Life Is Like A Lemonhead…

A few days ago I learned a valuable lesson from a Lemonhead (the candy)! Now I know some of you are thinking, “What in the world?” But I promise you the Lemonhead really taught me something. So here it goes….
Thursday morning, before my 3rd period class came in, one of my former students stopped by to see me. As she came in I noticed she had a bag of different types of old school candy. She offered me a piece and after digging through the bag, I settled on a jumbo Lemonhead. Some of you all know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been in a candy house, you definitely know. 
So I anxiously opened the candy and popped it in my mouth. Now I haven’t had a Lemonhead in YEARS. I think I forgot how tart and sour this candy really is! By this time my students were coming in the class and as they spoke to me, all they saw was my face twisted while my lips were tightly puckered and out. My mouth started getting tight, especially that little place behind my ear! (Y’all know what I’m talking about!😂) 
As the student stopped and stared in awe and a little disbelief, one student said, “Ms. Reaves, why don’t you just spit it out?” I honestly contemplated doing just that, but I thought about how much I really liked the sweet part of the Lemonhead. I knew if I held out a little while longer, I was going to get what I really wanted. Besides, I’d endured that sour taste too long not to enjoy the good stuff!
I finally made it to the sweet part of the candy and the biggest smile crossed my face! But what would have happened if I would have spit it out when it wasn’t enjoyable? What would have happened if I would have gave up on my Lemonhead right before I got to the sweet part? This is where God began to deal with me! Life can sometimes be just like a Lemonhead.
Occasionally, life can become sour. Things begin to happen that seem to knock you off of your feet. As soon as you get over one obstacle, another one shows up at your door. You look for a place of comfort and it’s nowhere in sight. You know that if you can just endure this hard place right now, you will soon enjoy the “sweetness” that will eventually come. Now I know that the sour place is hard. It’s almost unbearable. But you have to keep reminding yourself that you have what it takes to hold out. You know how to see it though. You were made to outlast hard times. So my encouragement to you today is to simply hold on! I don’t care how hard it seems to be right now, you got this! Even though it’s sour now, it won’t always be like this. Think about the other sour moments you’ve had before this. Just like you made it through then, what makes you think you won’t make it through now? I promise you, the sweet center is on the way! 

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By imtoughenough

It’s Harvest Time

Hey you guys!!! I know it’s been a while, but I appreciate you all for sticking around with me! Your support is incomparable. I’m back with a message that I pray blesses you as much as it blessed me! 
This morning I was laying in the bed when I suddenly heard loud rain hitting my window. There once was a time when I would cringe if I woke up and it was raining. The rain always seemed to be an inconvenience. It slowed me down. People have accidents in the rain. Outside activities are halted. However this morning I just simply smiled as the rain drops beat on the glass. 
Here lately it’s been doing a lot of raining. A couple of months ago I started to get aggravated with all the rain. But just as I fixed my mouth to complain, the Lord began to have a conversation with me. He asked me had I been planting seeds? I immediately answered, “YES”. He asked me had I been diligent in caring for the seed? I answered, “YES”. Then He asked was I ready for the harvest? With a huge smile I offered up a “YES”! He then said, “If you’ve got seed in the ground and you’ve been diligent in caring for your seed, the rain only means that the harvest is coming!” I got plum happy when I received that revelation! So now I celebrate rain! Rainy days are some of my favorite days. Now if you haven’t been planting, I can see why you may not like the rain, but if you’ve been sowing, then harvest time is upon you. 
So as I got up this morning, the Lord spoke again and instructed me to go outside and stand in the rain. Surprisingly, I didn’t give second thought to not doing it! I walked outside and stood in the rain until I was drenched. I looked up and I could see the clouds moving. As the rain ferociously hit me, I asked God to help me understand. The revelation was simple. The storm clouds bring the rain. Storms aren’t easy. Sometimes they seem to do more harm than help. However, we need what the storm brings which is the rain! So instead of wishing the storm away, we have to be grateful for it and embrace it because it is providing what we need the most for the harvest to come. As rain ran down from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, I was reminded that if I continue to stand firmly and not waiver in the storm, the promised harvest will overtake me. So now I offer the same to you! 

