My Fierce is Joy

However, my smile tricks many people into thinking that I am happy all the time, when in truth, I sometimes fall towards the opposite track

 

“You’re so happy all the time. I mean you smile all the time!” I couldn’t even begin to fathom how much this phrase has been said to me my whole life. To some, I may seem like the optimist whose happiness and energy can deflect any sort of negativity thrown her way. Never the Debbie-downer. Before I get into the thick of it, I truthfully do smile A LOT. Sometimes I think my face just naturally stretches that way. However, my smile tricks many people into thinking that I am happy all the time, when in truth, I sometimes fall towards the opposite track. I am harder on myself than anyone else could ever be. I fall into the rut of “I can do better” or “I’m not good enough.” Not exactly the mindset that most people think of when thinking of an optimist. So then, were does my optimism stem from if it doesn’t come from some magical state of happiness?

My optimism stems not from happiness alone, because in actuality happiness is fleeting. While happiness is temporary and is based upon happenings, and how we feel at the moment, the gift of joy, among others (Galatians 5:22) is from the Lord and you can still experience joy during trials, suffering, and testing. My lesson came from Christ Jesus, who, though he despised the shame of the Cross, he considered the joy set before Him. He even managed to keep love for those who hurt him. Jesus knew God’s plan was a goal of salvation for all, and chose to believe that things would work out eventually. So even in the moments that I feel most down, hope still exists for me.

One of my favorite authors, C. S. Lewis, said “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” Finding your joy in something other than God can easily be destructive.  How you feel is directly related to what you are focusing on, so when you fix your focus and remove the desire to find joy in something other than God, you’ll taste a reckless freedom and joy in all you do. You can have joy when your life is falling apart because He has promised never to leave you or forsake you. Joy should never come and go like money or materialistic things. John 15:11 also promises, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” This joy, it is a constant, all of our days because He is constant in His presence.

So, what is your fierce? It’s within you, right now, so embrace it! Discover your fierce in the everyday things of your life - yes, even the Monday things. Because Jesus is in every detail, we can enjoy him everywhere, even in life’s mundane routines.

 

My Fierce is Compasionate

In order to live unapologetically, we must first stop apologizing to Jesus about the things we believe marr the beauty He created in us.

If you were to ask me to describe myself in one word, compassionate would be my immediate response.

Now, it’s not that I am not intelligent, hilarious, gracious, or a million other adjectives. But somehow compassion gets to the heart of who I am; somehow compassion defines the things I value most about myself.

I wanted to understand where this word came from, “What does compassion really mean?” was my question. In my research I learned that it is a derivative of the Latin words com (with, together) and pati (to suffer).

Bringing me to this concise definition; Compassion, to suffer with.

When you put it like that, it doesn’t sound pretty.

“Hello, my name is Jaunyce and if I were to describe myself in a short sentence, it would be, ‘I am one to suffer with others’”, says no one ever!

But when I sit back and think about it, that sentence does describe me. It describes me very well actually.When I say that I am compassionate I don’t mean that I am super nice; I mean that I have a sincere heart for others.

My compassion fuels my indignation against injustice.

My compassion awakens my desire to celebrate the success of others.

My compassion leads me to comfort the overlooked.

My compassion moves me to tears when I hear of someone’s pain.

My compassion saves a seat for the lonely at my table.

My compassion remembers little details about a person that may easily be overlooked.

My compassion leads me to see life through the lens of other’s experiences.

 

Based on society's interpretation of this word, compassion probably doesn’t fall in the category of fierce. I beg to differ, for it was a fierce compassion that led Jesus to the cross.

His compassion is what motivated His saying yes to His father’s plan.

His compassion is what humbled Him to go through each season of life as if He had no hand in creating them.

His compassion told His disciples to let the little children come to Him.

His compassion promised the thief hanging beside Him on the cross a place in heaven.

His compassion is what playfully called out to the disciples from the shore after His crucifixion.

