How to Make Your Dreams Come True: Five Lessons from Watching Kevin Durant

I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of the game known as Basketball, and I will also admit that I could care less about who wins or loses the NBA Finals. However, I do stay in the loop of things for conversation purposes. I never want to be the lady that is clueless when people are talking sports. With that being said, I remember the rage that was shown by Oklahoma fans around the country when Kevin Durant announced he was headed to Cali. He left his royal throne in Oklahoma and settled for being on the King’s (Steph Curry) Advisory Board. Many called Durant a traitor. In their loyalty as a fans, they failed to see the NBA as the business that it is and “loyalty” is not a business practice of the organization. Kevin made a decision to do what would make his dream come true. Watching Kevin Durant’s transition in the last year has provided me with some nuggets for life. Here they are:
1. Never forget the vision. Last night KD shared during a Postgame interview that he told his mom at eight years old that he would win a NBA Championship. Since the age of eight, he saw himself as an NBA Championship winner. Although, a team would be required to win a championship, it was a PERSONAL goal for Durant. No matter how much success you are having in a place, if it keeps your from the vision for you life, leaving is necessary.

2. Be courageous enough to make the move. Kevin Durant took the same heat that any great player takes when opting to leave a team. The same people who praised him quickly turned into persecutors as he chose to play for a better team. With all that would be said about him, he packed his things and left in hopes of fulfilling the vision he had for his career. Your next move may leave you in the hands of persecutors for a moment, but the reward will outweigh their words.

3. Take Humility with You. There is no way that Golden State Warriors would be 2017 NBA Champions if Kevin Durant chose to be a thorn in the flesh of GSW instead of a team player. He could have made things about himself, but he got with the GSW program and added to their greatness. With every great move you make in life, take humility with you. Be willing to adjust, learn, and add to the greatness of the people you are serving.

4. Loyalty at the cost of your life’s vision is death. Kevin Durant gave nine seasons to OKC before deciding to go to Golden State. Nine years of his life was devoted to a team that he tried to ensure a NBA Championship, and it did not happen. There are some places and people that you cannot afford to remain loyal to solely based off the principle of loyalty. Kevin Durant gave all he could to OKC, and it was in his best interest to try to win with another team. When choosing to be loyal, one must ask themselves, “Would this decision cause me to forfeit my dreams?” If the answer is “yes,” you may need to reconsider the decision. Life without fulfilling your dreams is a slow and painful death that you have chosen for yourself.

5. Everyone won’t appreciate your accomplishment. As previously stated, the man gave nine years of his life to OKC, and he was absolutely deserving of winning MVP last night. However, some of the “crabs in the bucket” could not get pass the route he had to take to accomplish his dreams; or they could not get pass his hair being uncombed during a basketball game. Side note: He’s a millionaire, do you really think a haircut is beyond his reach? Back to the topic, there will be people during your moments of victory that will focus on everything except the effort you put into accomplishing your dreams. To that I say, let them enjoy their misery as you partake in enjoying the fruit of your labor.

There are many more things that could be said, but I  am tired of typing. I will say this, please do not be afraid to do what it takes to accomplish your dreams. As long as your decisions are producing peace in your life, continue on that path. People may not understand every decision you make, and that’s okay. People will go back and forth with their praise and criticism of you. KEEP GOING!!! No matter what keep the vision in front of you. It is your roadmap to keep you on course when comfort tries to convince you to become stagnant. Your life is a summation of all the choices you have made, and at any moment you can choose to change its course. Why settle for being a king, when you can be a god? God meaning one of the greatest to ever live in your field of expertise. Last night, Kevin Durant became one, and I hope you will too. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

P.S. GO COWBOYS!!!! LOL

 

 

Photo Credit: http://uproxx.com/dimemag/kevin-durant-mvp-speech-2017-nba-finals/

No Wedding, No Love: Life After Heartbreak

no loveWednesday night, I cried myself to sleep. Out of nowhere, it hit me that my dreams of marriage had been shattered once again. I started replaying the moments of excitement looking at rings, searching for a venue, and trying on dresses. I started to think about how I finally had someone who loved me and wanted me as his wife. This marriage was meant to be the validation I needed to prove that I am desirable. The abrupt departure of my father at age five had left me wondering will I ever be wanted and loved. I had come to see marriage as a form of redeeming that piece of me. However on December 31, 2016 we had the breakup of all breakups, and my dream was shattered. All my hopes for us were robbed and ” hope deferred makes the heart sick…” became my reality.(Proverbs 13:12)

I believe one of the greatest pains of our human experience is a broken heart. Its pain is piercing and relentless. With all the strength you possess you try quickly to move past it, but broken things often heal slowly. You are simply forced to endure its pain. Some try to sedate it with sex, liquor, and drugs, but it refuses to leave. Some try to work it away, but the moment you take a break, it’s there. Some try to reason it away, but heartache supersedes knowledge; and you will never truly understand why your heart hurts so bad.

