#HigherVibes

Source  

I was inspired by a conversation with Queen Mommy and an Instagram post by @cleowade.

 God's timing is perfect.

Check it: 

Life is a journey, imperfectly one of a kind, designed for me. I'm confidently lost in the wonder of His grace and blessings bestowed upon me. Vibing ... His Spirit vibrating higher within me ... Hallelujah! There's reciprocity in my praise; a mutual understanding in my tears. I got this. He's got this. We got this.

#SpectatorSports

Within the past year I have experienced a great amount of growth. Spiritual, emotional, physical, mental. Growing into and out of spaces and people, I've learned a lot about myself along the way. It's been a hard process, I won't lie, but the benefits outweigh the growing pains. Journeying a day at a time, I've had to learn to be gentle with myself, to trust His plans and promises, and to be ok with who am I in this exact moment.

 But I'm not alone. I have an amazing support system walking alongside me on this journey. They've participated in cleansing ceremonies, prayer circles, and even bootcamps with me  to promote this beautiful growing; this blooming. As my inner circle, their words of wisdom, advice, prayers, and even critique are welcomed because they understand my process; they have lived through the growth with me. There is an unwavering amount of respect reciprocated between them and I; true friendship

However, without fail and as expected, comments are made about what's perceived to be my life. I know that every decision I make, path I take, and plan I envision are not the norm and may not be easily accepted or digested by all. And that's ok and quite honestly, expected. But I am human. And any negative comment, often coming from a spectator sharing their piece, disturbs my peace. 

It's the internal and external commentary of comparison that threatens my contentment.

***

I was once a spectator ... sometimes I still am. Binge scrolling on social media, I'd often find myself commenting aloud on someone else's life, taking mental notes for comparison and contrast against my own; a menace to my own contentment. I'd closely watch someone else's life from the sidelines instead of focusing on remaining fully present and participating in mine.

Life is not a spectator sport. If watchin’ is all you’re going to do, you’re going to watch your life go by without ya.
— Hunchback of Notre Dame

It's an act of self-love to live life as a participant, and not a spectator. Yet it seems that some people live and post for an audience; forcing memories and life experiences to impress people that we don't like or even know. This sets unrealistic standards for competition, beauty, and happiness. We should work on turning comparison into motivation. Instead of commenting on the next person's life or comparing their highlight reel to our behind the scenes, we can begin to practice setting our own goals for our lives, embracing every individual stage of life that we journey through.

***

We are exactly where we need to be and the expectations of others are not ours to follow. Forget the negativity that we hear from others and sometimes think about ourselves! Speak life into the journey! And when you hear commentary from the sidelines, remember that the participants in your life are those that matter, not the spectators. 

***

The word you trust determines the life you live.
— Pastor Daniel, Lifepoint Church

#CreatedForThis

"Cautionary tales of a heart once broken beat against the cadence of an anticipative voice. Her tone engorged with

Resilience. Is it naiveté or minimized strength? There's beauty in the bounce-back, but with every return, a piece of her

Escapes; good + bad. Lessons leap from heart to page to experience as do the tears to cheek to smiles.

Apathy; dangerously cold, almost solid against the hardened ground, mirroring this stage of her life ... but with renewed seasons, warmth rises in her heart once more.

Timing is everything when it's your own. Such a valuable currency that is no longer in her possession, but His. How is she experiencing serenity? Her analog clock reads

Ephesians 1:10. Every lesson, every tear, every smile, every thrill, every experience is preparation for something greater. Her

DESTINY. When life is a reflection of the story of Job, or her pain paints her purpose, the sum of this confirms ...

She was CREATED for this."


Can I be honest? Some days, I feel like breaking down and giving up. Life is a journey, but sometimes that journey is TOUGH! My heart has experienced so much that I find myself frustrated and confused with what God has planned for me. I believe His promises are unfailingly true in Jeremiah 29:11, but I also impatiently crave a sneak-peak at the greatness God has planned. Will this ever get better?!

I'm not alone in feeling this way, huh?

Well, here is some encouragement for us!

Life can sometimes leave us crying out to God, "Why me?!", right? Did you know that we were created for this very moment? We have been weaved together and hemmed (Psalm 139:5) perfectly in His image. The trials and tribulations we experience can place us on the path to refinement, but we will never become undone in this journey. God has such great purpose for our lives and becoming more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18) is part of the process. Days like these may seem hard and almost unfair, like God singled us out to go through the trials, but we're not alone. Every day has been written (Psalm 139:16) before we were even created. In the end, WE WIN!

