My Giving Tuesday.

Tuesday – November 27, 2018
Today, I gave myself.

Frankly, I don’t know the origins of the widely recognized “Giving Tuesday” or what it’s all about; and I may be using “giving” in the wrong sense, but either way, today, I gave myself so I could receive what someone was giving to me.

Some may call it random, but I know it was not. I was finishing up an appointment and needed to send out a couple emails before heading to my next one so I felt this inkling to stop into this little cafe bakery that I passed earlier.

It’s one of those places that has a cozy look on the outside and looks like it has the best homemade treats in the city. So I found a spot right in front of The Sugar Hill Bakery and gathered my things to go inside. I got to the door and it totally wasn’t what I was expecting. I was immediately greeted by decor that was enchanting and amazing and so inviting all at once. And if that wasn’t enough, Caryn and Naomi were super welcoming as well.

I still had work brain on so I wasn’t paying attention at first, but then it became very clear that God brought me to that wonderful little cafe for a reason. After finishing a local menu favorite, Nancy came by to say hello and somehow we just kind of launched into conversation which led to her providing confirmation on some things I’d been working through.

She told me to:
  • Cherish the uncomfortable. (If you’re uncomfortable, it’s GOTTA be God)
  • Focus on taking 2 inches a day. (You’re not going to accomplish everything at once, but if we can commit to keep moving (at least 2 inches/day), then we’ll make progress)
  • Set deadlines. (You’ll surprise yourself at what you’re able to accomplish)
  • Be the poorest person in the cemetery. (The richest place on earth is the cemetery because people die and all of those talents and gifts God gave them often go unused and instead get buried with them. Don’t die having never actualized the gifts & talents God gave you; share them now instead of burying them in the ground.)

The visit was so timely for me. I needed to hear what she was sharing and receive them, just as much as she needed to share. God has a crazy way of uniting souls with a purpose that leaves both feeling empowered and motivated to continue on.

If I hadn’t slowed down to listen, I would have missed those gems she gave me. A lot of times at work, I’m moving 100 mph and I’m not always the greatest listener, but I allowed myself to indulge…I gave my attention and ears and heart and I’m so glad I did.

I want to be careful not to lose my sense of curiosity. We get into routines and patterns, that sometimes limit our ability to notice the small whispers that tell us to “slow down,” “listen to that,” “talk to that person,” or even “stop there.” I serve a very unpredictable God that moves in peculiar ways, so if I’m strictly on my agenda, I’ll miss things or even worse, become insensitive to experiencing God.

I am thankful that I was led to The Sugar Hill Bakery & Cafe. I am also very grateful for the love and kindness Caryn, Naomi and Nancy shared with me on Giving Tuesday and I’m especially grateful for the words that Ms. Nancy imparted on me that gave me confirmation; It meant the world to me! ❤

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How did you get to this point?

If you’re looking at your mountain and it feels impossible, I challenge you to take a walk down memory lane. How’d you get to this point? 

This morning I found myself in the book of Numbers with the Children of Israel (I often read an aspect of The Children of Israel story and think they’re so ridiculous how they carry on and doubt, etc. But then I’m shown how similar I am to them. LOL in my every day life, I too struggle with doubt and forgetfulness and much more).

So at this particular place in Numbers, Moses has just sent a spy party out to canvas the area and find their promised land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 13:1-3, 21-25). When the spy party returns, they tell all the people that the land flows with milk and honey, BUT there are giants living there who are much more powerful than they and there’s no way they can get the land. They even go as far as to suggest they find a leader to take them back to Egypt because they think they should have never left in the first place (Numbers 13:26-33, 14:1-4).

Y’all on the outside looking in, I am soooooooo confused as to why these fools are trying to go back! I almost threw my phone reading that – like what the heck?!

