Categories
life

House or Hotel?

I realized something this weekend… I had been treating my house like a convenient hotel. Seriously, I pay my mortgage…so it wasn’t a free stay…but….

If you know me, you know that I am always doing SOMETHING. It’s for a good reason, but it still means that I am usually gone. I come to cook, eat, shower, play with my dog and sleep. Other than that… I  am gone. I don’t usually study at home, to avoid the distraction of doing other things. When I have meetings, I usually try to be somewhere I can focus on the meeting, and not multitask – or I’ll be present but mentally absent. As an unmarried woman, I don’t keep people hanging around my house that I am uncomfortable with. Peace is priceless, destroying that isn’t something I am up for. 

This one is for free: EVERYBODY SHOULDN’T BE HANGING IN YOUR HOUSE.

So… there are things that make it to my home…through time and space…that probably should have been donated, trashed, or repurposed. But on the go doesn’t leave a lot of time to declutter. Now, I clean, straighten, stack and the like… but I started stumbling across an old compact disc collection, old pictures, old poems, things that were framed that honestly were collecting dust. For only the second time in eight years… I open the windows, wiped down the window seal, and sat and stared outside. My second story window has quite a peaceful view. I aired out the room that held memories and books, pictures, and opportunity.

Subconsciously, I felt like I disrespected the space I worked so hard to get. I began to shift my thoughts to a prayer of gratitude. One, thanking God for the moment to slow down and realize my error. Secondly, I thanked him for the space I was in. There is something deep about that moment. I was simultaneously speaking with my sister who is in another state. We laughed about how different the climates were… but we also hit a really, really, powerful moment. I said something like this, “2020 forces transparency in a place shame probably used to hitchhike in my life.” 

There it is folks. When you stop long enough to pay attention… God is speaking clearly to you. I am a Jesus girl…through and through… but I can also be hardheaded. I’ll admit that. I can hear Him tell me to slow down and I can feel the rebuttal bubble up in my spirit. I hear it from my friend… (Hello Nyke)… and from my family (Hi Mom). I am not going to stop walking in purpose… but I am going to get back to my “getcholife” days. I am going to stop treating the house I prayed for, like a hotel I just stay at. I am working to make the peace I feel visually apparent. My eclectic taste is coming to my space – cue purple Livingroom end tables. More on that later. More green. Living green plants – that I have been nurturing for a year, and silk plants that will always keep me at peace – without the watering issue. I have been catching rainwater to feed my plants… the stuff from the faucet makes them wilt faster. (Message) I am making small consistent changes so that the space I occupy looks more like me – and not my Brown Twin. 

In life we select our choices. If we are not careful, subconsciously… we will repeat what we have seen with little regard for why we did that. The why is just as important as the method. I love my mom’s taste… she could buy my clothes forever… but our design and room aesthetic is different. For example… my mom loves lace doilies. I don’t. Not that I hate how my mother does things, I just do them differently. That’s a word… insert a praise clap…God uniquely designed YOU to be an original. Don’t die a clone. 

Ivy Out

Categories
life

In the Shadow of HIS light.

This is a woman who has made many mistakes. This is a woman who has celebrated lots of victories. This is a woman who asks a million questions. This is a woman who appreciates healing. This is a woman who cried, TODAY. This is a woman who has been poured into. This is a woman who pours out.

This entire blog was inspired by two things.

One: The life of Dr. Lois Evans.