  

By imtoughenough

It’s Open Season

Now I’m definitely not a hunter, but here lately the words “open season” have been resonating in my spirit. Since I have no idea what those words mean in terms of hunting, I decided to do a little research. Open season is a phrase used to describe a period in which states allow a specific species of animal to be hunted with little to no restrictions. Season dates are often times to occur when the species’ population is at its maximum. Simply put, open season takes place when there is plenty of the specific animal to hunt. So what does this have to do with me and you? I’m so glad you asked.

At first I thought it was strange that I kept hearing those words, but now it all makes so much sense. I know for a fact that I am in OPEN SEASON! In this very moment the field is completely open. There are no restrictions or limitations on what I can have. The blessings are plentiful. I’m not just talking about tangible blessings either. I’m talking about those mind boggling miracles, signs, and wonder blessings that I was promised! All I have to do is GO GET IT! 

Understand that just because the season is open it does mean the prey is going to come easy. What I do know is that in this season, all I have to do is speak the words and put in the work and there is nothing that I can’t have. And the beautiful thing about it is that I’m not in this season by myself! All those who are connected to me are right here with me. It’s ours for the taking. All we have to do is make up in our minds that we are going to go get it!
So whose with me? Whose going to go get EVERYTHING that you know you are suppose to have? Whose going to go be EVERYTHING that you are suppose to be? Whose going to go do EVERYTHING that you are suppose to do? If I’m talking to you, then let’s go get it! No time to waste. We have a great window of opportunity and its up to us to seize it. I’m on my way to it and I encourage you to come along with me. It’s OPEN SEASON! 

 

 

By imtoughenough

The Day I Realized There Are No Ceilings

I’ve always considered myself to be a connoisseur of good music. I love a diverse variety of genres and artist. However, hip hop music has always been a favorite. Not the random spew of words that many rappers today consider music, but I’m talking about that hip hop in which the lyrics are pulpit worthy! A few years back Lil Wayne released a mixtape entitled “No Ceilings.” (The first one) This mixtape was my jawn! Now I’m not sure if Tunechi realized it or not but that statement has a strong spiritual undertone. As a matter of fact, the title was prophetic for many. So my question to you today is, “What would your life look like if there were no ceilings”? 

I was sitting at my desk Thursday morning and it’s like a lightbulb came on. I realized that I’d been living life with ceilings. Even though I’ve experienced some success, it was still with ceilings attached to it. Ceilings are used to represent limitations. For example, in a building or a room, a ceiling is used to limit the height of the room. Once the ceiling is complete, the structure can’t go any higher. So in essence, ceilings confine the the growth of something. Ceilings set limitations. 

So as I looked up at the ceiling, I I asked myself the same question. “What would my life look like if their were no ceilings?” I thought about all the areas in my life in which I’d placed limitations. I thought about the times that I’d talked myself out of something that I knew God had placed inside of me to do. I thought about the excuses that I’d put in place to prevent me from doing more than what I’m doing right now. I thought about all of the ceilings in my life. But then I had a quick glimpse of what could be if I actually got rid of the ceilings! 

You see when you take the ceilings off, possibilities are endless! So if we know this, why do we operate within ceilings? I’m so glad you asked! There is a level of discipline that is required to live a life without ceilings that most aren’t willing to embrace. Life without ceilings require an impeccable work ethic. It calls for great sacrifices. It forces many late nights and early mornings. You will pay with much sweat and many tears. You will have to let go off all of your fears. Doubt won’t be able to hang around. And you will have to step out on faith like never before, but in the end, I promise it’s worth it.

