Finding Specialized Care for Your Family Member

After many years of dealing with a rare muscle degenerative disease, my grandfather finally accepted my advice and sought a second opinion from an expert.  He did not trust the doctors in Connecticut and heard about a provider at Hopkins that specialized in his condition.  After a few phone calls, delivery of his medical records to the new doctor, and the solidification of traveling details, my grandfather received an appointment at Hopkins that would change his life.

Even though many people are related to or know a health care professional, they casually solicit advice, but never discuss the details of how to seek specialized care. When you or someone in your family is diagnosed with a disease, you have the right to seek a second opinion. Many times people accept what their physician says without questioning their opinion. A second opinion does not undermine the physicians knowledge or experience but an acceptable way to back up their findings. Your physician or insurance company can refer you to a qualified practitioner that will cross reference their own findings against the original finding a.

If you are interested in going to a specific institution, you can contact the institution directly and discuss your needs. Many times the operators are able to connect you with the right departments and the medical assistants can help you find the right practitioner for you. Many of the larger institutions have experience in rare disease processes or cases that other institutions may never see. You want to be treated by people who understand your diagnosis and are prepared to treat you holistically.

My grandfather’s specialist knew immediately what was going on with my grandfather and provided him with a prescription that slowed down his disease, braces to help him walk, and physical therapy. The ability for my grandfather to remain independent for a few more years gave him hope and helped with the frustration of losing his muscle strength. This experience renewed his faith in medicine and pushed him to do all that he could to stay healthy.

Many insurance companies have hot lines that allow you to call in and get guidance on choosing providers, specialist, or understanding your treatment options. There are support groups for patients and families who have been diagnosed with a life changing ailment. Additionally, there are specific organizations that provide resources and information for many common and rare conditions.

Reach out and know that you are not alone. Your health care experience should be empowering and not debilitating. If you have questions, write them down and ask them at the end of your doctors visit. Stay abreast on the new things that are going on with you or your family’s diagnosis. Help is not out of reach and you can make it through this.

Get a second opinion. Ask questions. Feel empowered. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

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Top 5 Things I Will Miss About DC/East Coast

5. Jumbo Slice/Duccinis/Pizza
I clearly love pizza so much that I post about it often. I know that nothing will compare to the pizza I love in DC and no one here will have halal beef pepperoni, so I will be forced to eat chicken pizza again. Nothing like a late night and hot, cheesy pizza to make you feel complete.  But there are great food options here and I am praying my soul is strong enough to stay away from all of the bad things I don’t need.

4. Riding by Howard
Howard was my home for 8 out of the last 11 years. I learned so much and received some of the greatest additions to my life there.  Educational institutions bring optimism, hope, and great memories.  I love Howard and am blessed to say that I was a Bison.

3. Being in 3 different States in a Matter of Minutes
I lived in MD but could be in VA or DC in a matter of minutes, to NY in 4 hours, Philly in 3, and SC or CT in 7/8.  The ability to change your surroundings quickly is a major plus of the east coast. It allows you to be very spontaneous and enjoy experiences on a budget when you need to.  No more megabus, quick turn around trips, or weekend trips up the road. Keep your money stacked cause we are flying in and out of here.

2. Our First Home
My husband said yesterday, “You are leaving the first home I bought you.”  That made me feel really special because he did buy that house for my son and I.  He wanted to make sure we had a safe place to stay and an asset for future use.  We had amazing neighbors and slowly made improvements that will benefit it’s future use as a rental property. Moving back into an apartment will be interesting but it’s all apart of the process.

1.  My Friends and Family
Being so far from my friends and family is going to be rough. Although we have all become so busy and immersed in our own lives, we still could get together and laugh when we wanted or needed to.  Thank God for technology and being able to eventually plan more family trips to fill that gap. I don’t easily disconnect from people and will always cherish and touch base with my team. 

DC has been an experience.  So much great sprinkled with some bad and ugly. I came, I conquered, I survived, I thrived, and I came home with everything I set off to accomplish 11 years ago in tow.

