Monday, February 23, 2015

Open Cage, Broken Chains

I was once a prisoner of my pain, guilt, and shame. Year after year, instead of finding my way of escape, I fell deeper and deeper into the bondage of my hurt.

It shackled me. It crippled me. It consumed me.

I was a hurting woman, and I believed that was all I’d ever be. From the pain of molestation, to the guilt of sexual immorality, and the shame of using alcohol as a coping mechanism, I turned inward, and was well on my way to self-destruction. There was a part of me that wanted to be free from the past, but that part of me was buried so far beneath all of my deeply rooted pain that I could not hear its faint plea for help.

I wanted to be whole, but I only knew how to hurt. So I subconsciously chose to stick with what had become familiar to me. Oftentimes, we allow ourselves to get stuck in one area in our lives simply because we grow accustomed to being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Though scripture tells us to be content in whatever state we are in, it does not instruct us to ever become complacent. Complacency is a handicap.

Just because you’ve experienced hardship for the majority of your life, does not mean you’re supposed to stay there for the remainder of your life. God only has you where you currently are for season.

If you feel bound by the remnants of the past and plagued by the pain of the present, I have a little encouragement for you.

Whatever you’ve been through, whatever you’re going through – whether it’s rape, divorce, abandonment, sexual immorality, molestation, abortion, substance abuse, past criminal history – whatever the case may be, you are more than your hurt. You no longer have to be held prisoner to the guilt of your past. Neither do you have to succumb to the lies of the enemy that says you will never be more than a woman filled with shame and pain.

God wants to turn your pain into purpose. He wants to reveal the beautiful jewel on the inside of you, and help you to realize your priceless value to the Kingdom. You are the daughter of a King; that alone makes you royalty. He desires for you to open your eyes to embrace the undeniable beauty you possess in Him.

It is not God’s pleasure to see His children suffer; that is not His plan for you. He’s only allowed you to experience the things you’ve encountered to prepare you for the ministry He will birth out of your pain.

You will not hurt forever. You can have a fresh start and move forward from your place of pain. Your new beginning does not lie in the date on the calendar, but it lies in the Man that holds your life in the palm of His hand. Your past is over in Christ; accept your freedom so that you may fulfill God’s divine purpose for your life. You are no longer bound; your chains have been broken. Christ has come to give you hope.

You're free to be healed.
You're free to be whole.
You're free to be happy.
You're free to be loved.
You're free to walk in purpose.
You're free to be everything God has pre-ordained you to be.

The cage is open. Your chains are broken. You are free. Fly.

From my heart to yours...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Finding My Father: It Wasn't His Fault

If you've followed my writing for any length of time, then you know I grew up with an an absent father. You also know that I blamed him for every negative thing that ever happened in my entire life. In my mind, every single thing was his fault...

My low self-esteem.
My insecurities.
The sexual abuse.
My distorted understanding of love.
My struggle with sexual impurity.
My inability to trust men.
My unhealthy need for male attention.
My depression.
My suicidal thoughts.
My credit score (Not really! Ha!)...but you get the point.

 I used my father's absence as a scapegoat, and even blamed him for the hurt inflicted upon me by others, like the people who pained me were puppets maneuvered by his strings. I blamed my absent dad for EV-E-RY-THING! My reason for all of the bad choices I made in my life -- daddy issues. That was my story, and I stuck to it.

I wore my daddy issues excuse like a badge of honor, as if it gave me a pass for the pain caused by own reckless behavior.

Now, don't get me wrong, daddy issues are very real; however, we can only call daddy to the carpet for so long. At some point, the course of our lives becomes our own responsibility. At least that is what I personally believe.

But what every misfortune in my life really my daddy's fault? Truthfully, absolutely not.

The only thing I could validly fault him for is robbing me of the opportunity to know a father's love, and, because of that ignorance, causing me to look for such love in the wrong ways. But even in that, I totally forgive him, because I understand that the course of my life is much bigger than him failing to be a part of my life. God had a plan, and it has all worked for my good. I'm alright with that.

Retrospectively, through eyes of wisdom, I see that many of the pitfalls, pains, and problems in my life derived from the poor choices I personally made. That's nobody's fault but mine. I've matured enough to admit and accept that.

It wasn't daddy's fault. He simply played the role he was purposed to play in order for me to live out the purpose God planned for me. Now, his role, for this stage of my life has changed. He's no longer an absent non-participant; he's present...front and center, and released, by me, from all the blame I placed upon his shoulders.

