Proper credit.

“When we don’t understand something is a gift, we won’t give it the proper credit [appreciation/time/love] it deserves” – Luvvie Ajayi

—-

Sometimes, I silence my voice or deny myself an opportunity to experience and enjoy something because I fail to realize it’s a gift. I downplay it or I ignore it or a I take it for granted.

I have to practice calling my love what it is. I have to stop calling my passion a hobby and better yet, I have to stop treating my passion as a hobby. If I love it, it’s only right that I do/be it.

A lot of times, fear stands in the place of execution. Or even that annoying voice that tries to tell me I’m not special/unique/original/creative/pretty/entrepreneurial/confident enough to do what I want to do/be. But I am enough. I am dope as is in whichever space I choose to find my truth.

—-

Not everyone can do what YOU do. No one else can BE YOU. There may be some very similar in the same field or lane, but YOU hold your own special place. No one (not one) can take that which is yours. So give your gift it’s proper credit. Love on it; Call it by it’s name; pursue it!

—-

PS: I don’t know if y’all have been listening to the Jesus and Jollof podcast by Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Orji, but episode 3 and 4 blessed my ENTIRE soul so much so that I keep re-listening and finding new nuggets. Take a listen!

—-

This is a quick share simply to affirm in you (and myself) TRUTH. Love y’all – Lauren

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making time for me.

I remember boldly declaring, “This Summer, I’m going to fall madly in love with myself.” That was summer 2015. I hate to say I’ve fallen out of love with myself, but I certainly haven’t done a great job of loving me; spending time with me; making time for me; having a relationship with me.

It seemed like such a great goal to achieve that summer (and it was so needed, especially at that time), but as y’all know, we learn, we evolve, we change and we have to continue to get to know the person we are becoming. Sometimes that requires us to learn how to love ourselves in new ways too.

Previously, I had an abundant amount of free time, that I pretty much dedicated to just me..I worked out, I read books, I wrote, I planned for the future, I slept, I communed with others from time to time. Now, I have a demanding job, a husband, bills, responsibilities, commitments, a miniature social life, etc. And in all that, it’s imperative that I still find time for Lauren.

Even as other things fight to take my attention, I can’t forget my priorities.

Put importance on your priorities.

I have workaholic tendencies, so my hubby, being the caring and observant person he is, asked me when’s the last time I did something exclusively for Lauren. Of course he already knew the answer to that question, so he politely broke it down to me like this:

“You have 24 hours in a day – approximately 1/3 of the day goes to sleep/rest, the other 1/3 goes to your job and that last 1/3 of the pie – should go to you.”

I don’t know about you, but this was new to me. It’s very logical and makes complete sense, but I quickly found all the faults in his simple theory: it’s not realistic; what about all my other responsibilities; My job requires me to do work after hours; how would this work if you have a family?

Again, he knows me well so he was quick to rebut with “…that’s why I challenge you to give yourself just one hour per day where you’re doing nothing, but something enjoyable to you.”

I agreed with him that, that sounded simple and easy enough to do. And then POW! 2 months go by and here I am asking myself why I’ve yet to do more than 3 “Hour for Lauren.” I’ve come to the conclusion, that I make a lot of EXCUSES for why I can’t do something, because at this point in my life, where things seem pretty busy, I haven’t made myself much of a priority.

I know in theory, that I have to love and love on Lauren, but I put forth little effort to actually make that happen. I mean well, but I don’t necessarily do well.

We can intend to do something, but intention and action are 2 different things.

Anyone else at that same place? Intending to do well, but not really doing it??

What’s an excuse you cannot make for yourself today?

Personally, I can no longer stand behind the excuse that I have to work.

I’ve broken this down for me like this – Sure, there’s work that needs to get done, but my life goal is not to work myself to death; Not everything has to be done right then and there, some things can wait until the next day;  I also can’t be the best me at my job if I’m not renewing myself on a consistent basis.

