Sunday, April 8, 2018

Wide. Long. High. Deep.

One of my family's favorite places to getaway to is the beach. We absolutely love Florida! One of the things I love most about living in the South along the Gulf Coast, is that we are only a short distance away from some of the most beautiful waters.
Let’s not even talk about the delectable, fresh seafood we are popular for! But we love the beach. It’s our number one place to go when my husband Jeremy and I want to mix relaxation for ourselves and fun for the kids.
For me, the sound of the ocean is so soothing. I can sit with my feet buried in the sand and listen to the waves crashing for hours. Something about being there makes me feel one with God’s Spirit and I feel so overwhelmed by the enormity of His love. Sitting on the beach always puts me in the mind of Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:18 when he speaks about us knowing how wide, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love is for us. When you look out into the ocean, there is no way to tell where it begins or where it ends; no way to measure its width or its depth.
I’m a natural observer, so one of the things I often do is people watch. From it, I always draw so much inspiration. During my recent time at the beach, I watched how some people stood along the shore, only allowing the ocean water enough freedom to tickle their feet.
There were some who were a bit braver, but still kept it safe by barely going out waist deep into the water. Then there were those more daring who went so far into the ocean that their bodies were fully enveloped in every rising wave. Now, in my mind, I am LaKeisha Rainey-Collins, PsyD, so I made a few analyses based on what I observed in each different group of people.
For those who only got their feet wet, they like the idea of the ocean, but the vastness and power of it is frightening to them. They want to step in a little deeper, but aren’t sure if they can handle being all in. So, the shore is their safe place. It’s where they are comfortable, and anything beyond that provokes fear.
Those who went in waist deep have an understanding and enjoyment of the ocean, but still want to control how much power the force of the ocean’s waves has upon them. Any further, and they are unsure if they can withstand without being overtaken.
The ones who ventured out in the deep understand and embrace the power of the ocean. They are totally open to and not afraid of the waves engulfing their being. They feel free being consumed by its strength and welcome it.
HAVE YOU FULLY EMBRACED GOD'S LOVE?
As I mentioned, I always liken the ocean to God’s love. As I observed and analyzed the people I saw, I thought about my journey to embracing The Father’s love for me. At different points in my life, I have been just like my fellow beach-goers.
Like the ones who only allowed the water to touch their feet, I once only embraced God’s love at the surface. I knew He loved me and it all sounded really good, but I couldn’t understand how something so big and deep could be so available to me with no restrictions or requirements. So, I stayed on the shore of God’s love, too afraid to venture out any further, because what if something happened and I messed it up?
Then, as those waist-deep, I grew a bit in my relationship with and knowledge of the Lord, I opened my heart a bit more to receiving His love, but I still had reservations. Through my actions, I’d had to beg so many people to love me and I had committed countless sins, so, still, fully grasping the concept of God’s affection for me was challenging. There was no way I could handle going deep only to have God throw me back ashore because my life failed to always align with His word.
I think now, at this point in my life, I am most like those who venture out in the deep waters. I finally realize that God’s love for me isn’t at all based on me, so I daily immerse myself in the depths of His affection. I allow it to fully cover me, comfort me, validate me, strengthen me, and refresh me. The waves of His love crash over me and lift me up, and I both lose and find myself.
It’s an amazing, indescribable kind of love, which, just like the beach, is open and accessible to all. Anyone can go to the beach at any time and swim out as far as their heart desires. Like God’s love, none of us is restricted from diving into the depths of it. It is not God who places boundaries on His affection, but our inability to believe that we are deserving of something so perfect that limits us from fully accepting it.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO PERFORM TO EARN GOD'S LOVE.
In life, we are so accustomed to having to perform for things, because it’s very rare that anyone just gives us anything just because. If you want a raise or promotion, you have to perform over and beyond to gain your boss’ attention. If you have a love interest, you are expected to do certain things to obtain and maintain their affection. If you’re in school, in order to do well, there’s a particular level of class and test performance that is required for you.
You have to do good, be good, look good in order to retain certain goods. And when you fail to perform well, most times, what you wanted is taken away from you, and you are made to believe you aren’t good enough. In this world, getting something for nothing just does not exist.
This programs you to think that God must be the same way when it comes to His love for you. You think that the moment you do something He doesn’t like, He’ll snatch His love away from you. You believe there’s no way He can love you so deeply when you’ve spent so many years deep in sin. You think you must give something in order to receive love from Him.
It doesn’t work like that though, sis.
There are no prerequisites or conditions tied to qualifying you for the love of Abba Father. There is nothing you can do to earn it and nothing you can do to lose it. It’s a true just because kind of love. God’s love is not something you earn, it’s something you experience, and in order to experience it, you must first embrace it. In order to embrace, you must believe it is unconditional, and not based on how good or how bad you are.
UNDERSTANDING GOD'S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
Ephesians 1:4-5 helped me to understand that God’s love is unconditional. It says, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (NIV).
Before the foundation of the world…
Before your parents ever met…
Before you committed your first sin…
Before you had any chance to discredit yourself…
God loved and chose you. He decided beforehand to adopt you as His daughter, already knowing every single thing about you. The beautiful thing about adoption is that it is a conscious choice. Adoptive parents choose to love a child, despite what they may know about the circumstances surrounding their existence.
For someone to know every detail of your life and still choose you is the purest form of love without conditions, and God has that type of love just for you. You cannot measure immeasurable love with feelings. The Father uses no measuring stick when it comes to how much He adores and treasures you.
DIVE IN.
Immerse yourself in His love. Open your heart and allow it to sink deep into the abyss of God’s affection. Let it consume you.
Like the span of the ocean is too great to comprehend, in echo of the Apostle Paul, though too vast to fully understand, may you know and experience the depth, the width, the length, and the height of God’s love for you. May His perfect, pure, powerful love envelop your entire being and cast out all of your fears.
Dive in; there are no limits to His love.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Lost And Found


