Be Made Whole, faith, SIMPLICITY, Uncategorized

Walking by Faith as a “Planner”

2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

It is such a simple way to stop worrying about all that we see and trust God blindly, right? If only we could STOP seeing and planning and doing and being. 

To us “planners” and “fixers,” faith is like a violent act of surrendered trust. It doesn’t come easy. It feels like an internal World War III. It is a tension between the conscious control of self and the unconscious want to control the outcomes.

Because I’m a visual artist, when I consider my inner struggles, I can envision two me’s wrestling. One me is softly saying “trust God” while at the same time holding the other me by the collar, who is attempting to run back to a compulsive need to clean, fix, plan, reorganize and structure something seemingly unruly. Comical at a glance, but it is such a real, daily, intentional decision to NOT create another to-do list for my life. As if somehow I’m the Author of it. Oh silly me. 

The inability to “control” the outcome of what I have carefully planned can set into motion one of two things:

  1. A sense of creativity to work around it
  2. A sense of crisis in an attempt to work at it

The war was never about the “outer sources” bringing challenges. That actually is a motivation to do and plan more. Rather, it’s the inner struggle to trust that indeed, God works outside of my spreadsheets, color coordination or 5 year plan. That He wired me that way but that my way is of no effect in His Presence. 

It is to remind myself:

  • That grace is sufficient even for the things out of my control.
  • That mercy resounds in the inevitable errors that come with being human.
  • That His LOVE permeates through the crevices of the unlovable areas of my life; those that I can’t seem to just fix with a scripture and a prayer overnight.
  • That He doesn’t need me to prove my worthiness by way of how well I function and plan in the midst of chaos, but that He made me worthy through Christ, despite my dysfunction.
  • That walking by faith is not a reckless, irresponsible way of living, but an intentional resignation to God’s eternal plans as opposed to forcing my own.

Today, I hope you choose with me to trust that God IS. May that truth speak louder than every voice telling us that we HAVE to be.

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Be Made Whole, SIMPLICITY

2017 | SIMPLICITY | Word of the Year

For those that know me, every year I like to focus, not on a new year’s resolution (those just don’t work for me), but a word of the year. I was introduced to this word of the year journey back in 2013 and decided to implement it immediately.

Pretty simple, right?

  • 2014 I focused on Being Intentional. I published two books. Scared but I did it.
  • 2015 I focused on Balance. I began the daunting journey to say no in my life and strive for balance.
  • 2016 I focused on Consistency. I was introduced to Paleo Lifestyle and ran my very first Spartan Race with my brothers and cousins. Healthy choices have been consistent!

Ok Cool. Through the years, I’ve placed focus on these and as much of a perfectionist that I am, I’ve learned to be ok with not perfecting each. I am intentional about pursuing them continually and being persistent on purpose.

As I review my 2016 and ask God to order my steps in making better, balanced, wiser, intentional and consistent decisions for 2017, I decided to add another word to my bag of (paleo) nuggets [duh rumh dshhhhhh] – SIMPLICITY! 

Sounds so simple, but somehow, to me, it feels like trying to do a cart wheel while lifting a 215lb weight. Yea. Figure that one out.

You see, I’m kinda, sorta, a lot of bit complicated. As simple as I want and plan things to be, somehow, they always end up so dang complicated because of ME. As I did inventory of my own life, I had to admit that I inherently have a type A personality (call it a strength or a defiant weakness), but I can be a bit much. Because I like to do a bit of everything, I end up trying to DO everything a certain WAY!

I create vision boards in the beginning of the year. I am self-motivated. I work out and cook my own food. I enjoy graphs, excel sheets, color coordinated closets, queen of google drive, forms, clean rooms, organized by food groups cabinets and refrigerator, clear mind and a simple plan of action. Simple right? When I am presented with a challenge, it gives me an opportunity to meet that challenge and exceed expectations. So I go in with great excitement and expectation. I love transformation stories. I don’t leave or give up until I see the fruit of my labor. Any space that I am to spend significant time in, I convert into my personal safe haven. I can never leave it as I found it. Any position I apply for, I go above and beyond the call of duty to love and serve and implement. Though very selective, any relationship I engage, I go deep and address the hard things. I want everything to be meaningful.

As a result, I’m over the top on scheduling, planning and proposing them. And here’s the kicker, I want everyone to adhere to those plans. So while efficiency can easily be attained in my mind, not everyone fits those molds I create. Sometimes in an attempt to simplify things, I end up complicating it for those that surround me. Try living with me for a week and you’ll see what I mean. Just because I like simple formulas, doesn’t me those formulas work for those around me.

