Is it Your Time?

If you are on any social media platform, if you listen or read the news or talk to people in general, I am sure you are just as confused, confounded, and perhaps a little worried about what is going on in the world today.

I am a professional, and I have been just about all of my adult life. From the early days in government

The Time is Now - Clock stock illustration. Illustration of ...

to now, as a leader of a social services organization. Things have changed in our world, but things have also remained the same and, in some cases, declined.

At the beginning of the year, we were so hopeful, looking forward to what this year would bring. Like many of you, I established goals at the end of 2019, getting ready to take on the world in 2020. I traveled so much in 2019. I had a blast going from New York to Dallas and back to California and Paris! I looked forward to 2020 because January would kick off my year in Yaounde, Cameroon. What an exciting time I would have there. And it was.

You could not have prepared me for what was about to happen after that trip. I came back to California, got ready to move out of the house we had sold in December, started the move, realized that I needed to make a new start, and resigned my job in March. Days after I had decided to do that, COVID showed up. A couple of months later, we found ourselves in the middle of a significant civil rights issue again. As I said, some things change, and some things remain the same.

One thing that the pandemic has done for me is that it has allowed me to stop, recalibrate, read, reflect, and think about what I am suppose to do in the middle of the mess in which we find ourselves. My niece sent me a book by Sister Joan Chittister, The Time is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage. I began to read that book and just as the Holy Spirit had caused me to reflect and make a move earlier in the year, this book only confirmed what I believe God was getting me ready to do. Sister Joan challenged me to look at my spirituality—something I have been doing for quite some time now.

In last month’s blog, I mentioned that I found myself sitting back and saying nothing when questionable things were going on around me. Once I left my previous job and accepted a position at this new place, I could sense almost immediately that the last year was preparation for today. This job is what God had been preparing me for my entire life! It is here where what I believe and what I do meet each other, and the two will impact me, those around me, the communities where we serve, and society at large.

Since joining my organization, several quality, honorable, and high character executives followed. They, like me, see themselves as being put on this earth to make a difference. We see our roles very differently, but we take them very seriously. We have a heart for people and processes that makes sense. Nothing will keep us from doing good work, God’s work.

Pin by Angela Stephens on Words to live by | Help the poor ...

In a time when we can focus a tremendous amount of negative energy, or experience fear, because of what has impacted our lives over the last several months, we need not forget that God called us for such a time as this. My question to you is, do you believe that God called you to be where you are right now for a specific purpose? Could it be that you are supposed to be sitting and waiting? Preparing yourself for the next thing? Could it be that you are suppose to be leading and not following the crowd? Could it be that you are to be interceding for others and not gossiping or talking bad about them? Could it be that you have taken your life for granted, and He stopped you so that you could appreciate all that He has done for you? I had to say “yes” to many of these questions. How about you?

The time is now. The time is now to focus on God and not ourselves. What would Jesus do if He was here today? Would He still visit the homes of those who are not considered worthy? Would Jesus feed the 5000 today? Would He heal? Would He restore? Would He help those who cannot help themselves? Would He point out injustices, cruelties, disparities? I think so. Does He call us to be like Him? He said to Peter and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men…” (Matthew 4:18-22). So yes, I believe He calls us to be like Him.

When I took the step of faith from what was known and comfortable to doing and trusting, He placed me where I could indeed do what Jesus would do. Do I claim to be equal to Jesus? No. However, I do claim to be a child of the King, and I believe and know that to those He calls, He will equip.#cll

