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Lawd Have Mercy

“I don’t want to use up all my mercy cards ‘cause I don’t know how many I have left.” I’ll never forget this line from a poem I wrote so many, many, many years ago. The poem was about backsliding and how at times we will play a game of chance with God’s mercy and grace.  But today, as I sat trying to figure out what to read, I was lead to Psalm 23. Now we ALLLLLLL now Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

But have you ever paid attention to the last verse? This verse really caught my attention – especially the word mercy. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” So why do we need goodness and mercy to follow us always? Why is it important for the Father to even mention this in His word?

Now I admit, in the past, there were times I was guilty of reading the word just to say I read it – something to check of my list. But once I started to develop a relationship with the Father, I really sought to learn more about Him and have a deeper understanding of His word. So, I looked up what mercy meant. Mercy means “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.” When I read this, tears filled my eyes because I realized that He didn’t have to forgive me for my mistakes but He choose to extend grace and mercy towards me. HE CHOOSE!

He knew we were going to fall short. Make bad decisions. Keep going in circles. Neglect Him. Place other “Gods” before Him and a host of other things. Despite all this, He wanted to let us know that we were already forgiven. No matter what we do, we are already forgiven and his mercy will cover us ALWAYS. That doesn’t mean we take His mercy for granted and press our luck but it is reassuring to know that His mercy is already in place for my journey. Now every time I read this passage I will remember that goodness, compassion and forgiveness shown towards me shall follow me every day of my life and I will live in the house of my Father forever. Now that, is a promise I can depend on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From Broken to Wholeness Part 2: A Self Reflection

There is something about coming to a place in your life where you look past the excuses, the lies, the fronting, the insecurities and you come face to face with who you are. I mean who you truly are: the good, the bad and the ugly. I remember the moment that happened in my life. It was the Spring of 2015 and I was going through a program that focused on mindset, healing and weight loss. During this experience, I had a revelation that I never accepted before – I was molested. See, I knew I was molested when I was 10 by another young girl (a distant cousin through marriage) over the course of two years, but I never accepted it happened to me until then. It was a story that was part of my life but I wasn’t connected to the character. This kept me bound and broken in so many ways.

It planted seeds of self-doubt, low self-esteem, not feeling worthy, insecurities, identity issues, body issues, self-love issues – you name it! And I landed the role of victim in my own stage play. I never received help nor did I tell anyone because I was a child who didn’t understand what was going on. These seeds were watered and festered from the lies that were created from those instances. My core beliefs about love, trust, worth and safety had become tainted.

So, when the opportunity arose to interview Toure Roberts on his new book, I jumped because I wanted to hear his perspective about wholeness and how to get there. Just listening to him really shed some light about my own journey and made me wonder what is wholeness? From what I researched, the word whole comes from the Greek words of holos and holokleros meaning all, entire and complete. These two words come from the noun holokleria meaning completeness. So, wholeness is completeness and when I think of completeness, identity comes to mind.

Your identity is the core foundation of who you are, your experiences, and your upbringing all wrapped in one.  This can be amazing or horrible, depending on what has happened to you and the story you choose to keep telling yourself. But what we don't realize is that we can change our identity by changing our core beliefs which includes changing our mindset. In Romans 12:2 it says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” By staying connected to the Father, consistently, you will understand who you truly are and who He created you to be because our identity is in HIM.

Since I know my identity, joy, love, healing, peace and wholeness is in the Father, I reflected upon what really spoke volumes to me from the interview. And of the many things Toure discussed, what he spoke about insecurities really resonated due to my childhood. So many times, these seeds of insecurities are planted and until it is discovered, faced and uprooted, you will be plagued by them. I had my own journey to uprooting insecurities in life – facing what happened to me as a child and the impact it had on my life – so now the question is are you ready to become whole? To discover the root of the invisible boundaries that are keeping you stuck and preventing you from achieving greatness. Are you ready to go from broken to wholeness? I hope you will say yes and choose to change your story today. I wouldn’t be where I am right now, healed and healthy, talking about this if I didn’t say yes to my journey of becoming whole.

