Who do I say I am?

As I finished my corporate workday, this question continued to be asked of me “…But Lauren, who do you say you are?”

I’d think on it for a second and then lose focus and continue on with my work. After the 4th time I figured I should probably take the question seriously. If God’s asking four times then He must need my attention (I’m so hard headed).

So I put everything down and simply answered the question…well tried to, but I found it a little difficult. Truth is, when I first got the question over a week ago, I couldn’t answer it then either and it’s easiest to just ignore/avoid. So that’s what I did…avoided. But here it is again…“Lauren, who do you say you are?”

I am Lauren…I’m dope; full of love and light; super caring. i’m a good problem solver. i’m a beautiful human being with lots to share with others. i’m confident; I have a presence that is often felt, but not overbearing; I am Lauren…I’m empathetic – my heart is big; I’m a good listener with deep-rooted wisdom. I am Lauren…I’m goofy and a little awkward at times.

That took me a little time to answer, honestly. I know I’m a dope person. It’s just not always a fluid thought – but why is that? I think at one point it used to be, but it faded some when I started second guessing myself in everything I did and thought. I started caring more of how I came off to others and even what they thought.

We are quick to ask what others think of us or even who we want to be to the world, but WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE? I hope that question stays with you until you can answer it and its fluid for you. I kind of want it haunt you (and me). Not in an eerie way…I just want us to ask ourselves and know the answer. Its your truth. Your truth is to be treasured far more than who and what everyone else says.

We gotta affirm that which is inside and not just what others see in us. Because when we know it’ll be shown in how we walk, talk, AND how we think.

So…who do you say you are?

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Delayed celebration.

Im a tardy “celebrator.” And naturally it always lessens the effect; the moment; the blessing.

It’s like i take a moment to celebrate and put it in a drawer labeled: “open and enjoy later.” But then time passes and i forget all about my things to celebrate.

And some things just don’t get better with time. I think this is one of those. It’s not wine. But it’s not milk either. It’s not like you forget it in the fridge and it starts to curdle and spoil. It’s just kind of there…like food you dont eat while it’s hot.

I don’t know if it’s this Latino blood in me or what, but all food intended to be hot, should be enjoyed HOT! And I’d even argue to say that it taste better that way too. (It irks me to no end to receive luke warm food at a restaurant. i don’t send it back anymore tho, i get worried people spit in it).

Anyhoo, what I’m saying is, if something is served to you, i think you should enjoy it in its intended form/purpose. This applies to celebratory moments, blessings, people, relationships (thadd and i almost never became “we” because i wasn’t too fond of his natural short form (just kidding, but not really)).

So I’m personally committing myself to celebrate more and to do so more often than not. Im confident that means I’ll have more posts and blogs detailing those celebrations. If y’all don’t see any – call me out. And if you need to celebrate more too – just do it. No excuses. And tell me – I’ll help hold you accountable too.

– Lauren Still Working on Relinquishing (and celebrating)

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

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 ❤

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!

Moving In [The “Unpacking” Series – Part 1]

You’ve found the PERFECT house/apartment and you’re super excited about moving in! 😃🎉

Limitless possibilities await as you brainstorm decorations, furniture placement, social events you’ll hold, meals you’ll prepare and more! It’s going to be so awesome!!!

–> But do we just stop at the potential of awesomeness or actually create and live in that awesomeness??

I find myself standing… Standing in this awesome new place and I’m not kidding y’all, it is all kinds of UH-MAY-ZING!
I’ve pictured so many times the things I’ll do, what it will feel like…simply just what it will be like!

And you know what? I finally made the decision to move all my furniture and boxes in! But if any of yall have moved before, you understand what a huge undertaking it is and how much it takes out of you. So out of sheer fatigue, I plopped down on one of the boxes in my new place and took a small break to settle down and just admire the new place some more.

As the days passed and life continued to move on, I found it hard to find the time to unpack all the boxes so I unpacked the essential everyday type stuff and left everything else for the next day. The problem is, I left it for the next day, but the next day came and I still couldn’t find the time to unpack the rest! So I put it off again…and again…oh and again 😕

Now, here I am, it’s been months and I still haven’t unpacked ALL the boxes!! That’s so embarrassing to admit *covers face* I really do love my new place, but I seem to be having a hard time “LOVING ON IT.”

