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No Longer an Easy Target

I remember sitting at my friend’s house crying again about something someone said to me. I hated how I let this person’s comments get under my skin but here I was again. This was nothing new. The person had exhibited the same behaviors for years, yet I had a propensity to face it as if it were the first time. I sat in my friend’s kitchen, frustrated and defeated as I re-told the story. They listened and were very encouraging but they also challenged me with truth. “You are an easy target.” My friends words shook me…she was right and it made me angry. Seeing myself from that perspective was all it took for me to get up and take my power back. I was no one’s easy target!

“The way you see is stronger than any calamity.” Mark Batterson

In order to see myself differently, I had to change the narrative I was telling myself.  When we allow others words to hurt us, oftentimes it is because there is something we believe to be true about ourselves. Maybe you believe you’re not a good daughter because you didn’t get your Mother the perfect gift for her birthday. Do you believe you’re unattractive because a family member often reminds you of how you could look so much better if you just changed this.  Or do you feel like you’re incompetent in your role at work because your Supervisor never likes your ideas. Do you feel like you’ll never meet the right guy because you have been romantically disappointed too many times? What do you believe about yourself that is not true?

For years, I let shots land in my heart about my loyalty, my weight, abilities and romantic relationships and every.single.time. I was left feeling the same way which caused me to believe I would never be good enough. I know none of those things are true. I have been processed by the truth of who God says I am and His truth causes me to grow. Each time I recognize a lie, I call it out and build onto the truth.

This is how we grow.

This is how we add maturity to our faith.

We no longer have to start from square one when we get attacked. Now we can recognize what the attacker is attempting to do and get out of the way! When you make the decision to grow, your attackers plans will no longer work.  

I want you to think about something. When a hunter goes hunting, they do not simply shoot and kill their prey.  Their attack is calculated. They blend in with their surroundings, they are quiet, silently watching, studying to learn their preys habits, weaknesses, and strengths. The hunter can sit for hours taking in all this information and waiting for the perfect time to attack.  Y’all we have an enemy that is strategically setting up challenges to steal, kill and destroy us.  He believes that you are an easy target. What do you believe??

The following week the same person that I let upset me attempted to rile me up again but this time I refused to let it anger me. I called them out on their behavior. They didn’t apologize but they quickly backed down and tried to pretend they were just kidding. The behavior continued a few more times, but each time it occurred, I spoke up with more assurance until finally it stopped.  What happened? I was able to see the problem with a greater perspective which allowed me to build upon the information that I already knew.  This made it possible for me to face the challenge with more tenacity. I was done!

Philippians 1:6 says, “God has already started a good work in you and He wants to bring it to completion.”  

God wants to build upon what He has already done in you so that you can have greater influence to empower others.

Brave Tip: “Let your yesterday be a building block for tomorrow.” Priscilla Shirer

Candy

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A Brave New You!

nicole-honeywill-407158.jpgFor most of my life I have carried too much.  My emotions, the issues of others, stress. I have reluctantly said yes to people/ projects, I have silenced my voice, doubted my greatness, and even started and never finished great ideas….the list goes on. In 2017, my Husband and I welcomed a baby boy (I’m obsessed) and postpartum depression hit me hard. I struggled to find balance in my various roles which led me to more of Jesus and even some healthy counseling.  Part of my healing came from releasing people, thoughts, and unhealthy habits that I learned over the years.  Once I decided to release these hindrances, I was able to grab hold to my promised future, at least a corner of it. This is an ongoing process that requires focused intentionality every day. 

It’s Day 1 of 2018- what are you willing to release so that you can invest your time, energy, and heart in the right direction? This year I am choosing to use my voice to empower others.  Expect to hear much more from me and other authentic women in 2018!

Brave Tip: If you want to maximize your life you have to minimize the load you are carrying.

I am looking forward to us living Braver in 2018!