But that’s the catch. I have a goal in mind and my frustration comes in when I don’t see the results as I envisioned them or when it goes against what I PLANNED. I know there is a potential there and if it doesn’t sprout by the time I carefully calculated it should and how I think it should, I’m inclined to get annoyed and moody if I allow myself to go there.


In continually striving for balance, I’ve accepted that living a life of faith, love, family and friendships proves to defy every measure of calculation. I mean, every minute detail. A prime example is me trying to calculate, plan and strategically set goals for the day, when my, then 3 years old, daughter cuts her own hair with school safety scissors while doing homework.

As I s2016-04-07-08-27-49tared at the chunk in my hand, all I can ask myself is How? Just…. How? I thought those were safety scissors and didn’t cut through hair! Well, Zinai and I discovered that they did. When I asked her what was she thinking when she did it, she said she needed a haircut like Mommy… Go figure!

Thank God it doesn’t cut fingers, but that nice chunk of hair cut right in the front hurt like it was my own hair! Needless to say, it deranged my plans for the day and for her natural hair care journey I had so lovingly and carefully devised! For the next 8 months I decided to figure out ways to do her hair without chopping her beautiful kinky curly locks but cover up the deep damage she did in her 2.5 seconds of creative 3-year-old hair cutting adventure. Talk about a conniption in the making!


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So I had a choice to make. Wallow in my frustration or use that frustration as a teaching moment for her, but as a learning challenge for me. So, I went with the latter!

I decided to let her know that we go to professionals for haircuts but I taught myself how to braid in this journey of natural hair care and protective styles until it all grows back. Then we can go for a nice trim when that time comes. I couldn’t braid quite like the professionals, but I tried it my own way. And it worked! And the icing on the cake? Because I’m already a creative artist, this was a new way of teaching myself a new form of art while carefully managing hair care and making sure my daughter isn’t miserable while I’m doing her hair. Another opportunity to bond AND use strategies (CUE IN THE TRIUMPHANT SOUND OF TRUMPETS!!) You can’t even tell all that hair was gone, right?!

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So it’s become a whole routine now. Washing her hair, deep conditioning, detangling, twisting, hair tie, styling, and learning natural, healthy ways to maintain her locks beautiful along the way. All while keeping her entertained with sing along movies, word games, reciting words of the week, planning our next adventure and/or telling each other stories!

Perfect. Now it’s not a challenge, but rather, it’s a cherished moment! Right?

Sure thing!

But not everything turns out with a happy ending. There are challenges that I’m not meant to take on. There are boundaries that need to be set. There are things that need to be delegated. There are relationships that need to be fed while others are already dead. There is purpose to be fulfilled and communities to serve. And what I end up doing is complicating my life trying to do it all for all, by myself. I burn myself out trying to do both – what I’m called to and simultaneously run to where people are calling me to. Somehow I convinced myself that I am a self-sufficient “make it happen” machine that needs little rest and recuperating time, but then I get overwhelmed, frustrated and moody when I don’t. Then my alone with God and personal time gets the cut back. I wasn’t meant to keep running like this. NOPE!

I’m wondering if you can relate?


Because of my natural tendency to do all and be all, I take the time to evaluate where I am every now and again to see if what I’m planning to do is actually necessary. Although doing Zinai’s hair and maintaining it well has become second nature and an amazing bonding experience, I’m ok with trust worthy stylists taking it on for me (and yes, Shaun helps too!). Of course I still do the main washing and deep conditioning but I certainly bring or send products and warn about not doing it to tight.

So I ask myself often: Are my goals realistic? Is my to-do list manageable? Do I really need to go on that trip? Do I really want to take on another task or design project? Is that network and organization yielding fruit? Is this work out regimen working? Is that monthly expense necessary? Do I really need to go to that birthday party? And the list goes on. I have to make myself think these things through. So that’s why it feels like trying to do a cart wheel while lifting a 215lb weight. (By the way, I just learned how to do a cart wheel like 2 months ago! LOL!)

It’s challenging for me to say NO to things I CAN do naturally or CAN TEACH myself or LEARN. It feels foreign to sit and do or say nothing. It’s almost uncomfortable to not have a plan of action, even if it’s a vacation. So it’s work for me not to be on plan, work and/or do mode. But as Shaun reminds me continually, just because I CAN do it, doesn’t mean I’m SUPPOSED to do it. And the less time I spend doing unnecessary things, the more time I spend doing meaningful things!