When my husband Jeremy and I got married on May 18, 2006, we could not afford rings. Although we were rich in the love department, we were pretty bankrupt in finances. Our wedding consisted of me wearing a $20 off-white, chiffon-like dress from Cato, Jeremy in his one good suit, six of his family members, our oldest son, and one of my friends. There was no music, no flowers and d├ęcor, no wedding party, no one to give me away, and no rings to exchange. It certainly wasn’t a grand occasion, but it was the best day of our young-and-in-love lives.

A ring didn’t matter to me. I was marrying the man that my heart adored and that was enough for me. I remember a short time after we got married, I purchased a $10 silver ring with a fake diamond from the flea market, and placed it on my ring finger. I always tell my husband that he is a lucky guy, because I am one of the least materialistic women on earth. Things don’t flatter me; substance is what makes my heart go pitter-patter.

I happily wore that ring for a good seven years. The only reason I stopped wearing it is because on Christmas day in 2013, Jeremy surprised me with a real wedding ring. Since he and I don’t typically exchange gifts for Christmas, I totally was not expecting it. When I opened the small box, tears quickly filled my eyes. I recall screaming something like, “Oh my God! You’re kidding me! Is this mine?!” Of course, it was mine, and I could tell he was so proud that he had finally gotten me a ring. That beautiful gold ring with a diamond in the center instantly became one of my most prized material possessions. It was special to me and I treasured it.

I valued it so much that I didn’t sleep in it, clean while wearing it, or wore it much around the house. Every day I took it off and placed it in the same spot, inside the top drawer of the nightstand next to my side of the bed. Its keeping place never changed.

Imagine my shock when, back in November, I went to get my ring and it wasn’t in the spot I’d always kept it. At first, I thought that in my hurry to make it out of the house on time I had overlooked it. I’ll find it when I get back home, I thought to myself, still puzzled at why it was not where I know I’d put it. Long story short, I all but ripped my nightstand apart and have searched every corner in my home, and I could not find my ring. I had no idea where it could be or how it got away from me, and it made me so sad. I was real-deal heartbroken about this, and every time I looked at my left hand, I wanted to cry.

I was so broken over this!

Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I was seriously hurt over my lost ring. And I’m sure Jeremy was probably tired of hearing me say, “Bae, I’m so sorry I can’t find my ring.” I never stopped looking for it, though. I still had faith that it would show up somewhere.

My search for my ring made me think about how God searches for us when we are lost. I likened it to this time when my family was vacationing in Orlando, Florida and visiting Animal Kingdom. If you’ve ever been, then you know there’s always a large crowd of people. Somewhere in transitioning from one attraction to another, our middle son, who was about six years old at the time, let go of his dad’s hand and got away from us. We realized it once we were standing in line doing a head count for the next activity. While my mommy-heart panicked at the thought of my baby being lost among thousands of people, his father went into immediate search mode. He told me, “Don’t worry, I will find him.” I stayed back with the rest of the children, but I could hear him screaming, “Jaxon! Jaxon, where are you? Come to your daddy!”

After what felt like an eternity, Jeremy and Jaxon came walking hand-in-hand. His father had found him. Jaxon told us that he was so scared not being able to find his way back to us, but was happy his dad searched for him and found him.

