Mocked Crowns: One against all

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Beyond that mockery is a greater purpose that is birthed from our standing one against all
-Xholiwe

Hello Crowned Royals! Here we go again, another week for another trade in. I hope you all are doing well and continue to trade those thorns for crowns! I have so many thoughts regarding what am going to write about this week, so get your reading eyes and open minds ready. This week I think it is fitting to talk about mocked crowns. Xholiwe what do you mean by mocked crowns? Well, I will let the story of mocking of Jesus help us understand the term mocked crowns. So it was at the release of Pontius Pilate Jesus was left into the hands of the Roman soldiers. The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus several ways that included, flogging, laughter, spitting, insults, piercing and as if that was not enough they put a crown of thorns over his head. Oh what such pain to bear, all that for the redemption of a magnitude of people. Jesus from this example was the one against all, but even while he was mocked and crucified to death he still have the victory. While most of us can’t compare our pain to that of Jesus, we surely know what it is like to be mocked physically and spiritually, but there is the good news, we already have the victory! While you stand in the presence of your mockers, be reminded that it too shall not last. So what will we unpack in this blog? We will unpack on how to stay standing even in the presence of your mockers.

Modern day mockery is not as gruesome as the ancient day mockery that involved brutal torture, but it has its effects on people that don’t choose to stand against it. So how does modern mockery attack the one person? The mockers of today don’t have to flog you, insult you, or spit at you, all they need are a couple of hurtful words, lies about you, and old truths that no longer define you to get an unfulfilled satisfaction within them. Unfortunately, so many people fall for this and that is why I think bullying is so predominate in schools, work places and churches, yes, I said it churches have bullies too. Your choice to stand alone against all is what will determine your moving forward. If you are the person falling every time you are mocked then you have some work to do. In the midst of your mockers, it is important to know who you are, just like Jesus knew he was even when they Roman soldiers mocked him. When you know who you are the hurtful words, lies and old truths will not effect you as bad as they would if you didn’t know who you are in the first place. Standing alone is not glamorous as many people expect because it comes with some persecution that is often times unexpected. Can we be honest, not everyone does well under persecution and when the pressure gets too much most will tap out. But why should we not tap out? because beyond that mockery is a greater purpose that is birthed from our standing one against all.

Making the choice to stand one against all can be scary because what we often think is what will people think of me, so then conformity happens. Oprah said it nicely, she said that, “I was once afraid of people saying, “who does she think she is?” Now I have the courage to stand and say, “This is who I am”. Conformity comes from the “what will people think” and victory comes from the “This is who I am”. If Jesus worried what people said towards him and conformed to the mockery of others, we would be telling of another story of our redemption. Jesus knowing who he was brought all of us victory. Knowing who you are is what will bring you victory. I remember being wrapped around the the fear of what will people think of me or say about me and now I acknowledge that limited a lot of the things I actually wanted to do. You may still be that person that is still wrapped around this fear and you are probably looking at how you have limited yourself, but there is a solution! It will take a whole lot of courage stand while everyone else makes mockery of your choice to stand. Let us get this clear, standing is not the weak, it takes a little more strength to stand than it does sitting with the crowd. So what are you currently doing? Are you standing or sitting because it is safe? Please stand up because every season in your life will have some mockers and you will will not sit around mocked and defeated.

Since we still continue to deal with mockers, standing one against all is not a one time thing. We have already established that at every other level or season in your life their will be mockers, so realize that every season will require a little more courage. Courage means you confront the mockers with the confidence of you are. You are a crowned child of God! You are set apart and made for a time such as this! You may not believe me, but there is a word that never lies;

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2 v 9 (NIV)

The royal priesthood or in other words “crowned royals” are to be set apart because for most of us, we are aware of how God called us out of the darkness into his marvelous light. So while others will not understand why you are protective over your crowns, they mock you for it, but I commend you to hold on to it! Hold on to the victory of knowing who you are and refusing to be someone else because mockers stand against you. Reminder how I told you modern mockery is not as gruesome as ancient mockery, it actually sounds like people care, so there are a few words that may be spoken to you as you stand against all that you should have solid answers for;

  • You have changed. Answer: Yes, I am supposed to change if I am growing and healing
  • Everyone is doing it. Answer: Doesn’t mean I should be doing it
  • That is how things have always been. Answer: Well, it has to end with me
  • It doesn’t take that much. Answer: It does take that much for me to get to where I want to be
  • You take this God thing too seriously . Answer: Yes, I do because he takes me seriously too
  • You will not make it. Answer: Unless God is not on the throne, but I know he is so I will make it
  • You think you are all that. Answer: I am a pretty big deal to God, so yes!
  • You are too happy. Answer: What else should I be other than happy?

I know there are a whole lot more other statements that mock others, these are just some that I have personally experienced. Some of these questions I answered out of fear, now I know better and so do you! Let’s continue our conversation in the comments, share any mocking statements you have dealt with either in fear of what people would think or from knowing who you are. I would love to see more of us standing one against all the mockers that do not know better. It is time to take our rightful place, it is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much love,

Xholiwe

While you wait: What is your posture?

Hello Crowned Royals! After a really busy work week, it sure feels good to relax and finally get my hands on my laptop and write to you. Talking to you through this blog gives me so much more reason to live.This week I want us to talk about waiting. We are waiting for something right? When we wait on some things in our lives to happen our posture matters because that determines our readiness for what we are waiting for. I would like to give you a simple understanding of waiting through my “shopping when hungry experiences” that often times leave me regretting what I did because I was shopping while I was hungry. If you ever shopped for groceries while hungry you totally understand what I mean by regret. When I shop while hungry, I often times do not consider what I need and don’t need when I am in the store. Every thing looks good to eat, so I buy things I don’t need, spend the money I shouldn’t have been spending and waste the food I didn’t need because it was not what I needed in the first place. What does this have to do with waiting in real life? The wait for some of us is like hunger and because we are hungry we hasten ourselves to quench the hunger without considering the reason of the wait. Our posture is then impulsive and impatience and we begin to take matters into our own hands. Things that don’t look good begin to look good, things that we don’t need are things we begin to crave for, and so we compromise our posture while we wait. Only to later regret our impulsive and impatient posture to the wait. Don’t feel bad, we have all been there, but we are going to change our posture. We will have the right posture while we wait.

