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Strive for Success, not Perfection

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I can be honest and say that I suffer from "trying" to be perfect. I say "trying" because the truth is I'll never be perfect. But I know that I can be successful in whatever way I define that to be. Don't box yourself in trying to achieve perfection. It'll only slow or halt the progress you're trying to make. 

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(Black) Mental Health Matters: My Mental Health Matters

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For the last five years, I have worked in the mental health field.  Being young and new in the field, it was hard for me to understand how people could be seeking “treatment” for their mental health while not really accepting the fact that they had an “issue.”  I just didn’t make sense.

That is….until I had to confront my own mental health issues. 

Let me set the stage:  February 11, 2013 I went in for what I thought would be a normal 4 week check up with my ob-gyn but this appointment wasn’t so normal.  The words, “I can’t find your baby’s heartbeat” fell off her lips so effortlessly.  After multiple attempts with the Doppler and multiple ultrasounds, she confirmed my worst fears; my baby was no longer alive.

The next week was hard, as I had to prepare myself for surgery.  The surgery came and went and I quickly made my life return to normal.  The doctor wrote me off of work for four weeks, I went back in two.  I thought I could force myself back to normalcy.

But I couldn’t. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, I found myself battling tears almost daily, I felt worthless, hopeless, some days I just felt like giving completely up.

And it wasn’t until I was meeting with a pastor for another situation that I was encouraged to seek counseling.  But how could the person giving help to people with mental health issues need help for her own mental health issues?

Something that I struggled with then, that I still sometimes struggle with now, is that I have to take care of myself first.  But I was so fearful of the stigma that comes with mental health that I was slowly killing myself mentally and emotionally.

All too often, it seems that mental health is the forbidden topic, especially in the black community.  We feel that if we don’t talk about then just maybe it doesn’t seem to exist. And even if we do talk about it, it’s just a temporary situation and “eventually” it will go away. And for some it will, but for many others it won’t and it will take things like counseling/therapy, medication, but most importantly acceptance of your issue along with the support of family and friends for things to get better.

It took a long time to realize that my mental health matters.  I had to realize I can’t others if I can’t help myself.  Recognize that your mental health matters.  Don’t let stigma and fear keep you from being the best you you’re supposed to be.  Your mental health matters, too.

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Youth & the (Black) Church: Are We Saving or Sinking Our Youth

Youth & the (Black) Church: Are We Saving or Sinking Our Youth

I recently heard a pastor say that youth/millennials are not invested in the church like those of the older generations.  They would rather either attend church online or don’t feel like they need the church at all.  What has caused this shift in the church?

Today, Pastor Angela Johnson (One Sister 2 Another/Greater Lover Greater Works Outreach International) hosted a leadership forum entitled “Saving Our Youth: Being the Change You Seek” where a panel of community leaders from the greater Chicago area discussed the issues our youth are facing today.  Many of the issues our youth are facing are not new to this time, but there is a difference in the support that our youth have and it was very evident that there seems to be a lack of support for our youth, specifically in the black church.

Our youth are crying for our help but is the church providing the help, support, encouragement, and empowerment that they need?  One of the panelist pointed out that the youth of today are tired of clichés.  They are tired of being talked about, talked at, and talked down upon.  But most notably, they are tired of hearing “just pray about it.”  Are our youth turning away from the church because they are continually being force fed religion and not really being given the tools and resources they need to survive in this world?  As the young lady stated, “I can pray all day but that may not help me when I am going home and being molested every day.”  Our youth are crying out for people who will listen to them and show real concern about the things that they are facing in today’s society.

Pastor Johnson read a quote from Michael Carson which stated, “We often tell our youth that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, yet we discard them.”  Our youth are valuable assets and the future of the church.  However, they may never see the success they can have if we shun then and ultimately push them away.  So what can be done to ensure that our youth don’t feel pushed to the side, unheard, and forgotten?

The African-American community has always be a strong force of change in the community.  Just look at the Civil Rights Movement.  As the consensus of the panel showed, it is time for us to so stop making excuses and get to work.  It’s time to pull our resources together and stop looking for handouts.  It’s time to bring our youth to the table, hear their concerns, and show them the way.  A key phrase that Pastor Johnson used throughout the forum is “I cannot do everything, but I can do something and that which I can, I will.  One person cannot do it all, but if we come together, network and collaborate, we can impact our youth and our communities and be the change we wish to see.

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Celebrate Yourself

Celebrate Yourself

Today is the day I’m supposed to be walking across the stage to (officially) celebrate my accomplishment of receiving my Master of Science in Social Administration degree from the Case Western Reserve University. But, I’m not there. I’m home preparing for my typical Sunday routine. The tickets are on the shelf of my bookcase and I could just get in my car and drive to Cleveland, but I’m not. Why, you might ask? Because I lost sight of what this degree really represents. I took the focus off of myself and put it on every other obligation I have in my life.

Today should have been about me. Celebrating being a young black woman obtaining her 2nd Masters degree, being an overcomer, surviving in the face of adversity, achieving when failure tried to overtake me. But, instead it became about everyone else and everything else. Who wasn’t going to be there, who needed me to do something, what obligations needed to be fulfilled.

I forgot about me. I forgot that it is really ok to celebrate your accomplishments and achievements. And even if no one else wants to celebrate you, it is important that you celebrate yourself.

