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

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

Dear Younger me: I still believe

Remember when life was a blank canvas and as kids there was so much we believed in? Can you go back to believing like a child?

I feel nostalgic this Saturday and it was all because I watched a 10 minute video of all the opening songs to some of my favorite cartoons while growing up as a child. The most nostalgic 10 minutes of my life that took me back to remembering the little girl who believed in so much more and thought of life a little differently than I do as an adult. Oh, how damaging a couple years can have on us. We are now believing less and conforming more to what has been set and stone because it is easier to believe in what we see than what we can not see.

What happened to that little girl or boy who just believed in themselves and anything mommy and daddy said? Well, we grow up and once we got some understanding and stumbled upon some pain, shame, guilt and frustration we stopped believing in almost everything. We got into our teen years and we found ourselves trying to believe other stuff that were not true because everyone else was doing it, so we thought fitting in was much easier. Why did we conform? Why did we stop believing? We started to believe less in our abilities and our strengths because let us face it there people out there who do it better than you did. There is a prettier girl than you, there is a more handsome fella than you, their are more smarter people than you. But truth is they can’t be you and you definitely can’t be them and that is okay. Believing in yourself is so important because it sets you up to be an authentic version of yourself. In the a society where everyone is trying to be someone they are not, it feels good to be a real version of yourself. Your skills, your talent, your abilities and strengths can take full form if you can only believe. Believe like you did as kid! As a kid, you were doctor, a lawyer, an activist, a pastor, a fashion designer, a baker etc. It is still possible to be that kid again that believed that you could do it all. There is a place that can make use of your skill, there are people who will appreciate you talent and their are people out there that will believe for you if you are having a hard time at it.

It is never too late to believe again, I have had conversations with people younger, my age and older and the usual response is something in these lines;

  • It is too late to start the business
  • It is too late to pursue that job
  • It is not worth it investing into my dreams at my age
  • I am too old
  • I am too young
  • I am not qualified
  • Starting a new life in a different place is too risky
  • I have children
  • I have a terrible past

Excuses are the enemy that hinder us from believing in us again. We now have an excuse for everything because it is much easier to be excused than to believe. What ends up happening is that we settle feeling unfulfilled. We settle for the miserable and unhealthy relationships, we settle for the job we hate, we settle for the regular because we don’t believe for better.

Doubt is another enemy that hinders us from believing in us again. We doubt that things will get better because maybe things at some point in our lives didn’t get better, but that should not keep us from believing again. We doubt and so we make excuses. We have already counted ourselves out even before we try. We have to stop looking for signs for us to believe because God does not always give us signs. He will test our faith by not giving us a sign and because we didn’t see a sign we don’t believe, ye of little faith.

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

John 20:27

We want God to move while we have settled in our lives full of excuses and doubt. God does not operate that way, he wants to meet us half way, we have take the step first, even one step is enough to show God that you are serious. God is looking for believers, a people that believe that all things are possible just like a child. God comes through for some crazy believers that believe in themselves and the God they serve. I am sure you have meant some of these crazy believers that just jump and never find excuses that reason with their logic. Might as well jump with them

In closing, is younger you proud of where you are at right now? Or is he/she reminding you of the dreams and aspirations you once had? If younger you is not happy with were you are in life currently, then it means you got some work to do. You have to believe again! You have to break all that has kept you from believing again. You are capable, no one can be you better than you can! Let’s get to work! We are trading our thorns for crowns!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Closed doors: Are they necessary?

It was closed for a reason, keep it closed and keep it moving.
-Xholiwe

Hey crowned Royals! Can we talk about how Portillo’s shut their doors on me a couple weekends ago? I was 2 minutes pass their business hours and they closed their doors on me. I remember saying I want an Italian beef sandwich to nourish my grumpiness and I decided to risk my life driving to beat the closing time. So I took off with hope and expectation that I will walk out of Portillo’s with an Italian beef sandwich, well that did not happen. I was welcomed by a closed sign and faces through the window clearly saying go away, but I was not going to just quit because of a sign and mean faces. I wanted Italian beef and was set on it, so I waved politely at the workers and nudged on the door. They did not even react to my actions and desperate need for food. The sign was up, it was closed, which meant that Portillo’s was no longer serving customers. However, I still thought of trying because maybe just maybe someone would see my desperate need for a sandwich. What ended up happening was that I left empty and disappointed, but it was not the workers fault and they were not obligated to open those doors for me. Also, lingering around in hopes that they would open the doors for me was a pure waste of time because I left without my sandwich. There is a moral to this story, I just didn’t plan to tell you about my disappointment and leaving you without a good word.