Reflect & Connect…

There has never been a time in my life where I have witnessed so much despair. Isolation might bring out the very worst in some of us when it could help us be better and do better. What a perfect time to connect with ourselves and with God as we quietly reflect on our lives.
connectwithGodDuring these times of isolation, it is so easy to fall into a state of sadness, depression, and maybe even anger. However, we can also choose to look for the lesson in our current situation and try to redirect our thoughts. Think about it, isn’t this the perfect time to see how we can help someone who may be feeling alone, feel loved? Isn’t it an ideal time to take our loneliness and turn it into a tool that can help ourselves and others? One means of doing that is through social media. What an excellent way to reach out to laugh, enjoy the jokes, the comments, the memes, and some of the silliest things people are coming up with just to connect and make life a little more bearable.
I have always believed that there are two types of people; those who see opportunities in messes and those who see the inevitable disaster in them. The people who see the glass half-full and the ones who see it half-empty. I also believe we can choose which of these two we want to be.
Are we going through a difficult time right now? Of course, we are, but what part can we all play in making someone’s life easier? I believe that everything happens for a reason. God is not surprised by what is happening in this world. I look over the last month and see where the things I grew up being taught, came rushing to the forefront of my mind when I needed them.

I recently left a job I loved because I knew, in my heart, that whatever assignment God had for me there was finished. Was it scary? You bet. For a woman who plans everything, did I have a plan? Yes and no. Did I have a well-thought-out strategic plan? No. Did I have a faith-walk plan? Yes. I planned to seek God and to trust God for the next thing. You see, I had begun to feel alone, and I thought that I was losing a little more of myself each day. During the entire time, I felt these various ways, and I had to keep encouraging myself to trust God. I read scripture more desperately, trying to hear from God. I had friends saying to me, trust God. I heard myself staying to myself, I will trust God, but my feelings to move on got more anxious. One day, I said Lord, I am trusting You for the next thing. It was within days of me resigning, that the “next thing” just showed up. It showed up during a time of uncertainty. It showed up during a time when we were shut-in when I was quiet, reflective, and not distracted by other things. It showed up when God had my undivided attention!

theLordismyshepI am about to begin that next chapter. I am excited about what God is doing in my life. More than that, I am excited about what He will do in yours. I am not saying to be foolish. I am saying to take time to connect with God during these days of isolation. Reflect on His goodness so that you are not paralyzed with fear. Look back on where He has brought your from and what He has done in your past. Trust yourself too.
And always remember, “the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”

 

Listen for God’s Voice…

To-Be-Still-Remember-That-God-Is-in-Control-FtImgI grew up believing in the supernatural. I believe to this day in the literal ability to hear from God.  For many, this sounds weird and probably makes some of you feel that I am some kind of spiritual lunatic. I can assure you that I am not.  Anyway, I will not pretend that I am not super spiritual, because I am.

Over the last several months I have experienced some very rough patches. Like normal, I continued to pray each morning and read my Bible. I was asking God for a release from a burden to only feel that He was ignoring me or trying to teach me something. On the days I was frustrated, I am sure I felt the former. On the days I had hope, I felt the latter—He was teaching me something that would be used to mature me and to glorify Him in the end.

During the time of my challenge, I thought God had sent the answer. I felt excited, hopeful, and a new spark ignited in me.  The other part to the story is I began putting a lot of hope in what I thought was the answer to my prayers. One morning, while out running, I heard (either through a thought or feeling, but it was real because I wrote about it) “Do not look at a person or thing as your savior.”  It was clear what I heard. I remember thinking of that phrase later and putting it out of my mind.  Not long after that, I thought of it again and repeated it to myself, “don’t look to people or things as my savior.” and immediately I heard myself declare, Jesus Christ is my Savior and He is in control of everything.

Not long after I heard that voice tell me not to put my trust in a person or thing, the bomb dropped. The thing I had been praying for and thought had changed my life for the better, collapsed!

You may say, that’s a coincidence. I read somewhere that “Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Therefore, to this super spiritual girl, God had warned me and I should not have been surprised by what had just happened. I was, however.

I share this story to assure you that God does speak; maybe not audibly, but He does if we are listening. He has done so to me many times. Sometimes I stop and listen and others, I ignore and keep on trying to do things my way.

Doing things our way; trusting in other people or relying on things, rather than God, gets us into trouble. We find ourselves shocked, bewildered, and frustrated when things don’t work out. However, if we would listen to that voice deep inside telling us to wait, watch out or simply, trust, we will end up in a better place.

