No Limits

You choose every day. You choose what you do, how you respond, your behavior, what you wear, if you choose to dwell on what someone said or what they didn’t say. You can choose to let your life happen–only going from home to work and back again, or you can choose to be extraordinary. No limits exist for you except the ones you create. If you were to believe, honestly believe, that nothing is impossible with God, then would it matter that you are unconventional in your path? Could you then measure your successes and failures with another?

All experiences gear us up for a story. Is yours amazing? Worthwhile? Did you risk it all? Let your trials and your limitless God push you into a radical life like Jesus.

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October Nuggets 

1. Salvation is for everyone. 

2. Everyone deserves a second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth and twenty-ninth chance. Everyone deserves forgiveness. No one gets to be self-righteous. 

3. Loving thy neighbor doesn’t mean a superficial love. It means if the behavior you are performing was done to you, would you like it? If the answer is no, then love differently. 

4. What you believe, you achieve. You must work to have faith of the Centurion, so when Jesus says, “You’re good,,” you know that. 

5. Once you realize who your Savior is, you’re already free from those shackles around your ankles.  

6. God has orchestrated your life perfectly. He has given you what you needed before you knew you needed it. 

7. Don’t be afraid to be honest with Him because you feel ashamed. He knows it’s there, and He wants to take it from you. 

8. You must always give. 

9. Be a fool for Jesus. 

10. Recognize all His promises—from Genesis to Revelation—and act accordingly. 

11. Don’t be afraid of your life-defining moments. 

12. Sometimes the loudest one telling you you can’t is yourself. 

13. Find one good thing about every single person you meet and tell that person that compliment. They are God’s special possession too. 

14. Love with a love that puts all other loves to shame. 

15. Those who reject the truth in public but embrace it in private need to be corrected not shamed. 

16. Dance like David. Sacrifice like Abraham. Remain faithful like Ruth. Reform like Hezekiah. Evangelize like Paul. 

17. Just do what He says. He will not force you to do it, but every single thing bends to His will, so eventually you will do what He originally asked of you. His Word never comes back void. 

18. Have a moment in your day when you welcome the Counselor (The Holy Spirit) back into your day. 

19. Know that when you are in Him, you will run and not grow weary. 

20. Seek understanding as much as you seek wisdom. 

21. Intercede on everyone’s behalf. The woman at Waffle House, your mailman, your neighbor, your distant relatives, that man you met in the park once, that woman whose car broke down at Kroger. Everyone needs prayer all the time under all circumstances. 

22. The same measure that you judge you will be judged. Do not look at someone and call them an eye sore. Do not look at someone and call them a snake. Do not look at someone and call them something other than redeemed, cherished, priceless, one of God’s special, anointed children. 

23. You always need both parents. 

24. Pray and write down your goals. Let God do the rest. 

25. Do not entertain arguments with other Christians about how you express your relationship with God. Whether those differences happen in tithing or worship, disregard it. There should not be any division in the Body of Christ. 

26. Sit and talk with your Father and your father. 

27. Don’t ever allow someone to tack on their earthly ideas to your spiritual existence. You do not govern your life by things of this world but by God and His Word. 

28. In every circumstance of your life, you are taken care of, so do not worry about anything. He makes a way out of no way. 

29. Don’t wait to give someone flowers at their funeral. Love them now. 

30. All greatest journeys begin with forgiveness. 

31. Try again. Love again. Dream again. 

A Kind Reminder

You are a child of the One True King. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are a steadfast and amazing person. May you continue to run towards the things of His Kingdom. Do not allow yourself to sway with the things of this world. You are His chosen vessel to stand apart while in this world. May you always know you are a precious creation to your Father. Continue to claim what is yours and kick down all doors that threaten your destiny in His Kingdom. There are no limits and no boundaries on your future. May you walk in the rest that Jubilee has to offer you. God bless you and yours always and well into eternity. 

I’m Right Here

My day started at 3 AM. I woke up early out of a habit that I can’t shake. By the time I was ready to go back to sleep, my alarm was going off for work. I went into the day knowing I was going to be about thirty minutes late to work because I had to put air in my tires. 

I’d practically been riding around on a flat, so my mom drove with me to a gas station to make sure my car was all set. She even helped me put air into my tires. It wasn’t until the air machine silenced that we heard all the air rushing from my front wheel. By that time it was 7:30. Not a problem, I could still be at work by 12. We dropped my car off at a service center. It would only take an hour to fix. Everything was on schedule until I got a phone call at 10:30 notifying me that my rim, not my tire, needed to be replaced. No big deal. All I needed to know was if it could be fixed and how much it would cost. Unfortunately, life rarely works out the way you want it to, if ever, which meant my car could be fixed just not by a mechanic at that location. 

I updated my mom. What was once gratitude for her giving nature turned into guilt. She had her whole day planned, and I was messing it up. She told me to call my dealership. Before I did, she started rattling off questions that hadn’t even crossed my mind. I felt my frustration growing, so I jokingly held out my phone to her, “You wanna talk to them?” 

