5 Things I Learned In Haiti

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I recently traveled to Haiti and that trip taught me a lot. So in this blog post, I will share 5 things Haiti taught me.

1. My Love for Culture and People of Color

Living in America in predominantly white places, I have never really gotten a chance to be surrounded by people of color for extended periods of time. The feelings I got in Haiti were quite similar to the ones I got after watching Black Panther. It’s hard to describe, but there is so much power in being around people who look like you. Very cliche, but I felt at home in Haiti. I didn’t feel like I stuck out, I didn’t feel out of place, and I loved it! Also, I loved the culture. Coming from a household of blended cultures (Nigerian and Kenyan) it was no surprise I fell in love the with Haitian culture and the similarities I found between it and the environment I was raised in. I saw simplicity, work ethic, and joy just to name a few but also just a strong sense of community. Most of all I saw beauty in the way the people around me lived their lives, and I found God at work in the details, the big picture… I saw Him in it all.

2. Paved Roads and Driving Laws

The last time I went to Kenya, I was two, so I don’t remember much. I rely on the stories of my parent’s childhoods to paint the picture of living in a third world country. My mom has always talked about how long it takes to do things there. Doing one thing can be an all-day event, and most of the time it’s simply because of the commute. The minute we hit our first gravel/dirt road, I finally began to understand what my mom had been talking about for all those years. Paved roads are truly a blessing and driving laws are too because they save you for almost having a heart attack on the road.

3. The Importance of Communication

As a black girl, the most frequent questions I got when I was in Haiti were are you Haitian, do you speak Creole, and do you speak French, to all of which I answered no. People were in shock, mainly because I look like them and they just assumed I was or could do all of the above, but also because it really limited my ability to talk with them. Thankfully I had wonderful translators around that were more than amazing, but I felt so entitled and even rude to be in their country without knowing even a little Creole, yet they knew anywhere from one to four languages. To say the least, I don’t plan on visiting a country without knowing at least a few common phrases. But in all honesty, I’m in the process of learning Creole as you reading this.

4. People are People

Cultures are different but people are people. While languages don’t always translate, smiles do and thank God for that! It’s funny how when you can’t communicate very well sometimes that’s when it’s easiest to see someone’s heart. It’s easy to get distracted by looks, status, etc., but nothing says more about a person than they’re joy, they’re smiling, and their heart.

5. Less Is More

A lesson I’ve been learning recently is that there are pros and cons to everything. I love living in America, but because of the privilege I have living here, a lot of my worries and concerns are of things that don’t actually matter. To put it more simply, the things I worry about most are things that I am privileged to actually worry about. But living in a third world country, many people only worry about the things that actually matter: God, food, clothing, and family. It’s amazing how short that list is how long I make mine sometimes. Or how often times we think things will bring us happiness when in reality the exact opposite is true.

So those are a few of the things I learned while in Haiti. If you haven’t already, I hope you get a chance to visit the wonderful country. It is beautiful!

Until next time, get up, get moving, and be salt and light.

Peace > Clarity

A wise man once said, “It’s hard to get your gift from God when both your hands [are] full.” – Tobe Nwigwe

Recently, not only my hands but my mind have been full, overflowing really. In this season of unemployment, I have been plagued with worry. To be honest, when I first entered this season, I was fine. I still had faith that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. But it’s funny how the testing of your faith can reveal the truth.

This is not to say that I don’t have faith in God, but this season has shown me that I need my faith to be stronger. It’s not as strong as I thought it was and just like when you grow your muscles through lifting, you are in pain and quite sore, the growing of my faith has left me just the same, sore and in pain.

I think I entered this season with a vague timeline of when I would exit. It wasn’t like I said, “On September 15th, I will have a job,” but as days continue to pass and I still don’t have one, and there isn’t much progress being made, anxiety has set in.

So, what do you do when God is late? What do you do when you underestimated your season? Well, I recently watched a sermon by Transformation Church (TC) out of Tulsa, Oklahoma called “Planted and I Underestimated.” TC is in a series called Planted Not Buried (it’s incredible, and you should watch all of it when you get a chance) where they have explained that both planting and burying is the same processes, but the outcomes are different. If you’re not careful, you could be having a funeral when you should be celebrating growth.

