It was a mistake.

We all know the “golden rule” – treat others how you want to be treated. I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard this saying in kindergarten as a guide for us kids to govern ourselves accordingly. However, we didn’t always adhere to the rule. And we probably created some kind of variation to the regulation that suited us better like “treat others how you want to be treated…that are kind to you – all them other folks, rude and the like, can kick rocks.” It’s like how you believe you can stack a +4 on a +2 in UNO, but UNO never created that rule, you did😂. But that’s not the point. The point is, are we actually doing what we say? I know we can’t expect ourselves out of other folks, so when placed in a situation where people treat you like dirt, how do you react? Do you treat’em like how you wanna be treated or do you have a “kick rocks” mentality? 

It’s story time. I was leaving Duchess – for ya’ll that don’t know, Duchess is, in my humble opinion, an elite fast food restaurant – after having purchased my breakfast – bacon, egg white and cheese on a soft roll with a medium orange juice (just in case you feel like blessing me one day lol). Anyway, on my way out, I realized way too late that I was leaving the parking lot from the entrance and not the exit, but it was wide enough where two cars could comfortably fit without causing an accident. It was a mistake, but I kept going because I believed reversing would cause more harm than good. As I was leaving, a woman started driving in, and I could see from the inside of her car that she was yelling at me. She even shook her fist! I calmly rolled down my window, and she did the same, and I hollered, “It was a mistake,” to which she responded, “Oh, my bad.” I think she thought I was doing it on purpose, which was foolish because why would I risk my life like that?? 

Anyways, the interaction reminded me of something I need to do more of even when others don’t, which neatly falls under the umbrella of the “golden rule” – extend some grace. I work part-time as a waitress, and when people come in with a frown or a grimace on their face, my hope and goal is that they leave with a smile by the end of their meal. It’s a small victory for me, but it also reminds me that everyone is dealing with battles, big and small, that they may never share. Because of that, they can react unfavorably towards you. However, I don’t want their demeanor to change the way I act toward them, any other customer or my team members. It reminds me of something my aunt told me, “be the thermostat not the thermometer – you set the temperature/tone in the room, not the other way around.” 

As a believer, life and how I perceive it always dials back down to the word of God. Is this saying supported in the Bible? And it is – “love my neighbor as I love myself” (Mark 12:31). So while others might not be so gracious to me, it’s my responsibility to love on them anyway, so they can see Christ working through me. Having a “kick rocks” mentality doesn’t benefit anyone especially me. If anything, that kind of mentality, I believe, could push me to think the worst about people. We all have bad moments, but it doesn’t mean those moments make up who we are. I wanna encourage you to on today to extend some grace. I know it may be hard at first, but the phrase “kill’em with kindness” is very real, and it’ll help you not to internalize how that person(s) is acting towards you. Hey – make it a mission! How can I “extend some grace” today? How can I “treat others how I want to be treated” today? How can I “love my neighbor as I love myself” today? Then do it! Be that blessing to others and watch how it’ll bless you. Selah.

Every Little Girl Needs Her Daddy

“There’s no door that God opens that man can close, and there’s no door that God closes that man can open.” 

I’m not quite sure where I first heard these words, I think one of my auntys’ said this to me, but whenever something starts or ends in my life, I always find myself repeating this statement. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered my personal mantra is actually in the bible, …These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open,” Revelations 3:7.

Lately, I find myself repeating this statement – they’re etched across my mind. Honestly though, these words are difficult to grapple with because I like to be in control. It’s one of my character flaws. In the past, I’ve dealt with many situations that were out of my control. One of those situations being dealing with a less than present father. My dad wasn’t perfect, he was and is human. He had issues of his own to deal with – personal demons just like everyone else. But when I was a child, none of this mattered. He was my superhero, my Superman. I remember driving around with him to run errands while blasting Buju Banton for the neighborhood to hear. One of his favorite past times was cooking. The kitchen was his sanctuary, and my favorite meal was his piping hot cornmeal porridge served with cocoa bread. No matter what time of day, his porridge truly blessed me as a kid. However, his demons interfered with our relationship, and I couldn’t see him anymore. 

