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Enough

Enough

Long ago, I accepted that I am not for everyone and that everyone is not for me. I have learned that it is a blessing and for my own protection that I am not for everyone and vice versa. If you think about it, it is a lot of work just maintaining the covenant relationships we are given to manage. That being said, who has time to entertain the unnecessary foolishness that comes along with persuading people to like or love us? The bottom line is that we are not created to be accessible to just anyone. God strategically chose our family for us. He ordained some of our friendships – notice I said “some”. However, the presence of trouble in a relationship does not always mean that it is not meant to be or that a person doesn’t “get you”. A relationship is not authentic until you have had a disagreement, an offense takes place, or that person sees you at your worst, and yet their loyalty and love does not change. In stating that you will be enough for the right people, I mean that you will be adequate for who or what is required at the time. This means, you may not always be enough, particularly when seasons change in your life. This is where and when it can become difficult. The moment I sense that my role or reason for being in a person’s life has ended, I am no longer adequate for them. If I choose to stay engaged in the same way, I only do myself and them harm. Secondly, do not assume that those who may not display or demonstrate a likeness toward you is in any way jealous or “hating” on you. Just because you are not liked does not mean you are hated. There could be countless reasons why a person is not supposed to be in your inner circle. We live in a society that is easily offended but fails to confront the origin of why there is a need to be included by all in the first place. I believe part of this stems from believing that we must fit in everywhere in order to be significant. There is a lie going around that one’s impact and importance is comprised of being liked and followed by masses of people. Another lie is that these people all care about you and want what is best for you – until they determine that you are not enough. The right people will have healthy expectations of you, hold you to high standards, and help when needed. They will support you without having to ask them and will make sacrifices without telling you. They will understand if you are not yourself without making it about them. They will think good of you and will not tolerate anyone saying anything bad about you. They won’t have to defend you around others because they won’t entertain people who feel comfortable talking about you to them. The right people are right for you because they believe in what is right themselves. Being enough does not mean that you are perfect, but that you are appropriately living out your purpose among those entrusted to you and to whom you belong.Jewel Challenge: This week, evaluate your relationships. Make sure they are what you need and that you are fulfilling the right role in their lives as well.

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Jesus and Jimmy

Jesus-and-Jimmy

Many of you know that my father was taken off of lifesaving medications and measures almost two weeks ago. We were told that he would only survive minutes. This picture of me kissing his forehead was taken a few days ago during my recent visit back to Indiana, and he is still defying the odds. This week's blog is dedicated to the man I affectionately call "Daddio" - Bishop Clarence Isaac Lee. He introduced me to the greatest man in all of history - Jesus and interceded on my behalf for God to bless me with the kindest, most loving man on earth - my husband, Jimmy. I was raised in the Church but came to know Christ for myself as a child, watching my father serve and lead. He once preached on top of our church building, drawing several hundreds of congregants and guests to hear the "good news". My love for God and others was ignited by his example and biblical teachings. The greatest gift any father can give his children is the example of following Christ and nurturing their relationship with Him. Years later, as a college graduate and traveling singer, he approached me about my singleness, stating that he was going to start a spiritual fast for me to meet my potential husband. At the time, I wasn't even dating nor was I interested in getting married. I had my own plans and idea of my future. He insisted and began drinking only water for the next 40 days, eating no food. No, that was not a typo - 40 whole days. The entire story is too extensive to share in this writing, but long story short, I met Jimmy while on tour, during my father's fast, and we just celebrated our 19 year wedding anniversary last month. Jesus and Jimmy - the two men who mean the most to me in the whole world. My father knew he would not always be with me, so he guided me to be grounded in my faith with Jesus and prayed for me to be found by the next man entrusted to love, honor, and cherish me as much as he did. What more does a little girl need? Nothing. Nothing at all.

 

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Faith What You Face

Faith-What-You-Face

As a child, there was a song I remember hearing. The lyrics, "faith, faith, faith, just a little bit of faith...you don’t need a whole lot, just use what you've got", takes me back to my childhood, Pentecostal church in Indiana. The bible talks about having faith the size of a mustard seed, but what does it really mean to have faith or be a person of faith? After all, there isn't a universal answer that serves as a "one size fits all" for every person or circumstance. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. defined faith as "taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase". One of the most difficult things to do is maintain faith during dark, uncertain times. When given a bleak report or dealing with a seemingly impossible situation, we tend to think about everything that is going wrong, perhaps gathering the facts to prepare for what's ahead. Some may even start to make plans based on whether or not things get worse, or even fail - protective mode sets in and walls go up. We shut people out and worry about what may happen next. Just this past week, I had to exercise my faith in ways I never dreamt I could. I witnessed God's healing virtue flow through a body that was supposed to die, yet lived. Everything in me hoped for the best, but I can't say my faith expected a miracle. In this admission, I know I am a person of faith, but it made me think about not the size of my faith, but its depth. Faith, once planted, must grow, not only higher, but deep, so embedded in the soul that it serves as an anchor during the worst of storms. Colossians 2:7 says, "let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your FAITH will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." My prayer for you this week is that you seek to have great faith - the kind that moves mountains and shakes loose anything holding you back. I would love to hear more faith stories about how God has moved in this area of your life.