How much more does Abba Father search for us when we lose our way and get lost in the twists and turns of life? Although He has countless other children, He searches for us as if we are His only child. Much like the story found in Luke 15:8-9 – “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.”

God, our Father, shines the light of His love on us until we find ourselves back in His arms. He sends a prophetic word that speaks directly to your heart; He puts someone in your path that has the answer to your specific need; He provides a way for you when you didn’t think one existed; you read something that’s only missing Dear You as a salutation; He shows you things in dreams that you know could only come from Him. All of these things are God’s ways of saying, “Hey, I’m searching for you. Come to your daddy.” And when you find your way back to Him, all of heaven rejoices.

On New Year’s Eve, while sitting in church waiting for service to begin, I reached into a pocket inside my purse, searching for a hair pin. I pulled out a bracelet. It happened to be the bracelet that I always wear along with my ring, and I always keep them together. So, I knew that if I’d found the bracelet, my ring had to be close. Sure enough, there it was right where I had put it weeks prior. I had looked in that purse several times and never saw it. I guess even finding my lost ring had its perfect timing. Now, it’s reunited with my left ring finger, and all is well with my world.

Just as I found my lost ring, God can and will certainly find you. No matter how lost you may feel, you are never outside of God’s radar. He never, ever loses sight of you and His love continually searches for you. You are special to Him, a treasure, and it is not His will that you should perish.

The Father has His eye on you. He sees you, and He will find you. Don’t worry, you won’t stay lost for long.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Comparison Kills

I'm an avid music lover. I honestly cannot go a day without listening to some of my most favorite tunes. I enjoy different genres, but, of course, Gospel music is my number one. I particularly favor  music that speaks about the awesomeness, love, and power of Jesus, and scripture-based lyrics that beautifully express deep thoughts of real issues.

These days, in my personal opinion, it's a bit challenging to find music of substance. Or maybe I'm just picky. In any case, I love it when I find an artist that excites both the minister and Christian psychologist in me.

For me, Jonathan McReynolds (Who is incredibly underrated in the Gospel music industry) is one of those artists. I discovered his music a few years ago when I heard a song called No Gray, and I've been following his ministry and supporting his music ever since. So, when I learned he recently released a new album entitled Make Room I was all over it. Needless to say, it has been in heavy rotation all day, every day, for the past week. Every song is a favorite, but there is one that I especially love. It's called Comparison Kills.

It speaks about the tragedy of comparing ourselves to others. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am strong advocate against comparison. It grieves my heart to see so many women hating themselves, living in emotional misery, and leading false lives because they feel like they aren't good enough as they are. I know firsthand what that's like, and it breeds nothing but insecurity and jealousy.