So let's pray, seek strength in Him and His promises to us, stay encouraged, and remember: WE WERE CREATED FOR THIS!

#ElusiveAnswers

I was greeted with sun rays and tears the other day. Salt water waves warmed by light baptized my face on what was supposed to be my Sabbath. Nothing could rest, though. Especially not my heart -- broken. Pieces tinkering inside my chest as I compassionately encouraged my limbs to move -- I couldn't stay home. So, I was sanctuary bound, routinely.

I was mid-process, mid-thought, mid-sorting out everything that's transpired over the past two weeks. How I went from a delusional optimist to painful realist about my relationships with others.

I am identifying, admitting, owning, forgiving, and releasing my contribution to my emotions' current state. Eventually learning from my guilt, hoping to avoid shame. Remaining attune with my anger, hoping to solicit my own prayers for myself, as well as the antagonists of this 2-week novella. Life's dramatic ... I know.

I'll christen this experience "VIVA" because honestly, I've lived and learned and loved ...

so hard ...

... that it's taught me about life itself. All of the choices about/for myself that I have already and will inevitably make.


Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.
— Luke 6:28 (NLT)

Within those choices, rests the arduous decision to pray for those that have directly and indirectly broken my heart ... including myself. Former friends, ex-lovers, even my father/sperm donor (yeah, "daddy issues") have broken my heart. Giving my heart in any relationship is the most intimate and invaluable thing I can offer, in addition to my time. So can you imagine how devastating it is to essentially be shown that your heart is not enough? That your heart isn't appreciated? It's hard ... it effects my self-esteem ... it effects my future relationships. And that's not me; I don't want a hardened heart.

So I pray.

It is physically, emotionally, and mentally impossible to harbor anger towards someone you are intentionally praying for. Have compassion for those who hurt you; offering them the other cheek. 


Life, love ... they're complicated, but don't always have to be. 

Life's not a living lesson if all the answers were inviting. So, I'm embracing the occasional elusiveness, praying for those who teach life's lessons, and praying for the journeyer, me.

#DancingAlone


Recognize when you’re choosing to be sad and intentionally do things that present choices for happiness.

Balancing my life is a priority and I deserve to be happy, by choice.

I'm proud of my growth towards being a present individual. It has been SO hard and everyday presents it's own challenging nouns (people, places, and things/situations). Honestly, I have had to intentionally push away distractions and intrusive thoughts to thoroughly experience my life. So, when that same sentiment isn't reciprocated or shared, sometimes I feel offended (of which is also a choice). Now,  life is meant to be enjoyed with others. Community is an essential part of growth and progression, especially as a millennial experiencing the constant pop-up alerts of lows society interjects amidst the highs. With that, I'm relearning that sometimes I have to dance alone; remaining present to accept the journey for what it is in that moment FOR ME.


People will always offend you. We are a people of sinful and selfish nature. So more than often our expectations of others must be explicitly described or they'll never know that our quiet withdrawal is in response to them leaving our expectations solo on the dance floor. And what happens when that close friend, significant other, or even family member offends you?

How about intentionally releasing those expectations when necessary? I'm a pretty laid-back, simple girl who doesn't ask for much more than reciprocity and attention from those that matter. And in the moments when those are in deficit from others, I must provide them to myself.

Self-celebration.

I've had to tell myself to intentionally take in every moment of an experience. Whether it be the smell of waves when walking down the beach, the tastes of  mimosas with brunch, the sound of the laughter among my sister-friends, or feeling the bass of Calvin Harris DJ-ing through the club to my chest.


Experience life and carefree relaxation, even if it has to be alone.

Dance alone.

Taking those intentional 1-2 steps towards and onto the dance floor of life's experiences will definitely change what you, and I, see that very moment. We cannot be hindered by the reliance on others to dance with us, to validate our own experiences.

But, do you ever notice those individuals dancing alone? They're either enjoying the experience more than others or they're attracting like-minded individuals.

I hope you dance, no matter what.

#LovingInYourLanguage by Stephanie

At some point I’m certain you’ve heard of the 5 love languages, taken the quiz, or read the book. If you haven’t, don’t worry - we have the links below.