The question now becomes, “Are you willing to give what it takes to live a life without ceilings?” We can’t have the reward without the work. It just doesn’t work like that. When we make up our minds that there is absolutely nothing that we can’t do or have (and not just materialistic) that we open our mouths and ask for and are willing to put the work in that it’s going take to acquire it, that’s when we realize that there are no ceilings. So I’m here today to remind you that there are no ceilings except for the ones you create. Today lets make a declaration that there are no ceilings on your health. No ceilings on your wealth. There are no ceilings on your family. None on your career. Not one on your purpose. And definitely none on your destiny! Take all of the limitations off and live the life that you were created to live…..without ceilings!  

 

By imtoughenough

I’m Your Pusher 

About 13 or so years ago, the rap group, The Clipse, had a song out called “Grinding.” In the song, one of the artist consistently made the statement, “I’m your pusha”! Years later that statement is still ringing loudly in my head. I know some of you may be a little puzzled as to why, so let me explain….

If you know me, you know that I often talk about my second to none friends who are much more like family. These people love me unconditionally. They accept me with all my flaws. They genuinely want the best for me. And ultimately, they push me to be a better me. 

In thinking about the word “push” my mind goes to a woman giving birth. Once the baby is ready to come out, the doctor and all those around will often begin to chant “PUSH” to the woman. It is then that she will take a deep breath and push with all her might. Now usually the baby doesn’t just automatically pop out. This scenario repeats itself several times before the baby is actually born.

 The “push” is hard work. It is uncomfortable. It is tiring. It causes the woman to be irritable. During the push the woman is uneasy and I’m sure she is in pain. However, on the other side of that “push” is one of God’s most beautiful creations, a newborn baby. A baby that is full of potential. A baby that has the capability to change the world. A baby with endless possibilities. So what does this have to do with being a pusher? I’m glad you asked!

In life you need those people who will push you. These are the people that refuse to let you operate in mediocrity. They won’t stand by and watch you waste what God has put inside of you to do. They can easily recognize that you are pregnant with purpose and they understand their assignment is to help you birth that purpose. 

These pushers are the ones who don’t accept your excuses. They are the ones that have no issue jacking you up when you are living beneath your capability. These are the ones that don’t mind hurting your feelings in order to protect your destiny. Their words and actions are always undergirded in love. They love you too much to sit back and watch you squander the God given gifting that is in you.

Just like the woman in labor, when your pushers push you, it’s not always going to be easy to handle. The push is going to challenge you. It’s going to make you feel uncomfortable. You will probably shed more than a few tears. Your emotions don’t move your pushers because all they are focused on is the baby that is inside of you that needs to come out! 

So briefly do an evaluation of your circle. Are you surrounded by “yes” people who entertain your lackadaisical approach to your purpose? Are the ones closest to you even tapped into what’s really inside of you? Does their conversations and actions provoke you to do and be better than what you are right now? If not, it’s time to clean house. 

Don’t resist those that challenge who and where you are right now. Welcome them with open arms. They are simply there to push. So thank you to all of my pushers! I would not be where I am today without you. If you don’t have anyone of that caliber in your life, then today I’m going to be your pusher! There is more in you than what we are seeing now. Move past your feelings and your fears so that you can do and be everything that you were put on this earth to do! You’ve got what it takes!

  

By imtoughenough

Trade-Offs and Opportunity Cost

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3 KJV

In my economic class, there are two terms that I teach. Those terms are trade-offs and opportunity cost. Trade-offs occurs when you make a decision. This is when you choose one thing over another or when you sacrifice one thing in order to obtain another. Trade-offs create opportunity costs. Opportunity costs are those things that you give up when you make one decision over another or simply put, the thing you did not choose.

If I may, let me offer you a transparent moment. To say that this has been a rough week would be an extreme understatement. My aunt passed away last Saturday after a lengthy battle with cancer. This is the second child that my grandmother has had to bury (my father being the first). So I’ve been extremely concerned about her. My aunt has a 19 year old daughter who is a sophomore at WSSU. This story is all too familiar to me. Since I have been down this road before, my family felt that I was most suitable to deal with all things concerning my little cousin. However, one thing that I think they fell to realize is that in helping her through this, I had to go back to a place that I really don’t like visiting. This week I’ve experienced some feelings and emotions that literally shook me at my core. At times I felt like I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. I couldn’t focus. And I truth be told, I felt like a break down was nearing.
So here I was, standing face to face with some major trade-offs! There were some decisions that I had to make for the sake of my own peace and my sanity. Just when I thought I’d had all I could take, the word came to my rescue. The Lord laid this particular scripture on my heart. In the scripture the word says “to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”. The word “for” in this context represents some form of exchange, meaning in order to get something; you have to give something up.

