They Won't Bloom

I recently shared my love hate relationship for Instagram stories on Instagram stories, of course. I'm the kind of person that meticulously plans my day (I live by my google calendar) only to have my schedule sabotaged by periodic glimpses into other people's lives. I mean, the pressure is real because in 24 hours it disappears. What if I miss that word I needed, dinner idea or link to that super cute shirt that would have taken me from basic to fab? Social media is great; I've learned a lot, have been able to check up on family and meet new friends. However, I could have been doing the things I planned for the day.

 

This reminds me of a passage in Romans 7.

“For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness--my sinful capacity]. For the willingness [to do good] is present in me, but the doing of good is not.”

ROMANS 7:15;18 AMP (emphasis added).

 

Not the most encouraging, I must say, but I love Paul's transparency. The willingness to do good is present in me. The willingness to stick to my to-do list is there. That's a silly example but what about something more serious like the willingness to do God’s will, stay the course, or not give in to fear? It's also there. When it comes to hearing from God I'd say I'm pretty confident that I know what He's saying after all I am His sheep and I know His voice. Plus He's not one to mince words so I know what He wants me to do. I even plan on doing those things but because of doubt, fear, people's feelings and shamefully the "thrill" of having my own will, I don't do the good things. Then I find myself in situations that God never intended for me to be in; planting flowers where they won't grow. They initially look promising but they fail to thrive in the foreign soil, a soil that I can't till and fertilize on my own.

 

 

So what do you do when you're tending to dead flowers? Just let them go, sis. Dead flowers are dry, not very pretty and after a while they start to smell really bad. Don't get caught up in trying to make it work. Trust me, it doesn't. Just take a step back and consider this:

 

  1. God is a good gardener. You are fearfully and wonderfully made but you’re no good apart from the creator. Doing anything on your own is tough but doing something with God opposing it (because He definitely didn't approve it) is impossible. He never intended for you to do it on your own. He cares. He is for you, beside you. You are not forgotten because He sees you. He makes your path secure and it isn’t a path of sand but one of gold; one that is incorruptible. So get to know Him. Read His word, listen to and read pieces inspired by His wisdom and surround yourself with His people. Keep your eyes fixed on Him.

  2. God has a much nicer garden. Please note that nicer doesn’t always mean pleasant. Some parts of it can be a bit rough but it is beautiful. I'm extremely grateful for where God has placed me. In this space I have discovered my identity. It’s been my place of lamentations, exodus, deuteronomy,  revelations and lots of psalms.  A place to know what true surrender looks like. My place to wrestle with God and obtain my name. God’s garden yields fruit, all year-round.

  3. We're counting on you. All of creation groans and eagerly waits for the reveal of God's sons and daughters. Long before God created the heavens and the earth He knew you and called you for something spectacular. Since then the world has been waiting for you to show up. You can't do what God has called you to do if you're not where He has called you to be.

 

Embrace God as He beckons you into His garden. Allow His love to cover all your fears, doubts and pain and let Him be your guide. His plans are far better than your own. You’ll still have to do work but the work is for an expected end. In His love the flowers will bloom.

 

 

@adaonyema

www.talknaija.org

What I Learned from My Toxic Friendship - Kimberly Palmer

A friendship that I thought would last a lifetime ended after one phone call conversation.

A few months ago I found myself in the last stages of a friendship that I thought would last a lifetime. Over 100+ phone calls, dozens of sleepovers, and countless amounts of memories, this friendship was one of a kind. I pictured myself growing old with her by my side as my best friend but things gradually took a turn for the worst last year. She started to distance herself from me and only contacted me to get advice. Our friendship slowly turned into a one-sided relationship. She no longer showed interest in what was going on in my life and even blocked me on social media based off of how she was feeling. I constantly felt uneasy about the status of our friendship. One day I tried to talk to her about the problems I noticed in our friendship (and even apologize) and she expressed to me that no she longer wanted to be friends. This crushed me….

 

 

A friendship that I thought would last a lifetime ended after one phone call conversation.

 

Although this situation hurt me, there were a few things I learned that I hope can help someone else going through a similar situation. In this friendship, I was putting in more than the other party, so I was constantly let down. I felt used and didn’t have a two-way friendship I once had. These feelings were red flags that my friendship was toxic, but I did not want to believe it. I focused on our length of friendship and the memories we shared rather than focusing on the lack of fruit and brushed off the constant conviction I felt to let go of my friendship. The bible says in Proverbs 18:24 that, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly”. This verse means that friendship is something that requires hard work. Whether it be a romantic relationship or a friendship, calling someone friend requires a lot of intentionality. If you ever find yourself at a place where you are not sure if you should be friends with someone, feel free to use this verse as a guide! Seasons change and some friendships are only for a specific time frame, no matter how long you have known that person.

