No safety in playing small

-Where’s the power in playing small?

-Small mindedness yields small returns.
Years ago, I crossed paths with someone who challenged like every ounce of me. I always looked up to her and naturally during the period she became my mentor. One of the biggest things she taught me was to stop being feeble-minded.
Definition of Feeble:
Lacking strength of character.
Definition of “Feeble”: lacking strength of character Synonyms: cowardlycravenfaint-heartedspinelessspiritlesslily-liveredchinless

So funny that to this day I still hear her voice – “Don’t be feeble-minded, Lauren.” And she had this uncanny way of saying it jokingly, but at the same time you knew she was serious.
If you play small. You’ll be small.
If you think small. You’ll be small.
And I still remember the way Marianne Williamson’s poem “Our Deepest Fear” made me feel when I first heard it.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” 
(And yes, my first time hearing this was on the movie “Coach Carter” lol (if you’ve never seen that cinematic great, put it on your to-do list).)
The point is, sometimes it’s scary to think of how powerful we are. And I think some of my issue is playing in the “safe” area because then there is no “big failure” on the books. But in actuality, I don’t feel very safe in the “small” me.
And this failure that I’m afraid of is in a lot of ways, not real. No one is truly keeping track; it’s just in my head. It’s me that feels the realest deficit when I’m not being what’s so deeply ingrained in me. Just my sick sense of needing approval from others.
But I have a hard time with that – if it’s been placed on my heart – what other approval am I needing? My heart and spirit says so, so all I need to do is actualize. Bring it to fruition. Live and breathe it.
#RELINQUISH
-Lauren
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Opening up to others.

Talking is really therapeutic.

(Trying not to laugh or scoff  at myself for stating the seemingly obvious, because obviously that wasn’t too obvious for me! And honestly, it may not truly be to you either.)

I like to stay true to what I preach, but I realize more often than not, I’m quick to listen and encourage others to speak up about what’s going on, but I’m not nearly as forthcoming. I’m a private person who has tons of conversations in my head so I feel like I’m addressing issues, and sometimes it is more appropriate to have those self reflection times. But in these last few days, I’ve had some people check on me and open their hearts and ears for me and I’ve said some things out loud and (OH MY GOODNESS) there have been some revelations on things I’ve been conversing with myself about in my head for weeks…months…years…

Just like that, saying some things out loud to other people has created a different type of atmosphere and freedom around me. Things have been revealed. Sound counsel has been delivered. Prayers have been answered. Doors have been opened and closed. Truths have been illuminated. 

I don’t know your “thing,” but for me, I think it’s almost always been the way that I share and let people in – I struggle with that. Since I can remember, I’ve been more of a private person…not exactly sure why that is, however my momma raised me to be independent, but i think in some ways I’d internalized that to mean I have to work out almost everything for myself…then in the last couple of years, I’ve relinquished a bit more and it became what God and I work out together and now I feel like more than ever I’m being forced to see the beauty and power in relationships with others. Because quite frankly, I don’t think this season can be faced without me acknowledging my need for others and then actually opening up to others.

With work, I gotta accept that I don’t know what I don’t know and lean on the wisdom and guidance of others to help me.

With my relationship with my man, I/we have to seek sound counsel that can help us walk our journey.

With my business plan, I have to allow others to share with me what they have so I can learn and even have a chance at success.

I could go on and on with the list, but at the end of the day none of this can happen if I just continue to have conversations in my head with myself. I have to branch out. I have to get outside my comfort zone. This season calls for new things…sometimes I wonder if I’m ready for them, but honestly, I don’t have to be ready or super knowledgeable, I just have to be willing to try…one day at a time.

So hold me accountable y’all! Future posts should show results of me reaching out and conversing openly with others…

-Lauren

The Hospitable Host

I think one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about moving and meeting new people is hosting. If you know me, you know I love to feed people (I get it from my momma), and I’ve found that I enjoy connecting people as well. There’s something about being a host and helping create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable and welcomed that just makes me feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside.