Dear, Daddy:

I fully, totally, completely forgive you. You are not the cause of anything I experienced in my was either by my choice, man's choice, or God's plan. I can now, at this point in my life, appreciate your absence (As crazy as it may sound!) because I understand that it was necessary in order for me to become the woman that I am today...and I happen to think I turned out quite alright!

No condemnation.
No blame.
No guilt.

Nothing but love.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Finding My Father: At First Meet

I barely got a wink of sleep that prior night. I had no reason to be awake, because my 5-week old daughter actually slept through most of the night. As a sleep-deprived mother, I should've jumped on that opportunity to get more than an hour of shut-eye in the span of a night.

But, nope. I was wide awake, anticipating the experience one of the biggest days of my life -- the day I'd finally, after 32 years, meet my father in the flesh.

So many emotions and thoughts were running through my psyche. I was simultaneously anxious, excited, nervous, apprehensive, and giddy. I mean, this was only the one thing I've played in my mind ever since I can remember.

I played the scene in my head repeatedly. I knew exactly how it'd go down. Went something like this:

See him.
Run into his arms.
Bury my face in his shoulder.
Break into the ugly cry.
Hug him until he thought I was weirdly insane and had to pry my arms from around him.

Yep. That's exactly how I envisioned in my mind. I was ready.

But that's not quite how it happened.

I had such jitters as I pulled into the restaurant's parking lot. Although I had this scenario etched in my mind, honestly, I didn't know what to expect. On the phone, both he and his wife seemed like really warm people. We definitely had a connection...over the airwaves.

I wasn't 100% sure that we'd mesh, though, because I've had several experiences with connecting with someone while conversing over the phone or internet, and then getting a totally different (bad) vibe once meeting in person.

Would this be a disaster?! For the first time, I felt afraid.

But there was no backing out of this. I'd prayed too many prayers and waited too many years to turn back when I was right at the door of meeting my father. So I took a deep breath, exited the car, gathered up my daughter, and proceeded to the front of the restaurant.

As soon I turned the corner, our eyes and ours smiles greeted one another like familiar friends reconnecting after a long separation.

We were strangers, yet familiar.
Distant, but close.
Kindred spirits.

We hugged one another, and although it was an embrace I'd never known, it felt so...familiar. Like it was never missing.

It was right.
It was time.
It was perfect.

God's perfect timing.

As we sat, conversation came easy. We discussed many things. One thing I hadn't planned to bring up was why he wasn't there for me. I honestly didn't care to know. At this point in my life, I had accepted His absence, and during my healing process, God had revealed to me that his absence wasn't about my father rejecting me, but about THE Father protecting me.

What my dad would tell me next would further confirm that for me, and help me understand why it was best that he wasn't a part of my life.

"I want you to know that it wasn't about you," he said. "There was nothing wrong with you. There was something wrong with me."

He told me about how he was young and didn't have his head on straight. Typical absentee father excuses.

Okay. Fine. I'm alright with that if that's all you've got.

But there was more...a bigger reason. Something God chose to protect me from, and that meant he had to be absent.


"I was in a bad way on drugs," he told me, as his wife Mary nodded in agreement. That was all I needed to hear. It all made sense to me after hearing about his struggle with drugs.

I didn't need to be exposed to that. Under the influence of drugs, there's no telling what type of negative affect his presence would've had in my life. A present father addicted to drugs was not a part of God's plan for me. He had to shield me from that.

I'm actually thankful for his absence. I'd probably be a totally different person had I grown up with a drug-addicted father.

Yeah...good looking out, God. It gave me a brand new appreciation for the saying, "Man's rejection is God's protection." It is absolutely true.

We never know why God withholds certain things that we want from us. Most times, it's simply because, at the time that we want it, it's not in our best interest. God loves us too much to give us anything less than his best.

God waited until my dad came into the best of who He created him to be before allowing him to enter into my life. Isn't God amazing?!

Because it all happened it God's timing, at first meet, we developed an undeniable bond.

We laughed.
We talked.
We connected.
We loved one another.

At first meet...

My dad and me snappin' it up...selfie style!

After reading this, you're probably wondering why I didn't care to know why he chose not to be a part of my life (Yes, he was aware of my existence!). Well, I'll tell about that next time.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Finding My Father Pt. 1

Daddy's girl -- the one title that probably every little girl in the world wishes to hold. At least I did. For me, though, as much as I wanted it, that just wasn't my reality. Like countless children, I was a fatherless child.

There was no one to accompany me to Father/Daughter school activities.

No dad to make colorful, crafty cards for on Father's Day.

