I Pulled the Plug and Found Rest

Have you ever been so knee deep in work, projects, deadlines, and to-do lists that it feels like your head is about to explode? Yeah, me too! Thursday evening of last week I felt extreme internal pressure and anxiety trying to take me out. It was the result of the busy days preceding it. As I get closer and closer to the brunch there are ticket sales goals I need to meet, sponsors to satisfy, and the overall pressure of everyday life that I had to fight off. I have this pesky habit of having total tunnel vision when I’m working on projects. To the point I forget to eat lunch even though the kitchen is 4 steps away from my desk. When I find myself in this kind of space I know it’s time to unplug. But, if you don’t have the confidence that your work will be ok sitting there on the desk, and that you will still hit your weekly goals you would stay plugged in and become a slave to your work.

Not me! This year I have recommitted to living a life of freedom through having total faith and trust in God. Sometimes we bank on ourselves too much instead of the grace of God. Another virtue that has helped me not “loose it” as often as I could, is to be fully yielded to the Holy Spirit. Last Thursday night when I was getting ready for bed I was mentally tired! I knew I needed a refreshing and it wasn’t going to come by trying to multi-task working with my 7 month old daughter. So I surrender to God’s invitation of rest then unplugged for the following day.

The next morning I was reminded that my son had a field trip to the Botanical Gardens with his class. I love being out in the open air within a beautiful setting. God knew this was exactly what I needed to find rest. So I gave my laptop the deuces and became a third grader for the day. One of my life-long goals has always been to have a flexible career that allowed me to be an active parent, make money while I’m sleep, and work with passionate people. I found my rest that day holding a 8 year-old’s hand while playing a guessing game estimating the number of thorns on a cactus. When I finally pulled the plug from working in my own strength, it made room for God’s grace to flow into the empty parts. Between listening to my body, obeying the Holy Spirit, and being reminded of how free the birds of the air roam I knew any sales made, emails sent or reports completed would of been all done in vain.

My encouragement to you is to know when it’s time to grind and when it’s time to unwind. When you don’t rest, sometimes you end up quitting in the long run. Know that God has a divine way of ensuring that all of your needs are met.

Please share how you unplug to find rest in the comment section below. Watch my testimony video, I am 100% certain that this blessing was a result of my obedience to find rest in Him.

Self Care Diet

What about me!!??

I found myself looking in the mirror asking this question as I brushed my teeth a week ago. I was seconds away from slipping into self-pitty after thinking about the week I had. I’ll come clean and say that I am hard on myself. I like to keep everything high, my standard and heels. There was no way I could endure another day without some self care. This term is growing in popularity as women realize that you can’t pour from an empty cistern and there is no guilt in taking care of yourself.


So last Friday, I excused myself from my entrepreneurial duties and laid down my mommy cape for a day to myself. No emails, no contracts, no meetings, and no nursing (JESUS..HELP!). It was time to indulge in my self care diet. Outfitted with my fedora hat, praying’ & slayin’ tee, and plaided wrap I B-lined to the front door on my way to partake in my self care diet.

SELF-CARE DIET

  • Lunch
  • Nails
  • Shopping
  • Something sweet

First up was something to eat. I don’t like to waste eating opportunities on wack food, so I headed to Townhouse, a gem restaurant tucked away in Emeryville for lunch. I felt super fancy when I pulled up and they had complimentary valet. Having doors opened for me always puts me in a good mood. I totally enjoy having lunch by myself. I used to feel weird about going to eat alone, but now I relish in the opportunity to eat at my leisure, bring a book along, or make extra conversation with the server. A steak salad was my selection along with a tall glass of H20.

Next up was a trip to Nordstrom Rack. The location in San Leandro has a better selection than the one in Emeryville, but this shopping visit was explicitly for new panties and bras. I wanted to treat myself to a new set that made me feel good when I looked in the mirror. I am so ready to retire the nursing bras. To ensure the self-care didn’t end on that day I also picked up some body scrub and monogramed stemware so I feel fancy when sipping my pink lemonades. The family has been put on notice that those glasses are just for me!

Last Friday was Chinese New Year, so guess who that impacted the two nail shops I had to go to? The first one had limited services, and the second asked for me to come back in two hours. Now that I have acrylic nails, fills are mandatory, so I brought my tail back. Surprisingly I’ve had the same set since November! That probably means nothing to you, but it was my wedding day in 2006 which was the last time I had gotten “a full set”.

A date is never complete without something sweet. To satisfy my craving I stopped by good ole See’s Candy for five pieces of pecan buds. OMG, I love those things!

The day went by way to fast, but my husband and kids would attest that I arrived home much more at peace and full.  So tell me, what does your self care diet look like?

My Black Panther Experience

As a congregation yesterday our church, New Life Community Church, went to view the highly anticipated movie, Black Panther. This outing was special for a few reasons. One was because we encouraged the congregation to dress the par in all black or African garb. Secondly, the viewing was immediately following our morning worship service which was FIRE!!!! Then lastly, it was no cost to our members. Three other church came together to buy out the theater as an opportunity to fellowship and show solidarity.  Sundays in my book are made for church, family, and fun! I saw this day as a great opportunity to do the most and get the entire family dressed up in coordinating African inspired outfits. Being that my sewing machine is hidden in my in-law’s garage I couldn’t make anything so I simply took scissors along with safety pins to the 6 yards of fabric I had that a friend brought back from Ghana.

