Life Has New Meaning

And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Revelation 12:11 NLT

This photo is a testimony by itself. “How does it feel to be working again,” my son asked. “I’m so grateful to be here,” I replied.

The last time I served, I had a seizure. It happened in the middle of me talking to someone. Imagine talking, losing your train of thought, stuttering when you normally don’t, mouth twisting, then suddenly not being able to breathe.

Sidebar: [My husband sends pictures to my mom in love when we are volunteering. He just so happened to walk into the hallway moments before the seizure to take pictures per usual. He saw my face through the camera lens and walked towards me. Because, I could not speak I just looked at him, with fear in my eyes and tried to make my way to him, before collapsing in his arms.

I thought I was having a stroke because of my mouth twisting. Then, I thought I was dying because I could not breathe. LOL. I can laugh at how dramatic I am now that it’s over. I remember saying, “Jesus help me,” in my head. At that moment, my husband grabbed my head and calmly said to himself I was having a stroke when I didn’t respond to him. He called for help and immediately began praying. I became unconscious and started having convulsions. It’s great to know that when I can’t pray, there are people around me who will.

The next thing I remember is being confused about what happened. Apparently, I was laughing hysterically during questioning. I was incoherent and unable to provide any information. I did not even know that I was on the stretcher. It did not register that the paramedics were there for me until they started wheeling me out of the church.

That day, my church was having a partner celebration to thank members for their contributions and highlighted all that the ministry had accomplished to date. I was excited about sharing my testimony that evening. So, with me having a seizure right before the celebration began, I could not understand why God allowed it to happen. Let me be very clear: GOD DOES NOT CAUSE SICKNESS.

I spent the following week searching myself. Did this mean I was not supposed to speak? Then, I started worrying about a  mysterious underlying medical problem since I never had a seizure before. I was faced with constant flashbacks of the experience. It was extremely traumatic. To make matters worse, a week later, I had another seizure while sleeping.

This week, I realized that this was all spiritual. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NLT

The enemy did not want me to speak. Duh! I’m always talking about how great God is and all that He has done for my family. My husband has called me the testimony queen for years. I thought my faith was solid, but it actually hit a plateau. I got comfortable.

I was confused after the seizure. I experienced brain fog and short term memory loss. It was difficult to formulate my words, inability to focus or think clearly. The medication I was prescribed after having the second seizure causes confusion. After prayer and mediation, it became very clear what was going on.

God is not the author of confusion.

Earlier last week I wrote in my journal about being chosen, since I am considered a rainbow baby. I reminded myself that I just have to weather the storm to reach the promise. Sunday, morning during Bible class,  I wrote how God changes you before changing your circumstance. Both CHOSEN and CHANGED were confirmed during the sermon! This was instant confirmation for me.

Earplugs for my MRI Brain Scan

I had an MRI Brain Scan today. This was the last test I needed to have for my doctors to come up with a prognosis. All of the tests I’ve had so far, have been normal *insert praise dance.* The machine is narrow and loud. If you are not claustrophobic, you probably will be with this one. I know I was.

The technician gave me a panic button in case it became too much for me and earplugs for the noise. Not a coincidence that I was feeling anxious on that table. There was a cage-like helmet over my head that takes the pictures. I thought about the helmet of salvation. I began to drown out the noise of the enemy, the lies, the taunting. I tried singing but could barely remember lyrics to my favorite songs. I recited several verses then I prayed the rest of the time. The entire procedure was 18 minutes, but the lesson I learned will last a lifetime.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Phillippians 4:8 NLT

I do not know how much time I have to live, but I do know that I do not want to die with all of my dreams, gifts and unwritten books inside of me.

I don’t know what you are going through, but I pray that you have the mind of Christ and remain faithful no matter what. YOU have all power over the enemy. Find your purpose and stay focused on things that matter. Life is short.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I planned to testify about my journey with lupus. Then, this happened.

