Dedicated to the memory of my brother James P. Coleman III 9/1/63-7/1/17
A great sadness showed up on my doorstep on July 1, 2017. That is the day that my family and I received the sad news that my big brother, James P. Coleman III, who we affectionately called "Little Jimmy" had died. My brother was only 54 years young, which is three years younger than our mother was when she departed this world back on October 4, 1999, after a long and courageously fought battle against lung cancer. I don't have to tell you, that we are all devastated and are still dealing with the emotional impact of his sudden departure from our lives and the heartache this loss has left behind. Just like with my mother, my brother was too young to die. There was so much more that he had left to do in the lives of others. One of the mantras that my brother lived by was , "Be a blessing to others." This was his way a way of life for him despite his own personal pain or struggles, he always found a way to "be a light in a dark place." Although, I am saddened at the loss of my brother, I take comfort in knowing that he is no longer in pain and he is in the presence of the Lord and in the arms of his mother once again.
Death often has a way of reminding us about the roles that people play in shaping our lives and just how short life really is. It wasn't until my brother's passing, that I actually realized just how much of an influence he had on my life and how much his guidance, over the years has shaped my way of thinking. Not only that, it is during this time that God has also reminded me about all of the good times and memories that my brother, sister and I have shared while we were growing up in New York. I am reminded of how he protected and stood up for me when others threatened to cause me harm. He really took to heart the words that our father instilled in him, "Always protect your sisters!" There is a funny story behind this that I want to share that illustrates just how serious he took his role as "protective big brother." In elementary school, one day I was waiting my turn on the swings and I accidentally got a little too close and next thing I know, I found myself lying flat on the concrete with a huge, bloody gash over my right eye, that would result in my needing stitches. Word of my unfortunate accident somehow made it's way to my brother. Long story short, later that evening, there was a knock at our front door. Guess who it was? It was the grandmother of the girl who accidentally kicked me. Come to find out, my brother and one of his friends decided to beat the girl up who had kicked his little sister in the eye! I'm still not sure why his friend felt the need to get involved, but nonetheless they both got in big trouble! LOL! We laugh about that now but it wasn't so funny back then! Truth be told, back then I can remember feeling loved by my brother because of his protection! I am eternally grateful that I had a big brother who always had my back! Yes, we may have fought like cats and dogs at times, which is just part of the whole sibling thing, but in the end I knew that my brother would always protect me.
In addition to protecting me, my brother also had a profound impact on my life in a far reaching way. It was because of my brother's urging and insistence, that I attended the world renowned HBCU, Tuskegee University, which I graduated from in 1987 with a degree in Business Administration. I will be perfectly honest with you, Tuskegee was not the first choice on my list of colleges. I have to admit that I was in a little bit of a "culture shock" when I first arrived on campus in the small town of Tuskegee, Alabama back in 1983. Yeah, I was feeling "some kinda way" about my surroundings. A feeling that would soon subside, thanks to my brother paving the way for me and introducing me to all of his friends, some who would also eventually become his fraternity brothers (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.) and extended family. At the time I wasn't so sure that it was a good thing because for I while I had become known as "Coleman's little sister!" However, in the long run, it worked itself out and I established my own identity and found my way. My brother's passing has not only brought back some wonderful memories, but it has also brought back some wonderful people into my life. People who loved my brother dearly!
As my family and I attempt to process and come to grips with the great sadness, that has taken a seat at the table of our lives, I take comfort in knowing that so many people loved and embraced James during a time when he needed it the most. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. To tell you the truth, "Thank you" just doesn't seem adequate enough. You are appreciated and loved.
RIP James...my big brother...my protector, oh and by the way...tell Mommy that I miss her!
Lately I have been thinking about the many ways that God has chosen to work through me as a "vessel of change" to impact the lives of others. Although, I am grateful to be one of the chosen ones, I often find myself wondering "why" God has chosen to work through me? As we often do, I tried to rationalize what didn't need further explanation because He quickly answered my question with..."Why not you?" As simplistic as this may seem, it made me realize that despite our imperfections, we all have a purpose and can be a "vessel of change" that impacts the lives of others, if we are willing to listen to God's instruction. Despite our brokenness, we all have a story to share and every time that we share our story with others, we lift them up which then lets them know that they are not alone in their struggle. Often in the middle of the struggle we do not know the "why me" in the midst of a struggle. It wasn't until recently that God enlightened me to the fact that it's during these times that He is growing me up!
