Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Don’t Do It For The Likes 

I don’t know when I decided that when people shared information with me that I just couldn’t keep it to myself. Maybe it was while growing up and seeing an entire immigrant community of people being deprived of basic rights while their immigrant peers from other countries got the first pickings. Maybe it was when I sat in my college counselor’s office and received all the college applications for free; while my classmates walked around clueless. Maybe it was having a college roommate whose parents bought everything she needed while I had to run to the dollar store for a frying pan that peeled metal after one week’s use. 

You get to a place where you say “When I … I will … for people who…” So when you get there. You do your part. You pay it forward. You do right by humanity. 

I have been guilty of overcommunicating. I have been accused of over-emailing and secretly maligned for over-posting. “If she sends out one more thing today,” they say. I’m sure they wonder what’s in it for me. I’m sure they are convinced that I get some type of commission. I laugh, mutter some not so nice thing under my breath (keeping it real) and continue being me. 

What’s in it for me?

My commission is seeing a fellow entrepreneur get her small business training certificate. Making room for others to come behind them. My bonus is hearing that a colleague jumped on that job opportunity and nailed it. Being a contributing member of society. My raise comes when parents taking advantage of free community activities with their kiddos. Making memories for years to come. I can’t tell you how much considering others before self tends to keep you humble. I mean, who doesn’t like to pass along info? I guess there are some grinches out there. Phooey to them! And they wonder why they can’t get off the ground with their goals. Smirk. God don’t like ugly and He ain’t too fond of pretty either. 

I think of the God-sent angels who guided me in my youth when my parents didn’t have a clue on how to navigate the education system. To the counselors who placed me in the coolest after school extra-curricular activities. My parents didn’t work for government offices, didn’t come from legacy, didn’t have access to the resources never mind could they afford to pay for it. To mentors who have groomed me over the years to simply walk through doors that Haitian girls weren’t expected to enter. So when people start bad mouthing public education, I’m ready to flatten tires and key cars! And give ZERO cares! Oh … wrong blog. Never mind! 

*Red Haze Lifting*

I don’t do it for the likes. If it were the case, my train of goodwill would have screeched to a loud halt years ago. People can be ungrateful. They can be mean. Darn right mean. And the most hard core person can be affected every now and then. The sheer waves of mean spiritedness can bog a person down. Yet God reminds us His eternal rewards surpasses what man will ever do or say on your behalf. That He will confound the wise and leave others continually perplexed about the favor on your life. Christ reminds his believers that if they could place him on a donkey and herald him as the next King then turn around and malign him on the cross-well heck don’t expect any less from the world we live in. But you carry on. You press forward. You do what is right before His eyes. 

When you do it for the passion, the purpose or simply because your rent on earth is a bill that will always come due, you will find plenty of opportunities to be a blessing to others. Where your right hand will never know what the left hand is doing. 

“Let us not become weary in doing good.” Galatians 6:9

Don’t do for the likes. Do it for the love. 

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. 

Life Coach, Random Thoughts

Sistah Take A Seat: When You’re Not Being  “Present”

Gabby Douglas has been on my heart something serious this Olympic season. I know she’s all the way in Rio and I’m nothing but a mere observer–but her spirit speaks to me like it would if she was my girlfriend two miles away, a church member in my congregation–like she was even me. I watched her four years ago shine and sparkle and give us all that #blackgirlmagic we so craved. Sprinkle. Sprinkle.  I watched the media and Black women at large try to dissect every strand of her course hair. White folks could care less about our hair as much as we care about our own hair. Gabby fought back and brought home the golds. 

This time around, Gabby stepped onto the stage and her shine and sparkle, well, her #blackgirlmajic, hmmm…something ain’t right. Minimal eye contact. Detached. Performance for the cameras and back to “normal”. Apathetic. Flat affect. Smiles that don’t reach the eyes. Mood incongruent with the setting. That fake smile. Simply put, this girl is not happy. Why? I don’t know. I can’t begin to know why this beautiful young trailblazer has missed a step. That she simply is not present.  By present I mean not being in the moment. Not connecting with others. Not being your true self and relating to the experiences about you. 

But I feel Gabby. How many times have I checked out when I couldn’t deal with the emotional threats made against me (real or perceived)? How many times have I withdrawn to that quiet space in my head and just mentally floated away? How many times have I taken off my glasses and allowed the blurry world to just be that–blurry? 

Gabby is one among millions of women who may find it hard to cope with life’s challenges in one form or another.  It’s not the challenges I’m concerned about yet rather how we cope that separates the wheat from the chaff. I spent half my lifetime trying to pretend that I liked everyone I met. I pretended that people excited me when in reality they drained me. I pretended that I was happy with my body when I really was not. I pretended I wanted to be “cool” and relatable when in reality I wanted to be in my nerd space with the do not disturb sign on the door. To me there was something wrong with being smart, organized, opinionated and introverted. After all, “everyone else” was wearing the long weaves, the high heels, and the big purses. That being in roles of wife/pastor wife, daughter, sibling, friend meant I had to kill my true self to become someone else. The pressure. Oh the pressure of living a lie. 

Today, I still carry all those roles and then some. But it’s how I cope that has made me more spiritually and emotionally centered. My faith in Christ keeps me grounded. No, I’m not in seminary school reading the Bible cover to cover for the 100th time, but I’m connected to Him. 

Do people still drain me? Yep. I just know how to better manage my responses and time spent with others and make time to be alone. Balance. Do I still find it hard to manage my hips and thighs? Yep. Fitbit helps. Wearing clothes that flatter me helps too. Acceptance. Am I still a nerd? Yep. Til the day I die! Truth
Gabby is young. I pray it doesn’t take half her life time to strengthen her village, acknowledge who she is at the core, forgive herself and others and use this test to be her testimony. I want her to hurry up and feel better, do better, be better! But as with everything, I know it’s going to be more hard hills to climb before the road smooths itself out. Being present is no small feat. Come through Gabby. Come through. 