Daniel Fast Day 21

When you have an infection, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics to complete for a number of days. Oftentimes, the dosage is twice per day to ensure your immune system is strong 24/7. The physician instructs you to continue taking the medication even if you start to feel better before you finish. If you fail to do so, then you risk the chance of not only becoming sick again, but the antibiotics will not be effective next time (the organisms that made you sick would have developed a resistance by then).
This is how we should look at our walk with Christ. There are times when we will feel extremely low and discouraged. People tend to pray more and do everything right during these times, but most stop once they receive the desired results. How many have ever said, “Lord, if you just get me out of this situation I won’t mess up again” like me? These are the times I would try to cross all the biblical Ts and dot all my Is more than ever. As I matured, I realized I had it all wrong. Truth is, “I can’t do anything for Him to love me more nor can I do anything for Him to love me less.” Shaylin J. via Romans 8:38-39
The danger in being a situational worshiper is when things are on the mend, you no longer thirst for the word. It’s amazing how much people praise when they are living comfortably. They walk around saying the joy of the Lord is their strength when really it is their nice cushion of savings in the bank. As soon as they are facing financial difficulty, everything they normally profess suddenly changes to words of defeat. Recently, I realized the shift in my mood when I had to pay a large bill as soon as I got paid. My “joy” should have never been in the money to begin with. Chase Bank is not my source.
Confession. I can be pretty extreme. I began this fast needing some divine intervention. Desperate to hear a word from heaven, I dove head first into this thang. What was clear to me is to be careful of only praying when I am sad, stressed, worried, angry, etc. Our relationship with Christ should not be based on our feelings only. We have to get to the point that we trust God even when our emotions tell us otherwise. I am learning to trust when the facts of what I am going through seem to outweigh my faith. This can be difficult, because I am super analytical. However, our faith needs to be based on who He is, not what temporary situations portray. Faith is believing in something you cannot necessarily see, anyway. It is visionary in a supernatural sense.
Remember, faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). As you increase your devotion time, your faith increases.
Do not commit yourself to God only when you want something. You cannot manipulate Him into blessing you. Neither can you perform or pay for blessings—they were already paid for on your behalf when Jesus went to Calvary.
In life, the rug can and will be repeatedly pulled from under your feet. But if you are standing on the rock, it can never be moved. Stand on the promises of God instead and you will have unshakable faith. (Jeremiah 17:8). No matter what is going on, we have to make a conscious decision every single day to trust that all things are working for our good. The Bible tells us to count it alllll joy (James 1:2). Everything. No exceptions.
Maintain a cheerful spirit. Laughter is medicine. Continue to sacrifice and spend time in communication with the holy spirit even if you start to feel great, because it will prepare you for the next attack that comes your way. (Ephesians 6:12) You will build up a resistance to the enemy that will force HIM to flee. You will be able to run towards your giants instead of running away. (1 Sam 17:24, 45-50)
Our creator, the Great Physician, wants us to pray without ceasing. The greatest revelation I received from this Daniel Fast is this:
Read and pray at least twice per day to ensure your spirit is strong 24/7. It doesn’t have to be a whole chapter or a super long prayer. You just have to set the time aside. Never find yourself too busy to spend time with your Father. You can also use supplemental resources like spiritual books/prayer guides, but they are not to be a replacement. The attacks will come, but they will not prosper. The tests and trials will happen, but you will be victorious. Thoughts of doubt and fear may try to creep in, but you will have enough word in you to rebuke them (2 Corinthians 10:5).
I wish you all the best this year and pray that each day you wake up, you are closer to living in your purpose. Be intentional for God and watch Him change your entire life!

Daniel Fast Day 1

However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:21

I’m not really concerned about the elimination of certain foods. I don’t even have an appetite now. I’m looking forward to the spiritual nourishment that I need. I’ve been feeding myself appetizers and snacks but I need a four-course meal. Better yet, a buffet. I need to binge on the word because I’m facing some giants that can only be defeated through fasting and prayer. I’m ready..

Revelation: Get to the root of the problem in order to solve it. Address underlying issues and don’t be afraid to face them. Words hurt. I put too much energy into trying to change a person’s thoughts or perception of me. Their opinions and views are not my business. When someone says hurtful things to me, I can replace the lies of the enemy with The Word. I can override negativity by listening to who God says I am. That’s exactly what Jesus did in the wilderness after being tempted by satan. Those same ministering angels are waiting to assist me, but I have to first resist the enemy.

Purpose Over Popularity

“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.” 1 John 2:15 MSG

I’m not here to judge anyone. I have a lot of things that I am working on and praying for God to change. I recently got very angry and cursed. I felt convicted immediately. I didn’t even know those words were still in my heart and I repented right away. The very next morning, the verse of the day, Ephesians 4:29, was about foul language. Ouch

I can’t condemn you, only God can do that. What I will do is share revelation that I’ve received during my personal prayer and meditation time.

Memes like this have been circulating around the internet basically making people comfortable with the way they are. Which leads to being comfortable with sin, because, “The Lord knows my heart.”

