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The Obliteration of Expectation.

There are roles that we all inherit and spend our lives trying to successfully execute, such as being a daughter, a sister, and even a woman. However, there are also roles that we choose to adopt and apply towards our lives, resulting in a complete shift of perspective, morals, values, and overall lifestyle. For me, that adoptive role was becoming a Christian woman.

Though I have always been a believer of God and the Son, it was not until this past March that I wholeheartedly committed myself to living for Christ and being of God to the best of my abilities. When I made the decision to become saved and to also join my church, I felt so… satisfied. The peace and happiness I felt during that time, in which I became a part of something so full of the Truth and amongst people who loved Jesus just as much as I do, was euphoric. Surreal. Almost too good to be true. I knew that being in the Faith was never meant to be easy (as we know from the lives of Jesus Christ and his Disciples), but for that period of time I truly felt that my spiritual journey would always be smooth and positive…

…Until my “should” mentality kicked into overdrive and the expectations of being a Christian woman began to overwhelm me. As humans, we all have moments in which our expectations positively influence what we do and say, leading to accomplishment and joy. Yet, when expectations are out of reach in accordance to our abilities, it may become debilitating.

Hence, when I began to realize that I lack a lot of the qualities that I expected to be present in a Christian woman, I no longer felt accomplished or joyful. I felt as if my peace had been suddenly snatched from my hands. There I was, a member of an amazing church as well as awesome Faith-based women’s groups, and I was not able to recite scripture from my memory, pray with a powerful voice and with longevity, fast for more than one day, nor was I able to fellowship and create bonds confidently with other people. I could not help but to feel that because I could not meet those expectations, I was not worthy of taking on the role of a Christian woman.

It was not until further into my spiritual journey that I realized those expectations were of the world and not of God. The amount of scriptures I memorized and the way I pray does not determine whether or not I love my Father or that He loves and accepted me. According to the Word, “…Everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day”John 6:40.

It is through our genuine belief and Faith in Jesus Christ that we are deemed worthy of the Father and the Son. The expectations of the world are irrelevant when it comes to embracing God and basking in His Grace and Love. For the saying is true: “Peace begins when expectations end [and Christ steps in]”.

XOXO Sheesh

 

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The Christmas Story.

Anyone who knows me is aware of my obsession with this time of year. I am a self-proclaimed Christmas-holic. Holiday season fanatic. Honestly, once November 1st rolls around I immediately fill my atmosphere with Christmas music and the Hallmark Channel. Eggnog is always on deck until the stores stop selling it, and my Christmas-themed coffee mugs are officially on display.

This time of year has always brought out my Happy. Always. There has never been any Winter Blues for me… only Winter Joy.

Watching the snow fall never fails to warm my heart, and decorating my Christmas tree is probably the only activity that can bring a smile to my face for an hour straight. Listening to people singing about jingle bells, winter wonderlands, and what they’ll be doing this Christmas lifts my mood to Happy with ease. For me, this is truly the most wonderful time of the year.

It took me a while to figure out why I love the holidays so much. I realize that my obsession with all things Christmas comes from striving to recreate the magic of past holidays year after year.

When I think about Christmas, I recall how God blessed my mother with the ability to create magic for her daughters in a season full of lack. I think about how God provided unwavering strength, optimism, and Faith to my young, single mother during times that would have broken many women in her position…

How she would build gingerbread houses with my sister and I and let use eat the gumdrops until that house was nothing but bare gingerbread. How she let us drink eggnog and hot chocolate while we watched Santa Clause is Coming to Town, The Year Without a Santa Clause, and Frosty the Snowman. How she proudly placed our Black Angel on top of the Christmas tree… the Angel whose skin she painted brown and whose hair she painted black because the stores didn’t sell Black Angels back then. How she made sure she was able celebrate the holidays with her daughters always. All of us together.

… Every year my goal is to replicate that divine magic I was blessed to experience as a child. So far, I haven’t been able to recapture the intensity of that past Christmas magic… but knowing that it is possible gives me hope for the holiday seasons to come.

*What is YOUR Christmas story?

*What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

XOXO Sheesh XOXO

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Living Single.

Once upon a time, there was a twenty-four year old woman who still felt like a little girl. From an outsider’s perspective, this woman was clearly in the midst of adulthood: working full time while also pursuing her college degree; exerting independence through paying her own monthly bills and being able to get from Point A to Point B without having to ask Mommy and Daddy for a lift. Obviously, from the outside it seemed as if she was on her “Grown Woman Status”. From the outside…
Yet, beyond her normal facade dwelled an emptiness she herself could not fill…a sense of inadequacy caused by the significant lack of something that seemed necessary for her personal completion. Despite her growth as an individual, as a woman, it was clear to her that the remedy to her emptiness and inadequacy was a relationship. A soul man. “The One”. It was only when she found him that she could live happily ever after… Right?