Moral of the story? Don’t go to Portillo’s two minutes pass their closing time and for the sake of this blog post keep the closed doors closed, there is a reason why they are closed. We all go through life experiencing closed doors, for most of us we get too curious to know what is behind the door and sometimes when we find out the hard way. I get it, because some closed doors don’t give us much detail, we didn’t know that the company we wanted to work for badly would file for bankruptcy and leave you out of a job. We didn’t know that the career path we chose would keep us miserable. We didn’t know that the people around us were really not for us. We just opened some wrong closed doors in hopes that it would be right. This is not where you beat yourself for opening the wrong closed doors, this is a place where you thank God that the closed doors were necessary for your growth and drew you closer to your destiny. I have had several closed doors and just like anybody else didn’t like that feeling of rejection, but now I look back to closed doors in job opportunities, career paths, relationships, friendship etc and I am so thankful. I quit aggressively nudging on closed doors that were closed for a reason and I would hope the same for you.

Closed doors can also be our past too, we go back to opening up past hurts and bruise the wounds that took us so much time trying to heal. Is it necessary? You are getting hurt over and over again because you keep going back to the closed door you have no business opening. It was closed for a reason, keep it closed and keep it moving. You can’t experience a great future, if you continue to live in the past. Understand that God will not close one door and leave you stranded. Trust that because that door was closed, God got a better plan. God is not a mean God that says “aha let me disappoint (insert your name)!” He knows what we need better than we do, so if a door closes there is a reason and as you continue to journey through life you will understand each reason for a closed door. God will protect you, he sees way ahead of us and can tell us;

  • it is time to close this door and move on
  • it is time to close this door for now, we may revisit it when we are more mature
  • it is time to close this door forcefully because it is dangerous and we refuse to listen
  • It is time to close this door because we need to be protected

Sometimes it does not have to take God to do the closing for you. You will be beat down and tired of trying to open this closed door that you personally decide to close it yourself. When you do so, realize that you did it for you and your better future. Celebrate yourself for loving yourself enough to close doors that are not fulfilling purpose.

Are closed doors necessary? Yes, they are necessary because rather than you staying stuck on that one door you get to a point where you challenged to grow and move pass it. Unfortunately, too many people stay stuck on a closed door in hopes that there is something there when God’s blessings for you already shifted and is waiting on you to leave that closed door. The doors God opens for you are one that no man on the face of the earth can shut, those are doors we should be seeking for.

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Revelations 3:8 (NIV)

My last word are that you should be okay with closed doors, be okay with keeping them closed too. It is not in your place to push on closed doors and end up disappointed. Like I mentioned earlier there is a good reason why God closed some certain doors that were not serving their purpose in you life, but rather these doors were hurting and discouraging. If you have been stuck at that closed today for way too long, I challenge you to walk away even two feet away and see what difference it will make for both your body and spirit. Remember this is all in the process of shifting from thorns to crowns! You got this!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Crown of Thorns to Crowns of Life

He that wore a Crown of Thorns now wears a Crown of Life
-Xholiwe

As we are still in the spirit of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I thought of sharing on how possible it is for us to go from dealing with pain to being whole again. We are all excited that Christ has risen and oh what a joy to know that the tomb is empty! Jesus the King of heaven and earth is seated on the throne and he that was crucified for your sin is alive. It is great that we are celebrating, but can we take some time to learn from Jesus about pain and wholeness for he that wore a crown of thorns now wears a crown of life. If you don’t have any examples of people in your life that endured pain and became whole please feel free to take your example off Jesus.