Love seems to be a popular topic of discussion in our society; whether on TV, in bible study, podcasts, and other avenues of communication. We talk, read, study and discuss love so often, but many people don’t know how to love, and we all at one point, have failed miserably at loving someone. I am a firm believer that love is stitched into our daily lives; often our motivation or deterrent in life choices.

The Five Love Languages illustrates the importance of understanding love on a deeper level. The author, Gary Chapman, allows us to gain insight into the way we receive love, but also the way in which we give love. He was able to categorize these methods of love into 5 different languages; Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Gifts, and Acts of Service. And he concluded that we all respond to and show love in 1-2 of these ways.  I encourage you to read in depth about each category on the website, and take the quiz to learn what your language is.

So what does this have to do with the #iCelebrateMe2016 challenge? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Celebrating ourselves is about what we allow to enter into our heart, soul, and mind. One of the biggest ways we feed ourselves is through relationships with others. Many of us, my younger self included, struggle to find what makes us feel valued and fulfilled. So often we attach ourselves to people who love us, but not in the language that we speak.

If my love language is words of affirmation, and my partner is showing love by giving gifts;

Will this fulfill me?

                      No.

Will I feel loved?

                      No.

Will my spirit be fed?

                      No.

This is why I want to impress upon you the importance of knowing how you give and receive love; so you can begin to foster relationships that will mature up, add to your life, and feed your spiritual self.

Staying in relationships, situations, and environments that do not foster the love that speaks to you, will eventually break your spirit. Broken spirits allow room for broken pieces to seep through; depression, fear, low self-esteem, unhealthy habits. We can begin to celebrate ourselves by being unapologetic in the way we require those around us to love us; but also being willing to reciprocate this!

Make it plain - I wouldn’t speak English to someone who only speaks German. And likewise, we have to learn to treat love with the same importance. It’s okay to believe you are worth it, and require the people who surround you speak your language!

So let’s begin celebrating ourselves by:

  1.  Learning our love language; how do you give and receive love?
  2. Pray for the strength to walk away from relationships that aren’t providing  the sustenance you need to grow
  3. Foster relationships, situations, and environments that will allow you to be spoken to through the language you speak!
  4. Reciprocate! Love those around you with the same regard.

Blessings,

Stephanie


Stephanie describes herself as a sister, a lover, a friend, and a counselor. Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Stephanie is a self-proclaimed Pinterest addict and loves crafting. She studied Social Work at Christopher Newport University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Stephanie's passion is serving God's people through her clinical work. In her free time, when she's not crafting, she enjoys spending time with her loved ones.

 

#ShowingSelfLove by Jettie

Initially when I thought about how I practice self love l was stuck. Like most women, I am usually busy caring for and serving others around me that I often forget to refill my own "love tank." Whether that's counseling my students at work, encouraging the leaders I serve, or just being a shoulder to cry on for a my closest friends... I am always pouring love into others. 

After reflecting on yesterday's journal prompt, I was immediately reminded of the things that make me feel good!  The first thing is realizing that I alone am ENOUGH. The world often tells us that our value and self-love should come from an external source: a new pair of shoes, a promotion, how I look, having the perfect job, words of affirmation from others, etc. 

However I am reminded that I have always been enough. From the moment that I was knitted in my mothers womb and my purpose was placed in my heart I was enough. I am enough and will always be enough. So today I will celebrate me by uninterrupted QUIET TIME: a time where I can listen to music, dance to bachata, paint my nails, read a book, speak words of encouragement to myself, edit random photos, color, play with makeup, or just sit on the floor of my bedroom and simply exist. 

Here are some other examples of how we can wholeheartedly celebrate ourselves in actions:

  • Words and thoughts
  • Caring for your body
  • Allowing yourself to feel/express emotion
  • Being wholeheartedly you
  • Spend time with yourself
  • Catch up on your favorite show, book, movie
  • Make yourself a meal


Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 2.40.43 PM.png

 

Jettie is an enthusiastic lover of dark chocolate, salsa dancing, and taking cozy naps. She holds a Master’s degree from Howard University and loves to speak Spanish, work with students, as well as plunging deeply into bible stories with her close sister-friends. When Jettie is not serving as a Family Counselor or working with youth you can find her making rap videos on Snapchat, journaling while driving, cooking a savory meal for friends, spreading love through photography, or sunbathing on the shorelines of a Caribbean island.