This brings to mind a book that I read many years ago, written by Author, Patsy Clairmont, that she brilliantly titled, "God uses Cracked Pots!" In her book, Patsy humorously points out through examples of her own imperfections, how God even finds use for the blunders in our lives and does not waste any of it! Yes, God finds a purpose even for our shortcomings. Since starting out on this journey, I have often come face to face with my own imperfections, but in doing so, I have learned how to understand and accept "conviction" and not live with "condemnation." What's the difference you ask? First of all, we are not built for condemnation. Condemnation is a tool used by our oppressors (aka the enemy) to keep us from fulfilling all that God has purposed for our lives. It's that voice whispering in your ear that you are not worthy of forgiveness. On the other hand, conviction allows you to grow and learn from your mistakes. It is that voice that whispers in your ear "I forgive you and I love you despite your imperfections!" BOOM!
I am grateful that God has chosen me as a vessel to invoke change in the lives of not only those who are stuck after getting laid off, but also in the lives of the many people that He has allowed me to meet along the way. It confirmed for me that my trials, can actually be the answer to someone else's problem. Therefore, my willingness to be transparent throughout my journey has empowered others to discover their life purpose and ultimately fulfill the plan that God has for their life. For this I am eternally grateful and to that I say, "Thank you Lord!"
On Friday, March 3rd, the movie "The Shack" brought to you by the same producers of such blockbuster hits as "The Blind Side" and "The Life of PI," opened in theaters nationwide to a welcoming audience. What's the big deal, you ask? I'll tell you what the big deal is! I have eagerly anticipated the release of this movie for a number of reasons that fans of the book will appreciate and understand. First and foremost, since I first caught wind of this masterfully crafted story, I have been captured by the simple message that it communicates...that "GOD is good all the time!" More importantly, it reminded me that "GOD is especially fond of me!" As simplistic as this may sound, I myself often forget the existence of and the power that His love for me has on my life. Not only that, even though I make mistakes, lose my temper from time-to-time and pretty much make a mess of things, He loves me unconditionally despite my imperfections! I don't know about you, but I have to be reminded of this (often) when I start to feel unappreciated or unloved in the midst of life's relationships. The Shack has been a resource that I have used over the years to remind me just how good He is!
For those of you who are not fans, you might still be wondering what all the fuss is about. In order to understand this you must first know what the author's use of the title, The Shack, means and what it represents. Young explains in an interview, "The title of the book is a metaphor for the house you build out of your own pain and for the places you get stuck, you get hurt, you get damaged...the thing where shame or hurt is centered." There it is! It is a place where secrets dwell and hide behind a façade of normalcy while the wounded, broken and lonely person hides inside the shelter of the internal "shack."
What this book and now the movie, has done for me is to be a constant reminder of God's love for me. It is a constant reminder in a world that is often unkind or compassionate, that I am loved and more importantly...NEVER ALONE! If you haven't already read the book or seen the movie, I suggest that you make time to do that and let the healing begin! #nomoreshack #evictiontime #nomorewalls #breakfree
I started the journey of writing this book approximately 2 years ago after God spoke the vision for it into my spirit. It was not the first time that He spoke "Vision" into me. Matter of fact, God shares the plans and purpose that He has for me quite often. But He always leaves it up to me whether or not I am going to obey. After discovering the scripture, Jeremiah 29:11 and studying and understanding the depth of it's meaning...why wouldn't I obey? The central theme throughout the book of Jeremiah focuses on reminding us that we are all born with a purpose and as long as we stay focused on God, despite any opposition that we may encounter; you will prevail in fulfilling your God ordained purpose.
Don't get me wrong, by no means am I remotely suggesting that this is easy to do because nothing can be farther from the truth. If I am being honest with you and myself, at times it can be an almost insurmountable task to look fear in the face and keep moving forward! Lord knows I know this feeling all too well! But, it was during my most challenging times that I was reminded about the promises of Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." WOW!
