As I Look Back Over The Decade…I Got A Testimony

I saw people’s posts of their decade reviews and their end vs their beginning of the decade comparisons. This prompted me to review my decade and as I also looked at my 2019 vision board, I realized that God has been good. He is always good but sometimes the Holy Spirit need to give you a reminder. I saw some things on my vision board have been and are steadily being accomplished. And all glory goes to God!

I am also reminded some battles are not to be conquered in one fight but over a period of time so we can learn to depend on God. So some things may have seeped over into 2020 but be encouraged. I am speaking to myself too.

This decade, I became a homeowner and a parent/caregiver to a relative. I also started my online t-shirt business (on hiatus now and I am in prayer about it) and wrote and published three books within this decade. I was able to learn and grow professionally and spiritually. I healed from heartbreak and realized some of my deal breakers. I made it through betrayal and learned what true forgiveness looks like.

Instead of hiding it, I became more transparent in my struggles with anxiety and fear, especially with those I love. I also got my driver’s license in this decade and got acknowledged at work for my contributions. I saw my students grow and step out of their comfort zones. I bore fruit even during difficult seasons and impacted others in ways I could not have done without God. I also battled debt and high property taxes and saw God provide.

I learned I needed better self-care, I needed to set boundaries, and I needed to learn that I can’t earn God’s love. My family and I overcame some things I thought my family and I would not survive. I also learned that it is crucial to see things from God’s perspective. I journaled in my note pad like crazy. I did self-assessments prompted from bible plans and self-reflection. I blogged. I led a women’s group and bible study and we learned about waiting with God and learning to trust Him. I maintained a gratitude journal.

I travelled to New York with friends for the first time. I had a ball and it was such a faithcation. I went to a Christian concert at the House of Blues by myself and had a ball. I went to a Christian Education Retreat twice. I learned some awesome things. I learned about trauma care and self-love. I went to Atlanta for the first time and for a college tour, thanks to my job. Last year, my family and I found a cool, inexpensive place to travel to that is peaceful and a train ride away from home, thanks to not having at the time the money to go on vacation. I saw my family grow and get closer. I got such an awesome birthday gift in 2018; my youngest niece was born on my birthday.

I completed a Mental Health First Aid training for those who work with youth and realized also my mental health is important. I realized some of your battles people won’t understand and some blessings and successes people won’t cheer with you. The latter one broke my heart. I did the thing that rattles my nerves and spoke at a few events. I took deep breaths. I had anxiety attacks. I prayed. I cried. I prayed some more. I exercised here and there, valued my love for walking, and realized the importance of stretching every day. I worked on building my confidence. I started wearing a little concealer and foundation (something I thought I would never wear) and embraced my thick eyebrows. I learned how to do my own crochet hair styles. However, I still don’t know how to crochet a scarf. I gave up. I will try again this year. I learned that I enjoyed preparing Bible study lessons because I love God’s Word and preparing a lesson helps me to break it down for myself also. I learned that I can’t do everything or be everything, and that is okay. I learned that sometimes you have to encourage yourself.

I prayed for God to teach me full surrender. I talked with Him about being afraid and not feeling like I could make it some days. I have a ways to go but I am not where I started. And although I ended this year still feeling anxious, I survived. I thank God for being my Father, my friend, my provider, my coach, and my protector. I also thank Him for being patient with me and loving me through every season, imperfection, fear, and triumph. May I lean into God evermore this year and decade not for what God can give me or do, but for who He is. I am nothing without Him and can’t do anything without Him. I am more than a conqueror. I am grateful.

Raising Relatives

I have always been hesitant in writing a post like this but I am writing it today to give encouragement to parents who are raising or helping to raise their relatives (cousins, nieces, nephews, or siblings). I have the privilege of helping raise my nephew and we have had our ups and downs but I am so grateful for this opportunity. He is my baby!!!! And I am committed to his care and well-being. However, often when I am unsure, unconfident, and need some advice sometimes I rarely find someone to turn to from a caregiver of a relative point of view and little advice on google. Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit reminds me of the One authority–God–on the subject that is full of knowledge on the very people He created and His encouragement and wisdom is supreme, refreshing, and consistent.

Another thing I have noticed is that some people will not understand your unorthodox family. Some will be curious about your little one’s story but I had to learn that your story isn’t meant for everyone’s ears. I remember reading in a bible plan that was about foster parenting/caregiving and so forth that you have to protect the child’s story. And sometimes there are layers to his/her story or it may not be what people want to hear. It may be something complex or not as complex to explain. Whatever it is, it is still none of their business. So, stop explaining to people. And all they need to know is that what is being done is for the child’s best interest.

So, when you feel discouraged or having a setback, God’s love and Word is life-giving and it propels you forward in the unknown and every circumstance. His mercy and grace reminds you that you don’t have to be a perfect parent. His grace and mercy give you the fuel to press in loving and instructing this child into receiving God’s love, seeking God, and discovering their destiny. Moreover, be present and enjoy this season or seasons where you get to watch your little ones blossom from the love of God. Mordecai raised his cousin, Esther, and He even prepared her for a destiny that involved helping save God’s people. So what can we learn from Mordecai?

✴Raise them with authority and confidence of our Savior.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

✴Raise them up in the Lord. Teach them God’s Word and love.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

✴Trust them and their future in the hands of God.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Lastly, dont give up and be encouraged. You are on a God-given assignment.

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. Romans 15:13

Are you raising a relative? What encouragement would you give another caregiver?