“I’m right here.” There wasn’t anything to say back. If I needed help, there she was. I couldn’t argue with that, so I began what would be a series of phone calls and estimates and lovely holding jazz music. 

With every, “Do you mind if I transfer you?” my heart sank. I was supposed to be at work by 12 at the latest. I was actually excited to go into work for no other reason than I wouldn’t have to be at home. You can only do so much running from yourself before life catches up.

I ended my final phone call feeling annoyed and frustrated. My mom asked, “You okay, Esh?” I wasn’t okay, and I didn’t feel like lying, so I kept quiet. It was almost as if she were in my head because then she asked, “I know you’re not good, but are you okay?” 

Okay is such a relative term and it never actually means that someone is a-okay. It means that they’re present and aware of the things around them. They are moving, not necessarily forward but moving in a direction with the least friction until they’re stable enough to change direction. More than anything, they’re probably tired too. In that moment I was all of those things. “I’m okay. You ready?”

We retrieved my car from one service center just to move it to another one. Instead of going back home, my mom drove behind me in case I needed immediate roadside assistance. That’s my mom’s thing. She may not know how to do something or what exactly to say, but she’s going because, “We’ll figure it out together.” (But that’s a different post for a different day.)

The car service center was only eleven miles away. Two miles into the drive I realized I wasn’t okay. I acknowledged the circumstances around me, and I started to cry. There was little in that moment—completely unrelated to my car—that I could control. There were things that I wanted that I now had to give up for a season, so I cried. I looked in my rearview mirror, constantly wiping my face as if my mom could see me crying through the car. We were minutes out from our destination when I heard her voice echo, “I’m right here.” Again, I checked my mirror, and sure enough there she was as promised.

When the truth is spoken no matter the state of the person or the circumstance, it echoes louder than anything else. My mom’s declaration was just words to fill the air when I was disappointed in her living room, but my spirit held on to it for a later time. 

Today, the consequences of my actions and the reality of all my circumstances were staring me in the face demanding payment. Every situation, no matter the severity of the matter, had their hand out asking for guilt, shame, and regret. Every situation wanted something that I didn’t have to give. Were my circumstances less than ideal? Absolutely. Would I die from them? Not a chance. 

How I treated someone, how I left someone, how I would be introducing someone didn’t matter. What mattered is that I was not alone, and that if I chose to, I could begin anew in that moment. I didn’t have to hold on to guilt, shame, or regret to pay back for my mistakes. The mistakes I made were paid for in full at Calvary. My debt is zero. In the middle of my hurt feelings, it’s almost as if Papa reminded me of His truth: “I’m right here. Let’s begin again.” 

I was reminded of the very end of Matthew, “Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be)” Matthew 28:20 AMPC. How glorious it is that God is with us perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion. Simply put, He’s always right there through all things all the time. 

I started my day off thinking I could get by with just a little air in my tires. I ended the day replacing a rim and a tire. I am a lot like my busted wheel. I needed to be reminded that there is a “Do Over” button with God. Once I accepted that He’s on the scene, everything was more than okay. It was blessed, fixed, and made new. Honestly, the moral of this story boils down to neglect. I neglected my car, which then caused me some problems, but with the help of a good person, I was able to get everything fixed. I also neglected myself, which I then went on to create more problems for me, but with the help of a good God, He was able to get everything fixed. I love when the creation mirrors it’s Creator. 

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“I yelled at Grandma.” 

Those were the words I uttered to my Mom as I sat next to her hospital bed. Suddenly she was awake. Her eyes widened, “What did you say?” 

I calmly recited the words I shouted the night before. However, the more I spoke, the angrier I became. My voice rose. I sat up straighter. I dug out everything. If my Grandma was in that room for a Round 2, she would have passed out. 

Like many other mid-twenty somethings out there, I lack tact. I formed the conclusion somewhere that the loudest and the last voice is the most accurate one. I tacked in past faults, unnecessary, trivial comments and gave myself the victor speech when I was done. “It had to be said!” I justified my displaced and hurtful words. 

Intimidating is a word frequently associated with me. I’m not intimidating because I’m tall and hovering. I don’t look menacing. The consensus is that I speak too fast, use too many large words, and already have a solidified opinion on an issue, person, or place by the time I speak. While this isn’t wrong, it is limiting in some areas. When I’m angry, I struggle to express myself clearly free from petulant tactics. I want blood for blood, but if I remember anything from July, I remember life is not tit for tat. 

At around 3 o’clock this morning, I woke up to a text message from my Aunt addressing my tone with my Grandma. I initially sent the “new phone, who this,” text to show I don’t even care who it was. The longer I waited for a response, the angrier I got. I started typing a follow up response. What started off as a half-baked apology progressed to probably a 1000+ word count text message outlining why I was right, what exactly needs to change, and in case someone wanted proof of what I was saying, I had receipts complete with time stamps and exact quotes. 