I believe there’s time that can be dedicated to just you, it’s just a matter of us finding it and whole-heartedly believing we are worthy and deserving of that time.

We gotta do a better of job of not just talking about loving ourselves, but actually relinquishing those distractions and excuses, and making it a habit and priority.

-Lauren Relinquished ❤

Gettin’ married and whatnot

**So as you all know, shortie got married *oooooouuuuuu* 🙂 So, I wanted to write a quick blog post to give insight, show appreciation, give shout outs! There’s no way we could have done it by ourselves so the support around us has meant so much! I also wanted to share because I don’t loosen reigns all that easily, so planning over the last year has definitely been a testament of RELINQUISHING. I’ve personally learned a lot about myself; My husband and I have learned a lot; we’ve learned alot about how we work together as a couple; we’ve learned a lot about the people around us  too! It’s been quite the experience to say the least…**

 

Marrying my best friend: 

A lot of people speculated so much would change; So many things will be different, etc etc. But I can’t say much has changed. Personality-wise we’re still the same individually and with one another. Neither one of us feel too differently, I guess since we been at this for 7 years…

We’re definitely excited for this part of the journey tho!!

The support systems: 
 
Family! Wow wow wow! Thank you all so much! To the mommas, dad, sisters! Y’all came throughhhhh! We love y’all so much! Thank you for supporting us and then some! For the wisdom, the love, the calls, the just in cases, sacrifice, finances, EVERYTHING!
Let me tell y’all bout my wedding planner and coordinator thOooo. She often knew before i did. Challenged me to create my vision and walked me through the steps to make it come alive. When i deterred and wanted to be basic, she wouldn’t let me and always did so in the most loving of ways! Like y’all, she’s just amazing!  I’m definitely hard-headed and a lot of times didn’t want to take the help, but she insisted with a smile on her face. I can honestly say the day wouldn’t have come together if it weren’t for her. I’m a procrastinator and her leading and questions were clutch. I’m sure she wanted to hit me upside the head a couple times, BUT she did everything with so much love and professionalism. I’d recommend her to everyone I know! Currently planning? Looking to get married in a few years? Your cousin’s brother’s homeboy getting married? You need to know her. She did alterations on my dress (y’all saw me looking like a snack), my BEAUTIFUL head piece and bomb earrings to match! She even hand made my garter (i wanna cry thinking of how much she helped me). My point being – call her! Hit me up for the deets! Rajeanne Bridal –  THANK YOU! ❤
The melanin magic: 
So many beautiful brown people. My eyes were so in love 😍 big shout out to our families – mommas, daddies, sisters, pastors for showing up and showing out! Y’all fine! And of course the entire bride squad and all groomsmen! Yall’s support and sacrifices have meant so much to us and we are forever grateful! That “whatever it takes attitude” has us forever indebted. Our hearts are warmed and it meant so much to share the day with y’all!
Hired services and even more support: 
Loved the opportunity to work with these peeps to make the day everything and then some. My sanDs Courtney and Brittany are so bomb for coming through as make up artists and literally slaying! Y’all did an amazing job – faces were beat with excellence and i can’t thank y’all enough 😘😘*muah*
Shout out to Mr. Ray Keith IV for coming through for the men – everyone looked so handsome and stylish – thank you for seeing the vision and making it greater! I ain’t always the easiest to work with but you pushed through and we appreciate you good sir!
Shout out to my wedding singer – Tonie Cole! Voice of an angel! Choked up walking down the aisle! So special and such an amazing touch. Your professionalism is a breath of fresh air and your helpfulness is amazing! You even stopped in early and helped with some eyebrows (lol thanks girl!) can’t thank you enough!
Photography and Videography provided by Degrace Imagery! We opted for the wedding package and had an engagement photoshoot included. Hubby actually hates taking pics but they made us feel so comfortable. I’ll do a separate post of photos, but I wanted to shoutout the husband wife team because their awesome! 🙂
Hair for bridesmaids was done by Britney! – Lord thank you for her willingness to come in a hurry. I was playing about buns, but shortie came through for the ultimate hair slay! Everyone’s buns were laid and baby hairs were fleeky! Thank you boo!!
The food!! Big thanks to Rene’s Catering Kitchen for throwing down on the chicken and shredded roast!
Cake – I was Caked By Petite ❤ Love at first bite  and it tasted as good as it looked! Definitely recommend her for any occasion!
Also special shout out to D’Ominque for bringing her talents all the way to Atlanta and baking some bomb cupcakes at the rehearsal dinner! I can still take the chocolate ones with the chocolate icing (SO GOOD!)
And  also special shout to my self-appointed assistant (lol) Stephanie for being SOOOOOO clutch!
Y’all both were so down to help and ensure I had what I needed – THANK YOU!! Love yall!
And to all the extra hands that took the time to help decorate and make the reception pretty – WOW! Absolutely love y’all! The time crunch was a major setback, but y’all made it seamless. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
——
We love and appreciate you all! Thank you for helping to make our wedding  special!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ❤