His compassion is what keeps Him at the right hand of His father interceding for us day and night.

I embrace my compassion as one of the fiercest things about me, because compassion is a defining characteristic of Jesus, Christ. In the same way that I have my earthly father's facial structure, and my mother's mannerisms, I have my heavenly father’s compassion.

This entire campaign is focused on identifying the things about us that reflect the heart of who we were created to be and not apologizing for them.

The truth is we will continue to apologize if we see ourselves through the fragmented lens of this world. But we will do away with these apologies when we see ourselves through the lens of the unconditional love which we were created by and for.

In order to live unapologetically, we must first stop apologizing to Jesus about the things we believe marr the beauty He created in us. Then we must stop apologizing to ourselves for not meeting the unrealistic standards which we have placed on ourselves. When we do away with those apologies we will no longer feel the need to apologize for who we are in our glorious imperfection.

Hi, my name is Jaunyce, and my fierce is one to suffer with others. My fierce is compassionate.

My Fierce is ... Fearless

To be fearless is not to never feel fear at all

My fierce is fearless. The literal definition of fearless is "lacking fear". And although to some extent I agree with this definition, mine differs. To me being fearless is trusting God in my doubt, my worry, and in my fears. Yes, my fears. To be fearless is not to never feel fear at all, but rather feeling fearful and choosing to run to the One that can calm my heart just as He does the seas and storms. Growing up, I always struggled with fear. Name it and I was scared of it. And this caused a strain on my trust in Christ. I never realized that the spirit of fear is not of God, but rather Satan. Once realizing that it was a spiritual warfare, I dug myself in the Word and fasted over the course of a couple months. And one thing that was constantly placed on my heart was God's perfect love.

God's love, which supersedes and surpasses every possible fear that I could ever feel or imagine. Not only that but because of what Jesus did on the Cross, He conquered not only death, but every fear too. The more I prayed, the more God drenched me in His love. This love soon became so overwhelming, that my heart had no room for fear. God's perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Therefore, I do not need to be afraid. I do not need to worry. Not only is God with me, but He loves me. 

Be blessed and be fearless

 

Instagram/twitter: yemiade9

Embrace Your Fierce

Why are we “sorry” for everything?

I am a woman, hear me roar…right? Women have done amazing things for The Lord, for their families, for their companies, and in tons of other ways for centuries. So why are we still so unsure of ourselves? Why are we “sorry” for everything? Why are we not consistently claiming and acting like who God has called us to be? Why are we not all UNAPOLOGETICALLY FIERCE?

Most people who know me if asked to describe me in a few words at some point would come to the words UNAPOLOGETIC and FIERCE, but that has been and still is a journey! While I have always been generally gregarious, sometimes honest to a fault, and a self-starting go getter there has been periods in life where I have struggled with how I saw myself and how I thought others saw me. The fear of being too smart, too skinny, too loud, too much, too, too, too was the proverbial thorn in my side for a long time.

Funny enough I refused to wear shorts for 4 years because I thought my legs were too skinny. I would give a presentation in a room full of total strangers, I would lead a team project, I would ‘tell you like it is’ but shorts seemed too big a cross to bear. Looking back on it, that was silly; but it did not change that for me that was a very real feeling. I am proud to say I have been DELIVERT from my hatred of shorts though I still tend to avoid wearing them admittedly. Dresses and I have since had a fresh start.

My next mountain became dating. I really worried about ending up with the “right” person. I was fearful that I would somehow get it wrong and then I would OBVIOUSLY never be happy. *inserts face palm* I walked through life picking a part every little thing. Picking apart the little things made me extremely self-conscious, because I believed other people would do the same to me and when they did they would discover that I would be too much. My mom, my village, and I prayed my way through that; I have come to realize decisions ruled by fear are not decisions but rather regrets. Once again DELIVERT!