One of my greatest fears was to be where I am now, and that’s on the back side of a failed engagement. I read stories and met women who had gone through it; but I never wanted to be acquainted with its grief.  Now three months removed from it today, I can testify there is life after it. The first 30 days consisted of bitter tears. I wept because I felt like I had wasted my time. I mourned because I loved him. I sobbed because I made the decision to call the relationship off.  I lamented the death of the relationship because I had never been completely committed to a relationship the way I was with him (mind, body, and soul).  I cried because I no longer saw myself part of his dreams.

I would be lying if I said this experience did not rip the fabric of the way I view love. It was almost successful in making me give up on it. I was almost convinced not to love wholeheartedly ever again, but shutting myself off to loving someone keeps me from fulfilling my purpose. We were created to love. Choosing not to do so makes one defective because you are not fulfilling the Great Manufacturer’s purpose for creating you.

During the first 30 days, all I could remember was the broken promises. I had forgotten about all the joy and life our love had given me. Although the flaws of our humanity brought on the demise of our relationship, the love we shared was pure, healing, and refreshing. I learned so much about me, and I appreciate every lesson his love came to teach me. I assumed it was for forever, but I am grateful I was able to experience it in this lifetime.

I am not sure what the future holds for me, and I am quite alright with its uncertainty. I no longer see marriage as the validation I needed to prove I am worthy of love. I rest in the fact that I was created to love, and at the appointed time that love will be received and reciprocated by the man it was created to serve. I am no longer bitter about the outcome, and I am hopeful that I will love again.-Charity Israel

Photo Credit: http://hammerandgem.com/wedding-rings-101-dos-donts-wedding-ring-ownership/

Happy Valentine’s Day: The Difference a Year Makes…

This time last year I was spending this holiday with the man I thought would be my husband. There was no exchange of gifts just quality time. We made dinner. Actually, I watched him make dinner and prepared myself for it. LOL After dinner, we watched a movie; cleaned the kitchen; turned on some music; and the kitchen became our dance floor for the evening. It was the best Valentine’s Day ever. We had a great time just being with each other.

Today is quite different from last year. I am single again. Instead of preparing myself to enjoy a dinner with the one I love, I am writing this blog and answering emails. It is amazing how the seasons of life change. You can go from ‘Dangerously in Love” to ‘Severely Single’ or vice versa in a wink of an eye. I am not writing this to put a damper on the day of Love. However, I do want to encourage those who may be in my position with a few things that have helped me process through one of the greatest pains I have known, Love Lost:

  1. All love does not last forever, and that is okay. I know you wanted it to last forever, but forever was not the plan. That person came as a precursor to the love you are going to experience. Try not to spend your time regretting the energy you invested.
  2. They loved you at their highest capacity; and once they  maxed out everyone had to move on. It is a horrible reality that hurts deeply; but it is a necessary truth that must be accepted by both parties.
  3. Their love taught you how to perfect your own. You were able to see your reflection and challenged to fix those things that were wrong with your understanding of Love.
  4.  Their love forced you to realize your “roses really smell like boo boo.” You had to face some harsh realities about who you were and the parts of your past  that were sabotaging your relationship.
  5. Their love brought you a joy that you did not know before them. You are now more equipped to recognize what Love looks, feels, and acts like because of them.
  6. Their love reminded you of  your awesomeness. They encouraged the good in you; and they taught you that the things you deemed unworthy of love would be accepted by someone willing to love you.

Today I hope you will not be found soaking in the misery of love lost but excited about the love that is to come. You gave love a chance, and that is something I pray you learn not to regret. You will love again. Being single is not the end of the world. Resist bitterness and be open to the opportunities that Love will bring your way. Happy Valentine’s Day to you. I’m praying for your heart today.