So as the Lord continued to deal with me, it became clear that if I wanted the beauty, I had to make a decision to exchange my ashes. If I was going to receive the oil of joy, I had to give up the mourning that was trying to overtake me. If I was going to be adorned with the garment of praise, I had to offer God the spirit of heaviness that had almost become unbearable. I couldn’t receive what God was trying to offer me if I didn’t first let go of something that I was holding on to. So in making those trade-offs, it cost me the opportunity to be in turmoil. It cost me the opportunity to give up. It cost me the opportunity to stop fighting.

So how does this apply to you? The same way I had to let some things go so that I would be able to get what God was trying to give me, you do to. Do a brief survey of your life. If it’s peace that you need, you have to give him your troubles. If it’s healing you need, you have to give Him your infirmities. If it’s faith you need, you have to give Him your doubts. If it’s joy that you need, you have to give Him your sadness. If it’s courage that you need, you have to give Him your fears.

We can’t carry our burdens and the burdens that God has desire for us to have at the same time. We have to trade off with Him. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “ Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. God is trying to offer us His light burden, but it can only be transferred when we give Him ours. So the same way I had to give my “stuff” to God (my cousin, my Granny, my family, my heaviness), I think you should too! Stop trying to handle something that you aren’t equip to handle. If you could handle it all by yourself, what purpose would God serve? I promise you He will carry your heavy burdens, but only if you trade-off with Him.  So this week make a decision to trade your “stuff” with God so that He can release Himself to you.

By imtoughenough

Release in Order to Receive

Most people who know me know that I graduated from the greatest high school ever, Carver High School in Winston-Salem NC. You might not agree with that last statement, but hey, it’s my truth! So after graduating from college I had the opportunity to go back and teach at Carver for 3 years. Definitely one of the most fulfilling moments of my life. The chance to go back and give back to a place that offered me so much. 

Five years ago I was surplussed from Carver. This means that there were too many teachers in the building and some of us where forced to go to other schools. Out of all of the schools in the WSFCS District, I ended up teaching at my rival high school, Parkland. Now if you are from Winston or the surrounding areas. You know the Carver/Parkland beef. I could not believe this is where I was going to be planted in the next season of my life. 

One thing about Carver is that we’ve always had a pretty good football program (state champs in 99 and in 02). Coming to Parkland was different because football just wasn’t our strong suit. So this year, for the first time in 4 years, my former school and my current school were going to play each other. This was the talk of the town! Because I’m an alum and because my baby brother starts for Carver, I’d already made up in my mind that I would be sitting on the Yellow Jackets’ side. Interestingly enough, I teach quite a few of the football players. I constantly encourage them and show my support, but this time was going to be a little different.

As we approached the week of the game, the Lord began to deal with my heart about this game. He let me know that I needed to sit on the Parkland side on Friday night. Since I didn’t understand, I asked God “why”. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me. He then let me know that although Carver will always have a special place in my heart, I’m no longer in that place. I’m a Mustang and have been for the past 4 years.

Then the lesson came. God revealed to me that because I’d been so busy holding on to a place that was no longer producing fruit in my life that I couldn’t open my hands up to receive what He really had for me in this new place. How many times do we do this in our lives? We are so attached to our past that we refuse to let it go and we shut the door to the new blessings that God is trying to put in our hands. God is trying to put something new in our hands, but our hands are occupied because we won’t release what was.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the past. Not because it was so bad, but often times because we’ve had great success in the past. There were great accomplishments and accolades where we use to be. We helped a lot of people and produced great fruit. However, that season has ended and now we are in a new place where God desires to do a new thing. 