I do not understand what God is doing, but I do trust Him. He gave me fair warning. I believe if I would stop fretting, stop looking to others to save me, and stop complaining, I will be open to what God has up His sleeves.  Remember, “His ways are not our ways, nor are our thoughts His thoughts.” We may do things one way and He is 100,000,000,000+ ahead of us in the way He intends to do it.  I guarantee when it is said and done, what He intends for you and I, will be a lot better.

Do not look to people or things to do what the  Maker of all things can do better. They are not your savior, He is.

Seasons Change…

seasonsI have always said that we go through seasons. Just like the earth goes through winter, spring, summer, and fall, we too, go through times of cold, harsh winters, awaiting a change in the season. We look forward to and pray for the refreshing warmth of the spring. We sit and watch the leaves turn green on the big, old trees that were murky and gray during those cold winter months.

I used to sit in my family room in Texas with its many large windows, looking out at the abundance of trees in my back yard. I can remember vividly, watching the green leaves on the trees during the warmer months and I recall being in awe when I would notice how all of a sudden, the limbs were bare again. I would go through months sitting in that room each day, reading my Bible and journaling my prayers, and looking up at the trees for inspiration. All of a sudden, one day I would look up to notice tiny little green buds starting to appear on those big, gray limbs. Even the limbs looked to have turned brown again.

I share this visual because of those trees. For some reason, they have always reminded me of life and the goodness of God. If nothing else, take one thing away from this reading today, if you are going through some challenges that you feel is overwhelming, if you don’t understand the difficulty you are dealing with, if you are at a loss as to how you got to where you are right now, remember this, trouble won’t last always and joy comes in the morning, is what the Bible says in Psalms 30:5 and 1 Peter 5:10. Just like the seasons that occur on the earth, we experience seasons of drought and times of prosperity. We experience times of isolation and coldness, and we will experience joy and a sense of being if we look for those opportunities.

I know it is easy to lose hope when you are going through stuff. Don’t. Do as David in the Old Testament did, he encouraged himself in the Lord. I am not saying that it is easy to deal with hard times; of course, it is not. However, I will tell you that it is easier if you trust in Jesus.

Listen, seasons change, but God remains the same. In fact, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You can believe that God remains faithful.

Passion & Purpose

passion and purposeI just released my 4th book. Yay! I never dreamed when I was a young girl that one day I would write books.  I am not claiming that my books are on the best seller’s list, that’s never been a dream, but I have always felt a need to minister, whether speaking to one person or to hundreds.

I want to encourage you to do the same.  Many times, people won’t do a thing for fear of being criticized that their work isn’t good enough or they don’t want to be the subject of scrutiny when others “like” something or someone else better. I say, So what? If you look at them, I wonder just how “successful” they are in their craft.

Look, dig deep inside of yourself. What are you passionate about?  Take that and dissect it and then tell me, does anything get your blood pumping? Okay, does it add value to others?  My new book, Passionate and Purposeful Work: A Biblical Perspective, was not written to move millions, but it was written out of a deep passion to see Believers do what God has called them to do where ever they are and especially at work.  My purpose? To continue to minister to others where they are. To help others by giving them tools they can start using right now. Today.

Can you do that with your passions? Of course, you can.  Maybe someone made you feel that you have absolutely nothing to contribute by sewing quilts, I say, yes you do.  Or you have little value cleaning offices, yes you do. Or you cannot be passionate about watching kids or spending time with the elderly. If anyone thinks that, they are dead wrong.  Whatever it is that you have a passion for, take it and use it for the glory of God.

God has a plan and purpose for you.  If you don’t know what it is, ask Him. He will reveal it to you. Don’t isolate yourself and listen to what the enemy tells you—which in most cases will be him reminding you that you do not have what it takes.  So, if you feel any of these…

Not pretty enough…
Not tall enough…
Not thin enough…
Not smart enough…
Not successful enough…
Not patient enough…
Not creative enough…
Not a good enough parent…
Not educated enough…
Not talented enough…
Not organized enough…

Remember, you don’t have to be more than God has called you to be, because God is more than enough and will work through you. Plus, Psalms 139:14 says…” we are fearfully and wonderfully made.” That’s good enough for me.