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Don’t Allow Cold Feet To Stop God from Delivering Your Destiny

Don’t Allow Cold Feet To Stop God from Delivering Your Destiny

A few months ago, my pastor taught on the scripture Mark 11:24 which states, “Therefore I tell you whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Immediately after hearing this word, I began praying for one thing in particular and I believed that God was going to give me the desires of my heart. I prayed and waited.  I trusted God when everything seemed to be going right.  And I even trusted Him in the times it seemed like I wasn’t going to get what I had been asking for.  I was keeping the faith and believing that God was going to answer my prayers. 

My prayers weren’t answered when I thought they would be but finally the moment came.  God was showing me that He was answering my prayer.  But then, I got nervous.  I stumbled upon fear telling me I couldn’t really handle this assignment.  And doubt slapped me in the face telling me I wasn’t qualified for what I was asking for.  And insecurities knocked the wind out of me and said if you were good enough in the first place then you wouldn’t have had to go through all of this to get what you've been asking for.  And for a moment I was stuck because I wasn’t so sure if I wanted what I had been praying for anymore.

If the enemy can get you to think you’ve got cold feet, he will keep you frozen in your current position and thinking that you can’t move forward to obtain purpose, destiny, and the blessings that God has in store for you.  Don’t stop, and don’t retreat.  Keep going and get what God has in store for you! 

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When You Miss Your Mother's Prayers

When You Miss Your Mother's Prayers

"There's nothing like a praying mother."  Like me, I'm sure you've heard that saying over and over again, right?  But I never really understood what that meant.  There's another saying that says you never miss your water until your well runs dry.  My water happened to be my mother's prayers.

Don't get me wrong, I know that there are other people who prayed and are still praying for me, but they can't replace your mother. The woman who birthed you. The woman who you stood next to in the mirror wearing her heels and said, "I want to be like you some day."  The woman that even when you didn't see eye to eye there was a love that continually drew you closer to each other.  The woman who went into her War Room before War Room was even popular and got on her knees and prayed for you in spite of what she was going through.  In spite of the pain you might have caused her. In spite of the unintentional neglect you may have shown her when she needed you the most.

I miss her.  I miss her prayers that got me through even when I didn't pray for myself.  Because I believe that's what God needed-He needed to hear from me and He wants to hear from you, too.  The Bible says you can pray to Him and He will hear you.  So while the prayers of my mother and your mother are great, God still desires to hear from you.  

Momma, thank you for your prayers

RIP Tracey Lynn Sterling

 

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Cancerous Faith

Cancerous Faith

I can remember the day that I got the call from my mom.  The way she hesitated, the way her tone changed, I knew there wasn’t good news on the other side of the pause.  She spoke two words, “It’s back.”  The “it” that she was referring to was cancer.  The cancer had come out of remission and had spread further than it had before.

I remember asking God why? Why my mom? Why right now?   You see I couldn’t see the true purpose in all of this because my faith had been depleted by recent events in my life.  I had no faith, I had no hope, I had no trust in God at that time.

I remember my mom saying, “I’m going to fight.”  And it was then that I noticed a change in how she responded to things.  It seemed that no matter what happened, my mom had such joy and peace.  When the doctors didn’t provide the answers she had hoped for-joy and peace.  When financial troubles came- joy and peace.  When people turned their backs on her- joy and peace.

I remember wondering how could my mom have such joy and peace in spite of what she was going through and then I came across Romans 15: 13 which says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

It was then that I realized that my mom had cancerous faith.  Even as the cancer was spreading in her body, so was her faith.  Her faith was growing and multiplying uncontrollably to the point where all she could do was trust in God.  What would happen if we got to the point that even when we weren’t sick in our bodies or having financial troubles or worrying about what tomorrow may bring, that we just let faith overtake us and increase our faith so much in God that when those times do come we wouldn’t worry or wonder about what was next because our faith had already covered every area of our lives?

As I write this, I am reminded of the strength of my mother and the faith she maintained even until her last breath.  And I, too, want to be a woman with cancerous faith.

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Is Your Seed Planted In The Right Environment To Produce Purpose?

Is Your Seed Planted In The Right Environment To Produce Purpose?

My grandfather has been a gardener for practically all of my life.  I remember when I was younger, he would go out to his gardens weeks before he even planted a seed and take his tiller to soften the soil and to assist with eliminating weeds and rocks that could prevent the seeds that would eventually be planted from properly being able to take root and grow abundantly.  As i reflect back on that, I think of my own life and how for so long I wondered why purpose wasn't manifesting in my life.  My heart was hardened with unforgiveness and my mind was cluttered with the weeds of distraction.  None of this was the right environment for God to be able to plant His seeds of purpose in my life.  When we allow Him to remove the things we don't need, we open ourselves up to receive the things we do need and to become who God meant for us to be. Allow Him to be your tiller & watch the growth that will come when the seeds of purpose are planted in the right environment. 

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Fight to the Finish

Fight to the Finish

Don't give up. Don't let anyone stop you from getting what's yours.  From achieving your goals.  It's not going to be easy.  You may lose some friends along the way.  People won't understand why you're fighting so hard, but it's not for them to understand.  it's about you and you've got to see this thing through.  Don't stop fighting until you get what you desire.

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Don't Allow Anyone to Assign Death To Your Destiny

Don't Allow Anyone to Assign Death To Your Destiny

About a week ago, social media was set ablaze after Remy Ma released her diss track to Nicki Minaj. Many people believed that this was the end to Nicki's career because they couldn't see how she could come back from this. How many times do we allow people to speak death into our destinies because their limited perceptions could only see defeat? Just because they would accept defeat doesn't mean you have to. When people want to speak defeat that just means turn your ear to God and He will guide you to victory!

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