I won the Lotto. 


A few weeks ago, people all across the country were scrambling to buy lottery tickets. The jackpot was the largest it has ever been in the history of the Lotto–over 1 billion dollars. People jokingly talked about what they would do with the money if they were to ever win; imagining how great their lives would be with unlimited resources.

“What do you have to lose by spending $5–it only takes one ticket to win?”

To be honest, it is not much of a gamble when the stakes are so low.

If you lose, you don’t lose a lot. Right?

But what if I were to tell you that based on the statistics–it was more probable for you to lose, than to win.  Some people say that “it is worth the gamble” because the risk is minimal.

But what if you always gambled knowing that you had a losing ticket?
That would be stupid.

But people do it all the time with their lives. 

It’s the same thing when people get into relationships. Perhaps a person has a history of behaviors or a pattern of decisions; yet we ignore all the red flags because we enter the commitment  thinking it is going to be different this time, somehow.  Yet their character and predictable behavior is kind of like playing the lottery with the same losing numbers every time.

I am not really the kind of person that takes gambles on many things, but I have gambled with life decisions in the past.

I don’t really play the lottery. And whether you do or not, is your prerogative.

But if you take anything away from this read—it should be this:

Stop gambling with your life. 

The Bible says that “…for whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

In other words, according to the scriptures, there is a payoff when we are willing to “lose our life” (metaphorically speaking).

I think it is testament to the need to change the way we approach life. We must make calculated decisions and own them. We should be encouraged to think through choices and not let emotion dictate our options.

Sometimes we can get disillusioned about life decisions (just like the thought of winning the lottery), with thoughts of grandeur. But the reality is—if you have losing numbers—you’re going to lose.

The only consolation that I have in knowing that I have taken life risks is that I did not commit to continuing to lose.

Those risks, while they have hurt me— have also helped me become who I am today.

I realize now that I did not gamble  then because I KNEW that I was playing with losing numbers. But now, those losing numbers have been crumbled up and thrown in the trash.

Come to find that all along, “I won the lotto.”

Maybe not in the way you think.  My winning lottery numbers are:

Family. Love. Loyalty. Respect. Peace. Forgiveness. Faith.

All the things that can’t be purchased.

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“Cut off toxic people…”


Have you ever been addicted to something?  I have. 

I’ve been addicted to the gym, shopping, shoes, sports, working, money and even, See’s candy.  LOL

But according to MentalHelp.net, an addiction is classified as negative when it is “a repeated involvement with a substance or activity…despite a substantial harm…” 

In other words, an addiction in the most negative form is a repeated behavior that negatively impacts themselves and everyone around them.
All humor aside, if you have ever known someone addicted to something, there is a great deal of denial and lack of recognition simply because an addict can learn to function  despite the adverse affects it causes—and negativity becomes normal. And when a person learns to live with an addiction, one of the hardest things for an addict to do, is come to the realization that they are an “addict.”

While studying in college, one of my assignments was to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. If you have ever attended an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, the participants will say, hi my name is (insert name), and I am an alcoholic.“
This is an example of an affirmation statement that is said during these types of meetings with the intent to take power and control of one’s addiction. 
An addict learns that the pursuit to understand their addiction begins with  acknowledgment and the acceptance of who they are. 

But we live in an age when people often disconnect themselves from their problem instead of considering that maybe THEY are the problem. 

People say “I don’t need drama” or  “I’m going to avoid negativity, flee bad relationships, and get rid of toxic people and situations.“ 

The problem with these kinds of statements—is no where in these statements is an acknowledgment to their contribution to the problem. There is a removal of ownership and avoidance of responsibility by externalizing the causality. There is never an acceptance of a need to change one’s self, but rather a pursuit to change their surroundings. . 

Imagine if you have a weed in your garden; no matter how many flower gardens you transplant the weed—It still remains a weed and not a flower. 
Let me put into a different context.  Maybe you have experienced some turmoil in the workplace. You decide to leave that job, and go to another job where surprisingly you’re experiencing the same problems. Then you leave that job, to find other employment, only to find that you have the same problems. So, despite having changed your environment, nothing is changing, because perhaps YOU are the problem.

The Bible says “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” (Matthew 5:30). In other words, there is an acknowledgement—and then an action to CUT OFF or remove whatever causes the problem even if it’s CONNECTED TO YOU. 

I have made many mistakes in my life. 

And I will never blame anyone for my choices. I’ve just learned to CUT OFF  the things in my life that have an adverse affect on me—even if it’s my own hand. 

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Memories


I recently celebrated a birthday and my sister jokingly posted a bunch of baby pictures of me on Facebook. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get looking at old baby photos. The funny thing is I was recently scrolling through the photo album on my phone with the intent to erase old pictures and delete unnecessary ones—and I got the same feeling. 

Sometimes I do that on purpose because I WANT to ERASE certain things specifically. 