Can we be honest for a second? waiting is not that easy. For those who continue to wait and those that waited before, most can admit that waiting for something significant in life can be hard. If you were to tell your story, after the wait, you can agree with me that your outcome was based off your posture. How was your posture while you waited for somethings to change? Was it good or was it bad? Here I go with my ever available examples, my job search season was good, but not always great, I would be frustrated at times, desperate and would have a negative attitude all together. I tell you right now that this is not the type of posture you should be in the whole time you wait. Truth is that the frustration and all that impatience will come, but it is important to get back to the posture of gratitude and patience while you wait. I guess what I am trying to say is that while there are several ways to wait, a good posture would be to show gratitude and practice patience. It worked for me, and I am pretty sure it will work for you too. Other good postures you can practice while you wait is prayer, fasting, trust God’s plan, encouraging yourself or receiving encouragement from others, and have an positive attitude all together. I would love to write on all of them because they all are essential while you wait, but my heart is fixated on talking about gratitude and patience while you wait.

Posture of Gratitude

I know that you are probably thinking that there is nothing to be grateful about right about now. You are in the middle of what seems to be a long wait and because you are so focused on this new thing you wait for, you are forgetting to be grateful for what you have now. There has to be at least 5 things or more that you are grateful for and should acknowledge everyday, especially while you are waiting. This doesn’t mean that when you wait is over, you stop being grateful. The posture of gratitude at least from my many experiences while waiting is that it helps focus the mind on the grand picture and not just pieces of it. All the pieces will come together, but you are to express gratitude to God for the pieces you already have in the now. Life can be challenging even for the strongest people you know, but what can keep a person going is showing gratitude. While we have experience some not so great things in our lives, we have also experiences some really amazing things too. We have been blessed in life and surely there has to be something we are grateful for somewhere. Let God know how thankful you are for what you have and what you are yet to have when the wait is over. Now that is a good posture that will please God!

Posture of Patience

By one definition patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset. How many of us from the definition can admit we lack patience while we wait? Have we been able to realize that there are things we have not accepted? Acceptance makes the wait much more bearable. When you understand that you are waiting and accept it, you are less likely to experience constant frustrations while you wait. Practicing patience is something some of us have to work on constantly. Just last week, I remember being in line at a grocery store and telling myself to accept the fact that the line was long, but it would eventually be my turn. Even in your wait, it will eventually be your turn, so you have to be patient. Patience is a good posture that can also help you make sound and stable choices while you wait. A bad posture that comes from the lack of patience in your life is hastiness. Hasty decisions have been the downfall of many men and women that were starting to lose their patience and decided to take matters into their own hands. You shouldn’t be that man or woman that loses their patience and misses what you were waiting for all the while. If patience has taught me one thing, it has taught me that eventually it will also be my turn. Ecclesiastes 7:8 summaries all this by saying;

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Ecclesiastes 7 v 8

There is no way you could go wrong with combining gratitude and patience while you wait. It is the perfect combination that kept me going and still never fails me. The wait is so much easier when you are grateful for the present and patient for what is yet to come. Think of gratitude as your humbling tool that protects you from having a proud spirit. The end is never better for the proud spirit that doesn’t show gratitude and exercise patience. Please read Ecclesiastes 7 v 8 again for re-emphasis on all this that has been said about gratitude and patience.

My last words for the night, couple gratitude and patience with all the other good postures I mentioned earlier, and you eventually get your turn. Stop shopping while hungry, you remember what that does right? Be in constant prayer, show gratitude, practice patience, choose hope over defeat and work on self each any every day while you wait for your turn. It is time to take our rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Problem Solving: Do you have the right tools?

what happens when we are uncomfortable and the discomfort is coming from an unresolved problem? we immediately want to fix it. But are we using the right tools? -Xholiwe

Hello crowned Royals! I hope you all are doing great! I am beyond great because my favorite season is upon us. It is fall season and I couldn’t be more excited about this change. I could talk about fall all day long, but I would we have more pressing matters I would like to share with you in this blog. I was recently thinking about problem solving in a much different way than I usually do. While thinking about problem solving, what came to my mind was the memory of me as a little girl and how I always wanted to fix broken things in our little apartment. I did that with the sense that I did not want my mother to incur another expense over a broken door handle, clogged bath tub or leaking tap. So I usually would take matters into my own hands and use the wrong tools. The tools I used were either ineffective to solve the problem or too complicated to solve a simple problem. Because of using the wrong tools, I did not solve the problem, but rather made it worse in most cases. Fortunately, that did not make me give up my desire to help take the burden off my mom incurring repair expenses. So I started to get curious of how I could fix stuff around the house and what tool would be effective and not complicated. So I would closely observe what tools the professional repairer would use. I started to pay close attention to what the professionals did to solve the problem and I slowly became better. Eventually, I was changing door knobs, unclogging bathtubs and fixing leaking taps. I did that for some time and mastered ways to solve small house repairs that now that I live on my own, I can get the job done! I gave you this entire example, just so that we can connect my example to how most of us solve our life problems. Can we talk about how many of use continue to use the wrong tools to solve our life problems?

This blog is for all the problem solvers, which I think is all of us. We are constantly trying to fix stuff because we are wired for comfort. So what happens when we are uncomfortable and the discomfort is coming from an unresolved problem is that we immediately want to fix it. We want to fix it as soon as possible so we can be comfortable again, but unfortunately certain problems do not get resolved as quickly as we imagined. We then get frustrated from the problem, which often times worsens the problem. We often worsen our problems because of our lack of understanding on how best to address it and what would effectively solve the problem. If we were honest with ourselves, we would be able to admit that most of us are not the best problem solvers. We have been doing it wrong or have not been effective and now we deal with the same problem over and over again. So how do we change that?