What happened to 2 Corinthians 5:17/Romans 12 becoming new creatures and being transformed by our minds? Why are we becoming more and more like the world when The Word is clear that we are to be set apart? Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 4:3

Come as you are but at some point you should make lifestyle changes. That way, we can be an effective witness.  Keeping our spirits pure is essential to discipleship. You may think you can tolerate whatever filth you entertain, but know that every seed of wickedness that’s planted will grow. It can manifest in different ways like anxiety, depression, anger, lack of patience, etc.

In spiritual warfare, we need to be aware of what we are fighting against, be prepared by wearing the full armor of God and exercise the power we possess over the enemy. Luke 10:19, Ephesians 6:10-18

We can reach people in dark places without compromising. We can share our testimony, thereby planting a seed for God to water, without mirroring whomever we are trying to lead to salvation.

When Jesus traveled to preach, never once did He become like everyone else to be relatable. He routinely went against the status quo and did not care about what people thought about his unorthodox teachings. He set the standard to which people wanted to emulate.

We are called to be like Christ.

Stop trying to be like them, and be more like Him.

Cherish Each Day

I made a lot of plans for Labor Day weekend to close out the summer. The first set of plans were cancelled due to Hurricane Hermine. My back up plans were cancelled after I suddenly fell ill and had to be admitted to the hospital. I would like to walk you through my thoughts and revelations while I was literally fighting for my life. 

I work in the Emergency Room and it’s nothing like I thought it would be. I’m learning that I get way too attached to my patients. Not Izzie from Grey’s Anatomy attached, but more like Miranda Bailey-tough shell, soft heart-attached. It has taken a toll on my body to say the least.
On Friday, September 2nd, I was assigned one-to-one observation for a patient that arrived with a knife. He was checking in for mental health reasons, but he’s a veteran which tells me he’s also a trained killer. You may think I’m being pessimistic, but I think it’s being realistic. My stress level was through the roof. It was the second time I had to care for a patient with a weapon. While I was not in any immediate danger, the thought of that possibility frightened me. He told the triage nurse that he was suicidal and homicidal. Police were contacted, but had not arrived yet. What if he was not honest when staff asked him about weapons? The first time I had a patient check in with weapons was a month ago. He came in with a loaded gun, extra magazine of ammunition, knife, nun-chucks and who knows what else.
I’d been having severe migraines since August 20th and chest discomfort 9/1-9/2, but I kept pushing. I would tell myself things to refute the truth. Things such as…..Oh, it’s just really bad acid reflux/gerd from that Chinese Food-you know better than to eat that garbage! Maybe the headache is sinus pressure. Or from my glasses. Or from the filtration system in the hospital.
I came up with every excuse under the sun about what I was feeling. When I got home Friday night, I expressed to my husband how excited I was to be off work for a three day weekend. I vented about my rough week as usual. I had become accustomed to that routine. On a regular workday, I am mentally drained, but when I know I’m off the next day, it seems I run on adrenaline. Hubby just looked at me and bodly said, “I don’t know why you’re still there. I’ve been waiting for you to leave, but you must know what you are doing. I don’t think it’s worth it.”
Saturday night, September 3rd, I felt short of breath every time I walked in addition to the chest discomfort. We made a quick run to Target to get a birthday gift for my daughter’s friend. By the time I left the store, I didn’t feel right. We got to the friend’s home and when I tried to get out of the car just to say hello, I felt dizzy. I was so delirious I told my husband I would just stay in the car but he saw my face and took me home right away. Then, I began to have palpitations. I decided it was time to seek medical care. Grabbed a blanket, some footies and opted against extra clothing or my phone charger.  I figured I would be in and out. I wondered if I was a hypochondriac and considered not going. However, this feeling was weird. It did not quite feel like a heart attack, but I couldn’t say that it wasn’t my heart.
On the way out of the door, I told my husband to let our son know that we would be right back. For a split second, I thought to myself that I should go tell him. Then, I remembered that I had already told him that I love him before he went to his room. I stood on my porch staring into the dark, praying that I would see the light of day. I had no idea what was going on with my body. We finally got on the road and two miles into our trip was stopped by a long line of cars waiting for a train to go by. Imagine having chest pain, shortness of breath and being delayed on your way to get help. I started crying lol.
I went to urgent care, because I’ve had similar episodes of chest discomfort before and was told it was “just anxiety.” {insert side eye here} When I arrived, medical personnel hooked me up to the monitor and so the story begins.