Just like Jesus, we too have had to endure pain and that crown of thorns sometimes leaves us wondering if there is the slightest possibility that we can take it off. Truth is that if Jesus did it, so can we. We do face pain I know and sometimes that pain feels so pressed deep on our minds and hearts that it feels like the crown of thorns is a permanent accessory you have to wear for the rest of your life. The devil is a liar! Because he that wore a thorn of crowns now wears a crown of life and so can we! I remember dealing with pain so much that I thought it would always be that way. I thought I would have to live the rest of my life wearing a crown of thorns, but Jesus had another plan for me and so does he for you!

Healing from pain is not an overnight phenomenon. It is a process that requires you to trust God more than anything. You want the healing bad enough to trust God who knows your heart and every part that hurts. God knows every thorn that is embedded in the crown that has kept you hurtful, bitter, angry and unforgiving, depressed, prideful, and any other things that haunt you because of the pain you have had to deal with in your life.

Would you believe me when I say that you shouldn’t have to feel that way the rest of your life. Would you believe me if I say that peace is possible! Would you believe when I say that healing of pain from every thorn is possible! I never for a second thought it was possible because the pain that I allowed to sit on my head started to feel normal. Yes, we can normalize pain and act out of our pain and see nothing wrong with it. One wise woman once said that when you sit in stinky places for too long, you no longer have a sense of the bad smell because you have normalized it. Same way with pain, we sit in it for too long and normalize it. I was once so bitter and would say that is just the way it is, ummm no! I needed some healing from my pain and if God did not step in, I would still be acting out of my pain.

Here is the thing, we think that when we hold on to pain we are doing ourselves a favor, that is so wrong on 20 different levels that we could talk about in another blog. I want us to realize the power of letting go and allowing God to heal us and make us whole. Can God take us from wearing a crowns of thorns to wearing crowns of life? Yes! Because Jesus was his example for us. What does wearing a crown of life look like? When someone tells you that you dont look like or act like what you have been through. I take that as confirmation that I am healing from my pain when some stranger that I tell my testimony is amazed by all that I had to endure. Crowns of life are filled with peace, hope, faith, love and believing that all the pain you have to face in life will pass. The verse of promise in James 1:12 comforts me and hope it does for you too.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12 ESV

There are so many verses in the bible that talk of crowns and that should confirm something in your spirit right now. God gave us this promise and hope that we will receive crowns of life. A crown of life just like Jesus receive on the third day he resurrected from the grave. We too will have it! How exciting is it to know that we too can wear crowns of life.

Let us continue celebrating our resurrected king, let us also be reminded that he is resurrecting us from all the pain that we have normalized for too long. We are trading our crown of thorns for crowns of life.

Being your own Cheerleader

“Nothing is more exciting than cheering your self on and actually seeing result” -Xholiwe

I know it is only two years ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday! I just graduated and was spending most of my days and nights applying for jobs. There some days that believe I put in at least 15-20 applications. I mean I was determined, I was excited, positive and was so ready to do the adult thing and have an actual job. But soon that excitement turned into frustration, discouragement and stress because I was not getting that job I much desired. Soon enough I was buying into the fear of what others said about people who study “liberal arts” that they end up without a proper job. There was also that dreadful question of “how is the job hunt going?” that I was trying to answer politely, but deep down I had a lot to say about my frustrations and impatience. Rejection letters and no call backs after initial interviews had me feeling down and out. I remember not even wanting to apply anymore, for a good week or so I did not touch my laptop because I felt defeated. Mind you that in this time I was praying, fasting, serving in church, receiving words of encouragement, but still nothing was coming to fruition. I can tell you the whole story about how everything turned out, but I want to get to the good part about being your own cheerleader. Let me conclude this story by saying I got the job God promised I would get after a couple of hurdles and feel of defeat, I started to be intentional and cheered myself on while everyone worried about me.