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Shout out to Stephen Reid of @shotbysteph for the great shots!


So it has become so clear to me that what I need is not another major world changing plan, project or platform. What I need is SIMPLICITY. Period. Maybe you do too?!

So how can we simplify? I’m embarking on a journey to figure that out. I’ll share as it comes and hopefully it’ll be fun, healthy and helpful!

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Be Made Whole, faith, Fostering Change Pillar, Friends & Family, LOVE, Uncategorized

Black & White & Gray

I want to tell her that no matter how complex‬, what this world needs is truth‬, solutions‬ and love‬ in action‬, not just a walled-in conversation of the obvious wrongs‬. I want to tell her that it doesn’t matter that her hair ‪‎texture‬ is different than mine or that her complexion‬ being lighter than daddy’s is ok. She is a natural‬ kinky‬ curly‬ beauty. I want to tell her that her being bilingual‬ is awesome and that she is blessed‬, beautiful‬and ‪‎brilliant‬. I want to tell her that loving people no matter where they are in life, is what she is ‪‎called‬ to do and that serving‬ her neighbor is the highest calling in response to serving God. I want to tell her that her ‪‎smile‬ is the entryway to bringing light‬ to a dark‬ world. I want to tell her that her primary‪ identity‬ is in Christ‬ and that informs her being a strong AfroLatina‬ (or as she says it: “blackominican”). No one can take that away from her. I want to tell her that there is nothing wrong with her Mommy being ‪‎Dominican‬ and her Daddy being Black‬ and that no matter what, #love does transcend ‪‎conflict‬ and ‪‎historical‬ ‪#‎cultural‬ ‪#‎tensions‬. I want to prepare her for the heartbreak of being in the middle. Not Black enough. Not Latina enough. And certainly, Not White. But to stand firm and #unapologetically in her #uniqueness and #individuality. God made her a QUEEN for such a time as this. Elsa got nothing on her! I want to tell her to allow her spirit to flourish and her creativity to flow in the face of those trying to drown it. I want to tell her that when she needs to cry, she isn’t weak for doing so, but to use those tears to propel her to purpose and power in Him. I want to tell her that her #laughter is contagious and her beauty is soul, not just skin deep. I want to tell her that all of who makes her who she is: her dreams, thoughts, feelings, joy, pain, desires, flaws, imperfections…her life…matters. I want her to know that she is fearfully and wonderfully made.

Intentionally. Powerfully. Beautifully, Zinai.

And so, I will. With every fiber of my being for as long as God allows me to. I will tell her… Rather, I will show her. My prayer today. ❤️

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Be Made Whole, Uncategorized

Coming from the Perspective of a Prince Non-Fan

I wasn’t a fan of ‪#‎Prince‬. I didn’t grow up on his music. I didn’t particularly prefer his music, not because I had something against him, but I was simply never drawn to it. But I had a distant appreciation for his unique creativity. I always have an appreciation for any form of artistic, unique creativity.

It is evident that his passing, likened to that of preceding music legends like Elvis, Selena, Tupac, BIG, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Joan Sebastian, Natalie Cole to name a few, have had a major impact on music fans around the world. It amazes me how people like Prince had access to people they didn’t know existed by way of their influential music. It spoke to possibly undisclosed yet very real, human emotions and tapped into hidden areas of their hearts.

So now, he goes on the list of “gone too soon” and “never forgotten” memorials as a creative music genius. But more importantly, celebrity or not, as a soul and a person whom his family and close friends is going to miss immensely. Loss hurts. Whether great or small. Whether the world knew them or not. Loss hurts. And despite his public presence, his musical prowess and provocative disposition, he was a son, a friend, a lover. He was human.

So I pray, not for the loss of a great “Prince.” I didn’t know him as such. But I pray for the loved ones that are at a loss of someone they loved; the fans that will listen to his music with nostalgia, and a world that is suddenly reminded that our days are counted, and for everything that we do, or don’t do, we will be held accountable.

So for us that remain, the focus is this – What legacy do we leave behind? What will people remember us by? Will we be ready to meet our Maker?

#BeMadeWhole #AnaEsther

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Be Made Whole, faith

Great Anticipation vs. Great Anxiety

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It’s all about perspective. Walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) can either be perceived and received with great anxiety OR great anticipation.

We often fear walking by faith in God because the prerequisite is trust in what we cannot see. It defies our logic and the innate need to KNOW what’s next. But we really just need to be certain of one thing, He got it ALL in His infinite wisdom and Sovereignty. He will order our steps according to His word and promises as long as we stay close to listen and follow His lead.