I was depressed.

I was depressed.

So part of relinquishing is sharing – sharing the good, bad and sad.

And  today, I cried and I needed it. I needed to remember where I came from and reflect on where I am today.

*I wrote this post 2 months ago and am just now finding the courage to share*

They started a series on depression at church today. I was a little surprised because I hadn’t realized the series I’d been attending for 5 weeks was over and to be honest it was so right on time, so I was sad we had to move on to another topic. But I felt a little something telling me to just tune in and listen even though I felt this new series on depression didn’t pertain to me. Afterall, it is a great topic to speak about (especially since depression affects the black community).

Anyways the whole time I was sitting there as if the sermon didn’t pertain to me really but as the pastor continued to tell his story I felt my heart growing closer and closer to his because I knew exactly the pain he felt; the loneliness he spoke of; the lost and trapped feeling he shared.

It’s been over 2 years and I’m just now coming to terms that I was battling depression during that time. The crazy thing is how seemingly great things seemed on the outside but how crumbly and broken and achy I was on the inside. I had no idea what I was going through, why I felt like I did.  I just knew I didn’t feel much like myself and I was sad most the time.

I did this thing called closet-crying. Literally I’d cry in my walk-in-closet at the apartment I shared with my boyfriend. Whether you cry near your clothes or in a bathroom or in your car or wherever you do it…if you’re crying/hurting in private, you too are closet-crying.

I’d talk a little to others, but speaking things out loud to people didn’t really come naturally for me. It’s not that I didn’t have people, I just didn’t know who to talk to or what to tell them because I was having a hard time understanding for my darn self what in the world was going on. So I usually just remained quiet and stayed busy with all my activities but my energy to do those things changed a bit. I was always tired (fatigued would probably be a better word). I’d set alarms to get up but would sleep so hard I’d miss them. Probably because I was wrestling so hard mentally that I wore myself out which resulted in me having less and less…less to give to the day, to others, to myself, to work…etc.

I think my relationships is where I felt it the most..especially my boyfriend. Poor thing. I’m embarrassed to think about how many times he came to me addressing issues and needing feedback and how unable I was to give him anything except some tears and an “I don’t know. I’ll work on it” (which I almost never did). There were also times I’d go to places where I knew almost everyone but I’d walk in and feel like everyone was a stranger and they weren’t my friends. I specifically remember a campus event where I walked past tables full of my Sorors, mentees, classmates, friends, advisors, etc and couldn’t even bring myself to say “hi” because I was convinced that no one was nor wanted to be my friend. I acted out of character ALOT and would have out of body experiences where I’d see myself and know it wasn’t me, but couldn’t stop myself from blocking others off or throwing a temper tantrum over something trivial.

I didn’t feel like much of a friend to anyone…including myself.