There are two verses in the song I really, really like. They say,

You spend all night admiring pictures
They make life perfect as they should
But you don't know the picture story
And how long to make it good

~~~~~~
The grass is fine
'Til it looked greener on the other side
Now you're believing that you fell behind
But why try to match what should be one of a kind?
You're one of a kind


I have a very strong interest in exploring the human mind and how it works, especially as it relates to the emotions, and I am always trying to figure out and understand why the mind is so good at painting pictures - whether true or false - and making one believe them. Even more, I'm constantly digging to exact where comparison originates from. Where and why does one learn to compare? Who taught us to consciously and subconsciously pit ourselves against one another as competitors in this journey of life? Who told us that there is, somewhere and somehow, a one-person award for being the best at life? What exactly is the prize? How long is the race? Where is the finish-line? Does it ever end?

So many people spend far too much time focusing on what appears good in the lives of others, that it totally blinds them to what is actually good in their own. Somehow, minds have been programmed to believe that there is one standard that defines a "good life" and anything that does not reflect that false narrative is worthy of not even existing.

How incredibly sad, right?

I love social media, but for someone who is not quite confident in themselves or happy with the state of their life, it can be an unsafe place. Scrolling through your timeline, you see all the smiles, the perfect family picture, the exquisite homemade dinner, the luxuriously decorated home, the perfectly shaped body, the long hair, or whatever it is you admire, and then you pinpoint all the areas in your life that aren't like that. What you often fail to realize is that pictures are finely orchestrated snapshots of a moment of someone's life. It doesn't even paint the total reality. You have no idea that five minutes before that #relationshipgoals post, she and her man were fussing like cats and dogs. You don't see how she struggled to put on that waist trainer, suck in, hold her breath, and arch her back to capture what seemed to be #bodygoals.

See, the problem is that we allow trends, popularity, likes, and people who don't even know us dictate what our goals should be. If more of us would take back our ability to think for ourselves, we could throw up those false realities that are constantly shoved down our throats. The problem, though, is that we allow our favorite celebrities, reality TV stars, IG models, and Facebook bosses to tell us how we should look, what we should have, how we should live, and such.

Our model for good living is completely misconstrued. As daughters of  God, our lives, in all areas, should reflect HIS image, not the images we double-tap.

I wonder what could happen in people's self-esteem if this ONE little truth would be grasped, believed, embraced:


YOU ARE ONE OF A KIND.

Imagine grasping the beauty in realizing that you were not designed to compare to anybody in any way. Imagine finding the confidence in walking your unique journey in your own way. Imagine how happy you could be if you stopped looking at the pictures of other people's lives, failing to consider what it even took behind the scenes to capture what appears to be a perfect image. Imagine feeling free in your personality, and your quirks, and your priorities, and your style, and your interests. Imagine the sturdy life you could erect if you used the foundation already inside of you, instead of trying to build upon the pallets constructed by the pieces you've put together of everybody else's life. Imagine the contentment in loving yourself as you are, while extending yourself the grace the grow. Imagine giving yourself permission to be both a masterpiece, created in The Master's peace, AND a work in progress.

If you look at yourself - in whatever area - and are unhappy with what you see, guess what? It's okay. Why? Because you have the ability to change it and create what you wish to see. Just because you aren't "there" yet does not mean you cannot get there. That's why we evolve.

Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others.  
(Galatians 6:4 CEV)

Allow yourself the capacity to grow into what you desire to be, instead of beating yourself up about not mirroring the people around you. You, dear, are one of a kind. God did not create you to reflect any other person on this earth in any kind of way. Every single thing about you is unique. God's spirit is the only standard you're required to live up to.

Please, I beg of you, take that pressure off of yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others; you're doing the world around you such a terrible injustice, robbing them of the beauty and awesomeness of who YOU are.

Sis, you are enough, and I echo my brother Jonathan in saying, "Ask God to heal what comparison kills." Whatever it is that has died within you as a result of comparing yourself to others, ask God to resurrect it. Then, declare death and destruction to that deadly comparison trap.

Take a listen to the song, Comparison Kills:

Monday, March 12, 2018

New Growth

 In March 2017, after a year of transitioning from relaxed hair to natural, I made the impulsive decision to chop off about 80% of my hair. I was laying in bed one morning and it just hit me. So, I watched a few Big Chop videos on YouTube, went in my bathroom, grabbed my scissors, followed the instructions I'd just learned, and cut my hair.

As I watched my hair fall into the sink, I honestly felt no apprehension. At least not at that moment. The picture to the left, however, describes my reaction once I realized what I had actually done. I began having all kinds of thoughts. Was I completely crazy for cutting off my hair? What in the world was I going to do with this short, puffy hair now? Will my husband still find me attractive with this new look? What was I thinking? I don't know enough about natural hair to make such a drastic transition! Oh-Em-Gee, what did I just do?!

In that moment, all I wanted to do was find a way to reattach the hair that I'd spontaneously cut off. But what was done was done, and there was no way I could turn back. I had no choice but to accept the decision I'd made and do whatever I needed to do to make it work.