Getting Know God: El Roi

El Roi: The God Who Sees Me

One of my favorite names to use for God when praying is El Roi. Every time I use it I find it to be an instant reminder that He is aware of my circumstances. It tends to ease the ache of the request; and it sets God back in his proper place as God above all that is bothering me. In Genesis 16, we are introduced to the name El Roi, by a woman named Hagar. For those of us who may not be familiar with Hagar, she was the servant of Sarai (Abram’s wife). Sarai had the bright idea to help God in fulfilling His promise to her husband and suggested that Abram sleep with Hagar. As Sarai desired, Hagar became pregnant. Once pregnant Hagar started to treat Sarai with contempt (v.4). Sarai returns the favor and treats Hagar so harshly that she runs away.  It is in this time of running that she is found by the loving-kindness of God:

7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied. 9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” 10 Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”11 And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress. 12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”13 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”a She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” 14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered. 15 So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. (New Living Translation)

I find the timing of God very interesting in this story. At any moment, He could have revealed himself. However, he waits until she is expecting and in a dry place before He reveals he has been with her the entire time. He waits until she is out of options, without friends, and without any sense of direction before he says, “I see you!” He allows her to feel every ounce of fear, isolation, and abandonment before revealing the I AM is with you. It was not until she was away from all that she had known that she came to know God for herself.

God did not simply reveal himself to her in the wilderness; but he spoke to her purpose. He provided her with instructions on how to rectify her past mistakes (v.9); and he gave her insight to what her future would entail (vv. 10-12). It never cease to amaze me that how one encounter with God can bring wholeness and clarity to the thing(s) that pains us the most. Hagar heeded to the instructions that were given to her, and she was able to return “home” with a better understanding of who her God was and what was in store for her future.

For those of us who may be in a wilderness situation like Hagar, I would encourage us to:

  1.  Sit still for a moment and allow the voice of God to speak to our situation.
  2. Admit where we were wrong and mishandled the situation, relationship, and etc.
  3. Stop rehearsing the offenses and choose to forgive those who hurt you. 
  4. Obey the instructions that God give us.
  5. Walk free from condemnation knowing that the God who sees has come to your rescue.

El Roi is aware of all that is hurting you, and he is waiting for the moment that you stop trying to figure things out. He longs to commune with you so that He can reveal the truth of who His and who you are to you. My prayer is that you come to know God as El Roi, the God who sees me so that you can see yourself as He does. Hagar’s life was never the same, and I am certain your will not be either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: https://biblein2015.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/el-roi-the-god-who-sees-me.jpg

Ask for Help: Tips on Surrendering to the Will of God

” Teach me to do Your will. For you are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.”-Psalm 143:10

I truly believe this verse should be the prayer of every Christian. Our hearts should long to know and to do God’s will. We should desire to know His plans for our lives. We should long to fulfill those plans. This longing is admirable, but we should at  some point in our spiritual journey  go from simply desiring His will to submitting ourselves to His will. Here a four ways to ensure that you are doing just that:

1.Recognize Your inability to do God’s will outside of His help. The first sentence in this scripture indicates one man’s recognition of needing God’s help in order to do His will. As I was studying, I came across a beautifully written description by  MacLaren’s Expositions that helps illustrates this point :

We may learn from this prayer, then, that practical conformity to God’s will can never be attained by our own efforts. Remember all the hindrances that rise between us and it; these wild passions of ours, this obstinate gravitating of tastes and desires towards earth, these animal necessities, these spiritual perversities, which make up so much of us all-how can we coerce these into submission? Our better selves sit within like some imprisoned king, surrounded and ‘fooled by the rebel powers’ of his revolted subjects; and our best recourse is to send an embassy to the Over-lord, the Sovereign King, praying Him to come to our help. We cannot will to will as God wills, but we can turn ourselves to Him, and ask Him to put the power within us which shall subdue the evil, conquer the rebels, and make us masters of our own else anarchic and troubled spirits. For all honest attempts to make the will of God our wills, the one secret of success is confident and continual appeal to Him. A man must have gone a very little way, very superficially and perfunctorily, on the path of seeking to make himself what he ought to be, unless he has found out that he cannot do it, and unless he has found out that there is only one way to do it, and that is to go to God and say, ‘O Lord! I am baffled and beaten. I put the reins into Thy hand; do Thou inspire and direct and sanctify.’

If we are ever going to do the will of God, we must recognize that it can only happen with His help.