 

In addition to ignoring my convictions, I wasn’t honest with myself. Both of us were going down two different paths of life that simply did not mesh. Now don’t get me wrong, you CAN be close friends with someone that has different goals/aspirations in life but once you find yourself in a friendship in which the other individual’s priorities are one you can not support, your closeness should be re-evaluated. “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” - Amos 3:3. If your friendship is more of a set back than a blessing, be honest with yourself and get guidance from God as to how to handle it. This might mean lowering your expectations or having a conversation with that person to see how you all can tackle this issue.

 

Toxic friendship can be challenging to recover from but God always makes everything work out for our good. In my case, I was forced to end my friendship because the other person did not want to try anymore. I’m super grateful though! This situation gave me more insight on what a healthy friendship looks like compared to a toxic friendship. Now I am even more grateful for the friends I have in my life. I want to honor them more and truly be a good, no….. GREAT friend. =) Thanks for reading ! 

 

IG: @kpsparks_

Youtube: www.youtube.com/kpsparks

Voice Over: Live Your Truth, Not in Fear - Adina Ferguson

Far too often, thoughts ravaged my mental space forcing me to moonwalk out of so many blessings

You’re good but not great.

Yeah, you wrote a book, but what have you written lately?

You’re funny but you’re no Issa Rae.

You don’t even write and pray every day. How can you call yourself a Christian writer?

 

 

It’s Wednesday morning. I sit at Panera Bread soaking up their AC and free wi-fi while gulping down a cold Arnold Palmer. It’s my day off and I realize I am more productive when I’m out of the house. It’s time I write the truth about my journey this summer. It’s been a week since I gathered with the group of women who changed my life forever. It’s been a week since I’ve witnessed firsthand the value of one’s community. The value of forming relationships with friends and strangers who are just like you, one way or another. It’s been a week since I reaped the rewards of obeying God’s words instead of listening to my very own.

 

Like the ones above.  

 

Far too often, thoughts ravaged my mental space forcing me to moonwalk out of so many blessings, so many discoveries, so many victories. Months after penning an essay about killing my own negative vibes, I still struggled.

 

“The goal is to walk with self-love and confidence, ridding ourselves of negative thoughts, little to no actions, and decide once and for all that it’s time to walk in our greatness.”

 

Those were my words written for the world to see. Yet, I was still the pot calling the kettle black.

 

Until they came along.  

 

Week after week, these women, of all ages, and paths, trusted me with their fears, loves, frustrations and goals. For six weeks, I sat at the head of the table, sweaty palms and pits, leading them down a road to freedom. A road where they would come face-to-face with everything I’ve battled with all my life. We embarked on the journey together, and I am eternally grateful.

 

Knowing the journey almost didn’t happen, I remember tilting my head back uttering words to heaven when it was all over. God, I thank you. I would go on to send texts to two leaders turned friends who encouraged me to “say yes” to the idea of hosting a small writing group at church I happily coined “She’s So Writeous.”

 

Just before coming to Panera, one of them sends me a podcast titled “Victory Over Anxiety.” I flashback to my group’s first few meetings. I was filled with excitement and cotton mouth. Though my notes were sloppily written in a journal, my thoughts were all over the place. Every word I spoke, in the back of my mind, I questioned. I didn’t know if I should sit down or stand up, if I should do the writing exercises with them or just observe. I looked into their eyes wondering if I was making sense, wondering if I was an authority on the subjects at hand, and then it happened.

 

They wrote their truths. They stepped beyond the shadows and shared their stories with one another. They conquered. They returned. They bonded, connected, and more importantly, they were used by God to speak to me.  Loud and clear.

 

Before each meeting I would recite 2Timothy 1:7: For God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.

 

As each word rolled off my tongue, it was like I was wearing noise cancelling headphones. I knew the scripture. I needed to believe it. And when I did, God did the rest. Showed up in our space of sisterhood and did more than I could with the stroke of a pen.

 

I was too busy being a stubborn Moses and not an anticipating Adina.