…but then I started working. Shorts may no longer be my issue but ‘sorry’ is. I have never been so SORRY in my whole life. I am sorry for things I caused, for things I couldn’t have affected outside of being Jesus himself, I’m sorry for being early, I’m sorry for being on time, I’m sorry for EVERYTHING! While this seems like a relatively innocuous habit, I am praying about it because it is not good. I am not saying sorry to fill the gap in an awkward conversation, reflexively, or because I am actually sorry. I am saying sorry because I fear that if I do not overcompensate with apologies people may think I am bossy, or they may find me over powering, or they may see me as “that black girl.” Almost DELIVERT!

I share these things not because it is bad to dislike shorts, or to be critical about who you choose to spend life with, or to apologize. I share them because they are small glimpses into my journey of tackling this fear thing. What I have seen in my own life is that you can overcome a million ‘small issues’ but they are the fruit of your issue not the root of it. The root of my issue is not shorts, boyfriends, or apologies. The root of my issue is being fearful. So why am I fearful? I could say it is because I am a fairly neurotic dooms-dayer who knows Murphy’s Law as well as John 3:16, which would be true but not completely honest. I am fearful because I don’t trust God like I should. In ALL of these experiences it has been about me, not about God. When you know who you belong to and you trust that The Lord wants what is best for you in every avenue even when you don’t feel that way you do not let fear consume you and guide the way that you act. The Bible is full of amazing women who embody this, my favorite is a woman who does not even have a name. Noah’s wife was so bomb to me! This woman had never seen rain but even as the Earth was being flooded she waited on God and she trusted that He would see his promise through. She had every reason to be fearful and to step outside of God’s will by making it about her and what she could do, yet despite it all she chose faith! I like to believe she also chose shorts, a great husband, and she wasn’t sorry about it… but that’s just me.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” Psalm 46:1-3

I am learning on my journey to believe God like she did, I am learning more about who God is, who I am in Him, and that He has given me the faith to believe when I want to be fearful because it feels like the earth is giving way. I am a Christian woman who refuses to live her life in fear, hear me roar! I don’t always get it right BUT I wear shorts, I have an amazing boyfriend, and I ain’t sorry *Beyoncé voice with a neckroll*.

 

McKenzie Conner

Instagram: @youngkodakmac

Facebook: McKenzie Conner

Confessions of An Emotional Woman

I am not what I feel

 

I started off this year excited. More than excited, I was hopeful. I just knew that this year was going to be better than the one before. I spent last year discovering my strength and I was ready to use it in 2017.

The only problem is.... I am an emotional woman. Yes, The stereotype applies to me. I am the friend who will call you screaming with excitement when you get into that grad school program; the daughter who was fuming with anger behind closed doors whenever her parents fought; the leader crying with team members as they are facing a rough season of life. I am an emotional woman. How could I be strong when such a large part of me is viewed as a weakness?

I’m learning emotions are not necessarily a good or bad thing, but a God given response to life’s events. It is natural and necessary to be aware of emotions, similar to being aware of surrounding environments. It ensures safety. Emotions build relationship with people through the expression of words. An invitation to say “me too”. You’re sad about the season finale of This is Us? Me too! Burpees make you angry? Me too! We connect through shared emotions. In fact, emotions can be so dominant, they can define us.

 

“Then God said, let there be light and there was light.” (Gen.1:3)

 

As bold as our emotions are, God has given us something more powerful and transforming to define ourselves. That something is the same thing He used to create the heavens and the earth, light and darkness, even man himself. God has given us the ability to define ourselves with our words.

 

Words….not something I’ve mastered. I often find myself rambling and causing confusion with my words. But what if words were meant to be used the way God uses them… to build. God tells us the power of life and death lies in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Almost like a tool.

Tools are small instruments with a monumental impact. Words are not simply an expression of emotions, but a tool to build identity. To speak encouragement, insert hope, and welcome love. Words provide the opportunity to tear down lies of emotions and shed light on the truth of identity. Instead of only using words to communicate with people, God wants to use them to build our character.

