Monday, September 15, 2014

Anger Management for Children

Teach Child to have empathy for others:
Assist him with processing how people feel sad when he hits them (For example, Travis you hurt mom when you pull her hair. Mom feels sad when you do that. Show Travis a picture of a sad face.)

Teach Child how to control his anger:
Associate the anger with what happen (For example, Travis is angry because he could not go outside).



Play with and observe Child:
So that he could reveal what is making him angry.

Demonstrate appropriate anger control in front of Child:
Do not argue in front of Travis.

Find out what makes Child angry:
Frustration, hungry, pain, and embarrassed

How can parents assist Child in managing his anger?
Talk to Travis
Get him to tell you why he is angry

Help Travis process what happened

Reduce the amount of Television:
Does Travis watches a lot of TV (This can cause anger if he is watching the wrong programs.)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Managing Negative Thoughts Improve Careers

There is a quick fix to achieving goals in life, and there is a narrow but permanent fix. When receiving career counseling, quick fixes are not beneficial in the long-term. In order to really assist people in changing their life, as far as career is concern, the counselor may want to tackle the task from inside out. This may not bring about immediate change, but when changes are made, they would be more effective and long-term. In Naomi’s case (who has a hard time earning income), she has to change the way she thinks and perceive the world, because her perception is creating unpleasant and unwanted circumstances. Naomi’s dysfunctional thinking and irrational thoughts are showing her working efforts as useless and her feelings (which are the effect of her thinking) are making her discourage and confused. Therefore, Naomi has to receive some social cognitive therapy to assist her in finding the job and receiving the pay that she really wants (Zunker, 2012).

Counselor has to assist Naomi in discovering if she really wants to work at her current place of employment or assist her in discovering if she has to leave her current place of employment in order to achieve some of her long-term goals. First, Naomi must desire a better paying job to the point that she is be willing to take steps in achieving her career goals. The counselor has to assist Naomi in building her confidence and self-esteem by helping her self-efficacy and reality match. This is important, because in therapy, the counselor’s job is to assist Naomi in coming up with answers and solutions and not telling her what she must do, because Naomi has to live with the results of her decisions. Second, although Naomi may have the desire to achieve her goals, she may not have to energy and the physical capabilities to do so if she does not take care of herself. Therefore, counselor may want to encourage Naomi to change her diet by presenting the health benefits of eating a nutritious meal (Zunker, 2012).

Intervention addressing Social Economics

Third, the counselor has to address the financial issues of working pay check to pay check, because Naomi would never be able to take advantage of opportunities in her current financial situation. She may feel as though she has to stay on her current job because of financial reasons. As a result, the counselor must assist Naomi with coming up with a saving plan in order to create emergency funds. Naomi will not feel as though she is working for nothing or working just to pay the bills if she becomes financially stable. She has to come up with a behavioral modification plan where she can see herself gradually getting into a situation where financial situation changes for the better. Fourth, counselor may want to suggest or present the option of Naomi attending college online courses. Due to her financial situation, she has to continue working until she finds another job, so she has to take care of her family (Zunker, 2012).  

As far as Naomi receiving a partner, she will put herself in situations where she can meet prospects as she change and improve her life and as she expands places of employment.  Naomi can volunteer on jobs where individuals are doing what she desires to do so that she can follow behind their footsteps. When she grows and expand her world, she will meet the person of her dreams. Naomi will need to stay connected to her current resources such as church and family supports to carry out this career plan. The social norms that influence Naomi can impact her behavior and provide effects of a meaningful career (Zunker, 2012).

Building a Therapeutic Relationship

In order to establish a good working alliance with Naomi, couselor must first explain to Naomi what is expected of her and get her to agree to use the tools she will learn in therapy. The counselor has to get Naomi on board to apply the tools provided. Therefore, the counselor has to build a strong relationship with Naomi to motivate and encourage her to apply the concepts and interventions.  The counselor must create an environment based on trust, honesty, and nonjudgmental attitude. The counselor has to build a strong relationship with Naomi in order to build trust. Without trust, the counselor will not be able to encourage or motivate Naomi. The counselor must also show empathy, respect, and treating Naomi with unconditional regards.  During this time, the counselor can set expectations, and find out Naomi’s values (what really matters to her). The counselor can use Naomi’s self-reported information to develop a rapport (Zunker, 2012).