So even though my Mustangs lost that Friday night, I won. I learned a valuable lesson and my boys were excited to know that I was behind them cheering them on. So as you go through out this next week, remember that your past may have been great, but it can’t touch your future with a 10 foot pole!

  

By imtoughenough

What The Caterpillar Calls The Tomb, The Butterfly Calls The Womb

A while back I saw an interesting quote on Instagram. The quote read, “What the caterpillar calls the tomb, the butterfly calls the womb.” That quote has been stuck in my head every since. As children in school, we all were taught about the caterpillar and the butterfly. We learned about how a sluggish crawling creature magically transforms into this beautiful creation. After seeing the quote, I began my own little investigation on the process of the how caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

From the time the caterpillar hatches from the egg, the process or the preparation to die begins. The caterpillar slugs around eating leaves in order to grow bigger. This is necessary because if the caterpillar doesn’t get any bigger, it will affect the size of the cocoon.

Have you ever been in a place in your life in which you had to take in or like the caterpillar you had to just digest “life” as it happened? You didn’t understand why you had to go through certain situations or why you had to endure something that seemed unendurable? But the only thing you had to hold onto was the fact that God promised that this situation was preparing you for something greater that God had for you? If so, you can relate to the caterpillar.

One day the caterpillar stops eating, attaches itself to a leaf or a twig, spins itself into a silky cocoon and prepares to transform. So not only is the caterpillar aware that it’s getting ready to die, but it builds its own tomb. Have you ever been in a place in which God is taking you down what seems to be dark road and it may even look like destruction is at the end, but all you can do is stay focused on the promise that God gave you that something greater was coming? If so, then you can relate to the caterpillar.

Now once inside the cocoon, the very substance of the caterpillar begins to change. The caterpillar literally begins to digest itself and turns into a soupy like substance. However, not all of the organs disintegrate. There are these cells that were created in the caterpillar when it was still in the egg called imaginal discs. These disc will eventually form the eyes and the wings and the legs and antenna of the butterfly. So when everything else is a mess and is all out of order in the cocoon, these disc will always remain in place.

Have you ever been in a place in which everything around you seemed to be chaotic and in dismay but there is such peace, such joy, and plenty of contentment because you know that what is working on the inside of you is far greater than what is working against you? If so, you can relate to the caterpillar.

Inside the cocoon, a funeral is taking place. The caterpillar as we know it is dying. The life that it knew is being killed. So what would happen if the caterpillar decided to fight the process of being killed in the cocoon? What would happen if the caterpillar started to wrestle with itself about not succeeding to the process that it has to endure to become what it was created be?

So now let’s make this illustration live. You’ve done all that you were suppose to do at this level of your life and now God has you in a cocoon and He is trying to kill some stuff that is in you that will prevent you from being and doing what He created you to do. And I’m not talking about killing the stuff that everyone can see. I’m talking about when God is trying to kill that nasty attitude, or that defiant or rebellious spirit that seems to try to creep up in you. Or that disobedient and witchcraft spirit that occasionally waves it’s flag? Or what about that wasteful or unforgiving spirit that you keep dribbling and dabbling in?.

We spend so much time fighting the tomb that we forget that there is a womb that God is trying to put us in so that He can grow us and prepare us to be used for His glory! There has to be a death before the birthing could occur.  Just like the caterpillar has to die in order for the calling of the butterfly to be fulfilled, we must do the same.

So what is it that God is desiring to kill in you. What is it in you that is attempting to rise up and make itself greater than God. What in your life needs to be slayed at the root so that your purpose can blossom and fulfill its assignment in the earth? As we go through this week, meditate on those questions and give God free reign to do what He needs to do so that you can be what you are suppose to be.

It might look like a tomb, but I promise you it’s really just a womb!

By imtoughenough

The Power to Persevere

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. (‭Colossians‬ ‭1‬:‭11-12‬ NLT)

Over the past few months I’ve been having a reoccurring tooth ache. I’ve been to the dentist several times on attempt to figure out what the problem was. I’ve had X-ray after I X-ray and nothing was found. I’ve changed toothpaste, used oral gel, and several other home remedies only to have temporary relief.