Change starts to happen when we acknowledge that there is a problem. While most of us can’t compare our life problems to me fixing door knobs at 8 years old and getting good at it, we solve of our life problems in a similar way. We mess up at first, worsen the problem, learn and lastly we practice then get good. The question is do we eventually get good at it? Funny thing about problems is that you just can not pretend like there are not there and hope they disappear. It takes a little more than just wishing on stars. Solving problems comes from experience and since experience is the best teacher it may be time for you to jot things down. Ask yourself what did you do last time that did not solve the problem, but made it worse. This is not rocket science, from what you learned from your experience, do you do things differently? Do you now know how to manage your finances? Do you know how to handle your emotions? Do you now know how to speak your mind in a non-toxic manner? There are many more questions I could ask, but based off these questions, there has to be something done differently for someones response to be positive and change.

It all starts in the mind, the mind is a very powerful tool that God gave us, but if it is used ineffectively to solve problems it benefit us nothing. There is a reason why God asks of us to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). Why should we renew our minds? Because some of our minds may have learned the wrong ways to solve problems effectively. In some cases it is was not even our fault, but it is what we saw the family do and so our minds only know of that way of solving problems. While all of us have minds, not all of us have the mindset to solve problems effectively. It is unfortunate to see the right tool being wrongly used. Just imagine what the world would look like if we had more people solving their problems with a right mindset.

Another tool we use wrongly and ineffectively is people. We can learn a thing or two from people. I learned how to fix things around the house from observation. There are people in your life you should be observing that will help you solve problems the right way. You can also observe people that dance around their problems so that you make the choice not to do so because you see the consequence of not solving problems effectively. Many of us fail to realize who we should be learning from on how to solve problems effectively because again the mindset might have to unlearn some things so it can learn new things through other people. Who are you learning from? Are they the right tool?

As we get our mindset right and learn a thing or two through other about solving problems, we have to get Jesus on this journey! We can’t effectively solve our problems without getting God involved. Why do I say this? Well, a couple of times in my own life I tried to solve the problem without God’s help and let us just say I paid for it in tears. God has a way of solving problems that no other person can. It is solid, effective and all the way right when you God is part of your problem solving. He is a God that is bigger than our problems! There is nothing he can not do!

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121 v 1-2 (KJV)

Where does your help come from? is it from the temporary tools the world has to offer? You can go on as many spa dates and still not deal with half the problems that has been a thorn in your life. Who are you looking to? If it is not to God, you might be dealing with that problem for what will seem like forever. Let me just tell you that problem solving with God involved, the right mindset and learning from the right people will change your life! Guaranteed that problems will come, but you will be working with the right tools! You might have some work to do if you have been using the wrong and ineffective tools to solve your problems. But it is never to late to work on that mindset, learn from the right people and most importantly to get God involved. It is time to take your rightful place! It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much love!

Xholiwe

Heavy Burdens: Not for you to carry

There are heavy burdens that you have to take up to God because he is the only one that will give you rest.
-Xholiwe

Hello crowned Royals! I hope you are all doing well! Can we talk about heavy burdens since I dealt with that recently. The last two weeks for me where quite heavy and I took on more than I was capable of carrying. Try picturing an amateur in weight lifting try to carry those 50lbs dumbbells, yup that was me last couple of weeks trying to carry what I had no business carrying. I was an amateur thinking I can do all things based off my own strength, but I was so wrong. I am glad God stopped me on my tracks to remind me that certain things are not for me to carry. I decided to talk about heavy burdens because we all had or have dealt with heavy burdens. You know those heavy burdens that easily weigh down not only the spirit, but the soul and body. It is unfortunate that many of us continue to take on these heavy burdens that are not meant for us to carry. I hope this week’s post serves as a reminder to you that are still carrying heavy burdens to lay them down at the feet of Jesus. Not some of it, but all of it.

Because we live in a distressed world, we often get burdened with anxieties, pains and sufferings. There are so many people trying to lift 50lbs dumbbells when all they can do is 20lbs or less. Day by day people take on so much that most societies are filled with distressed people carrying heavy burdens beyond their strength. Some would even tell you that burdens seem to get heavier and heavier with each year passing. Some say that people died because they were heavy burdened. The cares of this world keep a lot of people awake at night and rest is non-existent. While we crave rest and a peace of mind, our minds are weary from the heavy burdens that we carry. So what do we do with these heavy burdens?

First off, can we are agree on one thing right now? Can we agree that life is not always easy even for the one that walks with God. The people of God get burdened too, but the good thing is that we can give our heavy burdens to God. When faced with difficult times as people we tend to take it upon ourselves instead of giving it to God. We do that with the sense that God will not understand and so for some, not all, we come to the conclusion that we have to carry the heavy burdens alone. If you have ever carried heavy burdens on your own, you would agree with me that it is exhausting. What was an emotional burden can easily turn to physical deterioration. The body reacts based off what you carry. You don’t believe me? ever seen some dealing with depression? When I dealt with depression I lost so much weight, but now when you look at me you can tell that things are better. Your girl has been casting her burdens unto God! You too can do the same! Let us not complicate our lives people.

You may have this question that most of us also at one point in our lives had, how do i give my burdens to God? The answer is simple, but often times very difficult for people to do. What you do when you are carrying heavy burdens is that you run to God and he will give you rest. Here is your answer straight from the bible just in case you don’t believe me.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11 v 28-30 (NIV)

I think this verse is pretty clear on what to do when we are faced with burdens right? So as people what are we doing wrong? We are not going to God and presenting our burdens to him. We are either trying to figure it out on our own or giving it to other people that are unable to take up your burdens because they are carrying some themselves. We are quick to go to the phone, but very slow to go into prayer. There is nothing wrong with calling friends or family that can help share the burden, but there are certain burdens that will not go away with a quick phone call, but will go away with an honest prayer. There are heavy burdens that you have to take up to God because he is the only one that will give you rest.

Oh! How good it is to rest in Jesus. For someone that has experienced rest after carry some heavy burdens, I can tell you that the rest of God is incomparable. Once you taste the rest of God, you will be quick to give any burden that comes your way. You many have to give God your burdens almost every day if you face them on a daily basis. As long as you are giving them to God, you will be well rested. One major thing about giving your burdens to God is that it is very is easy to do it in prayer than it is to just be silent and continue to carry what was not meant for you to carry.

