I just celebrated another year of life last Thursday, and I have been in deep thought ever since that day. These last few years I’ve been in the pruning process, and it has not felt good. This milestone birthday proved to be no different either. There was no big party with balloons, a cake or even lavish outfits for a month long celebration. Instead, it was filled with…well, a lot of thinking actually. Considering I spent it in my hometown with family and friends, it was still a real joy, especially since I got to love on our newest edition to the family, my 16 mos old great-niece, who is simply a blessing. When she laid her head on my shoulder on my actual birthday, I felt God’s love. As a matter of fact, every moment I get to spend time with her, I am reminded of the Lord’s magnificence and grace.
One of the other great presents that I received this year was a book titled, “Pathway to Purpose” by Katie Brazelton. It was given to me by someone who has become one of my trusted advisors and friend. This present was timely, because it has challenged me every step of the way. It has forced me to leave some things and people behind, as well as to examine my peace, my character and my space. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I am confident that by the time that I complete it, that more changes will be made. Part of me looks forward to that, and well… truthfully, part of me does not. Why you ask? Because “Pruning is uncomfortable.”
As mentioned in the last post, the pruning process is necessary though. We cannot expect to be all that God has created us to be, without shedding certain things at certain times. That list can include attitudes, behaviors, characteristics, people, places and “things.” Just fill in the blank as the journey continues. So as we walk the path that has been set before us, let us take heart in knowing that God has already “ordered our steps and that He delights in our way.” Psalm 37:23. Be encouraged and stay faithful to the call that has been placed on your life.
A lemon retrieved from the lemon tree, during the pruning process~
This Labor Day… I labored. When I thought about the term, I decided to look up the word “labor” on dictionary.com, and this is what I found: work, especially hard physical work. It also gave synonyms like- hard work, toil, exertion and drudgery, to name a few. While I didn’t toil physically yesterday, I certainly did so mentally. Does that count as labor? If it doesn’t, it should…because it sure felt like it. Upon further review of the word, I could definitely identify with the verb definition, which stated work hard; make a great effort. That is exactly what I did on Monday, and if I’m honest with myself, it’s what I have done many days this season. It seems as if I have a million thoughts a day and truthfully, a good portion of them feel like labor. I’m facing some unknowns right now, and when this happens, I have to make a conscious effort to chill out mentally. I told myself that yesterday should’ve been a day of rest and not work, but that’s not quite how it all “worked” out. In fact, I labored… a lot. Yes, I physically did some typing on my laptop, but more than anything, I experienced a number of rather intense and deep thoughts. They drained me to a degree, and here I sit now typing, yet again and thinking back-about the magnitude of them. However, I know what some of the problem is. It’s the controller in me, who has often struggled with relinquishing things. I toss and turn my thoughts over and over again like a fish out of water, trying to make reason of them. Why is it that I do this? For some reason, I still spend a great deal of time trying to just figure stuff out, even though God has proven time and time again -that He always works it out, and for my good. I need to just let go and let God. I’m sure you’ve heard that cliche tons of times, but there is real truth in it. I can’t understand why I continue to allow my thoughts to play out a million different ways, instead of just resting in Him and His power. Another part of it, is that I really appreciate knowing how the chapter will end. My life chapters that is. Let’s be clear, I don’t mean my entire book of life. I pray that extends well on until my 101st birthday, if at all possible, but I mean the chapters of life that are marked by seasons. It is the impatience in me that longs to know ahead of time how each current chapter ends. It can be incredibly frustrating not knowing (control freak,) and this is where the battle begins.
The second half of II Corinthians 10:5 comes to mind- “…..and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Why is this so important? It is because a war over our mind has been waged. Thus, it is imperative that we make each thought subject to the right Master. One of the best ways to gain control of roaming thoughts; ideas and concerns, is to read the Word of God. I find that it instantly causes me to re-shift and refocus when this happens. When I don’t take the time to do this, what happened yesterday, is exactly what happens. The overthinking goes on for hours and it goes haywire. I was happy that I finally submitted my thoughts before closing out my day, so I didn’t have a restless mind all night. I wrote in my journal and reviewed some previously noted scriptures before going to bed. This past Labor Day, I labored mentally, so I guess I’ll take a little time off in the holiday’s honor today.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
I remember the day I first read this phrase, “…do it scared,” in Holley Gerth’s, “You’re Made for a God-sized Dream.” Since that day, these words have stuck with me over the past 3 years. I have not only recalled them, but have been forced to live by them- in a number of instances. What I was reminded of, is that while it is challenging to try new things, it is always possible when I am willing. Being a “creative autonomous” at heart most of my life, I often got a taste of the fear factor because of my entrepreneurial dreams. Attempting business ventures requires a certain level of trust that is difficult to describe. It is a major faith walk. “Doing it scared” certainly doesn’t feel good, but it is a necessary part of the plan. In fact, it is a requirement if we are to advance, live and thrive. We just have to commit to the process and trust God for the rest. What is the worse that can happen? We can stumble, all out trip…or even worse.. fall! So what though- if that happens. It is not the end of the world. Once we get back up, we can just view it as a new beginning and keep stepping. Seeing it this way, helps put a positive spin on things. We make a decision, walk in it, run… or fall- and when we do, because we are going to hit the ground at times, we get back up and keep going. There is light at the end of the tunnel and fear is just another thing to keep us boxed in. We can’t be our best selves standing in the same position forever. Any successful entrepreneur, accomplished athlete or kid who learned to ride a bike without training wheels, will all agree that the joy on the other side of that fear brings victory. Take it from an introvert and serial entrepreneur, who was once a little girl crazy about her pink Huffy (bike.) Picture me rolling.
