No Shame

Hello old friends, new followers, and fellow bloggers- 

Happy Friday!  Have you ever been so full of clarity that you’ve sat and thought about life?  Maybe it’s just me:  but after I have a moment with God, sometimes I just sit in my room in silence and ponder what I just experienced.  Last night was one of those nights. I was recovering from experiencing a sermon by the GOAT Dr. Matthew Stevenson III, and I just happened to be wired at 1:45 in the morning.  I was up UP.  Anyways, I sat and heard this song by TenthAvenueNorth called “No Shame.”  and my life was changed forever.  I found the theme song for my season/life.  There is a freedom that comes with living and expressing truth, free of shame.

During my time in Greenville, each day God has been pulling back layers of fear- asking me to confront my heart issues and removing all kinds of weight including the weight of shame.  When you’re in this place of vulnerability, it’s easy to think man, what will “so and so think” but that doesn’t matter. God has taught me that the fearless live in truth and where there is the truth, there is no need to be ashamed.  I’ve lived bound under the realm of shame for so long, not sharing my truth- not addressing things with others, belittling my call or purpose, but now that shame has been dissipated with perfect love I’m good.  I turned the song all the way up and began to sing to the top of my lungs.  Before you knew it I was dancing in my kitchen celebrating freedom.

Where there is grace, there is no shame and where there is love, there is no fear.

Y’all, I have no idea what this life of no shame will bring but I’m excited.  I feel free, like in the depths of my soul.  I feel like I can conquer the world.  I feel strong and full of life in the inner chambers of my heart.  I feel brave.  It takes bravery to move into the unknown out of fear into love, out of being guarded to being open, out of holding things into being extremely honest.  I am okay with where I am and that is freedom all in itself.  I’ve embraced the truth about me and I am unashamed.  I’ve embraced my triumphs and my failures, every ounce of my brokenness and the places where I am whole, all of my strengths and all of my weaknesses.  I’m okay with every ounce of me and I am enough because I am in Him.  I’m literally smiling as I type this article, overjoyed at the process He is doing in my heart.

I am happy with my process.  I rejoice at my journey.  I’m content with my story.

Family, this is what a life of no shame looks like: it’s singing and dancing at 2 o’clock in the morning with no fear, with no shame.  It’s trusting for provision when it seems like all hope is lost.  It’s being unfazed with bad news because you know in your soul that He’s working all things for good.  It’s loving others beyond their capacity to love you.  It’s forgiving even when you don’t want to.  It’s having hard conversations, dealing with the hard relational issues, and making hard decisions for your next.  It’s going beyond opinions of others, beyond even your opinion of yourself, feeling fear but doing it anyway.  It’s riding the tallest rollercoaster, swimming in the deepest oceans, and taking road trips on faith. It’s relocating because God said to, and finding that you have a home waiting for you.  It’s being light, weight free and full because those that place their trust in Him will never be put to shame.  Trust not only eradicates fear but for me it eradicated shame. 

I’m living with no shame! 

Xoxo,

Simone

P.S. Check out TenthAvenueNorth’s song “No Shame”.  It’s available on all streaming platforms!

FIC: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c7/a6/3c/c7a63c0f9aa1e312f6b51a8ac19d15fb.jpg

Grace, Poise and Confidence

Hello old friends, new followers and fellow bloggers- 

Happy Friday!  I don’t have class today and I smile on the inside knowing that there is a God and He loves me dearly.  This week has been such a busy week and I cannot wait to get a free moment to sleep!

DISCLAIMER: I’m talking to the Ladies today!  Guys, you all are awesome but I’m speaking to my sisters, aunts, nieces, friends, and mentees about something missing from our world.  