2.Surrender your free will to God’s will.  The interesting thing about God is that He does not typically force His way on people. In his kindness, He has given us “free will,” and our free will often conflicts with His. This is why the Psalmist plea of asking God to “teach me to your will” is so important. It is by asking to be taught that he simultaneously surrenders his own free will and submits himself to God. The moment we ask for God’s help is the moment we surrender all that we know and yield to what He is willing to teach us.

3.Know Who God is. After praying that God teaches him, the psalmist points out, “Your spirit is good.” By this phrase we come to understand why the psalmist was able to surrender his will. His understanding of God’s goodness made surrendering to His will the only proper response. The goodness of God compelled him to trust God with his life, and it should compel us to do the same.

4.Know where God leads. After acknowledging God’s goodness, the psalmists then cries out, “Lead me in the land of uprightness.” This gives the psalmist a measuring stick of whether the places his feet trod are God’s will or his. As he pursues what is right He can rest assure he is being led by God. God will rarely lead us to a place that His goodness and righteousness cannot be found. For the most part, he leads us beside quiet streams. When we are committed to doing life His way righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost is our portion.

If we truly desire to surrender our lives to God, we must be like the psalmist and recognize we cannot do it without Him. We must drop all of our pride and ask God for help. We have to be convinced of who God is so that in the moments He requires more than we would like to give, we trust what we know about Him over our desire. I will not pretend that a life of surrender is not difficult at times. It can be excruciatingly painful in those moments you would prefer to do things your way. However, his grace is sufficient and he helps those who ask for it. My prayer for us all is that we would drop our pride and lift our hands in total surrender to the purposes and plans of God for our lives. He is ready to lead us when we are ready to surrender.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/03/12/new-research-confirms-black-students-better-taught-black-teachers/

I’m the Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Thanks Prince for the Reminder!!!

"Prince"

“** FILE ** Prince performs during the 6th annual BET Awards in this June 27, 2006, file photo in Los Angeles. Prince will headline the ninth annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, festival promoters announced Wednesday, April 9, 2008. The Purple One will be the featured act on day two of the giant summer music festival, a three-day affair that runs April 25-27 in Indio, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, file)”

 

 

Usually when the death of a celebrity occur I give my condolences via the internet, and I move on. Yesterday, I assumed would be no different as I sat in silence for a moment trying to wrap my mind around the news of Prince’s passing. Honestly, i’m still like I won’t believe it until the funeral.#noLordnotPrince After getting over the initial shock, I went on Youtube, and I found a video that would convey what I wanted the world to know that I appreciated about Prince. I typed out my little tribute:

Rest well to the beautifully weird musical genius, Prince. Many appreciated his voice, but I appreciated his musicianship. I’ll never forget the first time I heard him play the guitar. He made me feel as if I could too!!! Thanks for giving this world what you could. Your gift of music helped make the world a better place for a moment as we all danced our troubles awa.

I had fulfilled my Internet duties, and I started to look through my timeline to see how others were paying homage to this musical genius. I chuckled at how some felt a righteous indignation to condemn people for honoring his influence on their lives and the world. I rolled my eyes at “Super Fans” who made self-righteous post declaring how the rest of us were not true fans because we did not know his favorite eyeliner or designer. I smiled at how cities and meteorologist around the world used Purple to light up the city or represent the rain. He was indeed a gift to this world.

I will admit I was not a diehard fan. Matter of fact, I would not consider myself a fan of anyone I do not personally know.. However, Prince’s music has had an amazing impact on my life. It’s no secret that my father opted to leave my mom with the responsibility of raising me, and my stepfather was not the best replacement for the job. He did not affirm me as a young girl. My mom always assured me I was beautiful, but it was not until 1995, at ten years old that I heard a man declare just how beautiful and special I was as a girl. I was listening to the radio, not really paying attention to the new song being played until I heard the chorus. I gave my undivided attention to the second verse so that I could hear these words again:

Could you be the most beautiful girl in the world? Could you be? It’s plain to see. You’re the reason that God made a girl. Oh, yes you are!

To this day, I cannot describe what happened to me in those moments, but I felt confident  and appreciated by the end of the song. To some this may be a moment you would like to give me your pity, please DO NOT. LOL God uses whomever and whatever he needs to get the message to us, and that day God used Prince. I did not run out and buy the single, but the chorus was engraved on my heart.

Of all the Women Empowerment songs this song celebrates being a woman in a way that does not diminish the value of a man in the process. Being a lyrical genius, he reminded women to take delight in being the object of a man’s affection. In my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than giving all your love to another.

