Current Events, Every Day Living, Grief And Loss, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Irma Don’t Own Me

Disclaimer: I have legit hurricane-related PTSD stemming back to Hurricane David while living in St Maarten. I was four. But I distinctly remember my dad taking me to school and him picking me up in knee deep water. We walked home. Due to roof leakage, we lost half of our family photos at that time. I lost trust in aluminum roofs. Irma came and decimated St. Maarten and there went my plans to return for our 20th anniversary trip. It would have been my first time back. Pray for the people of St. Martin/St. Maarten. 

Andrew. Enough said. The people of those communities still recall the smells and sounds. I know colleagues who just couldn’t deal with it this time around. They just left. To preserve life and peace of mind. 

Wilma swung by and found me as a fairly new homeowner trying to keep grips on my one earthly major investment. We lost a patio, replaced a roof, and watched our pockets bleed dry from an insurance company’s piracy for many years to come. 

So when Irma came around, I was as ready as could be (or so I thought). The hurricane that never was (Matthew in 2016) had me in stores buying up all the canned goods I could get. What threw me for a loop was the water thing this time around. Water was gone by Monday, Labor Day. Like even the one you were supposed to get via Walmart Grocery Pick Up or Instacart. I got nervous. But God knew best and sent an angel our way to bless us as we had just days before blessed Houston. 

Hurricanes are a part of life in these parts. And as much as we would like to prefer it not be, it just is. But there are things to mitigate the level of impact physically and emotionally. Here’s a glimpse into some things I learned along the way. 

Don’t be cheap. Invest in the canned foods, rice and beans. They last two to three years and annual review of your supplies can mean blessing a shelter or homeless program with items that may expire soon. 

Invest in some big ticket items. Invest in a generator. Homeowners, you can’t go wrong with this investment. Your perishable items will last in the fridge and you can power up your electronics with ease. Invest in a deep freezer and keep it stocked with ice and frozen water year round.  This kept our stuff cold through five days of no power. Invest in a grill and/or table top hot plates. Hot food. Every. Day. Enough said. 

Invest in a portable TV. We kept updated with relevant news during that time. The not knowing can sometimes be at a detriment to self and loved ones. We were able to pass along info to others because of this. Invest in a stand alone or window AC. Our handy man gave us this idea one day before our electricity came back on. Twenty twenty being hindsight, I still would have gotten it. Thirty minutes of set up, a line to the generator and we had a guest room where my husband and I and his mom slept in comfort. Too bad we got the idea one day before power returned. We placed the AC back in the box. No we are not returning it. Hurricanes aren’t an IF but a WHEN type of occurrence. 

I used the word INVEST several times. Something that some may find to be a foreign idea. Simply put. One pair of shoes bought at Ross is a portable TV. One Dooney and Burke purse on sale at TJ Maxx is a portable AC. A Louis Vuitton purse from Nordstrom (2016 Damier) can get you a generator, grill, deep freezer, solar powered lamps, and fully stocked food and supplies. 

So when I told people I didn’t have power, it meant I took cold showers and didn’t have AC (until my most recent investment). It meant I read a book in one day. It meant my clothes were washed from the week before. It meant I ate hot meals and planned the day’s menu with my husband and his mom. It meant my brother and dad coming over for a hot meal. It meant catching the breeze with extended family and eating more avocados than the law allows. 

Don’t let your trying times overwhelm you into inertia. Not having power does not mean you don’t have POWER. I am no expert. Just a student of life who takes copious notes and learn from my experiences and that of others. 

Manage what’s within your realm and see what God does with the rest. 

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Faith, Grief And Loss, Life Coach, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Waiting Season 

I got caged in to teach at a local church last evening. I mean what else do you call preparing to speak about a subject that you’re still yourself wading deep in the water about? That God would deign the stars and moon to align in this season of my life to speak about grief and loss is beyond my peanut brain’s capacity to understand. But He’s that Father. You know the one who allows you to flay your arm in the water while he’s under you. And then out of no where goes missing just to see if you can float by yourself. He’s that Father who wakes up one day and says “training wheels off!” 

Well that’s what happened the other night and I suspect that’s going to happen more and more in this coming season of my life. I’ve been meditating on the Holy Spirit’s nudging of being in what I call the “waiting season.” For me it’s the season where I’m literally in a spiritual room where the doors are shut and I’m waiting to hear the prognosis from the doctor at any moment. I’m waiting to hear some news, any news about next steps, next goals, next dreams, next directions. I’ve ticked off some things off my list but I suspect God has some other things in store that had nothing to do with my five year plans.