Candy

“This my dear is bliss…”

*This is what came of my time with Jesus this morning. I pray you will be encouraged or at least feel inspired to steal away with Him before you rush off to your next thing.*

My husband always jokes that giving birth makes a woman more holy. (Is there scripture to back this up- I can’t remember?) I never found his statement amusing until today, because I did feel kind of holy.  🙂 After dropping him off at work this morning, it was my turn to do the school drop off with the kids. It was a typical morning, Nyomi had some diva demands that I just couldn’t seem to satisfy. Kaiden asked the same question a million different ways and I patiently answered it, even trying to use a different tone to keep things a little interesting.  After the drop off, I had planned to just go ahead into work and get started on some projects before my only meeting of the day.  That’s when I felt the beckoning of the Holy Spirit say to my heart, “come away with me…” My heart melted when I realized that Jesus wanted to spend some time alone with me before I rushed off. I love moments like this.

I said, “wait, let me grab my bible and journal from the house…” He replies, “no, you brought your laptop that’s all you need.”  Where should we go? I drive in silence for a few moments when I hear the word…”bliss…” Well, the only place I know with bliss in the name is Aroma’s. He even had the nerve to tell me the exact location, “downtown.”  #relationshipgoals  #comeonJesus 

So, here I am with my almond milk iced chai tea and vegan lemon donut with hibiscus glaze waiting for what’s to come. 

“Let’s get real,” He says. You have had some heartbreaking moments over the past year- losing a child, trying to raise a child who did not come from your body, trying to understand your strong-willed daughter, while also being a great wife and leader in your work and neighborhood. I’m so sorry that this pregnancy has been difficult- many sleepless nights, constant daily pain, medicines that you weren’t prepared to take, anemia. You have handled it well my daughter- I am very proud of you. No one can really see the depth of pain that you are enduring every day, but I appreciate that you have found moments of joy and gratitude during this time.  Thank you for being obedient to slow down when I asked you to. I know it was hard for you, your Dad is right, you are a woman on the move, a road-runner! Trust me, there will be a time when you get back to moving at that pace and even faster. I have not forgotten the glimpses of dreams that I have shown you through the years. Trust me, my timing is perfect.

Now, back to being real. I need you to continue on the track that you are on with tending to your heart. You have wounds from people that are close to you that have never healed. Partly because you keep letting them open up again. I am your ultimate healer and although you wish for a sincere apology and closure from the one who hurt you, you might never receive this from them. I apologize to you on their behalf. I am sorry that they hurt you and continue to try and hurt you. I am fully aware of their motives even before they attack. Daughter, I need you to be strong and courageous because your response to them is your weapon, your protection, your line of defense. I am not saying you will never be hurt again, but I have given you the tools that you need to not only survive the hits but THRIVE! You are no longer an “easy target”. You no longer have to live in their hurt.  Don’t change who you are because of how they are.  I need my Spirit to shine through you because there are people I have called you to. The way you live is going to help others come to me.  Daughter I see you as a flower constantly blooming in every season. Your soil is good, but you have to keep tilling the ground and cutting away what is dead. For far too long, weeds have tried to overrun your garden, but no more. I see in this year a woman who is stronger than ever, rising up in her rightful position. Change the narrative that you are telling yourself. Be in expectation of some sweet surprises this year with your family, your husband and your calling. I have not forgotten you. I know exactly what I’m doing and where I am taking you. Trust me! The next time that this person tries to hurt you, I want you to LOVE….love even when you feel uncomfortable or like they don’t deserve it. Love anyway, because you are not perfect. You also have your flaws. You too have hurt people whether you realize it or not. LOVE because you know it’s what I would do.  LOVE is what will change their hearts, and guess what, you still may never hear that apology. That is not why you’re doing this. You are loving because it pushes out fear and drives out darkness. There is much darkness surrounding them. So LOVE, everyday, every person and be on guard with your heart. Stop reliving your past in your head and focus more in the present and taking those next steps towards the glimpses I have shown you. I am creating a legacy of brave women that you will help to raise up. Will you join me in this? I want you to be a part of it because you are so unique. People don’t really know the depth of who you are, you don’t even know yet, but when you do, oh goodness daughter, it will be explosive!

Thank you for spending time with me this morning, thank you for being obedient. I love you and I love who you are and where you’re at in this season. Remember to take it easy, enjoy this pace, and enjoy being taken care of.  This my dear is bliss…

 

Brave and Free,

Candy Z.

