Navigating Your Now

What an odd topic for a self proclaimed professional procrastinator, to write about. Before you tune me out, take the time to lean in close. Deadlines don’t motivate me, they don’t matter until they are here. Where is here? Here is now? Procrastinators are actually quite skilled at navigating their now. Once the power of panic kicks in and they realize now is all that they have, they do what they should have been doing all along.

Navigating Your Now

The past is in the past.

The future does not exist.

Now is all you have.

What will you do with it?

If you put now off until later,

It is no longer now.

Now is all you have.

What will you allow?

Will you stay angry at that loved one;

Who hurt you in the past?

Will you squander now with worry?

“How long will this pain last?”

Will you contaminate your now;

Thinking of what happened then?

Will you count your current blessings,

Or focus on past sin?

What if I told you now was magic,

It could make all your pain go away.

Just imagine if that person were dying.

What words would you say?

Would you say, “I forgive you,”

Or perhaps “I apologize?”

Would you seize the moment,

Or go seek someone to advise?

Each day we waste our now by refusing to forgive.

Navigating your now is the only way to truly live.

wordswag_1480472208282
What will you do with it?

How will you navigate your now? Is there someone you need to apologize to? Is there someone you need to forgive? Do you need to forgive yourself? If so, this is one area in which I would hate for you to procrastinate because tomorrow is never promised. Now is all you have. Navigate wisely.

Procrastinate Like a Pro: 8 Pros of Procrastination

Procrastination

You tell me to wait.

I take your bait.

You say, “Go have fun!”

Logic says, “Get things done!”

Deadline draws near.

You disappear.

Blessing in disguise;

Or plotting my demise?

Which one will it be?

Guess I’ll wait and see.

I Put the Pro in Procrastination

Notice I did not include any cons of procrastination. I have heard them my entire life. If you want cons, Google them. In typical text book Toya procrastinator like fashion I began working on this post and fell asleep. I woke up minutes before midnight and clicked “publish.” My little sister taunted me on my Facebook wall with this message. I often joke about having a sleep ministry. Tonight, instead of writing I was doing the work of the Lord, laboring to enter into His rest. God gives His beloved sweet sleep and that is exactly what He gave me tonight, peace that surpasses all understanding.

20161129_074857
Gotta love her she knows me well! 😄

The 8 Pros of Procrastination

  1. Pressure helps you produce. Allow the stress of knowing you can not put your project off any longer, to help you produce quality work.
  2. Embrace your process. As a kid I always seemed to focus better after recess. The sooner you give yourself permission to play, the faster you will be able to focus on the task at hand.
  3. Be proactive. Set deadlines that are due before your actual deadline. Change times when you put events on your calendar so that you can allow yourself margin to procrastinate.
  4. Maintain professionalism. No one can see your behind the scenes but you. If procrastination works for you then let it work for you. There is a proverb that states, “Only a fool utters all of his emotion.” Not everyone needs to know your creative process, it could damage your credibility. (Like I am probably doing right now.)
  5. Provide the gift of presence. Give your full mental capacity while you are working with clients or coworkers. One of the advantages of putting things off until tomorrow is being able to thoroughly enjoy today. For all the time you spend not staying on task,  the least you can do is focus and be present in people’s presence.
  6. Trust God’s provision and protection. He always shows up and shines. Trust that He will allow you to do the same. Be fearless in the face of doubt, danger and delay. Allow procrastination to deepen your relationship with God.
  7. See problems as a part of your process. If the printer doesn’t work, document doesn’t save or some crazy catastrophe takes place late in the midnight hour, don’t be dismayed. Work was never meant to be drudgery, allow dilemma to be your delight. You are use to performing under pressure, it is all a part of the adventure.
  8. Keep calm and proceed with grace. Impromptu visitors or guests who arrive late are an opportunity to make something out of nothing or watch God redeem the time. Change your prayer from “Lord, just let me finish.” To, “Help me finish well.”

The Power of Procrastination

I wrote this under the power of procrastination. God knows I tried all day but words would not come. When I awoke moments before midnight, I felt the super power of panic kick in, the heavens opened up and words started to flow. Perhaps some day I will know what it is like to be fully prepared and work diligently and consistently towards a goal. Until that day comes I plan to do my best (which may not really be my best but is better than nothing at all) and trust God to do the rest.