I never got to meet her in person, but I met several people that she personally impacted. I thought I would get to meet her at Chrystal Evans Hurst’s Sister Circle Retreat – https://chrystalevanshurst.com/sister-circle-retreat/ which was AMAZING, but she was unable to attend. While she couldn’t attend, she spoke to us via phone several times. Even in the fight of her life, she was encouraging us. I CRIED EACH TIME. You see cancer has plowed through my family as well. When I watched my SUPERDAD fight it, I worked REALLY hard to life faith first. Even when I knew God was going to call him home. Today, after avoiding it for as long as I could, I listed to the video of Dr. Tony Evans preaching the eulogy. I think I cried through almost all of it. I cried because I hurt for them and I cried because I remembered my pain. Cried because when he said she saw her parents, I remembered my dad telling me my grandmother and cousins had come. I cried because she kept the faith and stayed connected to God until she went to Glory and so had SUPERDAD. I cried because no one is immune to pain. One thing that stood out to me the most was just HOW impactful she is. She lived well. So help me God, I want someone to be able to say that about me when it’s my time to go. Dr. Evans spoke of how Paul fought the good fight, how Sis. Evans fought the good fight, and how if we are going to fight… it need be a good one. How much of the weight I hold has been carrying things that did not equate to a good fight? I am crying while typing… but it’s a slow sweet cry. I marvel at this woman who’s life is poured out as sheer magnificence. I remember videos that her daughters and granddaughter posted. Such a rich legacy of a woman who dedicated her life FOR HIS GLORY. To what honor do you give a woman, who even through a third party touch, has inspired you so? Real questions that need answers.

The Second: the shadow effect of this selfie.

Direct your attention to the only picture that will be posted with this blog. When you are directly in alignment with the sun, there is a shadow that is cast over you. The artist in me sees metaphors in a beautiful way. Lord let me align with your Light in such as way that I am a shadow of You. I want to face into HIM in a way that it’s no longer about personal glory, but His light and His glory in me. Through me. Any great thing I do, let it point back to HIM. Abba. God the Father, God the Son – Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.

January can trigger a lot for a lot of people. I pray it renews a drive to seek after Him. A match that lights a fire for Christ that is redeeming in nature. While I am a well-dressed-mess, weird – and proud to be it, creative and quirky, passionate and purpose driven..I am a child of the Most High. Child- like inquisitive nature, question and answer seeking, and apologetic in my issues. I am no where near perfect. I don’t care to be perfect. In my humanity I relate to those I encounter – my sisters and brothers. I LOVE PEOPLE. I really do love people. Differences and Similarities. Cultures and Languages. The amazing gems of humanity are a plus in my book! Yet, I am also greatly annoyed by the choices of some people. I read somewhere… the people who are the hardest to love need love the most.

If I have to be in a shadow, I pray its in the Brilliant light of Christ. I pray that I live well, love well, and serve well. I pray you do too.

Ivy Out – #AuthenticallyAndonnia #andonniaspeaks

*As with any post, If you enjoy it, please comment and let me know your thoughts. I would love your respectful rebuttals as well. Feel free to comment, life, and subscribe. Sharing is caring. 🙂

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life

Assign The Right Value

I haven’t mastered the art of “pretty blogs”. You know, the kind with all of the perfectly curated photos that assume the correct position on the page. What I HAVE done in the past six years is speak my truth. Sometimes it’s pretty and glorious – messages yelling “Yasss Queen!” loudly like a curly afro in full shea butter sheen and glory. Other times, my blog is painfully honest – posting mess ups, loud like red socks in white laundry. But it’s me.

While we are celebrating the entrance of 2020 – #newyearsameme – my mind meanders in the territory of VALUE. Yes, value. What’s the difference between a LBD (little black dress) from Target and one from Chanel? Well, the fashion house that is Chanel – who’s startup is denoted in a children’s book in my classroom, has built a NAME for itself. That name is synonymous with value and a high price tag. It’s still made of fabric. It’s still sown on a machine. IT’s still retailed. Yet because of exclusivity, the difference in price of both LBDs could be astronomical.

My pastor said something that is still ringing in my ears. Too many of us associate material wealth with success. (you can find the sermons here -> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV4y921wS5rNibY4kx7Mt1g/videos )

Are we throwing away people, places, and things because the idea of “success” means exclusion? Do we have to have the bigger to mean better? That doesn’t work with body size for most, but it works for cars and homes? I appreciate my body, but growing up… folks made is seem like bigger meant unhealthy. As if that is the only indicator. (In case you are wondering, it’s not.) Do we really have to compare to succeed? We have to change cars to show the world we have spent more money? We can’t have the same friends we had when we were broke because… it’s an indicator that we are still…broke?!