 

Let’s choose to build the identity we want with our words:

 

  1. Separate the emotions from the truth

    1. What negative emotions are dominating your thinking?

    2. Which biblical truth will crush those emotions?

  2. Create a list of words you want to live by (ex. below)

    1. I am loved by God and find my identity in Him

    2. I love people and think the best of them

    3. I am not easily offended because God’s love lives in me

    4. I am not a rejected soul because I am continuously pursued by God

    5. I walk by faith, not by sight

  3. Speak these words with confidence everyday

    1. Create a morning routine that includes your words to live by

    2. Stand in the mirror and tell yourself who you are

  4. Watch God define your identity!

 

Check out this link for more insight on words to live by: https://finds.life.church/words/https://finds.life.church/words/


 

Pauline Russell

@LeanOnP

Unapologetically Fierce: Deborah

She knew that God gave her everything she needed for life and godliness because she knew who God was

As soon as I heard the topic for this month I couldn’t help but scream out in my head “Deborah”! Who was unapologetically fierce and a woman? Deborah was! Do you know she as the only female judge written about in the Bible? That’s a big deal guys! Her story shows us how God does not respect societal norms and what we can do in our lives when we walk confidently in the giftings and plans God establishes in our life. We let the lies of the enemy tell us we’re unqualified when God has given us everything we need to do the seemingly impossible! Let’s learn a little bit about being fierce through her example.

 

Let me tell you a little bit about her story.  You can find out more about her in Judges 4 and 5 but here’s a quick rundown.  She was the only female judge in the Bible and she led Israel for a few years.  Her major claim to fame was basically telling Barak, a military leader at the time, that he was a punk because he wouldn’t go do what God told him to do without her tagging along. Another woman named Jael ended up killing their enemy instead of Barak.  Jael got the glory and Barak now goes down in history as the dude that had to have a girl tag along with him before he would do what God called him to do.  

 

Side-note: let’s not miss out on the blessings God has for us because we’re too afraid to go it alone. If He told us we can, rest assured we have what we need to get it done!

 

But back to Deborah.  We can learn three things from her example that will make us unapologetically fierce in our own lives!

  1. She knew she was called

Now we don’t get the chance to see her life before she became a judge but just by how she shows up on the scene I can tell she was fierce! She sat under a tree and people came to her for judgment and wisdom.  She was comfortable.  She knew that: God called her for such of time as this (Esther 4:14); her gift was irrevocable (Romans 11:29); God would give her the words to speak to those who were hurting; and that she had the tongue of the learned (Isaiah 50:4).  We could take a page out of her book and walk confidently in the fact that God says all these things about us too.  When we know who God is and what He says about us we can’t help but do fierce things!

 

       2. She knew she was backed

She knew that God gave her everything she needed for life and godliness because she knew who God was (2 Peter 1:3)! I believe we sometimes think we’re out here on our own, just winging it, but that’s not the truth at all! God has major plans for us and is always working on our behalf.  He says He’s working on things as we sleep (Psalm 127:2)! Deborah knew that to be true so she could just sit back and give direction freely.

 

       3. She knew to confidently speak

She didn’t do this in her own power.  She spoke what God told her to speak and with that, came a freedom!  She summoned Barak and told him plainly what God planned to do through him (Judges 4:6-7).  Just like Deborah we don’t have to worry about what to speak because God gives us the words! We have the tongue of the learned (Isaiah 50:4) and God gives us wisdom with kindness.  

See, she was confident in her dealings with people because she was confident in the God who backed her.  She was able to speak boldly because she knew she had all she needed and that God gives the words.  Let’s take a page out of Deborah’s book: Let’s speak with boldness and be unapologetically fierce!