 

Guest Post: Tamara McMillan 

Scars are such interesting things, and oftentimes the scars that we have tell a story…

I remember when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter…

I was using the restroom at my mom’s house when I suddenly began to feel dizzy. In hindsight, I see that I should have just sat there and waited until the dizziness passed. I could have even yelled my mom’s name to let her know that I was feeling dizzy. But instead, I decided that it was a better idea to get up by myself try and go lay down on the couch. On the way to the living room, I passed out and hit my head on my little sister’s doorframe. The scar that was left behind reminds of that day…

Sometimes, however, the scars that we carry are not as visible as the scar that I have on my forehead. Yet despite their inability to be seen by the naked eye, these scars can still tell a tale, or shift our minds back to a previous moment in time…

October is domestic violence awareness month….

As I’ve been reflecting on the emotions that are connected to that period in my life, I realize that, though I have physical scars on my body that serve as a reminder of the night that I was stabbed multiple times, it’s not my physical scars that remind me of the hell that I went through…

They say that hindsight is 20/20….

And I can clearly see that we were simply two unhealthy people, with unhealthy boundaries who were tied together by this by this unhealthy version of what we called…love….

Love…

What started off as something so exciting and new….

Became a compromise here and a compromise there….

I was compromising my peace of mind while clinging on to the unfulfilled promise of “it won’t happen again”

The wounds would heal and the physical pain would fade away…

But for a while the remnant of things spoken rode around on my train of thought…

And if I could have just done “this” and “that” differently, none of this would have happened…

Somehow I had triggered you and oftentimes I felt “trigger happy” because it seemed as if my mere existence triggered your anger and, at the very least, your hateful words…

What started off as something so exciting and new….

Became a compromise here and a compromise there…

Onlookers are generally quick to say “why don’t you just leave?” Yet they fail to realize that what started off as the whispering of “sweet nothings”…slowly shifted to screams that I “meant nothing” and you wanted “nothing” to do with me…

Yet like a dangling worm I had already been hooked and was tied to you by this unhealthy version of what he called love…

And I was clinging on to the unfulfilled promise of “it won’t happen again”…

I didn’t leave until I had reached my breaking point; once I had reached the point where I had broken free from the idea that things would be any different from the way that they were.

Once removed from the situation, I went to a domestic violence shelter and one of the residents told me something that really stuck with me. She told me “the way that he treated you was not okay”.

I eventually went to counseling and am very intentional about maintaining healthy boundaries in all of my relationships; but those nine words that she spoke to me, changed my entire perspective and ensured that I would never again enter into another abusive relationship…


Meet Tamara

I’m a pretty deep thinker and also very random. I am a storyteller and I love to draw you in so that you feel like you actually experienced it. Sometimes I rehash things from a comedic point of view, but I also like to give you a deep truth to meditate on. I am very passionate about making sure that people understand that they are loved and know their worth; I really dislike seeing people being mistreated or treated unfairly. I also strongly dislike when people are viewed solely through the lens of a label or stereotype. I am a lover of Jesus, people, random adventures, and laughter.

You can find more of Tamara’s work on her blog LadyTButterfly!

What happens when we run towards the danger.

Last night I had the opportunity to hear from national best selling author Donald Miller at the Hope Center for Kids gala. His presentation was a God-wink from Heaven. The term God-wink became popular in 2002 thanks to a book called, “When God Winks.” It is basically what some people would call a coincidence or a moment of certainty.  I knew this was a God-wink because what he was sharing helped me tie together the story I had planned to share on Brave Avenue today.

Donald Miller spoke eloquently on how we have the choice to wake up everyday and write the story that we want to live. He likened our lives to the process of writing a movie. Movie writing is basically a recycled story-line that can be told with four different perspectives.

  1. Victim- this character does not change or evolve, their part is very small and not memorable.
  2. Villain- villains are characters who do not process their pain and as a result they are constantly seeking revenge on the people who hurt them.
  3. Hero- this character is usually broken, filled with self-doubt, and not sure if they can get the job done. They also learn from their pain.
  4. Guide -this is the most important role! This character has already won the challenge and their mission is to help others transition from victim to hero to guide.