Loving on it takes far more work, so I’ve stuck to simply visualizing it and all its potential for greatness. Sometimes I even sit around and just stare at what the walls & windows will look like when they’re decorated, what the rooms will smell like when I have people over for dinner, etc.

Dreaming about this awesome place was cool at first, but now it just irks me. The dreams of how things could be are now nothing short of menacing. I come home and immediately want to go elsewhere because the blank walls mock me and the boxes are such a sight for sore eyes -piled left and right and begging me to unpack them.

Today, that’s exactly what my spirit screamed at me:

“UNPACK THE BOXES, LAUREN!”

The Spirit begged to know what excuse I had for not listening to the instruction given. These are the questions asked:

-How much longer can you keep it only as a vision?

-When are you going to pick up a box and make your perfect place, a home?

Well Spirit…good questions! There are no excuses. Why haven’t I moved in to this super, awesome place? It serves me no good to be in a place that’s perfect, yet never actually move into it and experience it’s perfection.

So as God led me thru this, I began to see how necessary it is for me to unpack RIGHT NOW.

Metaphorically, I’ve moved into a new space, but my lack of ability to unpack my boxes and make this new place a home serves as a huge hindrance to my growth, healing, love and sanity because this new place is called “Lauren.”

Identity has been a struggle for years and now I’ve had the pleasure to meet Lauren and actually move into her! It’s great, honestly, but I’ve yet to really unpack all her knick knacks and delicate furnishings.

A home is not a home until you actually move into it!

Does that make sense? Im not talking about you just use it for your basic necessities, but I mean REALLY move into it as a space that you’ve made and can call your very own.

In my case, if I’m accepting Lauren as my home, then I have to not only see her potential, but make her homey and livable by loving each and every wall, window, room, nook, cranny and more. I have to begin to explore by taking the time to unpack the boxes and learn what needs to be hung up, set in its place and also what needs to be thrown out -I know I’ve accumulated junk over the years.

Moving is hard; It is exhausting; It is laborious and yet it must be done.

The task given –> UNPACK.
That is what I must do. That is what I will do.

*Stay tuned as I share more of my “Unpacking” stories!*

-Lauren “Still Learning How to Relinquish” Williams ❤

Pick up the spork or starve. 

One of the awesome things about God is that He gives His children free will.

I just so happen to be at the point where that’s nice to know in theory, but I’m not sure how to act that out in reality.

Things were so simple when I first started allowing God to intervene in my life. I mean, I did make the choice to give my life to Him (which was pretty scary), but things were kind of black and white for me then. You know…real “yes” and “no” with little gray area.

But this afternoon, it became more clear than ever, that God is no longer babying me. Sure, I’m still His baby/His child, but I’m maturing and growing and that requires a shift – a change in my attitude and behavior.

He’s weened me off of bottles and is beginning to give me table food, but like a shrieking lil baby, I’m still crying for the nipple.

But there are no more bottles to be had. He wants me to pick up my own fork (or spork) and chew the big people food.

I mean, it’s only right…I am growing after all. It’s time for me to make my moves and trust that I’ll be guided by Him on how to stay fed.

A baby is fed bottles and the sort because they are not strong enough nor big enough to feed themselves. Therefore their caregiver does everything for them.

Similarly, I’ve looked to The Lord to keep making my decisions for me. He’s bigger, wiser, been doing it longer (ya know?), so I just keep looking to Him to continue feeding me my next moves.

But He’s like: “Lauren, you’re older now. It’s time for you to try and do it yourself.”

Me: “But why Lord? You’re so awesome at it; My life has never been better, I want you to do it.

God: “I’m not leaving you Lauren, I just want you to exercise your right – and do it yourself. I’ll still be here to oversee and provide guidance.”

Then like a toddler, I crossed my arms and attempted to go on strike until The Lord started making my decisions again.

Needless to say that didn’t last too long because the toddler in me realized God isn’t playing. I’ll starve if I never attempt to pick up the fork. But even worse, I’ll remain a scared little girl if I never attempt to make my own decisions.

No one can make it for me, God really does bless us with free will and we have to learn to exercise it. We can’t remain trapped to the baby-life where the bottle is simply given every time we cry and poot.