This is a broken mentality. The things that matter most don’t have a price tag. The piece of metal fashioned in a particular is still appealing with or without someone’s name on it. Why do we not value the work of our own hands like we do the works of others? When will we understand that we have the opportunity every day to determine what is valuable… who is valuable. We should put more heART into those thoughts.

If you call yourself a Christian, and you’ve bought into the theory that you have to discard people, something’s wrong with the way you are doing this thing. Jesus didn’t throw people away. He was the way, and he walked it out. HE loved on people. HE showed up for people. HE valued many that the popular majority did not. Think about that.

You can only use filters online. They don’t work in real life.

Ivy Out

Categories
life

Reflect and Reset

It can be easy to welcome a new year without really giving any regard for the year you are leaving. I have learned that it’s best practice to finish a year before another one starts.

So… I have created a self-care worksheet to help guide your reflection. It will provide just enough space to celebrate blessings AND LESSONS from 2019. Once you do that… you are free to really look at 2020 with clear vision.

It’s a whopping $1! It works great with digital platforms and can also be printed. It’s an instant download in my etsy shop. Feel free to share this with others.

https://www.etsy.com/Annlettered/listing/751295046/reflection-and-reset-worksheet-for-2019?utm_source=Copy&utm_medium=ListingManager&utm_campaign=Share&utm_term=so.lmsm&share_time=1577380959236

Here to grow and glow with you!

Ivy Out

#andonniaspeaks #authenticallyandonnia #annlettered

Categories
life

Hard Lessons -PEOPLE

I remember certain people that, in my head, were root people. Meaning, I just knew they were lifetime connections. I could already see it. In my head I have been married, a mother, been on girl’s trips with bestfriends… had THAT job… in my head these things were going to happen.

In reality, not so much.

I had to learn not to mislabel people. It’s hard. Sometimes I would label a man “husband” when he wan’t even boyfriend. Didn’t mean he was a bad person, just wasn’t the reason he was in my life. I labeled some women sister or best friend and some were just acquaintances.

ALL CONNECTIONS TEACH. Some are lifetime connections and some are seasonal connections. That season may not change with winter or spring. Maybe it’s at a particular job or church – as long as you are in that space, then you are connected. Sometimes, that connection comes to reveal something in you. After the lesson is internalized and actualized, you notice the connection dissipates. Learn to let go.

Letting go is a skill.

Don’t be angry if calls slow or cease. Don’t kick up dust or throw stones. Acknowledge the season and move on.

Forever is a long time to hold fruit past its season.

Love, Light, and Truth,

#AuthenticallyAndonnia

Ivy Out

Categories
life

Documented.

What makes you want to get up in the morning? What makes going to bed tired, whenever that is, worth it?

How much longer shall we punch the time clock of life while living casually?

I saw an almost wreck today. I immediately began to thank God that I wasn’t looking at the aftermath of the red light the jeep disregarded. Life can change THAT fast. It is not going to ask your permission. It is not going to wait for you to hit the breaks on bad decisions, or accelerate the good ones. Time is going to continue to push forward. What you do with the time you have, is up to you.

To me, living life without faith is like driving to an undisclosed location, without gps, full speed ahead.

You can argue with a lot of things, but that analogy should at least make you think.

What would you tell your child if you gave them instructions to go to the store, gave them your debit card and keys, but never gave them the directions to the store. Landmarks only work if they can be recognized.

2019 reminded me of some lessons I learned the hard way. I bought some really nice pieces, but sacrificed somethings I shouldn’t have. I sold some art, but not as much as I liked. I sold more t-shirts that I thought I would, but I didn’t track progressions like I know to. I said good bye to some people I wish I wouldn’t have had to. Longed for someone I shouldn’t have. I got up to preach and felt the weight of the failure – even though some got blessed by it. I produced poems that hit home for me, and me alone.

