Confessions of Faith: When Time Stands Still

It’s hard to know what to do with yourself in the wait. Time seems to drag and your shoulders rise from the tension of long held anticipation. Wonder has long faded and you’re left with anxiety and doubt at war for space in your mind. This is the kind of waiting that feels like torture. Time seems to stand still, which leads to thoughts questioning the point of it all. Does it really matter? Will it make a difference if I give up? Who am I to think that what I want so desperately is even mine have?

In case you can’t tell, I’m familiar with this kind of waiting. It’s not the kind God would have for us. I can hear some of you asking if there’s any difference in the way we complete the act of waiting. I think there is. Have you ever waited for someone who’s late? Have you noticed that how you feel about the person you’re waiting for changes your attitude towards the situation? When it’s someone whom you perceive as a powerful benefactor, what you want from them may trump your inconvenience. When it’s someone that you’re doing a favor for by meeting with them, you may be indignant and put out. When it’s someone you have affection for, you may shake your head and wait patiently. The amount of time that you spend waiting is the same, but your perception and attitude changes based on who you’re waiting for.

When we’re in a season of waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises, the best thing we can do is to remember who we’re waiting for. Our trust in God and His timing should make waiting less of a challenge and more of pleasure. Our affection for Him, and our understanding of His towards us, can serve as a comfort in the wait. It’s not all up to us. Once we’ve done our due diligence in preparation, it’s out of our hands, and firmly in His.

Relax in that knowledge. Breathe it in. Allow your shoulders to fall and your jaw to unclench. Choose to serve at His pleasure, and to wait with patience, confidence and peace for His timing.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31, NIV

 

 

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Confessions of Faith: Living in the Free Fall

It’s 10:30 on a Saturday night and I’d planned to turn in early after watching a few episodes of Sienfeld. Let’s choose to gloss over the glaring need I have for a better social life and focus on the matter at hand. As usual, when I closed my eyes, the words I’d been searching for while awake, came to me as soon as I was on the brink of sleep. So here goes….

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then I’m sure you’ve noticed a huge decline in the frequency of my posting.  I think I’ve mentioned before that my health challenges were the reason for my disappearing act. But what I didn’t mention was all of the other things going on in my life that demanded my attention.

I spent almost a year in therapy. Not once a week for an hour therapy, but really intense five days a week for several hours a day therapy. I’m pretty sure I was one hop, skip and a jump away from straight up commitment. For real, for real. I was straddling sanity and the worst part was that I had absolutely no idea why. I’ve since learned that a few physical issues were the cause of my angst, but it was a long time coming.

Now, the truth of the matter is that I’ve had my fair share of trauma. But I’ve always picked up the pieces and carried on. I’m strong. Not out of destiny, but necessity. This was different. This was scary. This was crying myself to sleep for months every night without knowing why. This was going to the bathroom at work and stifling my cries and not knowing why. This was suddenly not remembering how to do the job I had done for three years. I was in trouble and totally exhausted from the effort it took to not look like I was falling apart, even though I was.

One thing I know for sure: I was fighting for my life and all the Bible reading in the world wasn’t making it any better. I recited Psalms every night with tears streaming down my eyes and asked God to help me. It was by the grace of God that I found a treatment center about 45 minutes away from my home that accepted my insurance.

So I went. Even though I’m a “strong Black woman” and we don’t do therapy. Even though it meant taking a leave of absence that eventually, among other things, led to me losing my job. Because even though I didn’t know what was going on with me, deep down I knew that I was worth fighting for.

I knew that the state I was in was beyond the few coping skills I had. I needed professional help. The center I went to helped me sort through the major issues I’ve had surrounding food since I was a little girl. They helped me work through the residual grief I had regarding the death of my daughter. They helped me remember my worth and reduce the overwhelming anxiety that nearly crippled me. And yes, they prescribed medication that helped me cope for the few months I needed to be on it.

At the center I learned the practice of yoga, and breathing techniques. I had individual psychotherapy and group therapy. Meditation and drama therapy. Art therapy and music expression. You name it and they did it. I was one of the few specks of color in that cup of milk, but it didn’t matter. What mattered is that I was able to heal in the presence of like-minded women from all walks of life. The women there were housewives and corporate moguls. Artists and college students. Business owners and baristas. It didn’t matter because we all had one thing in common; we were brave enough and fed up enough to go after the help we knew we needed.

To be honest, I didn’t plan to tell you guys all this. What I planned to do was tell you how grateful I am for God’s provision through this season of healing. But as usual, when my fingers hit the keyboard, things went another way….Hopefully what I’ve said will help someone else going through a hard time. You will get through it. I did.

I’m standing on the other side of victory. Thanks to the underhanded workings of my former employer, I lost my insurance, which meant that I had to abruptly end my therapy sessions. And that’s o.k. I know that all things work together for my good, and if God hadn’t decided that it was time to move on, I’d still be there.

