But…will You catch me?

Jump

I am a water lover with a shameful secret… I can’t swim! Horrible?! I know right?! šŸ˜…

I had the below experience a while back… Please turn on video captions, if you are not a patois speaker or can’t hear clearly.

I hope you laughed as much as I did when I came across this video. As I watched it, for the fifth time, God spoke to me: “Isn’t this your behaviour sometimes when I tell you to jump into the deep end?”

Guys, I kid you not! I stopped laughing immediately. My mouth locked shop! The bubbling laughter died a painful death in my throat! I got serious! Because, God was right! Don’t you just hate and love that about Him?

Too often than not, when He tells me to jump, I react just as I did in that video. I pause. I laugh nervously, wondering if He is joking. I ask Him if He is sure. Not once. Not twice. But multiple times. Then I ask the persons around me their thoughts before going back AGAIN to Him to check if I should do it (hoping He may have changed His mind). Even then when He says YES! I hestitate, wondering what would happen if I fell or things worked out badly. Still unsure, I once again ask Him: “Are you sure you will catch me?”

And even then, there are many times I stay on the ledge, refusing to jump, swamped by fears, doubts and my analysis paralysis. I am sure God looks on sadly as I let what He earmarked for me go, without even taking the leap of faith and trusting Him.

But on the flip side, there has been times, when despite the fears, the doubts and analysis paralysis, I say a little prayer, trust that My Father will catch me and JUMP! And guys, I kid you not… those jumps were some of the best experiences of my life! You can’t see the end result after the jump in the video but I tell you, I smiled from ear-to-ear and went willing for the next jump that was way deeper than this one.

Pause for a moment and reflect. Does this sound like you? Be confident of one thing, Your Father, who “keeps track of all your sorrows” (Psalms 56:8), has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

So…what are you waiting for?! JUMP!


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May the Peace of God go with you!

XOXO
ChaƱel

I Chose FEAR and SETTLED.

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The biggest F-word is FEAR. It is one of the most debilitating factors that triggers one of the biggest bad words: SETTLING.

One of my earliest memories is of 4/5 year old me wanting a baby. Instead of a baby, my mother gave me a Barbie doll. I burned it! About a year or so, I got my baby brother, the boy who to this day, everyone in my family affectionately refers to as my son. I consider that memory one of my early examples of me refusing to settle. I was bratty? Yes! But I was a girl who knew what I wanted and unwilling to settle even if it meant going out on a limb to get it.

Fast forward 13 years later. During a Youth Service at church, I was asked to give a word. My immediate internal reaction was one of fear and denial. Eventually I went up to the pulpit, legs and hands shaking, and opened my mouth. To my shock, non-stop words of power flowed out. Then a strange thing happened. I got into my own head: “Shit! Am I making sense?” as voice asked. Immediately as my nerves (fears) took over and my doubts crept in, my voice was stifled and I stopped and couldn’t continue. From that day on, I turned down almost every opportunity that I was given to bring the Word. I choose to settle in my roles of Sunday school teacher and praise and worship leader, shying from any opportunity to deliver the words that God often placed in my spirit.

Two versions of the same person but two different attitude to fear. Somewhere along the way, young ChaƱel morphed into a woman who settled because of fear. I allowed fear to become the pilot of my life, polluting it with doubts and second-guessing. Throughout my childhood, I was the one who let my younger sister take our childhood spotlight because of my fear of exposing and being rejected because of my inadequacies when compared to my sister. At 13, I was the teen who let her best friend have the guy she crushed on for three years, afraid to let her feelings known and face probable rejection. At 15, I was the person who saved for months to buy her dream phone and then settled for another when an unexpected price change deterred her, fearing that if she didn’t get it today, she never would. At 21, I was the Christian who turned down the request to speak during our Sunday School Convention, although I was given the Word two weeks in advance. After that, I would often wonder why God didn’t use me more. But who could blame Him? He couldn’t trust that I would deliver when:

  1. I was the person who allowed fear to become the pilot of my life.
  2. IĀ allowed my circumstances to set my limits, the height at which I dared to fly.
  3. I let the expectations of others dictate the roads I took. I settled again and again.