But I did it all.

I said the things.

I apologized – because you can not call yourself mature if you refuse to own when you mess up.

I said more hello’s to new people.

I was triggered by social media, and podcasts, and memories, and one particular therapy client.

Somewhere some good things happened.

Noir Bella Project expanded into a weekend retreat. I had one art show – and I am sooo grateful for that. I laid the groundwork for CONCRETE GLASS. I started teaching my 11th class of middle school readers. And for the life of me, I think there are more things… they don’t jump out at me.

But that’s how this goes. The negatives stick out more. They always do. So… let’s develop them. Helping people drives me. I seem to have diversified how I do it, but I now recognize that I have been walking in that since I was a little girl. I get to do it internationally soon. Stoked.

I was going to wait until Christmas to release my Reflect and Reset document… but I think I’ll release it earlier than expected. JUST NOT TODAY.

It will be a free document to guide you down memory lane. I believe strongly that you shouldn’t start a new year until you finish the one you are in. So before you crack open the 2020 calendars (except for the folks who are already #bookedandbusy and have 2020 dates already 😉 ), let’s wrap up what we have done, seen, and memories established in dear old 2019.

Will you be back to download the document? It’s free. Will you share this one with friends? If they subscribe now, they will get the notification as soon as it comes out – just like you.

Sharing is caring. Commenting helps too.

This almost ten year blog needs to connect with some new people. Help me do that. That part is free too.

Categories
life

When all else fails, learn.

No one likes to lose. Seriously, let’s be honest. When we put effort behind something and then it doesn’t work out the way you envisioned it, it’s the anvil that weighs you down. There’s just this little nagging truth. We learn a great deal when we lose.

Go ahead. Get mad at me. I knew it would happen. It’s not me, it’s the truth.

When I think about my 2019 I have two overwhelming feelings. One, I made some decisions that didn’t work. As in, I was warned and didn’t heed the warning. So, when these decisions didn’t end well for me… it hurt twice as bad. However, it forced me to reevaluate my thought process. It made me look at what my decisions prompted. Honestly, I am grateful for the thought interrupt. It was a detour that I needed to comprehend now. I don’t want to get to 2025 and have the same outcome. The only way to change the outcome is to change the actions and thoughts that got me there.

The second overwhelming feeling I have is GRATITUDE. I don’t look like what I have been through. Sincerely, most of the battles I fought were not plastered publicly. I doubt many of them were easily identifiable, even to the people closest to me. I had to reevaluate how I viewed my friends AND me as a friend.

PAUSE.

Me, as a friend. It is very easy to become critical of the people you call friend based on what they do or don’t do. It’s another thing to look at one’s self and give that same energy. I had to realize that I don’t pick up the phone and call people like I should. Over the years, I think texting and social media became my cop-out way of checking on people. Then, when people began to institute digital wellness (i.e. logging off and really perfecting face (2 face) time…) then I lost connection. Not because feelings were lost, but because my cop out was tapped out. (Insert me waving a white flag) The other culprit, change of environment. Two years ago I changed churches. That seems like a big deal to some…because…black people don’t often change churches. Those who regularly attend and serve become loyal to the building as if God isn’t present in others. Yes, church sarcasm. You’ll be ok. I am saying what some won’t. I still love my old church, but God told me to move on. I am super glad I did. What I was worried about, was staying connected to those I used to see weekly. I can admit that the connections aren’t the same, but I haven’t lost them. I just have to work harder to speak to them, since we don’t conveniently see each other weekly.

THERE’S THE REVELATION FOLKS… SHIPS are WORK. Friendship, Relationship, and any other ship that involves interaction and connection between two or more individuals. Even staying digitally connected to my blog audience is a struggle some times. Not because I don’t want to. The desire is ALWAYS present. My schedule, clear thoughts, planning and execution… those things don’t always align. Attached to the revelation is the fear that maybe I don’t measure up as a friend. Maybe I don’t reach out enough. Did something major happen and I missed it? Was I there when they needed me? Half the battle is showing up, did I? This is less about if it was noticed and more about the intention.