My husband wore an all-black suit with a complimenting sash I made from the fabric. I missed my hair appointment this week so it was an easy decision to go with a head wrap using the matching fabric. The original design idea for my two boys was to create a front pocket with the fabric to sew onto a regular black t-shirt. That didn’t happen so they ended up wearing dashikis that they already had. Last month a family friend brought Jayla a dress from South Africa, so she wore that along with the head bow I cut out using the same fabric. I’m not gonna lie, we rolled up to Grand Lake Theater looking like Wakanda royalty.

The real reason for this post is to share with you three lines in the movie that pierced my mind, heart, and soul! The movie, directed by a family friend, Ryan Coogler, was phenomenal to say the least. Almost a year ago his wife, my team mate and friend shared with me pics of the set and how taxing and ground breaking this film was. I honestly had no idea then the totality of this movie and how it would shape the world as we know it. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. And if you have seen it, go see it again! Yes, it’s that good.

THE HEART PIERCER

tell him who you are!” by Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett)

I almost lost it during this part of the movie. The Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) was challenged to a fight for the throne of Wakanda by a neighboring tribe’s man. Black Panther was being served left and right, to the point it looked like he was down for the count. With the people of Wakanda onlooking and his mother right there in his corner, she yelled with a growl from her belly in a manner of which only a Black woman can, “tell him who you are!” That moment was extremely sobering for Black Panther and I believed it was felt throughout the audience as well. It’s pivotal moments just like this one, when we want to give up, when we feel like we are in over our heads and that the giant Goliath is getting the best of us that we need powerful words spoken to our souls as reminders to give it all you got! Stand tall, don’t go out like a punk! Give it another go and finish the race!

As Black people, with our culture being stripped from us and in general the world reciting words of inferiority, a stern reminder of your roots, pedigree, and the DNA that runs through your veins is the remedy at times. In response to his mother’s outcry, the Black Panther claps back with thunder in his voice, “I am the son of T’Chaka King of Wakanda!” It’s like he had a come to Jesus moment about who he was. This line impacted me most because it reinforced our impact as mothers. As parents, we help to shape the identity of our children. We are their first source of esteem and confidence. In this scene, it was beautifully displayed how influential a mother’s presence, position, and voice is in her child’s life, no matter their age. Just as the bible says to train up a child in the way he should go, as parent we must do our part to teach our children who they are, so they’ll be able to respond in full confidence as did the Black Panther.

THE MIND PIERCER

“Just because it works well doesn’t mean it can’t be improved” by Shuri (Letitia Wright)

One of the reasons why this movie is so brilliant is because of the technological advances which is one of the trademarks of the Wakanda nation. During one of the scenes, The Black Panther is challenged by the princess, the Chief Technology Officer of Wakanda, about the use of one of their high tech gadgets. The Black Panther, claims the device works so what is the fuss? Shuri taunts the royal heinousness with the challenging line, “Just because it works well doesn’t mean it can’t be improved” Her words suggest that there is always room for improvement. Hmph?? That good isn’t good enough. Shuri raises the bar for our idea of excellence. I am guilty of sometimes being comfortable with what is working. This shift in mindset positions one to always be on the cutting edge, to assume the role of a trailblazer never being left behind. This one line challenged me to examine those areas of my life that are working well but can still be improved. Thanks, Shuri!

THE SOUL PIERCER

“…just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships…” by Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)

I will be the first to admit that nearly any reference to American slavery makes me sick to my stomach. The thought that another human being would kidnap, enslave, and subject a person to the treatment African Americans endured for centuries digs at every fiber of my being. Near the end Killmonger, the villain in the movie, is nearing death. The Black Panther offers a hand of mercy for recovery. Killmonger, knowing he’s in for it declines the King’s offer of another chance at life with these souls piercing words, “…just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships...” Wow, that was deep, right? Almosrt every line he served in the movie was. The ocean as a grave? The desire for freedom in the afterlife over the bitterness of oppression and bondage. But then again, the vivid reminder that during the slave trade men, women, boys, and girls made the same life-defining decision to be free in spirit than bound by physical chains. That statement allowed me to consider what choice would I had made if I was one of the hundreds of black bodies crammed onto a ship like chattel, forced to eat slop, and stolen from my homeland. Maybe I would have jumped too.

If these mere three lines struck you as they did me, just imagine what the full movie would do. Thank you, Ryan, cast, and crew for giving my boys a movie they could see themselves as the superhero in. You should have seen them cheering on as The Black Panther contended. Thank you for allowing me as a black woman to see power exercised in combat, competence, and love. Thank you for reminding my husband that there is royalty inside his DNA as a black man. I’m certain we will see it again, along with the DVD when it is released.

Job well done.

Are You Disciplined For Destiny?

Hey there! A few years ago I was the worse at meeting deadlines, bringing things from thought to fruition and keeping my life on track. I thought about it for a minute and pinpointed some daily disciplines that made the difference in my life. Many of us want to reach all of what God has in store for us, but the fact remains you must be disciplined in order to do so.

