Friday, August 11, 2017

Miracles in the storm!

Photo credit: Chris Valentine 

You know when you have a dream or lofty goal for yourself and you are afraid to share with others because they may cast doubt or you may feel that' it's unattainable and you don't want to feel embarrassed if it doesn't materialize......well that used to be me many years ago until I learned that sharing my story is more helpful than hurtful and someone will be blessed by my transparency. My faith, believing in miracles and dreaming out loud while working in expectation creates a positive force so strong that nothing negative can penetrate and take me off my path. And if I fail or experience stormy times, it's just another opportunity to change course because there are miracles in the storm.

Now, having said that; it doesn't mean that I don't feel some trepidation (after all, I am human). However,  it is my firm belief that if I'm constantly nudged by my inner voice about the same thought, then it must be placed there by my Creator. And if He placed it there, I have nothing to worry about so I Dream out loud and keep believing!

You'd be surprised how many people want to see you fail. People who don't even know you...there's just something about you they don't like. Likewise, there are many who are rooting for you and want to see you succeed. I cheer people on and pray for their success. People I don't even know! They would've posted a dream, goal or struggle on social media and as soon as I read it, I stop and say a prayer. Some of you have inboxed me asking why I put myself out there talking about my challenges in life. The answer is simple.  To bless others who may be going through a similar experience. I want folks (especially women) to know that they're NOT the only ones going through tough times. I also want them to see that they can find moments of joy and witness miracles  while going through their storm.

A couple years ago I had this desire to host a Talk Show and I did with the support of my family, namely, my husband. Nonetheless, we stopped taping due to some issues. But get this, episodes are still airing on Comcast. So I've decided to revamp, retool and recharge my dream and resume taping the first quarter of 2018.  I'm also diligently penning my book which I affirm will be completed December 1, 2017. Once again, I'm putting myself out there. Why? Because a Dream delayed is not a dream denied. You have to speak life over your life and walk in your Purpose.  You have to believe that you deserve all the good that's coming your way. I believe that in spite of my current struggles, my blessings will overtake me. Deuteronomy 28:2.  Miracles abound! Everyday, I witness miracles....yes....every single day! They're very easy to see during storms because we are more acutely aware of our circumstances and the storms draw us nearer to God for shelter.

I experienced financial hardship just before my son was about to enter his freshman year in college. It was a very tough time but we managed to find joy in the midst of it. We witnessed abundant miracles/blessings also. It was August 2012. We were broke! How broke?  Let's  just say the type of broke that causes you to take cold showers cause your gas was turned off! Yup....THAT BROKE!!! My sister bought my son's stuff for his dorm. Some might say that we should've just let him stay home. But that was NOT an option! He believed that money would come and that he'd be okay. He was right! The God we serve performs miracles daily in our lives. We work hard, we pray often, we exercise our faith and we believe! November of 2012, we were called to support sheltering efforts during Hurricane Sandy (our company supports the government during federally declared disasters). Within 24 hours of Notice to proceed, we contracted 200 personnel and headed to NYC and Suffolk County. In 11 days this broke couple generated a little over 1.2 million dollars in revenue!  Not only did we receive an 'EXCEPTIONAL' rating for our work (the highest rank a company can get in CPARS), but also, our exceptional work caused other major contractors to seek us out as teaming partners. Talk about miracle in the storm!

There's a lesson here. No matter what struggles you might be experiencing, keep dreaming, keep believing. Don't give up. Don't give in! Your miracle is fast approaching. Don't let negative people cause you to stop dreaming!  When I openly talked about my hardship,  I never stopped dreaming and  I'm sure some folks prayed for me and blessed me. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and Dream Out LOUD! There's a blessing with your name on it. God will send you Divine connections and a bountiful harvest! Look for the miracles, stay faithful, stay encouraged and embrace your journey.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Women I Celebrate

Today is about Mabel Romania Brewster, my paternal grandmother, whose roots were Bajan (Barbados). A housewife and mother to her son. She was determined and ambitious. She waited for my grandfather to leave for work so that she could wash and iron for her secret  clients. Granny, as we called her saved enough money to build a house in 1932.  That house was also my childhood home.

Today is about my maternal grandmother, Ena Evancia Marie Labadee. Born in St. Lucia with roots in France. She worked as a housekeeper and cook on the American base in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. In addition to being a single mother to 2 girls, she was also an entrepreneur...a seamstress. On her day off she sewed dresses, draperies and other items for her clients.
These are the women whose achievements I celebrate today. These are the women whose legacy live within me. These are the women who fought against all odds in a patriarchal society for their rights, economic empowerment and equality; and in their own unique way, succeeded.