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From Broken to Wholeness: The Journey of a Lifetime according to Toure Roberts

When the opportunity arose to interview Toure Roberts on his new book, I jumped because I wanted to hear his perspective about wholeness and how to get there. 

Below is the conversation with Toure about his book, past experiences and perspective on how to become whole.

Tell us about your new book, holenes. Why did you write it and why now? Finding your purpose is one thing, but being free enough to lay hold of your purpose is another. So, wholeness is all about helping people to recognize their invisible boundaries that keep them from the destiny that they are trying to pursue.

You went through so much at a young age. Tell us about how those experiences molded you into who you are today. I was raised in Watts by a single mother who was a part of the Black Panther movement. Even though my family experience was great, it was crazy all around me. There were drugs, violence, sex, etc... So, I was exposed to a lot at a young age. Then, at the age of 16 I was shot in the chest and left to die in the street.  I narrowly escaped inner city life.

How did you get from that story of darkness to right now? I think it’s really the message of wholeness. It's the message of your insides determining your outsides. I think that when you’re not whole, then your outsides are your outsides. There’s nothing that you can do. But when you realize, even as the scripture says, “Greater is He who is in you, than he that is in the world.” Then you really tap into the relationship with God, seek to understand those experiences, why did I go through that, what did I learn and who am I connected to from a reaching standpoint as a result of it. God causes all things to work together for the good….

What does it mean to be “whole?” It is the process of becoming. Social Media highlights your doing and they are only highlighting the doing they want you to see. Where wholeness is about becoming. In Jeremiah 1 “Before I formed you in your Mothers belly I knew you, I sanctified you, I set you apart, made you unique and distinct and I ordained you.” So, before you got here you were already worked out, so I believe the journey to wholeness is about working out in your own life, what God had already worked out for you. Doing the work. Becoming self - aware. We’re in the information age and we are so verse on everything outside of us, we’re completely ignorant from what’s going on inside of us. So, I think the process is saying chances are I’m broken somewhere. Now, we will say I’m not perfect but we won’t say I’m not broken because when you say I’m broken, there is a requirement for change. You can’t say I’m broken and just go on, you have to then be fixed, be healed, be made whole.

What practical advice do you have for those who are struggling to face their brokenness to become whole? First, they have to acknowledge and say they are broken. Second, they have to understand it’s okay to not be okay. There’s been a lie that has been ingrained in us to not be ok with “not being ok.” Having permission to say I’m broken and I’m not ok because until you say ouch you can never be healed. Then going on the discover of and understanding why.  I believe in patterns. We always look at the outcomes of our life or judge the outcomes but outcomes are connected to our patterns.  I know I did that but why did I do that – why did I respond that way where I find myself in the same situation over and over again. If my relationships never seem to work remember you are the common denominator in all these failed relationships. Also, becoming traceable is vitally important – get to the root of what’s happening.

People believe they are whole but don't know they have places that are broken. What are some signs that they are broken? One is insecurity. Insecurity is evidence that somewhere in your mind you have braced some untruth and negative thought about yourself. Insecurity means I don’t have security within and then you are vulnerable and dangerous. Jealousy is another sign. “I always say, you can never expect to receive in your own life what you are unwilling to celebrate in someone else life”

Where can people connect with you online and pick up a copy of holenes? They can go to areyouwhole.com and take the wholeness teas and purchase the book. They can find me on Social Media @toureroberts

 

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The "What If" Syndrome

What are you afraid of? I want you to really think long and hard about your fears and what is stopping you from becoming the greatest version of yourself. Is it low self-esteem? What about self-doubt? Fear of the unknown, fear of failure or fear of success? Is it something someone said in your childhood that has taken root in your life and now your very existence, your greatness is being choked out by weeds and you have no idea. Or is it the “What If” syndrome. You know, where you make up all the reasons why you shouldn't do something because you are uncertain about what may happen. What if it doesn't work? What if I fail? What if I succeed then what?

For me it has been a combination of all the above but I had to realize that I wasn’t created to just exist. I was created for more. For a purpose. My life would impact the lives of others just because I was born. So many times, we allow our past to define our present and future as if we have no control over the story we are writing called our life. Decide today to change your life map. So, what could you change today and where would you start?

