My Full Circle Moment

A circle is defined as a never-ending continuum. Onlookers of a circle find it difficult to mark its end or beginning. As we live this thing called life if we are not careful, we will think the events of life, the people we meet, and the experiences we have are by coincidence. But as a believer of God, I know that He has a divine way of connecting every dot and ensuring every occurrence is working together for my good.

This past weekend I was honored to be a guest speaker at St. Rest Baptist Church for their annual women’s conference. This wasn’t my first time sharing at these types of events. I’ve facilitated workshops and given keynote addresses before. But in addition to being a workshop facilitator, I was asked to share a message during their Sunday morning service as well, now that was a first. This might not seem like a big deal, but allow me to paint the picture to what a huge honor this was. The church is a historic church in the community with hundreds of members. The church’s founder was such a great leader that the street the church sits on was renamed after him. I mean the greatest preachers have stood in that sanctuary to give life-changing sermons for over 60 years. As a matter of fact, the last time I was at St. Rest was for the wedding of the current pastor and 1st lady. The ultimate level of nostalgia set in by being reminded that the church’s location was around the block from my home church. The place where both my husband and I rededicated our lives to Jesus, he was ordained and my faith grew leaps and bounds. It was there that he proposed to me on New Year’s Eve in front of the entire congregation. And although I wasn’t speaking at my home church, Pearly Grove, I felt like I was because all of the familiar faces that were present who knew me before I was a wife, a mother, and a speaker. They knew me when I hardly could pray when I was scared to lift my hands in worship, unsure of my gifts, and terrified to lead a ministry. But I sat back for a moment and thought about how God had all of this planned out before I ever stepped foot into Fresno during the summer of 2001. It was His divine plan to show people what happens when someone says yes to God’s plan. I have a feeling God was looking down from heaven smirking saying, “Yep…I’m getting the glory out of this one!” It’s one thing to tell someone about your story, but for people to know for themselves where you started and now see you front and center…glory to God! I’ll be honest there were a few former haters (or maybe still haters present), but God’s word does say that He will prepare a table for you in front of your enemies.

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This was one of the few times I didn’t have my husband with me, so I felt a sense of standing on my own two feet. But in attendance was our spiritual father who later shared with me how he was in tears seeing me flow in my anointing, bringing the word, and my capacity to expound upon God’s word. He assured me greater is coming. I have to be real and say the weeks leading up to the women’s conference were nerve wrecking. I had no clue as to what I should speak about, I had to find time to study, prepare, find a babysitter, and someone to travel with me. I had to battle the enemy’s lies and my own insecurities to believe that I was prepared and well-suited for the assignment at hand. The more I rehearsed God’s word about who I am in Him and the depth of His love for me, fear was driven out and I was able to stand before the congregation to deliver my message, “When Gifts Collide”. Hearing how much the message blessed folks humbled me to the core. That is surely an experience that will go into my memory bank forever. To top it off some accepted Christ, joined the local church, and I was able to sell many of my products. It wasn’t me of course, it was all God, but being used of Him is such a great joy.

As I packed up my daughter, books, and products to drive away on the dusty roads of West Fresno back home I felt the loop closing, a chapter ending while a new one simultaneously unfolding. Flashbacks began to play in my mind of the time I was the church secretary at Pearly Grove reserving rooms for our guest speakers, making welcome baskets, running copies of their handouts, and ensuring our guests felt our heartbeat of hospitality. But this time it was my turn to be the guest of honor.

This weekend showed me that God’s word is so true in two areas.

  1. When you are faithful over few God will elevate you.
  2. You must study to show yourself approved. I didn’t know it, but for the last 12 years, I’ve been studying. I didn’t know what I was studying for, didn’t even know I was taking a test being prepared for something greater. But I have a sense that God is pleased.

I’m going to hang my hat on God’s promise that says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 

I love you Lord and I thank you for my beginning, middle, and end of this wonderful circle called my life.

5 Ways To End 2017 With A Bang

The other day I looked at the calendar to check my availability for a speaking engagement. I’m a little old school in that I use a hard copy planner along with my phone calendar to keep me organized. As I flipped all the way to reach November, it hit me…this year is practically over! The “planner” in me caused my anxiety to rise because I then mentally began to list all the things I want to accomplish before we ring in the new year and things I want to set in motion for 2018. I don’t have a sad story about 2017, this year has been beyond amazing for me and I’m believing God to do it again.

I complied this short list of a few things you can do to end 2017 on a high note, no matter where your current dial on the happiness scale is:

  1. Create a gratitude list

Come on, I know you can think of at least 10 things you are grateful for. Reflect on 10 answered prayers you received, even if it was as small as no cars in the Starbucks drive-thru on the day you were running late. Possibly you lost a few pounds, saved a few coins, or got a chance to spend time with your aging grandparent. Bottom line, God is too good for you not to say “Thank Ya!”

2. Pick up a book

Ok, not just any ole book, but a book that will challenge your thinking, level of faith, and current lifestyle. During your selection process consider the areas you are hoping to grow the most in 2018. For you 2018 may be the year that you finally get your money right, consider Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover or my girl Patrice Washington’s Real Money Answers for Every Woman book. Or maybe you want your dinner table to have more of a variety than the usual spaghetti, tacos, and baked chicken.  You’ve got to check out Ayesha Curry’s The Seasoned Life. This year the ministry leaders at New Life read through, “The Emotionally Healthy Leader“, this is a great read for someone who is seeking emotional wholeness. Ok, ok, ok, one more…looking to get your faith on fleek?? ANYTHING by my boy Mark Batterson is going to help you get your whole life. Bottom line, I want you to stretch yourself.

3.  Make a mends

People are going to be people, so let them be! 2018 is not the year to bring drama with you. It’s time to put on your big girl panties and forgive that person for every shady thing they did to you and said about you. Confiscate that energy and invest it somewhere else. Did you know that unforgiveness wears on you? It occupies mental square footage where love and positivity could reside? Whether they fess up or not, take your happy with you into 2018 and leave the offense behind. For a little relief consider taking the time and write a letter to the person. You don’t have to give it to them, at least you have released the hurt and expressed your feelings about the situation. Watch how liberating it will be once you release and make a mends.

4. Do something you have never done before

I like this idea because it’s a challenge, well all of them are but you get my point. For one it will make you sit and think about what has yet to be in your life. Then it will cause you to have a new experience to stick in your 2017 memory book.  Now this decision doesn’t have to be brain surgery, it can be as small as writing a check for $1,000,000 to yourself (see how that feels :), ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, research your family tree, or try a new hair style. Be sure to live your life and not just exist. I’m thinking about adding some color to my hair, maybe auburn or blonde highlights? You never know, you might just start a new tradition.

5. Bless somebody’s socks off

Making someone’s day has an innate way of sending warm fuzzies right up your spine. This action of love will cause you to be thoughtful and utterly used by God. Think of a person who you know has had a rough year. Consider an elderly neighbor or family member to bless. Maybe your child’s teacher could really benefit from a cash gift. Take some time to pray about it and I am certain the Lord will direct you to the exact person whom your actions will become an answered prayer.

It’s nearly 11 weeks left in 2017, enough time to check off all five of these items from the list. I’d love to hear what you plan to do and what you have come up with on your own.  Come on, let’s end this year with a bang!

Please share your comments below.