I am so full and so grateful to everyone who has made my life experience that much more special by just being who they are. By loving me, encouraging me, and building me up when I fell down.

The best is yet to come. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

No More Excuses Just Results

I was having a conversation with one of my soulmate best friends and realized that before I answered a question, I began with a list of excuses as to why I made the decision that I did.  Once I realized how much I was doing this, I decided to stop and just be honest with myself.  In my honest opinion, I do not do things that I do not feel like doing, don’t have time for, or do not deem worth my time.  I made a conscious decision to stop making excuses and either be clear as to why I did not do something or answer with my results.

When you are a self-proclaimed overachiever you feel like you have to say yes to everything.  You are constantly spreading yourself thin and giving of yourself without ever making time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate.  You have your hands in so many things because you are used to being busy, but you may not be as effective as you desire because your focus is spread over too many projects.  This year I started my blog, started doing Hangouts for Moms, amazing women, still working developing my business, and so many other small things. Studying for the bar allowed me to take a break from everything and prioritize each project.

My blog is really important to me and over the next few months I am going to improve, develop, and enhance the site because it is very therapeutic and will eventually be the center of my many projects.  I am also going to begin working back on each project one at a time so that it is of the quality that I want and can continue to grow into the vision that I have for it.  I am learning that I want to do a lot, but I want to do each of those things well.  Being a rookie in so many settings can make the beginning of all of these projects very bumpy, which makes it hard to have a long lasting effect.  Being conscious of your strengths and weaknesses can ensure that you aren’t making excuses for your failures but producing results.

Many people mistake progress for passion.  You can make progress in an area that you are not passionate about but when things begin to fall apart, you quit instead of regrouping and focusing. You can take the blue print of someone else’s success and still fail. Passion wakes you up in the middle of the night to write down ideas, create solution to problems, or to work on your projects. You want to invest into your passions and watch them grow.

You can be passionate about many things but you have to channel your energy efficiently. You want to be able to measure your success and have something to show for all of you hard work. I have to focus more on quality than quantity. I have to focus on structuring my projects and ensuring they are serving the purpose that I intended. I want to leave a mark and inspire by producing excellence.

Be excellent. Be extraordinary. Be organized. Be efficient. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

Tunnel Vision: Preparing for the Darkness

I am constantly discussing being prepared because preparation is the only way to live and learn through your life experiences.  When you are prepared for what is to come, good or bad, you are able to take those lessons and apply them in future situations. Those lessons build upon the layers of your foundation and pushes you up the ladder of success. You may not make the same mistake twice if you can live, learn, and not go through the same cycle over and over again.  Everyone is quick to prepare you for success, but very few people are willing to discuss the long hard road to success and the many failures that may come along the way.

Successful people are so quick to bask in the glory of the moment, that we fail to expose the anguish, steps, and missteps we took to get there.  Many people fail because they want what others have, but can’t handle the heat that comes with getting to the glory. People assume that you have been given more, know more, or are just plain lucky. People want to believe that you are one in a million instead of one who fought to get ahead of the million.

I have made the mistake of believing that others were more successful than I was because they had both of their parents in the home, they were able to go home after college and save, or because they didn’t have to struggle like I did. I had to stop making assumptions and appreciate my own path to success. No matter how someone got to where they are, their circumstances wouldn’t get me where I need to be. I stopped focusing on others and focused on myself. I centered myself and put my goals ahead of me. My focus was towards the light and I thought I was prepared. I had tunnel vision, but I did not realize that the trek to the light would be so dark and full of unforseen ups and downs.

We understand we have to start somewhere and we can visualize our final destination, but no one wants to go through the dark tunnel. We do not want to go through the process. We just want to arrive at the light. We don’t know how long the tunnel is and many times we turn around and go backwards because the light seems too far away.

We start the journey with people who believe in us but the pressure of the process forces some to let go and we have to go through some of the toughest parts alone. When you have friends or family who continue with you even in the darkness, you have to honor and applaud them for their faith and strength. Everyone can’t survive the tunnel and you have to accept that at the beginning or you will waste time pulling people to a place they don’t belong.

