HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO THE “MOMS” WHO STEP IN

Today I want to honor the “Moms” who step in.  This is a woman who may not have a child in her home, but still chooses to come alongside those who do.  This is an aunt, a best friend, a close neighbor, a woman from church, a close relative —a woman that chooses to lend a hand, an ear, emotional support, wisdom, a different perspective or simply a shoulder to lean on and an abundance of tissues to cry into when she knows another mom needs it.  She is the real MVP, because it is apparent, simply by the nature of her offering, that she does it out of pure love and compassion for a mother and her children.  I want you to know that YOU ARE ONE OF THE MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS because your involvement is not out of obligation, but participation, in one of the greatest callings known to man and for this you are deeply cherished.   Many women could not be the mothers that they are today without your sacrifice.  So today — on “Mother’s Day,” I choose to highlight you, the women who have given selflessly from a strength, I likely have never experienced, to be a light in someone else’s life.

““Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:29-31 NIV

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

∼Joycy

Can Faith & Fear Coexist? Update!

Please join me in welcoming today’s response to this week’s question of the week from a fellow blogger Jennifer Salazar.Q&A


Not too long ago I found myself at the crossroads of a life changing decision that without a doubt was guided by God.  While gathering the courage to make this decision I realized that this was going to be a season where I needed to trust God like never before.  I needed to surrender to God and have the faith to let go and let God.

The same day I made the decision to walk on faith, fear became my intolerable companion.

During this process of spiritual growth I found myself asking if it was possible for faith and fear to coexist.  After thinking about it for a while I considered that the right answer was NO.

So at this point, not only did I have my intolerable companion fear, but shame (fear’s BFF) decided to join the party.

Why, when I was guided by God and decided to walk by faith, could fear still affect me so much?

I had to go deeper to understand what was going on and this is my conclusion:

Faith is the shield that God gave us to protect ourselves and to put an end to the enemy’s attacks.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:16 NIV

…and God didn’t give us a spirit of fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT

Yet it was clear to me that fear was a way to test my faith and when our faith is tested our perseverance is made stronger.

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  James 1:3 NLT

So there is no room for shame.  All this is a process where God is teaching me to be more like Jesus.  Now I know that the minute faith kicks in fear leaves the room.  I have become certain that faith is a real power —that faith in God is the cure for all my fears.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  1 Peter 1:7

So the next time you are facing fear, remember that you are human and it is normal, lean on God’s power and understand that you too are working out your faith.
∼Jenny

Wow!! Thank you so much Jenny for the question this week and your response!!  One thing I learned through the process of contemplating this question is that faith is not hope.  Although hope is great, it comes with hesitation.  Faith is belief and I cannot believe and have fear (doubt) at the same time.  Thank you all who shared your thoughts and experiences – I look forward to connecting with you all later this week! 😉 Joycy

Good friends are hard to find and a treasure to keep

What makes a friend a good friend?  I have posed this question to the girls that I mentor.  Today I celebrate my best friend’s birthday and I will share with you why I choose to call her one of my favorites.  Christine blog

We met in middle school during a church event.  Now I could say that we connected because we were praying together or singing holy hymns in the choir :), but the real answer is that we connected because we stood out.  We were eleven and twelve and were actually part of a children’s choir (lol!), but there was something during that evening’s practice that seemed hokey.  We didn’t know each other, yet our knowing eyes met from across the room and we knew in that moment that we were on the same pageand we’ve been partners in adventure ever sinceAs a tribute to friendship, I am going to share with you why I cherish ours.

1. It is lasting.  Our friendship has spanned decades.  We have never attended the same schools, not always lived in the same states or even the same coast, yet we have always remained close friends throughout the years.  She has made herself accessible to me and I to her.

2. It is trustworthy.  I know without a doubt that I can trust Christine with anything, and I mean anything.  This not only speaks to the friendship that we have, but to her character.  She is trustworthy and operates at a level that is noble and honors God.  Nobody is perfect, but I need people in my life who seek after God’s best for their own.  Which bring me to the next quality…

3. It sharpens me.  I have been graciously blessed with many friends and great friendships, however, the ones I hold dearest are the friends who take the time to speak truth into my life.  I learn from them as much as I laugh with them.  They can be trusted to receive the full range of my emotions and speak the truth to me as it needs to be spoken…and not be fearful to do so.  This is the epitome of a true friend.  They weigh the risk of a temporary rift in harmony for the sake of God’s best for me and I love them for it.