Throughout this journey of discovery and following my life's purpose, God has revealed to me some valuable lessons. One of the most important lessons that He has taught me is that I should not work harder at accomplishing the dreams of others. This was a hard one for me because of the uncertainly that I felt about my own gifts and talents. We often don't see in ourselves the gifts that God has blessed us with and so we allow this uncertainty to distract us from following the dreams and plans that God has purposed for our lives out of fear. I will admit thatI was afraid, but of what? Author Steven Pressfield described it best when he said, "We fear that we will succeed. We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us." Because of this fear, I allowed myself to start following and working harder at fulfilling the dreams of others. So how do you break free from this self-defeating mindset? Simply put, start following your heart because the heart is where the Holy Spirit lives.
As we enter into another new year, let God lead you into fulfilling the purpose that He has detined for your life. Know that He has put you on this earth for a specific reason and purpose. Don't allow others to distract you from using your gifts in the way that God has ordained for you to use them. In doing so, this might mean that you may have to set some boundaries and close the doors on some opportunities that have run their course. Don't be afraid to step out on faith. If God led you to it He will see you through it! Let go and let God lead you into your season of prosperity! In other wordsd don't fall for the "okey-doke!"
Happy New Year!
It is with a grateful heart that I officially announce the completion of my first book, "There is Life After Layoff-Rediscovery and Empowerment Journal!" I have to admit that I have been filled with a multitude of emotions because without a doubt, this is one of the most significant accomplishments of my life! I am so humbled and grateful to God for seeing in me what I did not see in myself. I am humbled and grateful that He trusted me with the gift to inspire others through my journey. I am grateful and humbled that during the times when life distracted me He guided and allowed me to meet and build a relationship with someone who helped to hold me accountable and get me back on track. He always knows what we need when we need it! During those times when I didn't know where the resources would come from, He opened up a window or door of opportunity for me to be able to earn just what I needed! It was during these times that I realized that not only was this journey a divinely inspired one but also a divinely funded one!
Words do not seem to be enough for me to express the gratitude that I feel to all of the people who believed in me and encouraged me along the way. Thank you for sowing a seed of love into this journey! You know who you are! Now that I have birthed this baby, it's time for me to hear from God regarding the next step in my journey! Yes, I'm planning to get pregnant with a purpose again ya'll! When you are living a life honoring and in relationship with God, there is no such thing as getting your tubes tied! Ready for the next baby! Online Store
It has been a long journey towards fulfilling this part of my God-ordained destiny! Yes, it is with great excitement and enthusiasm that I share with you the "World Premier" of the trailer for my first book, There is Life After Layoff-Rediscovery and Empowerment Journal! Stay tuned for the official publication announcement! God is so good!
If you think about it, this is a very powerful and thought provoking question for so many reasons. Seriously, it's a simple question that required me to do some really serious soul searching. With that said, I ask, "Are you one of those people who hold other people responsible for your happiness? Are you one of those people who blame others for why you are not where you want to be in your life? Are you one of those people who make up all kinds of excuses for why you can't accomplish or pursue your dreams? Are you one of those people who look to others for accolades and validation?" Things that make you say "hummm!"
If I asked myself these questions early on in my journey, I would have to answer "Yes" to all of the above. But why? After giving this some thought, I was taken back to my childhood. Taken back to a time when I was never really comfortable in my own skin. I was made to feel this way by others who said things to me like; "You think that you are cute because you are light skinned and have long hair!" WHAT??? Crazy right? Because of this narrow minded way of thinking by others, who I now recognize as having had their own personal insecurities; I was bullied and picked on often. It left me feeling ashamed of who I was. As a child, this can be a very tormented and lonely existence. Thankfully I had a loving family who supported and loved me through this torment. Funny thing though, I never actually shared how I felt with anyone. But God knew.