The honest truth is that everything that is worth having is obtained through a process that is not comfortable. Furthering your education, changing jobs, changing careers, starting a family, starting a business, moving to a new city, and enhancing your life experiences comes with its own set of challenges. Once you lock your eyes on the prize and decide that nothing matters more than that 1 thing, prepare yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually for the road ahead.

Become in tune with yourself so that you can trust your gut and believe that the decisions you are making are productive and will lead to your end goal. Pray and meditate to help push out the noise that comes at every stage. Explain to your support system your plans and prepare them for the potential challenges. Learn to be okay with not being okay and have a plan to get the necessary help through those moments.

The tunnel is dark and at points can be lonely. Stay focused. Stay encouraged. Run to the light.

Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

My Advice to Future RN/JDs: Keep Your Foot In All Doors

A student from Howard School of Nursing called to ask me to donate and I politely declined because in the words of my Twinnie, “I ain’t got it!”  She followed up with a few questions about becoming an RN/JD and 20 minutes later I had given her advice that I wished someone would have given to me.


In the end, I would not have done things differently, but I would have done things better.

1.  Keep your job in healthcare, even if it is just PRN.

If I would have kept my previous position, I would have had 6 years of active nursing experience instead of just 3.  I also would have had an easier time finding a position in that current healthcare system as a long-term employee.  I could have increased my hours after I took the bar, to help me in my post grad transition.  I quit my job because it was difficult balancing school and work initially and the administration convinced me that I could not work and do well my first year.  Do not listen to that.  Staying busy sometimes helps you focus and properly prioritize your time.

2. If you have a specialized career path, go to a school that has the resources to assist you with breaking into that field.

Although my law school had a previous RN/JD & have quite a few alumni in healthcare positions, I did not connect with them until I was in the middle of my job search.  There are a few law schools that have health care law certificate programs, concentrations in health care, or a course load that allows you to get more in-depth knowledge with policy and healthcare.  I did not think that my path was that special or that I would need a lot of assistance in obtaining a policy or healthcare associate position, but a different school could have possibly expanded my potential opportunities.

3.  Make time for extracurricular activities that can connect you with people in your future field.

I cannot make any excuses as to why I was not more involved in the ABA or other organizations that had a host of healthcare lawyers.  Although I was encouraged to join them, I did not feel that I had the time.  One thing you forget in law school is how to balance and in doing so, you can miss out on very important connections that you may need in the future.

4. Your career path is special and you should highlight that often.

One thing I could have done better was highlighting my transferable skills clearly.  Many people see my resume and do not understand why a nurse would want to be a lawyer, despite the millions of current issues that intersect with healthcare, policy, and the law.  People need to understand the why although you think that it is obvious.  Being able to have practical patient  experience that involves very calculated decision-making and collaboration is key to being in policy or in legal positions.  Do not shrink yourself to seem normal when you are not.

5. Do not be afraid to ask for help from those who have been hired to help you.

I made the mistake of not reaching out to Career Services until I had put in over 60 plus applications.  I thought that I would be able to land a position with the resources I had.  The Career Services Office is there to help you and connect you with the right people.  It is all about who you know, even more so in this current job market.  Although you may look great on paper, people may not even look at that paper if they don’t have a reason to pull your resume.

6. Keep an open mind.

Although my back up plan was to go back to nursing, I never though that I would really go back into nursing.  I know that some people may see this as a step backwards, but financially it is 10 steps forward and now I am apart of a healthcare organization that may be able to use all of the skills that I have obtained over my 8 years of schooling.  Do not be afraid to take an untraditional path to the right position.  You will always be a nurse and your  skills will always be valued.  Make sure you don’t keep yourself from a great opportunity because you have a plan that you do not want to deter from.

I wish someone would have told me a few of these things.  I may have listened or learned on my own but I want the next person to know better and do better.