Instagram: snwilliams524

Snapchat: snwilliams524

Website: www.dreammeetreality.org

 

I Am Abram

Ya girl is ready

I once preferred the known. The thing I could hear, feel, taste and recognize without ever opening my eyes.  The thing I knew would happen because it happened every day. The thing I could plug into my phone days in advance and then go and do. The thing I could effortlessly predict its outcome.

I once needed the known. Because I was afraid of everything else.

Or so I thought.

It’s been ten months and I’m doing just fine.

On my own.

In my two-bedroom home in a new zip code, new makeup of neighbors, new median income range, new everything. Absent is my mother to cook dinner or my stepfather to shovel my car out the snow or my brother to dirty the sink with hair shavings.

Present is a matured me.

Every day I wake up is another day I survived the unknown. Or better yet, I trusted God enough to get me through it. Life is now like an episode of Stranger Things, where anything can be lurking in the shadows. Yet, I roll myself out of bed, plant my bare feet on the carpeted floor and start life anew.

And it feels great to finally live without knowing how things will turn out next.

I’ve always been smart, talented, funny and oh yes, timid. I was the girl turned woman who played by the rules (for the most part), said very little and just let life happen the way I thought it was supposed to—all calculated and what not. I watched friends and family hop on life like a mechanical bull and ride it til they mastered it, even if they fell off a few times in between.

See, God had to open my eyes. And my heart and my ears. And my arms to embrace the unknown. He needed me to understand that it’s not about carefree living but obedient living.

These last few months have produced jaw-dropping results since i left DC, the one place I always called home. By moving miles down the interstate to a suburb in Maryland and leaving my family, friends and even the church I had been attending since the age of 13, I had to make room for God to prove himself to me.

Not that he needed my permission, but he definitely needed my full attention. And He got it.

At 30, He has made it loud and clear to me that the unknown should not be feared because there are promises He’s ready to fulfill in my life.

Just like the ones He promised to Abram.

The lord had said to Abram, ’Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.’” Gen 12:1-3 (NLT)

Now, I am nobody’s mother of many nations but I know that had I not been obedient and entrusting to God, I would still be living in a cramped room in my parents’ house and still going through the motions of attending church but experiencing little growth. I would still be trapped in a limiting and self-doubting mental state that crippled me in more ways than one. And I, just like Abram, had a choice to make. Either stick with what was familiar and carry on life as usual or risk it all on the unknown and accept the call God put on my life. Just imagine how different the outcome would’ve been if Abram remained in his home town of Haran. I’m glad I don’t have to. Because of one man’s obedience, courage and flat out faith in God, nations were blessed. I am blessed. You are blessed. We are blessed to be a part of God’s lineage. We can boldly accept the position as a child of God and not be asked for our credentials.

As a result of my own obedience to God, I see firsthand the things I can do because of Him. I’m not too old or too insignificant to reap His promises. I am no longer bound by my own mindset of the things I can’t do.

I can’t afford to live on my own. I can’t make new friends because I’m too shy and the few I have I’ve known for years. I can’t get a new job because I’ve been in one place for over a decade and I don’t have enough experience to become a well-known writer.  I can’t grow spiritually if I join a new body of Christ where I don’t know anyone.

Trusting in God takes work. It also takes you moving out of your own way and backing up your beliefs with actions. I don’t know what God has in store for me beyond this moment but I’m excited for what’s going to come and what has already happened. I’m excited for the people I will bless because of the stories He has given me to share. I am grateful for the new church I have joined where I’ve connected with people who have a burning desire to be closer to God all the while serving others.

The unknown has proven to be rewarding, somewhat scary but most importantly, reassuring thanks to the Word.

Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great”-Gen 15:1 (NLT)

While talking to my grandmother one day, she said something to me that quieted every ounce of doubt I experienced since my transition. “You didn’t just move out there to live. God has so much more in store for you.”               

And I couldn’t agree more. Bring on the greatness, fame and blessings, God.