Since I lost my job, I can’t tell you how much joy has been restored to my life.  Don’t get me wrong. Initially, I was absolutely devastated. I was angry and those old familiar feelings of shame and embarrassment came back, along with the thought that maybe I just wasn’t good enough. There was also the fact that I was in the midst of a serious health crisis that required extensive healthcare to treat. Healthcare that I no longer had access to because I no longer had insurance. If you knew where I previously worked, you would be astounded at the irony of my situation.

There wasn’t much I could do. At the time, I couldn’t work. My doctors had me on full restriction. If I worked, I risked permanent damage to my heart. So I had no choice but to cancel some of my doctors appointments and diagnostic tests, then pay out of pocket for what was necessary to aid in my recovery.

There’s something I learned in yoga. It’s the act of leaning into discomfort. When you‘re in a pose that pulls you and strains your muscles, and all you want to do is come out of it, that’s when you breathe into it. That’s what God did for me when I surrendered to Him. It is often at the place of our most earnest surrender, that God’s glory shines the brightest. When we stop resisting and rest in Him, He has the perfect opportunity to show us who He is and what He can do.

I haven’t worked in over six months, but I have lacked nothing. It’s certainly not because I’m so good with money that I had six months worth of savings in my bank account. I wish! I’ve had all that I needed and some of what I wanted. Actually, I loaned money a few times and was able to bless others as well, despite the fact that I was denied unemployment benefits. God provides.

Without the undue stress of a job where I was harassed and my creativity was stifled, my health has improved by leaps and bounds. I literally get better every day. God heals.

I still used the coping skills I learned in therapy and now I know that it’s time to get back to doing what I love, and that includes writing for this blog and creating my novels. God restores.

At my lowest points, God stuck by me. When I didn’t believe in myself, He spoke life into me. Sometimes taking a leap of faith is not an option. Sometimes, you’re pushed. That’s when you get to live in the free fall. It’s breathtaking and exhilarating and freeing in so many wonderful ways. God loves.

I’m living out loud and unashamed. I hope you join me.

XoXo,

Faith

Those who know your name trust you because you have not abandoned any who seek you, LORD. Psalm 9:10 (CEB)

But I have trusted in your faithful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5 (CEB)

 

 

Ummm, So I’m Kinda Really Feeling This YouTube Thang…

What’s up, y’all? Your girl has been slacking. I haven’t been sharing my thoughts and encouragement here lately, but it’s not for lack of the desire to do so. I’ve just been dealing with a lot of things related to my health, and one of the side effects of that is brain fog. Like, serious “what’s my mama’s name, again?” brain fog. I send text messages that need Google Translations to decipher. Writing this post alone is taking me longer than I care to admit.

Me being me, I decided to make an effort to connect with you all, no matter what. If I can’t write like I want to (at least for right now), I can still flap my gums! So, that’s what my YouTube channel is all about. In some ways, connecting with you on that platform provides a unique opportunity for me to share my life with you in a far more intimate manner than this blog. I think that’s a good thing, and I hope you guys do, too.

But, don’t worry. This blog is my baby and I’ll definitely get back to going hard on it again once I get my health in order. If you’re curious as to what kind of health issues I’m dealing with, check out my videos. I’m not shy about operating in full disclosure (as you might have noticed by now, lol) but I go a little deeper on my YT channel.

My goals there will be the same as my goals are here: to transparently share my life and thoughts for the purpose of encouragement. I promise to keep it all the way real (like FO’REAL) because I’m learning that perfection has no place in my life. Plus, if I can continue to put one foot in front of the other, despite the hardships of life, someone watching will see that they can, too.

You all are my people. My tribe. My fam. It is my hope that the community I eventually discover on YouTube is as awesome and inspiring as the community that I’ve found here. I have a feeling that adding that platform to my repertoire is going to result in a wild ride. A beautiful mess that I can’t wait to share with you! The blessing that is our future is waiting.

Let’s get it.

XoXo,

Faith

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1: 1-4

Oh and before I go, don’t forget to subscribe to my channel, so you won’t miss a thing. I’ll continue doing my Conversations with Faith, but I’m adding weekly vlogs as well. Plus, soon there’ll be a series called Confessions of Faith, where I talk about the MANY mistakes I’ve made in the past and explain how God’s grace brought me through. Don’t be a stranger, come holla at me over there. 🙂

Confessions of Faith: Temper Tantrums and Attitude

Picture it: a perfectly lovely spring morning in Memphis. The sun was shining, the humidity was practically non-existent, the birds were chirping and the scent of magnolia trees at least 100  years old rose gently on the breeze.

But, ask me if I noticed any of that at the time. Nope, sure didn’t. Why? Because I was too busy grumbling about the inability of the people I shared the road with (I won’t call them drivers, because drivers know how to drive) to stay in their lanes, not finding a good parking spot at work and a plethora of other things before I copped an attitude with God.

Uh-huh. I copped an attitude with God. It’s not the first time, and unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last time. I had an attitude because it was His fault I even had to deal with incompetent road hoggers, bogus parking arrangements and waking up at the crack of dawn. Because if He was doing things the way I wanted them done, I’d be a full-time writer well on my way to selling the rights to my books for film options.