Today, I honor my queen, my mother, Annette Simeonise Gibson-Commissiong.  For the first 10 years of my life, she was a Stay at Home mom.  She never missed a PTA meeting, ballet practice nor recital. She did classes in floral arrangement, cooking, ceramics. She is a creative genius. In addition, she attended Secretary school. My mom is phenomenal....a badass who pursued her dream. She was also a singer in a choir. In the midst of all of this....she wanted more. Today I celebrate my mom, who decided to go to school for nursing while she was pregnant with my little sister. " Life for her was no crystal staircase". However, she had a vision for her life and she executed that vision in the midst of resistance and adversity.......and she faced many adversities but NEVER gave up!

She took us to help the poor, serve orphans and read to the elderly. She opened her home to women who had no place to go. She even brought children who were left at the hospital to spend Christmas with us. Today, I celebrate this woman who made tremendous sacrifices for her family. Her achievements are immeasurable. She raised us to be kind, loving, responsible well adjusted human beings who put God first. She believed that there was no substitute for education and exposure to other cultures. So she took us on many adventures during our summer holidays.

I come from a long legacy of strong,determined persistent women and  I am very proud and grateful that they paved the way for me to be great. It is my responsibility now to pass this legacy on to my children. This is what I celebrate today on International Women's Day and this month, Women's History Month. Because of them, I am. Celebrate the women in your life, give them the honor and respect that they deserve. Stand with them! Speak up for them and their rights because women's rights are human rights. They deserve your support. To all you beautiful women, continue to be determined, be inspired, be motivated and embrace your journey.

Friday, February 10, 2017 Faith

I was sitting and reminiscing on a day back in September. A day that was difficult... a day I awoke with the feeling of emotional paralysis. I did not want to move. I felt overwhelmed. I was responsible for Lector duty at church that day. I volunteered to pick up food at a friend's restaurant and deliver to the center where we serve lunch to the homeless community on Sundays.....and I did not want to move!!!

You see, I had no gas and I did not have anything to prepare for our homeless guests. So I thought that I should just lay in bed, wallow in self pity and not move. It's amazing how we feel so privileged that a little bit of hardship could cause us to lose faith. The irony was that I was due to feed the homeless; and there I was blessed to be in a house with 7 bedrooms and 5 full bathrooms surrounded by the love of my family feeling sorry for myself and the hardship I was experiencing. The people I was about to serve had nothing but the bags they carry with them.

Suddenly, something overcame me and I jumped out my bed. I thought it would be selfish of me not to fulfill my responsibility to proclaim God's Word as Lector. I remember feeling a rush of energy come over me, and in Nicole fashion started yelling for the kid and husband to get dressed.

I remember vividly being overwhelmed by a flood of emotions when I opened the car door. I felt a Divine presence surround me that is inexplainable. As I opened the car door, there was a foil pan with mac and cheese on the seat of the car. As I turned the car on, the gas gauge read FULL! Even as I write this the love that I feel for God and my family brings me to tears. My sister came by and delivered the dish. She was unable to volunteer that day but wanted to send a dish. Also, knowing that I had no gas, she took the car, filled it and dropped it back before we awoke that morning. She has a spare key since the car I was driving was hers.  I sat in gratitude for not only the gifts received, but also, for being obedient and MOVING!!!

You see, you never really know what others may be going through. Life throws us curve balls from time to time. Being in business for 18 years has taught me to accept that sometimes business has its ups and downs; or as my husband calls it "Feast and Famine". However, God is in the blessing business and when He assigns you a task; He sends angels to assist you in fulfilling the Mission....and at times you may be called to be someone's obedient and MOVE! Faith doesn't work unless you do as stated in James 2:14-17 -
[" What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? ... If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead." ]

Faith and obedience create a transformation; at least it did for me that day in September. I had to move in order to be blessed and be a blessing. Because I moved, I was able to receive the blessing in time to proclaim God's Word at church and afterwards, bless homeless friends with not only the mac and cheese but the 4 dishes from Mayur Kabob's restaurant. My work (no matter how small) with our homeless neighbors is a 'Calling' that I humbly accept and enjoy. No matter what life throws at me,     God always makes it possible for me to show up for them.

I learned a few lessons that day....