Anyways…. I wanted to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart.  I am a big proponent of equality and ridding isms in our world, but I am also super concerned with this push to be a bad “B” rather than to be a lady filled with grace, class and poise.  We as women are powerful!  We are extremely powerful when we are filled with class, poise,grace, gentleness and strength.  I think because of the injustices, we have been taught that we have to assert our authority and become aggressive to be recognized which could be nothing further from the truth.  I love to see young women who carry themselves with class, not arrogance but a steady confidence in who they are and their ability.

My mom taught me to carry myself as a lady, she used to always tell me that when I entered into a room- my positive attitude and confident presence would speak for itself.  I did not have to show off my body for attention, I did not have to be the loudest person in the room, I did not have to esteem my own accomplishments and brag about my  abilities.  If I did a great job, those I impacted would speak my praises for themselves.  I used to think that she was just being super old fashioned and I spent time doing the complete opposite.  I came across as one who lacked self-worth, one who was super insecure and one who did not know the finesse of being the woman God created me to be.  This guy I was talking to said he wanted a girl that was just like a guy but with a different sex organ…ummm… I could never be that for him: because even though I was cool in conversation and extremely easy-going I was not a guy and I had no desire to become one.  There is something so amazing about living a life of class, respect and honor as a young woman.  This is not something that should be shunned or looked at as of days of old but something that should be adopted and revisited as a society.

Based upon experience, I’ve enjoyed my interactions with the guys around me by being who I am: a classy, gracious young woman.  It’s like my behavior, pulls out the gentlemen that are inside of them.  I experience more chivalry, more intimate conversations about life, and a supreme level of trust that came from an air of gentleness and security.  Our strength does not come from our aggression but rather from our gentleness.  I think God designed women the way he did to pull out the best in the men/world around them.  He made us powerful vehicles of life and he created within us this art of  cultivation and  beautification.  We make the world beautiful and we make the lives of our significant others beautiful with our words, mannerism and infectious attitudes.  It’s time that we uplift and build the rights of women around the world- by teaching each other that we are worth more than what we have been labeled.  We are not the property of men or society but we belong to a God who created us in grace to exude grace.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama is goals where it concerns grace, class and poise!

Until next time,

Simone

FIC: http://www.niamagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/First-Lady-Michelle-Obama-Opens-Up-to-Vogue_Nia-Magazine.jpg

Sin Paranoia

Hello old friends, new followers and fellow bloggers – 

Have you ever noticed that sin causes us to be paranoid?  Paranoid that people are going to find out that we failed, that we engaged in something we probably should not have engaged in.  There is a level of a paranoia that comes when we engage in sin/sinful behavior. I do not pretend to have everything together, neither do I pretend to have arrived in my Christian walk- there are all kinds of things I have walked through and have engaged in.  I am so ashamed when I look back on the details of my past but that is why we call it a past, meaning that it has no relevance to where we are right now. I think this is where we get stuck, we get stuck dealing with the details of the old; we allow our past to define us when we are no longer in that place.  Anyways.. when we are doing wrong, I sense a level of paranoia.  That is when I just begin to air all of my dirty laundry and do some confession.  I confess before God and man because confession is so good for the soul and it sets us free.

We can not run from who we are for too long.  After awhile, we are going to have to face who we are and what we are choosing to bring into our lives.  I face things all the time, lately it has been temptations of sinful behavior, pressure to be successful and dealing with individuals I really do not care for.  On top of that warfare, I  am in a new environment living in a new city so the stress and anxiety wrapped in that one fact has tried to consume me heavily.  My archenemy depression has paid me a visit and so this week has been one for the books.  I lost a piece of myself in the shuffle and returned to behaviors I swore I would never go back to out of fear.  I am human and I mess up and I fall but the great thing about Jesus is that He has given me grace.  Grace that goes beyond my own performance and my own intentions – His grace picks me up when I fall and tells me that Simone, I want you- all of you, just the way you are in all of your “jacked-up”ness (not a real word).  I love that God loves me completely, knowing that I would mess up- knowing that I would disappoint Him, that I would not meet his standards sometimes- yet, He still loves me.   That is the beauty of grace! Should grace be taken for granted, absolutely not!  It should be recognized for what it is, a second opportunity for repentance.