Like a Pro

Are you a professional procrastinator? If so, share some of the Pros you have discovered in the comments below. Your insight can help others count it all joy and live free from condemnation. Let’s unite (on tomorrow) and encourage one another to cultivate contentment as we wait upon the Lord. How has patience had its perfect work in your experience with procrastination?

Procrastinators-unite-tomorrow-700x700.png

 

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 1:2-4 (KJV)

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint”

(Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

 

Did you notice my Pro words in this post?

 

I Put the Pro in Procrastination

Procrastination as a Super Power

The clock ticks, pressure builds, stress levels rise, and just when it seems too late—creative genius begins. Is it too late or right on time? Is it a weakness or a strength? I have many years of experience with procrastination. Instead of looking at it as a weakness I have decided to see it as a strength. For years I saw it as a weakness and it only seemed to make me procrastinate even more. Viewing procrastination as a super power has helped me to better manage my time.

procrastination3

Procrastination & Perfectionism

What if I told you that procrastination and perfectionism were first cousins, would you believe that they are so closely related? One of the reasons most procrastinators procrastinate is because they are waiting on the perfect conditions to begin. Perfect conditions don’t exist and the sooner I started to realize this the more it helped motivate me to use the imperfect margin that was staring me in the face. When I find myself procrastinating I will ask myself, “What are you avoiding?” Whatever the answer to that question is, will become my incentive to finish what I’m doing.

procrastination4

For example, if I get the urge to do laundry (laundry has been my nemesis for years), I know there is something I’m avoiding because laundry and I aren’t friends. Laundry will always need to be done in a household the size of ours, so a longing to do it tells me that I’m operating on borrowed time. Time that belongs to something else, something that I am either really looking forward to (like creating something), or something I am dreading (like checking boxes). You might wonder why I would put off doing something that I am looking forward to; the answer is two fold. Either I feel unworthy of giving myself permission to do something I like (so I do something I loathe to make me feel responsible and use that which I love as an incentive to finish), or I have trained myself to operate off of borrowed time for so long that I subconsciously wind the clock, creating pressure which empowers me to produce.

Permission to Proceed

I’ve been wanting to write about this subject for quite some time but I procrastinated (go figure) because I felt like it would be fun. For some reason (perhaps because I am a procrastinator) I felt I had to delay writing about weird topics that truly excite me, as if the supervisor of blogs was going to call me into his office and say, “Did you fail to read the fine print? You’ve only been blogging for a few days, you are still on probation. It’s too early for you to expose your readers to the thoughts deep within the recesses of your mind.”

As I approach 40 these idiosyncrasies no longer embarrass me. I have been this way for so long there is no need to pretend that I am going to wake up tomorrow and be a person who is prepared. Somehow I have been able to navigate through life with my own special way of being. My high school speech teacher had a quote on the front of his podium that he made me read to the class each morning when I would walk in tardy.

procrastination-quote

Over and over I read that quote and I learned exactly what it said, “Lack of preparation or planning on my part does not constitute an emergency on anyone else’s part.” Due to that quote, I don’t expect empathy from others when I procrastinate; I own my weakness and marvel at God’s strength. Somehow and someway God seems to work things out for my good and his glory. I am definitely created in God’s image and likeness. I believe God is the most productive procrastinator of all time.

The Greatest Procrastinator of All Time

God produced some of his greatest works in a procrastinator-like fashion. During the wedding at Cana, Jesus told his mom that his time had not yet come (He was procrastinating). Then Jesus performed his first miracle. When Moses held out his staff and God parted the red sea, he waited to the very last minute to show up. When Lazarus died, Jesus waited until he had been dead for four days before he raised him from the dead. Jesus rose from the grave on the third day (He could’ve rose on the same day). God gets great glory out of stories of triumph that could have easily ended in tragedy. My life is similar in that God graces me to do amazing things with little or no preparation. Put down your stones people. I am not saying his from a prideful place. I am simply acknowledging that I live my life totally dependent on God; and like the professional procrastinator he is, he may not show up when we want Him to but he’s always right on time. (Mic drop) #jesuswasaprocrastinator

There are many positive advantages of being a procrastinator. This is a topic that I will definitely revisit. There is so much I would like to say on this subject but of course, you’ll have to wait for it. I plan on staying true to my divine design. I will wait until the last minute to write it… Tomorrow.