As I reflected on Donald’s talk, I thought of my kids favorite character from the movie, “Home.” It is a little alien named OH.  In the movie you get to see how OH was taught to not care for others and to run away from danger. Essentially, he lives like a victim until he meets a brave little girl named, Gratuity Tucci. I have watched this movie a trillion times yet I always cry when OH has an ‘ah ha’ moment about his life and chooses to do something that instantly changes his story.

…..he runs towards the danger.

When you choose to run towards danger (emotional pain, tragedy, uncomfortable situations, etc., you are showing your willingness to confront pain or situations head on. This takes a great deal of risk, but the good waiting on the other side of the pain is worth defending the process. When you look back months, weeks, even years you will see that the pressure from enduring the process was so small in comparison to what you actually received. This is something God continues to show me through the healing process of my miscarriage. I am in awe to still be learning so much from the experience months later. God knew losing my baby would hurt me, but He has been so faithful to me in the process as I intentionally run towards the danger (pain). I know that as I continue running, I will be able to help other women who endure the same pain.

As we go into the last quarter of this year, I encourage you think about the story you are writing for your life. Do you want people to know you as a victim or someone who sees the setup for their pain as a way to help others rise up?  I am choosing to be a guide in my story!

What story are you writing for your life today-are you the victim, the villain, hero or the guide?

 

The Hard Way after 9 Months

I have now decided that I am a firm believer that boundaries can unlock freedom and creativity of the mind and spirit. If we were just handed everything, there would be no innovation, no struggle to find a better way, and no victory! Because people are unsatisfied with the way things were, we have so many great inventions, tools, businesses, technology, websites, and services. They learned the Hard way, and decided that they wanted to create a future that didn’t have to deal with the same hard realities, but would learn and discover new ways to improve and build. Those individuals wanted their ceiling to be our floor, and for countless people, it has been just that. However, while the general population seems to be quick to learn technology tricks and standards from the previous generations, we tend to forget the spiritual, emotional and relational battles that the generations before us have already fought. We find ourselves in the same positions as many who came before us, and often end up worse. Why is this?! 

We don’t let someone’s hard way become our easy way. We have to do it the hard way ourselves. Now some of this is human nature, I get it. We have to try and fail sometimes and eventually we learn what it takes to succeed and are better and stronger because of it. However, what if I actually listened to my mom or observed the way she grew and progressed emotionally and spiritually and set my floor at her ceiling? What if I stood on her shoulders instead of trying to look her in the eye? What if I used the wisdom she gained and applied it to my own life?

We do too much talking, instead of asking questions of our elders and listening! 

I’ve tried to do this more in the past week. Asking and listening. Learning and making wise, but necessary changes. It’s hard! 

While I have had my losses and victories of living the hard way the past 9 months, the question within me is this: how can I live a “hard way” lifestyle and still stay sane? 

I am reminded of the quote that we heard at the global leadership summit, “learn from everyone, live like no one.”

We can all learn from each other in some way, but none of us should try to copy the way another lives! For a while, I tried to live the hard way how someone else knew and described it. Now, I think I am finding my own hard way. What is yours? 

To Be Or Not To Be…You

This year has been about pursuing “This is Me”, my identity. Since I’ve invited God to show me who I am, it’s been a heavy battle of letting go of what I’ve believed about myself in exchange for the truth of who He has already created me to be.

If I’ve always been who He says I am, then the question I have to ask myself is: What has kept me from fully embracing it all this time? I believe that false humility has played a significant role in my denial of who I am. False humility hides behind an incorrect perception of humility. False humility is pride cloaking itself as humility. For example, do you often disagree with people when they pay you a compliment or have some kind of rebuttal? Yep, that’s false humility.

I think there is a constant underlying fear of either being perceived as arrogant or not being good enough. In reality, true humility admits the truth. Pride blinds, distracts, and slows down the process of growth. I’ve said in the past that it’s not the truth that hurts but the removal of pride that leaves a powerful sting.