4. It is honest.  I can be vulnerable, transparent and loved unconditionally, while knowing that my friend will tell me if I am off track.

5. It is encouraging.  For as long as I can remember, Christine has been my biggest cheerleader.  She believes the best in me and for me.  She encourages and expects me to conquer the world.  I have been incredibly blessed to have gleaned a few other pom-pom waving, megaphone blasting, hearts of gold along the way that have in their own way championed for my success as well.  The belief that my friends have had in me, have divinely pushed me out of my comfort zones in ways they may never know and for that I am eternally grateful.

Happy Birthday Christine!  I am incredibly proud of you and blessed to call you friend! Christine and I

Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity. – Khalil Gibran

File a Restraining Order

Today’s post is connected to this week’s Question of the week: If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow this person to be your friend?

My son is one of the most creative, funniest, left of center, out-of-the-box thinkers that I know.  And I seriously do not say that because he is mine, anyone who knows him would say that same.

  Which brings me to this little gem I found in his backpack: letter2c

Yes, you read that correctly, he wrote (and served) a restraining order!  He’s in middle school and the son of a therapist, so maybe that gives a little explanation as to how he came up with this? lol! (Though I absolutely take zero credit :))  Raising Isaiah has been a wonderful adventure and I am grateful for the opportunity to lead himI will say that when I slow down and press in close enough, he has often taught me.

Now, I have blurred the names to protect the ‘innocent’- 🙂  But I wanted you to have a real visual as to what he did.  When I asked him why he “filed” a restraining order, he said he and a friend had continually asked the classmate to stop bothering them in class and he wouldn’t stop, so they took the next logical step 🙂 and drafted a restraining order, with witnesses and all!  He had a problem, he addressed it directly, that didn’t work and he took it to another level.  (He is friends with the ‘defendant’ in this case, but he just wasn’t going to tolerate the persistent irritation.)  He wasn’t content with the constant negativity that met him each day and he wasn’t going to allow it to become the norm.  We should all do the same – why do we allow our negative thoughts to drive our behavior and dictate our mood?

2 Corinthians 10:5, reads, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  NIV

That is some pretty strong language there – demolish, take captive…God knew how difficult it was going to be to wrestle our thoughts to make them fall in line with His truth about His creationHis masterpieces.   He gave us directives, not suggestions.  He gives us His word to cling onto to remind us that we do not have to live captive to the lies we tell ourselves.  So today, on Isaiah’s birthday, I present to you the “Isaiah Challenge” and implore you to file a restraining order against the lies that bind.   The lies that tell you you are not good enough, that keep you wrestling with jealousy, that keep you pinned down by the memories of the mistakes of the past…that stifle your voice that prevent you from fully experiencing the freedom that you have been given through a relationship with Christ.  Tell those thoughts where they need to go and what they are and are not permitted to do.  Take back the control over your temperament and your feelings.  If you feel heavily weighed down by these thoughts I highly suggest that you seek out a Christian counselor in your area to help walk you through this process.  YOU DO NOT NEED TO LIVE THIS WAY.  Get your truth in order and serve the devil his papers today!

Why I had to get ‘offline’ to get ‘inline’

The days of social media have gotten us so “engaged” in each others’ lives…virtually engaged.  At the beginning of this year I came off most social media sites: facebook, instagram, etc.  I know—the majors.  I kept twitter mostly for work/educational purposes, but rarely viewed it.  As a result I had to continually remind my friends (my real ones) that if you want me to know something, “You’re going to have to tell me, not tag me.”  It’s wild that that is such an abnormal idea these days.  I fear for the millenials and beyond.

One common question I heard during this transition was, “Oh are you fasting?”  My response, “No, I am just off of social media and I feel better for it.”  My mind was clearer, I was focused on things that mattered; things that required my full attention.  I became more intentional to spend time with people in real life, to check on people in person – to engage in this new invention called “eye contact”.  Try it – it’s amazing! 🙂 I had to get “offline” to get back “inline”.  It became so draining, so dissatisfying! I needed to detox from the whole system of caring about likes (to be honest I really didn’t care about that part) and perusing others’ posts and profiles and get inline with making time for family, friends, proper rest and accomplishing goals instead.  For the purposes of this website I am back to using Facebook, but only to engage others —I login and log right back out.  I refuse to allow myself to sit idle anymore and allow time to fly by and have nothing of value to show for it; especially when I knew God had called me to greater things. Yikes. 