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Knocked smooth out after that Morphine injection lol

My heart rate was in the 40s and systolic blood pressure was upwards of 130. My baseline (normal) vital signs are as follows: Pulse Rate-low 60s, Systolic Blood Pressure-no more than 110. This means that my heart rate was significantly lower than what it’s supposed to be and my BP was elevated. The doctor kept stressing that active people such as marathoners are known to have a low resting heart rate. Nah. I’m not that active. This wasn’t normal for me. I told the doctor of my 2012 Lupus diagnosis and was subsequently transferred to the hospital for admission.
While riding in the ambulance, I felt like I was having a panic attack. I made the paramedic sit beside me and talk to me; I felt alone and scared. (Hubby trailed the ambulance but I couldn’t see anything from inside). I arrived at the hospital and was briefed on my status. My intake doctor basically said that he wanted to redo labs because my liver enzymes were elevated. That normally happens if you have hepatitis, suffered a recent heart attack, or have some other kind of liver disease. I knew that hepatitis was ruled out and my Troponin test (helpful in identifying an active heart attack) was negative. My crazy behind was in the hospital looking up my lab results from my phone smh.

It was a very long night and since we got to the hospital at 3am, I was exhausted. As soon as I finally dozed off, the nurse runs into my room and wakes me up. She asks if I’m okay while putting a nasal cannula on my face. Once again, I’m scared, because… Just because. Why do I need oxygen?! Note: You cannot be a control freak and trust God at the same time.Apparently, my heart rate dropped into the 30s while I was sleeping. Now, I’m legit having a panic attack. Here’s the thing. I’m Advance Cardiac Life Support certified and the first thing I thought of was, “OMG that’s grounds to begin life saving interventions.” With eyes WIIIIIDE open, I sat up in my bed and suddenly was no longer sleepy. “Nope, not today. I aint going to sleep and not waking up. Not yet. I’m not ready. I have way too much to do.” My husband and I prayed together and specifically asked God to lead the doctors. To keep His hands on me and heal my body.

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Bedside reading in the hospital

 

The daytime doctor arrived early Sunday afternoon and discussed her plan of action. I felt peace in the fact that she was beyond brilliant. Plus, I understood medical terminology, so that eased my anxiety. She was an internal medicine doctor, well studied in widespread diseases and knew exactly how to treat my medical condition. For starters, she confirmed that my symptoms were in fact a lupus flare with labs instead of making assumptions. Most doctors look at me and because I’m young, healthy, fit and have no risk factors, they take shortcuts. *It is imperative that you advocate for your own health.

She started me on round the clock anti-inflammatory medication followed by steroids. I received two injections IN MY STOMACH to prevent blood clots. I drank a cocktail that had Lidocaine in it. Felt like my throat was closing and I was being choked whenever I swallowed. I can’t forget that the urgent care nurse gave me Morphine and I straight up lost it. That was the craziest interaction I’ve ever had after receiving a medication. My entire body felt like it was being paralyzed, my head became flushed and hot. My vision became blurred and speech slurred. It was a legit Twilight Zone feeling. Again, I had absolutely no control and had to trust God. Wholeheartedly. I began to feel better and my family kept me in good cheer. However, the funsnatcher Patient Care Tech would come in to do another set of vital signs and the realization repeatedly set in that my heart rate remained too low-in the 40s.
My faith went through so many highs and lows. Each time I saw those numbers I would sink into fear. At one point, I just sat on the bed and cried. I tried to hide the tears and even turned away from my children because I just couldn’t understand it. The whole time, my husband kept reminding me to remain faithful. Whenever I lost hope, he was right there encouraging me, never leaving my side.

 Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
and lean not on your own understanding.
 