 

 

Dealing with Insecurity

If you are like me, it’s hard to be around insecure people. You know — the ones who always compare themselves to others. It is easy to spot a vulnerable person; they are the ones who continuously check you out. If you look away, they stare at you. If you look at them, they look elsewhere. Insecure people can tell you what someone wore to work today, yesterday and the day before. They can even tell you what you eat most days, or when you change the color of your purse or your shoes. Why? Because they take notice of anyone they believe they compete with.

Look, I know we all face insecurities in life. However, to live in a constant state of vulnerability is entirely different than feeling that way every once in a while. Why is it that some of us feel insecure some of the time while others feel insecure most of the time? It’s complicated. I do believe those who experience constant insecurity can track it back to something that happened in their lives along the way.

Are you insecure and don’t know why? Does it frustrate you to be that way? I bet it does. Insecurity is harmful, and if you don’t face it and deal with it, you will experience negative consequences. Those consequences can result in feeling you are a failure, feeling lonely, experiencing social anxiety, you can have negative beliefs about yourself, and the perfection you seek will never happen.

You may be insecure because you grew up with a negative parent, or maybe your spouse made you feel less than. Oh and don’t forget social media. Yes, social media can cause you to feel insecure. You see the beautiful lives others are living and you compare your experience with theirs. Please try to remember, in general, people don’t usually post their sad stories or hardships on social media. The person who seems to have it together could also be falling apart on the inside, but you don’t know that. The self-confident person will quickly tell you that they have days of not feeling confident, and the person who walks into a room and commands it will probably tell you that they had sweated bullets the night before as they prepared to enter some function.

I have offered many suggestions over the years on how to overcome insecurity; surround yourself with positive people, give yourself daily affirmations, interrupt the critical voice—vocalize your vulnerability and address it, and avoid people who make you feel insecure. However, I want to be clear about what I think of insecurity from a Biblical perspective. Insecurity comes from fear and fear is not from God. Therefore, if you feel like a failure, remember Romans 8:28, In Christ, every failure will work for an ultimate good. If you feel inadequate, God promises that His grace will be sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Finally, if you feel insignificant or unimportant, John 15:16 tells you that you were chosen by God to bear fruit that will last.

You don’t need to compare yourself to others; you are you, and that’s good enough because He chose you.

 

 

 

 

Attitude Changes Everything…

positiveattitudechangeseverythingYou ever watch people and wonder why some are successful and others are not? Lately, that’s exactly what I have done.  I am not talking about success only in terms of financial wealth or status. I am talking about how people deal with life, their jobs, families, relationships, or their personal goals.

I have met people who could find one job after another with no problem and others who were always out of work and when they finally landed a good job, they were immediately in conflict with their bosses and let go.  I have known leaders in organizations who were confident and candid, thought of as rude, yet quite successful and other leaders who were thin-skinned and passive-aggressive, who were thought of as nice, yet stuck in place. I have seen strong and independent types as well as weak and co-dependent types.  I think about the people who were genuine and those who were phony. When I think about different people, especially the ones that were not happy or joyful; the ones who were anxiety-ridden and those who were highly insecure, I believe I have found the reasons some people thrive in life and others do not–it’s their Attitude!

First, I believe there are physical and psychological problems people deal with every day. I do not deny that people have real physiological and mental problems. However, I also know that many times success in life has very little to do with a medical issue, it has everything to do with how people see their world.

positiveattitudesmileyfaceHow do you see the world? How is your their attitude towards whatever it is you are dealing with? Do you see the glass half-empty or half-full? Do you see your part in making sure your relationships work or do you rely on others to do all the heavy lifting? What kind of attitude do you have?