Those first few months were HARD! I couldn't figure out how to keep my new head of hair moisturized, so most days it was dry and brittle. I also struggled with discovering the right products to use, so I ended up spending so much money on stuff that just didn't work. On top of that, the texture was rough, I had no curl pattern, and my husband didn't like.

It was just a mess, a whole natural mess!

In the beginning stage, I felt so insecure...so uncomfortable being without my longer hair. I really wanted to kick myself and wear a hat every time I left my house.

Although the transitioning process was extremely frustrating with trying to manage two hair textures, if I could have reverted back, I would have. I mean, the transitioning process was tough and my hair was badly damaged, but I had become comfortable in dealing with it. I learned to make it work.

Can't we be just like that in life? We can know that a situation is bad, but rather than facing the adjustment to something new, we'd rather hold on to it as it is. Even though it's causing more damage and stunting our growth, we will still choose comfortable complacency over a new normal, because we are too afraid of what life will be like without the very thing that's hurting us. In a sense, we want both familiarity and freedom, but it just doesn't work like that. If we ever want to grow in life, there are times when there has to be a cutting away. It's impossible to experience newness while keeping a grip on what is old and damaged.

So, yesterday, I was thinking about how it's been a year since that seemingly dreadful choice I made and found myself standing in the mirror, looking at what had actually happened as a result of me making the decision to cut my hair.

Will you look at that?! My hair is strong, long, beautiful, and healthy now. I am in love with it! Had I continued to hold on to the hair that was weak and damaged, I would have robbed myself of the opportunity to experience new growth. It has been a journey and it took a lot of trial and error to discover my rhythm, but I have fully adjusted to my new normal of natural hair, and I think I'm rockin' it out!

I wonder, what experiences of new growth are you robbing yourself of because you are too afraid to let go? How are you responsible for stifling your own growth? What misery have you decided to "just make it work," because you're scared of the unknown? What is it that you know is no longer good for you, but comfort is holding you hostage to?

I charge you to let it go. Cut it off so that God can do a new thing in your life. Just imagine the strong, beautiful, healthy life that lies on the other side of what you're too afraid to step towards.

Change is scary, I get it, but remaining the same and struggling to make stuff work should be much more frightening. Jesus came that you might have life abundantly (John 10:10), but life cannot thrive in dead environments.

I implore you to cut off fear.
I implore you to cut off comparison.
I implore you to cut off toxic relationships.
I implore you to cut off unhealthy habits.
I implore you to cut off not loving yourself.
I implore you to cut off anything that is a hindrance to you blossoming in life.

Yes, it will be challenging.
Yes, you will have second thoughts.
Yes, you will want to go back.
Yes, you will want to give up.

But nothing changes if nothing changes. Stick it out and watch what happens.

New growth is your portion, but you must first make room by getting rid of what is no longer providing an environment conducive to growing.

"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:21-22 NIV)


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Their History Is Not Your Destiny


I was having a conversation with my 15-year-old son Joseph during  one of our afternoon school pick-up commutes. He began 9th grade this school-term and has been having a few thoughts about his interests and potential future career. During his middle school years, he was a part of the band and played the alto saxophone. My husband, who comes from a musical family and was a drummer, organist, and part of marching band in high school, was ecstatic that his son had taken interest in an instrument. He was so excited about Joey going to high school and joining the band, following in his footsteps. I can’t say that I shared in his delight, though.

I know my son, and I knew he didn’t have a real interest in playing an instrument or being in the band. Throughout his three years of middle school, I can count on one hand the times Joey brought his saxophone home. Whenever he did, it usually just remained in the trunk of the car until it was time to take it back to school for the next use. He never practiced outside of class, never made mention of it, and barely enjoyed performing for band concerts. To him, it was all just for a grade. Joey is amazingly gifted as a singer, songwriter, and arranging melodies; as a musician, though he has the ability, he lacks the passion. So, I would often say to Jeremy, “You know Joey’s not really into that sax, right?” He would respond with, “It’s in his blood. His granddaddy, daddy, and uncles all played instruments; he’ll learn to love it just like we did.”

In true LaKeisha fashion of not being one to crush another’s dream, I would simply say, “Alright, babe. But you do know that just because y’all did it, doesn’t mean that he will.” He wasn’t hearing me though. That man had hope, hear me?!

What a sad day it was in the Collins household when, right before band camp was to begin, Joey finally revealed what I had known all along – he was not in the least bit interested in playing an instrument or being in the band. My poor husband was crushed! I tried to tell him so he could prepare his heart and mind for the inevitable, but he was so sure that because his family history produced a lineage of musicians and band members, it would automatically be our son’s destiny.

We often hear the term, “History repeats itself,” but I am one to believe that is not always true, particularly when it comes to determining one’s path according to their bloodline.

This may sound harsh, but I come from a family history that I prayed I would not repeat. I grew up seeing male relatives physically abuse women, drug activity, unsuccessful marriages, poverty, complacency, and division. To think that any of those things were assumed automatic for me because of family lineage is frightening. I did not want to follow in any of those footsteps. I love my family, but I did not want to repeat any of their behaviors, interests, or lifestyles. Truthfully, though, I believed it was inescapable for me, simply because environment effects evolution, and sometimes it is hard not to become what you come from.