Growing up with this type of mindset proved to be detrimental for me in the area of relationships. Mainly because I did not fully love myself, plus at the time I did not have a personal relationship with God, so I searched for and settled for love in all the wrong places. I didn't realize that the love that I was seeking and longing for was always readily available and not from a "MAN." The way that I look at it, God was preparing me for something and He needed me to learn "whose and who" I am by going through the struggles and trials that resulted from the choices that I made. I can even remember, when the Holy Spirit clearly spoke to me in a particular situation but I didn't listen and the result was almost always one that ended in heartbreak.
I am so grateful that I finally woke up and realized that God is the source, the author and the finisher of all things! My relationship with God is more important than anyone or anything on this earth! Jesus I want you!
It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a Rhodes Scholar to figure the terrible state that the world is in at this present time. All you have to do is turn on the TV news, listen to the radio in your car, oh and let's not forget social media, to hear about all of the spew of hatred that is going on! I don't usually get involved with sharing my opinion about such things publically, but I would definitely be remiss if I didn't share thoughts about the social injustices and senseless violence going on in this country and abroad.
It is really scary to say the least! Just the week before last, we were notified by a neighbor about a man shooting people in a nearby neighborhood that is located on the street that our subdivision is on. For this reason, police had our street blocked off at certain points and had to even evacuate a specified area. Sadly, one person died and another was seriously injured before the perpetrator eventually ended his own life. I don't know about you but, this was a little bit to close to home for me! It saddens me that in 2016, innocent people are being senselessly killed on the basis of race or socio-economic background, over money, greed, jealousy and the list goes on and on. What happened to LOVE?
It wasn't until the other day, when I was out enjoying my morning run, that I heard this song on Pandora and it made me realize something that I had forgotten. The title of the song says it all, "There's Hope!" As I listened to the words of this very powerful and beautifully written song by India Arie, I was reminded of who's ultimately in control. The song hits the nail on the head about the power of HOPE! Taking it one step further, I was also reminded about an acronym:
He Offers Peace Everyday!
So although I am saddened by the state of our world, I continue to pray and I have HOPE! It's a mindset and a choice that we have to make everyday. Therefore, I choose, PEACE, I choose HOPE but more importantly, I choose GOD! He is the author and the finisher of all! This is the day that He has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! Get in line with His word and it just migh change your life!
In recent months past, the world has lost two iconic legends of enormous stature. Although different in relation to the gifts and talents that they shared with the world, they were alike in more ways than you think. A few attributes that these men of great talent shared were that they are both great men of faith and vision - who changed the world and served as innovators in their respective crafts, inspiring millions across the globe. Both were also prodigy's at a young age. Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) at age of 12, was introduced to the sport of boxing by a neighborhood cop.
In 1960 he won the Gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics and then later at the age of 22, he secured the world heavyweight championship by defeating Sonny Liston in a stunning upset. This was only the beginning of what would become a historic career leading to 3-World Heavyweight championships not to mention becoming one of the most successful and celebrated public figures in history.
Prince Rogers Nelson displayed remarkable musical talent as early as the young age of 7 when he penned his first song. As a teenager he was successful in landing a groundbreaking recording deal. On his first project Prince is to have played all 27 instruments, in addition to producing, arranging, composing and performing all of the tracks. Prince earned some of the highest musical honors, including seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for the Purple Rain soundtrack and so much more.
Despite their young age, both Muhammad Ali and Prince did not let youth prevent them from pursuing their passion
Another major similarity between these two great men, is that they took a stance for what they believed in even though the personal and professional losses were great. It was Muhammad Ali who back in 1967 took a stance against the Vietnam War based on his religious convictions, by refusing to allow himself to be drafted to fight in a war he did not believe in. As a result he was stripped of his heavy weight titles, banished from boxing for 3 years as well as facing 5 years of imprisonment.
Just like Muhammad Ali, in 1993, Prince took a stance against his record label Warner Brothers and launched a 7 year battle when he protested against the lack of artistic control and ownership of his music. During this time Prince displayed the word "SLAVE" on the side of his face and even went so far as to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol to prove a point.