Keep your foot in all doors.  Always think ahead and of the potential issues that can arise.  Maintain your nursing license.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Do Not Feed the Fear

I am sure this has been said by many great thinkers and a few books have probably been written on this topic alone, but for me this statement is personal.  I have used this as my personal mantra to step into the unknown and believe that everything will work out.  At every major turning point in my life where I had to make a major decision, I was afraid and feared what I did not know.  Despite the fear that I had or that others had for me, I was able to focus on my dreams and not feed into my fear.

When I got accepted into college and did not have a plan in place to get me from one year to the next, I focused on graduation, making my family proud, and completing what I started.  When I studied for my nursing boards while working full-time, I focused on passing, making more money, and making the past 5 years of my life worth every moment.  When I decided to leave nursing and pursue a legal career, I focused on gaining knowledge, expanding my network, and having access to different opportunities.  You have to have a focus and it cannot be your fear.

As I countdown the days to embarking on a new journey, I naturally have fears that run through my mind as I pack, but I only allow them to rest for a moment.  I think about it and push it out by thinking of all of the great things that I know are coming and can come from this next opportunity.  Many times we begin to discuss our fears with others and allow that negative seed to plant and grow roots in our minds and spirit.  That fear keeps you awake at night, it keeps you from making sound decisions, and it keeps you from stepping into your destiny.

Someone recently told me, “You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”  Although I initially thought that I hate being uncomfortable, I realized it is only when I am uncomfortable that I actually take the risks that yield great returns.  I have been in DC for 11 years and had plans on staying for at least 2 or 3 more. I had to be broken down and detached from my place of comfort, so that my heart would be open for this opportunity.  If I would have been presented with this opportunity months ago, I would have turned it down because I would have been waiting for my ideal job.  My brokenness, my desire to get back working, and my openness to my personal definition of “ideal” is what allowed me to interview for this position and move my entire family there knowing that this was the right decision for us.

What I have learned over this part of my journey is to Fear NOT.  I do not fear because God is with me.  I do not fear because my steps are ordered.  I do not fear because everything is working together for my good.  My faith has sustained me even when my mind could not rationalize my reality.  You have to grow through every season, especially the ones that are tough to get through.  Many people talk about having tunnel vision but never discuss how hard it is to get through the tunnel to the light. As you walk through the tunnel you have to stay focused on the light and not fear the darkness that surrounds you or your situation.

Do not feed the fear.  Let your faith sustain you.  Greater has to come.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Processing the Pain Properly

For the past year I have been looking for the right opportunity that would combine both of my degrees and experience.  I started the search and application process for positions as a 3L, and I just knew that I would be starting a new job soon after taking the bar.  After not hearing back from many of the opportunities I applied for and receiving many rejections, I began to increase my search, get creative, and network like crazy.  Although I felt that I had a lot of support and even a few potential opportunities, nothing seemed to pan out.  At various points through this process I was close to having an interview that would lead to one of my dream positions, and suddenly everything would suddenly fall through.  I could not understand why these things were happening to me, despite all of the work I had put in over my lifetime.  Arrogance.  Here is where I made my biggest mistake.

I wrongfully assumed that just because I sowed in many ways that I would reap my harvest when I was ready for it.  I wrongfully assumed that I did not deserve to go through this lull because I had been doing the work.  I wrongfully assumed that I had the credentials to get me into every door and I should be being recruited, instead of applying for jobs that I probably was over qualified for.  We all know that assumptions are wrong, especially those made about a life that you cannot completely control.

Instead of believing that something greater was coming, I was bitter that it was not here right now.  Instead of focusing on being able to sustain and still keeping things together, I focused on the things that I could have been doing if I was working.  But then I was reminded of why I left my job back in 2011.  I was extremely unhappy, my previous positions lacked autonomy, and I did not feel that I was appreciated or encouraged to grow.  After I realized that I never wanted to go back to being into that type of situation, I sat back and became patient again.