I proceeded to tell God that I just didn’t see why He hadn’t come through for me in this respect yet. I complained that there was no way He’d actually want me to work full-time for someone else’s vision, no matter how noble it might be, and then relegate my vision to nights and weekends. And furthermore, I didn’t think it was right that I should have to sacrifice my health to pursue my passion. No way could he expect me to operate on a few hours of sleep on a regular basis in order to produce books at the rate I want to. It just wasn’t fair!

Well, after my little temper tantrum, God responded the way He typically does; in a still, small voice. A reckoning in my spirit that calmed me and a reminder that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. That the pressure I was putting on myself wasn’t His doing and that the gift He gave to me is supposed to be a source of joy, and not stress.commit2

Me being me, I was like, “I hear all that. And thanks, by the way. But still, why haven’t you come through?”

Y’all, His answer hurt my feelings. DISCIPLINE. Or rather, my lack thereof. God reminded me that if I were more disciplined, there would be no need to sacrifice sleep or my so-called health. Maybe if I spent more of my free time actually writing, I would be further along in my entrepreneurial endeavors.

I spent a few more minutes trying to justify my situation. I’m on fitness journey. I’m on a weight loss journey. I’m on a financial freedom journey. I’m on a natural hair journey. I’m on a Netflix journey. I’m on a Diner Dash journey (Flo ain’t gon’ be able to serve those people by herself). I’m on a find-a-suitable-life-partner i.e. husband journey.  You get the point. I find time to do everything that I want to do, but treat writing as though it’s a priority in my life.

Once I picked my face up off the ground after that Holy Spirit breakdown, I stopped making excuses and started giving thanks. Thanks to for Him loving me in spite of me. Thanks to Him for providing me with a day job and the skill set to do it well. Thanks to Him for gently guiding me into His plan for my life. I was grateful that God cared enough about me to listen to my rants, and to show me His ways.

He promised that if I commit the work of my hands to Him, He would bless my efforts. So I’m stepping back from all the social media hoopla I’ve been caught up in, taking the reigns off my floundering ‘marketing plan’ and getting down to the business (and joy!) of writing.

The funny part is that I think that’s all He’s ever expected me to do in the first place. The rest is up to Him. I’m OK with that.

Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:13 ESV

“A gift isn’t a gift, until you give it away.”-Unknown

XoXo,

Faith


What do you do when something you want badly seems to be taking its sweet time arriving? How do you balance your ambition with your circumstances? I told you my current kryptonite (lack of discipline) what’s yours? What’s getting in the way of you walking in your purpose? If you’re already fully walking in your purpose, tell us how you got there.

Confessions of Faith: How I Fell Into (And Got Out Of) The Comparison Trap

The other day, I came across this post by one of my writer friends on Instagram.

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And then, last week, I came across this AMAZING blog on identity by my good friend Simone. Seriously, click the link. You’ll thank me later.

They both spoke to me and reminded me of a time not too long ago when I fell into the horrible habit of comparing myself to others. I thought I had kicked that nasty pesky inclination in high school. But there it was again, rearing its ugly head in my 30’s.

And this time, it wasn’t about anything superficial like my looks or fashion sense. This was intense and deeply personal. This time I was comparing my God-given talent for writing to other authors. This time, the whole situation was personal.

I’m the type of person who is genuinely happy when good things happen to other people. I don’t have a hateful bone in my body. The way I see it, if God did it for them, He will certainly do it for me. So don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t mad at them for succeeding. I was mad at myself for not doing all that I thought I was supposed to be doing.

You see, I kept thinking that having one full length novel published wasn’t good enough. My author buddies were putting out books left and right, and I was still struggling through the first draft of my sophomoric effort. I kept thinking ‘what’s wrong with me?’

When comparison takes root, despondency is not far behind it. I went from wondering how other authors were able to do so much, to beating myself up for not doing enough, to wondering if I’m really cut out for this author thing after all.

That’s when God’s counsel stepped in and told me in no uncertain terms to pump my breaks. Who did I think I was questioning His plan and His pace? How dare I even consider neglecting my gift simply because things weren’t progressing the way I thought they should?

God’s conviction is so much lighter than our conscience’s condemnation. Because His conviction comes with clear instruction and hope for the future.

God's conviction is so much lighter than our conscience's condemnation. Because His conviction comes with clear instruction and

I stopped comparing myself to other writers and started reminding myself of who God says that I am and what He promised me for my future. Long before I ever had the courage to pursue this writing dream, I stood on the promises of God for years. He said that my gift would make room for me and bring me before great men.

He’s been faithful to that, so it’s only right that I remain faithful to Him.

My point is this: don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. You don’t know what it cost them to get where they are and you don’t know how hard it may be for them to keep going. Focus on you and what you were purposed here to do, and then do it with all your might.

I promise that the payoff will far exceed your wildest dreams.

XoXo,

Faith

A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. Proverbs 18:16 

Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go. Ecclesiastes 9:10