Hindsight is plenty clear. While I know I have some work to do, I did set out to be intentional about my connections about a year ago. Loosing #superdad in 2015 reminded me how precious life is. It put some of life’s great and horrible moments in perspective like a permanent contact lens. I am grateful for grace and mercy and friends that extend that to me. I then also extend that to them. I don’t think I am the only one who needs to work on intentional connections, re-connections, or learning when to let “well enough” be enough. Some people are good and just NOT going with you into your next season.

Say it with me friends, “Just let them go”. I know. I’ll be the bad guy for the truth. We have to honor seasons. Believe it or not, they change without your permission. Some of the people who were closest to you in previous seasons will not be adding your to their Christmas card list. (Non-Shameless Plug… want custom Christmas Cards handmade for your circle> email annlettered@gmail.com , you can also check out work on annlettered.com and http://www.instagram.com/annlettered ) When the calls stop, the texts diminish, and the face time is non-existent, say a prayer for their good and move ON. Not because you dislike them or harbor ill will, the page turned. The page WILL turn on some people. It’s ok. LEARN.

The loudest lessons this year were taught when I fell, cried, prayed, screamed, and just went to sleep because at the time… that’s all I could do. I don’t profess to have all the answers. I wouldn’t want that burden anyway. I do know how to pray. When people connect with me for prayer – I take that seriously. The mess ups prompt me to pray too. Urgent and Life altering prayers like… “fix it Jesus” and “I surrender Lord”. I know that when I mess up, my default is shifting to JESUS. I know that not every amazing event will include space for me – but that doesn’t change the fact that the event is dope. Not being included used to make me feel some kind of way… one of those lessons showed me that it’s usually not anything personal. So, I learned.

Some won’t like this. That’s ok too. Welcome to Andonnia.com. Some of the opinions of the author will not be accepted as general consensus. It’s supposed to be that way.. group think doesn’t go with my heart. (get it.. this (insert thing) doesn’t go with my outfit… )

When you don’t win, you learn. You should. Reflect and grow. Tis the season.

Ivy Out.

Categories
life

One Minute Truth

I just wanted to pop in and remind anyone who needs to read truth today… Your pace isn’t set by what someone else is doing. As a matter of fact, they can be doing the exact thing YOU are doing and still not be competition for you. God is not a man that He should lie. Each of us has a purpose, gift(s), and a set time. Continue to keep your eyes on the One whose command even the winds obey. Take your eyes off of others, unless it’s to love and celebrate them (or correct IN LOVE).

Competition is the enemy of Greatness and the death of progress. Compliments and Grace take one much farther. No, I don’t mean to shell out compliments with zero integrity, because kindness isn’t fake niceness, but complimentary living. There are those in your life that fit in this season. You all either grow and groom or nurture and push each other forward. These are your people in this season. Don’t neglect that. Above all things, solidify and nurture your relationship with God. Many people seek external sources to figure out why they are on earth… why not go to the one who sent you?

Be Encouraged. You were equipped for today.

Ivy Out

Categories
life

Truth at Almost 36

There are seasons in life where you feel like every challenge that comes up in your life is PERSONAL.

I know, I know, this is where you tell me don’t take anything personally, right?

Well, I did.

Insert the “I am getting older again reflection hamster wheel….” I should really have a zillion hyphens in the midst of those words, but not today. Anti-hyphen blog.  Just jokes, laugh at my sarcasm, ok? Or at least, laugh in sympathy.

But this was different.

I will be thirty six in 18.5 days. That’s crazy. I feel like I just turned 35. As I mature in age, like fine wine might I add, I realize there is a cycle of what have I done with my life type questioning. Are you following, with my missing hyphens and all?

