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Two become ONE: A Tribute to my husband

I am not the first, nor am I the last to say that marriage is hard.  This does not negate that marriage is also very fulfilling and rewarding when two people make a decision to walk together in agreement.  There is no formula that will ensure that two people will learn to work together, nurture one another, cry with one another, respect one another, and commit to love each other over and over again. However, I have my theories about what it takes to have a fulfilling marriage that promotes the growth of both parties involved.

Very rarely do I share my marriage journey; however, when I do the end result is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.  This gratitude is in response to seeing God at work in my marriage and ultimately in my life.  Very few people know that my husband and I only dated approximately 6 months before we got married.  We have been married for almost 7 years.  Prior to getting married, I longed to be a wife.  I longed to meet someone that I could grow with, be myself with, pray with, and build a life with.  I had ideas about what I thought the man of my dreams should look like, the type of career he should have, and the type of character that I would like for him to have.  But nothing that I could envision could actually prepare me for the gift I received.

Let me start by saying, we have always had a friendship that was grounded in mutuality and respect.  We naturally have a chemistry that made the evolution of our relationship seem almost simplistic to a fault.  Nevertheless, in our first year of marriage we faced one of the lowest points in our relationship and the first 2 and a half years were filled with many tears, doubts, disappointments, and even grief. Yes, I said it grief.  Despite all that we were facing in the onset of our marriage there was something that held it all together and that was an unwavering commitment to each other and the fight within both of us to preserve our marriage and ultimately our friendship.

Fast forward to the present and it is hard to believe that some of my darkest moments were just a few short years ago. Today, I see a man who has grown tremendously. If I had to characterize him today I would describe him an amazing, supportive, and loving husband and father.

You may be wondering what is working for us.  Ultimately, I believe what is working for my marriage and its survival is a willingness to pray for my husband and my marriage relentlessly.  I also believe that my faith and trust in God is the foundation for how I choose to show up in my marriage daily.  There were times where I felt as if my husband could and should do something differently or better and I had to choose to shift my perspective and show up in a manner that would solicit the experience I wanted to create.  If I wanted love, I needed to be love.  Likewise, I know that I can’t  fight fire with fire meaning that if I feel wronged in some way making my spouse feel bad for their wrong never works but loving them in spite of their wrong is a true sign of compassion. In a marriage their needs to be no tally of wrongs committed because deep down inside our intuition has a way of revealing truth to us and it is up to us whether or not we humble ourselves and right our wrongs. Also, when I think back on what worked and is working and I believe that God knows that my earnest desire is for God to be present in my marriage in every way. Lastly, praying with my husband changed my marriage and enhanced the intimacy within it.

Recently, I have encountered several people who want to be married and to top it off they want to add children to the equation.  I immediately think to myself, “Do you know what it takes to be married?” and “Do you have the character required to be married?”  I do not ask these questions to pass judgement.  Knowing that marriage is work, I really want them to think about what they are signing up for because very rarely do we know what we are getting ourselves into. Marriage is a decision but it is also a commitment that runs deeper than our feelings because if my feelings dictated my level of commitment my marriage would have dissolved long ago.

Marriage is like a mirror.  It shows you more about yourself than you can ever imagine.  I have found that some people don’t like who and what they see when they actually take the time to evaluate who they are and it becomes even harder to deal with that reflection when two people are involved.

If I could give any advice to those who are seeking to become married I would tell them that communication is important.  This isn’t profound, it’s obvious.  I would also say that prayer has also been a saving grace for my marriage.  Prayer allows me to relinquish control and allow my spouse to make his own decisions in his own timing.  The more I let go, the more are visions became synchronized.  The point is, no one wants to be told what to do or controlled.  You marriage is enhanced when both parties understand that they get to not have to.   Gratitude shows up when reciprocity (both parties give and both parties receive) is present.

For my married readers, what are you grateful for in your marriage? What is working?  What’s not working and what do you get to be to create the experience that you want in your marriage?

For my single folks, do you know what it takes be married (probably not…lol)? What do you want to create in a marital relationship and who do you get to be?

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Fuel Your Own Fire

I always find it interesting how I can be so productive in one or two areas of life yet be complacent in others. Am I the only one? Thinking about this dilemma created space for me to engage in a mental beat-up.  That is not the path, I was looking to take.

There is a song that I love that says,

“Sometimes you have to encourage yourself.
Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test.
And no matter how you feel,
speak the word and you will be healed;
speak over yourself, encourage yourself in the Lord.”

If I ever needed to hear those words, I NEEDED to hear them over the course of the past few days.  These words GAVE ME LIFE when I was playing the “self-beat-up game.”  Let’s be real, I was throwing myself a pity party and a pity party makes me feel good when I use it to justify my feelings over standing in my truth.  The truth is I am a POWERFUL and BOLD leader who has been blessed with many opportunities.  However, when I retreat into the world of self-doubt, fear, and unworthiness I am distracted from living the abundant life that I am created to live and my impact and contribution to the world is limited or non-existent.