 As I wait, God reminds me to remain faithful in my actions. That waiting isn’t an immobile activity. Rather it’s an activity where preparation is taking place for when those doors do open and the results are in. 

I once took my laptop to the ER with me. I had an ankle sprain that had been bothering me. I saw people just sitting there bored out of their minds, counting cracks in the wall. Me? Well I was pecking away at my laptop, trying to meet some deadline or other. Before I knew it I was in my flow; didn’t even realize time had passed and even got annoyed the few times they kept calling me up to verify information. You see in my waiting I found something to do. Something to keep me occupied. Something to keep my mind and body going. Something to keep me on top of my game for such a time as when that door of opportunity opened and voila! I would be ready. 

Last night was that kind of night. I didn’t get invited to speak because my mother had died and that by some random designation I had become some expert at grief. I don’t do random and I don’t do happenstance. That’s for people who just “let” life happen to them

 God’s people don’t let life happen. They make life happen. There was more to it than losing my mother to cancer. Words would only simplify the journey that led to that one hour of speaking to one of the toughest audience groups I know. Haitian adults. In a church. Both men and women. Most whom have me by at least 15-20 years of age. Most who have had some inexplicable losses that my mind can’t even fathom. Words would only serve to minimize how at peace I felt in that moment. In that space in time speaking to those I have prayed to God that I could share my heart with. There are no words for that. 

Your waiting season may be here now. It may be laden with impatience and frustration. Remain faithful in your doing. Those doors will fling wide open. Just you wait and see. 

Your waiting season may be just around the corner. Don’t get blindsided by it. Own it. Accept it. Prepare for it. 

Your waiting season may be a thing of yesterday and you are right now hollering your praise to the Most High. Just don’t forget there are others who were exactly where you were. They can benefit from your wise counsel. 

Off will come those training wheels. Off will come those flotation devices. And off you will go forward once your waiting season is done. 

Faith, Life Coach, Love & Marriage

Sistah Take A Seat: Don’t Dull Your Shine 

I’ve been sitting on this Ayesha Curry Twitter rant for a minute, waiting to see how it would play out. I wanted to see who would come to her defense and who would drop her like a bad habit. Seems like the bipolar social media hounds are at it again with the teeth gnashing and the petty behavior.  One minute they were loving her quirky videos, her choice in clothing, her propensity for all things “domestic” and next they were hating her for having an opinion and actually sharing it. 

Some can argue that she should have tempered her words and avoided implications of coming against the NBA-her husband’s boss. After all, she did say that the NBA finals were “rigged.” Raise hands if you didn’t agree with Ayesha. Birds chirping. I thought so. I’m not here to belabor that. But I am here to explore the whole, women keep silent whilst their men go out and slay the dragons “gar-baj” I see is alive and well in 2016. A rather verbose sports commentator decided he wanted to go further and compare Ayesha with Savannah (Lebron James’wife). He essentially asked, why couldn’t Ayesha just sit at home and bake her cookies and stay out of man folks business? Well, that’s all it took! 

Disclaimer. I don’t ascribe to everything that feminism expounds. But I want my equal pay for my equal efforts. And I want you to “put some respect” on me as a woman who deserves to sit at the table where the plans are being drawn and the decisions are being made. My faith in Christ has already gained me equality in His eyes. I was fearfully and wonderfully made from day one and no amount of social media perceptions of women as objects can change that. I don’t operate in fear (most days) because my mind is sound and I am able to do all things because he gives me a soul deep type of strength. Regardless of what man has done to try and make me cower by the use of “religion” to magnify himself and minimize myself has failed.  I know very well that Jesus’ appearance on this earth cancelled out inequality among the sexes. Don’t get me started on where women stood in his ministry. That’s for a face to face. Just not tah-day. 

Back to Ayesha. Back to women at large. There’s a secret relationship book out there that says women should look pretty, act polite and keep their mouths shut. They are allowed a college education but not necessarily apply it. They are allowed to earn an income but not hold an opinion or share it. I mourn for the countless of women who have drank the “inferiority juice” and found their light slowly dim to a dull glow. I mourn for the women who died with dreams unrealized. I mourn for the women whose brilliance was never known while they were yet living. 