 

“But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord?- Exodus 4:10-12

 

By the end of it all I had no excuses left to give. God looked me in my eyes and smacked down every I can’t and I don’t. He lifted my chin, and reminded me that I had nothing to fear. That life takes trust and obedience. “It’s like telling your significant other, ‘yes, I trust you, but let me see your phone’.” That’s what I told the group one day. I am grateful for that step forward. Because of it I feel whole, alive and full of purpose. I know that I am all those things. I can no longer hold on to voice, whether my own, or someone else’s riddled with anxiety, fear, self-sabotage, insecurities, and other limiting behaviors. Listening to the right voice in my head, God’s voice, can take me further than I ever imagined.

 

See you in the fall?

 

IG: @writeme511

www.adinathewriter.com

My Fierce is Joy

However, my smile tricks many people into thinking that I am happy all the time, when in truth, I sometimes fall towards the opposite track

 

“You’re so happy all the time. I mean you smile all the time!” I couldn’t even begin to fathom how much this phrase has been said to me my whole life. To some, I may seem like the optimist whose happiness and energy can deflect any sort of negativity thrown her way. Never the Debbie-downer. Before I get into the thick of it, I truthfully do smile A LOT. Sometimes I think my face just naturally stretches that way. However, my smile tricks many people into thinking that I am happy all the time, when in truth, I sometimes fall towards the opposite track. I am harder on myself than anyone else could ever be. I fall into the rut of “I can do better” or “I’m not good enough.” Not exactly the mindset that most people think of when thinking of an optimist. So then, were does my optimism stem from if it doesn’t come from some magical state of happiness?

My optimism stems not from happiness alone, because in actuality happiness is fleeting. While happiness is temporary and is based upon happenings, and how we feel at the moment, the gift of joy, among others (Galatians 5:22) is from the Lord and you can still experience joy during trials, suffering, and testing. My lesson came from Christ Jesus, who, though he despised the shame of the Cross, he considered the joy set before Him. He even managed to keep love for those who hurt him. Jesus knew God’s plan was a goal of salvation for all, and chose to believe that things would work out eventually. So even in the moments that I feel most down, hope still exists for me.

One of my favorite authors, C. S. Lewis, said “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” Finding your joy in something other than God can easily be destructive.  How you feel is directly related to what you are focusing on, so when you fix your focus and remove the desire to find joy in something other than God, you’ll taste a reckless freedom and joy in all you do. You can have joy when your life is falling apart because He has promised never to leave you or forsake you. Joy should never come and go like money or materialistic things. John 15:11 also promises, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” This joy, it is a constant, all of our days because He is constant in His presence.

So, what is your fierce? It’s within you, right now, so embrace it! Discover your fierce in the everyday things of your life - yes, even the Monday things. Because Jesus is in every detail, we can enjoy him everywhere, even in life’s mundane routines.

 

My Fierce is Compasionate

In order to live unapologetically, we must first stop apologizing to Jesus about the things we believe marr the beauty He created in us.

If you were to ask me to describe myself in one word, compassionate would be my immediate response.

Now, it’s not that I am not intelligent, hilarious, gracious, or a million other adjectives. But somehow compassion gets to the heart of who I am; somehow compassion defines the things I value most about myself.

I wanted to understand where this word came from, “What does compassion really mean?” was my question. In my research I learned that it is a derivative of the Latin words com (with, together) and pati (to suffer).

Bringing me to this concise definition; Compassion, to suffer with.

When you put it like that, it doesn’t sound pretty.

“Hello, my name is Jaunyce and if I were to describe myself in a short sentence, it would be, ‘I am one to suffer with others’”, says no one ever!

But when I sit back and think about it, that sentence does describe me. It describes me very well actually.When I say that I am compassionate I don’t mean that I am super nice; I mean that I have a sincere heart for others.

My compassion fuels my indignation against injustice.

My compassion awakens my desire to celebrate the success of others.

My compassion leads me to comfort the overlooked.

My compassion moves me to tears when I hear of someone’s pain.

My compassion saves a seat for the lonely at my table.

My compassion remembers little details about a person that may easily be overlooked.

My compassion leads me to see life through the lens of other’s experiences.

 

Based on society's interpretation of this word, compassion probably doesn’t fall in the category of fierce. I beg to differ, for it was a fierce compassion that led Jesus to the cross.

His compassion is what motivated His saying yes to His father’s plan.

His compassion is what humbled Him to go through each season of life as if He had no hand in creating them.