I eventually cut and pasted the text into my notes in order to expand, but what happened moment by moment was a reduction. I cut out the trivial, the bitter. I opened with a sincere apology. No one wants to yell at their Grandma! I cut away the fluff, the worldly, and what resulted was a plea for change and compassion. I said what I needed to say without being nasty. I took accountability for my shortcomings, stated the issue, stated clearly what the issue should not be reduced to, and offered a solution. I closed respectfully. No opinions. No pettiness. No feelings. Factual statements, which were kind in delivery. 

As I was re-reading my message, I offered up much more when I spoke out of love. I offered an overlooked perspective, closure, and a new beginning founded on truth. When those are done in good faith, you can only hope that things change. Preferably, start out that way. Don’t go yelling at old ladies about their 70 year old community effecting habits, regardless of how wrong they are. Open with the good. 

Unfortunately, I know my family well enough to know that they are a stubborn people who refuse to acknowledge when old ways are no longer good ways. As much as my heart had cleared up by the time I sent my nicer (and shorter) message, I was still met with defensiveness and pettiness. Immediately, I wanted to react. I didn’t. I shouted one, “No!” at my phone, and politely declined to continue the conversation. 

I thought my defensiveness and childish ways were something I learned from the world, but I was wrong. I learned it from my root. 

My God is a God of redemption. That extends from my salvation to my foundation. I wasn’t raised in the church, so my patient God has a lot of digging and uprooting to do. If last years Aisha was in this situation, she would have gone off. She would’ve been combative. Ultimately, the encounter would’ve ruined her day. She would’ve discussed it thoroughly and vocalized to anyone in earshot. Today’s Aisha knows that reacting is only satisfying for half a second. It’s exhausting and most times doesn’t require a response. When I do respond, all I need to do is stand on His Truth. God will do the rest. 

This morning I am terribly grateful that I serve a God who uses all moments as teaching moments for His glory. 

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You Can’t Build a New Life on Old Foundation

Last week, my coworker, H and I were talking about going back to school. H made it clear that she did school, was good at it, but now it’s done. When I asked what exactly she wanted to do career wise, she said she didn’t know yet. She majored in Psychology. Although she thought about being an English major, she didn’t think she’d get a job. Oddly enough, I majored in English when I wanted to major in Psychology. I chose English because it was what I was passionate about. H mentioned that while she was great at school, she lacked the passion that everyone else had. I related all too well to her sentiments. When compared to other people in my program, I was the least passionate, or so it seemed from my perspective. 

When we talked more, I could see clearly how I was at her age. At twenty-three, I was left broken from college. I left school discouraged and feeling as if there were so many things torn down that I could not rebuild. I left feeling like I didn’t give my best. I see now just how much things can change in two years. It wasn’t until I was well into my post-grad resting period that I realized how wrong I was about how undergrad ended. 

At twenty-three, I was devoid of passion. I felt as if my greatest passions were supposed to sustain me from one point to the next. When they didn’t, I was left with no momentum. Passion, like happiness, burns bright red and orange. It burns deep and sparks quickly, but just as swiftly as it finds me, it will leave. My life shouldn’t rely on passion but dedication. Dedication pushes me over the hump when passion runs out. Dedication makes me lay a stone even when I don’t know what I’m building.

I thought my time after college was a time for rest, but honestly, it was the busiest two years of my life. In two years I learned what it takes to live alone. I learned about how to sustain successful friendships. I learned how to love Jesus first, my family second, and myself third. I learned that when I plan, I fail. I get too detailed, and I begin veering off on a path that isn’t destined for me. I learned that whatever you feed will grow. If you love someone today, love them tomorrow, and just keep on doing that until it’s not hard anymore. I learned that hurting people hurt people. I learned that sometimes I can be the most petulant person in the room if I get offended. I learned how not to get offended. I learned that any relationship worth having is worth the good and the bad. Each lesson, its own solid stone.

Between my patches of stone building, I entertained talk from people who said I couldn’t go back to school after a long break. “People get lazy! It happens.” I listened to people bring up my mistakes of the past. “I just don’t want you going out on a whim. Remember what happened last time?” I listened to nearly all unsolicited advice that began with someone’s best friend’s child who waited to go back to school, and life took the wheel instead. I took it all in with a smile and wrote angrily about it later. I did not realize, that my God, my glorious, glorious God was up to something. He had me building a wall. 

I didn’t leave school broken but ready for a new, everlasting foundation (Jeremiah 31:4). My discouragement came from shame, and it was good that those feelings and past actions were exposed (1 John 1:9). They were not authorized to mix in with my new foundation. I gave what I could when I had it, and at the time that was what I knew. Now that I know better, I do better, which means I give all of myself every single time (James 4:7). He was and is purifying the stones that He’s building in me and around me. He’s giving me the best, most solid foundation in all existence.

Now, I am nowhere near having myself figured out, but I know that with every stone that is being laid, I am becoming more secure in Christ and more secure in who He made me to be. He urges me every single day to keep building. Every day I am one stone closer to where I’m supposed to be. Every day, through my dedication to Him, my passions become a reality.