Are you a professional procrastinator?

Have you spent most of your life despising procrastination as a weakness?

Name some benefits of procrastination in the comments below. Don’t be afraid, the Blog Boss won’t write you up for your honest answers.

For every person who is a “preparer” that reads this, how did it make you feel? Did you like my hashtag? It’s my favorite.

Love you to life!

Toya

2016-11-27-21-56-51

How Stress Left Me Blessed

Too Blessed To Be Stressed

Have you ever heard the saying, “Too blessed to be stressed?”  It’s a “pinteresting” thing to say. I believe when we are blessed we should look for an opportunity to help someone decompress from their stress. One of the ways we shared our blessings was through adoption. In 2011, my husband and I embarked upon an adoption journey of 3 little boys ages 1, 2 and 3. We already had 3 biological children ages 8, 10 and 12. Our biologicals, up until that point, were easy peezy lemon squeezy; and our adopted babies were rough, rugged, and raw. Daily, I felt like I was waking up in a war zone. Life quickly became so fragmented that stress was a catalyst for me becoming whole.

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-10-45-29-pm

It Hurt So Good

The collision of everyone’s personalities darkened our once radiant world. Through the power of hindsight, “it hurt so good.”God sent our boys to turn our world right side up. If I were writing this blog in 2011, I would’ve told you that daily my goal was to not be the Mama on the news. I was in a fragile state, I wasn’t sleeping or eating properly, I couldn’t think clearly and my emotional exhaustion turned into physical exasperation. The phrase “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” holds true if you learn to recover from what was trying to kill you. What doesn’t kill you can diminish your quality of life and can eventually lead to death. Stress is a silent killer that has made an attempt to take me out. However, if stress didn’t threaten my health, sanity, and existence; I would not have reached my current state of physical fitness, soundness of mind, and abundant living. Stress was a blessing in disguise!

FB_IMG_1479853266583.jpg

 

Your Secret Source of Strength

Is your life full of things that would cause someone else to cringe? Having clear vision concerning what God has called you to do can prevent you from internalizing someone elses anxieties.When we first adopted our boys I asked God to send people into my life who would see them as a mission field and not a battlefield. Mission field folks said things like, “God called us to partner with your family during this journey.” Battlefield people projected their doubts, fears, and worries onto us. Don’t allow someone elses perception of your life stress you out. If the things you do bring you joy then they have a built-in element of strength that empowers you. Do not let someone elses fear rob you of what fuels you. The secret source to your super power might be someone elses kryptonite.

Too B.U.S.Y. Stressing to be a Blessing

Why busy yourself telling someone what you do, or why you do it, when you can be getting those things done? Busy can be the enemy of effectiveness. Prior to our adoption we were busy doing lots of good things. I had to quickly identify the difference between good things and God things. I once read an acronym for the word “busy,” (Being Under Satan’s Yoke). No one wants to be under Satan’s yoke. God’s yoke is easy and His burden is light. Stress sent me into energy saving mode. I took a 9 month break from social media, stepped down from ministry, and joined an adoption support group. For a second it felt like I was committing social suicide. However, laying down life as I knew it took our family from a state of being overwhelmed to overjoyed.

Contentment

Years ago I read a book called Cultivating Contentment, the book’s message was “don’t compare, don’t compete, and don’t complain.” Just do you, and know that by doing you, you are encouraging others to be the best version of themselves they can be. “Comparison is the thief of all joy.” When we choose not to compare, our lives complement one another beautifully. When we refuse to compete, we place ourselves in a position to collaborate. When we resist complaining, God receives glory out of our good works, and we draw people unto Him. I’m honored that God chose us to be the forever family for our boys. We set out to raise them, yet he has used them to cultivate growth in areas that we didn’t know were undeveloped.