There are countless women throughout the world whose perspective on relationships mirror the narrative above. Maybe you are this woman. I know I used to be this woman. I represent the girls who grew up watching princesses getting rescued by handsome princes before riding off in the sunset. I represent the teenage girls who were bombarded with media that placed emphasis on crazy, “love at first sight”, hungry adolescent love that endured catastrophe beyond one’s imagination. I represent the young women who are pressured beyond reason to find a boyfriend and have sex as soon as possible, if not for anything else, to receive validation of normalcy from their imperfect human counterparts.

Still… I also represent the women who suffer from a shattered sense of confidence and self-worth by way of a broken heart. I represent the women whose broken hearts were pieced back together through Faith as well as the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ Himself. And I represent the women of God who took His Word and used it as a weapon to claim victory over the lies fed to them by a depleting society. For it has been written:

 

 

 

 

 

There is a difference between being a wife and [an unmarried woman]. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world- how she may please her husband.

– 1 Corinthians 7:34

 

I wish I could go back to my twenty-four year old self and tell her that living single is just as much of a blessing as being in a relationship (1 Corinthians 7:7). If only that younger version of me understood the abundance of life readily available to the single woman. That God created her with intent and purpose. That she is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14). On second thought, I probably would not change a thing… For only our God could create such a journey for me that ultimately instilled in me the beauty of living single.

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Dear God: A Daughter’s Plea.

Dear Papa,
I’m am feeling so anxious today: heart beating fast, fidgety, indecisive, impulsive… when I feel this anxious I make the mistake of trying to erase the feeling through spending and instant gratification: today’s purchases are detailing the interior of my car and buying a new study Bible. Both can be considered to be responsible purchases… But I do not like the fact that spending is my coping mechanism for anxiety… it’s not a healthy habit, and it’s also temporary. Unnecessary even. I mean, I could have easily went to a gas station and spent $3.50 to vacuum the car myself, and I have Clorox wipes at home… I could’ve cleaned it out myself for way cheaper. Also, I have a study bible already, as well as an amazing Bible app that I use all the time with no problem… getting another Bible (that isn’t cheap by the way) isn’t necessary! My issue is that when I get anxious, I don’t turn to God (You) for relief… not immediately. I turn to material, external things that don’t succeed in easing my struggle fully or long term. I NEED TO TURN TO GOD AT THESE TIMES!!!
I’m so scared, and I don’t know why. Maybe I’m scared for what the future holds… is it Your will for my sister to give birth to an amazing, beautiful, healthy blessing (a baby)? Is it Your will for me to put SheeDiscovered to the side for a while longer while I answer the other blessed callings that has been placed in my life right now? Was halting my bachelor’s degree journey the right choice? What will the fate of my career with young children be because I stopped going to school?

But I’m pretty sure the biggest contributor to my anxiety is whether or not I’m pleasing God. Am I humble enough? Kind enough? Generous enough? Confident enough? Strong enough? Faithful enough? Am I following God’s purpose for me or am I just tricking myself into believing that my own personal desires are His purpose for me? Am I being the daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece, friend that you want me to be?

God I pray for your grace and mercy right now. Relieve me of this struggle by revealing to me the blessings and victories that are already here… and that are waiting for me in time (Your time). I pray that your love for me, protection over me, and your goodness is permanently tattooed on my heart and mind, so that I will never forget who You are and what You do for me. If it is not time for this anxiety to leave me, God I pray that you enable me to tap into the strength and grace that you blessed me with the moment I dedicated myself to You. Thank you Heavenly Father for keeping me, even through the struggle.

In Jesus’ name I humbly pray, AMEN.

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Be Still.

Be still and know that I AM GOD; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! – Psalms 46: 10

It was not too long ago that I used to swell up with pride when someone would take notice of my busyness. A simple sentence such as “Girl, you’re non-stop” elicited a sense of accomplishment or success within myself without fail. It’s true… I believed that being busy was synonymous with living fully. That if I was not busy then I was just not doing enough. I was not giving my all. I was wasting time. I was missing opportunities for success and mo’ money…

…But that’s what happens when one embraces societal opinions as truth.

My most darkest moments was always during the absence of busyness in my life. Moments of life transitions filled with only quietness and loneliness: Week long in-patient hospital stays; being unemployed while on a break from college; spending weekends locked in a bedroom in hibernation-mode (#introvertproblems). Moments filled with nothing but STILLNESS…

If only I could have seen the blessing of being still during those moments!