His compassion told His disciples to let the little children come to Him.

His compassion promised the thief hanging beside Him on the cross a place in heaven.

His compassion is what playfully called out to the disciples from the shore after His crucifixion.

His compassion is what keeps Him at the right hand of His father interceding for us day and night.

I embrace my compassion as one of the fiercest things about me, because compassion is a defining characteristic of Jesus, Christ. In the same way that I have my earthly father's facial structure, and my mother's mannerisms, I have my heavenly father’s compassion.

This entire campaign is focused on identifying the things about us that reflect the heart of who we were created to be and not apologizing for them.

The truth is we will continue to apologize if we see ourselves through the fragmented lens of this world. But we will do away with these apologies when we see ourselves through the lens of the unconditional love which we were created by and for.

In order to live unapologetically, we must first stop apologizing to Jesus about the things we believe marr the beauty He created in us. Then we must stop apologizing to ourselves for not meeting the unrealistic standards which we have placed on ourselves. When we do away with those apologies we will no longer feel the need to apologize for who we are in our glorious imperfection.

Hi, my name is Jaunyce, and my fierce is one to suffer with others. My fierce is compassionate.

My Fierce is ... Fearless

To be fearless is not to never feel fear at all

My fierce is fearless. The literal definition of fearless is "lacking fear". And although to some extent I agree with this definition, mine differs. To me being fearless is trusting God in my doubt, my worry, and in my fears. Yes, my fears. To be fearless is not to never feel fear at all, but rather feeling fearful and choosing to run to the One that can calm my heart just as He does the seas and storms. Growing up, I always struggled with fear. Name it and I was scared of it. And this caused a strain on my trust in Christ. I never realized that the spirit of fear is not of God, but rather Satan. Once realizing that it was a spiritual warfare, I dug myself in the Word and fasted over the course of a couple months. And one thing that was constantly placed on my heart was God's perfect love.

God's love, which supersedes and surpasses every possible fear that I could ever feel or imagine. Not only that but because of what Jesus did on the Cross, He conquered not only death, but every fear too. The more I prayed, the more God drenched me in His love. This love soon became so overwhelming, that my heart had no room for fear. God's perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Therefore, I do not need to be afraid. I do not need to worry. Not only is God with me, but He loves me. 

Be blessed and be fearless

 

Instagram/twitter: yemiade9

Embrace Your Fierce

Why are we “sorry” for everything?

I am a woman, hear me roar…right? Women have done amazing things for The Lord, for their families, for their companies, and in tons of other ways for centuries. So why are we still so unsure of ourselves? Why are we “sorry” for everything? Why are we not consistently claiming and acting like who God has called us to be? Why are we not all UNAPOLOGETICALLY FIERCE?

Most people who know me if asked to describe me in a few words at some point would come to the words UNAPOLOGETIC and FIERCE, but that has been and still is a journey! While I have always been generally gregarious, sometimes honest to a fault, and a self-starting go getter there has been periods in life where I have struggled with how I saw myself and how I thought others saw me. The fear of being too smart, too skinny, too loud, too much, too, too, too was the proverbial thorn in my side for a long time.

Funny enough I refused to wear shorts for 4 years because I thought my legs were too skinny. I would give a presentation in a room full of total strangers, I would lead a team project, I would ‘tell you like it is’ but shorts seemed too big a cross to bear. Looking back on it, that was silly; but it did not change that for me that was a very real feeling. I am proud to say I have been DELIVERT from my hatred of shorts though I still tend to avoid wearing them admittedly. Dresses and I have since had a fresh start.

My next mountain became dating. I really worried about ending up with the “right” person. I was fearful that I would somehow get it wrong and then I would OBVIOUSLY never be happy. *inserts face palm* I walked through life picking a part every little thing. Picking apart the little things made me extremely self-conscious, because I believed other people would do the same to me and when they did they would discover that I would be too much. My mom, my village, and I prayed my way through that; I have come to realize decisions ruled by fear are not decisions but rather regrets. Once again DELIVERT!

…but then I started working. Shorts may no longer be my issue but ‘sorry’ is. I have never been so SORRY in my whole life. I am sorry for things I caused, for things I couldn’t have affected outside of being Jesus himself, I’m sorry for being early, I’m sorry for being on time, I’m sorry for EVERYTHING! While this seems like a relatively innocuous habit, I am praying about it because it is not good. I am not saying sorry to fill the gap in an awkward conversation, reflexively, or because I am actually sorry. I am saying sorry because I fear that if I do not overcompensate with apologies people may think I am bossy, or they may find me over powering, or they may see me as “that black girl.” Almost DELIVERT!