Each time a new path/option arose, I often made a conscious decision to settle when I couldn’t be certain of the outcome. I placed my dreams on hold, afraid to take a leap, focusing on the voices that dictated my pending failure. I feared what others would say if I stood up and voiced my truth, shaking off the chains that shackled me. IĀ doubted and I settled constantly. I settled for the mediocrity I hated. I settled for the friends and boyfriends who did not inspire me to be. I settled for the persons who silenced me while simultaneously trying to be my voice, speaking their inaccurate renditions of my truth. I bowed to the pressures of her job and life, settling for the immediate comfort and failing to pursue the things that made my soul sing. It was always tomorrow, never today.

In essence I became a person full of regrets about the roads consciously not trodden.

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I regret the times when I was asked to preach or be the lead singer but I turned down the opportunity, even though I had already been given the Word or knew the song. I sometimes wonder what would have been the results, if I hadn’t settled in the safety of being a Sunday school teacher or singing on the choir or leading the Praise and Worship team. I regret the times when I had the opportunity to voice ideas but stifled myself because I may look foolish. I settled and settled some more.

Somewhere along my walk on this earth I forgot 2 Timothy 1:7:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

I have no control over yesterday but I do have a say in the outcomes of today and tomorrow. Today, I choose to trust God who sees beyond today and tomorrow. Today, I choose to live with the spirit of power, love and self-discipline that God has bestowed upon me. I choose to stop settling and to just begin. Will you join me?

A SPECIAL NOTE:

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I am choosing to face everything and rise. As a show of the commitment, I am undertaking a “30-Day Journey of YES!” in which I will both say yes to any opportunity that my spirit agrees with. I look forward to documenting the testimonies that I am certain God is already in the process of making.


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May the Peace of God go with you!

XOXO
ChaƱel

 

Lessons from the Little Robe

So lately, my youngest sister and I have been spending a lot of time together. During our teenaged years, we weren’t close but I’ve come to really appreciate our growing closeness. As I get older, I realize that family truly means a lot.

Enough with the sappy-ness. Here are a few lessons I’ve picked up from the younger “Robe”, my bighead-in-crime.

Lesson #1:

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Wind down. Be silly! Be sillier! If you feel like singing at the top of your lungs to some of your favorite lyrics, do it! Let down your hair and just embrace your silly inner child. Don’t hold back because the crowd is watching. They are all awaiting a similar permission to be free. As we Jamaicans would say “be fool fool and nuh watch nuh face.”

Lesson #2:

Be unapologetically you. Sometimes I spend a lot of time time trying to fit into the image that people have of me. To my mother, I’m the responsible daughter who factors her family’s needs into all decisions. To my coworkers, I’m the one who always delivers, sometimes at the expense of myself. To my friends, I’m the one with the advice who seems to always have it together.

Honestly, being all that all the time is exhausting. One of the things I’ve come to recognize is that despite putting your all to meet others expectations, you will still end up not meeting all. On top of that, people will forget all the great stuff you have accomplished, the moment they think you slipped up.

The best strategy then is to live for you. Be you! Live for your expectations! Anything else is just pure madness.

Lesson #3:

Use the brakes. This one will always be a joke between us. My first driving lesson, I took a corner and panicked when I realized there was a car on the curb that I couldn’t bypass quickly enough. My sister kept yelling “Brake! Brake!” as the car connected with the one on the curb. Over time, I’ve come to utilize the warning “brake” in my daily life.

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Lonely and Alone

This one is tough guys. This one is hard to write. Last week, much to my amazement, I heard myself saying, “I’ve changed this year. I feel much lighter.” It was strange but I’ve never thought much beyond the changes that I had felt in my gut needed to be made. Neither did I examine the emotional reasoning behind logical actions such as leaving my former church. I guess you could say that in that moment, examining the situation too closely would have revealed truths I was in no way ready to handle. It was time for a self-discovery.

As I thought back on last year, I could clearly hear myself questioning the reason why I had so many people around me but only few realized I was stressed and unhappy. A lot were quite happy to add more drama to my plate. I looked deeper and realized that at that moment in my life, unhappiness was too mild a word, I was depressed.

Acknowledging depression is a hard pill to swallow because when you generally think of depression, the image of the girl with the bright aura and smile doesn’t readily come to mind. Instead, we generally visualize the emos, dressed in black, sullen, and looking for all the world to see “depressed”.

