Taking a Break to Become Unbreakable

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by Yolande Morris

I was mad at God.

And even though I didn’t realize it at first – the frustration and minor annoyances that seemed to be associated with the people in my life who just couldn’t see to “get it right” or “do the right thing” was stemming from bitterness in my own heart toward God.

He really doesn’t care, does he?

That was the lie that my mind kept believing and so I was mad but I didn’t tell him I was mad. So, I did what any good Christian does – I continued to go to church, serve in ministry, and fulfill all of my religious obligations but continue to take out my frustrations on those around me. Nobody really knew the cause – not even me. It was like a dirty secret that I kept from myself.

Yet, through it all, he kept whispering things to me through the Holy Spirit. And his whispers weren’t really suggestions, they were more like commandments.

Rest.

No.

Serve my people.

No.

The good – no actually – the great thing about God is that when he wants you to do something, he tells the people around you too so that it serves as a confirmation of his word.

And in my life, the voice of God usually sounds a lot like my mother’s voice.  

She called me a few months ago to tell me what she usually tells me – “You’re all over the place and you need to rest.” But this time she added in another tidbit – “You need to be serving in the church.”

What? I thought I was supposed to rest and not serve? How could I do both? And why now?

I didn’t realize it at the time what God was doing in my life but I knew that I needed to be obedient. I knew that for once, I couldn’t control this season of my life and I needed to let God handle the outcome rather than letting anxiety take root.

So, I joined two ministry teams. I started taking little breaks from social media and spending more time in Bible study and really listening to what God was saying to me. Then on August 10, I deactivated my Instagram for the first time ever and began to practice the rest that I have so diligently been preaching to others. I allowed myself to rest, listen and lean into God’s word. I spent time caring for my grandmother, practiced being present with family and friends, serve in my local church and attended a leader’s retreat.  

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It was there – at this familiar place in the woods (a.k.a. Lake Champion) – that God spoke to me and I realized that all of the anger and frustration that I had been feeling was rooted in disappointment. I felt like he had disappointed me. He knew the desires of my heart – marriage, family, ministry – and he was holding out. Somewhere deep down, I knew that he didn’t think that I deserved it.

So, there it was – disappointment rooted in shame – was affecting my relationship with my Heavenly Father, and many others around me.

What could I do? Nothing – the debt had already been paid on the cross, I just had to receive his grace daily. I had to learn to focus on him and seek him before anything else. Instead of believing the lies, I had to accept the truth – not only did he care but he was infatuated with me. He saw me – beautiful, graceful, sweet, lovely – in all the ways that I didn’t see myself.  

At first, I thought that God wanted me to rest simply because I was burned out and I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t think that I could afford to accomplish my goals and rest at the same time.

But that isn’t who God is. He doesn’t issue commands to withhold from us but so that we can trust him with the outcome instead of trusting in ourselves. So, by taking a break to rest and spend time with him, he was showing me all the ways that He could be trusted with my heart, my future, and my provision. It’s not my hustle that produces favor and fruit in my life, it is His grace, and His grace alone.

The Bible says that apart from him we can’t bear much fruit.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

So, anything that I am trying to do in my life that is not aligned with his word and his will for my life, will not bear fruit. I don’t want to waste any time on things that won’t last or won’t matter in eternity.

Now don’t get me wrong, social media can and has been a fruitful channel for connection, inspiration, and communication. And, as a full-time communications professional, I can’t do my job without it. But, taking a break from it has helped me to recharge, refocus and reconnect with my family and my purpose. I feel strengthened, renewed, and fit for the season ahead.  I am no longer consumed with anxiety – that has been replaced with unconditional trust in my God. I am becoming - day-by-day - unbreakable.

It’s fitting that today is the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (יוֹם תְּרוּעָה), which literally means a "day of shouting or blasting." So, on this day, I am shouting and blasting this from the Music Monday playlist:

(Thanks, Kendolyn)

And, I’m inviting you to become unbreakable with me. Join me at the 2019 Fresh Oil Conference, where I will be moderating a panel called: “How to Live Unbreakable Mentally, Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually.” The panel will feature special guests: Sade Solomon, Abby Crews, Dr. Jackie Greene, Gillian Garcia, and Sharo Ramkhelewan.

Women Making History: Ogo Ekweozor - Holley

Ogo

by Megan Montgomery

Ogo Ekweozor-Holley is the epitome of a serial entrepreneur.  After obtaining her law degree at 20, Ogo has since founded six companies with a seventh on the way.  Her companies have spanned multiple industries, including fashion, real estate, and an agency generating funds for non-profits.  She is the founder of her eponymous fashion line OGO New York, which has an online and physical storefront in Brooklyn; and Style Chest which offers personal styling boxes direct to your door.  