It was all very strange for me. I didn’t seek out professional help because I didn’t actually know I needed help. But there was this one day in class when I couldn’t focus on anything they were talking about (this was common) and under the table I managed to type in “Why are people jealous?” in google.

Jealousy was one of my symptoms that I felt was really different for me and worse than it had ever been. So this probably marked the start of my “searching” period where I was tired of being lost and was thinking it’d be better to be found.

Slowly but surely, reading some of those googled topics and the psychology articles I found helped me to ask questions of myself and realize I wanted to find the root of where all of my symptoms were coming from.

I still never thought to speak to a professional at this point and I’m not really sure why – probably because I was independent and didn’t elicit help often. Probably because I was ignorant and still didn’t think it was necessary. Shoot…I really didn’t know any better.

Long story short I continued to deal on my own. And after another night of finding myself sitting  on my closet floor crying and exhausted I asked for God to help me. He’s a good listener. And for about 3 months or so I felt I had this invisible  helper with me that’d whisper and nudge me toward certain things like driving in silence and just letting things be quiet and peaceful. I also got the nudge to start letting go.

The hardest was my boyfriend. We dated since freshman year in college and spoke about one day being married, but because of the state of our relationship and also my inability to participate in it full time, it left us at odds with one another. We loved each other because we were best friends but the whole situation was hurtful and hard on both of us. We were graduating in a couple months and deep down we both knew we weren’t going to make it carrying on how we were. Not to mention I had a job offer back home in Cincinnati and he didn’t want to move to Ohio for several reasons. So that left me with my job in Cincinnati and him doing his own thing elsewhere. So we parted ways after we graduated.

That time after graduation was really hard at first because I was kind of isolated. Although Louisville wasn’t far, it felt distant and in the past most the time. One of my childhood friends was back in Louisville and the other was in the Cincinnati area, but I still felt lonely at times. I had my momma too but I still wasn’t much of a talker. I tried to keep myself busy mostly to avoid alone time with myself, so I decided I wanted to move and go into an MBA program so I reached out to advisors and friends and researched schools and cities and I had this excel sheet compiled with preferences. I got as far as doing a campus tour and even having a school call me, but she asked the fateful question of “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” Although a very typical and expected question I finally faced several things at that moment –

  1. I have no idea why I’m trying to pursue an MBA
  2. I want to have a reason to move and start fresh.

(3 is the one that got me)

  1. I was AVOIDING something.  

So when I got home I went to my computer and closed all the open tabs for schools and all of my started applications; I closed essays; I closed everything and said no more running. And that’s when I started taking things one day at a time and stopped trying to plan escapes and all of my future all at once.

I’m looking back now and realizing it’s been an eventful and interesting couple of years. I’m sitting in my car in the church parking lot now and still not clear on everything, but i know I’m supposed to be writing this out right now. I’m in a different space mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.  I’m so grateful for that, but I also know the journey continues.

I made it to church 45 minutes after it started and found myself sitting in that chair for a reason today. I needed to hear all of that message. I needed to remember and be reminded. And to be really honest, I tried to write down a couple thoughts and move on with the day, but a whisper told me to stay and write this out.  So I’m letting it out. I’m sharing…

Relinquishing.

-Lauren

Adventure in the “A”

I’ve lived in Atlanta for several months now, however I’ve done very little exploring. This summer has truly been a busy one with travel and major events to attend. But now, I’m ready to explore my new home a little more.

I woke up Saturday feeling slightly adventuresome so I text my favorite partner-in-crime and asked “Will you go exploring with me today!?” 