Oh, but God!

Naturally, we are identified by our family name, who our parents are, or whatever our lineage is known for. As daughters of The Most High, however, our identity and our destiny lies in the history of Abba Father.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we find this assurance: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” When you accept Jesus as your Savior, God adopts you into His family, and you then become a product of who He is. Regardless of what your family history is in the natural, your future is determined by your Father in the spirit. When you take on the nature of Christ, it obliterates your natural identity, and you are not on automatic pilot to follow in the footsteps of your family’s lineage, but in the steps of the path that God has determined for you. You have freedom to become who He says and not what they did.

God alone knows the plans He has for you, and His plan is not at all determined by who you come from. Who your mother is, what your father did, or whatever is normal for your bloodline, is not who or what you will become. It doesn’t even matter if you see yourself repeating the downside of your family’s history right now, God can redirect your steps. You are not bound to where those before you have been, but you are free to walk your own path to destiny.

You are every bit of who God says you are.

You shall do what God has predestined you to do.

Generational curses stop with you.

You will not carry on a history of shame.

You are not the mistakes of your lineage.



History does not dictate destiny.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Broken, But Repairable

If there is one thing I am sure of in my life, it is the lane of purpose God has designed for me. I know with full certainty that I am called to infuse hope and confidence into the broken woman. It has taken me a while to see it clearly, but there is currently nothing blocking the view of my Father's purpose for my life. I used to feel like my constant dealing with issues of pain, brokenness, mental anguish, and heartache created an aura of doom; however, as the years have passed and God continues to use me to speak to the deepest  hurts of His daughters, I have seen clouds of heaviness lift from the hearts and minds of women of all ages from all across the world.

I now fully embrace my calling and consider it such an honor that the Lord would allow me to serve as a beacon of hope for His precious daughters. I have realized - and it has been amazingly humbling - that it is an incredible privilege to be trusted with another's pain and shame. Here I am, working for God as a hope builder and confidence infuser. It is, by far, one of the greatest honors of my life.

Because of this beautiful call upon my life, I often feel the anguish of other women, literally. It's hard to explain, so I won't even really try, but it's just like my heart carries women's burdens. So when I woke up this morning and one of the first things on my mind was thoughts of a woman in despair because she feels broken beyond repair, I knew it was for the woman God has assigned to His purpose for my life. Before my feet ever hit the floor, I envisioned this woman sitting on the floor with her back against the wall. Her legs were pulled tightly up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them, and her face buried between her knees. I saw her crying, sobbing actually, and picking up pieces of something that had been broken, hopelessly trying to figure out how to put it together. Growing frustrated and giving up hope, she grabbed some pieces off the floor and violently threw them against a facing wall, and she fell onto the floor in the fetal position and cried uncontrollably.

My initial reaction was, Lord, can I at least wash my face first? It's too early for this deep stuff! 

I kid...kinda!

The whole while I cooked my children's breakfast and transported them to school, while I drove back home and went about my usual morning duties, all I could see was this woman. I couldn't get her out of my mind. I don't know who she is specifically, but God certainly does. And I'm willing to bet that she is reading this right now. 

Hi, sis. You're not here on this blog post by happenstance. God sees you and He showed you to me early this morning. He gave me a message specifically for you, so here it is:

Those piece I saw you picking up and trying to put back together are the pieces of your life, left behind by heartbreak, disappointment, bad experiences, loss, betrayal, rejection, rape, and many other things that have ripped you to shreds. You're broken, and you're frustrated because every time you attempt to even try to figure out how to put the pieces of you back together, it seems completely impossible. And when you manage to find some pieces that you can glue back together, something happens and it's broken all over again. You want so badly to be whole, but your heart, and your mind, and your spirit are so shattered that you're not even sure if all of the pieces of who you are can be found. Your tears are those of exhaustion, exhaustion of trying but getting nowhere. And you're angry. You're angry because this is not the life you envisioned for yourself and many of the things that broke you should have never happened to you. You feel like if God loves you so much, then why is it so hard for you to gather your pieces, put them back together, and get on with your life. At this point, you give up. You feel utterly hopeless and destroyed.

God sees you and I feel you.

Yes, you are broken; you are immensely broken. You are so broken that you are unrecognizable to yourself. You can't even figure out who you are anymore. But, sis, you are not destroyed. And there is a big difference between broken and destroyed.

Broken: having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order; separate or cause to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain.

Destroyed: put an end to the existence of (something); ruin (someone) emotionally or spiritually; defeat (someone) utterly.

When I see an "Out of Order" sign on a machine or piece of equipment, I never think, This thing will never work again. I know that after a bit of maintenance, it will again operate just fine. It's broken, but it's not destroyed. If it were destroyed, it would be thrown out and demolished, with no sign of its existence left. But because it's just broken, all the manufacturer has to do is go inside the machine, make some repairs, and it's back to doing whatever it was designed to do. 