I started with my mindset and my core beliefs. I decided that I mattered and I’m worthy for everything that is in my life and everything to come.  But before I could make that decision, I had to take the time to really discover and uproot negative core beliefs about myself. I had to receive healing for what was broken. I had to realize that everything I was dealing with was due to a lack of faith. That is why I was afraid. I didn’t believe the Father could use me in a mighty way.

There is something very powerful about a made-up mind and knowing, not just believing. For example, let’s take the woman with the issue of blood. She knew that if she could just touch the him of His garment she would be made whole. She didn't care about the ridicule or being embarrassed. Her need was greater than superficial things – she didn't just need to be healed in the physical, she needed healing emotionally and spiritually as well. Just imagine the rejection and isolation she had to endure because of her condition. How many times was she shun away like a stray dog and looked upon with disgust? She needed to know, not just believe, the Father was real and concerned about her. Her healing had to manifest - so she kept pressing.

Now let’s look at the man by the pool of Bethesda. He waited on others to make him whole. He was dependent and didn't believe that he could get the healing he needed. He allowed circumstances to become his excuses for why he couldn't be healed. He had to wait for the Savior to come and challenge his belief before he moved into action. They were both healed, however, one was more proactive while the other was reactive. One took matters into her own hands to go after what she knew she rightfully deserved and was her birthright, while the other sat and waited for the right moment, the right time and someone else to do it for him. Does this sound familiar? Is it resonating with you?

Decide today who you are going to be. Are you going to wait for someone else to give you an opportunity or are you going to create your own? Are you going to allow excuses and fear of the unknown keep you from your birthright or are you going to jump KNOWING He is guiding your footsteps? Psalm 37:23 says “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” Make the commitment to yourself to end the “what if” syndrome and take the first step. Your future self will thank you for it and the many lives you are called to impact.

 

 

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Three Things I Learned From A Sex Worker

There are numerous examples in the bible we could study on how to live our lives. Abraham and Sarah taught us how to have patience while waiting for the promise. Joseph reminded us that the vision from God will surely come to past in the right season at the right divine time. He also taught us that it’s a journey that will have ups and downs. Hannah reminded us about the power of prayer and having hope even when others take joy in your “misery.” And on and on and on and on.

However, today I want to talk about Rahab. Anytime you mention the name Rahab what is the first thing that comes to mind? That’s right – the prostitute. And just like that she was branded for life because of one decision she made. Isn’t life like that sometimes. One bad decision and we are labeled for life as if we can’t change. What about Rahab the entrepreneur, the one who was a risk taker, a change agent, the curse breaker – does she ever get remembered by these titles instead?

Sometimes, the Father will use the least likely person to accomplish his purpose. If Rahab didn’t sneak the spies in she would have died with the city too. But no, because of here bravery and willingness to obey the Father her whole family was spared. Then she married one of the priest and through her lineage was birthed King David’s father.

You never know who the Father is going to use. He never asked us to be perfect or flawless – just willing. We don't have to wait for some magical time or perfect situation to do His purpose for our life. No, we must be willing to obey. Regardless of past mistakes, regardless of what you just did a minute ago. If you have a sincere and willing heart, He can work with that and work something miraculous through you as well that can change a generation.

Trust me - I know change can be hard and scary. What if I can’t stick to it? What if I loose those I love because I changed? At lot of the conversation in our head holds us back from becoming God’s best. But I love what He says in Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

As you embark upon your journey, remember what Rahab taught us

1.) God can use anyone to do the impossible regardless of your background

2.) A changed heart and mind can change the trajectory of your family

3.) You don’t have to be branded for life because of a past mistake. You have other titles the Father calls you by.

So, what do you tell the naysayers that only want to remember you for what you have done and not for who you are becoming? Remind them, they don't want to be remembered or branded for whatever their worst mistake was either. That everyone can change – it’s just a decision that must be made and a commitment implemented.

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The Power of YES!!!!

How many times have I passed over opportunities because of fear? How many times did I say NO because I felt inadequate or not good enough. My lower self-got the best of me and made me believe that I could not be who God called and created me to be.

