This past year was the year God kept dropping the number 8 in my spirit. After realizing the number biblically symbolized new beginnings, I found more hope and clutched unto it. Then, came the new. I graduated with my Masters at Syracuse, officially became a business owner, reigned as Miss Black NJ, and the biggest blessing ever — landed a three book deal.
All, so much newness. But the most important form was the renewing of my heart, mind, spirit. I was able to see God’s intentionality through that number and through this verse, which was actually my theme for the year long before:
Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not see it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
God had a message for me all year long and today, I’m going to share the life lessons I learned in 2018. 8 of them, of course — it’s only right.
Lesson 1: Believe
My word of the year for 2018 was “believe.” I discovered it in the most bewildering way (seriously, you have to read it to believe it)! While crazy how it happened, it made perfect sense. God had already revealed to me I needed to learn to trust Him the year prior.
In 2017, I realized I was holding onto a lot on my own. From hardship at home to pieces of my own heart, God told me, “you don’t trust me with it.” It blew me away because I thought I did. You never know until you’re really tested, isn’t that right?
You see, you can believe in God and not believe God. It’s one thing to know — it’s another to actually believe it. I know God is working all things for my good but my self-reliance showed me I trusted the way I handle things, over how He does.You can believe in God and not believe God. I know God is working all things for my good but my self-reliance showed me I trusted the way I handle things, over how He does. Click To Tweet
In 2018, God showed me how to unclench my fingers, gently plucking them one by one until He had my whole heart. He taught me to believe for myself and for the people around me. Here’s to not just believing that there is a God, but to believing in what He says He will do for and through you. Say goodbye to the pieces; here’s to giving Him our all.God showed me how to unclench my fingers, gently plucking them one by one until He had my whole heart. Click To Tweet
Lesson 2: Obedience is the best sacrifice.
What are you willing to sacrifice?
When I had to leave for my missions trip right before my pageant, anxiety attempted to cripple me. I panicked in church and felt like a hypocrite because I no longer wanted to go. I had school. I had my own work to consider. I was focused on all I had to do to prepare for my pageant. I was not dedicated to the mission at hand.
I never noticed it before — this anxiety. Whenever I found myself overwhelmed with my workload or whenever I had to rush anything, I’d feel my chest tighten. At times, I would wake up and feel a heaviness on my chest because the day just started and I felt behind! I can honestly say prayer, re-directing my focus and deep breaths have chased it away.
But it was there as I boarded that plane to Cuba. It only dissipated when I actually arrived, thank God! While there, I served, and I was also looking for answers. I was trying to figure out why God led me there. I wondered what lesson He was trying to teach me.
I discovered all He wanted was my obedience. All He wanted was to see if I thought He was worth the sacrifice. And oh yes, He was! I went wanting to be a blessing to others and to my surprise, God wanted to bless me.
Your obedience to God will cover you, impact more than just you and reward you.Your obedience to God will cover you, impact more than just you and reward you. Click To Tweet
Lesson 3: Live in His provision.
I am a great steward of my money, if I do say so myself! I always find it humorous because I’m so involved in the fashion and beauty niche, so people think that’s where I devote my earnings.
It actually stays in my bank and is mostly taken out for necessities! When you don’t have much and you’re trying to build, the idea of spending becomes undesirable. I don’t even think about money but when it’s time to swipe, girrrrrrrl. You work so hard and then have nothing to show for it. That stability you’ve fostered, gone at a simple transaction.
I almost didn’t want to go to grad school because of the thought of taking out loans. I didn’t want to pursue pageantry because it was too expensive. And even when God provided me the money, it was still incredibly difficult to see such a huge sum gone, just like that! Oh, and don’t get me started on buying this new MacBook!
My issue didn’t lie in tithing; I love to give the Lord what’s His. But He taught me I have to let go of what’s “mine.” The issue lied within not wanting to spend on myself. God has always provided for me but holding onto my money made me realize I was acting as if I won’t get it back…as if I’d be left for nothing. That had to change — the Bible says I won’t lack for anything! He showed me I needed to treat myself more — to spend a little more freely for things I wanted and to not feel unstable with costly purchases. I’m learning to see them as investments in my business and in me.