Social media does have its notable benefits, naturally, but I do challenge you all to assess your use of social media and find a healthy balance.  I found mine and am better off for it! Please share your tricks on how you manage your social media mania.

Thanks!  Joycy

by Prince Ea

Don’t compare yourself to the devil to make yourself look good!

Before I dive into unpacking this phrase with you guys, I am inclined to remind you that you are about to get the “Unplugged Joycy” – direct, unfiltered and to the point.  For those that know me in person, this would consist of a calm, eyes-locked-in, admittedly intense demeanor as I deliver this phrase, “Do not compare yourself to the devil to make yourself look good!”  I’m getting fired up even writing this!

What do I mean?  I find that we can easily short change ourselves by comparing ourselves to mediocrity in order to boost our self-image.  We don’t ever hear the phrase, “Aim low!” So why would we entertain a thought that allows us to compare ourselves with mediocrity to make ourselves feel good.  Be honest!  Assess yourself!  Identify your strengths and your weaknesses.  Set your goals, make a plan, give yourself grace when you mess up, but KEEP MOVING!  Be the best you that you can be and you will be surprised at what you can achieve.  You know your gifts, you know your talents, you know what you are naturally drawn to — develop those and see where that leads.  Do not fear the unknown.  Today was unknown until you got here and you survived it!

Often times when we are fearful of stepping into the places where opportunity has been created.  We create excuses to rationalize and justify our stagnancy.  BUT please know you are only holding yourself back from the best of wherever and whatever God has for  you…i.e…if God has called you to the mountaintop, do not make your tent by the hillside and call it cozy.

I am speaking from experience on this and likely why I am so passionate to motivate you all.  If this describes you, know that I have been where you are and I challenge you to join me on the other side.  You can be fearful as long as you move through your fear and press on – your best life is yet to come.  Go seize it! Start by taking one courageous step at a time :).

A copy cannot produce the original

In having a conversation with a friend recently this phrase found its way out of my mouth: A copy cannot produce the original.  This is true, we cannot fashion ourselves off of any other person and produce anything greater than the original.  What we need to do is improve on who we are as individuals, looking to the only person we should imitate —Christ.  Even in that He created us unique — with unique gifts and purposes, ultimately for His purposes.

My pastor David Hughes said it succinctly this weekend, “You are an innovation not an imitation.”  I don’t think it’s wishful thinking to think that if we all spent more time dialing in on our identity, celebrating our uniqueness and less time playing the comparison game we would progress as a people.   What are some of your gifts and talents?   When did you first discover them and how?  Although I always recognized a uniqueness in myself, my confidence to display and develop my gifts came through the support and encouragement of good friends and family.  People that saw something in me and were not threatened by it, but instead celebrated and encouraged me and for that I am eternally grateful.  Who are your cheerleaders in life? More importantly, who are you a cheerleader and encourager for?  If you find that vicious jealousy bug popping up when you witness the success of others, chances are that you are not upset at the success in their life, but disappointed in some area of your own.  Yikes! Did that strike a chord?? Good!  If you’re reading this, you are still living and breathing and that is great news!  You have the basic criteria to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  Start today, spend time journaling, dreaming, talking to people who know you well and step deeper into those areas you know you are gifted in and see where that leads.   Your life is truly what you make it – live well.

BLACK is not a bad word

I have the sweet pleasure of volunteering and being in a position of influence for teens.  I do not take this position lightly.  It is a blessing to be able to relax and kick back with these girls as a mentor, but please hear me in this – I learn from them too!  And I’ll let you in on a little secret, sometimes they may drop a new word or phrase and I roll with it like I totally know what they’re talking about…only to slip away to my trusted friend google to maintain my cool points ;).  The real truth is they know that I may always be a step behind the new stuff, but I will always be a step ahead with the old stuff.  Speaking of, I’m about to blend an old thought with a new one – BLACK IS NOT A BAD WORD.  Let’s unpack this statement for a minute.  In the context of race, I think you all know what I am talking about.  And let me set the stage for my perspective in this conversation before I completely unpack.  I have traveled to various countries as well as all over the U.S..  I am currently living and have lived most of my adult life in South Florida.   South Florida is home to a blend of cultures, nationalities and religions; and a point of entry for many immigrants still today.  I bring up these details because it has been my experience that even in this environment, our kids are still hesitant to use the word, “black” (or African American) when describing a person.  Yet, I have no problem using the words ‘white’,’ Latino’, ‘Asian’ and yes, even ‘black’….because black is NOT a bad word…unless somehow, somewhere our kids are still taught that it is.  It was interesting to view the vast responses to Ferguson and the stories that followed.  Those who were bold enough (*please read through my sarcasm*) to sit behind a keyboard and site their opinions online may not have been as bold in person – why?  These situations will not change unless we are willing to take the stigma away from having open conversations instead of carrying on in private.  We have come a LONG way as a society, but we certainly have a long way to go.  I believe we may have become stagnant because we are afraid to ruffle the feathers of the nation or of our communities, but guess what — it’s happening anyway.