I had to stop looking at the vital signs machine, throw away all of the information I had learned in my eight year tenure in the medical field and trust God. It. Was. Hard.
 I had to believe that I would be okay even though I did not feel okay. I placed my hands on my chest and prayed. I have power to lay hands on myself for healing, but what happens when you have to wait? What happens when your deliverance is delayed? I would soon find out :-).
I finally started making phone calls to family to let them know what was going on. I did not want anyone to worry, and I certainly did not want to call them until I had knowledge of my diagnosis. I had the biggest, most powerful circle of prayer. I knew I was loved, but jeese. The outpour of love I received was so very special. I am a firm believer of giving people flowers while they are still here. I know for a fact, prayer is what kept my heart going–slow as it was, it was still going nonetheless. Before doctors could determine what medication to give me all we had was prayer. When my body was not responding to medications we stood on prayer. I had people praying for me that I don’t even know. I had people praying for me that swore off church and religion. People prayed for me that thought they did not know how to pray. I prepared to face another day in the hospital and awaited results.
Monday morning, I got up and began posting inspirational pictures, replying to text messages and just surfing the web. Hubby asks if I read my bible, yet. I replied, “My plans aren’t good ones this time and I have to make myself read out of obligation. I like when I thirst for the word and can’t stop reading. I asked you last night to send me some of yours or give me recommendations.” He remained silent but that gave me the chance to correct my stance. Here I was bed-ridden and complaining about my reading plan not being captivating enough to hold my attention. Like, was I really in the position to pick and choose when I would read? Especially, when I normally read first thing in the morning. Ummmm, find a new plan. Duh! So, I started a few new plans, but the first one I read was soooooooo good tears of joy began streaming. I was much more confident that I would be okay and God would restore my health. Here’s an excerpt: “I am the beginning, my love. I am your beginning. There is nowhere else you need to look. There is nothing else you need to chase. I speak to your heart-in whispers. This moment now, my dear. This moment now. Each breath a testament to my life in you. I am right here, in the middle, child. You are held, and I can’t ever let you go. Let me show you what it is for us to do together. I have good plans for your life. Cling to me. I am steadfast. Cling to me. I give you words. Cling to me-a life of prayer, each thought and action in accordance with my spirit in you. You are not alone.” So, I did just that. I decided to let go of fear and cling to God. Tightly.
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Preparing to go home, by faith.
After reading and journaling, I washed up and let my hair down. I prepared to go home by faith, although I had not been given medical clearance yet. Hubby kept saying we would be discharged because he already made it up in his mind when he picked up our children and packed two outfits for me.”We aren’t staying a third day, you are in the tail end of this.” Me: I know, but my heart rate is still low. Him: You will be okay, you’re going home today. He was constantly reminding me to get my weight up and exercise visionary faith. Every time staff came in with unwelcoming news, he immediately rebuked it.
By evening, my doctor asked how I was feeling and orders for the Pulmonary team to measure my heart rate and oxygen while walking. For the first time since Saturday, my heart rate shot up to 75 beats per minute. I kind of stood there in shock and disbelief. When it finally hit me, I’m like OMG let me take a picture! The rest of the evening, my heart rate gradually improved, so I started packing. When I got official notice that I would be discharged I just repeatedly thanked God.
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I did not know if I would leave that hospital alive. That’s how bad I felt and how bad the reality of my situation was. Lupus had attacked my heart, lungs and liver. Guess what triggered the flare? Stress. I know that this is a lengthy post, but I really felt the need to share every detail. I hope that my story helps someone. I pray that you listen to your body and do not allow chasing dreams, or money or anything else get in the way of what’s really important. Most importantly, I hope that whatever it is you have been putting off or procrastinating to do, you decide to DO IT NOW. Once I realized my life was at stake, I immediately thought about all the things I had not done, yet.
 
Live each day like it’s your last. Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.

Lastly, about two weeks ago, I decided to make a purchase from the Women of Faith nonprofit tshirt campaign I started to raise funds for homeless women. When I got home, my shirt was in the mailbox.  It’s the first official sell, too! The very thing I created to help someone else, turned out to be a blessing to me. The same goes for my pulse oximeter/pulse rate monitor. (A long time ago, I had a patient that presented with a collapsed lung, but all of the pulse oximeters I could find at work were broken. So, I purchased my own to never be in that situation again.) My husband was able to monitor me throughout the night while I slept. Furthermore, the same selfless care I give my patients was returned to me. I had thee best team at Atlanta Piedmont Hospital. 
 
This past Sunday, I was praying that I would live to see another day. My birthday is this upcoming Sunday–I’m about to have an epic celebration! Let’s not even talk about the praise dance I’m about to do in church haha. The best gift God could have given me was another day and an increase in faith. I will never ever ever ever ever take another moment or person for granted! As I struggled to breathe, it became so much more clear to me, that each breath really is a blessing. I’m still here.
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By faith, I am healed <3
This year my birthday is super special, because I almost did not make it. You wanna give me a gift? Help me to pay it forward for another woman. So, for a limited time, I am offering the Women of Faith tshirts at a reduced price.
Enjoy 15% off by following this link:

All my love,
Ciara
 

Good Samaritan

I love to tell stories through my writing. Did I ever tell you all about that time I thought my husband was crazy for getting in the car with a complete stranger, while I helplessly followed behind them? No? Well, I wrote a story about it. Like to hear it, here it goes.