So let me encourage someone this evening,  I know you made mistakes – we all have.  Trust me, even that one you deem to be the best saint has made some type of mistake, but take heart- God give forgiveness and compassion to those who confess and make it right with him. The  beauty of this forgiveness is that your sins are thrown into the sea of forgetfulness and you do not have to be bound to them anymore.  You need to forgive yourself.  Trust me, I know it is hard.  Sometimes, I look over my life and all of the mistakes I have made and I know that I have been forgiven but I still hold my mistakes against myself.  I do.  I say, “okay Simone you failed before so work really hard so that you do not fail again.” This is totally opposite of the gospel, which says I need Jesus to walk upright.  I cannot walk upright in myself because this flesh is awful and wants nothing to do with God, I have to rely on God in order to become a better person.  He makes me better.  That is the problem, we have been taught for so long that we have to get ourselves together, but the truth is we do not have the power or strength to perfect ourselves and that is why we need God- He perfects us!  Forgive yourself and move forward.

I go to Forward City Church and our call is, “The past is gone.  The future  awaits. Move forward. ” And I repeat this mantra over you all, “The past is gone.  The future awaits. Move  forward.” Let it go and live.  God is ready, willing and longing to love with forgiveness drenched in mercy and grace.  He already released your mistakes/past, now will you?

Until next time,

Simone

FIC: http://www.masternewmedia.org/images/little-sisters-sharing-secret-by-Viewimages-dot-com-72482743-415.jpg

 

 

Condemnation Eliminator

Hello old friends, new followers and fellow bloggers – 

Today is has been a great day, made some mistakes that I’m not too proud of but overall today was great.  Even though today was great as mentioned prior, I found myself consumed with the awful things I had done.  Isn’t it just like the Enemy to keep the past over our heads when forgiveness was already given and received.  Condemnation and shame clouded my thinking and I begin to think of how much I failed in a short period of time.  This is usually the beginning of the downward spiral that results from what I believe are BIG mistakes.   I began to pray as I tugged with these feelings and afterward the Holy Spirit spoke to me in such a sweetness…“Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who walk after the spirit and not after the flesh…(Romans 8:1)” I knew the passage of scripture and hope immediately filled my heart.

Condemnation.  The expression of very strong disapproval; censure.  This is feeling that surrounds us after we do something that is very wrong.   It is as if we can feel the shaking of God’s head, disapproving our very essence.  Some of us have convinced ourselves that God believes He made a mistake in the creation of us, because we mess up- time and time again.   Some of us have convinced ourselves that God wants nothing to do with us after what we’ve done.  Some of us have convinced ourselves that God no longer hears us, we’ve sinned way too many times and our privilege of conversation has been revoked based upon our behavior.  We have have convinced ourselves of things that are NOT true.   All of the statements above are lies that we believe, lies that we have fell for over time.

What if I told you that God was not surprised by your mistakes? Neither was He alarmed when you “failed” in your own definition of the word? What if I told you that  God was willing to not only talk to you but to forgive you and help you get back on track? What if I told  you that God chooses to forget about your mistakes and the only one keeping you hostage to them were you?

When we repent and choose to do what is right, God cleans our slate and create a new chance for us – this my friends is grace.  Grace is our opportunity to get it right this time and it is because of grace that we can live our lives free from shame, guilt and condemnation.  Our mistakes become the avenue to our restoration – creating a platform of God’s love & forgiveness with others.  Without our mistakes, we would not have the experience to share the hope of forgiveness with others.  Sometimes we treat God like we do others, we expect him to have limits to drop us when we do awful things- but God is not like man.  He does not drop us because we mess up from time to time, instead He draws us closer so that His love can change us and  make us into the great women and men He desires for us to be.  Your mistakes are your messages of hope and restoration to others. Share graciously!