But in this particular sermon, one of the points made was, you need to embrace the delay when you’re waiting for God or you feel like He is late. I know when I heard that the first time I was like, “Really? You want me to be happy while waiting? You know I’m a millennial right?” But honestly, that statement couldn’t be more accurate.

It’s no surprise I haven’t been great at embracing delay, but as I have been forced to wait, it’s been amazing to see how God has revealed parts of His plan and his goodness to me.

For example, I recently went on a mission trip to Haiti. The timing of the trip couldn’t have been better because I really needed a break from my normal life. I was losing my mind… I’m not kidding. But it’s funny, how this trip popped up at the right time. Only God!

I needed to serve, I needed to live with less, I needed to lead a simpler life, and more importantly, I needed to be disconnected from the things that were causing me stress. (There will be more on my trip to Haiti in upcoming blog posts, so if your interested subscribe.) But with all that aside, I needed Haiti because I needed clarity. My current situation was draining me and I was drowning in my own sorrows.

I didn’t have high expectations for the trip because I knew it could go a number of ways. Truthfully, I was hoping God would give me an aha moment. That I would be there and realize my purpose, or get a word from God, or something and to be honest none of that happened. At least not in the groundbreaking, earth-shaking, mind-blowing way I expected. But instead, it happened subtly.

I didn’t gain the clarity I was seeking, but I did gain peace.

On the flight back to the States, I reflected on this exact topic and realized that God didn’t tell me my purpose then or give me clarity on anything, but by allowing me to live a simpler life and understand what is important, He gave me the peace to know that everything will be just fine. So, for now, I am free from worry, free from anxiety, and choosing not to dwell on uncertainty.

The funny thing is, while I am fine now, these are demons I will have to fight again, and again, and that’s okay.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:19

Worry, anxiety, and discontentment were, and still are my temptation. But Haiti was the escape God provided for me, and that trip allowed me to rediscovered God’s goodness, how unworthy I am of His love, and how He loves me dearly anyway. For that I am thankful.

Until next time, get up, get moving and be salt & light!

The Erryday: Tests

Two weeks ago, I created a video about trials and in that video, I reviewed James 1:2-4.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

This week it’s all about tests. At first glance, I thought these were the same thing or at least synonymous. While they are synonymous, the difference is, trials can come from anything, friends, family, co-workers, the devil, etc., and are a way for you to refine your faith, leaving you purer than before and closer to the image of God. But tests, in my mind, are solely given to you by God. To me, it’s God’s way of checking to make sure that what He instilled in you during the trials is built to last. It’s His way of checking to see that what we’re learning in our quiet time, what we think we’ve mastered, what we boast in Him about when all things are well, still stand true to us even when everything seems to be falling apart.

To be honest, I’ve never met anyone who loves a good test or trial, but when you’re sitting in the midst of one like I am, you have to remember that God is still good and that without tests, there is no true movement towards sanctification.

Maybe for you, your test is in understanding God is your sole provider. It’s really easy to say that when you have a full-time job, benefits, a steady check, and life is good. But what happens when you’re laid off and your severance is running out? It’s a test. Will, you still say God is a provider, your sole provider, or will you doubt Him?

Or maybe it’s your health or the health of a loved one. It easy to say that God is a healer when no one is ill. But when your medial bills are racking up and you still can’t find out what’s wrong with you, things can get kind of scary. It’s a test.

Now, this by no means is meant to make light of tests or the tests you might be experiencing in your life. The goal of this blog post and video is to help you put things into perspective. Despite the tests, God is still SO good and we still don’t deserve Him, yet he chooses us daily. “I should be in Hell”, is my favorite phrase to use on days when I am particularly peeved with the Lord, because who am I really to be upset with Him?

But with that said, even through the tests, remember who He is, who you are in Him, and that He has already overcome the world, so there is no need to worry. Whether you’re on the mountaintop, or in the valley, understand that God has you in the palm of His hand, always.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and be salt and light!