Sometimes I feel like I have accomplished NOTHING at all, other times I marvel at what I have been blessed to accomplish. You see, when these feelings come up, the pendulum decides how I categorize them. Am I by myself?

If I am “feeling” blessed that day.. then I get excited and count my blessings. If I am “feeling” down that day, I am counting my hit and misses. Which honestly, are all lessons. Lessons teach more than victories do, but Lord keep sending the victories!

I really felt like I should have blogged months ago. But I couldn’t. Today, I must. Nothing is random. I believe the reflective thoughts we have allow us to shift our perspective. I can recognize areas of growth. I pray ALL DAY LONG. Not the long drawn out sweat and tarry prayers…but sometimes a quick “fix it Jesus” or “Lord please help me”. I find myself surrendering more – thanking God for the split second saves that seem to stand out more to me. Are you familiar with the Reticular Activating System (RAS)? The RAS makes sure to filter out unwanted or unneeded info – so when someone says you are a non-factor…they are basically acting as a RAS lol. It’s also the reason why the minute something is fresh on your mind/heart you notice it EVERYWHERE. Well, I having been sharing a concept that is a reality for me.

“WHEN LIFE HAPPENS, LOOK FOR THE GOOD. When you can’t find the GOOD, look for the GOD moment.” – #andonniaspeaks

I wish I could claim some mammoth check for the value of that truth, but alas I cannot. It’s just FACTS. We are quick to quote Romans 8:28 but let’s highlight ONE word… ALL. That means not everything that you will encounter feels good. Insert adult pout. However comma ALL things work for my GOOD. Secondly, wilderness seasons have a place. What we can frequently call a wilderness season may in fact be a wellness oasis. Perspective people.

What are you talking about Andonnia?

I’m glad you asked.

When Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights, and was tempted, he was AWAY.

The children of Israel had to travel to get to the promised land, and all though they prolonged their stay, they had to travel AWAY from the others.

John the Baptist was prepared in the wilderness AWAY from others until it was time.

Maybe God is preparing you AWAY from the noise. AWAY from people who are not your assignment. Maybe, God has your next around the corner, but you have to submit to your now. Any by you, I really mean me. You see, when we find value in where we are…it doesn’t hurt AS bad. The pain of the process is relative. As children, when gift giving holidays came up, we didn’t mind waiting because there was a calendar date attached to the expectation. As adults, we don’t mind waiting as long as there is an expected delivery date. Just because we don’t know the date doesn’t mean THE GIFT isn’t coming. THAT is the key!

I don’t know what your gift is. But I hope you take this season VERY PERSONALLY. I hope you personally improve. I hope you personally grow. And I pray you are PERSONALLY rewarded for your obedience in your NOW.

P.S. I did a thing… https://andonnia.wixsite.com/andonniaspeaks/she-speaks

Additional P.S. – to hear the last message God gave me to preach -> https://youtu.be/fZ3wtUFzPh8

I love you, and there isn’t nothing you can do about it.

IVY OUT. #andonniaspeaks

Categories
life

19 years ago today…

Well not to date, but to Holiday, my life changed. I referenced it in my sermon from April 14, 2019. To understand -> watch here

What changed? Five cities would have been one less citizen. SHSU would be one organization lighter – Adopt A Heart. The Theta Epsilon Chapter would have had 11 not 12 new members in Fall 2004. Alpha Alpha Eta Omega would have chartered with 70 not 71 members. 1,000 students in three districts in the Houston would have missed the USM experience. Several friendships, relationships, and business partnerships would have never formed. And how was I reminded? This song came on my pandora playlist today ->I Told The Storm

This is how the Lord got my attention that day. I am grateful He did.

Purpose doesn’t disappear because troubles appear… it just grows deeper into your being. Upon a little research one might read that under ideal conditions, tree tap roots can grow down twenty feet deep. The tap root stabilizes the tree. Your purpose… is your tap root. What you do with that… is where you bear fruit. 🌳

Ivy Out