And I’m not talking about erasing those blurry photos or the pictures of you with your eyes half closed (LOL). I’m talking about erasing the pictures that possess a memory of who you were with or where you were at; or deleting the pictures that in one snapshot could remind you about what you were doing and how you felt. 

I’m talking about erasing memories not pictures. (Insert asterisk here *) Memories are good for the most part—they should serve a purpose. Like family photos. They remind you how fast life moves. 

But erasing memories is intentional. 
Allow me to put it into a different context. The Bible says that “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing;” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

In other words, when we choose to serve God—it requires an act of relinquishment. Relinquish means “to voluntarily give up.”

When we “give up” certain things—there is always an assurance by God to replace those things for which were sacrificed for the greater good. God knows our heart—and he knows that while we can’t completely wipe away the pain from our past (like abuse, horrible relationships, or childhood trauma), God promises to replenish, renew, and replace those things with “a new thing.”

Recently social media sites like Facebook and Snapchat, have started sending reminders in the form of a “memory” of a post you created or a picture you took in the past. 

Sometimes It brings a smile and other times, it brings relief knowing that I am not the same person I was.

One thing is for sure…
The only time I ever want to look back—is to remember where I’ve come from—so I know, where I’m going. 

Be blessed. Stay woke. 
Peace. 

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The best Tijuana Style Tacos


I promise you that I can find life analogies in everything. LOL I recently went to dinner at a local eatery and enjoyed the absolute best Tijuana Style Taocs! Fresh hand made corn tortillas, savory meat,  delicious guacamole, washed down by an ice cold Mexican Coke in a glass bottle. Soooo good. And because of the great experience, I come back all the time.

But imagine if the experience was negative. Have you ever returned to a restaurant when the food was horrible? Not me. For me, it only really takes one bad experience in a restaurant to lose my patronage

Then I thought, why do we treat life circumstances differently?

Perhaps you have been in a horrible relationship too long or have just continued to make really bad decisions—and find yourself stuck in a cycle of despair. Maybe you KNOW that a certain something is bad for you, yet—again and again, you return to make the same mistake.

The Bible says “as a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness” (Proverbs 26:11). Yikes!

That’s pretty harsh to compare the foolishness of a person who repeats their mistakes to a dog returning to its own vomit.  But I believe that it is the intent of the Scripture to be extreme. Sometimes, the word must be like a virtual punch to our gut. (Boom!)

In contrast, the Bible also presents an option for the believer to be renewed…and an avenue for change given. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here”(2 Corinthians 5:17). 

In other words, when we find ourselves in a place where change is needed—the Word offers us refuge in Christ. 

But let’s be honest. How often do you hear people say,

“I want change..” or  “I’m going to be different..” or  “I won’t make the same mistake again…” 

And there they go—back to the same patterns of behavior…Again and again and again and again…

I admit. I am guilty of that

Boy am I guilty. 

One of the toughest lessons I have faced in my life, is making the mistake of repeatedly returning to something that was knowingly bad—because the truth was, I did not want to change. But at some point you must realize that…

IF NOTHING CHANGES,

THEN NOTHING CHANGES. 

There is no way around it. 

I often say that if we do the same ‘ole things—we will get the same ‘ole results. 

In fact, I write these blogs not for an audience, but for me. They are a reflection of self discovery that apply to my life—and may have no impact on you whatsoever. 

I believe everyone is on their own journey of self-discovery and meaning. But my hope is, that you can relate to what I share and begin to see life lessons everywhere. 

Because God is always speaking to us, even through tacos. LOL

Be blessed. 

 

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I want the Dodgers to win so bad!


If you are a fan of baseball, then you know that the Los Angeles Dodgers are playing the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. If you love baseball like I do, then you would agree that it is exciting to see these two teams battling it out on the biggest stage in baseball for the coveted championship title—to win the right to be called the best team in baseball. After it is all said and done, only one team will come out as the ultimate winner—and one team the loser. I want the Dodgers to win soooo bad! In fact, it has been 30 years since the Dodgers have won the World Series title. 

But, as I sit here and enjoy the game, I am compelled to think about how much emphasis in life we put on “winning.” Not just within the context of a sports game, but in everything we do; whether it is school, work, or play—we as a society have become obsessed with the idea of winning. I suppose, it is just the nature of the age in which we live—being self-absorbed with ourselves and our egos. 
And there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best. 
In fact, there is nothing wrong with wanting to win BUT

It is possible to be overemphatic with winning to the point that we actually lose.

In fact, losing helps us to identify areas of growth. To lose, helps us distinguish the areas that we can improve.  Ultimately, when we fail with disappointment, we often miss the objective. 

The bible speaks about “loss” in the context of death. 