Until next time,

Simone

FIC:http://66.media.tumblr.com/3e357d63254984645e76d2fdbc3f1c28/tumblr_ns4bhvtsuq1tjj2sjo1_1280.jpg

 

Shutting My Life Down

Hello old friends, new followers and fellow bloggers- 

Today is the last day that I will be speaking with you all for a little while.  I am studying for the LSAT and therefore, I decided to shut my life down and focus all of my energy into prepping for the LSAT.  Sounds extreme, right? If you want extreme results, you got to do extreme things.  I think that God is giving me a second chance and that means I need to do everything in my power to make sure that I don’t waste this chance being given to me.  You know gang, I didn’t get into the law schools I wanted to go to- and the rejection letters, caused me to wake up!  To wake up to what was around me.  Pain has this amazing quality to make us more aware of what we are missing, what we want and what we are willing to do to go after it.  I thought about giving up on my dream, trust me I did- but if I give up before I even walk in my divine destiny, I wasn’t worthy of having it in the first place.  So now I’m back at square one….aiming to change my life through the help of God and His grace.

When you are given a lot of “no”s,you make it your objective to work for your “yes”.  I am working for my “yes” and if that means I swap out my social media time (which is a lot) for study time and going the extra mile in preparation- at the end of the day, it’s all going to be worth it!  When I’m in law school, prepping for the bar exam; I’m going to look back on these days of hardships and say that every “no” was worth it, because it taught me discipline, ambition and drive.  These past few hard months matured me and it taught me that if I am not passionate about my dream, no one is going to be passionate about it.

Keep me in your prayers, October 3rd is the test date.  In fact, mark that day on ya’lls calendars and pray with me on that day, that I would be confident and collected.  Pray that God will bring back to my remembrance all that I studied and learned.  Pray that God will be with me in that testing session, giving me peace as I prepare to take the legal world by storm.  Please pray and be encouraged by my story not to give up on your dreams, but rather to work extra hard for them in the face of adversity.

Shut your life down to get what you want.

Until next time,

Mo 🙂

Featured Image Credit: http://chelseacappello.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/believe.jpg

P.S. I will miss you guys very much and if you want to send me any encouraging notes during this process, comment below or email me at authenticlove789@gmail.com ❤ ❤ ❤

You’ve Proven Yourself

I sit in this chair and gratitude fill my heart

as I start

to remember all that you’ve done for me.

With your loving kindness, I’ve been set free

from the darkness of this world.

I am your girl

your friend

until the very end

I belong to you

and there is nothing that anyone can do

to erase this love .

Sitting high above

all the mess

all the stress

Lord, You have proven yourself.

©Simone Holloway, 2015

Featured Image Credit : https://deshannonspeaks.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/mercy-grace.jpegpo

What If?

“he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.” 

Hello Authentic Lovers

Psalm 103 has always been one of my favorite Psalms.  “Bless the Lord O my soul..”, David’s command to bless God because of His everlasting mercy and kindness, compels my heart to worship every single time.  I was thinking this morning about verse 10 (quoted above in the NIV translation), what if God’s treatment of us was dependant upon our level of sin?  Like what if he was like you messed up and therefore your life is going to be awful…

 What if there was no mercy or forgiveness?  Where we would be?  What would our lives look like?

I thought about these questions as I pondered my own extension of mercy to others.  I know (honesty time) I am quick to treat others based on the way that they have wronged me, but I am always asking for forgiveness and mercy when I wrong others…sounds kind of weird, right? Yep!  My mom always says “The same measure of mercy that you give others will be given to you…” I didn’t truly understand what she was saying until I found myself needing mercy extended towards me.  You see…I’m not perfect and I have done things that I am not proud of, but God has always forgiven me-He always gave me mercy.  So.. shouldn’t I extend that same mercy to others? Shouldn’t I give others a second chance, the same way God has given me a second chance. 