I consider my daughter anticipating a surprise I have for her. Because she KNOWS she is mine and I love her and I enjoy giving her the best, she has great anticipation for what she hasn’t yet seen. She has peace and trusts me because I’m mommy. In that same manner, I have great anticipation for what is ahead because I know my Daddy withholds no good thing from me (Psalm 84:11) and loves to bless me in ways I can’t even imagine because I am His and He loved me enough to give His life for Me… and YOU!

Excited for what’s ahead.

What is God asking you to trust Him with? Your health? A relationship? Your children? Financial stability? Educational endeavor? A new business venture? Your test is in learning how to shift your perspective from great anxiety into great anticipation and trust His leading.

‪#‎BeMadeWhole‬
‪#‎AnaEsther‬
#2016

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Be Made Whole, Uncategorized

When Life Happens…

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Yesterday, my car’s battery died in the middle of pouring rain. An almost brand new Infiniti G37X, mind you. Haven’t had it for a year yet. A nice gentlemen really was trying so hard to get my car to start. I have roadside assistance with Geico but he really wanted to help. So I let him try.

No matter how much he tried, my car wouldn’t start. We concluded that his 4 cylinder engine wasn’t strong enough to kick-start my 6-cylinder so all attempts were in vain.

At that point I reached out to my dad to see if he was anywhere near me because daddy just always knows what to do. Turns out he wasn’t far and immediately came to me in his truck. But the same thing happened. My car would not start. My dad said, did you check the cables. I said no. I assumed they just worked. He said, “let me use mine instead.” Soon after, my car was back running like normal. So grateful for my daddy coming to the rescue but I learned a couple of valuable life lessons.

When life happens:

1. You need people around you who have enough engine power to set you back on track when you have nothing left. Great intentions just don’t cut it. You need purpose and power.

 

2. Make sure that you don’t just assume things are working in your life because they are present. You never want to be caught in the middle of a storm and those you depend on ‘aren’t working.’

3. Nothing ever beats when Daddy comes to the rescue with the right tools because He knows exactly what He is doing.

Now, off to the dealer to replace my engine!!

‪#‎thankGodforwarranty‬
‪#‎thankGodfordaddy‬
‪#‎BeMadeWhole‬
‪#‎AnaEsther‬
#2016

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Uncategorized

What/Who Do you Stand By?

Anything we present to the world, we risk being rejected, ridiculed or we open the opportunity for someone to present a different option. It’s inevitable. People won’t always AGREE with what you stand by. And that’s normal. But we take the risk anyway. Be it a sports team, a product we declare to do the trick, a natural and cruelty-free hair product line that works, a business plan that assures success, a political view that promises a working democracy to a diverse unit of people or a way of living at peace within inevitable, constant change: we share it. We talk about it. We blog. We snapchat. We Periscope. And we talk to pure strangers when they ask us about what we do or use… We believe what we believe in, enough to risk disagreement (and sometimes even inviting it), but hoping that one day those we share it with will see the benefits of what we are doing or using.
 
Many of those same things, down the line, we come to the realization that it was wrong, erred, fallible and inconsistent. It failed to be that which it promised to be. That’s the normal cycle of humanity. Nothing is foolproof. The world is constantly adjusting to what once worked but now is dysfunctional.
 
Likewise, I stand by many things and people in support and belief, despite the reality that one day, it just might not work. I will share it, and if it stops working for whatever reason, I’ll talk about that too and search for better options without discounting the work it once did.
 
Yet Jesus Christ is not just a historical figure I stand by and declare to believe, that one day might not work… He is the constant that through years of things that stopped working, continues to do works in and through me. Many may misrepresent Him, and even I have misrepresented Him at times, but He already did the work of presenting Himself for who He was, is and continues to be on this earth. He spoke for Himself and continues to do so through His living word.
 
He is One that eternally stands by me. And He stands for me when I can’t stand. He is the ONE that remains the same yesterday, today and forevermore, despite every wind of doctrine, trend, thought, theology, imagination or belief that attempts to deconstruct, distract, derail or destroy the purpose for which He died on the cross. And He did it for LOVE. The kind of love that we fail to accept and consequently fail to demonstrate.
 
But know that Jesus is the only name that is above any name, company, family lineage, product, style or mode of operation. And the best part is that He isn’t a product to try that may fail to work for “your hair, belief, personality or lifestyle,” He is ONE, in whom’s word you can trust to be true and One to live and stand by.
 
#IstandbyJesus
#BeMadeWhole
#AnaEsther
#2016
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