in yourself may be more feeble than you think. True leaders celebrate their team’s accomplishments, especially when they posses a strength that is greater than your weakness.

What’s YOUR Definition of Love?

What’s YOUR Definition of Love?

 

In preparation of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be best to share an article I wrote for the Purpose Drive Women Magazine. Whether you believe in the day of love or not, the article is still a good read. Learn about how you can take your relationship(s) to the next level by being more cognizant and articulating what the three words, “I love you” mean to you. Enjoy :).

What’s YOUR Definition of Love?

Accept the Challenge, I Dare You

Accept the Challenge, I Dare You

If you’re like me the New Year has you thinking about what is going to be different. I am making a declaration that this year is going to be one of my best years yet! I am not talking about making some resolution that will fizzle out in a couple weeks to a month. Neither am I talking about making some half-hearted decision.

I have realized that true progress and transformation takes time. It’s meticulous. It’s specific. It’s sure. And it’s strategic. My church is doing a 90 Day Transformation Challenge and I am so excited about it. I could have registered on January 1st as expected, but I couldn’t. I had so many thoughts and possibilities running through my head and I couldn’t make a decision. I knew I needed to get organized.

Instead of just reacting and making an impulsive decision, I went into action. I assessed my life and the goals I set for the year. I bought a planner and made note of all my current commitments. I looked at what was on my plate and had to make some hard decisions. I picked up a new adventure and had to put a few things down. I am not interested in having a lot to do, rather I want to do a lot of what I love and what’s going to fulfill me.

After making some decisions, I had to be realistic about where I can accept challenge. You know, changing too many things at one time can be disastrous! I recently decided to go for another master’s degree so I’m taking a class. Instead of having sporadic devotion time with God, I decided to do it every morning. No longer am I going to bed whenever I want, I’m on a schedule. And there are a host of other changes that I am balancing and implementing with wisdom. Not all the changes will happen at once, but they’re planned so they’ll be sustainable.

Now that I have a few things settled and have a routine. I decided it was time to solidify my 90 Day Transformation Challenge. Some people think routine is boring, but there are certain seasons in your life when routine is needed to maintain progress and success. Last year was a season of spontaneity, not this year. Know your season! That’s another topic for another day! So what’s my challenge? No sweets (help me, Jesus!) and make healthier decisions in all areas of my life.

Spiritually– be more intentional and consistent in my devotional time and protect it

Physically– be mindful of what I put in my body and make better food choices and stop making excuses.

Emotionally/ Mentally– be aware of what I allow to affect my emotions and thoughts, ultimately my day. A dear sister of mine said, “Pick your thoughts like you pick your clothes. Ask yourself, do I want to wear this?”

I decided this year I am going to conquer and love with intention. I don’t want things to be happenstance, but I want experiences on purpose. Give it my all at all times and not just when it’s convenient.

What’s your challenge? How do you want to transform the first 90 days of 2016? The 90 Day Transformation Challenge is really just to get you started for a lifestyle change. It’s not too late for you to accept the challenge. Join me, I dare you! Register your challenge today to make it official and know that people are praying for you to succeed. Surveymonkey.com/tgcctransform90

Puzzle Progress

Puzzle Progress

It amazes me how God will use the simplest things to bring clarity to your life. I set out on a task at the beginning of my winter break and learned a couple good lessons. They are simple, yet powerful.Picture of puzzleMy husband brought home this puzzle before the winter break. I set my mind to complete it before the break was over. I was ecstatic about the challenge.Picture 1I fished through and found all the edged pieces and completed the border. In the process of me putting the border together, I came across other pieces and put those together too. The border alone took about two days. However, I remained extremely optimistic!Picture 2At this point, I felt like I should have had more progress, even if I was only devoting a couple hours a day to the project. Sure, I had other things going on, other commitments and responsibilities, but I wanted this task to come together so I sacrificed some of my nights, staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning! Picture 3I then begin to realize I needed to get organized. How I organized things changed based on where I was with the puzzle. I realized that I was not going to just find the right piece out of 700. So I decided to create goals. I broke the puzzle up into sections. First, I focused on getting the tower and the mountain outline completed.Picture 4My next goal was the sky. OMG, the sky was super challenging! The colors kept changing – light blue, dark blue, purple, yellow, etc. To help, I changed my organization method by putting the sky pieces into piles of similar shapes. This sped the process along, but it was still very tedious.