All in all, I’m learning a lot about myself here, in this new place – personally, socially and spiritually…

This morning, I stumbled upon Psalm 121 in my devotion. It’s a chapter of 8 verses that speak of God’s character and promise of protection for the Israelites. But I think it’s fair to apply these same promises to our lives personally. I know for me, my life is a series of Israelite stories over and over again –> I was once captive and then God saved/redeemed me and showed/reminded me why He is my Lord and asked me to trust Him and along the journey I stumble…

These 8 verses are pure gold. If you read it fast, you’ll miss what they truly can mean for your life, so chew on these for a minute…

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will [a]protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will [b]guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

 

I read all of this and can’t help but think -He does all of this if we let, allow, invite and keep Him.

I find that a lot of times I invite Him in, but then do a poor job of hosting and making Him feel welcomed in my life (which is slightly odd considering the fact I enjoy hosting people…).

It’s like inviting a guest over for dinner…you text them up and ask them to come over; they agree and drive over; they ring the doorbell to signal they’ve arrived; you let them in and usher them to sit at the kitchen table while you finish getting the meal plated and ready and then somewhere in the process of getting everything ready, you get distracted and step into another room and leave your guest just sitting there…hungry and unwelcomed.

A hospitable host would at least follow-through with the action they invited the guest over for in the first place.

In that same way, we invite God in (i.e “Lord, help me to be more disciplined in my life”), but then don’t give Him much to work with. There has to be some kind of follow-through on our parts. And I know I can personally attest that lately, the follow-through piece has been an issue.

Yes, God can do ANYTHING – He’s good like that, but some things require that we be willing participants. It’s true that God is no stranger in my house and could have easily finished serving those plates that I absently left when I got distracted, but He didn’t “come over” to eat alone – He wants me to eat with Him; dine with Him; talk with Him.

And as I continue to write and think about this, it boils down to the fact that I hold a responsibility to do my part. If I’ve made a request, I sure as heck should follow-through on it and set the atmosphere for things to transpire.

I like to use the word responsible when describing myself, but we all know a word is just a word until we give it meaning (in this case, that meaning has to come through action). Lauren is not responsible until she takes responsibility and owns the role she needs to play.

I wish I had some words of advice to share, but honestly I don’t. At times, my motivation is low and my actions are few. I’m glad to have some clarity and a better understanding of some of my issue, but nonetheless, I want to see myself take more responsibility and be the hospitable host; I want to see follow-through action on the things I’m praying for and not inviting God in only for Him to “sit and eat” alone…

The same way I enjoy hosting people at my place, I’ve got to host God the same way in my heart and life.

Journey with me y’all…

-Lauren

Safe. 

It’s scary to leave your “safe” place when you don’t have a script or instruction manual to know what to say or do. It’s scary to leave your “safe” place when what’s around you is new and foreign. It’s scary to leave your “safe” place for things that are unfamiliar.

But what exactly are you defining as “safe”?

Psalm 91:1-2 says – Those who live in the shelter of the Most High, will find rest in the shadow of The Almighty. He alone is my refuge, my place of SAFETY: He is my God and I trust Him. 

Is God not safe enough for you?? 

The task seems daunting when we don’t feel “safe” leaving our “comfort,” but God…yes God is THE SAFE PLACE

Trust what He’s intentionally showing you. Trust what He’s purposed for you. Jump into God’s safety and take risks today!

❤️

What Are You Searching For?

What are you searching for?

Be honest.

If you were to look over your last couple hours/days/weeks/months, how have you been spending your time? What kind of activities have you been engaging in? What have you spent your money on?

Think about it. Did you find a common theme(s) ruling all of your time?
I posed those questions because I found that the way I was spending my time, was not in fact aligned with what I proclaim to want.

We say we want one thing, yet we may lack the actions and behavior to get that. So I ask you, what are you searching for? 

Are you searching for affirmation and confirmation? If so, who are you looking to, to affirm and confirm you?

(If you’re waiting on a human, please know: if you live for their praise, you’ll also die from their criticism)

Are you searching for love? If so, who/what are you wanting/attempting to get it from? Does God love you? Do you love yourself? Are those two sources not enough for you? Why is that? Dig deeper! (You may be amazed at what you find out and need to change your mind on…)

(Please know: God’s love is enough. Of course others’ love is applauded and needed too, but if your foundation of love isn’t set upon God’s, you’ll search endlessly for the love you think you need/want.)