One of my coworkers suggested that it maybe sinuses. I began taking Claritin D and FINALLY I had some relief. So every time my tooth would ache I would take the Claritin and the pain would leave….until last night. Last night I tossed and turned with this tooth ache as I prayed fervently for God to take the pain away. Suddenly, it’s like a light bulb came on. My prayer then changed. I told God if You choose not to take the pain away right now, Lord just give me strength to endure it because you know how much I can bare!

I would love to tell you that just like that the pain went away, but it didn’t. However God did grant my request. Although the pain did not cease, somewhere during the night I felt strengthened to hold out a little longer! My fight to not let that tooth ache get the best of me intensified! So even as I tossed and turned, I continued to confess God’s power over my situation. And it was His power that gave me the strength I needed in that moment!
Now I hope that none of you have to experience the pain I had with that toothache but understand that even if a situation in your life is getting what seems to be too much for you to handle, all you have to do is ask for God’s strength to endure. It isn’t always God’s will for Him to deliver us out of various circumstances, but it is His will for us to see it through.

 
So as we go throughout this week let our prayer be: God even though things are tough right now, I know that through your power, I’m TOUGHER! Father I pray for your strength to overtake me so that I will gain the power that I need to endure this place!  

 

By imtoughenough

What’s Working In You Is Far Greater Than What’s Working Against You

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I was invited to deliver the commencement address for my alma mater, Carver High School. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Carver. I know that it is because of the teachers, administrators, counselors, friends, and any more that poured into my life during my time as a student and even after, that I am the woman that I am today. And as most of you know, not only did I attend Carver as a student, but I spent the first three years of my teaching career there as well. So to be asked to come back in this capacity was nothing short of amazing!
When I received the call that I would be the speaker, I thought to myself, “I can’t go back home empty handed.” So we had the idea to give each of the graduates a signed copy of my book, “I’m T.O.U.G.H.” I contacted my publisher to see what the cost would be and she told me $500. 

So I pondered starting a GoFund me page, but then I realized that I know enough Yellow Jackets that would be willing to donate $20 so that we could make this happen. So I got on the phone and started calling people and in less than 24 hours, we had $410 of the $500 that was needed for the books!!!! But God was just getting started! The Lord laid it on my heart to do 3 $250 book scholarships. One would go to a student going to a community college, one to a student going to an HBCU, and one going to student going to a majority university.

I began to reached out via social media to as many people as I knew and in 2 weeks we were able to raise enough to purchase all of the books and “I’m T.O.U.G.H. wristbands, give 3 students a $750 book scholarship, and give each recipient a $100 Visa gift card! A total of over $3300!!! Look at how God worked this thing out!

The night before graduation I was not able to sleep! I was excited, anxious, and believe it or not, a bit nervous. Around 3AM I began to sob profusely. I tried to stop but I couldn’t contain it! As I cried I just kept telling God “THANK YOU!” Now usually when I tell God thank you, it is because of who He is or because of something good that He’s done, but this time was different. This time I had to thank Him for all of the hard times. I told Him thank you for the moments when I didn’t think I was going to make it and I couldn’t see my way through. I thanked Him for the many low places and the disappointments. Because it was on those moments that the woman that stood on that stage was MADE. The woman that I am today could not have been made in a bed of roses. The me who I have become could only be made in the trenches and the valleys of life, under extreme pressure! So I just had to tell Him THANK YOU! 

Often times we don’t give hardships the credit that they deserve. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, hard times are one of the greatest gifts ever. I know it’s hard to see it that way, but those hard times authenticate and develop something in us that God can use to enhance His Kingdom and to help somebody, including ourselves. So the next time you are facing a rough patch in life, I encourage you to do like James said, “Count It All Joy!” There is something far greater working IN you than AGAINST you! Enjoy your weekend!
  

By imtoughenough