13502932_10153630409301932_9020003569037143315_o.jpg

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. Genesis 12:2

Boundaries

Once our boys entered our world it changed the dynamic of our lives in so many ways. One of which was the way we managed our time, and who we chose to do life with. When you are blessed you don’t always recognize the relationships, and situations that drain you. But when you are stressed, you can quickly identify the little foxes that spoil the vine. Stress can be a conduit to give you the urgency to guard your heart, implement self-care and set boundaries that should have been in place all along.

From Stressed to Blessed

Are you currently stressed? Do you want to be blessed? If your answer is YES; refuse to compete, resist the urge to compare, and don’t complain. Give yourself permission to create. And before you know it, stress could leave you blessed.

20161114_155331

Identify a time in your life when you had to eliminate sources of stress to accomplish a greater goal?

Prison Cells and Potholes

20161125_144351

Friends, we once were, now we are foes.

Fluid with our words, now nothing flows.

You say you care, I cannot see.  

If you truly cared, you would see me.

Invisible I sit, though I am here in plain sight.   

I think you’re wrong, you think you’re right.  

Why cast pearls, to be trampled in the dirt?  

I wish you could feel the depth of my hurt.  

A pain so deep, that words cannot paint.

Daily I pray my heart will not faint.  

I am growing weary, I am not doing well.  

You think I’m free but I’m locked in a cell.  

Bars, they confine me, constraints of time.

I’m serving a sentence and love is the crime.  

Does your marriage feel like a prison cell? Are you serving a life sentence with someone, but feeling like you are in solitary confinement? You used to stay up all night, sharing stories of what life was once like on the outside (when you were single). Now you’ve grown so distant that it’s as if you’ve been thrown into the hole. The wife of your youth has started to feel like the old ball and chain. The husband who once wooed you has taken the role as warden.    

The Bible paints a much brighter portrait of marriage. It is not an image of burden and restraint but a brush stroke of blessing and assistance. God’s word frowns upon the thought of man being alone.“It is not good for the man to be alone, so I will create a companion for him, a perfectly suited partner.” (Genesis 2:18 VOICE) Sadly, many Christian couples spend their days fantasizing about breaking camp rather than enjoying the companionship of their perfectly suited partner.

My husband and I have always been close however, recently we hit a bump in the road that felt like a pothole on a Detroit street.  We’ve officially been together for longer than we had been alive when we initially met. Honestly, we’ve enjoyed our journey—until now.  Marriage has not been a perfectly smooth ride, but it has been pleasant. A year ago, I have felt like our marriage is in need of a tune up.  We are both native Michiganders and we know what happens if someone drives over potholes long enough, either you do major damage to your vehicle or decide to buy a new car.  

The more innovative technology gets, the faster we cycle through vehicles.  When I was little, I remember my Mom talking about repairing the car replacing struts, shocks and  realignment.  It was the same for marriage.  I remember people working hard at fixing their marriages, but our more innovative society wants to simply replace a broken marriage.

It was the same way in the Bible. Jesus said,

 “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But divorce was an innovation, an accommodation to a fallen world. There was no divorce at creation.” (Matthew 19:8 Voice)  

If you are feeling like your marriage is a prison cell, I hope you will find a way to develop both a thicker skin and a softer heart.  I pray that you will see your spouse as a soul mate and not a cell mate.  Fantasizing about your escape only makes things worse…  Even if you did escape and jump in the first fancy car you see, until you deal with your issues, you are bound to hit a pothole. Eventually the new car will break down too. It’s a lot less expensive to repair your current ride than to buy something new that’s going to depreciate the moment you drive off the lot.    

“So wives should submit to their husbands, respectfully, in all things, just as the church yields to the Anointed One.  Husbands, you must love your wives so deeply, purely, and sacrificially, so that we can understand it only when we compare it to the love the Anointed One has for his bride, the church.” (Ephesians 5:24 & 25 Voice)

The night this poem was written, I was in a prison cell of emotion and could not see beyond my paradigm.  Everything inside of me was screaming, “This car is beyond repair, it’s time for some new wheels!” I woke up the next morning and my husband had written me a beautiful poem and posted it on social media. I wish I could say the moment it was read, my heart melted and we lived happily ever after… That was not the case, but it was the first step towards trusting the Master Mechanic (God) to repair our ride.  