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Woes into Wows

Woes-Into-Wows

A couple of years ago, my husband and I endured a painful ministry setback. Although the circumstances were not completely within our control, we felt a great deal of humiliation and embarrassment. We agonized over what we would do next, wondering if we should stay or move. The plans we thought God had for us had been denied, or so it seemed. Throughout that time, very few reached out to us or offered any help. It was a lonely, isolating experience. However, it was during that time that we began to accept that what God was doing in our lives was not to harm us but to allow us to see His hand on us like never before, especially when it felt we had been abandoned. As leaders, we questioned our anointing and ability to serve and lead. When enduring hardship, it is important not to let your mind wander into a place of self-degradation and self-doubt. After going through a process of forgiving those who meant to destroy us, there was an opening and awakening in our ministry. Soon, I accepted a part-time position as a teacher assistant at a school. It wasn't the job I desired, but unbeknownst to me, God was about to turn my woe into a wow. In less than five months, the director of the school resigned and submitted my name to the board to be her successor. I was hired and received more than a salary. I was welcomed into a new faith community and have been blessed with much more than I ever imagined. I could go on about what all this opportunity included, but for now I will just say we are right where we need to be - restored and in awe of God.

Sometimes, we focus so much on our situation that it is difficult to remember that what we are suffering now is nothing compared to the glory God will reveal to us later (Romans 8:18). Bishop H. Eugene Bellinger, pastor of the Cathedral of the Covenant Church in Columbus, Ohio, maintains that others cannot kill the thoughts that are in the mind of God concerning us. This means no matter what is going on, and regardless of what is said about you or done to you, God has the final say! Also, no matter how long it takes for the promises of God to come to pass, keep holding on and wait in great expectation. In the words of Pastor Steve Furtick, "don't let years of disappointment deteriorate your determination". It is said that time has a way of making us doubt what God has spoken. Let me remind you that you are not forgotten and there is an appointed time for you to receive what you have been praying for, just wait and see. No, this is not a "name it and claim it" or "blab it and grab it" pep talk. I'm not telling you to turn around five times, jump up and down and shout "glory" and then you'll get what you want. What I am telling you is to trust God and keep doing good. Get prepared for what you're praying for and testify of His goodness. In uncertain times, one thing remains and that is God is good and He never fails to amaze us.

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Self-Care Vs Self-Control

Self-Care-Vs-Self-Control

The term self-care has become the newest buzzword for needing to retreat and focus on one's personal, spiritual, emotional, or physical needs in order to function at a more optimum level. While self-care has been around for centuries, as it is defined today, self-care seems to be applied when one feels exhausted or overwhelmed by their circumstances.Therefore, the casual use and abuse of its concept runs the risks of becoming more and more meaningless. In other words, some use self-care as an excuse to disengage because they are unwilling or unsure of how to navigate what is happening around or to them. After getting a massage, having your nails done, visiting the spa, going shopping, reading a favorite book or doing whatever is needed, one must confront the reality they so desperately tried to avoid. While rest and relaxation is an essential part of useful and purposeful interaction, this 'treat yo self' generation has abandoned the implementation of self-disciplines that prevent burnout and other distresses that could be eliminated. My point is why not employ practices that foster a healthy, holistic lifestyle that reflects you care about yourself every day? Some of the problems and issues that we face can be avoided if we had more self-control concerning what we think, eat, say, react to, allow, or accept. From a practical standpoint, it doesn't make sense to detox and be renewed just to revert back to the poor habits, toxic environments, and old way of living and then complain and gripe about needing another self-care moment. Instead, we should resolve to acknowledge and address our needs before they become a problem. Additionally, in light of God's Word, self-care is not a fruit of the Spirit, but self-control is, and is often overlooked (Galatians 5:22). In extreme cases, you can't help yourself through pampering and putting a bandage over a wound - you need the help of the Holy Spirit to provide what you need. Spending time, money, and energy in places that will only result in a temporary fix is counterintuitive to what your mind and soul truly need. Pretty packages can still be poisonous on the inside. Self-care alone is not enough. We have to seriously deal with ourselves rather than hiding behind a trendy notion filled with promises of a better you without working on you. I'm not against bubble baths and lattes, but there's more to loving yourself than Bath & Body Works and Starbucks.Here's this week’s Jewel Challenge: How is self-control demonstrated in your life? What adjustments must be made in order to manage your needs? Some examples may include scheduling regular doctor appointments, changing eating habits, forgiving someone, starting school, joining a faith community, talking to a therapist, and so on.

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Don’t Let a Stone Stand in Your Way

A-Stone-in-the-Way

Are you overwhelmed by just the thought of what could stand in your way if you followed your calling or took a risk, not knowing whether you would succeed? In Mark 16, the discovery of the empty tomb offers insights that apply to our everyday living. As Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome were on their way to see Jesus, they began to ponder who would help them roll away the stone. It was more than they, with their united strength, could move. Additionally, the tomb was being guarded by a soldier. Once there, they encounter an angel who announces the Resurrection of Jesus.