Faith, Family, Love & Marriage

Marriage Made Easy

When the one month shy of 23 year old young woman and the just turned 26 year old young man stood before God and man and repeated those vows, all they could think of was jumping on each other’s bones later that evening and living happily ever after. That was me and my husband. We were kids taking a try at being grown ups and striking out on our own. Fast forward these many years later and it’s become common place to hear “You guys make it look so easy!” or “Wish my marriage could be like that!”

With eighteen notches on the marriage belt, it has been nothing but easy. Fun. Yes. Hilarious. Yes. Adventurous. Yes. Easy. Certainly not! Those marriage vows came home to roost in more ways than one. 

To Have And To Hold. We soon learned that we couldn’t just choose the good over the bad. It’s a package deal. When he got on my nerves with his laissez-faire attitude and his whatever comes what may mentality I had to have and hold it. When I irked his nerves with my strictly by the book, plan fifty years in advance staying within the lines mentality, he had to have and hold it. Two totally opposite creatures slamming into each other day in and day out made for some interesting arguments over the years. Some we laugh about now. Some with regret. 

For Better And For Worse. I didn’t sign up to be poor when I got married. After all I came from a two parent home where food was always in the fridge, the bills were always paid and our house was clean and well kept. Apartment living was supposed to be a two year stint. Not a five year one. Having one car between the two of us really tried my patience on most days. Having to live without some things I even enjoyed during my college years was the hardest part. I went from using Victoria’s Secret products to Vaseline overnight. Our combined income barely paid the bills and going to Fuddrucker’s was considered a treat! Steak sandwich, chili cheese fries, and a milk shake please! 

In Sickness And In Health. The occasional flu. Infertility. Surgeries. Parental illnesses on both sides. Caretaking roles. Our parents were hale and healthy standing as witnesses to our union then. It’s a different story these days. My dad walks with a limp from a knee surgery.  His mom is on blood pressure meds. His dad is on glucose meds. My mother is no longer with us. 

Til Death We Do Part. We joke around that in heaven we know we won’t be married. But we made a pact to at least live next door to each other. He is my best friend after all. Best friends don’t let best friends live in heaven by themselves! I shudder to think of the inevitable but know what God’s grace has done for countless of other couples before and He will do it with us. 

So Help Me God. There has been nothing easy about two polar opposite individuals living out life together. We have said some hurtful things. We have had to make it right. We have had to ask God to help us through some tough spots. Nothing we have done has been under our own volition. Going to bed angry was not a habit we kept. Not speaking to each other for days wasn’t either. Not trusting each other with our finances, our bodies, and our dreams wasn’t going to work. We confronted the issues at hand, asked for each other’s forgiveness and tried to do it better. All easier said than done. All part of what makes it work. 

Yeah. We make married life look easy. At least on Sundays. At least when we post a selfie on social media. At least when we entertain in our home. The rest of them days are all about working hard at doing right by God, ourselves and each other. 

   
    
    
    
 

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.

Family, Life Coach, Love & Marriage, Uncategorized

Luv Is Not Love 

I can be down with the word abbreviations and slang every now and then. “Turnup” being one word instead of two. “On fleek” used as much as you use hot peppers on your submarine sandwich–very sparingly. Fo’ sho instead of for sure has a nice clean ring to it. It’s definitive, it’s fo’ real. Yet my mentor brought up a good point the other day in our conversation about one word you just shouldn’t fool with. Being in love and being in “luv” are two different things. 

“It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking…”

In luv means one person is in it for the benefits, and the other is in it hoping the benefits will lead to commitment. Being in love means you have both decided to throw your gifts, talents, faith, time energy into this thing called a relationship. There is no me and mine at this point. There is only ours. You ride the waves of life as a unit not as one person waiting for the other to fail. You look good, we both look good. 

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”

In luv there’s plenty of room for manipulation and deception. If cell phones are always in pockets and purses, Houston we have the beginnings of a problem. If there is this unspoken agreement to live separate lives and connect only when necessary (for sex, paying bills, going to church on first Sunday together) well you could have just hired an escort two weekends out the month! Being in love, is about transparency and acknowledging faults and failures in each other. Hiding your true intentions in a relationship is just delaying the inevitable. 

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

In luv means it’s ten years later and you’re still stuck with a person that’s not hungry for the things you are hungry for. They’re stagnant in their faith, their life goals, their way of thinking. You’re stifled in this muck called a relationship drowning every day. In love means, you’re growing together and when one stumbles along the way, the other is there to encourage, console, or just be there until the rainy weather ends. 

Don’t be fooled! That luv mentality has found its way in dating life and dare I say even marriages. Only difference is one couple didn’t spend gobs of money to sit in some hot mess of a failed relationship! One of you can walk away. One of you well…that’s a blog for another day. #HowToDivorceADeadBeat (jk) 

It is the complacency that comes with settling. Settling for a life without Jesus at the center of it. Settling for two-bit excuses about why he or she won’t just do right by you. Settling for mediocrity.

Moving from that luv to love mentality isn’t easy. It takes some serious soul searching to identify the whys and how in the hell did you get here type of self-analyzing. It takes some special kind of praying to be released from the bonds that threaten to choke you.  It takes you sitting on someone’s couch and bawling your eyes out in between gasps of finally telling your truth.  It takes you realizing that yes you screwed up but there is still hope of redeeming your sanity, of redeeming your life.