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Ogo has a strong passion for giving back as well and founded the True Beauty Foundation which offers events designed to inspire and empower women. She created the True Beauty Conference in 2012 to provide an affordable, educational, and inspiring event for professional women and entrepreneurs. Her achievements are frequently recognized with awards including the YWCA’s Woman of Distinction and Economic Development award, Brooklyn Reporter’s Power Woman in Business, and Third Avenue Association’s Business Pioneer Award.  And, if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she is also married with three very active children under the age of four.  

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When I met Ogo, the first question that came to my mind is “how do you do it all?”  And, yes, Ogo is a firm believer that you really can do it all.  She believes that it is possible to have a happy marriage, fulfilling career, solid friendships, and still have quality time with your kids. 

“It’s not about work-life balance, it’s about harmony and finding a way for all of the things that are most important to you to sync together,” says Ogo. “If you are involved in a lot, you need to be really intentional about staying present with what you are engaging in at the time, whether it be with the kids, husband, friends or a work meeting.”  To help her do that, Ogo will frequently turn off her phone or put it in another room so she can really focus on the person or task in front of her.  She also finds that she prioritizes better when she starts her day with quiet time with God. 

“One of the keys to success as an entrepreneur is having a clear vision that’s bigger than you,” says Ogo. “You have to know your why.  Most businesses don’t make a lot of money in the beginning and it can cost a little more time and money to start than you would think, so without having a clear vision and purpose, you can easily get discouraged and give up.” 

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As a Christian woman who owns a business, Ogo looks for ways to live out her faith in everything she does. She does this by treating all employees and customers in ways that honors and values them, being ready to be a listening ear, and praying for people when they are going through something. She also leverages her businesses to give back to various charities including ones involved in stopping human trafficking and supporting education in underprivileged areas. Ogo is in the process of expanding her True Beauty Foundation to provide resources to teenage girls through afterschool programs focused on leadership development, business management, and entrepreneurship. 

“Giving back is the right thing to do,” Ogo says. “I believe that having a strong corporate donation culture also helps employees and customers to have a deeper connection to the company which boosts overall retention and employee productivity. Personally, giving back also adds to my big WHY when times get tough and helps me persevere for the sake of all the lives I’m touching.” 

Learn more about Ogo and register for the sixth annual True Beauty Women’s celebrationon Thursday, April 25, 2019. 

Lil Mama Helps Empower High School Students In Brooklyn

Photo: Antwon Maxwell

Photo: Antwon Maxwell

by Julissa Soriano

“We are from Brooklyn, we come from the same place. If I realized my dreams, you can do it, too,” said Niatia Kirkland, better known as Lil Mama, in a one-hour surprise visit to Progress High School for Professional Careers in Brooklyn, NY.

In an effort to inspire and encourage students, Lil Mama shared her success story and urged young men and women to finish their education. Born in Harlem and raised in Brooklyn, Lil Mama felt a personal connection to the more than 40 students,  primarily Latino and African-American, gathered to hear her message.

“Please be aware of the naysayers and non-believers. They will hold you back.”

Best known for her roles in TV movies such as CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, with Keke Palmer and Drew Sidora and When Love Kills, with Lance Gross and Tami Roman, Lil Mama’s first break was in 2007 with her hit single Lip Gloss. She then went on to star on America’s Best Dance Crew, alongside fellow judge JC Chasez and host Mario Lopez for seven seasons. 

Lil Mama offered the following advice to students from her career as a singer, rapper, songwriter, actress, and dancer:

"Often times, the closest people to us discouraged us from pursuing what might seem abstract or unrealistic career interests. Please be aware of the naysayers and non-believers. They will hold you back."

“Take a look at the big picture, be sure to obtain the skills required to set you up for success in the working world. By that, I mean, get an education!”
 

Lil Mama’s visit was more than just charity work or good publicity; it was an example of one way she is using her celebrity status to help empower young men and women.  By sharing her story, we hope to inspire to do the same and providing them with a success story from someone real and relatable. So let’s help build and encourage future champions because you just might be the first person in their lives who has ever told them they can do it!

Photo: Antwon Maxwell

Photo: Antwon Maxwell

Julissa Soriano earned a B.A in Journalism and has a passion for arts, fashion, beauty, travel, humanitarian work, women empowerment, and animal rights. She is currently a Blogger and Associate Editor for Wit + Grace Magazine.