It’s great God can trust you with money but He wants you to live like you’re being provided for. Wisely, of course!
It's great God can trust you with money but He wants you to live like you're being provided for. Wisely, of course! Click To Tweet
Lesson 4: Rest.
I’ve confessed I’m a workaholic numerous times! I genuinely consider my work fun and I always have to be reminded to take a break. It used to be worse but I’m getting better.
My work required me to travel to my heart’s delight in 2018. God brought me to Haiti (life-changing — amazingness) Atlanta, Michigan, the DMV, Miami and LA twice! It was all so exhilarating. Having the freedom to drop everything and leave.
Traveling allows me to explore my new surroundings, of course, and to also explore the new messages God has planted. It’s refreshing. it’s confirming. This is one of His ways I’m reminded of His love.
There’s such a rush in preparing for a trip or honestly, preparing to face life. And He literally picks me up and places me in a hotel somewhere so I can hear Him better. These trips come when I need Him the most. I enter the hotel room, into that quietness and I’m wowed. Because I feel Him so heavy there.
He’s such a good Father that know his kids inside and out. To the point where He knows what we need to hear or see, or go. And He will do it just to get through to us.
In the craziness, I find some way to spend my quiet time with Him but He wants more. So I cleared out all work plans in the month of December. I just really desired to just sit in God’s presence. I also desired to sit and do nothing!
There’s a time to push through to be productive but there’s also time for rest. Your body needs it, but most importantly, your spirit depends on it.
Be intentional with your pause; it’ll allow more time for praise.Be intentional with your pause; it’ll allow more time for praise. Click To Tweet
Read: Keep Pushing & Listen: Praise, Process, Pause
Lesson 5: Listen, Leave, Level Up.
Lesson 6: Don’t Prove Yourself.
When you are a living, breathing testimony of all God has done in your own life, you are free from having to defend or explain yourself. There’s no time for scrambling for words when God is fighting for you.
To reiterate: When you know who you are, you don’t have to explain yourself!
When chaos attempts to enter your life, sit back and brace yourself for the blessings. They aren’t being blocked. You’re simply being prepared for them.
Lesson 7: Miracles happen when you make room.
I find myself saying “thank you, Jesus” without prompting now. It’s so freeing.
I learned gratitude changes things and if I want to get out of chaos or stagnation, all I have to do is thank God for what I’m going through, for who He is, for what He’s done in the past and what He will do.
I encourage you to develop and maintain a heart of gratitude regardless of what you’re going through…regardless on what you’re waiting on. God loves you so much that He will send you a reminder to revive you, giving you hope again.
After having a hell of a year in 2017, I needed all the hope I could get! God showed me I had to make room. I had to set more time for just me and Him. I had to let go of my own expectations and plans and submit them to Him. It was only then, He was able to infiltrate my world and surprise me in so many ways.Let go of your own expectations and plans — submit them to God. Make room & He will infiltrate your world, surprising you in so many ways. Click To Tweet
Even in your drought, heavens will unleash even the slightest trinkle of rain to remind you, your rainbow is coming.
Lesson 8: You are right where you are supposed to be.
I got to know God’s heart this year. I’m not even only referring to His Love, the driving force of it all. I was touched to experience just how intentional and intricate He is.
He was paying attention to little dreams I had — things I’ve never even asked or planned for. He made them happen. Things I didn’t even know I desired, he made them happen.
His intentions were made clear at a time where I wasn’t satisfied with life. I’ve learned I have to be proud of me, to be proud of where I am. That I’m doing the best I can and that I’m right where I am supposed to be.
And then, He surprised me with a three book deal. When it happened, I was speechless. But when I officially made the announcement on social media, I experienced His goodness on a new level. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to everyone, and to Him. As I edited my testimony video, I was blown away as if I was listening for the first time. Like wow, I can’t believe how much He’s been taking notes. How He has honored me in this way.
When you’re going through the motions of life, and you’re doing all you can to just push forward, it makes it hard to see where God is…to see what His move is in all this. His blessing illustrated I wasn’t off course; God is still holding my hand.
In the year of 2018, I was reminded God cares about our dreams. He knows the desires of our hearts and wants to make them happen. He is so lovingly intentional. He pays attention to the little details — no man can compare.