The Word of God has a way of checking our hearts and causing us to question the way that we live.  So today, I question my tendency to write people off and I make an effort to give mercy.  Sometimes mercy will not be received, sometimes it’ll be taken advantage of but all-in-all it will be given– as it has been given to me.

Whatever measure of mercy that you give out will be given back unto you, so give freely.  I hope you all are having a great day and I pray that today you will be filled with gratitude at the mercy of God. Let’s talk soon!

Until next time,

Mo 🙂

Featured Image Credit: http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Mercy-of-God6.jpg

Grace Overload

Hello Authentic Lovers!

Something heavy has been on my heart since I woke up this morning.  God has been dealing with me about the condition of the church, the body of Christ.  I thought I would share my thoughts with you and hopefully you’ll hear me out.  To tell you the truth, I am slightly displeased with the condition of the church. My spirit is saddened by what I am seeing and I hope things get better soon.  One of the things I am really disheartened by is this belief that because one is a Christian, he/she does not need a sense of discipline.  It’s like as soon as I say yes to Jesus, I am free to be wild and unruly- operating opposite of what is taught in the Word of God.  This belief is so upsetting  because to me (if I looked at it from a non-believer’s perspective) it makes God look so dumb, like He is really stupid- which is not the case.  I listen to the things I hear some Christian leaders say and I am like “Why?”.  We say things sometimes that make our all-powerful God look very small and helpless.  Lately, it’s been – because I have grace:  I don’t have to work in my relationship with God.  It just happens and He does all the work for me.  What?  Why wouldn’t someone have to put effort in a relationship?  Because of Grace? Well…I disagree with this statement and here’s why:

Grace is God’s unmerited favor, freely given to us by Jesus Christ.  What is favor? it is an attitude of approval or liking…an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual.  So basically grace is God liking an individual and performing an act of kindness towards them for free.  That is what grace is.  So the fact that Jesus died for humanity and therefore offers salvation free of charge so that we can be in relationship with the Father is grace.  This is why we are saved by grace, because our salvation costed us nothing.  So grace gave us the opportunity to have a relationship with God, not the tools to maintain that relationship.  When I hear, “I can live any kind of way and do things that is not pleasing to God because I have grace,” that irks me because it shows me the ignorance that lies in Christendom today.  Paul says in Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” He’s basically saying that just because I have grace doesn’t mean I live a lifestyle of sin.  Grace was created to make us free not keep us bound in sin.  So when someone use grace as their excuse for living a life that is not pleasing to God, it makes my spirit cringe.

Secondly, I don’t understand why as Christians we do not believe that we have to  live a lifestyle of discipline.  Yes, discipline.  No we are not under the law, but we should live a lifestyle that helps us to maintain our spot in this race of Salvation. We are running a race to receive a crown of life, basically we want to see Jesus one day so we are on a path to do so: a race.  I studied all of the other major world religions: Buddhism, Hinduism , Islam, and Judaism.  Do you know the one thing all of these religions apart from Christianity all have in common? They all have an element of discipline.  Whether its meditation/chanting, prayer 5 times a day, reading of their sacred text or even their food/dietary needs- these religions have a sense of discipline.  Am I saying that these religions got everything right? No. not at all but I do think that they got this element right in their lifestyle, and that is why I have a sense of admiration for them.  If we are in a race, wouldn’t we condition for the race?  Say I am running a marathon in Central Park, NYC.  It’s my first marathon.  Would I wake up the day of the marathon and just run? Would I win? Or would I get up months in advance and condition my body for the race? Would I change my dietary habits for the race?  Would I be disciplined? A majority of you guys would say, “duh Simone- of course you would condition.” “Of course, you would eat right and train hard,duh”  These responses would be common sense. So why do we make God sound so stupid when we eliminate this element from our lives by disguising it under grace?  When we don’t live a disciplined life, we tell the world that the Holy Spirit inside of us has no sense of self-control, even though He is the author of it.  Again, it sounds stupid-doesn’t it?.  God is self-control and therefore self-control/discipline should be evident in our lives.   If we are going to win this race so that we can receive our crown of life, we have to discipline our walk with God.  We need to spend time in prayer and in the Word of God, that’s our fuel for the race. We have to love others and serve our community, that’s our exercise regime.  We have to live being filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we can have energy and stamina.  We need to be disciplined in a lifestyle of prayer and fasting.  We have to live this way in order to win the grand prize.  The grace of God allowed everyone to freely enter the race, but we have to do our part to stay in the race.