Imagine this, Jesus was an innocent man, yet still convicted by Jewish heretics of violating Old Testament Law. Jesus was convicted and then suffered the ultimate punishment of death—yet he was innocent. 

Do you know how Jesus responded to this wrongful conviction?
He didn’t. 
He accepted His fate and the will of the Father. 

Now, we are not Jesus, but it is safe to apply Biblical principle to our lives in the context of sacrifice.

The bible says that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). In other words, if we believe in the word of God—then we must believe that there will be times in our lives that we lose with a distinct purpose. 

If we believe in the word, we must choose this perspective—and die to the impulse to always win. In fact, instead of sulking in “the loss,” we should strive to embrace the failures in our lives.

When we are able to do that, we avoid the pain of trying to understand this world with our physical minds—and we are blessed with seeing the sovereign hand of God over our lives. 

I accept the losses in this season in my life. 

Because I know that God is in control. 

While my tendency is to fight for a win, we must learn to gracefully bow out of a situation with the loss—because maybe it’s how we win. 

Be blessed. 

And Go Dodgers. 

 
 
 
 

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God is like that too. 


Don’t you hate it when the notification pops on your phone saying that a new update to the operating system is required?   

Typically, I swipe it away like nothing and go about my day.

But over and over and over again, the notification to renew the software in the phone keeps popping up—until you finally submit to the update and let it download.

 God is like that too.

I always have said that “it’s not really a matter of whether God is speaking to you or not, but rather are you listening?”

 God has this way of speaking to our lives—and advertently calling us to HIM—through people around us, our life experiences, and most importantly, through his Word. He has a way of beckoning us to change–and if you understand the character of God, you would know that HE is relentless. God will not stop calling you until you ultimately surrender to Him. There has been many times in my life where I have blatantly ignored God even despite the obvious yet gentle nudging of the Lord. I ignore all the signs that are pointing to a place of reconciliation and forgiveness; I ignore every feeling to repent, and every inclination to be sorry and change.  

 I think it is a crucial mistake as a believer to miss an opportunity to change, because it is an opportunity to grow. The Word of God references the process of pruning a tree as metaphor to growth and change.

 “He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”                                                                 John 15:2

It is important to understand that while God can do anything He wants, he won’t do anything but call you—until you allow him to do what He wills; so the reference to pruning requires a voluntary relinquishment to God.   

It is not in the character of God to force change onto you.  

It must be allowed and it must be voluntary.  

 So the next time you sense God beckoning you—don’t just swipe away the feeling.

Let your old man be renewed with the new operating system of God.

 

 

If you want that change, say this prayer

Lord, I know you are constantly calling me to change—because you love me.

And you want the best for my life. Lord help me to yield to change and growth—even if the pruning of my being hurts—or is uncomfortable. Have your way today and always.  

 

 

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New Years Blues

You know every year it never fails. 

The idea that New Years is a chance at a new beginning…doesn’t always come without the remembrance of all the experiences both good and bad that have occurred in the past year. I can say honestly that I have a pessimistic tendency to reflect on things I didn’t achieve or my failures over the past year; perhaps mistakes that changed the very course of my life—and things I could’ve done differently. 

So while everyone is happy, hopeful, and affirming blessings in my life–I look to the New Year a little sad. 

I still want to encourage you though. 

Because life has never began or ended on New Years. You don’t need New Years to start over. It is purely in your heart—and you can be reborn and start over at anytime–as long as you are willing to make that decision. 

Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart..” and while we may have tons of unknowns–our only obligation is to take the next step in our lives in faith. 

I can’t tell you that I’ll be celebrating New Years like a crazy person…and poppin bottles and dancing the night away. That’s never really been my style. 

But I’ll be thanking God that I have life, air in my lungs…and y’all know the rest. 

The basics. 

The essentials. 

That’s my encouragement for you this New Year. It’s not pretty, ear tickling encouragement. But it’s real. And it’s life. 

Don’t lose focus. 

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Psalm 35

“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!” Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life! Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me! Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away! Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them! For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life. Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it! And let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it—to his destruction! Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his salvation. All my bones shall say, “O Lord, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?” Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know. They repay me evil for good; my soul is bereft. But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest. I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning. But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered; they gathered together against me; wretches whom I did not know tore at me without ceasing; like profane mockers at a feast, they gnash at me with their teeth. How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their destruction, my precious life from the lions! I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you. Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause. For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit. They open wide their mouths against me; they say, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!” You have seen, O Lord; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me! Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! Vindicate me, O Lord, my God, according to your righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me! Let them not say in their hearts, “Aha, our heart’s desire!” Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.” Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether who rejoice at my calamity! Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves against me! Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.”‭‭

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Thanks give-me 


The moment we enter the autumn season, we are bombarded and flooded with seasonal marketing. We are propelled into the seasonal holidays in September, and listening to Christmas Carols in shopping malls even before Thanksgiving. I cannot begin to tell you how annoying this is for me personally, especially in a time in my life when I found myself a little hyper-sensitive to living with purpose. I find myself in a time where I am trying to find an appreciation in each moment. No more. No less. I am trying to remain very conscientious about how I use my time and prioritize how I use my energy; and ultimately how everything I do may impact my tomorrow. 