I’m daring to be daring today; To pick up the spork; To make my own decisions and trust that God is there with me and within me to guide me.

If I don’t pick up the spork to feed myself, I’ll starve from my inability to make a decision.

Just STOP!

Lately I’ve had a hard time stopping and spending time with the Lord. I once heard someone say: “Life doesn’t get easier, it gets busier” and that has really been echoing in my head these last few days. It’s funny how you can hear something and think you understand it, but then that understanding is taken to whole new level once you actually experience it yourself.

I feel my life has gone through gradual changes since graduating college in May. When I first moved, I found myself with a great deal of time on my hands and very few people to spend that time with, so my schedule was mostly: work, sit in traffic, workout and home. Now, that schedule is a little different. Slowly but surely, I’ve met more people, gotten more  involved and I find myself being quite busy with work, church, friends, entertainment and the many things that come with that.

To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48).

When I wasn’t busy, it was so much easier to spend my days and nights in The Word and talking to God – I loved it! And there was a lot of growth and development during that time because I was so focused on myself and God. And I’m sad to say that some of that focus is gone today. There are so many other things in front of me now, that I find myself dividing my focus. So yes, I’m still spending time with God, and doing my devotions and spending time on me, but there’s been something missing these last few weeks. I seem to be having a tough time quieting my mind, however, I’ve continued to go through the motions thinking perhaps I’m just going through a lull.

However, this morning, something made sense to me…

“Taste and see that The Lord is good. Oh the joys of those who take refuge in Him.” (Psalms 34:8)

It’s one thing to just know God is good, and it’s another thing to experience it.  Don’t get me wrong, knowing is important, we have to know that God is good all the time, but at the same time it’s another thing to absolutely experience that truth and rest in knowing that.

For instance, there can be food in front of us that looks good and smells good, but we don’t satisfy our hunger on sight and smell alone. We have to actually eat that meal in order to experience any type of satisfaction. In that same way, I feel that’s been my mindset in regards to the time I’ve spent with God – He’s that good thing I can “smell” and “see,” but until I strive to really experience/taste Him, I’ll remain unsatisfied.

I seem to have really forgotten that experience portion of a relationship with Him. I’ve been relying on just knowing and as usual, I know too darn much! I know what God has done in the past, what He promises to do in the future, what He’s doing presently, however I think I have a hard time understanding that the way for me to truly know that is by stopping to experience Him and allowing God to be God. And I’m learning that in all that  I think I KNOW, that I actually don’t know anything until I put myself in a position to experience that truth.

When I wasn’t busy, I actually took the time to really be with Him. I was present and attentive and ready to soak up everything I possibly could in that relationship. Now that I feel I have a little something (a few friends and a better idea of my purpose), I’ve been way more concerned with throwing what I have at Him, instead of giving Him myself and my unadulterated attention.

That isn’t to downplay what I have (my friends and church and learning my purpose are AWESOME!), but it is important that I not substitute the relationship I have with others, for the actual relationship I have with God.

In order to give myself, I have to actually stop and rest and delight in God. Now that I’m a bit busier, I don’t actually take the time to stop anymore, because I have other demands and time constraints and I find it harder to quiet my mind and rid myself of distractions.

In Psalms 34 David emphasizes his experience when He really took the time to take refuge in The Lord. He knew there was something completely different in knowing and experiencing the goodness of the Lord. And this morning I had to take his advice and actually “taste and see” The Lord’s goodness. So yes, I had to get to work and I was hoping to be there at a certain time due to a project I’m trying to complete, but I had to force myself to really just STOP.

Stop trying to get ready, stop multitasking and stop my mind from thinking of all the things I have to complete today. Stop and really understand and enjoy what I’m reading and what The Lord is trying to tell me through it. While I prayed, I really stopped thinking about everything else and allowed a moment of silence to just sit still before Him.

One of my takeaways from this morning is remembering that QUALITY always trumps quantity. It’s great to have reminders throughout the day, and to check my apps that send me verses and scroll my timelines liking scripture posts, but if I’m not actually stopping to really reflect on what those reminders and verses mean, then it’s not a quality moment to allow growth, reflection and redirection in some cases.

There’s something so precious about just stopping to BE. And that is exactly what I’ve forgotten these last few weeks. Have you?