,They are also alike in that they both bear the scars of giving their all to their respective careers and having done so, suffered in later years as a result. Muhammad's battle with Parkinson's Disease was reportedly an outcome from all of the head blows that he endured throughout his boxing career. He struggle with the disease helped to shed new light and add a face of dignity for all those who suffer from this oftentimes debilitating disease. Something that I know on a personal level, having a father who has been living with the disease for a couple of years now. Prince had his own struggles as a result of years of performing in high heels which eventually led to hip replacement surgery and a suspected addiction to pain killers. Both made sacrifices all for the love of their loyal fans and their careers.
I can go on and on about just how similar these two "unapologetically proud" men were but what resonates the most in my mind about them is their willingness to take a stand for what they believe in and for what was right for others, regardless of the costs. Standing firm in your belief and doing what you feel is right, is not always the popular or easy thing to do. It certainly takes courage and integrity but more importantly it takes "character." With that said, I would like to leave you with this quote made by American Football Player and Coach John Wooden:
Rest in Peace Prince and Muhammad Ali. Thank you for your contributions towards making this world a better place. Most of all, thank you for being a shining example of what "COURAGE" really looks like.
Just recently I was blessed to celebrate another year of life! Not only am I grateful but humbled that God has continued to use me as a "vessel of change" to make a difference in the lives of others. When I think about it, I get emotional that He is using my journey to inspire and uplift others out of their difficult life circumstances. Yes, little ole me! There was a time when the voices in my ear whispered "You are not worthy, nobody wants to listen to what a laid-off wife and mother of two has to say!" Fortunately, I did not listen to those negative voices and continued to allow God to use me to bless others.
It is the enemy's job to try to distract you from accomplishing what it is God has planned for your life. He will throw everything at you but the kitchen sink, (and sometimes the sink) to try to cause you from pursuing your purpose. It is up to us to recognize these distractions at their onset. The tough part is being able to recognize a distraction because they come disguised in many ways. It wasn't until I read "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield that I was able to recognize them in their many forms.
Now armed with a new found awareness, I am more determined to not give in to the tricks of the enemy and to complete and accomplish all that God has purposed for my life. I look forward to another year of Purpose and Plenty as I continue my journey in this thing called life!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
Just recently a good friend of mine, Ryan Kilgore, shared a YouTube video with me, that touched my heart to the core. It was a "Thank You" video that was created for him by Gary, a Quality Life Coach along with a young man named Jason who has cerebral palsy. Jason wanted to send a word of "Thanks" to Ryan, a very talented saxophonist who recently toured with Stevie Wonder on his "Songs in the Key of Life" Tour. Jason wrote a song to thank him for taking time to meet with him (along with one of the background singers) to give personalized attention and encouragement after Jason (a lifelong Stevie Wonder fan) attended a concert in Buffalo last year.
After watching the video and wiping the tears that flowed, it made me realize that God is the great orchestrator of life and that nothing happens by accident! I firmly believe that God orchestrated Jason's meeting with Ryan and knew the blessing and impact that it would leave on Jason's life. Since starting this journey, God has orchestrated and provided me with the opportunity to meet, connect, network and build friendships with so many inspiring people of purpose! It never ceases to amaze me how He always know when to send just the right people into my life at just the right time! He knows what I need before I even know what I need!
But then again.....He is GOD!
What does it mean to surrender all? The process of surrendering to God is in reality the process of tearing down thought patterns (strongholds) that keep me from yielding to God. In II Corinthians 10:5, it tells me exactly what I am doing when I surrender to God:
“I am destroying speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and I am taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus.”
The truth of it all is that as God's creation, I was not put here on earth to fend for myself. It was not until I discovered this reality, and started to believe it, that I am able to surrender every facet of my life to Him. This is no easy task and one that requires me to work on every day, all day. Because if I don't my thoughts will start to take over and I am no longer trusting God to see me through the struggles and challenges of life.
Recently, I sat down with one of my spiritual mentors to discuss this very topic. Take a listen as my special guest, Maura Gale, Actress, Author, Spiritual midwife, and motivational speaker, had a candid and revealing conversation about what it means to "Surrender All" in your life. You will be blessed!
Wife and mother of two, pursuing my life purpose after getting laid off! Read more on my About Me page.
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