I got off work late one night and insisted on going to Wendy’s. Judge me, if you will. My husband and I talked for a little while before heading out to the restaurant. Upon arriving, we kept hesitating about going inside or the drive through. This caused us to drive around the parking lot, before finally deciding to go inside since the line was shorter. *Laziness never pays off.

After we placed our order, one of the employees yell to his coworkers that there’s a medical emergency outside. Initially, I’m thinking that we should’ve stayed in the drive through line, because we would have been done. The man would have been two cars behind us. At the same time, I know that everything happens for a reason and that we were exactly where we were supposed to be.

I just worked twelve hours, so the last thing I want to do is work for free. I’m still in my work clothes with a big ole emblem on the back that says ER lol. Great. I stand there as if I was waiting to turn
invisible and my husband nudges me, “Get out there.” What the heck am I supposed to do? Wait. Is he seriously making me go out there alone? Alright, God…this one is on you.

I go outside to see an older Caucasian man standing up against the building in agony. Pause. No, everything is not about race. But this is Georgia. The deep south. During a time when racial tension is high. Resume. My husband was a few steps behind me. Sigh of relief. The man told us his name, but to protect his identity, I will call him Sir Sweat A Lot or Sal for short. Just wait for it. Sal had already given his keys to the employee that came inside for help. That employee parked his van and kind of gave us the “good luck with that” look. In fact, everyone that drove past us did the same. One person even gave us a thumbs up, but the look on his face was a complete contradiction.

I introduce myself and ask what his problem was while scanning his body for blood, injuries, etc.
Sal tells me that he just finished a several hour long tennis match and now has crippling leg cramps. Honestly, I’m thinking really dude? You seriously held up the drive through for leg cramps?  Get in your car and go home. Suck it up. Grow a pair. Call your wife. My fries are getting cold. If I had stayed in the drive through we would be at home. Sarcasm to follow: However, God has such a great sense of humor. The way our marriage is balanced, my sweet husband blurts out, “Do you want us to take you home?” Wheeeeeeet?! [Insert ‘are you kidding me’ obscenities here]. Sir Sweat A Lot says that he would love for that and was about to ask us. He went to his trunk and grabbed a banana. He even tried drinking water with a ton of salt packets. He said that when he sweats a lot, he needs to ingest salt. I had never heard of that before, so I asked about his medical history. I was so desperate to get out of this situation, I even offered my fries since they’re loaded with salt. I’m standing there trying to figure out the reason for this not-by-chance-interaction. [cue Matt 5:13, Mark 9:49-50]

My husband doesn’t even have his phone and all I have is a crappy 30 something percent with  no charger. Sir Sweat A Lot says that he lives a few miles from where we were and gave us the address while explaining the direction we were going to take. Unfamiliar, with the area, I said a prayer. Actually, I never stopped praying. I did not like the discomfort of losing control and seemingly handing my husband over to who knows what. An ax murderer? A secret clan member? The enemy had a field day in my mind. Finally, I casually walked over to my husband and told him, “Pray.” He said, “already did,” then kissed me. Duh. His eyes told me not to worry.

“but my prayers are 
more powerful.”

Sal called his wife and I sat in the car with 911 already dialed on my phone. We head off and I frantically pray: This doesn’t make any sense. Lord, are you really leading in this situation? Please, cover my husband and keep us both safe (followed by a whole lot of begging). I should be happy that he has such a big heart, but why does he have to risk our safety? Then, I snapped out of it and got an attitude. Wait a minute.

YOU have not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and a sound mind. We have all power over the enemy. We are courageously helping your child. I am boldly proclaiming victory. My husband WILL return to me. No weapon formed against us shall prosper. You said the fervent, effectual prayer of the righteous availeth much, so I’m here praying for his safety. I’m believing you for his safety. I declare and decree that all is well. Besides, my husband aint no punk. I know how he rolls. Who am I to think that I have to protect him?! I thank you for this test. For showing me how important it is for me to pray as a wife. Even though he is the head of this family, I can pray that you continue to order his steps. If necessary, I can run Sir Sweat A Lot over should he try anything crazy, but my prayers are more powerful.”