While reading a book called ‘The Marketplace Paradigm”, I realized that I never gave myself permission to be successful. Some part of me withheld the possibility of actually seeing my visions come to pass. It was a turning point in my thinking. I decided that I’m finished pretending I can’t have it all. I am supposed to dream big and have the audacity to believe it can be done. I’ve had to admit that I’ve placed limits on my God-given potential.

It is never too late to get it. God has been waiting for this moment. He has been waiting for you to align yourself with the truth and allow it to set you free. In this freedom you don’t count yourself out and decide that someone else is more qualified. In this freedom you assume that He has set you up for success.

I finally admit that I am a gifted artist and speaker. I challenge you to no longer ignore the compliments and affirmation that come your way. People notice what you are good at and have a tendency to tell you. Ask a co-worker, friend or family member to tell you what they see in you. There is nothing that you lack in gifts. They point you to who you are.

What visions have God played on repeat all your life? What are you passionate about? Take a moment to wholly accept who you are and give yourself permission to just ‘be’. Don’t let false humility get in the way. It’s time to finally admit how truly incredible you are.

Say What You Need to Say

Fear is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s rational. Like if there is a bear standing in front of you in the wilderness, fear would be pretty appropriate. But more often than not, fear is irrational, and irrational fear keeps from doing a lot of rational things. One of the rational things that irrational fear deters us from doing is saying what we need to say. Why is it so scary to be honest? Well, in relationships, we are usually afraid of how someone might react. We go through all the scenarios in our head and try to figure out if that person will be angry, sad, annoyed, emotional, confused.

I get it. Confrontation is not pleasant. It can be hard and sometimes painful. But it’s worse to let things go on how they are and push your thoughts and feelings under the rug. I’m all too familiar with this process. I don’t want to deal with stuff so I’ll just pretend it’s not there and usually distract myself with the busyness of life. Spoiler alert: It shoves its way out from under the rug eventually and I WILL have to deal with it. UGH! So annoying, but so true. In a relationship, it will surface again if you don’t deal with it now.

Every stage of dating comes with a decision to be completely honest and up-front, or to alter your behavior and dialogue to keep someone interested. From the first date forward, you either decide to be yourself or who someone else wants you to be. It’s so easy to do this when you like the person sitting across from you. But the problem is that neither of you will know if you’re actually a good fit unless you say what you think. I have struggled with this time and time again. My dating experiences have historically been full of trying to impress a guy instead of being the woman God created me to be and being OK with it. Not everyone is going to want what you have to offer, but that’s a good thing.

Know what you stand for, speak up for what you want, and if your S.O. breaks up with you because of it, they weren’t right for you in the first place. Do what is right for you, and the right person will love you even more for it. Be brave, ladies! Stop letting fear of a negative reaction deter you from saying what you need to say.

Bittersweet Beginning

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just surprised yourself? You go about your life each day, probably doing the same thing, the same way until one day you make a conscious effort to go off the beaten path and you find an unexpected joy! That is exactly how I felt after completing the first semester of the Fashion Ambassador Program through Kleveland Clothing.

I remember talking with my husband about the class. It was the night after our miscarriage and for some reason I felt like it was time to go off the beaten path. I had allowed fear to make many decisions for me. Often those decisions left me feeling dissatisfied, but not that night. I made a conscious decision that I would no longer hold back when it came to my gifts and talents. In that same breath, bravery replaced fear and I registered for the class. Every weekend I was immersed in a class where I learned how to design, sew, and given the freedom to simply create. It was truly the highlight of my week during a difficult season. Through loss, something else was birthed- the creative being that has been waiting to come out for years.

What about you? Is there a fire kindling slowly in your heart? Maybe it’s time to fan the flame a bit more. You are a creative being with gifts that are waiting to explode and bring joy to those around you. My Brave sister, it’s time- time to give yourself permission to be you, to make mistakes, to try the things you’ve always been interested in. It’s time to give yourself permission to actually BE great! I promise, if the dreams will not stop it’s because they were meant to be. We can never evade them. Let’s dare to go deep and trespass beyond the walls of our fear to find the glorious, unexpected, adventure in our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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