No father to show me how a man was supposed to love me.

Nobody to chase my no-good boyfriends away or give them the third-degree before they could date me.

No daddy to walk me down the aisle and give me away when I married my husband.

Nope. None of that for me. My heart so desperately longed for the love, acceptance, attention, and foundation that only a father can give to their daughter. Growing up, I felt rejected, abandoned, and not good enough. In my mind, that was filled with so many unanswered questions, if I wasn't good enough for my daddy to want me, then no one else would want me either.

To say I had daddy issues would be an understatement. I blamed him for every wrong encounter I had with boys/men. I blamed him for all of my insecurities. I blamed him for my experienced with sexual abuse. I blamed him for my unhealthy desperation for attention from the opposite sex. I believed that had he been present and active in my life, he could have shielded me from all of the dysfunction and pain.

I hated him for his absence. But no matter how much I despised him for not being in my life, that longing for him never dulled. Despite the resentment, I still always wanted my daddy.

I remember at the age of 17 making some attempts to locate him. I knew his name, the state where he supposedly resided, and that he was in the military. With that, I took to the internet and found every name in the state of Louisiana that matched his. I penned a letter expressing that I was looking for my father, made copies, and mailed them to about 10 men that could've potentially been my father.

Nothing. Dead end. No results.

The search was so exhausting, and years passed before I ever searched again.

Nothing. Dead end. No results.

At that point, I gave up. As much as I desired to find my father, I accepted the fact that it just wasn't meant to be. Still, deep down inside, that longing for his presence - that desire to be daddy's little girl - would never die.

About a month ago, my desire to find my dad resurfaced with great urgency. It went something I wanted to do, to something I now felt like I had  to do. It's as if something was intensely pushing me to do it.

Not by chance, one of my mother's old friends - who was a mutual friend of my father's during the time they were together - popped up in my newsfeed on Facebook.

Definitely not ironic.

When I saw her, immediately I felt compelled to question her about my dad. I ignored that prompting though. I mean, I'd tried times before. What would be any different this time. The more I tried to ignore what I knew the Lord was leading me to do, the more I felt compelled to reach out and ask this woman if she knew anything about my father.

A month passed before I actually reached to her, but on January 4th, 2015 at 3:08AM, I sent her a message asking if she knew anything. I didn't what to expect, but her response sent chills through my body:

"My husband talks to him. I'll ask him when he gets home from work."  Just a few hours later, she sent me a message saying, "My husband spoke with your dad. Here's his number." 

I couldn't believe it! I stared at my phone with tears in my eyes and a huge smile on my face, reading that message containing his phone number over and over and over again. Just like that, I was given access to my father.

It's amazing how we can work so hard and try to make things happen with no results. That happens most times because we are outside of God's timing. But when God says it's time, what was once hard becomes amazingly easy. Sweatless victory!

Back to the story...

"Babe, I got my daddy's phone number!" I yelled in excitement to my husband. He couldn't believe it either. "Look!" I said, showing him the message I received.

Smack dab in the middle of my excitement, fear stepped in.

Should I call? What if he doesn't want to talk to me? What if he rejects me? What if...what if...what if?

Before I could entertain those thoughts too long, my loving Heavenly Father spoke so sweetly to me. He simply said, "I'd dare not dangle your greatest desire in your face, only to have it reject you."

Feeling both excited and nervous, I called him. He answered. We greeted one another. Immediate laughter...and not the nervous kind.

Within seconds of being on the phone, we had an instant connection.

It wasn't awkward.
It wasn't forced.
It wasn't fake.
It was real. Genuine. Divinely orchestrated.

I was talking to my daddy!

I felt like a little girl...that little girl who always wanted her daddy. Finally, after 32 years, I had him...and he wanted me.

In that moment, I felt loved.

The missing piece of my life had found its way to finally complete the puzzle. Mystery solved. Empty space in my heart filled.

God is so amazing!

He's so strategic in how He orchestrates our lives. Nothing is isolated; everything works together. I'd get a better understanding of that truth when we met face-to-face for the very first time in our lives on Monday, January 20, 2015...

My dad Pastor Ricky Simmons and me meeting for the first time.
The smiles on both of our faces say it all. It was a joyous moment...

I'll tell you all about our meeting in part 2... :-)


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

You Have A Sound Mind

I thought I was crazy. The kind of crazy that needs medication...or a straight-jacket. Maybe that's a bit extreme, but it's exactly how I felt.

The thoughts and voices in my head were so convincing. So often, I honestly thought I was losing my mind. I couldn't think straight. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't function properly. I was in a constant battle, fighting for inner peace.