With my renewed patience I began to process my pain.  I realized that I needed to be humbled.  I had to begin to understand that I was not above growth.  I felt that I was doing so much that I did not need to grow in any area of my life because I was DOING things.  I did not have to pray more, focus more, read more, balance more, love more or think more.  I did not feel that I had to be fixed because I had made it this far being who I was.  Once I started to process my pain, I realized the agony came from me pushing against the process instead of learning as I endured.

It is hard to tell someone to enjoy the pain.  It is not easy to convince yourself that these feelings of depression are only temporary.  I acknowledged that these feelings are normal but I allowed them to consume me.  I allowed my situation to take over my outlook.  Even when I was able to come up for air, something would happen that would make me feel that I needed to stay under in order to survive.

When I began to take control of the things I had power over, I started to feel better.  Updating my financial spreadsheet and creating a debt elimination plan helped me see that I was not too far under or behind to catch back up.  Reconnecting with my friends and having very frank conversations about my personal struggles helped us all to see that we are all going through and growing continuously.  Finally, not being so hard on myself for being upset that I am unemployed was an okay feeling to have and there should only be an issue if I ever lost the desire to work despite my dreams and aspirations.  This feeling of uneasiness pushed me to continue applying, to continue asking for help from others, to continue exposing my vulnerability and need for others to survive.

For all of these things I am grateful.  I am still processing my current pain and hope to go through my next valley with a better mindset.  I am growing and growth is a beautiful thing.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Don’t Be The Hold Up To Your Blessing

Desiring to be at a certain place at a certain time, prevents us from being at the right place at the right time.  When we are not where we want to be at a certain point in our life, we turn and begin to point fingers at everyone and everything that could have possibly prevented us from accomplishing our goals.  We complain and validate ourselves instead of taking time for introspection.  We waste time defending our credentials instead of yielding ourselves to the process of being humbled and learning patience.

The time we spend refusing to listen and learn is time that could have been used to get through and to where you are supposed to be.  Our posture is preventing us from passing through this phase.  We refuse to be broken down, we refuse to cry, we refuse to scream, we refuse to get on our knees and pray, so we suffer.  Our strength becomes a barrier to our heart. We want the blessing but we do not want to change who we are, how we think, or increase our faith.  We feel as if what we have been doing is good enough and anything more is simply icing on the cake.  But if you want to get more, you have to give more.

You can’t move higher in any area of your life without increasing your sacrifice, your skills, and your stability.  Many times we give just enough and end up with more, but there comes a point where you can only exude excellence and your sacrifice to get there, remain there, and grow from there is great at all times.  You cannot be running around wasting money, time, and your talents and expect to get to the level that many others never even get to see.  You can want more but if you do not give more of yourself and invest into your dreams, you will continue to gain but never achieve your ultimate goals.

Many people are very talented.  Therefore, when you proclaim to be talented and want to be recognized for your talent, you have to continuously refine your skills, take notes from the greats, and increase your value.  People are not going to simply see your talent and elevate you, but they must see that you are passionate, progressive, and punctual.  Timing is everything.  If you don’t see the urgency in being better than other people won’t rush to ensure that you are given that crucial moment to prove yourself.  Once you set yourself apart others who SAY they are great, you will be recognized as the one who can stand among those who you have looked up to your entire life.

Being stable has everything to do with being able to focus on the prize and not being swayed by the popular or easy choices.  Being stable has to do with being mentally prepared to go through some anguish, lonely nights, and potentially a road of many failures before achieving success.  Being stable is not selling yourself short because you want more now instead of the grand prize later.  You have to possess the fortitude, patience, and drive to keep going even when people stop believing in you, stop supporting you, or start to talk about you.  Your mind has to be prepared to not begin to be consumed by doubt, fear, or negativity.  You have to be stable and be able to steadily walk the road to the end.

We are the only person that can get in the way of our blessing.  We think that it may be others that hindered us but we are the ones that allowed those people to be in our lives past their expiration date.  If someone is weighing you down, no matter who they are, you have to separate yourself from them or they will drain or deter you from getting to that next destination.  Many people don’t even know they are being used by the enemy to prevent you from reaching your goals, but it is not their job to recognize their role, but yours and you have to be prepared to remove them from your life expeditiously.  The longer you allow those to leach on to and drain you, the longer it will take for you to be able to focus on what matters.