What are you scared of today? Don’t allow fear to keep you from your destiny. As Holley wrote- “Do it scared.” Start the business, run the marathon, volunteer overseas, write the book and open that non-profit to help troubled youth. The world needs your gifts and talents. Don’t deprive us of them just because fear is trying to cripple you. You’ll be so happy you did it- even though you were scared.I promise! Know that when I write, I am always talking to myself, too. It’s therapeutic and we are in this thing called life together!
We want to hear from you. Reach out and tell us all about how you refused to let fear win. Peace, blessings and most of all, courage to you. You already have the victory.
Photo of my first ebook- available for free at http://www.candacetravels.com
Two pieces of advice were given to me some years ago by different people. One was a person of great faith- a minister, and the other was a highly successful business man. The first thing I was told was, “If you’re not ready to be misunderstood, then you’re not ready to be used by God” and the other was, for me to “Be prepared to lose people and things.” So far, both have proved true in my life. I’ve been judged and have lost many things…and even some people. You may ask how one should feel about this and my response would be, “You should feel just fine if you’re fulfilling the mission and plan for your life.” It may seem harsh at first to seem okay with adversity and loss, but the truth is, it just comes with the territory. No great thing has ever been accomplished without battles. Instead of viewing this as a negative, let’s take a deeper look at the beauty in this. We grow through trials and we shed unnecessary people and things. Most things in life are seasonal anyway. Look at nature, who clearly presents this truth annually. At some point in the year, if you are located in a certain part of the world, the green leaves will turn colors and then will eventually fall off and disappear. Then months later, a new set of buds will surface. It’s part of life. Like Nehemiah, (chapter 4) who set out to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem, was met with opposition, so will you. We can learn from him, in that he didn’t allow it to stop him from completing the mission. He had already made up in his mind that he was going to accomplish the task before he set out to. It’s also important to note that he connected himself to others who were faithful and willing to stand in the gap with him- to protect the vision. When we make a decision to do something before the project begins, then we’re fully invested in the success of the outcome. Likewise, when we link up to other great warriors in the faith, we have the covering and backing that is needed to win.
I’m not sure what path you’ve been called to walk today, but I’m here to strengthen and encourage you. No matter what you face, don’t let it distract you from the task at hand. No matter who objects, walks away or what you lose, purpose in your heart to stay the course and finish strong! Be encouraged and be blessed! You already WON.
Natural Bridge Remains, Aruba
It’s a new month…again. I say that with a spirit of gratitude, realizing that there are many who were denied the privilege of turning the page on the calendar yesterday. I’m certain that we can all think of someone who was here last February that didn’t make it to this point (2016.) In that thought alone, there is much to be thankful for. This leads me to further ponder my next question. How truly committed are we, as humans, to fulfilling the purpose for which we have been created? I ask myself this question often, considering my journey appears at times to have been a lengthy one thus far. Lengthy not so much as number of days, but in the sense of one that’s been packed with a plethora of intense experiences, filled with twists and turns. I always jokingly say, “It’s been a good one, but a wild one to date.” I’m grateful though, because I realize that each day is a gift. Viewing each day as such, takes some of the sting out of the tough days, as well as makes the best days that much more pleasurable. I spend a great deal of my time on the road and juggling, what seems like a million different projects at a time…but if I really think about it, this is exactly what I prayed for, hoped for and labored for, for quite some time. No, everything hasn’t fallen perfectly into place like I envisioned in my mind, but there is so much beauty to behold in each day. As I witness the unfolding of my dreams and the manifestation of all that God has promised me, I am humbled and in awe. Yes, the climb is rather steep at certain points…BUT…the blessings that accompany the ascension are difficult to describe. They’re unbelievable, incredible and often times leave me speechless. Would I consider trading in some of the challenges for more mountaintops? Yes, of course. However, I know that it is impossible to have one without the other. This is both a faith journey and a fight. In order to fulfill the mission that’s been assigned, we will have to give it our all at times.