Inside, I was chaotic. My mind was in a constant whirlwind, with crazy thoughts running around and around. I just wanted my thoughts to shut up. I wanted all of the voices to be silenced. But they just wouldn't stop. My mind was the devil's playground, and it was open 24/7.

I thought I'd have a mental breakdown. But it was during that time of my life that I got to know the Lord as a mind-regulator.

There were many times when all I could pray was, "Lord, help my mind." All day, every day, that was my simple prayer. And the Lord honored my request.

It wasn't easy, but with each passing day, I learned to take my racing thoughts captive and bring them into the obedience of Christ. I learned to cast down the enemy and fight Him off with the word of God. Some days, I was defeated, but I won more than I lost.

I had to work endlessly to reprogram my thoughts and do as Philippians 4:8 advises - "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

It was a challenge, but not impossible with God's help.

Turns out, I wasn't crazy or cursed. The enemy simply wanted me to think that I was so that I'd self-destruct and he could prevent me from becoming who God created me to be. He lost that battle.

It's the same thing he wants to do to you. But, as always, he's a liar.

You are not mentally unstable.

You are not crazy.

You will not have a breakdown.

You will not lose your mind.

You are not a nutcase, whacko, bi-polar or any other derogatory term he may try to convince you that you are.

You have the mind of Christ. You are perfectly sane. Your mind is peaceful. God has given you a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

Lord, keep Your daughter's mind. The enemy is wreaking havoc in her thoughts and her mind is on constant overload. She feels imbalanced, out of sorts, and is on the verge of breaking down. But right now, oh God, regulate her thoughts. Quiet the noise. Silence the internal voices. Bind the enemy and cancel his plan of taking her mind. Give her perfect peace. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Goodbye Pain,

 I've carried you long enough. Like a newborn baby nestled upon its mother's chest, you have found comfort in my life. Admittedly, I have found an uncomfortable comfort in you. Our attachment is not normal. I have to let you go.

Hello Healing,

I welcome you into my life. I've heard so many amazing things about you, but thought I was undeserving of something so precious. You've knocked on the door of my pain so many times, but I was too afraid to let you in. Too familiar with hurt to do the work of embracing something new. Now, I'm ready. I open my heart, I evict my pain, and I give you permission to reside.

Goodbye Insecurity,

Our relationship must end. You've kept me hidden and afraid to believe that I matter in even the smallest way. You've convinced me that I am incapable of being great, and for far too long, I have believed you. I am suffocating in your grip. I need to breathe. I'm breaking the chains and walking away from your bondage.

Hello Confidence,

I am so eager to familiarize myself with you. I hear that you are the ultimate self-esteem booster. I definitely need that. I'm ready to believe what I've read and been told for so long -- I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I am the apple of God's eye. I am loved with an unconditional, everlasting love. I am God's masterpiece. I am beautiful and worthy of God's best. Yes, I'm ready. It may take me a minute to fully embrace you, but I am fully open to the strength you will bring to my life.

Goodbye Shame & Guilt,

How you've hindered me. I admit, I've been far from perfect and I've done some things that I wish to take to my grave, but your cloud of condemnation over my head is so heavy and dark. Yes, I've messed up -- more times than I care to recall - and you are a constant reminder of the wrong choices and actions in my life. I'm tired of living in darkness, blind to the possibility of living free from the ugliness of my past. I'm exhausted with beating myself up. I've had enough of blaming myself for the pitfalls in my life. It's time for us to go our separate ways.

Hello Freedom,

You are my breath of fresh air. I long for the freshness you will add to my life. I've been a prisoner to my past as long as I can remember, but I am ready to walk in your liberty. I am ready to live free from condemnation and lift my head above the messiness of yesterday. I give you permission to crush every chain, every thought, every shackle that has held me hostage. I am free!

Goodbye Old Habits & Mindsets,

I'm turning over a new leaf. My connection with you has had me circling the same mountain year after year after year, yet expecting to reach a new location. How insane! Though comfortable with you, you've gotten me absolutely nowhere, besides stuck. I'm done with you.

Hello Transformation,

"Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind..." I am ready to be transformed. I am ready for a new way of being. My old way hasn't worked, and I'm ready to cut ties with who I used to be in order to become who I'm supposed to be. I welcome the change, and I am committed to doing the work that is necessary to complete the process of transformation. I'm ready for a different, better me.