As I grew up, he wasn’t in the picture. And it wasn’t until years later that we reconnected, and I realized my Superman was really Clark Kent, just as warped as the rest of us. While we were apart, he battled some beasts, beasts I wish upon no human. And I wish to God that he hadn’t. Maybe if he didn’t, he would have been around more. Every little girl needs her daddy. However, this was out of my control. I hated it then, and I get frustrated now when life spirals out of my control. There are times when I find myself disappointed with situations ending that I thought were supposed to play out successfully. However, instead of battling with the “why” of it, I practice saying, “There’s no door that God opens that man can close, and there’s no door that God closes that man can open.” Essentially, God is in control. I can’t make things happen as much as I want to, he makes it happen. 

Let’s put it this way, I can’t heal broken people, only God can. Just because I watch a million hours of Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t make a physician out of me – God is the ultimate physician. If I was able to heal someone, they would end up relying on me instead of God. And if people came to me for all of their issues, eventually they would see that I can’t do it all; I have limitations. However, God is unlimited – he is God of the impossible. And when people learn the characteristics of God, the loving, forgiving and protecting father that he is, they can come to him (instead of me) and form a relationship with him. He saves, sets free and redeems. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Christianity, however, is not for the faint of heart! I think there are individuals who believe that God is like a genie in a bottle, who I can rub and ask for three wishes. However, it’s not like that at all.

This relationship I have with Christ is by choice. No one forced me. I made the decision to rededicate my life to Christ because only he can save me from my sins, so I can live unashamed. Only he can deliver me from my issues, so I can be set free. And only he can redeem me from my past, so I can be made new & whole in him. God desires for me to dedicate my day and activities to him, but this takes practice. It’s not easy, and he never said it would be. However, it’s because of his grace that I am here. It’s because of his grace that I can share my story. And it’s because of his grace that I can share his love with others. With all that I’ve been through, I’m surprised that I haven’t ended my life, and I’ve thought about it. However, accepting Christ into my life gave me hope when I was hopeless. And don’t get me wrong, I do experience these feelings at times, but I am reminded of all that he has brought me through, and this reminder gives me the courage to push forward.

I’ve learned and am still learning to trust his plan for my life. He knows “the end from the beginning” Isaiah 46:10. And because he knows the end, he knows every event that will take place in the middle because he’s the author of my story down to the very detail. While this may be devastatingly frustrating at times to understand that God holds the pen and not me, I also find comfort in knowing that he is working out everything for my good. The plans he has for me are to “prosper [me] and not to harm [me], plans to give [me] hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Ciao for now,

Judaen

Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord – Michael W. Smith

The words of this song are a fervent call to God to open the eyes of my heart, which may seem word, but to me it means, I’m allowing myself to become vulnerable before God. I want, no, I need him to open my heart’s eyes to see who he is in my life. I find this song really uplifting, and I hope this song uplifts you, too!

In The Room

You ever heard the phrase, “you are not for everyone and everyone is not for you?” It’s true. Sometimes, you’re not meant to be “in the room.” When I say “in the room,” I’m referring to being included – either in a specific place or with a certain group of people.

I consider myself an ambivert. Sometimes, I prefer to be on my own doing my own thing (introvert), and other times, I like to be out and about with folks (extrovert). However, I don’t tip the scale on either end, I balance right in the middle. I can’t always be out (it’s taxing), but I can’t always be on my own either (I’m a people person), so ambivert. However, God has been dealing with me regarding being “in the room” or included.

Did you ever wonder why you were denied a position for a job, but your attitude, resume and references were killer? Or why you weren’t invited to a function with friends but others were? I think it’s because you weren’t supposed to be in the room or included for whatever reason. Only God knows.

My mom shared with me that sometimes you aren’t meant to be in a specific place or with a certain group of people because, plain and simple, you weren’t meant to be there. You weren’t meant to be “in the room.” You weren’t meant to be included. Exclusion was for your own good.