I remember a few years ago, I saw the story of a young woman who was dead in her apartment for two entire years before any noticed. I remember thinking, “How could that situation have happened? Didn’t she have friends, family, neighbors, etc.” I am afraid of getting there. Dying and no one noticing. At the time, I thought to myself, that could never happen to me. I have way too many people around me.

Yet, last year, I remember sitting down in church and on the choir, and wondering how could I be surrounded by so many people and still feel so alone. Aren’t these the same people who hugged me on a Sunday and called me “daughter”? Why did I feel so alone?

Why was my phone full of church contacts who, for the most part, only called or messaged me when they needed something? Why these numerous contacts only seemed interested in the wide white smile but none took the time to look beyond and see the sadness in my eyes? These were the persons I prayed with. These were the persons I sang on the choir with. These were the persons I joker around with. These were the persons I spent a large percentage of my free time with. These were the persons I thought of as friends yet when I needed, no one knew me enough to see.

Where were all my friends? Why didn’t my family notice something was off about me?

Honestly, I felt betrayed by God too. Where was He when I was internally screaming loudly? Begging Him for a physical sign that He had heard my cry? Begging Him for someone to speak directly to me, to my feeling during one of the Sunday messages. Where was He? Why didn’t he give me the sign I needed?

I can remember thinking to myself, “So many people but only a handful.” It was amazing that despite me knowing so many persons, only a few thought to check if I was okay when I went MIA. Even fewer thought to push deeper when I gave my regular “I’m okay” to the general polite question, “How are you?”

A part of me recognized that I wasn’t needed. I didn’t want to be in such an environment where everybody looked but few really saw. I recognized I couldn’t stay. My mitigation action was simple. I let go of my “BIG” church and a lot of acquaintances. I chose a smaller church and began focusing my energies on building strong relationships with the few friends who have shown themselves as being worthy of the title. I gave myself the permission to be free of the things I didn’t believe in at heart and focused on ensuring my emotional health. Eventually, I felt lighter.

In retrospect, I wondered how I got to the point of being depressed and yet no one or myself seemed to notice. The answer hit me. I was always the one who could fix it. Most of my acquaintances believed that I always had it together. I didn’t need help, instead, I was the one capable and always willing to offer the assistance. It just didn’t cross their minds that maybe I needed help of a different nature.

Guys, I hope my blubbering makes sense. I want to call you to action. I came close but I escaped from the clutches of depression. Don’t be one of the persons who looks but do not see. Care enough to stop and take the time to see beneath the surface. Care enough to ask deeper questions.

XOXO,
ChaƱel.

Self-Honesty

I am an hypocrite. In fact, if many of us should stop and think about it, we are very hypocritical when it comes to being honest with ourselves. By extension, we become hypocrites with God and others because frankly, in order to be honest with God or others, you must first be honest with yourself.

I look back on some of the years I once deemed as the best of my prayer life. These were the years I spent talking to God about others and their problems. I never spoke to Him about myself beyond the face value stuff. Back then, I believed my prayer life rocked as I spent time loading on the godly platitudes, raising prayer requests and reciting all the lovely turn of phrases I had heard during service at church. I was a living-walking modern-day hypocritical Pharisee.

I look back now and laugh because I realize that in those instances I treated God as an acquaintance. I also spent a lot of time running from myself. But how could I be honest that I did not love all my neighbors? That there were some persons I truly disliked despite trying hard to find the good in them? How about areas of the Bible that I struggled to obey? How about church rules that I disagreed with and felt really strongly about? How could I acknowledge my struggles to myself much less voice them to God or anyone else? How could I bare my soul to God when I didn’t have the courage to bare it to myself? It was far easier to pretend that everything was hokey-dokey than be the sole representation of imperfection or voice of dissent. It was far easier to pretend to be the perfect Christian. Everybody else seemed to have it together, why shouldn’t I?

Those years helped no one. I know they certainly didn’t help me or my relationship with God. One of the reasons I love King David is because of his brutal honesty to God about his nature, even in moments when he is not quick on the uptake. It takes a lot to be able to acknowledge that you have messed up or that you were wrong or that you are not perfect and need help. Moments like those require you to be brutally honest with yourself and humble enough to make the acknowledgement.

Frankly, that’s the way I want to live my life. I choose to be an active participant in my life over the casual observer. I choose to be introspective and insightful. I choose to be more than the regular indoctrinated Christian. I choose to be honest with myself, God and others. I choose to live a life of honesty.