Too often, we cannot become all that God created, purposed, and designed us to be, because we have become comfortable with and stuck on the identity that life's circumstances have embedded within us. We desire change and we want better, but where we are hindered is in failing to cut ties with keeps us bound, and making room for what will set us free. If we desire to be a new creature, where old things pass away and all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17), then it is imperative that we separate ourselves from the old.

It's a new year, and it is filled with God's grace to adapt to a new normal. You don't have to remain the way you've been, just because it's the way you've always been. No! As God's children, we are to grow from faith to faith, from glory to glory. What do I mean? We should ever evolve.

Declare today that this is where your toxic relationship ends with anything that hinders you from becoming everything God made you to be. You've dwelled long enough at this mountain. It's time to move.

Journal Activity: Create your own Goodbye...Hello list. As you itemize those things you desire to detach yourself from, detail one thing you will do to welcome the positive you desire to replace it with, and commit to actively working towards that goal. Find a scripture and write a specific prayer that will aid in spiritual encouragement as you endeavor to sever those ties. Work on one goal at a time (Rome wasn't built in a day!).

Happy New You!


Friday, April 11, 2014

A Designer's Original

Psalm 139:14 – “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”

Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Genesis 1:31a – “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!”

If you’re a true fashionista, whenever you hear the term designer’s original, you probably think of some of the world’s top fashion designers, like Prada, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, or Christian Louboutin. Their original designs, sold at top dollar value, have adorned the bodies, arms and feet of the highest-ranked celebrities in mainstream media…Beyonce, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey and the like. The work of these top designers is considered incomparable, and though their designs are often very closely replicated, not one duplication exactly reflects the designer’s original work. Though on the outside they can pass for the same piece, the original design has specific inner-stitching that no other designer can emulate. And at the end of the day, only the designer’s original is the real deal. It is the only masterpiece, and the only design that can fulfill the intended purpose set in the place by the one who created it.

Although those designer’s produce impeccable works of art, there is a designer –THE TOP designer – whose handiwork trumps them all. Who is that designer, you ask? Some call Him Abba, Jehovah, Elohim, Yahweh – that top designer is God. What is His greatest work? Pull out your mirror and there you will see. YOU are His greatest, most original and valuable design. According to Psalm 139:13, In your mother’s womb, He meticulously knitted you together and made all of the delicate, innermost parts of your body. According to Genesis 1:27, He created you in His own image and likeness, to be a reflection of the perfection He embodies. And according to Jeremiah 29:11, as He designed you, He did so with a plan in mind, a plan that leads you to a future and a hope. You are not merely a result of the physical connection between your father and mother, but you are a strategically produced masterpiece, designed by the Creator of the world, and purposed to fulfill God’s specific, predestined plan for your life. You were created on purpose, for purpose.

You possess an inner-stitching, which consists of your character, personality, gifts, calling and anointing, that sets you apart in a world of look-alikes. There is no need to desire to duplicate, replicate or emulate any other person upon this earth, because the only thing you are wired, or originally designed to be, is YOU. There is no one on this earth to whom you must measure up to, because God created no other person exactly like you. No other person in this world sets the standard for who should be, for every detail of who you are is tailor-made to fit the specific purpose God designed for you.

When you understand that you are a designer’s original, you will realize that you are not, nor will you ever be, a cheap substitute for the next best thing. You ARE the best thing. You are the only one of your kind. No one can sing like you, teach like you, preach like you, mother like you, think like you, lead like you, wife like you, dance like you, or create like you. It’s simply impossible. Though, as children of God, we share the same purpose in being a showcase for God’s glory, the way in which God has designed us to carry it out is unique, and leaves absolutely no room for comparison, criticism, or competition.

When you feel worthless, remember that a designer’s original has priceless value, because it is the only one of its caliber.

When you feel like you don’t fit in, remember than an original design is purposed to stand out among the crowd.

When you feel inferior or not as good as the rest, remember that every person to the left and right of you, regardless of their status in life, is an original design just like you. It’s impossible to compare.

When you feel unimportant, remember that the Ultimate Creator fearfully and wonderfully designed you with a specific purpose in mind that no other person in the world can fulfill.

From the uneducated woman to the one with many degrees…

From the unwed mother to the one living the American Dream…

From the promiscuous woman to the preacher woman…

From the abused woman to the one who’s never been touched…

You are one of a kind, created by the Master with great purpose in mind. You are a reflection of God’s beauty, a precious picture of His grace, and a jewel in His eyes. Despite where this life has taken you, the fact yet remains – you are a designer’s original and your value will never depreciate. Marvelous are God’s works.

This, your soul should know full well.

From my heart to yours...