When we look back at the mistakes that we have made, we have to be ready to see ourselves for who we are and not what others tell us we are.  People may say that you are strong, driven, and passionate, but only you know where you have fallen short.  You know where you are weak and although your strength, drive, and passion may have been good for the level that you are on, the next level requires more.  I have learned to stop allowing my past to be my reason for not having great credit, for being so deep in debt with student loans, or for not being where I thought I should be.  If I did not go through those things, I would not have met the many angels that God has used to assist me along the way.  If I would have had a different life, then my compassion, empathy, and outlook would be different.

So I am learning to embrace my past and present and use it as my stepping stone instead of my shackles.  I have got out of my comfort zone and become okay with being uncomfortable.  I have decided that my path to greatness may not look like everyone else’s but I will get there when I am supposed to be there.  I have learned that the only person that is hindering me from receiving my blessing is me, myself, and I.  I no longer desire to be at this level, so I have decided that increasing my sacrifice, refining my skills, and working on my stability is what I am going to focus on until I get there.

Stop pointing fingers at others or your circumstances.  Instead focus on you.  Do not be the hold up to your blessing.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Redefining My Relationship With Religion

I have been very vocal about my disappointment and craggy relationship with religion and the concept of church over the past few years.  My generation is one of the first to take organized religion and church off of a pedestal and examine the structure and concept against what it has always stood for.    Many of us are struggling to reconcile the idealism that we grew up believing and the realization discovered from the critical analysis of an institution that has done so much damage to so many people.  This struggle has caused many within my generation to detach from religion, church, or any type of organized thinking that may be oppressive or controlling.  This generation refuses to simply accept the church for all of its good without discussing all of the bad.

Although I felt like I had found my dream church, I decided that I was not ready to be apart of that congregation because I needed to redefine my relationship with religion, or I would eventually be let down again.  So I stopped attending church and started working on my relationship with God.  I have always had a strong relationship with God and I learned to pray very early on in life.  I pray often, I pray hard, and I pray for myself, my family and many others.  I have read the Bible from front to back and have a good handle of the well used verses that preachers use to engage his/her parishioners with on a Sunday morning.  Despite all of this, I could not understand why I struggled with the things that were being yelled from the pulpit and the things that God was laying on my heart.  This is where my relationship needed more definition.

I have discussed this struggle with a few friends and received many different reactions and commentary.  I have a few friends who are just like me and would rather stay away because church is “not what it used to be.”  I have a few friends who are still into church and are able to separate those expectations from their relationship with that church.  Then there are the friends who go for the good and leave the bad right where it needs to be, with the person who brought that mess in.  I tried to decide if I was okay with being away from church forever and raising my son as a spiritualist or become more like one of the last two examples of friends I discussed.  This is what I have been contemplating gently over the past few months and strongly over the past few weeks.

I do not know how to become apart of something, yet be detached enough to not allow any mess within the church to bother me.  I do not know how to appreciate the good things of a church and leave the bad with the person that brought it to the table.  But my lesson was God saying that He wanted me to be myself and myself only.  If my desire is to be emotionally involved with a church, then that should be how I engage and involve myself in that ministry. But before he allowed my heart to desire being in fellowship in that environment, I had more redefinition of my relationship with religion and my relationship to go.

Growing up in a very religious household with my grandparents, my life revolved around church.  Everything we did and everywhere we went centered around what was going on at church.  All of my close friends were in church and we did everything together.  Church was our life.  Religion filled our ears and heads with rules to abide by and consequences that would follow if any of these rules were broken. Most of the consequences ended in going to hell, simply put.  So we did not pierce our ears, celebrate pagan holidays, wear pants to church, not wear stockings when wearing a dress, cut our hair, sit on the front row with our legs uncovered or any of the other rules that dominated our sect of Pentecostalism.  Now that I am free from the bondage of expectation, I realize that these words were a way to create normalcy but the issue was the attitude that came against anyone who violated these rules.