Conclusion

In conclusion, counselors can use the counseling theory to assist Naomi in finding a career job. For instance, there are developmental tasks in the five stages (growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance, and disengagement) that Naomi has to complete in order to have a successful career. In her treatment plan, counselor will make sure to include tasks that assist with developing each. However, unless Naomi is ready to take on a job in a new career, the tasks will not matter; because Naomi will not decide to go after the job. Counselors can substitute interventions for developmental tasks that can encourage and assist Naomi in accomplishing her goals. The goals must include tasks that address Naomi’s unique needs since each person is different. The counselor has to assist Naomi in developing a realistic self concept where she can see herself having her desired career job. The counselor will educate Naomi on health and financial concerns and explore alternatives to provide options for dealing with life’s unexpected circumstances (Zunker, 2012).
~Alicia~

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Golden Keys

"Don't take it from me!" You have heard it all a million times. Wake up early. Be punctual. Be organized. Set daily goals. Choose a career path. Create a plan and follow through. Chances are you already know everything you need to experience success. However, have you been a persistent, self disciplined, man or woman of action? There is no secret. Decide what you want. Choose not to settle for anything less. Most importantly, stay the course. Never give up.

Success is not rocket science. You can be successful in any industry. Success is a journey. It is not a material thing. It is not a destination. Success is a walk of life. Success is not to be confused with the rewards of success, which are material and non material (material things such as money, expensive clothes, cars, houses and non material things such as good health, a healthy marriage, well educated and disciplined children).

There are many keys to success. These keys cannot be borrowed. They cannot be purchased. Two of the major keys to success are self-discipline and persistence. Although you can buy several books on self discipline, persistence, and other keys that manifest the rewards of success, reading books will only show you how to use keys that you already have. It is up to you to use these keys.

I personally refer to Persistence and Self Discipline as "The Golden Keys".

Definitions:

Persistence

adj. adjective
1. Refusing to give up or let go; persevering obstinately.

2. Insistently repetitive or continuous.
a persistent honking of car horns.

3. Existing or remaining in the same state for an indefinitely long time; enduring.

Self Discipline

n. noun
1. Training and control of oneself and one's conduct, usually for personal improvement.

These are not keys in which a simple turn will open a door. The road of success requires an insane amount of self discipline and persistence. Exercise and practice these keys religiously.

This is not a simple walk down the block. This is an excursion through the jungle of life. In the beginning there is no road. There are trees, dirt, rocks, animals, climate changes, and unknown surprises. Paths must be cut out with machetes. Resources must be rationed properly to meet each checkpoint. Mountains must be climbed. Dangerous animals are lurking around. Timelines are often difficult to reach. You may climb a mountain simply to find another mountain to be climbed.

Many days will be a struggle. There will be times where days will go by easily. However, always be alert. Always be prepared for challenges down the path. Business like life is cyclical. Things will not always be good. Things will not always be bad. Weather the storms. Be smart and store resources (cash, inventory) during times of abundance.

There are different levels in life. Each level is a more challenging jungle to journey through. If you have difficulty overcoming the adversities in your existing jungle, how do you intend to overcome the hard times in the more challenging atmospheres where there are greater rewards?

Do not be a complainer. Do not be a blamer. Find solutions to the problems that arise. Apply the solutions. Be a man or woman of action. Stay the course. Never give up. You will accomplish all of your goals.


written by: Chris Wiggins


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Facts about Children’s IQ

Throughout history, intelligence tests have been use for managing individuals’ IQ. When measuring intelligence, test administrators concentrate on the lower-order factors such as fluid and crystal intelligence. Psychologists have spent a great deal of time analyzing the brain in hopes to learn more about intelligence (Whiston, 2009). Psychologists have also developed test to measure individuals’ level of intelligence. However, performing an intelligence test can be very difficult, because individuals have different personalities, attitudes and beliefs (Ackerman, 2002), and their level of intelligence may exist in different areas. There are cognitive ability differences, and this is why intelligence cannot be accurately measured. For instance, studies show that boys test higher in science and physics than girls. However, girls tend to score higher in art and humanities subjects. Gender differences can create a problem when measuring the validity of test, because test results may not be consistent when compared within mix gender groups. There are emotional differences in males and females that may influence how individuals take intelligence test. Girls usually do worse on the tests than boys. Therefore, in order to gain a positive validity, most surveyors compare individuals to their own gender. This is not effective, because it allows the validity problem regarding gender to be overlooked (Ackerman, 2002).  In additional, According to Beier and Acherman (2005), age differences are also known to influence test results. Age is known to decline individuals’ cognitive ability and intellectual performance. For instance, younger adults have better memories than older ones. Therefore, when assessing cognitive abilities, counselors must consider age as well intelligence (Beier & Acherman, 2005).

References:
Ackerman, P. L. (2002) Gender differences in intelligence and knowledge: How should we look at achievement score differences? Issues in Education, v (8)1, p. 21.