Although I have made more progress since this picture, I have not completed the puzzle. However I did learn a few things along the journey that I would like to share:

  1. Don’t be afraid to do something that appears challenging. If your heart is in the right place, trust that God is going to lead you along the way. Leaders understand the importance of growth. That growth comes from getting out of your comfort zone and/or doing something that you’ve never done before.
  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but don’t be discouraged if you walk the journey alone. The puzzle was first presented as a family project, but I quickly learned I was the only one who was truly interested. And that’s fine. My family helped with some pieces along the way, and I asked for a second and third eye when needed, but I was determined not to quit because their commitment wavered. My conviction wasn’t their conviction. Leaders understand there are some tasks and journeys you have to walk alone. Just remember to share it with others when it’s done.
  1. Break the task down into steps and focus on one area at a time. Being a big picture person is great, but there comes a time when you have to focus on the details. You may even find that by completing one area, it’ll help you deal and solve some others. Leaders understand that you have to take challenges, and even success, in stages. Handling details can be exhausting, but it’s necessary to make sure the end goal is achieved.
  1. Stay positive and celebrate the small victories. There were times I wanted to give up on the puzzle completely. I walked away frustrated several times, but I was committed. Every time a piece fit, I celebrated. I would step back and look at the puzzle and see the progress. Leaders understand that there is going to be discouraging and frustrating days, but commitment and devotion with give you the strength you need to keep going.
  1. Don’t be afraid to tweak it. It wasn’t until I was down to two pieces that I realized I had placed two others in the wrong spot. You would think I would have noticed, but I didn’t. The wrong pieces actually fit (that’s another sermon for another day). I was able to identify my error and I corrected it. And you know what, it felt good! Leaders understand they are not perfect and can always learn something new and grow. There is nothing wrong with revisiting an idea or vision to improve it.
  1. Lastly, be flexible. I expected to be done with this puzzle this past Sunday night, and I am not. But you know, I have peace with that. I recognize that our timelines are not always realistic. And life surely doesn’t say, “I’ll leave her alone while she completes this task. I’ll throw some distractions and other things at her later”. Nope, doesn’t happen that way. Leaders understand deadlines, but strive for quality as well. A true leader knows how to navigate changes and setbacks.

Happy New Year.

I Decided to Believe Again

I Decided to Believe Again

While at church for a meeting, the Lord visited us and spoke to our hearts. The words were simple but powerful – I decided to believe again. These five words summed up 2015 for me. I have had a lot of wonderful things happen this year, but I have also experienced heartache and loss. I had some exciting days and some exhausting days. I’ve smiled some days and I cried on others.

It amazes me how strong and overpowering some negative experiences can be. These soul-shattering events cause us to forget about all of the other great things that have happened. The bad days take you on a journey and plant you somewhere on a desert island and if you’re not careful, you’ll stop hoping for a search and rescue and will just adapt to your surroundings. You watch life pass you by and even though you yearn to be a part of it, you can’t. It’s like an invisible chain anchored in the earth that keeps you from moving.

If you have felt this way at any point this year – I understand. I have been there. And what I can tell you is that regardless of what you’re experiencing (or have experienced), it will get better. And your recovery is not going to start with an apology. It’s not going to start with the wrong being righted. It’s not going to happen with retaliation. No, it’s going to start when you realize you are better than that. It starts with you realizing you are deserving of great things; you are stronger than you appear in the turmoil. And you are destined for greatness, despite of it.

Heartache and loss often cause us to erect walls around our hearts and our emotions. Sometimes, we don’t even realize we’re doing it, other times we do. These walls hold in forgiveness, bitterness, resentment and eventually hate. If you’re not careful, the vortex of misery with suck you in and pull you to places you did not want to go and make you do things you do not want to do. You may find yourself in situations that are out of character, all because you decided to avoid, rather than deal, with the situation at hand.

So, my friend, it is my prayer that today will be your day! Today is the day you let go of him, her and it. You can do this. Is it going to magically happen? No, it’s not. But it’s going to start with you deciding to believe again. It starts with you wiping the fears and doubts away. It starts with you squaring your shoulders and declaring you refuse to be an outcast in your own life. It starts with you finding your voice and letting it be heard. And, it’s going to start with you, trusting that God will work everything out.

What do you need to start believing in? What have you lost faith in? Regardless of how big or small the circumstance is, it all starts in you believing in yourself. You have to make the decision to believe you can and will be better.

Lord,

Thank you for my friend who reads this message. You said we’ll find rest for our souls when we cast our cares on You for Your yoke is easy and Your burdens light. We are so thankful for Your promise and your care for us. We pray that as we enter into 2016, you will make room in our hearts for You to dwell. We pray that Your peace will cover all of our worries, doubts and fears. You said that You’re able to do exceedingly and abundantly, above all we could ever ask or think. We take You at Your word and we receive the healing that You so freely give. Show us how to release all things that are contrary to Your will for our lives. We ask all these things in your son Jesus’ name, amen.

 I love you with the love of Christ!