But it hurts. It hurts when you know the qualities you have could light up a whole stadium. It hurts when you see others being included and you aren’t. But hey, did it ever cross your mind that maybe they weren’t meant to feel your glow? Maybe they weren’t meant to see you radiate. Maybe they weren’t meant to feel that heat because if they did, they would burn. They aren’t capable of withstanding the flame, so cliche as it is, they gotta get out of the kitchen. But in this case, God has set you apart. He has placed you in a whole ‘nother kitchen because he knows something you don’t.

I can’t say that it will hurt less when individuals don’t see what you see, but I pray that you grow some tough skin, but still keep a soft heart. I pray that when you enter a room you are seen, heard, and respected. I pray that you are time-honored and not taken for granted. You may not be for everyone – that’s okay. Everyone also may not be for you – that’s better than okay. You deserve to be around those who let your light shine and shine with you. The rooms and the people that you are called to will happen organically – that is where you will be meant to be. You won’t have to put on a mask (pun intended) or be something you’re not. The right ones will be the right ones. You won’t ever feel excluded or question your existence. You are whole just as you are.

Take care,

Judaen

Talking Tinder, Marriage & Purpose!

Join me as I share how God got me together concerning my Tinder experience and marriage, my spiritual diet, and my purpose in España. It can be so easy to take control of everything and leave God out of it, but I encourage you to move with him instead of without him. He knows what you need in each season of your life.

Get Out Of Your Backyard

Have you ever wanted to live, travel, and work abroad? How about volunteering, interning or even school? Did you know that it’s possible to do so in the middle of a pandemic? While these may seem like paradoxical and rhetorical questions, living abroad is possible. With this livestream event, you’ll have the resources and tools to do so!

Join me, Ergoi Agathoi’s Founder, as I share the process to become an English Teacher abroad and my experience.

I’m Proud.

There are many blessings in store for all of us.

When I think about myself and the journey that I’m on, there’s not a doubt in my mind that God has been orchestrating all of the details of my life especially when I think of the location I am in, but this wasn’t the first time. During my undergrad, I went from not being focused to battling depression to overcoming both. I went from being a student who didn’t care to use their potential and was on academic probation to graduating with honors. I went from suffering in a dark place to developing a relationship with Christ and seeing His light. I know that was all God. 

He saw something in me that I didn’t quite see in myself. When I started developing my own relationship with Him, I began to discover who I was. I discovered that I am made clean in Christ. I discovered that I am preserved in Christ, and I discovered that I am called by Christ (Jude 1:1). 

My birthday just passed, and I am officially a great 28. If the 18-year-old me could see all that I went through over the past 10 years, I don’t think she would believe she could make it. Honestly, I don’t think she would want to pursue this path either. I’ve had ups, and I’ve also had my downs that I wouldn’t wish on anyone; however, those down moments remind me to be kind. Those down moments remind me to love others. Those down moments remind me to be the best me that I can be until I know better than I do better – Maya Angelou said that. So I’m proud! 

I’m proud of me for pushing through eight years of school. I’m proud of me for seeking, finding and doing (and continuing) therapy. I’m proud of me for developing a relationship with Christ. I’m proud of me for studying and now living abroad. I’m proud of me for pursuing Ergoi Agathoi. I’m proud of me for separating myself from negativity. I’m proud of me for learning how to cook. I’m proud of me for pursuing guitar. I’m proud of me for doing the dang thing! And while 18-year-old me may have said no to this journey, I’m glad that I’m here. 

I’m still standing. God is with me, and I have more work to do. I won’t count me out or my next 10 years because if I could overcome so much in the past, I can only imagine how much more I will triumph over in the future.

Besos, 

Judaen

My Word of the Year: Stewardship

Welcome to 2021! Last year is the past, and now, it’s time to enter into a better present and future. I know you are all diligently working on your visions, goals and plans for this year. I am doing the same, and the Lord gave me a word to focus on this year: stewardship.