Our kids do interact with each other, and I would say for the most part do so well; BUT we cannot be ignorant to the fact that our longstanding opinions of each other have indeed infiltrated this millennial generation.  I recall an opportunity recently that I used as a teachable moment.  A young girl (teen) was excitedly telling me a story about a performer.   In her excitement she forgot his name and began to describe him instead.  I quickly knew who she was referring to, but I paused as I watched her hesitate and search for every other word to describe him but “black”.  We have a great rapport, so I allowed it for a minute before I finally said, “He’s ‘black’, you can say it.  If I were to describe you to someone else I would say ‘white’.  There is nothing wrong with that.”  A bright smile revealed her relief.  She may have felt uncomfortable saying that word in front of me, but she didn’t need to be and I needed her to know that.  I told her, “black is not a bad word.”

So I challenge you to begin interacting with others, not just on your commonalities but on your differences – this is the only way that we will truly learn from each other and put the mistakes of the past in the past.

What are you doing if you’re not doing?

One of the byproducts as a therapist is becoming a coach in someone else’s life.  I take this role seriously, recognizing that I need to be an example in leading others.  Let’s be honest, most people are not going to seek training from someone who has not mastered or understands what it takes to accomplish a goal.   I personally learn best from those who have walked this life before me; those who have been where I’ve been and can teach from experience how to come out the other side.  I do know enough that I do not need to learn every lesson experientially before I “get it”.  Lord knows it is not every pain known to man that I desire to endure!

Today I am going to take a page from my book in how I became more productive in my life – not busy, but more productive.   Let me ask you this question,”What are you doing if you’re not doing…?”  I learned in my mid-twenties (I know most of you thought I was still there, you can continue to believe that if you must :)), anyway I learned in my mid to late twenties (now I am further aging myself), that I have the capacity to become very busy doing a whole lot of NOTHING – very busy.  Meanwhile, life was passing me by and nothing of value was being accomplished…dare I say nothing that God had been calling me to do was being accomplished.  And if we are honest with ourselves, we are really the only ones who know this truth.  We can put on a great game and make pebbles look like pearls if we want to, but at the end of the day, we know that we will not be content until we take up the call to step into our purpose.  In seeking to further myself, I learned to publish my goals – to take them out of my head and externalize them on paper, on vision boards, etc., outlining tangible stepping stones to achieve these.  I had to become accountable to that question, “What am I doing, if I am not doing…the things that I was created to do?”   The restructuring resulted in me feeling content, accomplishing more things – eternal things, legacy building things and ironically having more time to just be.   I encourage you all to ask yourselves this question and I would love to hear from those who have figured out creative ways to organize yourselves and those who are ready to step up and take on the challenge of becoming the best you!

Joycy

Pushing Through

I heavily contemplated rethinking this decision the moment I walked outside …27degrees?!?  I was visiting my sister up near the Cape in Massachusetts during winter, it wasn’t snowing but it was Christmastime and I was on vacation.  The equation looked like this: extra sugar, extra snacks →extra exercise??  Well, I settled for at least some exercise.  Being from South Florida, I either forgot how cold it was or was suddenly delusional, because the bright idea for a quick run seemed foolish the minute I stepped into that cold brisk air.   I hesitated in the driveway as I considered returning to the warmth I had apparently grown accustomed to inside.  A solid minute passed, which only made me feel cooler as I stood still in my thoughts as the chilly wind continued to threaten my outdoor plans.  And then I pushed through – I told myself if I don’t try I definitely won’t do this.  So I did.  I tried.  And off I went, and as I began to warm up and eventually settle into my pace the chill of the air became a comfort as the heat from my run came over me.  What was once a deterrent in the same environment, under different circumstances, was now a resource.   Trekking the elevated terrain of the neighborhood didn’t make for my “best” run, but it certainly made for one of my most memorable runs.  I’m glad I pushed through.  What are you going to PUSH THROUGH in 2015??”