My last words for you if you are dealing with heavy burdens is that it is time to give them to God. Say this simple and straightforward prayer. God, I give you my heavy burdens that are too much for me to bare(you can name them e.g financial burden). Lord, I give you these burdens and seek rest in you. Remind God of his promise while you pray, his promise from Matthew 11 v 28-30. Proclaim the rest from God in your life. It is time to trade those heavy burdens for rest! It is time to take our rightful place! It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much love,

Xholiwe

Freedom: So good to be free

There is no complex way to say it, it feels so good to be free. I was once crippled with fear, shame, guilt and regret, but once I started to break free, it was a game changer.
-Xholiwe

Hello Crowned Royals! It has been a minute since I got on here, so this better be good. I wrote my ever first blog on freedom and I am writing on it again, since no one put rules in the blogging world on how many times we can talk about one thing. Let’s talk about how good it feels to be free! My recent travels took me to the beautiful country of Morocco and I got to see so much in one country, but there is one visit that I would like to highlight in relation to freedom. I got to visit a 17th century old underground prison in the city of Meknes. Pictured is me standing right above the underground prison, which three century ago held captive foreigners who were captured and imprisoned by the Moroccan Sultan of that time. It is amazing to see what a couple centuries can do right? I remember going into the underground prison and the contrast was so vivid, it went from so much light to pitch black. The only light that guided my path were the small open holes on the top that allowed for some light from above. While we walked through the prison, I was thankful that I was physically free. Physically, we couldn’t imagine being imprisoned in such a place, but spiritually we have been there a few times too many. I know this because I have been there and the contrast was so vivid, what was light turned real dark pretty quick and the only light that guided me was the one above me.

Physical freedom is great, but nothing feels as great as being free in the spirit. If we were to be honest, there many of us that are physically free, but not every free person would say that their are free in their spirit. Why is it so? Freedom in the spirit is certainly not a walk in the park because if it was we’ll all be doing it right? However, for someone that continues to seek this freedom, I can tell you that it certainly worth the fight. Walking in the spirit free from what once were thorns certainly will feel good. Unfortunately, all that does not happen without a worthy fight. As much as you want to be free so does the devil want to imprison you. You don’t believe me? Think of the times you have tried to heal from bad past experiences and all other hurts just to be hit with something similar. It is much easier for the prisoner to stay imprisoned if they buy into the notion that they deserve it. Guilt often times is what will keep the prisoner in a prison that was not for them to stay in in the first place. Until there is that realization of the need for freedom, as people we will continue to lack the freedom we desire in the spirit.

The purpose of a prison is to confine one’s freedom, lack of freedom means limitation. What you can do when you are free is confined by this prison. Unlike the physical freedom that confines you by the walls and fences, the spiritual prison is all your fears, shame, guilt, regrets and pain. Only until you start to break down those walls of fear, shame, guilt and regrets, you might lack the freedom you so desire. The devil uses your fear, guilt, shame and regrets to keep you from partaking in the freedom your rightfully deserve. How many times have your stayed in the same situation due to fear? How many times have you felt shamed and guilty over past mistakes? How many times will you continue to stay imprisoned by situations and past hurts that you believe that you don’t deserve to be free from? Prison is so vivid like I said, the contrast is very clear. You know when it is dark or when it is light around you just by taking a good look at yourself and evaluating yourself. Ask yourself this question and answer it honestly, am I imprisoned or am I free? If you feel imprisoned, then you have to work on breaking free. You will be glad that you did!

There is no complex way to say it, it feels so good to be free. I was once crippled with fear, shame, guilt and regret, but once I started to break free, it was a game changer. One of my sisters recently said something profund and it hit every point to why I urge you to be free in the spirit. She said, “if you don’t own your story, the devil will”. What was miniscule can easily be magnified and used against you if you don’t own your story. Understand that not every prisoner’s case is the same because some are innocent, but once they start to read into lies, it makes it hard for you to break free. They start to magnify the situations that bring more fear and eventually it impairs them. Unless they stop being into those lies about themselves, the will continue to live in a prison.

Darkness is something you choose because it might be is all you know, but have you tried looking above? Remember the little small holes that were above the underground prison I visited in Morocco? To me those small holes symbolized hope. They brought some light in this dark underground prison that made all the difference. The little small holes with the little light they provided, helped me see a little more clearly and eventually I found my way back to the top. Sometimes the little small holes providing light is what we may need to break free from the dark underground prison we have created for ourselves. Instead of looking around us to what is dark and painful, how about we look above? Breaking free starts with looking above. Breaking free starts with rising above. So you begin to look and rise above the sin, fear, shame, pain, guilt and regrets by owning them all and then releasing them. Wondering who the light above is? It’s God! He provides you with just enough light so you can walk out of darkness into your freedom. Here is a scripture for you and me:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5 v 1 (NIV)

Once we are set free, we have to stand firm and not allow ourselves to back to what once held us captive. As much as freedom feels good, you need to protect it. Standing firm is you always making the choice to look above. If Christ set us free, we look to him right? If you know what it is like to be in a dark place spiritually then you will fight to keep that light. You stand firm by owning your story, every bit of it, even the shameful part of it. You stand firm by pushing away all thoughts that are lies about you. You stand firm by always seeking light in every dark place that clearly wants to separate you from God’s truth. Stand firm to this new found freedom! It feels so good to be free! It is time to take your rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Botched Plans: Trusting God’s plan

Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash
A couple detours and stabling blocks will still get you there, it may be different from what you imagined or it may be exact, but trust that God will get you there.
-Xholiwe

Hello Crowned Royals! It’s crazy how quick the weekend comes and goes so fast and not all weekend plans are accomplished in their scheduled time. Today I planned to do my laundry in the morning, but plans to do so were botched because I snoozed my alarm way too many times. This is not the first time I have experienced botched plans and some of the plans I actually needed to be botched because God knew better. Ever planned to leave for an event at a certain time, but ended up being late and hating yourself for it? Then Later on you got word that the exact street you planned to use had a terrible accident. You then took a moment to thank God for that botched plan because maybe that would have been you. I know this has happened several times that we got saved by 5 late minutes.