The whole time, we are driving a lot further than Sal said his home was located, but I eventually have an overwhelming sense of peace. I begin affirming things. I’m locking in landmarks and paying attention to street names. My phone still has 911 on standby, so all I have to do is press CALL. But I’ve already called on God. We finally arrive to a house and the front door opens. I’m waiting for a family of cannibals to come out. Ya know, just in case. Watch and pray, right? Because, NOT TUH DAY! Instead, a loving wife runs to her husband and simultaneously thank us. She told him that he needs to stop playing tennis. Sal can’t imagine life without his beloved sport but he promises his wife that he will go to his doctor appointment later that week. We chat with them briefly, then get out of there, because it was literally in the middle of nowhere.

God will take you to unfamiliar territory to see if you really trust Him. It will be against your better judgment and will oftentimes not make any sense. You will even have to walk alone sometimes. That’s the purpose of it, though. In it, you will find your strength.
People oftentimes talk about the leap of faith. I always say that my walk consists of many leaps of faith. The beauty of this journey is that you will not always know where you are going, but if you hold fast, know that it will always be for your good.
You may not receive an actual turn by turn list of the route beforehand, like Sir Sweat A Lot gave us, but with your GPS (God-Purpose-Steadfastness) navigating the way, you will surely arrive at your destination better than you were when you first started.
You may even have to give up some things, but the small sacrifices will be nothing compared to the blessings that will be released on your life in exchange for your obedience. 2 Cor 5:7

Like a Fish in a Glass Bowl

Last weekend, my six year old daughter received a gold fish from a friend’s birthday party. The theme was a carnival and his mom fell short of nothing. She included all of the details you would see at your local county fair and it was simply amazing.

While transporting Bailey the goldfish home, the ride was a bit bumpy. My daughter tried her best to keep the fish bowl stable, so it wouldn’t shake around too much. But ya know…speed bumps and turns :-/. It did not help that we were driving in a severe thunderstorm, so I was understandably more concerned about our safety than the goldfish. After an hour drive with very little visibility, we finally made it home. The fish bowl had less water than we started out with, but we kept the gold fish alive as we had planned to. My daughter whispered to her, “Just keep swimming, Bailey.”

The next day, we purchased Bailey a larger home, some decor and food. During the transfer, she went crazy. Like a full fledged panic attack. Bailey did not know what was going on. I’m sure she thought she was dying. Ever heard of the phrase, “like a fish out of water” before? There’s a reason that’s a catchphrase. Anyway, Bailey had no idea that her uncomfortable situation was temporary and she was actually being prepared for something greater. She had no idea that she was going from the little glass bowl to a large aquarium. I wish she knew and I even tried telling her to calm down-“It’s okay Bailey, I got you…you have to trust me!” I know, I know she couldn’t hear me, but it made me feel better talking her through it. I already felt bad that she wasn’t in her natural habitat in the first place. Don’t  judge me. Once I placed Bailey into her new home, she settled down and swam the entire perimeter of that tank. It’s almost like I could see the relaxation as she explored the aquarium.


Bailey reminds me a lot like myself and I know that I’m not the only one. What are you afraid of? What are you panicking about? Why don’t you trust the process? You know darn well that it is temporary but also necessary for elevation. Why don’t you trust that God has you in the palm of His hand? Why do you lose faith just because the ride gets a little bumpy? Sure, you lost a little bit on the way….but you are still breathing. As long as you have breath in your body, you have purpose. So, today I encourage you to spend the rest of your life discovering and fulfilling your purpose. Trust that there is more than your “fish bowl.” There is more than what you can see, you just have to believe that. Even when you feel like a fish out of water, know that you are being elevated to something greater. No one ever reaches their full potential or accomplishes their dreams by staying in their comfort zone. It will be hard, you will want to quit. However, like Dory told Nemo and Tahlia told Bailey, “Just. Keep. Swimming.”

***Update***After publishing this blog post, I received an email from my friend. Turns out, she was inspired by Bailey as well, and it was too good not to share:

On Saturday, a friend of mine took her daughter to our friend’s son’s carnival themed birthday party.  Her daughter left the party with a new pet goldfish.  Yesterday she took her daughter to the pet store to purchase a home for “Bailey”.  This morning she shared a photo of Bailey’s new home and after smiling at her daughter’s excitement I thought, “That’s a big tank for a little gold fish!”
Immediately God took my attention back to our prayer …and enlarge my territory…   I was reminded that “a goldfish will only grow as large as its environment.”  Do you see where I’m going with this?  