Are you searching for purpose? If so, are you basing your purpose on fleeting things? Are you searching by comparing what everyone else is doing?

(Please know: you were created on purpose for a purpose and your purpose is absolutely and positively, UNIQUE TO YOU. Spend time asking God what He has for you and then be patient and open enough to hear/see/do what he reveals to you.)

—-

I encourage you to be honest about what you’re searching for and your means to get it. If there’s a gap between what you’re looking for and how you’re attempting to get it, then reevaluate your actions and behavior and then put forth work to change things. For me, God is a great giver of instructions and guidance – so I encourage you too, to talk to Him (He’s waiting to hear from you).

-Lauren❤️

Unwrap The Gift! [[The “UNPACKING” Series – Part 4]]

I feel closest to God not just when I’m praying, but when I’m doing what He’s instructed me to do and I’m praying along the way.

When I’m doing what He’s told me to do, there’s this type of connection and dependency I have on The Father; A fine mingling between our spirits because we’re communicating on the same wave length.

I pray. He leads. I do it and I pray for next steps. I’m moving with God, not in opposition to Him.

Did you catch that?

I said: I AM MOVING WITH GOD.

Many times we pray out of habit (not a bad thing), but we directly neglect what He told us to do in the first place. It’s more of a series like this: We pray. He leads. We ignore and pray some more about the same things.

So in other words, we don’t do what He told us. ⬅️ This fact has been super amplified in my life especially after a friend’s recent introduction of a book called Wasted Prayer by Greg Darley (I definitely recommend this one).

I think over the last couple months, this is something God has really been trying to teach me. Not only has He placed people, things and messages all around me, but he’s been so faithful and generous with His blessings these last couple months as I’ve begun to start d o i n g.

As my Pastor Dr. Mike Scruggs said in church Sunday – “God rewards consistency.”  But consistency requires some type of action to be repeated over and over again. Notice I said: A C T I O N.

But yet so often, the action steps never happen for me because I’m so fearful of what it really means to take that step. To r e l i q u i s h control and really let God lead me to those necessary action steps.

It’s like I’d become such a scaredy cat (notice how I wrote that in past tense because I’m leaving that mess in the past), but I’d become such a scaredy cat that I wouldn’t allow myself to just reach into the box and pull stuff out because I wasn’t sure what I’d get or even if I’d like it.

If I think of these boxes God has given me to UNPACK as simple gifts, why would I be willing to rip off the gift wrap, tear open the box but still too scared to fully uncover what’s in the box??

My boxes are gifts. Therefore the contents of my boxes are presents specifically picked out for me (My what a blessing that is)! So let me fully UNWRAP and UNPACK the gift and see it out in the open – not confined to a box or any other type of wrapping. Taking it out the box actually F R E E S the gift and thus liberates me.

In that same way, praying frees the pray-er of stress and worry and allows God to present a set of instructions as a gift. The pray-er then should accept the gift of instructions and fully unwrap it and do as God has instructed! 

Therefore, the unwrapping is the action step in which we actually begin to UNPACK and live out our blessings bit by bit, one step at a time. 

So are we unwrapping the gifts of instructions God is giving us or simply pushing and praying away wrapped gifts with our names on them too afraid to actually unpack them??

#QTNA (Questions That Need Answers)

———-

UNPACK & UNWRAP!

Lord, thank you first and foremost for continually blessing me with gifts. Thank you for showing me all these gift around me that I have yet to open. I’m
So grateful that you still provide gifts even when I’ve ignored the ones you’ve already given. Please forgive me and all my ignorance, Lord. Help me to no longer discard nor toss your gifts to the side. Help me to be thankful for your gifts/answers and to UNWRAP and DO those gifts and blessings you give.

Amen.

Should Unpacking Get Messy?? [The “Unpacking” Series – Part 2]

I am so tickled right now.

When God gives you opportunities to laugh with Him, please DO IT!

This deep belly laugh growing in my spirit is nearly bringing me to tears.

They say “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans” – I have my issues with that saying, but in my situation today, it really is proving true.

Like, have you ever just laughed at how ridiculous someone is?

Well…today’s knee-slapper is my own ridiculousness.