Brokenness separates pieces from its original state, but what is separated can be put back together. 

Sis, you can be put back together. 

The problem you're having is that you've been trying to fix your brokenness on your own, but only the manufacturer of a thing truly knows every single detail about it well enough to know what is necessary to fix it properly. So, those pieces that you can't seem to mend, give them to God. Only He can fix what is broken in you, because He knows exactly where every piece belongs. 

Yes, you're broken, but you are repairable. And the wonderful thing about God's Fix-It Plan is that he's not like the neighborhood repairman who will just patch it up so it'll work for the meantime. No, His repair plan is a guarantee. It's a guarantee that He will fix you up so well that you'll come out brand new. And anytime you find yourself broken, you can take your pieces to Him and He'll do the same guaranteed work all over again.

You don't have to be frustrated anymore. You can dry your tears. Abba Father says, "Daughter, bring me those pieces. I know exactly what to do with them."

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; " (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV)




Monday, February 26, 2018

Incomparable You

Last Summer, while my family was preparing to move into our new home, in the midst of sorting through some of my things I came across my collection of old journals. I have at least 20 or more of them, dating all the way back to 2010. The pretty, spiraled purple one with colorful butterflies caught my eye. Whenever I come across old writings of mine, I’m always interested in seeing where my thoughts were at that particular moment in time. The pages of my journals tell some stories that would make for great novels someday. I’ve dealt with some stuff, hear me?!



Anyway, I opened the old journal to a random page dated March 22, 2011. At that time, I must have been struggling with my self-esteem and comparing myself to other women, because I came across this affirmation:



“I am a woman of purpose.  I am a unique individual, intricately crafted by the hands of The Master Craftsman.  No one else possesses the beauty, talents, gifts, or greatness placed within me before the foundation of the world.  I do not compare myself to other women, because no matter how amazing I believe they are, I know that I am equally amazing.”



Retrospectively, I can definitely say that I hadn’t always believed those words I wrote to be true.  For a long period of my life, I felt inadequate and inferior.  I compared myself to every woman I believed had a better life than mine, and in my eyes, everything about me greatly paled in comparison to those around me.  I thought everyone else was prettier, smarter, more accomplished, more talented, and possessed a greater purpose than me.  Whenever I sized myself against others, the end result was always the same – I never measured up.  I didn’t look at the lives of others as inspiration to better myself; instead, I used others’ strengths to magnify my own weaknesses and shortcomings.  What is so wrong with me that I can’t just be like everybody else? I’d think.  I hated those feelings, and my continuous self-criticizing thoughts eventually caused me to hate myself. 



Not only did my constant comparing produce self-hate, but also jealousy and envy.  I often felt jealous of other women because I didn’t know how to properly channel my admiration towards them so that it positively influenced me.  I circled the mountain of incessantly comparing myself to others for many years, and part of my struggle with depression had a lot to do with the fact that I never felt I measured up to the greatness I saw in others. I mean, I had too many negatives against me.



Fatherless child.

Raised in poverty.

Molested.

Promiscuous.

Addictions.



Nothing good could come from someone who had so many issues. At least that was my twisted way of thinking.



I remember praying a lot and just seeking God to help me change the way I felt about myself. I don’t recall the exact moment, but I finally came to this realization:  Who told me that I had to measure up to anyone? Where did I get the idea that the life belonging to the lady next to me set the standard for my life?  If I was created in God’s image, then why was I trying to conform to that of someone else? Comparing yourself to others was equivalent to telling God – who does all things perfectly well and makes no mistakes– that He didn’t do a good enough job when He created me. When I criticized myself, I criticized God’s perfect handiwork. When my mind and heart embraced this truth, my self-view completely changed, and so did the way I loved and valued myself. This is why it is imperative to take your eyes off of them and keep them on Him.



Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God’s masterpiece.  If God considers each of us His masterful work of art, we should never disrespect His work by treating it as inferior to another.  In God's eyes, there is no one better than you.  There is not one person on this earth to which you can be compared because everything about you is unique.  Your beauty, intelligence, gifts, talents, economic and social status, purpose; your entire life’s plan is unique to God’s design for your life.  Just as your DNA cannot be matched or compared to anyone else’s, neither can anything about your life. Originals cannot compare to other originals.



You were not created to measure up to anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ, and His principles and standards of holy, righteous living.  Absolutely nothing about you is supposed to be anything like anybody else. YOU are His greatest, most original and valuable design. According to Psalm 139:13, in your mother’s womb, He meticulously knitted you together and made all of the delicate, innermost parts of your being. According to Genesis 1:27, He created you in His own image and likeness, to be a reflection of the perfection He embodies. And according to Jeremiah 29:11, as He designed you, He did so with a plan in mind, a plan that leads you to a future and a hope. You are not merely a result of the physical connection between your father and mother, but you are a strategically produced masterpiece, designed by the Creator of the entire universe, and are purposed to fulfill God’s specific, predestined plan for your life. And none of that changes because of your life’s circumstances or how you think you fail to measure up to the next chick.