I am not much of a planner so when I do plan, you best believe I have calculated every possible and impossible event that will make or break my plan. I have had some serious plans concerning my life that were well thought out and planned so precisely, but not all my plans fell through they way I imagined they would. If I were to be honest, most of my plans were botched and I couldn’t be more grateful to God for my botched plans because they saved my life.

I am probably not the only one that has experienced botched plans, if you are reading this you know what I am talking about. You had plans for your present and future that did not fall through the way you imagined them. This is not the time for you to be hard on yourself for the plans that didn’t fall through, but it is time for you to be grateful. God being all knowing knew exactly that 5 years from now your plan would not be sustained and so he turned things around. I don’t know about you saints, but when God turned things around, I was not very happy about it, in fact, I would be low key mad until God showed me why he had to botch my plans. For me it took several botched plans for me to trust that God has better plans for me than I did.

Botched plans can come in different ways when in comes to serious life plans. I think if you have lived long enough you would agree with me that failure, disappointments, delay, lack of and heart break have a way of telling us our plans did not work. How we deal with all these pains that come from our botched plans will determine whether or not we trust God for a better plan. For example if a particular failure paralyzes you not try again then you trust your botched plan and not God’s plan. In the same way, if you keep repeating the botched plans in hopes that they will have a different outcome, then you are more trusting of your own plans and not God’s. I totally get it, your plan is well thought out and pretty perfect, but did you ever stop to think in the long run how well this plan would serve you? I mean it is great plan that you want to accomplish so much, but do those plans line up with the greater plans God has for you? A couple detours and stabling blocks will still get you there, it may be different from what you imagined or it may be exact, but trust that God will get you there.

To my constant planners who plan your life by the hour, it may be hard for you to deal with botched plans, but when you see why God had to interrupt that day to day planner you had going on, you will be grateful that he slowed you down. He slowed you down not because he doesn’t want you to accomplish your hourly tasks, but also to remind you of his existence. There is nothing wrong with planning your day and getting things done, but somewhere in your plans do you have some time for God? Or are you so wrapped around your planner so much so that your planner is full and God has no slotted time? God needs some time with us, we were created to relate with God as much we do with our family and friends. God desires to have a relationship with us and so if an hour planned date is botched for some time with God please take it. Enjoy some quiet time with God either through prayer or praise and worship, you will be grateful you did.

To my quick planners that are so quick to plan, but not well prepared for these plans, you too may deal with some botched plans. Perfect example, this year I quickly planned to change my closet like I always do from Winter to Spring as the days approached. Did I do it? No, days went by and I was not prepared for Spring. On a more serious life note, how many plans have you made that you are not well prepared for? Have we ever just taken the time to sit down with our plans and honestly look at our lives to see if our plans match our preparedness? God wants us to be prepared for what we ask for, so if you deal with botched plans from your quick plans trust that God wants to prepare you. Remember that quick fixes sometimes cost you so much later because most of them don’t last. So trust God as he prepares you for his plans.

Often times when things don’t go as planned all planners tend to be mad and want to throw their fist at God rather than be thankful. I have been there and after I learned why my plans did not work I broke out into a praise break because God knew best! Thank God for my botched plans. You too need to rejoice in those botched plans because those botched plans saved your life. God knows better! Here is what he has to say about planning;

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29 v 11

Until you allow this verse to sink into your spirit, you will continue to make your plans and end up frustrated when they do not fall through. God is not on his throne waiting to harm you, but his plans are to prosper you in all things, not just some. Unfortunately, we look at God’s direction as harm until weeks, months or years down the line where we realize why your plans were no good. I don’t know how many times I can emphasis this, but there is no use being mad at God for your botched plans. There are many reasons for you to be grateful and not hurtful. A closed door does not mean that God doesn’t have a plan. Stop relying on plan A, B and C when God only has one plan for you.

My last word before I eat these perfectly glazed wings are you are not the best planner. Yes, I said it, you are not the best planner. Allow God to do the planning and be amazed at what he does for you. Don’t let the botched plans paralyze you from trusting God’s plan for your life. Also, don’t make plans without first consulting with God. Are your plans well aligned with God’s plans or are you basing them of your own human understanding. Remember God knows better! While you are at it, be well prepared for the plans God has for you. You can’t be so quick to make life plans in a hurry without fully understanding them. Slow down and take some time to look critically at the plans you make concerning your life. Lastly, make some time for God talk to him about your plans and trust him when he botches some of your plans for better ones! It is time to take your rightful place! It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Change Shock: What it feels like when change happens

Photo by Havilah Galaxy on Unsplash
The process is near its end and now the caterpillar has to be the butterfly.

Hey Crowned Royals! After being away for so long I think I would like to share with you my recent culture shock experience and how similar it is to making a change in our lives. I recently visited the beautiful country of Morocco and like every visiting tourist I was hit with culture shock. As soon as I landed in Casablanca I was in for a rude awakening, this was a different place, a different people, different languages and different daily way of life than I was used to. I was excited about all of this because it was a learning opportunity for me, but if I was to be honest I was not well prepared for it. You would think for some that studied International relations I would know exactly what to do, but I did not and so I needed all the help I could get. I could list a ton of situations that shocked me and left me wondering why do they do what they do the way the do it, however, since my blog aims to keep your attention we will talk about that over a cup of tea. One of many experiences is when people kept cutting the lines in stores, at the markets, at train stations and other places I visited, it did not happen all the time, but when it did I would be so shocked. Coming from a place were waiting your turn in line is so important it was hard for me not to wonder why the did not see the same importance of waiting in line. This one experience may not be as shocking as others, but when it happened it would leave me wondering. In a similar way change in our lives can come as a shock and leave us and others wondering. When we decide to change at first things will be different and the people around the change we want will also be different so we need to be ready for some change shock.