Ya girl is ready

 

Adina Ferguson

@writeme511

www.adinathewriter.com

I Am Martha

We worry so much, we do his job for Him

I Am....(Often) Martha

"And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41‭-‬42 NKJV

Busyness. Whether you work a 9-5 or your're in school or perhaps both, busyness is a way of life for so many. It's especially true for me. As much as I try to prioritize and do what I think needs to be completed, I often frustrate myself because I'm just too busy. 

In the scripture above, we see Martha busy. She's busy preparing her home for Jesus. Think about it: Jesus is coming to your home for dinner. My heart says I would fall at his feet, but my head says make everything nice and welcoming for Him. Cook the best dishes. Pull out the finest China. Make it beautiful. But, isn't it just like Jesus to say we are "worried and troubled about many things?" 

We worry so much, we do his job for Him. If there is one thing I've learned in the busyness of life, when I'm bogged down with worry, it's that God is good at being God. He's good at taking care of us and taking on our burdens. We simply don't need to do that. We aren't called to. Yes, life is hard and requires so much. But, the hope we have in Jesus is that he takes on those things if we let him. Matthew 11:30 says "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

One of my favorite hymns is "What A Friend We Have In Jesus." The song says
"O what peace we often forfeit, 
O what needless pain we bear, 
All because we do not carry, 
Everything to God in prayer."

When I find myself getting too consumed by my To-do list or a reminder in my phone, I sing those few lines. It reminds me that I don't have to do anything on my own. The tasks will still be there. That doesn't mean to forgo your duties, but never be too busy to spend time in the Father's presence. 

Here are few simple things to do:

1. Be intentional about spending time with God. 
    - Make a date with him every day. Set a time and be there. He will show up. 

2. Worship where you are.
    - Sing and play worship songs in your home, car, office and even in your heart. You may not be able to sing aloud, but keep a song in your heart. 

3. Step away. 
   - Sometimes we simply have to say 'NO' to taking on more responsibility. Delegate tasks, if you can. 

While we admire Martha's ambition and focus, sometimes we have to take a moment to embrace our Mary spirit and simply sit at Jesus' feet. 

Ashleigh Aldridge

@dstsai1303
 

I Am David

In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’ 2 Samuel 5:2

"Here I am tending the sheep of my pasture given to me by my dad Jesse.  I don't know why my brothers are never out here with me but at least I have time to hang out here. Sometimes while I am out here, I like to sing.  Just....about the art of tending these sheep...about God...about my emotions...just life itself.  They need my assistance. At the end of the day, I am still learning..but I am committed to the process.  Last week a priest came to town to talk to my family.  I was in these same exact fields tending my sheep when someone came to get me.  Apparently, this priest came to anoint me as king.  The strange thing is, I am still in this pasture now.  Everyone knows that King Saul is the king of Israel.  Hopefully things clear up soon."

I believe this season of my life reminds me of Davids story.  Although he was anointed to do something major for God, he didn't walk into his kingship right away.  There was time for development.  There was time to learn from people close to him.  There was even time for him to experience hurt from those same people.  But development is so important.  If David never experienced the lions and the bears of the wilderness while tending his sheep, how would he have defeated Goliath?  He wasn't ashamed of being in a place of developing his heart in a space where trusting was his only option.  

 

I seek to cultivate my worship relationship daily.  Some days are harder than others.  But what if I chose to extend myself to grace and understanding as I develop. Being a leader isn't easy.  But it's a good thing we are called to follow first.  

1) Take the little steps as seasons of development and appreciate those steps-

2) When called upon, step out in faith and know God has got your back-

3) Extend mercy to yourself.  The only person capable of a perfect repentance was Jesus Christ and since he was perfect, he had no need for the repentance that we needed in the first place. He sacrificed for us. That's why he died on the cross - to deliver to us that which we needed.  Be Compassionate to yourself.

 

1 Samuel 16 & 17

2 Samuel 5

Joseph Tynes