I would like you to join me in making a commitment to ourselves:

We will take the time to discover our true feelings and be honest about them to ourselves so that we can be honest with God and others.

XOXO,
ChaƱel.

Complaining…

As my vacation came to an end, I spent long moments reflecting. These moments were quite different from the first half of my vacation. Those were days I spent on a cruise mingling, making new friends, enjoying the entertainment and exploring new locations. These were all activities designed to feed my outgoing side. The only times I took for deep introspection were pre-dawn when I religiously got up to catch the sunrise. These were some of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seem. As I stood on the ship’s deck and gazed at the sun rising from the horizon, I couldn’t help but feel in awe of God for His majestic works.

My latter vacation days were totally different. I spent hours on introspection as I thought about who I am and my year. I guess you guys can call this my year in reflection post. For the first time in many years, I can honestly say that I cried a lot this year! I cried during movies, I cried when I felt hurt or overwhelmed and I laughed until I cried. The difference though was that I ensured that for each of those moments I cried, I found even more powerful and soul-cleansing moments to laugh and smile about. So even though I cried a lot, I also laughed, smiled and played a lot.

I have a confession to make. This year, especially towards the end, there were many times I felt tired and ready to give up. I had some serious lows.

  1. Early in the year, my sister and I met in an accident with a Leyland truck on her way to drop me to work.
  2. My youngest nephew ended up in the hospital twice this year.
  3. While learning to drive, I hit someone’s car.
  4. I lost a close friend.
  5. I had my first failure to effectively close out a project. 
  6. While dealing with the ending craziness of that project, I received news that my grandmother was in the hospital and could have died. 
  7. While dealing with the craziness of the project, I got ill. My anemia started acting up to the point where I shivered constantly even in warm weather and fought waves of nausea and dizziness. As if that wasn’t enough, I also had to deal with issue that had affected me emotionally. In truth, #6 and #7 left me an emotional wreck.

In those moments, I can truly understand if God felt a little exasperated with me but through it all, He patiently taught me to focus on the silver lining that existed in each dark cloud.

  1. Both my sister and I escaped the accident without a physical scratch. We were alive! The car got fixed!
  2. My nephew is home, happy and well. None of his illnesses affected him long term.
  3. We got the man’s car fixed although he was a bastard about the issue.
  4. Maybe that friend was not supposed to be a part of my life beyond that point. My life now has less drama.
  5. The project gave me a lot of experience that I can use to effectively build my career. I also got a chance for a do-over.
  6. My grandmother is now home and recuperating.
  7. That period gave me the chance to see what I am made of. Despite being ill and feeling intimidated at times, I was not built to break.

You are not built to break either. Don’t waste time and energy complaining! Even in the darkest of storms, you can find the light. After all, with storms come the lightening. Loves, you are stronger than you think because it is in your weakness that you will find God’s strength.

XOXO,
ChaƱel.

Zoomers Moments

A few nights ago, unable to sleep, I found my thoughts wandering. These wanderings took me down memory lane….

I was in my first year of high school when we were given a group assignment to present on various themes in the book, Silver Sword. As a natural leader who hates inactivity, I ended up planning a production. We were going to do a talk show with the book characters. After all the planning, I realised, much to my dismay, that I had planned out myself! I had totally forgotten to give myself a part!

Now note, if you did not present, you did not get a grade. I returned to the drawing board. We couldn’t change the production at that late stage but there must be some element that I had missed. During lunch (whilst eating one of my favorite cheesy snacks), an hour before the presentation, an idea took root. In the middle of the presentation, we had an intermission and I delivered one of the best impromptu Zoomers ads ever seen by man! 😂😂😂 (or so I like to believe…)

We got the highest grade for that assignment!

This memory reminded me of a couple lessons, I had learnt early in life.

  1. In moments of crisis or pressure, your levels of ingenuity will surprise you.
  2. In life there will always be Zoomers opportunities, you just have to be willing to open yourself to the possibilities.
  3. When faced with challenges, embrace your “I CAN” and “There must be a way.” attitude.
  4. Your belief in yourself and capabilities will take you a far way.
  5. Never plan out myself.
  6. Self-doubt gets you nowhere!

    What are your thoughts? Have you ever experienced a situation which required you think on your feet? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments below.

    XOXO,
    ChaƱel.