I remember making drastic changes early this year and I was beyond shocked at what I was capable of doing. As much as I was shocked, I wondered what could have happened if I did not make these changes. Was I scared? absolutely! The changes I had to make were very different from what I am used to. Since the changes were different I had learn how to manage them and not only stay in the state of shock. After the shock comes the learning. Often times we as people in the process of changes get stuck on the shock and never learn. In the case of my culture shock in Morocco, I had my best friend explain to me why people did what they did. She has lived in Morocco longer and knows the culture very well so she was a great person to learn from. She helped me cope with my shock so that I could learn this new culture. Same thing would apply to change, if you are in the process of change connecting with or learning from a person/people that made similar changes would help you shift from shock to learning to embrace the new change. Ask the questions that will help you process the change shock and be open enough to the advice or answers aimed towards clarifying your process. Change is not something you have to do alone.

So what does it feel like when changes happen? It totally depends on what kind of change. You changing your old car for a new one is very different from changing a bad trait you have or changing your entire way of life. The new car makes you feel good, but it is not something that will require you to dig in deeper into yourself and make serious life changes. When making changes that effect your life and those around you, you might want to be more serious about them. The feelings that come with changes regarding your life can shock you. When you make the change it is not always the good feelings because if you were honest you would rather stay the same. You would rather stay in the unfulfilling relationship, the unfulfilling job and the unfulfilling way of life because it is scary to change all that without being certain that things would get better. God never said live your life unfulfilled, but since change is scary people usually have opted for the surface level change that only gives you the good feelings. Problem with the surface level change is that it don’t last for so long. There is also change that cuts right deep into all of you and this type of change comes with a roller coaster of emotions. Once you get through this type of change and shift from shocked to learned you better feel good about it.

19 For I am about to do something new.

    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

I will make a pathway through the wilderness.

    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Isaiah 43 v 19

This bible verse can speak to a lot of people including those that have made major life changes. People that have decided to change from their old ways to embrace new ones can relate to this verse. Angry people who want to change and be more gentle, selfish people who want to change and give more, rebellious people who want to change and be obedient etc. Do you see it? God is about to do something new because of your change. The process is near its end and now the caterpillar has to be the butterfly. The change was not familiar, but now you understand why you needed it. Because when God clears the pathway a lot of the things that did not make sense now do. The change was necessary for you and those around you. God allows us to go through the process of change because he knows that our change despite the heavy feelings will be worth it in the end. The story that comes to my mind when I think of change shock is Rahab in the bible. She went from being known as the harlot of the town and when she changed she was began the pathway in the linage of Jesus. I can only imagine her change shock that made her unfamiliarized herself with being the harlot of the town and now a woman of God. Also, when she changed she probably shocked people around her, those that knew her as a harlot probably were unable to fully comprehend what happened and were left to wonder. I don’t know what your change shock is, but you are better off unfamiliarizing with it and embracing the change that will make you better. People are watching you too and are shocked at how you are now different, so keep them wondering by making more changes.

My last words to you regarding change shock is that as long as you have made the decision to change expect shock to come. You and those around you will notice the change. It may not be something you are used to, but it is something that you will eventually learn and master. You don’t have to go through the process of change alone, speak with people that have made similar changes and learn from them how you can deal with change shock and all the feelings that come with it. God is already 10 steps ahead of you and is ready when you are to walk into your promise because you made the change. Get unstuck with thinking that if you change certain aspects of your life things will not get better because fear has gotten the best of you. The butterfly within you will not emerge if you are still a caterpillar trying to hold on to the old ways of your life. Push pass it and take your rightful place! It is time to shift from thorns to crowns!

Much love,

Xholiwe

Best version of you: No prototypes

Photo by José Alejandro Cuffia on Unsplash- Prototype
To every finished product, there is a prototype that just did not make the cut.
-Xholiwe

I might not be the science nerd, but I know a lot of science requires testing. The medicine we consume when we are sick and the smart devices we use daily all went through a test. Even the cars we drive did not magically be the awesome cars we love to drive and feel safe in, they too had to be tested. One thing that is fascinating and pretty neat about science is that before the finished product, there is a good number of prototypes. To every finished product, there is a prototype that just did not make the cut. The scientist works towards making sure that the finished product is the best version before placing it into the consumers world. Why does he/she do so? Well, no one will put their hard earned money to something that was not tried and tested. Take a moment to think about your smart device missing certain features, would you be inclined to buy it? I am guessing you wouldn’t because those features are important to you right? It is amazing how we invest so much time and money into what features the latest device has and forget that we too need to be the best version of ourselves. Let us get this clear, we are not trying to be perfect because even the Samsung 7 had it’s flaws despite it being tried and tested. We want to be the best version of ourselves because the prototypes are just not cutting it anymore.

So why is it important for us to the best versions of ourselves? If I was to speak as a scientist that knows my craft, I would say the best version sells, not the prototype. People want to be the best version of themselves while still acting like prototypes. I have some bad news for the prototypes, you won’t sell. You may think that all is well until life demands you to be the best version of yourself in order to move on and grow. The best version of you might be a person that is more assertive, compassionate, honest, confident etc, but since you have not allowed yourself to be tried and tested you are still not making the cut. Trust me when I say trying to be the best version of yourself requires so much effort from you. You just can’t do nothing and expect to be the best version of yourself.

Self-evaluation

One thing that scientists do when creating a product is that they evaluate. They look at the things that didn’t work in the several prototypes and work on changing that for the finished product. In the same way, we to have to evaluate ourselves, we look at our habits and all other things that are hindering us to be the best version of ourselves. Is it the mindset you should be working on? Is it the people you surround yourself with? Is is the bad decisions you keep on making? Track some of these things and evaluate them carefully as you work towards being the best version of yourself. Give yourself time in your busy schedule to have a meeting of one where you self-evaluate yourself. You might be your biggest critic, but this is so important for you to build towards being the best version.

Molded by God

We are diving in a little deeper now, I want us to think more spiritually. Think of God as the the scientist in your life experiment, you have had enough of being the prototype and are ready to be the best version of yourself. You probably need God right about now to step in quick before you are discarded. Into the potters hands you go! Understand you can not do this alone, stop trying to figure things out and allow God to mold you to be the best version of yourself. His word confirms that he can do the same thing that the potter did with the clay. God’s message to Israel through Jeremiah was that he was the potter and the people of Israel where the clay (Jeremiah 18 v 6). While you put the effort, allow for God to work with you through the process of being the best version of yourself.