Prince will truly be missed, but his music has made him immortal as long as we have a means of listening to it. I’m sure he had no clue that his song would be a tool used to instill confidence in a 10 years old girl in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is just a reminder to those who are living to use your gifts because God knows the lives you will touch by doing using them. Prince was unapologetically Black, unapologetically an artist, and unapologetically himself. I wonder what greatness we would achieve if we decided to stay true to what is inside of us no matter who told us that we should change to make them feel comfortable.

Thanks Prince for helping me realize that because God created me, BEAUTIFUL is all I can be, and forgive me for showing my appreciation a few days too late.-Charity Israel

 

Linger or Live?

This morning I woke up and had an epiphany. I realized I have been a resident of my past. I have set up shop in past experiences. I have lived vicariously through the victories of ole. I am guilty of making plans for the future when conversing with others, but I have not put forth any effort in getting those things accomplished. Some where between then and now I lost my motivation and I have become comfortable being mediocre. This may not sound like a big deal for some, but for me this is tragic. How did the Encourager lose motivation? How did the dreamer get comfortable with simply having the dreams and not making them reality?

As I type I am reminded of one incident when I confided in someone that I trusted about my dreams. I told them what I wanted to do for my community, my state, and ultimately the world. I shared how I felt God had placed me on the earth to do something that had never been done. I poured out my heart in hopes this person would provide affirmation and encouragement and instead they told me ” I was not special, and I should focus on other things than what I shared.” Because I held this person in high regards their words held much weight in my decision-making process. I was devastated by the words, but I agreed to their counsel because they were older and had more experience at this thing called “life.” I remember leaving that setting perplexed, disappointed, and discouraged.

By accepting this person’s advice, I had also made the decision to simply exist instead of live. It was the day I subconsciously decided that my dreams were not worth pursuing. It was the day I lost my faith in what could be and started to accept things as they were. All my life I had been on this adventure of doing the impossible, and on that day I entered the never ending saga of simply existing.

At the time I was a bright 23 years old that had returned from college and was ready to change the world. Now I am a soon to be 28 years old mourning the loss of five years wasted. I could be a therapist, lawyer, or doctor by now. I could have started a couple of organizations and could be conducting seminars. But instead I am just lounging in this mediocre life because I chose to esteem the words of man higher than God. I never thought to consult with anyone else. Neither did I consider the fact that the person may be wise in one subject, but it does not qualify them to counsel on another. Looking back, I should have kept my mouth closed and sought counsel from someone who was either doing something similar to what I desired to do or someone who was pursuing their dreams against all odds.

Now with two days before my 28th birthday, I am left with two options: linger or live. I can linger in the past or live pursuing what I believe God has placed me on this earth to do. I can spend another year regretting the time lost; or I can spend this year charting a new path and moving forward. Today I choose to LIVE! I am throwing off my vintage sackcloth and ashes and putting on something that works for the future. I am discarding the words of those who counseled me out of their personal fears and failures; and I’m CHOOSING to CLING to what God has said about me.

I am sure I am not the first or the last person to experience an assassination attempt on their dreams. But to those who have not experienced this let me offer you some advice:
1. Guard Your heart(dreams) with all diligence. It is NOT necessary to share your dreams with everyone around you.
2. If you are certain God told you, do NOT allow man’s word to trump what God said.
3. When pursuing your dreams ONLY take counsel from those who are doing what you desire to do or those who have blazed a trail for others to follow.

If you can relate to the story I just shared, you my friend are familiar with Attempted Dream Assassination. I use the word “attempted” because although it appears that it was dead, I believe God ordained this day to nurse it back to life. To those who have been guilty of living in the past and rehearsing the words that wounded you inside I offer this advice to you:
1. CHOOSE to forgive those who offered wrong counsel or those who maliciously spoke against you.
2. Ask God to restore your faith in Him and what He has called you to do.
3. Build yourself up on your most holy faith and work towards those things God has called you to do (Jude 1:20).

There will always be people who will not understand us or what we do, but we must not allow their opinions to snuff out what God says about us. Today I encourage us all to Live. Live with a determined faith to see what God has promised come to pass. Live with a heart of compassion for those worse off than us. Live with a tolerance for those who do not like us. Live with a love for God that inspires others to do the same. Last but not least, live with the blessed assurance that we can do all things through Christ who strengthen us (Phil. 4:13). God bless you all and I am praying that we will pursue our purpose in the freedom that Love provides!#Philippians 3:13,14