This was and should never be about the battle of the sexes. Our womanhood is not a handicap. It is a gift we give our men. They are the ones who “found a good thing” when our lives connect. Our wombs bear children. Our minds bear dreams and visions. When I’m blessed to find two individuals who decide to call their union a commitment in marriage, my silent prayer is always “Lord please let my sister remain true to herself, please let her never lose sight of her own purpose on this earth.”

For my sisters who seek that lifetime companion, seek one who will value your worth. One who will sit at the table late nights and go over the finances together. One who will call you first before he calls anyone else for decisions. One who will not become anxious when it’s your name that’s on everybody’s tongue. One who will recognize you as his “ezer kenegdo” his “strength and power.” One who will not shrink at the brilliance of your shine. 

There is plenty of room for the Ayeshas and Savannahs of this world. One likes to talk and be quirky and doesn’t mind being at the forefront. One is low key likely making waves that she rather not have promoted or shared on the public front. One should never make the other feel less of a person for the choices she’s made and the journey she’s chosen to take. 

Yet neither should ever, ever, ever let any man dull their shine. 

Faith

Your Wake Up Call

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”‭‭Job‬ ‭42:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There is a point in time when we all will receive a personal wake up call. It is not a matter of if, but rather when. Separation from a job.  Loss of a friendship. Divorce. Illness. Death. We may have once sat in church listening to someone speak on their testimony. Of how God spared or delivered them. We may have read an inspiring book or watched an impactful movie and walked away thinking, boy that was truly inspirational, truly moving! 

But until we go through our own personal challenge–we will only have known of God and never knew Him. 

After all, you can’t testify about anything you have not personally gone through. Second hand stories don’t go over as well. I couldn’t speak to the loss of a parent until I lost my mother. It was then and only then I could look at another orphan and see my pain in their eyes. I couldn’t speak of struggling with infertility in one’s marriage until I had personally experienced what it was to live out life currently without children. I couldn’t speak about walking away from a job and trusting God for my tomorrow until I left colleagues confounded about my decision to leave a leadership role.  All personal wake up calls that have lead and continue to lead me to a “closer walk with Jesus.”
Your wake up call will slam you head first into God. You will have no choice but to acknowledge His presence and power in your life. To do otherwise would be spiritual suicide. You will at once go from hearing about this Jehovah with many names to knowing this Jehovah because you have seen his many names lived out in your life. 

  

Faith, Life Coach, Uncategorized

His Name Rests On My Success

The messenger of God dropped a word and left us all holding the bag the other night. In his encouragement to the believers there that evening, he reminded us that God’s name rests on our success. Oh the pressure!

You walk away from a job. Folks want to see will God indeed be your Jehovah Jireh and your banner into this new season.

Your relationship ends. Inquiring minds want to know if you are going to turn into a puddle of mess and never be heard from again.

You are struck with an infirmity. People want to see if you will continue to trust God for your healing or hide away in shame.

Your loved one has died. They want to know whether you will lose your mind and walk the streets like a crazy person.
PEOPLE. ARE. WATCHING.

They are watching to see how you survive through the seasons of lack and depression. They want to see whether you will stumble and get back up or will you lie where you fell. God cannot and should not be glorified only in our time of prosperity. His power should also be made known when we are yet at lowest.

After all, His name rests on our success. The ability to overcome that divorce. That sexual abuse. That emotional melt down. That debilitating illness. That job separation. That ____________ (you fill in the blank).

God. Is. Not. Man. That. He. Should. Lie.

He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is with you always.

Career, Life Coach

Getting Ready to Get Ready

I jotted down oodles of notes from a recent women’s leaders conference, gave up trying to type on my IPad. I realized earlier on this was no business meeting and my typing couldn’t keep up with all the knowledge dropping that was taking place this day.

Being back on social media has been a lesson in humanity’s funny way of doing things. Barely have we gotten through Thanksgiving and I see the #2016 hashtags popping up. I’m guilty of having my own–#goaldigger 😆. Go ahead and steal it!  I know I did.  Right off Pinterest. I sho’ did. 