Here’s some of our day…

*click on the right and left of the image above to view photos*

 

-Lauren Relinquished ❤

GUEST POST: “Return.” By Anonymous

 

Luke 8:39 – “Return home and tell how much God has done for you”


I’m not a great story teller. I’m not exactly sure how to introduce my experience, so bear with me as I jump right into it…

The abuse started around year 1. Well, the physical abuse. There were always elements of mental and emotional abuse from day one, but I rationalized with myself and deemed it to be acceptable because his jealous and controlling ways meant “he cared about me” and his hurtful words meant he just “kept it real.” Little did I know those were warning signs to a much larger battle that I’d be fighting – literally.

The first big episode that occurred was the day before Valentine’s Day in 2013. I remember because he got me the cutest stuffed monkey and a pink card that read “I’m sorry for the bruises. I love you.” My bruised arms and ribs needed some TLC so I ran a bath and sat in the tub for hours. In that exact moment is when the thought of leaving him first came to mind. I had no idea how I was going to do it. I hadn’t told anyone about what was going on. I knew as soon as I told someone, I’d be held accountable to get out of the relationship and as crazy as it sounds, I don’t know if I was ready to leave yet. It wasn’t because I was dependent on him. Thankfully I was blessed with a great job and a high degree of self-sufficiency. And it wasn’t because I necessarily still loved and wanted to be with him (which was true in a sense)…but it was more so because of the threats. When someone constantly threatens you, tells you they’ll kill you if you ever try to walk out, you believe them. I believed him and I was afraid. I thought it’d be safer to stay and just pray that God changes him, versus me testing him and risking my life. Leaving didn’t sound safe to me. It sounded scarier than just continuing to be with him, so that’s exactly what I decided to do…continue to be with him.

As time progressed, so did the abuse. I’ll spare the details and stories of how and when each blow happened, but I do want to tell you how my spirit was being changed. See, I had always been my own version of a ‘Christian’. What I mean by that is, I went to church (when I wasn’t hungover from the night before), tithed (occasionally), and told people “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” I was that girl. I never had a relationship with God, just a legalistic list of do’s and don’ts that I followed when I felt like it. But about 2.5 years into this relationship, something within me was changing. My heart, mind, and soul was yearning for Christ in a way that I’ve never experienced before. And at this point during our entire relationship we NEVER attended church together. Never. When I approached my then boyfriend about going to church, he was completely against it. In fact, just hearing anything that had to do with God or church sent him into a state of INTENSE anger. I prayed for him – but the more I prayed it seemed like the angrier he got. He didn’t want me to go to church, read the Bible, etc. He hated anything that had to do with my faith. Very quickly I realized the battle that I was fighting was no longer just physical, but a spiritual one as well.

Fast forward to our 3 year anniversary: Right after we exchanged our ‘Happy Anniversaries’ we got into an argument and I told him I was done and I was leaving. Which was something I’d wanted to do for the past year and a half and I finally gained enough strength and courage to get up and go, permanently. I remember praying beforehand and saying, “Lord, if you get me out of this, I promise you’ll get the glory and I’ll never look back.” Through some struggle I made it down the steps to the front door, but I was knocked down. The man that I called mine for the past several years straddled over top of me and placed his hands around my neck for the very last time. I remember laying there thinking, “Ok, this is it. This is the moment I’m losing my life.” So I decided to not fight back anymore. I knew this was a physical battle I was sure to lose, so I just laid there and accepted it. As soon as I stopped fighting, my abuser looked at me, quickly released his grip around my neck, and backed away from me with his hands in the air. The look he gave me was one that I’ll never forget. It was like he just saw a ghost or something. Not only did he stop harming me, but this same man helped me get my things together so I could leave!

I witnessed God move in my situation within seconds. It was a complete supernatural experience. And I also realized I wasn’t just fighting my abuser. I’m not taking away responsibility for his actions, but unfortunately he was just a willing vessel to carry out the harm, and the real battle that I was fighting was with the enemy. The devil doesn’t fight you when you’re compliant with his agenda. The opposition worsened while I was getting my breakthrough.