The two dilemmas the women faced on that early morning are ones that still, if allowed, can hinder us from accomplishing our goals, or more importantly getting to Jesus; pressures (the stone) and people (the soldier). However, pressures in life and the people in our lives are no excuse for quitting or giving up on our pursuit to greatness. Notice that although the women acknowledged a potential problem ahead of them, they did not allow that to stop them in achieving their purpose. This lets us know that the presence of an obstacle should not cause us turn around and go a different direction, seeking to find a less troublesome path. The easy way is not always the best method. Many want to skip the process of learning through test and trials and would rather leap right into their destined place. However, skipping steps can be dangerous. Imagine if you were assembling a chair and decided to not include the bolts and screws. In a rush, you just placed parts together, then tried to sit down. An impatient, instant-fix approach usually results in an unfinished, ineffective product, especially when something is originally meant to take time. Furthermore, some may attempt to prevent us from what we desire to do, particularly when what we are doing will have an eternal outcome. Remember, there is no force or power in hell that can override God’s plan for your life, unless you permit it – and even then, stones can be turned. I encourage you to consider those around you who can help you get to where you are going and are committed to tackling difficult situations with you. Simply put, those who are for you will want you the best for you. Truth is, it is not always others keeping us from doing what we need to do – it is ourselves (lack of self-discipline, poor habits, etc.). Whatever you are facing, don’t let a stone stand in your way!Jewel Challenge: What will you do this week to move the stone in your life?

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Losing Your Mindset

Losing-Your-Mindset

Whether you are starting a new job, launching a new business, exploring a new relationship, or trying a new activity, understanding your mindset is essential in helping you navigate uncharted territory. While your current skills, knowledge, networks, and experience may have brought you to where you are now, in order to go to another level, you will have to lose your old mindset, especially when pursuing new opportunities that will require a different attitude or approach than what was used to attain previous success. What once worked does not always work for every situation. In fact, I have learned that I must grow for the next level before I go to the next level. It is during these times that I honestly feel like I am LOSING MY MIND!!! My relationships with people start changing and I start feeling uncomfortable in spaces that once brought me peace. I begin sensing things I never did before and my views about my purpose become reframed as I no longer find satisfaction in what used to be a priority. It has been said that if you want something you’ve never had, then you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. This is not only true but can determine one’s success and survival as well. There are countless examples of the danger of staying stuck in your ways, but one that still baffles me is Blockbuster’s failure to adapt to the changing culture of the video rental industry, particularly when they were the leading source for watching home movies. It wasn’t the rise of technology through digital downloads and live streaming that caused them to go under – it was their unwillingness to acknowledge and implement new strategies and shift their mindset from what once thrived to what was needed to endure the competition. In 2000, Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix, flew to Dallas to propose a partnership to Blockbuster’s CEO and his team. The idea was that Netflix would run Blockbuster’s brand online and the firm would promote Netflix in its stores. Hastings got laughed out of the room. In 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy and to date, Netflix’s net worth is over 3 billion dollars. In a nutshell, the ability to lose your old mindset may be the key that unlocks doors that have already been there or that will come. Yes, people will think your new ideas or ways of thinking are crazy. Yes, they may even laugh you out of a room. But, think of what can happen if you risk not fitting in and change up your whole game plan. Sometimes, you have to start over with a clean slate and restructure what you are doing and imagine the possibilities that await if you are willing to pivot and persevere. In spite of what others may say or think, whether people support you or not, dream as big as you possibly can, then create a plan to execute your vision. If you can accomplish your dream on your own, it is too small. If your dream is safe and keeps you in your comfort zone, you won’t be challenged or see a need for change. If what you seek is approval and would rather maintain the status quo, then don’t expect anything different to manifest. Finally, let me address the fact that even those closest to you may not fully understand what is happening in your life as it pertains to losing your old mindset. Behind millions of successful leaders is an unpopular decision they don’t regret. Sometimes, you have to make choices that only you and God know are right.

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Managing Your Emotions

Manage-Emotions

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. In his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, Pete Scazzero argued that many people mask their emotions by staying busy and being overly productive when in fact they are horrified of what they will find inside themselves if they slow down. The terror of stopping may reveal an emotion they are unwilling or ill-prepared to confront, at least on their own. The subject of mental health has become more widely discussed recently and emotional management is at the forefront of this important matter. I am convinced that whatever is not managed will soon master us - whether it's our emotions, money, addictions or desires, and especially our time. But, how does one manage their emotions? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Identify emotional triggers (i.e. holidays, special occasions, settings, and/or conversations).It's ok to decline invitations, friend requests, etc. if you feel uncomfortable or uneasy for any reason. An explanation is not necessary when it comes to your self-care and emotional stewardship.

2. Set appropriate boundaries.This lets others know how to treat you and what you expect. The key here is to have a plan for when people cross the line. Standards without any consequences are useless.

3. Allow yourself to feel an emotion, but only for a set time. Don't "pitch a tent" where you're not supposed to stay. Psalm 23:4 reminds us that we are to walk through what we're experiencing, not stop. Lean in, but eventually let go.

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