Tried and tested

One thing that we appreciate that is tried and tested is our car. The car carries our lives and that of our families, so scientists ensure the safety of the cars through trying and testing. On a more spiritual aspect, we too are tried and tested when we go through trials. Trials are God’s way of testing our true character, which can easily be a prototype instead of the best version. One thing I have learned from my own trials is that it stops me on my fast tracks to actually think, then eventually I evaluate myself. Trials are not so bad after all, if you start to look at them as building blocks you can use to be the best version of yourself. Trials can either bring out the best in us or the worst in us so when our character is proven by God we know where we stand. Here is a bible verse that sums up all that I am trying to tell you:

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

1 Peter 1 v 7 (NLT)

Once we are tried and tested, it will show through our faith whether or not we want to be the best versions or be discarded prototypes. God wants to know if he can work hand in hand with us or will we choose to curl up and be disarded at the first sight of trial. God wants to see the best version of us that has been tried and tested and still stands in faith. God wants to see the best version of ourselves that has learned from their past mistakes and works towards not repeating them. God wants to see us for who we truly are and not our potential.

Fall in love with your best version

Potential is all what it is potential. It will never measure up to the best version of yourself. There is a reason to why every consumer demands for a finished product because the potential prototype is not consumable. Have you ever heard someone say that they love their smart device’s potential when it has missing features? No, so why are you in love with a potential you that hasn’t fully decided to be the best version? Is it because it is much easier to act on potential than it is to be authentically you. Falling in love with the best version of you will push you to get rid of the potential you. The potential you that doesn’t make the cut anymore because your growth is demanding for the best version of you. Once you fall in love with the best version of you there is no stopping you because you know who you are. People need you to be the best version of yourself, in fact certain people’s lives depend on you being the best version. When you fall in love with the best version of you, you are willing to put in the work so that you maintain yourself even when the trials come.

My last words to you, stop living like a prototype when you are meant to be the best version of yourself. You have to put in the work, the best version of you wont came from doing nothing. You may need to have a meeting of one with yourself and evaluate what is hindering you from being the best version of yourself. Allow God to step in and work hand in hand with him as he brings out the best in you. Reminder he is the potter and you are the clay. When trials come hold your head up and let them bring out the best and not the worst out of you. God wants to work with the best version of you that can fight through and can be tried and tested, but still come out proven. Lastly, fall in love with the best version of yourself because that is all for all! You do want to take that rightful place right? The rightful place requires for you to be the best version of yourself! It is time to take our rightful place. It is time to trade our thorns for crowns.

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Obedience: Your way or God’s way?

directions
Your way or God’s way?

As I was driving back from work today, I tried to imagine a driver’s life without road signs and stop lights. I had these thoughts and imaginations because people drive crazy especially in Chicago. There is a reason we have road signs and stop lights because these signs and stop lights regulate the flow of traffic. I know you know all this, but just stick with me because I am going somewhere. These road signs and stop lights serve a purpose, the are placed in areas that caution drivers on what action to take. We know when to exit when we see the exit sign and when to stop when the light is red. We are instructed to do so and our disobedience to follow these signs can have some major consequences. When you miss your exit, you may be adding a couple more minutes to your drive time. Also, when you run a red light at a intersection you are most likely to get involved in an accident. So it is probably easy to obey than it is to disobey, right? But have you ever been late to something and put the pedal to the metal? I have, I was driving 80 miles per hour on a 60 speed limit zone some time back when I was a running late to an event. Unfortunately, the cops got me where I shouldn’t have been, so I was ticketed and I still didn’t make to the event in time. I was disobedient and had some consequences to because of my actions, it cost me money that I could have used for something else. My thoughts after that were, “oh, if only I just obeyed and drove within the limit” and later on I questioned my use of google maps versus the waze app that lets you know that there is a speed trap ahead. On a more serious note, take all that I have said about roads and drivers and think of how disobedience in your life left you dealing with some bad consequences and regret. Now lets talk!

Disobedience is a thorn that we fail to often recognize because it is well disguised in our determination, ambitiousness, greed and self-willed spirit. Being a self willed person myself, I can tell you that I have been quite disobedient to God’s instructions based off my own idea of the right way was way. So God had to work on that with me and obviously it took a lot of work on my part to finally understand the important of obedience. You know how much time and peace you can save yourself if you just obeyed God’s instructions? You know you would be way ahead than you are right now, if you just obey. Obedience is a challenge, and it also can be rewarding if done right. The challenging part about obedience is that sometimes things don’t make sense. God will instruct you on certain things that won’t make sense and obeying that can be hard. Think of the times you were instructed by God, but you didn’t act on the right instruction. You did it your way and later on there came those unnecessary consequences and regrets that could have been avoided. This is were I ask you, do you want it your way or God’s way?

I worked in the kids department at JCPenney a couple of years ago. In the front of the cash registers we had toys and kids throw tantrums when they did not get the toy because mom and dad said no. It was a sight to see, so many meltdowns happened almost everyday and there was nothing we could do as sales associates but watch in wonder. Try to imagine with me, but this time picture yourself throwing a tantrum when things don’t happen your way. God said no to the relationship, he said no to the job you wanted, he said no to all the things he saw would not serve you in the long run, but because you are mad at God you venture off in to disobedience think you figured it out. Only to come back to God wishing you could have followed his clear instructions. God being a God of several chances will give you another chance in hopes that this time you will trust and obey. You are not the first one that has been disobedient, there is scripture that will show you that you are not the first one and certainly not the last.

He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9 v 59-62

Based off the bible verse, I want to highlight the words that defeat the purpose of obedience “let me first”. Notice how all the men Jesus asked to follow him said those three little disobedient words? Jesus’s command was clear, he asked these men to follow him, but they were disobedient by just saying those words. How many times have you said “let me first” when you were given an instruction by God? For me, I am going to be honest and say a lot. I felt I had to have my ducks in a row before jumping, but what that did was that it delayed some certain things. Thorns to Crowns could have been started three years ago, but I said “let me first” a whole lot of times in disobedience. What are you saying “let me first” to that God has clearly instructed you to do? Take sometime to think about it and work on just doing and believing that God sees way ahead of you. If you can see what he can see, you won’t say let me first.