Maybe your marriage has hit one too many potholes and you feel like you are in a prison cell. If that’s the case, there is only one thing that can truly set you free and fix what is broken, forgiveness. Forgive your spouse and forgive yourself. When you said “I do,” you had no idea what you were capable of doing or saying to this person you loved so dearly.  Revisit your marriage vows to remind yourself of what you signed up for. The only true way to see your spouse as your soul mate and not your cell mate is to allow the Lover of your Soul to set you free from the prison of your mind, and make you whole.  

Is your marriage in need of a tune up or is it a smooth ride? List some routine maintenance measures you and your spouse have implemented that keep your marriage riding smoothly.

My Bittersweet Bio

20161112_164249Writing a bio was harder than writing my whole book. By definition a bio is “an account of someone’s life written by someone else,” but everyone secretly knows that you really write your own bio. Well written bios make me happy; unfortunately, I don’t have one that is well written. I wanted to title this post “My Bipolar Bio” because when I talk about my life I often feel like I’m discussing two different people. My bio is bittersweet, it feels like a half truth, it’s sterile, and my life has consisted of many messy moments. To read my actual bio click on the ABOUT page of my website.

Bios in which highly qualified people don’t mention their credentials are probably my favorite. People who have earned the right to brag, usually don’t. People who are trying to conceal their weakness seem to write lengthy bios in an effort to compensate for what they lack. Be forewarned, this post will be long but it is not to compensate for what I lack. Its purpose is to expose what would be easy for me to cover.

My Bittersweet Bio

Toya Poplar was raised in a small town filled with big dreams. Her hometown is where I-96 ends and Lake Michigan begins. Muskegon is surrounded by water, it’s shoreline hydrates the soul. Though she spent years beholding the beauty of the lake, Toya never learned to swim. Much like her life she watched others be refreshed by something she only gave herself permission to admire from afar.

Toya grew up in poverty, not just a lack of finances, but a deficit within her soul. She never learned to dance, play piano or do a cart-wheel. When she encountered those who did, she marveled at their courage. She graduated from high school and was awarded many scholarships. As a freshman at Eastern Michigan University she embraced activism (towards social justice) and let go of her focus (towards education). Losing her scholarships led her to Washtenaw Community College where she rediscovered her passion for learning and worked hard to obtain an associate degree.

By her last semester in college she was unwed and pregnant. She graduated, moved to Nashville, and lived with the father of her child. She was depressed, discouraged, and disappointed with herself. After trying everything she knew to be good enough, she surrendered her life to Christ and found peace within. She was married at Davidson County Courthouse on a Friday, just before they closed. It was nothing like she had imagined as a small town girl dreaming big dreams.  “Anticlimactic” is how she describes it but, admits that it was the antidote to her shame.

She and her husband Melvin are living out their happily ever after in a tiny town nestled in North Alabama. They have 6 children. Toya counseled at a crisis pregnancy center, it was there that she found purpose for her pain. The Poplars became marriage counselors, known for sharing their unglamorous wedding story. They encourage couples to focus on the quality of their marriage and not just the details of their ceremony. 

As a single, unwed, and pregnant college student; Toya made herself a promise that someday she would further her education. She blinked and her oldest son that was conceived while in college, was entering college himself. This day was filled with bittersweet tears. Happy that her baby boy was headed to college but sad that she didn’t continue her education. The lies that bombarded her seemed unbearable, until something clicked on the inside. Life is not defined by merit but meaning. Her son’s start did not have to be her end.

My Perspective

Someone else’s victory is not your defeat. Things won’t always go as planned. A change of plans provides you with an opportunity to overcome. People can learn far more from your weaknesses than they ever can from your strengths. Don’t conceal what needs to be exposed, and be certain not to reveal what might become a stumbling block to others. Braggadocio sets people up to feel like they are failing by simply playing the hand they have been dealt. Your story is still being written, so be sure to co-write with conviction. Transparency and truth are a catalyst to set people free. Thank you for taking the time to read this memoir. God bless, and be sure to always tell your truth.