I look back at how my grandfather operated and I do not feel as if he was preaching condemnation but simply setting a standard.  Although I was young, I would listen to the sermons and try to comprehend what was being said.  I helped him with his sermons after he lost his sight and even heard one recently and yearned for his wisdom.  But many of the things that went on in that church while my grandfather pastored that church and even after he got sick and later passed, I learned of as an adult and that is what broke my spirit.  I was so angry that my eyes began to see many of the other terrible things that were going on in churches around the country.

I began to ask questions about other preachers in the pulpit like, “How can a man preach in the pulpit when he cheated on his wife?” or “How can a woman be condemned for having a baby out-of-wedlock but not a man?” or “What is so wrong about wearing earrings when people spend hundreds on gaudy suits and hats” or “How in the world is everyone going to hell if we all sin and fall short of the glory, yet only certain sinners are definitely going to hell?”  These questions plus so many more had me torn because I saw the church and the leaders within the church as ones who lived by the word of God.  I saw the church as a safe place and not one in which people were raped or molested.  I saw the church as a place that built people up, not tore them down for every mistake that they may have made.  I saw the church as a Supreme Being and not one created by man.  That is where I was getting it wrong. 

God revealed to me that the Church is just a body of believers who are trying to hear my voice and follow my word.  The Church is a place to worship and lay your burdens at the altar but also a place to learn from your mistakes.  The Church is a place where you replenish your soul through the word, fellowship, and service.  The Church is greater than anything one man could destroy alone by his acts, words, or sin.  Within these revelations I began to see for myself that I allowed others to make me believe that the church was equal to God.  That I wrongly believed that the Church was the only way to get to God even though I knew I knew him for myself and had a strong relationship with God outside of church.

I know that if something is for you, it is for you and you alone, but if you are not prepared to receive it or use it for the right purposes, that individualized blessing will pass you and be given to someone else.  Missed opportunities.  And NOW for me going to church is simply an opportunity to affirm what God has already spoken to me.  It is not the only opportunity, but one that is organized and built around this convoluted concept of religion.  The purity of my relationship does not depend on the purity of the leadership of a church.  But when I feel that I am not being fed, God’s word is not being affirmed, or I am too distracted by the darkness of a church leadership then that is not the place for me to worship.

Church is simply an opportunity.  If you do not seize the opportunity to fellowship, it does not mean that you do not know God, that you are any less of a Christian (insert any religion), or that you are missing out on what God has for you.  What is for you, is for you and God will get it to you through a pastor, a friend, an article, a song or by any means necessary.  That is how He works.  I have chosen to not be apart of any structure that does not build me up or support my current relationship with God.  I have chosen to take opportunities to affirm what God has already placed on my mind and heart.  I have chosen to be myself and when I can no longer be myself in that ministry, to search for another place of worship.

I know that God has a calling on my life.  I do not think it is to stand in a pulpit and preach a word but I know that it is to spread His word.  I understand that no matter how far I run from religion or church that I cannot run from God.  I believe that this generation will get back to the relationship and stray from the religion.  I want my son to experience the love and support of a church community that I have received over the years.  I promise to protect him from the evil within and to answer the questions that stir up some sort of doubt in his mind about what has been said to him from a religious leader or teacher.  I vow to approach this church thing differently so that no man can disappoint me and push me away from something I love.  I love to fellowship.  I love to worship.  I love to praise.  I am a church lady (as my friend often reminds me) and I can be that person without being caught up in who is delivering the word and more invested in what is being delivered through the word.

I am going to continue redefining my relationship with religion until I settle in a place where I am on a solid rock.  This is literally the beginning of a series of posts about my own struggles with my faith and reconciliation with what I have been taught and what I have learned or believe is truth.  I know many people won’t understand this post or agree and I can accept that, but for those who know that there has to be a change in the way we connect with those in this generation that seek God then I welcome your comments and opinions.

I will never stop walking this walk.  Who helps guide my walk may change but where I am going will not.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.