Beier, M. E., Ackerman, P. L. (2005). Age, ability, and the role of prior knowledge on the acquisition of new domain knowledge: Promising Results in a Real-World Learning Environment, Psychology and Aging, v(20),2, p 341-355.

Whiston, S. C (2009). Principles and application of assessment in counseling, Belmont, CA. Brooks/Cole. ISBN: 9780495501978.

~Alicia~

Friday, August 8, 2014

When One Door Closes

When my supervisor called me in her office and asked me to sit down, I knew what she was going to say.  I had been hearing about it for several months.  However, I didn’t want to believe that it could happen to me.  “Alicia, you must obtain your license in order to continue working here”, she said.  Even though I knew about the bad news before the meeting, I was still shocked.  I did not say a word.  I just grabbed my things and left.   I had always discussed the signs and symptoms of depression with my clients since I had counseled children with mental health issues for over 4 years.  However, talk about learning from experience; I was depressed for months or maybe a year.  I felt as though my career was snatched away from me and had ended that day, November, 14, 2007. 

I thought about going back to school, but I hated having to sacrifice my limited time to attend school and get a degree for something I was already doing.  I felt as though the system had failed me.  I never made enough money to pay back the previous student loans, and now I have to make more bills. 

After going back and forth with the decision to attend school, I finally decided to attend.  I chose Capella University, because I still had to work and take care of my family while pursuing my degree.  Capella’s online line classes were convenient and well known.  Therefore, I did some research and found out that Capella was accredited, and some of my previous coworkers had already started the program.  So as a result of the above statements, I decided to pursue a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling.     

In my Human Development book, Thomas L. Crandell (2009) explained Eric Erikson’s development theory.  Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development was how I chose to explain my state of mine when I had gotten terminated.  When Eric talked about solving conflict and crisis, I knew this was the theory that described me.  At the time I was terminated, I just could not deal with the reality of what happened, and I could not trust the system.  In fact, I had started to hate the system.  During my depressed moments, I went back to the infancy stage, and I slowly developed to the integrity verses despair stage. I finally feel whole and at peace with how my career turned out (Crandell, 2009, pg. 41).   

You may wonder how I provided counseling without being licensed.  In New Jersey, at first, a master’s degree was sufficient enough for providing mental health therapy. Therefore, for the past five years, I worked in the mental and behavioral health field providing a wide range of services.  I serviced adults and children with disabilities: ADD, ODD, ADHD, PDD, Autism, Bipolar, Schizophrenia and various learning disabilities etc.  I had written therapeutic treatment plans and daily progress notes, and I did individual and group therapy, assessments, bio-psychosocial, and reauthorization of service letters.  I also worked as an Intensive Care Manager for adults and children, and I work as a master’s level clinician for families too. 

Furthermore, once the state board found out that clinicians were providing in-home therapy without being licensed, they were required to stop practicing immediately.  Some clinicians were able to take the license exam at that time, because they already had the necessary course requirements completed.  However, in order for me to become licensed, I needed to start school again, because I had a degree in Organizational Management and Leadership. 

After trying to get a job using my Organizational Management and Leadership Master of Science degree and not being successful, I decided to change my professional goals.  On that day, I had begun to develop new professional goals.  My new professional goals were to graduate from Capella with my Master of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling. 

Therefore, after graduating from Capella, my mission is to provide psychiatric services to children and their families who are battling with mental health illnesses and behavioral issues that are destroying lives.  I want to deliver quality and integrity while providing services to my families.  Now I am ready to bring about a change in the community.  I want to help broken and dysfunctional families to come together as one, and I try to make a difference in the world. My specialization will be to help children with behavioral and mental health illnesses. 

I want to help children reach their highest potential by teaching them new skills, and as a result, they can teach these learned skills to their children.  I also want to apply my knowledge in ways that bring about a greater good to make a difference and have a positive impact on society.  I want to become confident in my education and the services I provide to clients.  I want to be an asset to the Behavioral and Mental Health field helping children and families get through their past traumatic experience and to give hope back to the families.  I want to improve my skills and get the needed foundation for a great practice in the Behavioral and Mental Health field.

My future goals are to start a program that inspires, encourages and motivates young children facing obesity to make healthier choices, raise their self esteem, improve social skills and exercise daily.  Attending Capella University helps this process by helping me obtain and improve the skills needed for clinical counseling.  I want this program to become successful in order to expand throughout the state of New Jersey.  