If you were to write a Bittersweet Bio what would it say? Feel free to email your response to: stopwritetherejournal@gmail.com

From Pawn to Peace

From Pawn to Peace

Ever felt like you were being played? There have been times when I thought, “I feel like a pawn in a game.” I don’t play Chess so I didn’t really know what a “pawn” does. I did what anyone who doesn’t understand what something means does, I Googled it. To my amazement, a pawn is not the puny piece I previously thought it was. The pawn is progressive. It only moves forward and can be exchanged for one of the most important pieces on the board. In life, there will be times when we take one for the team; but that does not negate the fact that we have the potential to be transformed into a Queen.

  1. The definition of a pawn is a person or thing manipulated and used by others, or a game piece in the game of chess.
  2. A person unwittingly used in a scheme and taken advantage of by others is an example of a pawn.   

How to Go From Pawn to Peace

  1. Keep moving forward. There’s no way you can reach the other side if you quit.
  2. Make friends with someone new. For every relationship in which familiarity breeds contempt, there is a new person praying for a friend like you.
  3. Do something new. Having a new experience can help you meet new people and remind you of your divine design.
  4. Try not to internalize someone else seeing you as expendable. Just because they don’t value you doesn’t mean you should view yourself as worthless. 
  5. Commit to praying a simple prayer. “Lord, Give me a heart that forgives, a faith that forbears and a love that covers a multitude of manipulation.”

 

Dear Circumstance, 

I won’t call you by name.

I will let you know, I won’t play your game.

Once upon a time, you controlled my peace.

If I didn’t make the right move, you would give me grief.

What I quickly learned, your right was my wrong.

You were content, until I refused to play along.

When I started to move forward on my own accord,

You got offended and tried to control the board.

I am happy to have been a pawn in your game.

Once perceived as weak, I’m no longer the same.

There’s no room for regret, embarrassment or pride;

I get to be Queen once I reach the other side!

A pawn is progressive, it affects the whole board.

If you feel like a pawn find your peace in the Lord.

wordswag_1479937139303
If you are walking through a situation in which you feel like a pawn, be encouraged. God will take you to a place of peace, just keep moving forward.

 

The righteous will move onward and forward and those with pure hearts will become stronger and stronger. Job 17:9 (NLT)

Forecasting Your Future

I have always been one to focus on the future; which is an interesting concept because how can one really focus on what they can not see? I believe faith allows us to foresee the unseen. When I was a high school Senior I filled out a page in my scrap book that said, “In 10 years I Can See Myself…” I predicted that I would be a teacher, happily married, would have 5 children (we have 6) vacationing in the Bahamas, (I hope my husband reads this,) occasionally visiting Lake Michigan, and successful at absolutely everything! A great wife, perfect mom, true friend, in touch with my family, active in my community, and that God would always be first in my life. Wow! What a perky perspective.

img_20161122_110056
Even though I spelled “dreadlocks” wrong, by the time I was 28 I was the exact description of what I forecasted at age 18. Almost eerie, right?

Every other Monday I get the awesome honor of co writing and co teaching with some remarkable women. We teach journal writing to 7th & 8th grade girls. We invited our “Freedom Writers” to forecast their future and before we started each woman shared a word of wisdom that can only be gleaned from the power of hindsight. Experience is a great teacher. It was a heartfelt moment in which our past heartaches, headaches and nonsense made sense. We spoke in quiet voices almost as if we would awaken our past if we spoke too loudly. We each sought to encourage our girls to focus on things that have eternal value and not just material worth. Our counsel to them caused me to write from a much different place than I did as an 18 year old girl. Below is my forecast for where I see myself 10 years from now.

wordswag_1479833334091
A Michigan girl in a Alabama world.

When I Grow Up

I hope to live, move and have my being in Jesus. I wish to share the gospel in love with grace, effortlessly. I want to have joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable and determination that’s unstoppable. I want to be gentle, meek, and kind but, also immovable, unshakable and steadfast. I would absolutely love to be a grandmother who is physically fit enough to relieve my children of their kids so they can rest, recover, or retreat when needed.