—-

Some of you are in the same position I was, maybe just in a different scenario. You’re on the ground, lifeless, the enemy has his hands around your neck and you have no more fight left in you. But let me tell you that sometimes that’s the best position that we can be in, because all we can do while we’re laying down on our backs is look up and focus on Him. That’s when God can get our attention the most. I tried to run before, but I would go back to my abuser. I was persuaded and convinced back into the hands of a toxic spirit…and that’s something the devil is good at as well. He’ll tell you to stay in a harmful situation and reason with you to do so. I was there, and that’s a dangerous place to be – where your place of comfort is a place of destruction.

“You’re on the ground, lifeless, the enemy has his hands around your neck and you have no more fight left in you. But let me tell you that sometimes that’s the best position that we can be in, because all we can do while we’re laying down on our backs is look up and focus on Him.”

At one point I questioned if God even existed. Logically, God didn’t make sense – that’s what I would hear often. But logically, I’m not supposed to be here today. Logically, my abuser would have choked me to death that night. Logically, through all the abuse, I shouldn’t have a sound mind and sleep well at night. But…my God surpasses all logic and I know, that I know, that I KNOW!

I’ve already talked way too long, but someone needed to hear this. I’m not sure who it is or where you are, but YOU need to hear that God can and will get you out of your trouble…you just have to let Him. The battle is not yours, it never was. It’s God’s. Give Him your battle and you’ll come out with the victory EVERY TIME.

If you or someone you know is battling domestic violence please tell someone while considering yours and their safety. You can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and they will give you resources or next steps in trying to figure out what to do. If you’re in a very dangerous situation, I would suggest and encourage you to visit your local domestic violence division and report the incidents.

Thank you for reading and letting me tell you what God has done for me…He deserves all the glory and honor! God bless you all!

Signed,

A Woman Renewed

*This post was written by a woman who wanted to share her story anonymously with YOU. Should you need prayer or have questions, please email LaurenRelinquished@GMail.com or leave comments below.*

share.

Sharing is undeniably one of the greatest duties you have.

You are you. No one else can be you. Therefore, no one else can share what you share; No one else can share what you share the way you share it.

There’s so much power in that truth. And the weight of that power can be felt in so many ways. I can only imagine what you’re thinking; how deep the pound in your chest; how weighty that great knowledge of self feels.

What’s on your mind?

What do you feel a great need to share?

What are you scared to share?

Don’t deny yourself the great pleasure of sharing – it’s unnatural.

Share with one body…two bodies…somebody!

It’s your undeniable duty to share —

s  h  a  r  e.

The Dream is Yours for the Taking

No one really gets anywhere without a fight. Some stories are a bit more obvious than others, but underneath the success, I think you’ll find that there’s almost always a fight. The underlying grind and determination to get to the goal is pertinent to the journey. 

If you want something, go get it – be committed to that dream and who assigned you to that dream. I know God doesn’t give me butterflies and excitement and visuals of things that weren’t meant for me. It’s my job however to be committed to God and the dreams that He’s given me and then to live them – by doing the work to get it.

I don’t know what your dream looks like or what obstacles await you, but you CAN be confident in your dream and work toward it. It’ll be tough and will require some faith in action, but be assured that there’s beauty in that struggle and the goal can be attained.

 

Be blessed!<3

 

If you’re not doing that, then what are you doing? 

When someone feels empowered, they’re able to do almost anything.

Who are you encouraging, praising, or supporting today?

Today’s message is simple – EMPOWER OTHERS. When people feel empowered, they soar through challenges and delight in victories; They relish the sight of their light and encourage others to see their own light.

If you’re not encouraging, praising, supporting or loving on someone today, then who are you inspiring? And if you’re doing none of the above, then what are you doing??

Taking a moment to acknowledge someone else could be just the motivation you need to keep going on your own path.

Be generous with your positive and encouraging energy – essentially it plants something much bigger than just a seed…

a flower…

turned garden.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” -‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:24‬ ‭

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!

❤️