He said in Jeremiah 1:5-8 (KJV) “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, 'Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.' Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.”

In this passage, the prophet Jeremiah is being given a task. A task that “feels” beyond his capacity, beyond his reach and beyond his mindset. He is afraid and feels inadequate but God reassures and reminds him that the great IAM created him. Look at any other person in the bible or in real life that the Father called for greatness. They all felt some type of way about their calling. There were moments of doubt and fear. There were times they wanted to quit and go into hiding. But one thing about the Father, He calls those not for where they are, but for where they are going. For what He has planted deep down inside, He is cultivating through trials and experiences. And when it is birthed and the promise over your life is fulfilled, it will change generations. Just ask Moses.

You and I are no different than Jeremiah, Moses, or anyone one else called to greatness. We have been designed for a purpose and when the Father created us, He created everything already inside of us to accomplish the task and the purpose our life was designed to fulfill. All we must do is say YES. I know throughout my life there were moments that I said NO to opportunities that were supposed to be YES. I was saying NO to growth, to being stretched, to impacting others’ lives because I was so afraid of the “what ifs.” I couldn't control the outcome so I chose to stay in my comfort zone and stay stagnant. He never asked us to be perfect, He only asked us to be willing. He is a perfect God that can work through any imperfections but He must have a humble spirit to work with.

I don’t think I truly realized the power of saying Yes even when I was afraid and uncertain. Saying Yes allowed the Father to operate and fulfill the promise on my life. I became in alignment with His will and things started to move that helped me progress forward. Not only that, I discovered gifts that I didn’t even know existed.

For example, I remember a time when someone approached me about having a radio show. I was terrified but I said yes and gave myself three months. The show ran for six months. I didn’t know that I could be an on-air radio personality and I didn't know the show would impact lives the way it did, but by saying Yes, I discovered something new about myself.

Or the time I said yes to playing my grandmother in the documentary “Maynard” which is about the life of my uncle, Maynard Jackson. Acting is something I enjoyed doing but never really thought I would get the opportunity to do it. I never felt so alive and here it is airing in NY, LA and at different film festivals selling out. And there I am on the screen and my name in the credits because I said YES.

Or the time I choose not to be afraid anymore and stop talking about hosting my own event and just do it. My first event called “The Oasis” launched last year and I was terrified.  Do you know how hard it is to execute an event that allows women to be raw and honest? To provide a safe space, a sanctuary, to be poured back into both mentally and spiritually to impact their purpose and profits? And then to flow authentically and genuinely the way you are gifted to?  However, once I made the decision to move forward, everything started to fall into place and the people who He called to this purpose revealed themselves. I established a relationship with the owners at Kupcakerie and secure the event space for an amazing price. Because of who the Father attached to the vision there were volunteers to help execute day of needs, amazing food, music, giveaways etc... PR opportunities were secured and I was on Girl Power Hour radio with Jae Nash talking about the event.

Now, this doesn't mean there weren’t any challenges but I was determined to keep fulfilling the commitment of my YES. To be honest, ticket sales were horrible, but I decided to do the event anyway no matter who showed up. But because I said yes to what the Father called me to do, He showed up and lives were impacted forever, including mine. It was so impactful that I decided to do one every quarter and the next one is this Sunday 2/25 at Kupcakerie from 1:30 – 4. And because of my YES, He has already gone above and beyond what I thought or could imagine.

But because of the connection of that event, here came the opportunity to say YES to writing for The Atlanta Voice. Never would I have thought I would be writing for a column. But hey, I never thought I would have a radio show, or act in a documentary or execute such an impactful event. You never know what the Father has in store for you or is going to birth through you just by saying YES!!! So, say Yes today. Say YES despite the unknown, despite the fear and despite your own insecurities. I know I did and I’m so grateful.

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Cultivated for the Journey: Finding my faith

I don't know about you but when I was younger growing up in D.C., I barely went to church nor did I have a relationship with the Father. I knew there was a God but I didn’t know Him personally. It wasn’t until college that I came to know who He truly was and accepted him into my heart.