Vulnerability

V for Vulnerability

When I hear the word vulnerability, it’s like someone said the word “moist.” It just makes me queasy and uncomfortable. It’s funny because I used to think I had no issues being vulnerable, but what I really found out is that I’m great at keeping people at an arms distance.

The act of being vulnerable is uncomfortable, and I’m really bad at sharing personal details about my life.

I know what you’re thinking. “Sydney, you have a blog… about yourself. What are you talking about?”

I know, track with me for a minute. I do have a blog about myself, but much of what I share isn’t what I would call vulnerable information. I am willingly sharing it because it doesn’t take much out of me to share it. I share it because I love writing. I share it because maybe it can help someone else. But rarely do I share it with the intention for people to know the real me.

So about this vulnerability thing… For years, I’ve been praying for quality people and friendships to come into my life. I’ve wanted support groups, accountability partners, people who can look at me and say, “You’re not acting like yourself, what’s up?” even when I put on the facade that everything is good. I’ve wanted people who could call me out where I fall short, help me as I move towards sanctification, and much more.  Now, I’m finally in a position where I have those people, or I could have those people, but again, I keep them away.

I want you close, but not too close. I want you to know me, but only what I want you to know. Really I just want to be the introvert that goes to a coffee shop to be around people but doesn’t actually want to make conversation. That is me in a nutshell.

But as I learn more about what it means to live in community, I’ve learned those behaviors are actually the furthest thing from community. Community is allowing people to know you, all of you.

Not the Sunday morning you. Not the Beyonce version of “I woke up like this” you. But the you that nobody really wants to be around because you have problems, you.

Vulnerability is allowing people to get so close they could hurt you, but choosing the right community so that you can mitigate the unnecessary pain. You will get hurt being vulnerable, you will get hurt in community because people are imperfect, but as you exercise vulnerability in community, you begin to see what love actually looks like.

Vulnerability, community, and love. It’s hard to have one without the others, right?

It’s hard to be vulnerable, but it’s a prerequisite to community and love which are both things that we were built for because we were made in the image of God. So as I strive to become more vulnerable, no matter how hard and uncomfortable it is, I hope you strive to do the same.

Is vulnerability a hard thing for you too? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, until next time, get up, get moving and be salt and light!

The Erryday: Trials

Trials are hard. I’m sure that’s something we can all agree on, but God never said there wouldn’t be trials. What we do know is “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 – ESV). This means that all things will work together to further our sanctification, making us more like Christ our creator.

While that might not be the thing you wanted to hear, especially if you’re currently walking through a trial or in a season of tribulation, I hope you do find comfort in its truth. God is with you through it all.

God is in the trials.

God is in the mundane.

God is in the erryday.

Until next time, get up, get moving and be salt and light!

By This Age I’ll…

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve given up the idea of doing things by a certain age in my life. When I was younger, doing that was fun because I just couldn’t wait to grow up. But now that I’m older, and I’ve begun to miss deadlines I’ve set for myself, the exercise of planning my life has become far less joyous and more like a reminder of dreams deferred.

But to be honest, that’s not the main reason I’ve stopped planning my life based on age and milestones. I’ve stopped due to a realization that some things just take time, certain things can’t be rushed.

This realization was two-fold, first coming from the amazing late 20 and early 30-year-olds that I look up to, and the other part coming from people in the Bible that “hit their stride” in their 30s.

Before I go any further, I have to say that I, like many other people, am a sucker for instant gratification. I want what I want and I wanted it yesterday! But whether you call it climbing the ladder, paying your dues, or the process, you can’t land at the “finish line” without embarking on the journey.

Many of the people I look up to are in their early 30s and are doing some amazing things. They’ve started businesses, they’re living the life there 20-year-old self would have never imagined, and what I find most remarkable is that they’re quite content.

Now, I can’t speak for them, but they genuinely seem to be content with where they are in life. Let me explain… I say content because that doesn’t mean that everything in their life is grand, they never struggle, and the embody Hakuna Matata vibe only. But it’s as if they’ve finally hit their stride.

Stride – to walk with long, decisive steps in a specified direction.