I want to travel and spend time with my husband. I want to be a philanthropist who spends my time and money making people’s dreams come true. I want to be on the front lines, fighting the good fight of faith. I would like to establish a legacy of love that will outlive me. I want it to be ever so clear that my kingdom is not of this world. I would like to have the peace of mind that I did my absolute best with raising my children. I wish to offer safe places for people to grow in grace and their knowledge of Christ.

I would like to reach the lost, unchurched, displaced, overlooked, underprivileged, wealthy, celebrated and well-respected, all for the sake of the gospel.  I want to be a connector of dots, an agent of change, prisoner of hope, facilitator of dreams, shifter of paradigms, distributer of kindness and a conduit for reconciliation.

I want to love the Lord my God in such a way that even if I don’t quote chapter and verse my life is a living epistle known and read among men. I want to be so refreshingly radiant that when people admire my character or beauty I can bring God glory by boldly declaring that I don’t look like what I have walked through.  I want to give all the glory and honor to the One who made me lovely, fearfully and wonderfully.

I want my children to be my friends. I want my friends to be my family. I want my Jesus to be my all. With all that I am, think, say or do I want Christ to be glorified, flesh to be crucified, my soul to be sanctified, and my God to be glorified. 

wordswag_1479838736292

Thank you for taking the time to read who I wish to become 10 years from now. I believe that everyone has a desire to be a better version of themselves. How often do you think about the future? What lessons have you learned from the power of hindsight? Who do you want to be when you grow up? I think that all of our destinies are tied to each other. Perhaps there is a desire of my heart that would meet your future aspiration. The bottom line is that we need each other. Watching your dreams come true would be fufillment of my own. Looking forward to your response!

Rejection

 

Dress me up in my favorite outfit and rejection whispers, “You’re still not good enough.” Place me in a room full of people who love, celebrate and accept me and rejection would slip me a note that reads, “Someone somewhere doesn’t like you.”  When a person has a root of rejection it follows them everywhere. One encounter with rejection can trigger you to revisit every time you have ever been rejected. Rejection lures you with lies and is not satisfied until you feel so loathsome that you begin to reject others. It is a warped warden that will persuade you to place yourself in solitary confinement.

You may wonder why am I sharing this; I am actually wondering the same thing. I would like to believe it is to set someone free. (Perhaps that someone is me.) All I know is, I would prefer to get this out than allow it to fester within. As I journey towards 40 there are a few things that I would like to unpack from the baggage of my mind. Rejection is one of them, it has not been a pleasant travel companion. It makes itself at home, and just as I start to enjoy myself it tries to convince me that I am the unwanted guest.

Much like clothing that remains in the closet year after year occupying space, it is the outfit I hate to wear. It is too small, does not match anything and is out of style. Who wants to wear something that is outdated, out to make you look bad and potentially embarrass those you hang around? I once read a book about organization entitled, “The Magic Art of Tidying Up,” the premise is to surround yourself with things that bring you joy. If it doesn’t bring you joy—throw it out!

img_20161023_093659_1477528403286

The dress I am wearing in the above photo is one of my favorites! The moment I tried it on I began to twirl like a little girl. It is one of those dresses that feels more like “me” than anything else in my closet. I happen to know the designer. The name of her clothing company is, “She is Clothed;” based off the scripture Proverbs 31:25. At a recent fashion show she shared why she named her line “She is Clothed.” She said, “When I see young ladies dressed inappropriately I want to clothe them.”

Her words reminded me of the younger me and some of the clothing I chose to wear. I was never really one to emulate the latest style, but I have always been one to express myself through fashion. I wore things that showed how unique I was and sadly, sometimes those things were uniquely inappropriate. At times I would feel uncomfortable wearing something but I would wear it anyway because someone said, “Girl, you can get away with that because you have the body for it!” Today, I am wondering if what I was wearing all along was rejection.