The story I just shared with you was for you to know me a little bit better and also recognize that this was one of my trials and tribulations. The pain (thorn) that came not being offered a job almost had me operating with the wrong attitude, but the word of God that is living and active turned this around for me. We all know that verse in the bible that tells us to be of good cheer right? Well, if you don’t, that is okay too! There it is;

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

I don’t know what your test or tribulation is, it may be big or little, but if you follow the instructions from the word above you right now, you are about to pick up your crown. The thing that comes with being able to cheer yourself on, or in other word believe in yourself is far greater than you think. You maybe thinking nothing of what you just did, but if do this right you will see results. I tell you this because I have been in tough situations and used cheering myself on in several of them and to my surprise everything turned out good. I am not easy was that easy, but if you keep at it, it does get much easier to be of good cheer regardless of the magnitude of your situation.

There may even come a season in your life where family and friends can not cheer you on because they have their own trials and tribulations to fight through. When that happens you have to be there for you, you have to show up in the bleachers and cheer for you. You got this! I mean just look at how far you have come!

I need you to be your biggest fan before anyone comes to support you, know that you are capable and well equipped with the power of God to back you up. I don’t recommend you stay in that place of defeat because nothing grows there and there is little room for God to work things out.

How do you cheer yourself on? I am glad you asked! Well, how about some words of affirmation? The power in speaking into your life is far greater than keeping silent. Words that affirm the truth about you will shift your attitude just like it did mine when I was in the job hunting season. You may need to repeat them through the day, most especially when you feel that feeling of defeat. There are some words of affirmation that have and continue to help me through my trials and tribulations.

  • I am loved by God
  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made
  • I am an over comer because Jesus overcame
  • I am beautiful
  • I am unique
  • I am strong
  • I am capable to do all things through Christ
  • I am not alone
  • I am not defeated
  • I am a winner, no matter the situation

Please feel free to use these words of affirmation and add to the list what you know is true about you! Stay encouraged! It is just a matter of time before that thorn is traded in for a crown. In the meantime, cheers to you!

Hello Freedom!

How does freedom look like?

This is my first blog and to be quite honest, I just didn’t dive right into it. I was trying to think of some killer introduction blog, but it’s like all of my thinking and writing abilities went out the window soon as I opened my laptop. However, after a sanctified meal from Chic-fil-a and a pep talk, I got my thinking juices going and here I am writing my first blog! I am super excited to share my blog and get the opportunity to share my life and how I continue to trade my thorns for crowns. Thorns to crowns in other words is pain to beauty. I don’t know about you, but I have had my share of pain, hurt, sorrow, disappointment, whatever you can call it. Then something amazing happened, I finally realized that I could trade my pain for joy, peace, beauty, happiness and freedom! I allowed God to take away my pain and that was not an easy thing to do. I never knew that it was possible because often times I asked God to take away my pain verses me giving it to him. Being able to give my pain (thorns) to God helped set me free to wear my crown and now even though pain makes it’s way in my life, I have mastered a different way to handle it.

Let’s talk about freedom, since it is the title of my blog. I don’t know what freedom looks like because there are many ways to illustrate it. I certainly know what it feels like because there is no way of faking it.

The picture above is one way to say that looks like freedom, but so do 1000+ more pictures of women running in nature look like. I decided to understand the picture and how it relates to freedom. First, the scenery is just right, the mountains in the background, the openness of the land, and the green grass all shout freedom. Secondly, the woman demonstrates release as she leaps and puts her head up, again freedom. Reality is that we want this same picture in our lives, not us physically trying to recreate this picture, but living a life of freedom. We want the freedom to be open and be in the right environment. We also want to be able to release and leap, but why does it seem so impossible? It is because we don’t give our pain to God, so we are left to picture freedom and not feel it. Freedom for some of you could be, finally forgiving your past mistakes, while for others it could be going finally letting go of that lie that you have believed about yourself. We seek some freedom somewhere, and it is okay that what you seek to be free from is different. As long as you are trading your pain for crowns. Note to self, you can not release and leap if you are holding on to pain, let it go.

God is saying this to you;


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 11:28-30

All I can say is that our freedom (crowns) are found in giving God our pains (thorns). Like I said freedom may look and feel different for all of us, but as long as we are trading our thorns for crowns, we are well on our way!