Fuel

I stood facing my landlord in tears. The melody I so longed to converse in, the melodious sounds of Spanish, suddenly sounded like crashing cymbals. After repeating herself over and over in different ways with the hope of helping me understand, the repetition made our exchange worse and worse. She called for her daughter to guide our conversation along, but this was not an easy topic to translate. Why, God? Why after multiple prayers on bended knee to be in Spain was I experiencing this? I didn’t come here for this. Or did I?

I did. I did come to Spain with the intent of furthering my knowledge in the Spanish language. Everything else was a bonus. The trips, the food, and the touristy spots were bonuses. My main reason to be here was to dive into the language, and I was in the deep today. Barely treading the waters, I clung to my buoy of vocabulary drifting further and further out into the murky vacuum that I didn’t believe Spanish belonged to. It was dark. This was unknown territory. I had never swam these parts before, and I was struggling to stay above.

Spanish, to me, wasn’t some abyss or bottomless pit. Spanish was a haven and a heaven, but in this moment, I felt like I was lost at sea. In my bobbing for air, I thought a boat was coming to save me when the idea came to call someone who was more proficient than I. However, after several calls, I realised the boat was nothing more than a lost beach ball floating along. The waves strengthened and carried me further. I was fighting the sea’s movement to stay afloat. I tried to maneuver the current, communicate as best as I could, but then the tears came. I froze and sank. I was under water now, completely devoid of oxygen.

“Tranquila, tranquila,” my landlord said. The words echoed in my head in English, “be calm, be calm.” She reminded me of the first time I heard this word when I studied abroad two years ago. At the time, my Spanish professor’s accent, rapid speech, and vast vocabulary left my head spinning. I cried then, too. However, when I approached her at the end of class, she said the same word to me, “tranquila.” She assured me that the first day is the most difficult, but as school progresses, I would be able to understand the language much better. 

My landlord and her daughter stopped speaking. As I sunk deeper into the unknown, the water began to fill my lungs. Panic turned to power, and I swam to the surface. I explained what I understood, the water was dying down now. We decided that she would send me a written message, so I could understand in full. The sun peeked its head out. I walked out the door and called my mom. I was swimming back now. As a landlord herself, she explained to me what I failed to understand. I was crawling to shore now. I stopped and cried, yet again, relieved that with the bits and pieces I took away, my mother was able to piscimile what I could not. I was safe now, back ashore.

This is fuel! When I think about all that I have been through to arrive here in this very country, I am reminded that I am a overcomer. This is just another page in my book that will illustrate how I made it over. This is pushing me into my destiny. Although this is painful, I will rise above. If I let this moment overshadow the big picture, I will miss the lesson and blessing. And let me just say that suffering, although painful, is good for you. Taboo, I know, but suffering has value. Suffering produces patience. Suffering produces power or strength. Suffering produces sturdiness. Because of suffering, we develop a tough skin, but we must remain soft-hearted. 

God knows that He did not bring me this far to turn back. I can’t let this moment deter me from the bigger picture. This is just a moment. I am growing through this new space of learning Spanish, and I need to be patient with myself. I need to be kind to myself, and I need to give myself grace. God promises that He will never leave me nor forsake me. With every encounter I have, I need to remind myself of this. If He brought me to the conversation, He foresaw that I would be able to get through the conversation. I am not going to get everything the first, second or third time even though I wish I could – if only life was that simple. However, learning a new thing means you’ll come into contact with obstacles whether it be a pebble or a boulder. And you’ve got to find a way to get through that obstacle. How bad do you want it? Don’t let that moment overshadow your purpose! 

Keep hanging it, keep hanging on, and keep hanging tough. I say this all the time, but it’s hitting differently now because of the experience I had. That one moment is a part of the process. That one moment is a part of your progress, and that one moment is a part of your purpose. One day, you’ll be able to look back and say, “look at how far I’ve come since then…look at what I’ve learned…look at how I’ve grown.” And it’s okay to cry! Cry it out, honey. After you cry, wipe your eyes, dust off your knees, get back up, and do it again. Be encouraged! Know that you’ve got this. God is with you! Press into that thing. This is only gas to the car, honey.

Sincerely,

Judaen