These goals intersect with my academic interests and selected field of study.  First, it intersects with my choice of a licensure program in mental counseling, because professionally, clinicians must be licensed in order to provide counseling.  The state of New Jersey enforces the law where workers must be licensed to practice clinical counseling if employed by a for-profit organization.  The State will soon make this law applicable to the non-profit organization as well.  Also, licensed clinicians can make more money in their career. Having a license will assist me with bringing in more money.  With all of my student loans and credit card debt, I have to make more money in order to pay the loans off and save for retirement.  Also, with a license, one could better market themselves in the workforce.  When I start the after school program, I will have group and individual therapy sessions which will require me to become a licensed clinician as well.  Therefore, Capella’s program is perfect for me. 

Once I graduate from Capella University, I would then have the skills to accomplish my goals.  I would have Capella skills and my past work experience.  I worked for organization that provided continual educational training where I have received many of CEU credits: crisis management, trauma counseling, suicide prevention, CPR, sexual abuse awareness and fire safety which would help me provide child-centered, family-focused, and strength based approach psychotherapy to my clients.  

Throughout my career, I changed jobs often but the one thing that had not changed was “counseling”.  Some type of counseling seemed to always be in my job description.  I had worked as a life skilled instructor who taught adults, living with developmental issues, how to do daily activities, so they can live independently.  Then, I worked as a case manager for adults with severe mental health illnesses, and I later worked in schools as a consultation and education specialist where I counseled students and provided short term case management services.  I also coordinated meetings and served as a liaison for parents and school staff.  Later, I worked as a clinician for Adults and provided group and individual therapy.  Last, I provided therapy for children with mental and/or behavioral health issues.

Personally, I am a hard worker and self motivated.  I work well people and have great interpersonal skills, and I deal with people with different personalities every day.  I am known to have leadership skills and known to be a good team player.

Attending Capella University is a decision for me, because Capella’s program allows me to work while I care for my family.  For example, Capella’s online program is very convenient, since I can go places and do my work assignments on the computer wherever I go.  Therefore, this advance degree experience will encourage me and teach necessary skills to help me put together the missing pieces so that I can change my life and bring about a social change for communities I plan to help.

~Alicia~

Reference:

Crandell, Thomas L., 2009 Human Development 9TH edition, Mcgraw-Hill Publishing Company, pg.41


Monday, August 4, 2014

Part 1…Today’s Question?

The test I’m going through is beginning to feel more like a punishment. My wife constantly tells me that I'm being punished because of my actions. She reminds me that I’m being punished because of how horribly I treated my mother and how horribly I treat her. Maybe I am. Maybe I’ve been looking at things the wrong way. All I really wanted to do is the right thing. I think I'm a good person, but maybe I'm not that damn good. I believe my heart is good. I help and speak life to people. I express how God has changed my life. I believe I put Him first! Maybe all those things my wife says are true, I mean why are all these things happening??? It seems like I can't stop the attacks from coming. They are coming from everywhere! Besides possibly losing my home that I live in with my children and not having a full-time job, now my car is semi-broke down and I don't have the money to fix it. In addition to not having a full time job, my part time job just called me to tell me that they are deducting $360 dollars from my next check for providing too much counseling to my clients. I don't know what to do! That’s my only money supply! Why is all this happening to me? I feel like giving up. What was I thinking…. Why did I think I could raise these kids on my own! Again, what was I thinking??? I thought I was doing the right thing, but honestly I feel like I'm failing them. Sometimes I feel like a failure. Tears come to eyes because I can’t provide for them. Its summertime and we can’t ever do anything, except go to the park because I can't afford anything else. We can't go out to eat at Burger King or McDonald’s, enjoy a fun activity like bowling or miniature golf, or even buy them a toy or something from the store. The worst part of it all is that I see the letdown in their eyes. I see the disappointment on their faces. I don't want them to look at me like that. I feel like they look at me as a failure. Especially my oldest daughter! She is only here for the summer and we are stuck in the house!  I don’t know what to do anymore? What did I do so wrong to deserve this? What did I do??? Am I that bad of a person? Where am I going wrong? When is all of this going to stop? I need to know! When is it all going to end?

Please click on the link to read, TOMORROW’S ANSWER and leave your comments! I appreciate and love you all….Be Blessed! http://the4wallscorporation.wordpress.com/fallen-leaves/

Sunday, August 3, 2014

First Step to Becoming Debt Free

Before you start saving money, you should first start tracking your spending. It is important to track financial spending so that you know where your money is being spent. This process helps you become aware of unnecessary spending by showing you what areas the unnecessary spending takes place. This allows you to make necessary changes. Tracking also helps you keep create a realistic monthly spending budget to keep you on track when spending. Budgets are very useful for making sure you stay on track when achieving your financial goals. Some people believe that budgets keep them restricted, however, that’s not true. Budgets are just guides that allow financial visual during the chaotic times. Following a budget ensures that you do not over spend or forget to pay an important bill. In order to track your spending, take a small note book out and start writing down everything you spend. Just write down the amount you spend as the spending occurs and then write the word of what you purchased next to the amount such as ($2 bread). Track your spending for a week and then categorize them at the end of each week such as (adding up all the food amounts). Keep this up for a month and create a budget based off what you spend on certain items (such as grocery $100 and bills $900). If you notice unnecessary spending in certain areas, you may have to reduce the spending in those areas. Just remember to save at least 10% of your income.