Think about it, what if you was in a relationship with someone who put no effort into you?  They didn’t put any effort into spending time with you?  They didn’t put any effort into hearing/learning your words? They didn’t put any effort in the activities they did with you?  You put all your effort and love into them and they put none into you.  Many, myself included, would say that this relationship is unhealthy and therefore should be terminated, but this is how some of our relationships with God look.  He has placed all of himself into a relationship with us and yet we only put ourselves halfway into a relationship with Him, it’s unhealthy and it’s not fair.  Relationships take effort and it’s this effort that brings about beauty.

Grace is good but when used the wrong way it becomes a crutch for staying in sin when Christ has come so that we be free from sin.  True freedom stems from self-control.

Until next time,

Mo 🙂

Featured Image Credit: http://ostrakinos.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/crutch-walker.jpg?w=604

Your Life Means Something

Dear Reader (Yes, you!),

I know that sometimes it seems that what you do means nothing.  I know that sometimes it seems that you are invisible, like no one can see.  Like no one can see that you are hurting, that life is not what it “cracks up” to be.  I know that it seems like no one can see that you’re empty, that you’re running on fumes- that you lack motivation and drive.  I know that it seems like no one can see that you’re broken, that your heart is shattered into a million pieces.  Like no one can see that you’re lonely, rejected and you feel unloved.  I  know that sometimes it seems like no one can hear the negative words that people say to you, or even the words that you mutter to yourself.  Like no one can hear your feet slipping, like you’re bound to fall to your doom.  I know that it seems like no one can relate to what you’re going through.  Like no one knows what it’s like to be in your shoes.

I know, I know….

I am writing to you today to let you know that someone sees, hears and knows. God sees, hears and knows.  God sees you.  He sees you when you wake up, wishing that you hadn’t.  He sees you as you go to work and feel like a failure.  He sees how people treat you and He sees as your heart breaks to the sadness you experience.  He sees you as you look in the mirror and hate what you see…you hate what He made: you.  He looks at you in all of His beauty and He smiles at the work of His hands.  He looks down at you and He smiles because He loves you more than anything else- He loves you.  He knows that sometimes it’s hard to be alive, so He comes with His hands outstretched full of peace and grace for the day.  He extends His love to you.  When you think you’re going to fall, He’s there waiting to catch you.  When you think you’re invisible and that no one cares, He’s there looking and watching out for you.  When you think that life has dealt you an awful hand in life, He watches and He rigs the dice in your favor.  He wants the best for you, He desires to love you.  He desires you!

Your life means something to Him..it’s more valuable than rubies and diamonds.  More precious than silver and gold.  Your life means everything to Him, you mean the world to Him- He loves you!  He sees every tear that you cry, every sleepless night,and He is touched by the condition of your heart.  He is touched by your circumstances and your situations.  He is touched by you and He seeks to make things better- He wants to love you.  You are necessary, valuable and an asset to society.  You are His prize, most precious possession- but will you let Him love you?  Will you allow Him to wrap you in His arms and make everything alright?  Will you let Him in?  He loves you where you are and want to bring you to where you need to be. He wants to love you deeper than you’ve ever been loved before, but you gotta let Him in.  You have to allow Him to love you deeply.

You mean the world to the Creator of it.

Until next time,

Mo 🙂

Featured Image : http://scontent-a.cdninstagram.com/hphotos-xaf1/t51.2885-15/10413084_763911736980444_707047560_a.jpg