Before He entered my life I was a different person. I wasn’t whiling out like that but hey, we all have our vices. For me, I had a mouth like a sailor - I mean E-V-E-R-Y O-T-H-E-R W-O-R-D. Popeye ain’t have nothing on me. On occasion, I would go clubbing and have some drinks. Not many because even wine coolers had me laid out on the floor. SMH. And there were just bad habits that did not serve me.

Normally on Sundays, I would sleep in late. I just never understood the importance of “going to church” and not doing what I wanted to do with my time. I remember having “lively” conversations with those that did go to church, trying to understand why they went and what this was all about. God bless my best friends. They were very patient with me. Let me tell you the Father knows what you need and when. If it wasn’t for the women He placed in my life I would not be who I am today. He knew exactly what to do and who to use to bring me closer to Him. That’s one of the many things I love about the Father. He loves us so much that He will do whatever is necessary to get our attention and draw us closer. He is always calling but in most cases we are not paying attention.

Now I can look back over my life and see where the Father was guiding and protecting, unbeknownst to me. Through the challenging moments in life, the darkness and valleys, the tears and the heartbreaks, He was right there loving me.

I can remember it like yesterday, the day I gave my life to God. I was at my friend’s Church cookout and I heard this small voice ask, “Are you ready?” So I answered, “Ready for what?” “To give your life to me,” the voice replied.

Honestly, I was very hesitant because everyone I met my age who gave their life to the Father, all had one thing in common—they broke up with their boyfriends. I wasn’t ready to let my man go because I was so in love with him! Have you ever been in that situation, when you are being asked to give up something you love, for something that is far greater but you just can’t perceive it that way?  

Side note - you have to know our story to understand. I met him when I was 15 on the Marta train at 5 points. You would have thought it was straight out of a movie! The train pulled up and as I looked up there was this beautiful, tall, chocolate man on the other side of the door looking at me or should I say into me. Never in my life had I felt like this. I watched that train pull off and was left speechless, which is very unusual for me. See, I grew up with all boys and had learned a game or two. I was flirtatious and was never scared to approach someone until I met him.

After meeting him, I was at a lost for words. Everyday I would do the same routine in hopes of seeing him again. We did this for a couple of months before we started talking. Then after two weeks, we made it official. Even when I moved to D.C. for college, we were still together.

He was my first love, first real relationship, first long distance relations, first time I was truly treated like a queen, first in everything and I just had a feeling I would have to let him go because at the time, he was not living for God.

Ok, now back to the story. And there I was with a decision to make. So, I stood up and walked over to a tree, knelt and surrendered my life to the Father. What I felt during the process was liberating. I literally felt a weight leave my shoulders. A weight that I didn’t know existed till that moment. Now my journey had begun.

Not too long after my experience with the Father, I was at work alone and I heard Him say clear as day “Let him go. Through you he shall come through.” This was a hard pill to swallow because not only was I in love with this man, I could see children, old age and death with this man. However, I understood I had to let him go because I had made him my God. From the moment I woke up each day until I went to bed, my life revolved around him. So what did I do, I choose the Father and let him go. The hardest decision I ever had to make. But what did the Father do - he restored me, changed his heart and brought us back together again 9 months later and we have been together ever since.

That was over 22 years ago and, since that day, I have grown so much in my relationship with God. First, I had to learn that it was about relationship and not religion. I had to learn how to allow Him into every area of my life, even the dark places, and not just the convenient ones.

I learned there were areas that needed healing and people I needed to forgive. I learned what it meant to depend solely on Him, what It meant to come short of the mark, and what grace is. I learned that I didn’t have to do anything to earn His love because He is love.

I learned that there were times I had lack of faith and there were times when my faith survived the years. I learned how to have a genuine connection with Him. To be vulnerable in His presence.

So, who am I? My name is Janna B. - I am a wife (married to the chocolate man), mother, entrepreneur, sister, aunt, great dancer and friend, mentor, leader, deaconess, coach, encourager, intercessor and a servant, but above all the titles I am a child of the Most High God. I look forward to sharing my journey with you as we grow together in faith in the Father.

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