  • Obedience is rewarded. Move so that Spirit can bless you and use you to bless others. 
  • I have a loving and supportive family that I can depend on, ALWAYS, 
  • It's not about me...It's all about the Mission. 
  • Trust the process. 
  • God makes EVERYTHING possible  🌟
Be obedient, trust God, accept your Calling and embrace the journey!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

World Hijab Day

My daughter has a friend who no longer wears her hijab because it was unsafe for her to do so at her University in Wisconsin. So when my college student called and asked me if I would participate in World Hijab Day; naturally my answer was yes.

You never really know what a person goes through until you walk a few steps in her shoes. I must admit that the glares and stares I received caused me some discomfort. However, the smiles and warm greetings I also received helped me overcome the discomfort. I believe that people, at their core, are kind and that lack of knowledge and misinformation creates fear.

Hijabs are not mandatory. Muslim women wear it as a sign of humility and modesty. For some, the way they wear it depends on where they are on their spiritual journey. It requires a great deal of discipline and prayer as they seek a deeper relationship with God (Allah). Learning this deepened my admiration for those who deliberately drape their heads daily with their scarves knowing that there is a prevalence of Islamophobia. Clearly, their faith is stronger than their fear and the necessity of developing an intimate relationship with God is very important to them.

So today, I wore a hijab in support of Muslim women worldwide and respect their right to cover as they demonstrate their chosen faith.

Co-Authored by Sierra Armstrong

Friday, December 2, 2016

What did you TRY today?

Over the past couple months my husband began floating a new question around our house daily..."What did you try today?" It's so genius and quite a motivating concept.

Fear of failure and fear of rejection can paralyze you. Sometimes kids don't participate in class because they're afraid to be wrong. I know my older kids had that problem in elementary, middle & at times, even high school. So when my husband decided to test this new question, I was sold. I had no idea the impact that it would have on me! We were doing it for the kid.....but it has proven to be very motivating for me. We reward the try. We don't focus heavily on the outcome. The fact that you tried was reason to celebrate.

At dinner we asked our son, "What did you try today? " His response, "I ran for class Vice President but I didn't win." The idea is not to minimize the competitive spirit.  (anyone who knows our family, knows that we're highly competitive and that we play to win). That's why taking the risk to try is so important. Think of the successes we miss out on because we were too afraid to try. If we push ourselves to keep trying knowing that the reward is in the "try", we will win, eventually. So instead of moping around when we try and fail; now we're motivated to get up and try again.

I have been so motivated and eager for the question to be asked at the dinner table because this question rendered me fearless. I made phone calls and showed my vulnerable side in pursuit of closing deals for first quarter 2017.....and it worked! It was all about the try. It caused me to function outside my comfort zone. I also want my son to know that in my try I was nervous, doubtful, scared but I tried anyway; because we celebrate the "try".

As 2016 is coming to a close, I'd like to impress upon you to TRY! Be vulnerable, be nervous, be doubtful......and give yourself permission to TRY. Don't allow fear to paralyze you. TRY and encourage your children to try.

Be bold, be fearless, celebrate the try and embrace your journey.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Holiday Leaves

It was such an awesome Autumn day. My niece and I gathered leaves and danced among the trees. It was so windy that it looked as if it was raining leaves!

I took the leaves we gathered and decided to include them in my Thanksgivng dinner. No,  we're not eating leaves for dinner, but we will be using them as dish place-cards on the buffet.

I spray painted the leaves gold and when they dried, I wrote the name of each dish I'll be preparing for our family dinner. A can of metallic spary paint cost about $5.00 and a permanent sharpie marker is perfect for writing on the leaves. Be sure to have fun with it. You can spray the entire leaf or just partially cover it.

Safety note: Wear gloves. Make sure that you spray leaves in a ventilated area. The smell can make you ill. I did mine in my inner patio which is properly ventilated.  I love adding a special touch to my decor and this was simple and inexpensive.

Be creative, be safe, go leaf hunting, have fun and embrace your journey.

Happy Thanksgiving 🍁

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election 2016: A daughter's perspective

          Photo credit: Sierra Armstrong

After all the difficulties I had registering to vote here in Louisiana, I have officially voted in my first Presidential election.
It's overwhelming to finally have the opportunity to show my gratitude for all the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into securing and protecting this right for me.

However, this is also the first Presidential election since the Voting Rights Act was gutted.  It serves as a reminder of the ongoing voter disenfranchisement and the cyclical nature of oppression. My dad reminded me today to "continue fighting to protect your truth even if it takes your life".

I'm not sure what that will look like for me after today. As my perspective shifts, I'm not sure how long I will be participating in and supporting this process. But today was about saying thank you the best way I know how.

Blogpost written by Sierra Marie Armstong