But then, I could see the correlation to that in my life. Can I be real with y’all? There are several unknowns when starting a business. Relinquish has been such a blessing and a challenge and thorn in my side. And honestly I don’t know what I’m doing a lot of the time, and I get a gnawing a feeling that maybe I should just close down shop and that “at least I can say I did it” attitude with the fake smile through the tears. But can I tell you – that mindset is such a cop out! Just like the children of Isreal, God has done numerous things to get me to where I am now. HE HAS MADE A WAY! He’s parted the Red Sea; He’s given food in barren paces; He’s led and guided me and STILL I get to a place and get presented with a few challenges and I’m ready to throw in the towel?? Like NAH bruh! Don’t just give up like that! Pause and ask “How did I get to this point!?”

Back to the story – apparently Joshua (who went out with the spy party) has some sense! He’s like (paraphrasing) “is that really all y’all saw?! God didn’t bring us to this land for us to be intimidated by the giants and go home.” And I think perhaps the dopest thing Joshua says is …do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread…”(Numbers‬ ‭14:9‬). <— Are y’all reading that?!? He said those giants are bread! That giant, that challenge, that mountain, that hurdle (whatever you are facing) should not be looked at as a wall but as a source of fuel (food) to give you energy to keep going!!!!

LORD HAVE MERCY!! I just took a lap around my townhouse y’all. I’m out of breath and don’t have anything left, so I leave you with this – as you recall how you got to this point, make sure you note every time The Lord has allocated; Every time He has made a way; Every time he has provided for you; Every time He protected you. And see there is a REASON you stand where you are today. Don’t turn back because it’s difficult or unclear. Follow through with what The Lord has started!

Love y’all! –

Lauren Relinquished ❤

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

Some destinations require re-routing [VIDEO]

Stopping in to drop some mid-week encouragement on y’all because sometimes it’s hard in these streets!! 

For instance –  we don’t always get to our destination on the first try or in the exact order of the plan, but that’s ok! Remember to stay encouraged along the journey – you’ll get there eventually, even if that means a re-route or you learn of something better instead!

https://youtu.be/OwwcOKy2onQ

Expecting.

I’m sitting here thinking about this time last year when I was preparing to go on my very first mission trip to Cape Town, South Africa. I was nervous and excited all at the same time; I felt so blessed and privileged for the opportunity to embark on that adventure. I was also super expectant and just knew that it would be life-changing…and it was.

Today, almost mirrors last year. The only thing that separates then from now is 365 days of time and space. Just like last year, I’m nervous and excited and feeling incredibly blessed for the opportunity that lays before me. I will be embarking on a new adventure and relocating to Georgia! And I am expecting this May and beyond to be nothing short of life-changing, as well 🙂

As you can imagine, I’m stoked for the newness, but you know “new” can also be kind of scary. Not to mention, transitioning mentally, physically and spiritually into this new season has its moments. There are ways you prepare yourself (and others) for what’s to come, but I think you can only prepare so much.

As I reflect on last year, I think about what I did to prepare for that almost 8,300 mile voyage to Cape Town South Africa. I got shots, I shopped, I put in vacation time, I gave notice, I fund-raised, I prayed, etc. And there was another thing…I’m not sure I realized how instrumental this was to the preparation process at the time, but now it’s glaring—

I EXPECTED.

I expected to experience and see God in South Africa. I expected Him to meet me there and show me new things. I expected that I would return home changed. I expected I would grow deeper relationships and gain new friends.

I had a mindset of expectancy that said “I’m expecting great things and I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer.”

I believe this attitude opened me up to fully experience my situation in a different way.

I’m not talking about what you think “should” happen or how you think it “should” happen, I’m simply talking about expecting something to happen.

Expecting means to anticipate the occurrence of something with reason (www.dictionary.com). You’re not closing yourself off to the details of how it can happen, but leaving yourself open for it TO happen whichever way it may. And honestly that takes a great deal of relinquishing control so you can just experience – you know…undergo, meet, feel, savor, enjoy…

So just like last May, this May – I am expecting.

I can’t promise that I’ll ever be fully prepared for the journey ahead, but I can promise myself that I will expect to experience God, life, surprises, love and growth.

Sincerely an Expectant Lauren ❤