Instead, I let loneliness drown me. And within that sea of loneliness lived every ounce of insecurity, flaw, regret, mistake, failure, hurt, shame, and lack that I’ve every experienced.  So, to keep afloat and stay alive and avoid succumbing to the dark sea of loneliness, I had to slip on those arm floaties of busyness…

However, the thing about arm floaties is that sooner or later (most of the time sooner) they deflate and become useless…no longer able to prevent the dangers of the dark, cold, and overwhelming sea of loneliness. No longer able to keep stillness at bay. Because eventually, we all have to be still. Eventually, we will all have our time of rest. Eventually we will come face to face with being with ourselves… with our thoughts, memories, experiences, ideas, emotions, bodies.

But what I found is that if we stop fighting the quiet moments, the moments in which we find ourselves alone, we will be able to float and swim without the temporary, air-filled distraction of busyness, which keeps us oblivious to our truth.

… I don’t remember the exact day when my arm floaties of busyness deflated and I was left to flail about until the state of being still became my ultimate place of peace. I wish I could remember the moment when I realized that to be still means to be grounded in the miracles of life throughout the Earth. If only I could recall the second in which I finally understood the blessing of being still… that to be still gives us the opportunity to gain awareness of the intentions, glory, and grace of God. That by being still can bring more meaning to life than being busy.

There is no greater source of strength and power for me in my life than going still, being quiet and recognizing what real power is.

-Oprah Winfrey

I challenge you all to BE STILL. Take a moment in your day to just be with yourself in a quiet space. Just breathe in and out with your eyes closed and focus your mind on every miracle and blessing that you experienced throughout the day/week/month/year. Even on our worst days God has given us the gift of life, so there’s no excuse! I hope that during your state of stillness you are able to feel the peace that I’ve come to feel when I’m just…here.

*STOP*BREATHE*BE*

P.S: Don’t forget to count your blessings!

XOXO

Sheesh.

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Dream Chaser.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 18:3-4

It’s amazing how someone as extraordinary as Jesus Christ recognized the value in the way children experience life. At what other stage in our lives do we effortlessly live by blind Faith and optimism?  When is there another period in our lives that we easily find joy and contentment in the simple things? At what other time in our lives do we have complete trust that everything will work out for our good? CHILDREN LIVE BY FAITH!

What I find so special about the Faith of children is that it transforms them into Dream Chasers… through their innocence and Faith, children truly believe that they can achieve any dream that’s placed in their hearts. Firefighter. NBA Star. Veterinarian. Magician. Gymnast. Cheetah Girl. Unicorn! In my case, I just knew I was going to draw cartoons for a living when I grew up (even though I couldn’t draw at all).

…But somewhere along the way we lose the Faith of our childhood. We get hit with innocence-shattering experiences that snatches us out of our narrow view of the world. We begin to live by what is expected of us in a society that uses status, money, and acceptance to measure one’s worth. And before long we stop chasing our own dreams and start chasing the dreams of others. No longer dreaming by Faith, we start to dream by expectation.

“When you cease to dream, you cease to live”  – Malcolm Forbes

It took me a while to realize that I was no longer Dream Chaser… I became a Life Settler. I placed so much value in the illusion of success and satisfaction that I let go of my child-like Faith and stopped living my dream… Until now.

Right now, I’m daring myself to be childish in Faith! To wholeheartedly and stubbornly chase my dreams and live out the passion and purpose that has God placed on my heart. Without hesitation, worry, fear or doubt.

What dreams are you ready to chase?

*Part of being a Warr;or is being a Dream Chaser*

xoxo Sheesh

 

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Who You Gonna Call?

Normally, whenever anyone mentions anything haunted I respond with an eye roll. Sure, I love the thrill of experiencing the different haunted houses and mazes during the Halloween season…but do I really think ghosts are randomly floating around houses and mazes terrorizing people? Nope. I don’t believe in haunted houses. HOWEVER, a haunted mind is a different story that I know very well.

I’m sure that I am not the only person who suffers from a haunted mind. You know your mind is haunted when your peace is suddenly snatched away by the floating apparitions of your memories. And not just any memories, but unresolved memories that you thought were securely locked away and buried deep in the corner of your mind. Sounds familiar?

For me, my mind is frequently haunted by my most guilt-ridden and shameful memories: hearing my mother bang on my locked bedroom door because she feared I succeeded on my suicidal thoughts; giving my best friend a list of things that bothered me about her; recieving inpatient care in the psychiatric wing of a hospital…twice; experimenting with drugs; and being labeled as a “cry-baby” growing up, just to name a few. I can honestly say that nothing can annihilate my happiness and peace quicker than the random appearance of a ghost memory. They stop me in my tracks…they take my breath away…they try to snub out the light I fought so hard to find. Keyword: TRY.