20161121_082408

I am more confident as I approach 40 and I just so happen to wear more clothes. I find it interesting that 20 years ago I felt less confident and I wore less clothing. (It seems like it would take an extreme amount of confidence to leave the house almost naked.)  In the above image I was actually wearing a skirt that I pulled up over my breasts and wore as a dress. I remember how unsure I felt, but everyone around me reassured me that I looked amazing, so I wore it. Somehow I was able to ignore the fact that I felt naked for the sake of being accepted. Reminds me of the childhood story, The Emperor’s New Clothes. When I look at the image below on the left in the denim shorts I remember exactly how I felt; we were at Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN and I felt underdressed. I remember projecting a false confidence to compensate for being immodest. In my African princess dress I felt 100% confident and carefree but also reverent, like my beauty was a special treasure that had to be handled with care.

img_20161121_075638

I am certain that God is the greatest gift giver in the universe. He is also the best personal stylist. He is the ultimate image consultant because He creates us in his image and his likeness. When He finished creating he stepped back and said, “That’s good.” So why do we spend so much time feeling not “good” enough? I believe it is because we have something that Satan lacks—the ability to be redeemed. We have the opportunity to be accepted in the beloved, we are God’s highest form of creation. Lucifer was beautiful and yet his pride led him to live in a fallen state. When we humble ourselves God lifts us up. The devil turned his back on God and it made him hideous. When we turn our faces towards God He helps us look radiant.

Do you wrestle with rejection? What are some of the ways you’ve learned to remove rejection from your wardrobe? Thanks for joining me on my journey to 40! Below is a poem about what you put on. Enjoy!

20161121_073946
A gift given to me by a ladies bible study I recently spoke at.

 

What You Put On

God clothes us with strength and dignity;

Rejection suggests, “You should wear weakness and shame.”

God gives us a robe of righteousness;

Rejection says, “Try on this jacket of guilt, sorrow and pain.”

God gives us a helmet of Salvation, rejection says,

“What’s that weird thing on your head?”

When God removes our root of rejection,

Satan says,  “You should wear condemnation instead.”

God grants you a precious commodity, from the moment that you are born.

To live without fear of the future, pay close attention to what you put on.

 

40 Days Til 40

wordswag_1479572254736I’m turning 40 so why do I feel 14? When I was 14, 40 sounded like 80. Now 40 is fast approaching and I feel both unworthy and un-forty. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to see 40! But I feel there is not much difference between the 14 year old me and the almost 40 year old me. I don’t always know who I want to be when I grow up. I struggle with deciding what to wear. I get sidetracked by who is saying or doing what. I don’t always do homework, finish chores or make my bed.

When I was 14 I wanted to be who I’ve become. (Writer, mama, photographer, wife, teacher.) 40 is beckoning me to become a better version of who I am, but to also revisit who I would like to be. There were several inward qualities I wished to possess when I was 14. I wanted to have an internal peace that overflowed into the lives of those around me. I wanted to feel special and make others feel celebrated. I wanted to look in the mirror and not despise what I saw. My big forehead, wide eyes, squishy nose, dark skin and thinning hair.

Have you ever looked at an old photo and remembered exactly what you were thinking/felt at the time it was taken? In the photo on the left I remember feeling too tall, skinny, dark and that my hair was too short. (I was wearing weave way before it was popular.) Little did I know, that would be my height for the rest of my life. Skinny was something I’d later covet, and have to work hard to maintain. My skin color was a gift from God that I would grow to love. Later in life, I would constantly cut my hair to keep it short. My husband has loved every feature I used to loathe since we were teens. A conversation with the 40 year old me would have yielded less tears and suicidal thoughts. Now, those 14 year old insecurities have been replaced by 40 year old inquiries. Do I learn to swim, speak Spanish fluently, have another baby, keep doing photography, or pursue another degree?

40 is a number I never thought would apply to me. When I was young I was convinced I wouldn’t live beyond age 36. My dad died at 36. My mom had a brain aneurysm at 36. 40 is significant because it’s something I didn’t foresee and I want to embrace and celebrate it in a special way. I plan to write every day for 40 days. My hope is to explore different aspects of who I am and who I hope to become. Join me on my journey as I blog my way to 40.

What is the difference between the 14 year old, and the present you?  What are some similarities?