Metaphorically speaking, I had the cake on the table and I was ready to blow out the candle.  However, last night I had to opportunity to surround myself with individuals who empowered me to keep pushing.  I had to rely on the energy and faith of those around me to create a vision for myself that is the antithesis (opposite) of how I felt up until that moment. The reality is over the past few days I didn’t have that community physically surrounding me and there will be times in which I feel like putting my dreams on the back burner and stepping back into “reality”.  But, I had an awakening to the idea that when I am taking the road less traveled, there will be times in which I will have to FUEL MY OWN FIRE.  This is a hard pill to swallow.  I have learned that people who have not been where you are trying to go cannot see the vision that you have until you create the results that will help them see that results are possible with faith and corresponding action.

What goals are you putting on the back burner? What happens when you have to do it alone? I encourage you to FUEL YOUR OWN FIRE.

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Prayer, Peace, and Patience

Over the past couple of days, I have kept a running list of ideas for my blog.  With that being said, my intention was to write a blog post today titled “What’s Your Intention? Part II” However, this morning I felt compelled to write about prayer and the significance of prayer in my life.

For readers who have taken the time to read the core values of Redefining Life LLC, you will notice that one of the values mentioned is faith. I believe that faith is the foundation of our ability to hope. Hope gives us confidence in what we cannot see.  My belief is that at the core of human existence is the capacity to believe in the unseen, giving humanity the courage to embrace and explore the unknown.

Over the past several days, I have been blessed to hold conversations with several individuals who have shared their hopes, wishes and desires with me regarding their relationships, their careers, and their faith journeys.  In each of those conversations I have asked the same question, “Do you pray?”  I have received different responses ranging from not as often as I should, sometimes, or well, no.  To each of those individuals I offer the same “advice” (for the lack of a better term).  You have probably already guessed it. I offer that they pray for themselves, their loved ones, and their heart’s desires with GRATITUDE.

In preparation for writing this post I started looking up different definitions for prayer.  I have noticed that while in various contexts there is a common understanding of what prayer is, but in other context it is personalized in a way in which individuals are left feeling as if it is something they never do or do not do often enough.  I, on the other hand, would offer that most people pray daily and more frequently than they realize.   By definition prayer is a solemn request for help or an expression of things addressed to God or an object of worship.  It is an earnest hope or wish. Given these two definitions, I feel confident in saying that many people have hopes and desires and are all mindful of those desires.  From my perspective, the question is not about if we pray but whether or not we surrender to the idea that when we pray we are actually relinquishing control over the situation and trying to figure out how things will work out.

In my opinion prayer and faith go hand and hand.  Why would we pray if we don’t have faith in its ability to work in our lives?  I would offer that many people pray without faith. Hebrews 11: 1 states that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (NIV).” The opposite of faith is worry.  Worry takes many people down the road of trying to figure out how things will work out or trying to control situations or people in their lives in order to achieve a specific outcome. This robs us of our peace.  Prayer, on the other hand, invites peace into our lives because it is our confidence and assurance.  When I have confidence in something or someone I do not doubt it. I feel confident in saying that the Universe desires to partner with creation to invite peace into our lives and the world.

The times in my life in which I have experienced the most peace are when I have earnestly (in sincerity without the hidden motive of trying to control others or situations) prayed for people and situations in my life without making suggestions to the UNIVERSE about how it will work out. I am the Queen of Suggestion. I have learned to be mindful of my tendency to want to control EVERYTHING in my life so that I may choose to respond differently to circumstances while I am patiently awaiting a resolution.

Having been married for nearly 7 years, prayer has definitely been a non-negotiable in my life.  I believe that my relationship with my spouse would not be as fruitful and intimate without prayer.  It’s in my prayers for my spouse that I relinquish control.  It’s the moment when I allow what I call the Holy Spirit to be at work in the life of my life partner.  This frees me up to love unconditionally while knowing that when I focus on being connected to God’s divine presence I invite that presence into my marriage and into my home. In addition, my prayer life only intensified the moment that I became a mother to my stepson and my daughter.

Lastly, I have come to learn that prayer and patience are friends.  I have tried to break them up on numerous occasions but their commitment to one another is unrelenting.  I have learned that if I want to be in a committed relationship with prayer I get to accept patience and vice versa.  When I pray, I don’t get to determine when things happen but I can trust that things will happen when my desires are purely based on love for others. I pray for myself and others because I believe that there is peace, love, joy, gratitude, and abundance to be experienced NOW.  These ways of being are not just for me but for the communities I am connected to.

Do you pray?  Are you willing to let go and trust the Universe to work on your behalf and the behalf of the communities you are connected to?

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What’s your intention?

What’s your intention?