In the past, I let my ghost memories take over my mind and drag me into pitch black darkness. It wasn’t until an amazing “Ghostbuster” helped me to see the truth about those nasty ghost memories, and I was able to push them away. You might have heard of this “Ghostbuster”… His name is Jesus Christ.

A few months ago, when my mind was being haunted by multiple ghost memories, I stumbled upon this scripture:

“Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” Matthew 3:7-8

Those words slammed into my mind and left an imprint on my heart. I felt like God was telling me, “Stop trying to run and hide from your past! If you want to move on, address the things you’ve done, ask me for forgiveness, and your slate will be cleared!” So, I did what I was told… I looked my past in the eyes, accepted what I did, and asked for forgiveness, not only from God but from myself. I finally stood up to the bullies of my past! And sure enough, those ghost memories no longer had any power over me. They became as harmless as ghosts running through a haunted maze in October.

Of course, there isn’t just one battle in the War of Haunted Minds. Every win that my “Ghostbuster” and I have against my ghost memories is followed up with more ghosts haunting my mind. Sometimes we go into battle once a day…sometimes its five times a day. Sometimes there are so many battles throughout the day that I want to give in and let those ghost memories win… But God!

So, go get you a “Ghostbuster”! Whether it’s a spiritual force, writing, meditation, therapy, reading, etc., what or who can help you to resolve your ghost memories? To stand up to the bullies of your mind and push them into the past where they belong? Who you gonna call?

It’s crazy how the past is never quite the past until you make it the past. You will never get over that ex until you address and accept what went wrong in the relationship. You will never stop thinking about the horrible things you’ve said to your parents until you acknowledge what you did and ask them for forgiveness. You will not be able to love yourself if you don’t reflect on your guilt and forgive yourself. Remember… Address. Accept. Release!

xoxo Sheesh

 

 

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Count Your Blessings.

If I were to ask if you are a complainer, would you admit to it? Let me be the first to say that I am completely guilty of always complaining about life… ALWAYS!

It’s nothing for me to zone in on the annoyances and stress of life, announcing them to anyone who cares to listen. I complain about my body, my hair, my bank account, my co-workers, my college courses, where I live, being an adult with responsibilities, being single, the weather, insects, Dunkin Donuts never making my coffee right… the list can go on for pages!

Complaining is the new form of conversation. It is so normal to complain that we don’t even realize that we are complaining. Think about it, when someone asks how you are doing, what is your response? For me, I always answer, “I’m so tired” or “Girl, I just want a coffee to get me through this crazy day!” I have even had full conversations with people that consisted of us comparing just how miserable we think our lives are… just call it The Battle of the Ungrateful.

It’s so unfortunate that we get so caught up in the comfort of wallowing in negativity and playing the role of victim through complaining that we get blinded from the truth: WE ARE BLESSED! I think about the normalcy of complaining and thinking negatively and Shug Avery from The Color Purple comes to mind when she said to Celie:

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it”- Alice Walker

It is so easy for us as humans to look past the beauty, magic, and God-given blessings of life and focus on the very things that are meant to block our view of positivity. We tend to be so distracted by the darkness that we can’t see the light, even though the scripture says:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” John 1:5

It is time for us to look beyond the darkness and let the light be our focal point. It is time to diminish the annoyances and stress that we make so important in our lives. Let’s have a new perspective… let’s start COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS! Stop complaining about co-workers and be glad to be employed. Stop complaining about the weather and be grateful that God blessed us with another day of life. Stop complaining about where you live and be happy that you have a place to rest and eat. Stop complaining about being single and thank God that you are not settling for any man or woman just because you are lonely. Start noticing the miracles all around you… pay attention to the color purple in the field as you pass it by! COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!

What blessings are dominating your life right now? Write them down or think about them and know that you are significant and amazing… you are a miracle!

#countyourblessings

Shawanna

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Authentic Self.

Confidence was not a consistent presence in my life. For a long time, confidence occurred is sporadic little bursts of pride and self-amazement that warmed me during moments of societal success and achievement. You know, high school and college graduations, getting birthday shout-outs and close to 100 “likes” for a selfie on social media, actually getting someone to call me their girlfriend for a while… the only type of confidence I experienced stemmed from the validation of the world and the people in it. I did not birth my own confidence. Because my confidence was not my own, it was only temporary… like a burst of fireworks that fizzles out just as quickly as it burst bright in the sky.