This is probably more than you care to know about a goldfish but:
How big your goldfish will grow is determined by the animal’s genetics, not by the size of his environment. If your goldfish doesn’t have enough space to grow to his full size, he will likely die before you notice that the environment is not large enough. Even if your fish does survive in an environment that is too small, other problems are likely. These can include stunted growth, deformities and problems with scales and skin…The cleanliness of your pet’s environment, the kinds of food, and your feeding protocols are all factors…The size of your tank should be based on the size the fish will be when he is completely grown. The length of your tank should be at least seven times that of the adult fish’s size. This means that if you have a “tank suitable” goldfish, your tank should be about 70 inches long. The height of the tank should be double the height of your fish. If your goldfish doesn’t have enough room to move around, he can develop stress-related illnesses…A fishbowl is no longer considered an acceptable environment for goldfish. Bowls cannot provide enough space for a goldfish to grow to his adult size and cannot be set up to provide appropriate filtering and aeration. Most goldfish never reach their adult size in a bowl environment, even if the bowl is large enough. Bowls cannot provide the necessary setup for a fish to get required amounts of oxygen. 

So what did we learn from Bailey today?
1. It’s in YOU.  There is something(s) in you that needs to grow regardless of whether or not you recognize what “IT” is.
2. You need space to live and grow! Praying for God to enlarge your territory is seemingly a matter of spiritual life and death.  It’s a matter of fulfillment and purpose.  You may not die physically, but you are like to experience some complications.
3.  More territory alone is not enough.  You need a clean environment and need to take care of yourself.  We as women often neglect our own needs.  Self-care is key to your growth and survival.  Don’t ever not be able to do whatever it is God will call you to do in this coming territory expansion and answered prayers.
4.  Dream and Pray BIG.  If a gold fish needs a minimum of 15 gallons of water, what more do you think you need?


Father I thank you for every woman who has committed to pray bold prayers with me for 30 days.  I pray that we would dare to pray big, bold, crazy, ridiculous, exceeding and abundantly more than we could ask or think prayers and that you will be true to your word and bless us indeed.  Blow our minds in a magnitude where your favor, grace and glory will be the only explanation.  I thank you that at the end of 30 days we will have all developed a lifestyle and will inspire others to go big.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Have a dream-filled day! ~Cherron D. Keith

Year In Review

Happy Blogaversary to me! This online diary as I like to call it has pushed me beyond the limitations I’ve placed on myself. I am so happy and proud of my growth.                                   As I stated before, Phineas and I grew up together. When he reached the milestone of turning ten (double digits whoo hoo) I decided to start this blog. Even though it’s no longer just the two of us, he will always be the umph needed when my motivation is running low.

I woke up and got to work before the sunrise
Tired, but keeping my eyes on the prize.
When I walk across that stage just to see the look in your eyes
Always, remember that mommy did this for you guys.”
 ~CiCi (the part-time poet/blogger, full-time working mom and wife).

Sometimes, I run off of negative motivation. When I first found out that I was pregnant with Phineas, a nameless person told me that my life would be ruined if I had a baby. And what would I possibly do about being newly enlisted in the military? I made it my business to prove that person wrong.

The moment I delivered a baby into this world and became a mother, my life had just begun. I served the duration of my enlistment and never considered giving up. I’m not a quitter and failure is not an option. No matter how high my goals may seem, I just take each day in stride and one step at a time.

A sniper is an elite marksman and even they use sights to help them focus on their target when it’s too far away for the naked eye. I have always aimed high with anything I’ve pursued. So, upon starting this blog, what I’ve learned most about myself is that I CAN  have it all. It will just take time…I’ve dubbed my journey the scenic route (no one has been in college as long as I have).

I did everything backwards as far as [cue theme song to Married, With Children] love and marriage. If I didn’t have Phineas at such an early age, I don’t think I would be as driven. Pre-babies, all I cared about was shopping and paying my cell phone bill. Now that I have a family they serve as the purpose behind everything I do.

I have an extremely supportive husband. He has been beside me even during rough waters, although I thought he’d jump ship a few times. He never deserted me and the times when the waves became too high knocking us over, he always made sure I kept my head above water. He taught me how to weather the storm and tread water. God has been an emergency raft for my family and our bible is the life vests.

courtesy of Cafe Gratitude

I couldn’t seem to find balance last month and had to take some time off of blogging. However, I am fully recharged now and ready to type my little fingers away :-). It is my hope that over the past year, I was able to offer insight, encouragement or even add laughter to your day. To all of my readers or casual visitors, thank you, for all of your encouragement and support!