You possess an inner-stitching which consists of your character, personality, gifts, calling and anointing, that sets you apart in a world of look-alikes. There is no need to desire to duplicate, replicate, or emulate any other person upon this earth, because the only thing you are wired, or originally designed to be, is you. No other person in this world sets the standard for who should be, for every detail of who you are is tailor-made to fit the specific purpose God designed for you.



Look at yourself in the mirror. Do you see that? You are beautiful and amazing, just the way you are. You are enough. You are good enough, in every way. Don’t you beat yourself up another day for not living up to the lie that you have to be like so-and-so. You are the one and only you, and that alone is what makes you incomparable No comparison, sis, no comparison.



Whether you are formally educated or educated by the hard knocks of life…

Whether you waited until marriage for sex or you have entertained countless men…

Whether you come from poverty or were born with an inheritance…

Whether you were rejected by your parents or deeply loved by them…



No matter what you look like, where you come from, or what you have experienced, this truth remains:  You are one of a kind, created by the Master with great purpose in mind. You are a reflection of God’s beauty, a precious picture of His grace, and a jewel in His eyes. Despite where this life has taken you, you are enough and your value will never depreciate.



Marvelous are God’s works. This your soul should know full well, queen.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Goodbye, Insecurity!

I'm not one of those people who were told by others, "You'll never amount to anything." Though I didn't have the best life growing up, I can't say that those responsible for my well-being spoke negatively about me. The most I got was from kids at school who called me ugly, skinny, poor, or blacky. Insults and demeaning phrases are not something that was projected directly onto me by the people in my life. I mean I wasn't taught that I could run the world, but my hopes of someday becoming something in the world weren't ripped to shreds by my guardians.

It's weird, though, because as far back as I can remember, low self-esteem was prevalent in my way of thinking. Perhaps it's from falling victim to molestation at the age of six, or being sent away to live with my grandmother while my younger sister got to stay with our mom and her dad, or maybe it's because, next to my gorgeous BlackiRican (That's Black and Puerto Rican) childhood best friend, I was just the awkward-looking chocolate girl who was always looked over. I honestly don't know where it began. I can't pinpoint the starting place in my life that began my long journey in believing I wasn't good enough.


Hearing the words, "You'll never amount to anything," didn't come to me from outsiders or those around me. They came to me from a very familiar voice, though. That voice was my own.

Early on, I picked up this bad habit of projecting other people's treatment of me onto myself. I developed the mindset that things happened to me or people handled me a certain way because of something flawed about me. I taught myself that I welcomed bad experiences because I wasn't a good person. I don't know how or why I adopted that as my truth, but I did. And I carried it throughout my life.

In my mind, I was never good enough for anything; not because that's what someone told me, but it's what I fed myself. Looking in retrospect, I robbed myself of so many opportunities and fell short in reaching certain goals or pursuing particular dreams, because I talked myself out of believing I could or was deserving.

I did that. Singlehandedly. That was all me. Yep, that chick I see when I look in the mirror, give her all the credit. I could have easily been Dr. LaKeisha, Psy. D. (Don't sleep on me yet, though!), but I was out here snatching my own hopes and dreams like, "Oh no,baby! What is you doing?" 

I can laugh about it now, because in the past few years, God has graced me to develop healthy self-esteem. I now believe that I am this incredible queen, deserving of all things good, and capable of doing anything I set my mind to. Sometimes, I start feeling myself a little too much and I have to tell myself, "Sit down. Be humble."

But that's what happens when your eyes are opened to the truth of who you are in Christ. There is just something so freeing about truth.

When I learned that I am God's masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10);
And when I learned that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14);
And when I learned that I am the righteous of God through Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21);
And when I learned that I am new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17);
And when I learned that I God has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11);

It destroyed the chains of bondage where low self-esteem had held me captive, and set me free to walk into a new way of being.

That doesn't mean I don't have times when insecurities knock on my door; it just means that when it does come knocking, I choose not to open the door. Mainly because I'm an introvert (Most of the time. I'm slowly seeing myself transform into an ambivert. *insert shock face*), and I don't care much for unexpected company. The way my confidence is set up now, Insecurity stands at the door of my mind like, "I know you're in there! I can see your blinds moving! I can hear your kids!" Meanwhile, I'm sitting on the sofa, scrolling on my phone like I don't hear a thing!

It's funny, but that's how you have to be when the lies of the enemy try to invade your mind. When he comes to tell you, IN YOUR OWN VOICE, that you're not good enough, or you're unworthy, or you can't do anything right, or nobody loves you, you've got to learn to ignore him and let him know that you are not hungry for the lies he wants to feed you, because you're full from the truth of God's word concerning everything about you.

Ain't nobody got time for low self-esteem; we are much too blessed and highly favored for that non-sense.

Pick up your mindset, queen!