I’m over here shifting and planning and moving and shaking and holding up progress because I’m convinced this particular “thing” has to happen in a certain way, but God just stops me and is like “Really…Really Lauren…this is what we’re doing now??” (and He said it in his Kevin Hart voice lol jk 😂

Like seriously, we can be given the simplest of instructions, but yet we still make them complicated.

image

I know I find ways to make things complex, all the time and I’ve been doing the same with this “UNPACKING” thing. I still hold this deep underlying need to plan everything out. So for instance, before I unpack these boxes, I have to have a plan for where everything goes. So I’ve been browsing other people’s lives like Pinterest boards – trying to see what to re-pin, like and recreate. But can I tell you a secret?

“If you’ve been given a simple directive, JUST DO THAT!”

Because of my struggles with perfectionism and my want to plan, I feel this need to “prepare” before I do all this unpacking of Lauren. The funny thing is, I have no idea what I’m going to find out about myself as I unpack, yet I’m looking for how to organize it. Does that make any sense to you? Yeah, me neither! That’s why I’m not going to do that anymore!

Life isn’t as simple as a thumb-swipe, a like and a re-pin. We don’t just incessantly scroll thru pictures and ideas and plan our lives. There’s nothing wrong with admiring other peoples’ great ideas/gifts/talents/etc., but there is certainly a time and a place for it. And my ability to look into others “lives” to help plan mine, is not helpful. In fact, it’s quite misplaced.

Additionally, there’s nothing wrong with planning. But again, there’s a time and a place for it  and in my case, I’m just stalling because I’m afraid of what all I’m going to find out. 😔

If I’ve yet to unpack my own boxes and understand what all Lauren is made of, why would I be trying to decorate her like someone else’s place when she is her OWN place?!?

(I’ll wait…)

The idea of dressing Lauren up as someone else is ludicrous, right?

God never told me I needed to go on “Pinterest” and make these excessive boards full of ideas. He simply told me to UNPACK, but often times my ideas of how things should happen, overrides His simple directives.

My need to control situations does not change the fact that God still holds my life in His hands. So whether I delay it by putting my own thoughts and ideas on a matter or not, God still waits for us to position ourselves how He told us to.

So…

I began unpacking one of my first boxes over the last week…

And there’s so much freedom and joy in my spirit because of it! No, I don’t have any extravagant plans of where I’m going to put what I’ve unpacked, but just having them out in the open is freeing enough (who would’ve thunk it?)!!

Despite popular belief, UNPACKING doesn’t have to be this super organized and detailed process. In fact, it is likely to get a little messy.

But can I help free you?

LIFE IS MESSY – it’s full and its lively!

When we allow God to “organize” the mess that the contents of all our boxes create, we open ourselves up to divine plans that only He can set for us.

I’ll admit – saying that is one thing, but actually allowing God to do that, is another. I’m still in the “understanding” portion of all that, but I believe…YES (day by day, it is a task), but I believe.

It’s time to get messy.

-Lauren Still Relinquishing ❤

*Read Part 1 in The “Unpacking” Series here!

Where are you looking during the race?

“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I feel like God keeps reminding me to RUN THE RACE WITH ENDURANCE yet I keep stopping and complaining that I can’t for one reason or another…

Yet in reading this, not only are we given a task to run the race, but we’re given instruction on how to do so! It says “DO THIS BY KEEPING YOUR EYES ON JESUS” – like hello! Instruction is right there! Why do you continue to whine and groan and wallow in YOUR mess while you continue to not focus on Jesus? It says very clearly that when our eyes are not on ourselves, but on Jesus- the perfecter of our faith, that we will indeed endure our “race”.

So I don’t know about you, but today, I’m making a SERIOUS effort to look toward Jesus and not focus on myself as I get through this test. And I have to be super intentional in my efforts so that not only is mine made up, but my attitude and behavior match!

So no matter what your “race” is, stay faithful with your eyes on Jesus today. He will help you endure and make it through. Keep pushing!

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:12-13‬

-Lauren ❤


Ps: When I read this verse this morning, God was like “how many verses are you going to read and NOT take the advice?” (Ouch). It’s one thing to read. It’s another things to listen and do what it says.