I remember turning 21 years old and thinking “I’m going to the club”. It was just something I thought I had to do… actually, I am sure it is something most of us thought we had to do. A rite of passage to being an adult nowadays. So, I got my hair straightened, put on a tight, short dress, then headed out. When we got to the club, I got my drink, stood in that crowded and loud room… and cried. The whole situation just was not me. And although I was dressed beautifully, and I looked the part of the normal 21 year old doing what people that age were supposed to do, I had not one ounce of confidence. I was not happy. I was not being my AUTHENTIC SELF.

The word “authentic” is synonymous to a few terms: genuine, real, bona fide, true, legitimate, valid. To be our Authentic Selves, we have to shed the layers of expectations and opinions we have adopted throughout our lives. We have to hone in on our own individual beliefs, interest, passions, characteristics, and accept them. Embrace them. Love them… Love our Truths. In “The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, I was reminded of that as I read:

“We each have a divine inner voice that opens us to truth and a meditating social voice that is reluctant to show its truth to others”. (Nepo, pg. 62)

Everyone has it in them to listen to their divine inner voice and to be their Authentic Selves; identifying, accepting, and embracing our truth is a choice! We have all been at the crossroads of the Authentic Self and the False Self, and, let’s be honest, we have all chosen to ignore our truth at one point or another in life. Some of us may still be struggling to successfully escape that place of falseness. I get it… living our False Selves may feel more comfortable and safe.  But, living our Authentic Selves brings much more to the table: self-love, happiness, motivation, CONFIDENCE!

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things” – Philippians 4:8

Yes, marching to the beat of your own drum and stepping away from the rest of the band can be scary at first, but you will get used to it, and it will be worth the fear. Also, there will be those loyal band-mates who collaborate with you along the way. No, your new authentic band will not be as large as the one you were in when you lived in the place of falseness. It may not even be as noticeable or accepted by the world around you. Still, it will be your authentic rhythm… your truth. And the more you come to love everything about your newly embraced rhythm, the more you will grow in confidence. From there, the sky is the limit!

Songs That Encourages Me to Embrace My Authentic Self:

  • “Video” by India Arie
  • “Try” by Colbie Caillat
  • “The Voice Within” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Encourage Yourself” by Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers
  • “Who Says” by Selena Gomez
  • “Brave” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Can’t Take That Away” by Mariah Carey
  • “Electric Lady” Janelle Monae
  • “Reaper” by SIA

What do you do to help enhance and promote your Authentic Self?

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The Birth of Confidence.

Confidence is not something we are born with. It is something gained. Confidence is something we breathe in and let settle within us. It is something that we have to have faith in and constantly tend to… And confidence can be fragile, sensitive, and unsteady. If we let it.

I am the first to admit that I have let my confidence become something that can be shattered by the slighted amount of pressure. I let the words and actions of other people obliterate the bit of confident I scraped up. I remember clearly the times people called me a cry baby, made fun of me because I talk fast and mumble, called me “the ugly twin”, overlooked me while giving compliments to my best friend when we went out together, rolled their eyes and joked about my instability when I became depressed, commented on the way I walk with my head down and eyes averted, called me “Squidward” before I grew into my nose.

I also let the expectations of society suck away my confidence. I take in the admiration of women with full figures, long hair, and out-going personalities. I notice the praise that people my age get when they have a big bank account, are in relationships and have children, have a higher education, and are overall independent, fully capable, put-together adults.

In these moments of reflection, when I remember the things about me that made people laugh and think less of me, and the ways in which I have not yet the level of successful that society emphasizes, my confidence shrinks into non-existence. And I know that I am not the only one.

…But…

Then I think about the people who have “made it” is the eyes of our world. The people who are financially stable. Who have the marriage, children and white picket fence. Who are well-educated with a thriving career. Who are outspoken. Who fits the mold of the typical attractive female or male. And yet, many of them are still completely void of confidence. This made me realize that confidence is NOT something that is given to us by the approval and acceptance of others. Instead, CONFIDENCE IS BIRTHED BY THE ACCEPTANCE OF ONESELF. No one has the right to determine the confidence of someone else. Society does not have the right to solidify our perception of what is personally acceptable.

So, I will embrace my mumbling, slouchy, and emotional self. I won’t be ashamed of still living at home and having a slim bank account. I will take pride in my awkward social skills and preferring binge-watching Frasier and A Different World on a Saturday night. I choose not to let my confidence remain fragile, sensitive, and unsteady. I choose to no longer gain confidence only to allow it to be ripped away. We should all fight to have faith in our confidence, in ourselves, no matter how hard it can be.

What will you start to embrace in your life to birth and nurture your confidence?