Maybe life isn’t meant to be lived so critically or so seriously. But I think it would be a mistake to live our lives in the deceptive seasonal currents. Time is moving fast, and it keeps us looking for self-affirmations, living for the next adventure, or living for the hustle. Instead of affirming value in our lives, we subconsciously establish superficial goals to have more money, to be more beautiful, or live with entitlement as if we deserve this or that…Being that we are in the season of Thanksgiving, it feels as though the steady and fast paced rhythm of life–has changed the purpose of the holiday–and have modified the root of the season–from Thanksgiving to “Thanks-give-me.”

Have we really become so self centered and selfish that we have lost the appreciation for simple things?
I refuse to be moved by this pace of life. I don’t want to be grateful to God simply when things are good and it’s convenient. In fact, I am experiencing one of the most difficult seasons I’ve ever had in my life. Even with that being said,
I am even more grateful to God for the breath in my lungs. I am thankful for my health, and for having a roof over my head. I am thankful for having clothes and a job. And I am ever so grateful that I have my family…but most of all I am thankful for the forgiveness of God. 

I don’t know…maybe life is just about being able to drift in this massive ocean of destiny…where the current of fate moves us…and we just have to ride it out. Imagine the giant waves that toss us to and fro…then there are the moments where the tide is calm and we float adrift…
Maybe it’s just about perspective. 
Maybe it’s just about the way we choose to view the world. 

Maybe its just about our attitude towards life. 

Philippians 4:8 says “whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or good; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
In this season, I choose gratitude.

I am thankful for the good and bad. 

I am grateful for experience. 

I am grateful for gain. And for loss. 

I am grateful for the chance to live and make mistakes. 

I am grateful for winning and losing. 

I am grateful for love and Forgiveness. 

I am thankful for the journey.

Just grateful to be alive. 

No more. No less. 
That is where we will find our peace. 

That is where I find mine. 

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Beautiful fight. 

Everyone needs encouragement from time to time. In fact, I find myself turning to the best of my friends, and pouring out my entire subconscious; pouring out my heart. Everything I have seen, everything I have heard, and everything I feel–they know about. AND Usually at the conclusion of our conversations, we dialogue about their thoughts and observations, and as a friend, they provide me with some valuable constructive criticism. It’s not always enjoyable. In fact, my best of friends, tell me how it is–and do not “candy coat” the truth–no matter how painful. After all, we know life is a battle. 

In the book of Exodus, chapter 17, the Israelites were about to go to battle. And Moses, being the mouthpiece of God and one of Elders of the Israelites, gathered his men for battle. In the face of the battle, Moses interceded for the Israelites in prayer. The Bible says that when Moses’ hands were raised, the Israelites would prevail in battle. However Moses grew fatigued. When his hands would lower, the Israelites would begin to lose. So his trusted friends and fellow leaders, Aaron and Hur, came beside Moses and lifted his hands for him.
How many of you have friends like Moses. People who will come along side you and lift your arms up. If you have those friends who love and support you AND are real enough to correct you and give you constructive criticism–KEEP THOSE FRIENDS! 

But how many of us have the tendency to plant people around us that tell us what we want to hear. Those people we strategically place in our lives that ENABLE US in an unhealthy way. I call those people “yes friends” because that’s all they do–is agree with you. They compliment you. Thy laugh at your jokes. They don’t call you out even if your wrong. They are actually negative attributes in our lives because instead of holding us accountable, they actually hurt us with their passivity. For those of you who know what I am talking about; it is our own insecurity that puts those people around us. And through the battles, instead of holding our arms up like Moses, they hold up our egos; when God calls us to be humble and contrite. 
I get it. The fight is real. And sometimes we feel like our egos need to be fortified; but consider the kind of battle you’re in. And consider who you put around you. It is our insecurities that lead us to trust people we barely know. And we stop trusting our long time friends because they hear our burdens over and over and over again. But consider who you let into your life. Be careful who you trust. Because in the deepest darkest and loneliness moments–you know who your real friends are. And if you don’t, Remember that God loves you. 

The Bible does encourage us to cut off those things in our life that hinder us; (Matthew 5:30). The scripture says “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off…” But be sure you’re not cutting off or cutting out essential pieces of your life because some things don’t grow back. 

Hold onto those that encourage you in the Lord, and not those that massage your ego

Listen, 

I know brokenheartedness makes us deviate. 

Pain makes us compromise. 

Insecurity makes us doubt. 
But God is our stronghold. 
So, consider your battle. 

Because life is a beautiful fight

Still is. 

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