I share these things not because it is bad to dislike shorts, or to be critical about who you choose to spend life with, or to apologize. I share them because they are small glimpses into my journey of tackling this fear thing. What I have seen in my own life is that you can overcome a million ‘small issues’ but they are the fruit of your issue not the root of it. The root of my issue is not shorts, boyfriends, or apologies. The root of my issue is being fearful. So why am I fearful? I could say it is because I am a fairly neurotic dooms-dayer who knows Murphy’s Law as well as John 3:16, which would be true but not completely honest. I am fearful because I don’t trust God like I should. In ALL of these experiences it has been about me, not about God. When you know who you belong to and you trust that The Lord wants what is best for you in every avenue even when you don’t feel that way you do not let fear consume you and guide the way that you act. The Bible is full of amazing women who embody this, my favorite is a woman who does not even have a name. Noah’s wife was so bomb to me! This woman had never seen rain but even as the Earth was being flooded she waited on God and she trusted that He would see his promise through. She had every reason to be fearful and to step outside of God’s will by making it about her and what she could do, yet despite it all she chose faith! I like to believe she also chose shorts, a great husband, and she wasn’t sorry about it… but that’s just me.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” Psalm 46:1-3

I am learning on my journey to believe God like she did, I am learning more about who God is, who I am in Him, and that He has given me the faith to believe when I want to be fearful because it feels like the earth is giving way. I am a Christian woman who refuses to live her life in fear, hear me roar! I don’t always get it right BUT I wear shorts, I have an amazing boyfriend, and I ain’t sorry *Beyoncé voice with a neckroll*.

 

McKenzie Conner

Instagram: @youngkodakmac

Facebook: McKenzie Conner

Confessions of An Emotional Woman

I am not what I feel

 

I started off this year excited. More than excited, I was hopeful. I just knew that this year was going to be better than the one before. I spent last year discovering my strength and I was ready to use it in 2017.

The only problem is.... I am an emotional woman. Yes, The stereotype applies to me. I am the friend who will call you screaming with excitement when you get into that grad school program; the daughter who was fuming with anger behind closed doors whenever her parents fought; the leader crying with team members as they are facing a rough season of life. I am an emotional woman. How could I be strong when such a large part of me is viewed as a weakness?

I’m learning emotions are not necessarily a good or bad thing, but a God given response to life’s events. It is natural and necessary to be aware of emotions, similar to being aware of surrounding environments. It ensures safety. Emotions build relationship with people through the expression of words. An invitation to say “me too”. You’re sad about the season finale of This is Us? Me too! Burpees make you angry? Me too! We connect through shared emotions. In fact, emotions can be so dominant, they can define us.

 

“Then God said, let there be light and there was light.” (Gen.1:3)

 

As bold as our emotions are, God has given us something more powerful and transforming to define ourselves. That something is the same thing He used to create the heavens and the earth, light and darkness, even man himself. God has given us the ability to define ourselves with our words.

 

Words….not something I’ve mastered. I often find myself rambling and causing confusion with my words. But what if words were meant to be used the way God uses them… to build. God tells us the power of life and death lies in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Almost like a tool.

Tools are small instruments with a monumental impact. Words are not simply an expression of emotions, but a tool to build identity. To speak encouragement, insert hope, and welcome love. Words provide the opportunity to tear down lies of emotions and shed light on the truth of identity. Instead of only using words to communicate with people, God wants to use them to build our character.

 

Let’s choose to build the identity we want with our words:

 

  1. Separate the emotions from the truth

    1. What negative emotions are dominating your thinking?

    2. Which biblical truth will crush those emotions?

  2. Create a list of words you want to live by (ex. below)

    1. I am loved by God and find my identity in Him

    2. I love people and think the best of them

    3. I am not easily offended because God’s love lives in me

    4. I am not a rejected soul because I am continuously pursued by God

    5. I walk by faith, not by sight

  3. Speak these words with confidence everyday

    1. Create a morning routine that includes your words to live by

    2. Stand in the mirror and tell yourself who you are

  4. Watch God define your identity!

 

Check out this link for more insight on words to live by: https://finds.life.church/words/https://finds.life.church/words/


 

Pauline Russell

@LeanOnP