Logic is one of the biggest enemies to obedience right along side being self-willed. Logic and self-willed individuals go through a series of disobedience because the logic thinker wants things to make sense, while the self-willed wants their way. To my logic thinkers obeying God will require you to let those ducks go and step out in faith believing that if God instructed it, he is sure to complete it. To my self-willed friends, your way is not always the right way. You need to give God a chance to prove to you that he knows what is best for you. To all my logical thinkers and self-willed friends if we want to stop the series of regrets, we have to stop putting our decisions ahead of God’s. Rather than us making our own decisions with the little that we know, how about we seek guidance from God that knows it all.

My last word before I chow down and watch America’s Got Talent, is that if you are a crazy driver please follow instructions be courteous to other drivers lol. On serious note, I hope you can take some time to think about being obedient to God’s instructions concerning your life. Trust me when I say that it makes life so much easier for you and others. It is easier to obey than dealing with disobedience and the regrets it tags along to remind you that you messed up. I challenge you to just do it like Nike’s instructions. There are so many rewards that come with obedience. Take that crown! It is time to take our rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns.

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Woe is me: Woes of playing a victim

Sorrowful man
If you are justifying your present bad actions based off the event that happened in the past, then there are some woes your have to overcome.
-Xholiwe

Who is a victim? What does a victim go through? How does a victim become a victor? These are all questions that we may have different answers to, but an easy way for us to get to think about the woes (sorrow and distress) of being a victim. There so many stories about victims, but have you noticed that only the victors make a name of themselves. By definition a victim is a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of crime, accident, or other event or action. If you alive right now and have had some years under your belt, then somewhere along the way you could have fallen victim to something. This could have be something that hurt you, harmed you, injured you or almost killed you. What those events or actions make you go through can easily lead to sorrow, depression, pain and trauma. However, it is not in your place to stay there when there is a whole life you could live passed all that sorrow and distress. You could actually be able to use that event as a stepping stone, so rather than being a victim for the rest of your life you become a victor. We will look at some woes and be able to identify them in our own lives in this blog, and hopefully work on moving on pass them.

Unfortunately, I will not be giving you 10 steps on how to be a victor in this blog post for this particular reason. We first have to deal with the woes of being a victim and shifting our victim mindset. I have been a victim in some situations, so trust me when I say it is easy to be a victim than it is to be a victor. It is easy to throw the victim card to everyone that pushes you to be a victor because as a victim you are not challenged to change for yourself and others. I remember when my mother died and the victim card was my only escape. Clearly, I was not the first person that lost a mother, but it felt that way for a couple years and so I found out that the victim card was an easy pass for my bad actions, but not anymore. I don’t know what event victimized you, but we may have to have an honest moment that will push you to getting over the victim mindset. What is it that triggers you to play the victim? Is it when someone calls you out on some bad behavior? or is it when things don’t go your way? If you are justifying you present bad actions based off the event that happened in the past, then there are some woes your have to overcome.

If you and Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh’s friend) are starting to look alike and sound alike, Houston we have a problem. If all you do is complain about how unfair life has been to you, then we have a victim mindset problem. Understand that I am not disregarding those bad events that happened in your life because I too can not disregard what happened in my life. I am not telling you to not share some pain points with trusted family and friends because that is important. However, I would like you to understand the woes of playing the victim in your stories and how they affect your life. Woes being great sorrow or distress have a way of changing how we look at life, and we can all agree that we experienced some stuff that we indeed were victims. The sad part about this is that we stay victims for too long without addressing the woes that the event brought in our lives. It is great that we want to move on, but we can not move on healthily if we are victim minded. If we are victim minded, every other event that follows us as we move on will keep us in the same place. Therefore, there needs to be an entire mind switch that no longer looks at current events in our lives with a victim mindset.

Because you have breath, things will happen and what will be crucial is how you decided to view this these things. Can we talk about Joseph from the bible? He is a victor that made a name for himself with the help of God, but he could have easily been a victim and forgotten. Just think of how easy it would have been for Joseph to play the victim in his story. His brother threw him in a pit and sold him because they were jealous. Joseph had every right to play the victim, but the sorrow and distress that could have come from that would have not seen him through to be the second in command in Egypt. He eventually saved the same brothers that sold him because he chose not to magnify the woes of playing the victim. Joseph had dealt with other events that he never allowed to get him trapped in the victim mindset. He was a victim when he was accused of rape. He was a victim when he was thrown in prison for something he did not do, but we all know that he his story did not end in prison. His story could have ended in that pit or in prison, but he did not allow the woes of playing the victim rule his life.

What is it that you have fallen woe it that it has impaired you to live a much desirable life? Pity parties for one are no fun, sitting there brewing on the many woes of your current situation does not fix it. Woes such as depression, despair, heartbreak, dejection, sorrow and gloom should not be your norm. The life you deserve is the life that brings out the victor in you. The victor that looks at those events as stumbling blocks that helped them see the importance of standing up again despite the falls.

Sorrow and distress can change your life based on how much you invest in them. If you are constantly looking for a reason to be sorrowful or distressed then you will certainly find it. How about if you are tired of playing the victim and feeding into those woes what do you do? Jeremiah says this:

Woe is me because of my hurt!

    My wound is grievous.

But I said, “Truly this is an affliction,

    and I must bear it.”

Jeremiah 10:19 (ESV)

Playing a constant victim in your story in the long run won’t serve you. You may have to bear the affliction with grace and grow through it. You don’t want to be stuck playing the victim in every situation, all it brings is deep sorrow and distress. You want to be able to enjoy your life knowing that despite it all, you are a victor that overcame all that that the devil throw at you hoping he would keep you stuck.

In closing, I just want to let you know that your present woe can be your future victory. But your victim minded way of thinking might be what hinders you from seeing beyond that present woe. You are spending too much time reliving those hurtful events and constantly reminding yourself that you are a victim. Do you know you can relive those events and see yourself as a victor? You overcame! Be proud of yourself. You certainly took your rightful place! You continue to do so as you trade your thorns for crowns.

Much Love,

Xholiwe