Quite frankly, if you are a Believer, I have never understood a “Believer” with a negative attitude.  I just don’t.  A positive attitude is foundational to a Believer. How? Because you have faith in Christ.  That faith translates to trust—you trust that “All things work together for good” or you trust that “If He is for you, who can be against you?” Faith and Trust = Optimism. Optimism is positive. Your positive attitude will not allow you to continue to embrace anger, bitterness, jealousy, anxiety, worry, or pride; which are all negative!  These traits will not allow you to live a successful life. What will help you live a successful life?  Being intentional, understanding that changing from negativity to positivity takes time, and by asking God for help. In Philippians 4:6 we are told: “Do not be anxious for anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  We are also told in Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” 

You want to be successful? Stop being the victim, stop blaming others for what’s happened to you, stop making excuses for not changing your life.  Remember, It’s Your Life, Own It.  It does not matter what has happened in your past, what matters is God can help you change your negative responses to situations to positive ones.  My question is, Do you want Him to help you?

Don’t Downplay Your Blessing!

 

Every-Day-in-Every-WayHave you asked God for a particular thing and He dropped it right into your lap? It just came out of nowhere? Well, that has happened to me on several occasions and there is no doubt that it was God. I love it when I know that it is God who has answered a prayer that no one knew about but me and Him.

One thing that has proven consistent for me has been the Ying and Yang of experiencing a blessing. When I get thrilled and excited about the blessing, something happens; something that tries to affect my joy. I will face some kind of opposition, sometimes passive hostility, from people I thought respected me as much as I respected them.  I don’t know about you, but to me, there is nothing more stressful than to be misunderstood.

I am old enough to know and expect people to talk behind my back, but I abhor finding out what they have said.  Also, I am shocked when the person who said it is someone I respected. Initially, I am really bothered by what I have heard them say; I think about it over and over. Next, I am generally angry but I tend to get over my anger quickly because I refuse to allow anyone to affect my joy. Finally, which should be first actually, I go to my Bible to seek comfort, assurance, guidance, and support.

Recently, I went through this process and when I opened my Bible, I turned to Psalms 2. What jumped out at me was this portion of scripture that read: “You are My Son, Today I have become your Father. Ask Me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”  I kept going back to that one part of the scripture, reading what was prior to it and after, but that portion kept speaking to me.  Isn’t it obvious what God was saying? Maybe not to you, but to me God was saying, “You asked, I gave, now go and be blessed, be happy, be effective. You wanted it, you got it.” I felt a sense of release. I told myself, LaSharnda, you are to continue to thank Him and praise Him, only!  I shouldn’t be getting hung up on what others were thinking or saying.  By doing so, I would be ignoring what God had done for me and would be giving more attention to those who had no joy for me at all.  Their silliness would become a huge distraction.

Am I the only one who experiences this? Do you? Has God blessed you with something and instead of celebrating it, you became distracted by the negativity of others. You focused on what they were saying or doing or not saying or doing. Maybe you downplayed your blessing because of them. Please don’t do that.  God has a plan and purpose for you and you already know that. He may fulfill it as He pleases and others may not understand. They may get mad at you for leaving a job they feel you should stay in for longer periods or they may talk about you and not celebrate with you. That’s okay, always remember, ”

God has a plan and purpose for you and you already know that. He may fulfill it as He pleases and others may not understand. They may get mad at you for leaving a job they feel you should have stayed in for a longer period or they may talk about you and not celebrate with you. That’s okay, always remember, “His thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways.” (Isaiah 55:8)  His are always greater, better and worth following.  Also remember, if you pray and ask God for something and He gives it to you, whether your friends, family or colleagues like it or not, it’s yours. Don’t be boastful or arrogant; just be thankful, pray for wisdom and if they go low, you take the high road.

When You Are Scared…Trust…

trustI talk so much about how important it is to go for the gold and to never give up. I am especially good at encouraging others to be all that they can be.  I tell you to take your turmoil and turn them into your testimonies of victory. I truly believe in all that I just said to you, but today I want to take a different approach to encouraging you. I want you to just Trust.

Recently, I visited a place near and dear to me. I saw my friends and just loved seeing and interacting with them.  I saw people who make me feel like running the race and never giving up. I saw people who I have known at least 15 years and others I have known less.  One thing that has actually kept me warm inside has been to reflect on these people as I left them behind.  They are still committed to Christ after sicknesses, deaths, hardships and trials; they are still there, serving Him and His people day after day.