As you walk the path this new month, remember that life is a gift and should be treated as such. A new level of faith is required for each new leg of the journey. Stay the course and faint not! God has a specific plan and purpose for your life and He desires for you to fulfill it. Enjoy where you are, as well as all the blessings that have been afforded to you!!! I know it’s hard sometimes, but it will not overtake you. You will have the victory. I know that I’m personally looking forward to many, many, more spectacular, faith- filled days – hopefully retiring somewhere around the ripe old age of 101. 🙂
I read a pretty amazing quote yesterday. “During the growth process you will experience events that help you soar to new heights.” As I read those words, I thought to myself about my most recent trip to St. Maarten. While there, I got the opportunity to visit Maho Beach. If you haven’t heard or experienced what it’s like at this particular beach, I am pleased to fill you in. At first sight it appears relatively normal; there’s sand, the ocean, people sprawled across the beach and tons of activity in and around the area, but it’s what happens next, that will amaze you the most. Located just steps away from Princess Juliana International Airport, beach goers get the chance to complete what feels like a physical inspection to the undercarriage of incoming airplanes. Yep, they fly just above your head! It’s incredible.
While scrolling through my images from last week, I thought back to the above noted quote. I remembered how it was a chore, trying to capture just the “right” angle. I found myself performing a balancing act upon the edge of the concrete road, which outlines the beach. The scary part was that while doing so, incoming vehicles many of which hugged the curve rather closely, were speeding hastily towards…me, in route to the airport. However, it was the elevation of the curb that enabled me to get the shot.
Life is like this. In order to reach the peaks of mountains, you have to ascend. Of course it’s beautiful below, but ahh that feeling of gazing down upon a city or massive body of water is completely different from up above. I’m sure we’d all agree that none of this can be accomplished without some hurdles. Whether you’re trekking up the side of a mountain, or trying to balance yourself upon a steep curb for a picture, it will require some work and discipline on your part. I’d like to think that my 8 years of ballet kicked in, but some of it was utter determination. We must realize there’s no way to reach the peak without making the climb. Yes, you could technically take a helicopter ride, but think of all that you’d miss on the climb up???
If you find yourself in a difficult place today, remember that the current events are merely part of the process. They’re training and equipping you for the new view to come. There is purpose in preparation that readies you to soar! Stick to it and enjoy the journey up. You’ll find some pretty amazing views along the way to the top.
My view from the curb…Maho Beach, St. Maarten
My elevated view from atop…St. Maarten
How do you spend most of your days? What activities and/or persons take up most of your time? How different could your life be if you dedicated set amounts of time to the ventures and/or individuals most important to you? Let’s take a closer look at these questions.
If you have a goal in mind, then I’m sure you’d agree that specific steps are necessary to accomplish it. This can of course vary, depending upon the season that you’re in. A goal for one may be to get their little one potty-trained by a set date, while for another, it may be to obtain a promotion before the conclusion of this calendar year. In either case, action is required on the individual’s part if it’s going to transpire. For the person looking to climb the ranks, if your intended goal is to reach the next level within your organization, then you can’t spend your days on frivolous activities when you have down time at the office. Likewise, if this is indeed the desire of your heart, you must also give some thought to the persons who get the bulk of your time. If your days are spent with those who give you all the reasons why you can’t get promoted, then perhaps it’s time you limit your interaction with them. Think about this- What if you spent most of your time on constructive activities, in the presence of those who empower and uplift you? How different would your life be? Certainly you may not be able to change who your manager is presently, or even who you share a work space with, but you can control how you spend the rest of your time!
If you make the decision to organize your days, they will become more purposeful and fulfilling. Additionally, you will find that your activities will become less draining. Imagine that!!! Yes, you will have some days while in pursuit of your dreams that seem tiring, but they will in no way compare to the level of fatigue experienced – when you waste crucial time on meaningless things, with negative people. Establishing order upon the onset of each day can make a noticeable difference. Here are 3 simple steps to help you!
1. Create a set schedule, but be sure to leave gaps for what I like to call, “Life Happenings,” because they are sure to come. These are distractions, problems and issues that arise to take you off course. Learn to manage them, without giving them the power to ruin your day. Deal with them accordingly, adjust, and immediately get back on track- picking up from where you left off.
2. Devise steps to help you get closer to your goals. Make a concerted effort to write them down, and post them where you can see them, or place them where you will come in contact with them daily. Seeing is believing, so be sure to keep them within reach and visible at all times. If this means making them your screen saver on your computer or phone, do just that.
3. Execute! This is always the most important step. Your plans are of no use if you don’t act on them. Get a partner to help hold you accountable, and keep a checklist to follow.
Once you’ve created a plan, considered those who can in some way help bring your dreams to fruition- then you are ready to press the green light. Spend dedicated time with the Lord today, and inquire of Him how you should be spending your days, and with whom. Then, be purposeful in your dealings, so that you can give each day your best!
You decide “who” gets a seat at your table! Choose wisely~