On Friday, February 17, I arrived home early from work.  When I came home, my daughter was taking a nap.  It was the perfect opportunity for me to create a little me time and fold the clothes that had been lying around for weeks now (all my readers who are parents will understand and if you are not a parent don’t judge me…lol).  As I began folding clothes, I decided to find something encouraging to listen to so I opened up YouTube and ran across the 2016 Essence Festival Empowerment Speech unaware of  all the things that God was going to speak to me in this hour as I folded and listened.

Have you ever listened to something and thought surely the words were written just for you?  As I continued to fold clothes and listen, I knew deep down in my soul that this speech was meant for me in that very moment.  It was as if God used this moment to speak ever so clearly to me and I was reminded to live the life that God intended for me and to be obedient to the call of the dream that God had placed in my heart.

I have known for quite some time what I am supposed to do but I allowed fear and the stories I had been telling myself up until now got in the way of my intention to create the life I have always dreamed of.  This speech also reminded me that my dream is bigger than me and if I ever want to truly be fulfilled I must (might I add, I also get to) surrender to the dream. I get to be open to all that the UNIVERSE has for me without holding on so tightly to my own understanding of how things will work out.

The last thing that truly resonated with me was when the speaker discusses a text that she read many years ago called “The Seat of the Soul” by Gary Zukav.  In this text, she shares how he discusses the law of Karma, Cause and Effect, and the law of motion.  These principles are rooted in the same idea that we receive all that we put out into the world.  Although these laws are not new to me, it was as if I was hearing them for the first time because I am in a place in my life where I am open to receiving these principles again and applying them to my life.  She mentions “your intention is one with the law, which means that before you think about something you have an intention for the thing and the intention will determine the outcome.” This statement reminded me of a verse in the Bible (1 Samuel 16:7) which states that “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”   I realize that if my motive is to look good in front of people and never screw up then I cannot truly impact the world.  The world is messy and life is messy and I get to be transparent with my life so that people can see that I can, have, and will continue to transcendent the mess and press towards a higher calling.  For me that calling has created joy, gratitude, connection, and love.

Up until recently, I had been selective with who I allow to see my flaws and I struggle with being vulnerable. As a result, up until now I didn’t allow people experience the “real me”. I needed a wake-up call.  If my intention was to look good, I could do just that, but no one can relate to perfection because perfection is an illusion.  On the other hand, if my intention is to be with people in their mess, in my mess, and in the world’s mess, I can empower others to love unconditionally and to be the solution that the world needs.  What is your intention?

 

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Deciding = Committed Action

I recently ran across a quote that said “You haven’t truly made a decision until you have taken action”. This resonated with me. Although I consider myself to be a person who is intrinsically motivated, determined and a self-starter, the initial act of getting started WAS (up until now) challenging for me particularly when it came to maintaining a healthy lifestyle or starting my own business. It is difficult not to become overwhelmed by the details about what it would take to accomplish there goals.

Like many people, I often tell myself “I will start on Monday” or I will start ________(fill in the blank with any arbitrary start date)”. This in part is because I allowed myself to believe that those future dates would provide the “right” conditions rather than realizing that I have the power to create the right conditions from the moment that I make the decision to act. While reflecting on what is currently working in my life and what was not working, I realized that the times I was most successful was when I decided to start NOW without taking into consideration what it looked like. Eventually, if I stuck it out long enough I received the fruits of my hard work.

In October 2016, I made a series of decisions that have radically changed my life for the better. The first decision that I made was to start prioritizing goals and dreams that I have been putting on the back burner for nearly half a decade. Although, I have accomplished some success up until this point, it is not satisfying when I know that my current successes are just a few of many milestones in which I am extremely grateful for but not the end goal. I am grateful to have attained multiple degrees, survived moving to the Big Apple all alone nearly 10 years ago from a small town in Georgia, and to have grown in my profession as an educator. All of this is great and I don’t want to diminish what I have accomplished, however, I am sadly disappointed when I realize that my ability to impact those around me is so much greater than those accomplishments. My accomplishments have brought more fulfillment to me as individual than it actually gave to the world. This is bothersome for me because my ultimate desire is to help other people through ministry, acts of service, and education.

ACTION!

Recently, I have started up two businesses. I am currently a brand ambassador (distributor) with ItWorks Global. With this business, I get to connect with people and help them reach their health and wellness goals. For that reason, I am extremely grateful. I started this business because I value the fun that other distributors I know were having while getting paid to party, I value the freedom that this business gives me to work at my own pace and from anywhere, and I value the financial increase that it adds to my life. The second business that I recently incorporated is my own Lifestyle Design and Consulting firm in which I seek to empower others to find balance in their lives by being intentional about the outcomes they want to create in all areas of their life (i.e. career, family/relationships, health and wellness, finances, and spirituality). In addition, I support others with goal setting, creating actions plans for success, and personal development. Ultimately, my goal is to help others maximize their interpersonal and intrapersonal awareness.

I want to challenge others to reflect on what “decisions” have been made without committed action? What can be done NOW to get the results? The only moment guaranteed is the one we are living NOW!