What also struck me while I was visiting was the people I met who were going through very difficult struggles in their lives today; struggles with their health and not knowing what to do next. Scared and afraid that life as they had known it would not be the same anymore.  There were those who had family members struggling with personal issues so difficult that it disrupted the entire family structure and there were others who had to juggle several crises at the same time. I can only imagine the desperation they were going through. Losing your good health; being able to move about freely without aid and now you can barely get up from a chair.  Losing a family member, whether to death or to their desire to separate from the family for extended periods;  these are all scary things to deal with.

How can you be positive when you have so much to deal with? How can you stay “up” when everything in you and around you is telling you to stay “down?”  How do you move forward at all when you want to crawl under the covers and never come out? I tell you how, start telling yourself to just take one day at a time and trust God.

I believe the enemy wants you confused about so many things. First, if you are a Believer, he wants you to question God.   When you lose faith and start questioning God, it won’t be long before you start blaming God. Once you begin blaming God, it’s impossible to hold onto your faith, believing that God cares for you (yes, little old you). We begin to think that all the things happening to us, does not matter to God.

Second, we start to pity ourselves and wonder why these things are happening to us.  That too creates negative images in our minds; we are not strong; we are not good enough; we are not smart and the list goes on. There are plenty of voices in this world that will try to tell you that you aren’t good enough, but the voice of God always says that you are loved. When you stop hearing Him and listen to what others say, it is easy to become disillusioned and down.

If you are feeling lost or insignificant in this world, I challenge you to turn to the words of God. He will remind you that you are neither lost nor insignificant. He loves you and cares about all those things that are burdensome to you. You do matter to Him and everything that affects you, matters to God.

“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”                                                                  (Isaiah 41:13)

You Are Royal….

 

royaltyIf you know me at all, you already know that I am a Born-again follower of Jesus.  I love how that sounds. It sounds passionate about being a Believer!

Unless you have been under a rock or you just have absolutely no interest in the Royals, you know that there was a recent wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  I don’t know about you, but I love the Royals. I have followed them with curiosity and admiration for years.  I loved Princess Diana, I remember when the little princes were born and watched as they grew into wonderful men. I remember when Prince Andrew got married to Lady Sarah Ferguson and when they had their daughters too.  I watched each wedding with awe and joy and loved every single moment of it.

I don’t know why, but when I was reflecting on the recent wedding, I found myself thinking about life for the new married couple and I kept reliving the pageantry of the event. How beautiful Meghan looked and how happy they both seemed.  Yet, I can’t help it, but I turn many things into a God moment. The scripture found in 1 Peter 2:9 came to mind, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.“

The beauty of being Born-again for me personally is that at times a particular scripture will just jump up and grab me. I may not have read it in a while, but the Holy Spirit will bring the scripture back to me to speak directly to me for that particular moment. As I thought about that scripture, I could not help but think about the power of my faith.  That faith encourages me to be all that I can be.  I think about the possibilities for my life and I recall all that I have overcome in my life to get where I am now.

1Peter 2-9I am of the royal priesthood and so are you! If you can see yourself as royalty, I know you will approach your goals very differently. On the same note, if you see yourself as mediocre, that’s how you will approach life. When I use the word, mediocre, it is hard to hear because none of us would ever come out and say that we are mediocre; yet we act like that’s what we think of ourselves.  Mediocre means of only moderate quality; not very good.  Whereas Royalmeans fine, excellent, magnificent, stately, appropriate or befitting of sovereignty.  Maybe those words scare you, because they may seem to imply that you think you are better than others, or maybe they make you feel like you are being arrogant or prideful. I get it, but don’t let the word, royal,scare you.

God formed you for Himself and He knows all about you. Pride is a no-no for a Believer, but being proud of whom God made is not sinful.  Know who you are in Christ Jesus, then your entire world will change because your attitude will change for the better.

You still have no interest in Royalty? Are you sure?