Check out the video below and consider implementing them into your life.

Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

I could kiss you in the mouth if you had one, so instead, I will bless the Lord with my lips. Lord, you have been too kind! 2017 you gave me two things that I will never forget, first my daughter Jayla Simone Hammock and become an author.

We waited over 10 years to meet her and she is every form of perfection. Giving birth to Jayla was no easy feat. Morning sickness was at its high early on in the pregnancy then towards the end, the anticipation of her arrival was intense. Me…a mother of a girl FINALLY.

While Jayla is definitely the highlight of 2017, who would have known that 2017 would be the year that I would publish my first book and become an author. The writing process began in 2016, but Dream Chaser was birthed in 2017. I learned so much about myself during the writing process. I pushed myself to grow as a writer. I dug deep to be vulnerable so the lessons I’ve learned can be a blessing to someone else. If you want to stay motivated try earnestly remembering victories of the past. This will surely be a milestone in my faith that gives me permission to believe God for more.

2017, I think you were rooting for me to come fully into myself. Not that I didn’t know who I was but the totality of who I am. I wasn’t fully aware of my depth and you wanted me to stand back to take a good look in the mirror to see a glimpse of all the glory God packaged into my 5 foot 4 frame. This was the year my entrepreneur mindset shifted gears. This was the year “Proverbs 31 woman” was eloquently written on my forehead through the grace of God. On top of writing a book that yielded great sales numbers, I hosted a profitable women’s empowerment brunch, co-founded an inspirational clothing line and began to see the value in my years of personal, spiritual, and professional experience to step into the role of a coach.

Our family celebrated many milestones, musical recitals, not many vacations, but next year we will be certain to make room for Paris or maybe Hawaii. I can remember at the turn of 2016, declaring that 2017 would be the year of Baby, Book, and Brunch. All of which were successful highlights of the year. In 2017 I was blessed to strengthen meaningful relationships, which made the difference. We all need love, support, and a trusted space to let down your hair. Speaking of hair, in 2017 I bid a farewell to my short hair and grew it out, to a blunt bob which I love! Kellie Rowland gave me the inspiration for the look.

2017, you were delightful up until the last minute with the surprise engagement of my best friend and the early release of my brother to have a new start in life and bringing in the new year with a surprise road trip to Reno with the fam. Typically I like to give each year a scripture theme. It becomes a promise from God that I stand on and speak over my life. With all that I purpose in my heart to accomplish in 2018, the Lord gave me Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

With a promise like that, I am shooting for the moon!

Sincerely,

Jennifer

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.

GET YOUR MOMMY STRENGTH TEE HERE

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.

When Grace Finds You

Growing up my siblings, along with my first cousins and I used to play a game. This game kept us active and smelling like puppies as we rummaged the streets of Inglewood. I recently discovered that my children love the game of Hide and Seek too! If you were “it” you had to find and tag other players in the game as they hid under cars, in trees, within bushes, and behind parked cars. When you were found you were upset, doubted your hiding abilities or thought someone was cheating. Bottom line it wasn’t cool to be found.

Today as I reach the milestone of two months postpartum (not sure when you stop counting) I am confident to say that grace has found me. The Lord must have secretly been playing this game with me, but after careful review of my life and being asked, “How have you been since you’ve had the baby?” my answer remains “I have been graced!” Grace found me as a train of meals were delivered daily to my doorstep the weeks following Jayla’s arrival. Grace was laid upon my shoulders as loved ones visited to lend a hand to household chores. Grace gently kissed me on the check as Jayla began a steady schedule that allowed me a decent amount of sleep at night and productive during the day. I am so grateful that God loves me to know what I can handle and when to send help. We are now

We are now a family of five which is the number of grace. My husband’s ability to discern when I was close to the edge then he stepped right on in was surely grace in the flesh. The boys have been able to gracefully share our love and attention with their sister. Most recently, I found myself getting stressed and having growing anxiety trying to manage my responsibilities. Typically, that is a sign that I am operating outside of God’s grace. My next steps are to take a step back, get some rest, or ask for help.

I am learning as a person of purpose, grace is a requirement for reaching your destiny. Some of my favorite scriptures are bursting with the promise of grace.

And He said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.II Corinthians 12:9

And God is able to make all GRACE abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.II Corinthians 9:8

I find encouragement from these two passages in the following ways:

  1. When I am feeling weak it is a reminder that God’s grace can find me here.
  2. It prevents me from thinking I have to always have it all together. If I continue to fake the funk and pretend to be strong, Jesus can’t step in to help.
  3. There is sufficiency in Christ. (Whoa…I can say that again) This scripture becomes an internal check to consider if I am placing more dependency on others, myself, or systems instead of God. He is all we need!
  4. God’s grace leads to abundance! So again, I ask myself, “Am I banking on grace or on me?” It’s a better turnout when I’m on the lookout for His grace.

These are promises worth standing on. So if and when you find yourself lost and in over your head, meditate on these scriptures then pray for God’s grace to find you.

Tag, you’re it! 🙂