Though I’m only a young 20-something, I feel like much of what I’ve experienced in this season of my life is running, sprinting if I’m honest. If it’s not running to the next big thing, I’m racing to keep up with others, or to stay relevant, or to achieve something to impress people who I don’t care too much about.

While that has slowed down significantly for me since I quit social media, I often find myself still fighting aspects of that battle every once in a while. But it seems like as you reach 30 and beyond, you stop running, and start striding. Maybe it’s because you run out of gas and get winded, maybe it’s because you realize always running isn’t sustainable, or maybe it’s just because you know there is more to life, and working within your purpose as it’s been revealed to you is far more satisfying than striving for the approval of people.

Whatever it is, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching this change from afar in some of the people I admire. They’re truly striding, not breaking a sweat, not breathing hard, but living and loving life no matter what test or trials, celebrations or accomplishments come their way.

And as I thought about this, I couldn’t help but consider how this plays out in the Bible. Joseph was 30 when you became second in command to Pharaoh. David became king around the age of 30 as well. John the Baptist was 30 when he came out of the wilderness, Ezekiel was called by God to be a prophet at the age of 30, and of course, Jesus officially started his ministry at 30.

Why were they all 30? Why couldn’t they have been 20-something? While I don’t have the answers, I feel that each of them coming into their purpose around the age of 30 had little to do with them being actually being 30, and more to do with the journies (i.e., personal, spiritual, and physical) they all had to take to become the people they were at that time. They couldn’t just arrive in their purpose, they had to walk into it, and that takes time.

With that said, if even sovereign and all-powerful Jesus had to wait until 30, also He had to wait on the Lord’s timing to step into His purpose, I think I can humble myself to do the same.

I write all this to say that some things, no matter how much you want them, require a process of growth, maturity, and ultimately time. In this world, we can fake a lot of things, but you can’t fake true growth and the process.

If you’re like me and you find yourself wondering why you haven’t accomplished certain things by now, just remember that some things require you to wait, and all things are in God’s timing. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey He’s taking you on.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and be salt & light!

Hey Strangers! I’m Back…

Hey Blog Family,

Sheesh… it’s been a while. It’s been since February, actually. I’d love to say I’ll never take a break that long again, but that is something I cannot promise because I don’t know what the future holds. What I do know is that I’m back for now and I’m excited to push out good content, but it will be a little different this time around.

On my home page, you might have noticed some new additions to the menu bar, both, digital marketing and faith. I’ve added these because much of my content will revolve around these two things.

Why digital marketing? I thought this was a lifestyle blog?

Good questions! I would have the same questions too, but honestly, this blog is a place where I come to be creative. I’ve been blogging (minus my breaks) for the past four years, and it’s no surprise that a lot can happen in four years. From personal growth to changing interests and new convictions, I want this platform to evolve and change with me, and I hope you guys are along for the ride!

With that said, I am adding digital marketing content to my blog because, in a sense, my blog is my portfolio. I put much of my creative work up here, but for those who don’t know, I actually do digital marketing for a living. I have a Masters of Journalism focused on Digital Content Strategy with a concentration on Social Media and a certificate in Business. To say the least, it’s a big part of my life and I’d like to share my knowledge with those who are interested. Also, I’d like to direct any clients or future clients to that page for information they can use to grow their business. So if you’re in need of a digital marketing consultant, a new and specified digital content strategy for your company, or someone to run your social media platforms, hit me up in the comments, I’d be happy to chat!

So why faith?

Guys, a lot has changed since the last time I blogged, and I must say my life has changed for the better. One of these days I’ll put up a post about my testimony, but to keep a long story short, the Lord Jesus Christ has truly been working on my heart, in my life, and through me on many different things over the past six months, and He continues to do so every day. When you come across something so good, you just have to share it as frequently as you can. So for those who are not religious or of other religions, feel free to stick around and read my content, I’m sure you’ll find life and value in it as well. But I do want to say that my Lord and Savior will have a strong hand in the content I create moving forward and if that makes you uncomfortable, feel free to exit out of my blog.

With that said, that is my mini life update, and I’m so happy to be back creating content on this platform. I hope you guys are excited for what’s to come.

Until next time, get up, get moving and be salt & light!