We’re psyched! Who needs to talk about prepping for a weekend with family we rarely see, when we can talk about all the things we want to do come January First.  Poster boards flying off the shelves while we prep for Vision Board parties; leaving the 20 pound turkeys behind in the freezer. We are gung-ho. Applying for jobs, calling our trainers (oh the shame!), buying up all the books on self-help. All in the name of getting ready. 

Then the speaker stops me cold, hard in my tracks with this thought. We get caught up in the business of getting ready to get ready. Screech! Stop! What say you? Say it ain’t so! Yep. It is. 

Getting ready to get ready is procrastinating. You’ve been talking about writing this Great American Novel and haven’t placed pen to paper or fingers to laptop. You’ve been talking about going back to school to get that much needed certification but if asked which colleges has that program, you can’t pull it out your… well you get the point. You’re ready to start a family but haven’t found a reputable OBGYN to consult with. Genetics counseling? Huh? Pregnancy planning apps? What’s that? 

Getting ready to get ready is operating in fear. When you can’t move beyond a bunch of Facebook posts and Pinterest likes, to the actual “doing” of what you wish to do, it’s an indicator that something or someone is holding you back. That someone can be a parent, child, friend–husband/wife (gasp!) but that person usually ends up being you. You holding yourself back from getting down and dirty in the planning. You holding yourself back from getting in the muck of researching your competitors and developing that business plan, first draft, or portfolio. 

Getting ready to get ready is being lazy. Reality shows have  an entire generation and a half of another one believing you can call yourself an entrepreneur without putting sweat, blood, and tears in the game. I’m from the World Book Encyclopedia and card catalog generation. It meant I had to go somewhere to get what I needed. Real work takes elbow grease, not copying and pasting what you find on Wikipedia. It doesn’t have to be a college degree (although a four year degree never killed anybody) but it does mean taking some classes, getting a certification, and learning a new skill.  It doesn’t have to be leaving your current job, but the side hustle sure can’t hurt until that glorious day when you strike out on your own. Inhale. Pray. Leap. Exhale. 

John Maxwell, the guru on all things leadership says it best. “Intentional living is all uphill.” 
So let’s move from the getting ready to get ready to the business of doing what you are more than qualified and ready to do. Drop kick that spirit of fear! Say ciao to that spirit of laziness! Turn your back on that spirit of procrastination!  It’s the enemy’s way of holding you down. Last I checked believers don’t operate with a fearful mind yet rather in the confidence that the lamp at our feet only moves when we do. 

Faith

Accountability: The Burden Of Truth

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” -Proverbs 27:17

Our “War Room Life” Group study is on week two of five lessons. Lesson One delved into living a lukewarm life. No one likes their water, tea, juice or coffee lukewarm. Especially God. This week, we move from pleasing God with our lifestyle to studying on the importance of accountability.

Confronted with a message that says we must be vigilant to be accountable one to another; many begin to squirm at the thought. Who among us wants the spiritual flashlight shined in the dark recesses of our heart? Who among us enjoys a rousing conversation about what we should or should not be doing, or how we should or should not be living?

Even I, a self-proclaimed “keep it real or go home” believer, do not exactly relish having to speak “challenging truths” to my friends in the faith. Never mind trying to be on the receiving end! Glad to know that the Word of God isn’t filled with suggestions though. It’s all for the benefit of the Body of Christ.

It breeds growth.  Stagnancy will be foreign to the person who is open to hearing what needs to be said about them and for them. The wounds of a friend will serve a greater purpose than the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6). It can be as simple as veering your girlfriend away from buying that one more purse she doesn’t need to encouraging someone to live out their dreams or moving on from a hurtful relationship.  The first keeps money in her bank account. The second brings about personal success. The third heals a heart. All a means to a fruitful end.

It yields spiritual maturity. At day’s end, when you speak in hushed, gentle, yet firm tones with your brother or sister, feelings and emotions have to be the last thing considered. Rather it is the condition of your soul that will matter when we meet our Savior. You can’t be worried about offending when their soul is in peril. You can’t be worried about losing a friendship if it will mean them seeing Jesus one day. It is the toughest pill to swallow. The one that goes against the grain. Yet is is the necessary thing to do.

It makes for a better you. Holding each other accountable brings about healthy and transparent relationships. The days of “yes men” relationships are over. If I can’t speak to you in honesty and truth and expect the same in return, then this relationship has met its demise. Only when we surround ourself with like-minded souls are we truly able to see progress in our walk with Christ.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12