~Alicia~

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Dealing with Divorce

Divorce is an unscheduled family transition that affects the development of family (McGoldrick, 2011). Take Sherry and Phil for example, they went through the divorce process after being married for eight years. Thanks to the help of their therapist the process was very civil, because she assisted with reducing the level of impact the divorce had on the children’s develop. The family had worked together with the therapist to manage the stress. According to McGoldrick et al. (2011), divorce was ranked the highest for stressful life events (McGoldrick, 2011, p. 296). The decision to divorce was very difficult in that it involved the entire family. They realized that the family nuclear would never be the same.  The form of the relationship would change and parents had to think about custody and living arrangements for children (McGoldrick, 2011).

Furthermore, the challenges faced by Sherry, Phil and their children were like being on an emotional roller coaster. They had stable days as well as unstable. Therefore, they went to see a therapist to help them decide what to do with issues concerning the children, financial, and emotions. They had trouble figuring out children visitation and legal financial matters. The family had unpleasant emotions, and they had to handle each carefully so that they would not affect the children. Understanding that the divorce was a process with predictable transitions of disorganization followed by structured process of reorganization helps to at least reduce the intensity and duration of the crisis (McGoldrick, 2011, p. 294). The transition of disorganization could involve betrayal and blame after the announcement. It may also involve feelings of retaliation, anger, and injustices (McGoldrick, 2011).

The therapist had helped Sherry and Phil through this divorce process by using the Solution-focused model. Their major disappointments were the losses of future plans, and their presenting problem was the difficulty of staying rational at the time of the crisis (McGoldrick, 2011). Therefore, therapist needed to assist them in keeping in mind the healthy development of the children, so she helped them breakup in the least destructive way.  She assisted the family to better understand and cope with the issues relating to divorce (McGoldrick, 2011). She focused on solutions that involved the learning and teaching of conflict reduction techniques (McGoldrick, 2011). The therapist knew the state law regarding divorce. and she advised them to attend mediation. Finally, the therapist had discussed the arrangements of their finance (McGoldrick, 2011).

Reference:

McGoldrick, M., Carter, B., Garcia-Preto, N. (2011). The Expanded Family Life Cycle: Individual, Family, and Social Perspectives, (4th Ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
~Alicia~

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Never Alone

I was 18 when the doctors told me I had contracted a STD. Scared, lost and confused was how I felt. However, by the grace of God, it was something curable and not life threatening. You may read this and think to yourself that it was careless of me not to use protection. You may also think I was being a foolish teen having fun without thinking of the consequences.  Meanwhile, I was a straight-A student, loved sports and was president of my class. I never thought in a million years something like this would happen to me, but it did.  

I remember it like it was yesterday, a bad dream hunting me. February 2005, I was invited to a friend’s birthday party. We were having fun, enjoying ourselves and that's when Mr. Tall dark and handsome came along. He was cute as can be and the image of what I thought was perfect. He had a great smile; he had goals and dreams; and he wanted to be somebody. I thought he was too good to be true, and I turned out to be right. As the night went along we kept bringing me drinks, and I kept saying no. I wasn't a big fan of alcohol, because I saw what it did to my mom growing up, but he kept pushing, so finally I said okay. Then, he asked could we go somewhere more quite.  I was not thinking at the time, so I told him yes. We were outside in the back talking, having an innocent conversation when he kissed me. I kissed back, but he wanted more. I told him I wasn't that type of girl and that I was a virgin. I explained that I wanted my first time to be special. He kept pushing and I kept saying no. I was taught if a guy can’t take “no” for an answer get out as fast as you can. Don't wait for him to react; get your stuff and leave. I told him I had to go, and he asked if he could take me home. I told him that I had a ride and that I was fine. I didn't see it coming. He snapped at me grabbing my hair, and he began to beat me up like I was one of the guys. I try to scream for help, and he said "No one is going to hear you. You’re not leaving until I get what I want.”  After he was done, he asked me if that was special enough for me.

Once I arrived home, I spent the next two days in the shower trying to unmask his scent and everything about him off me. I never told my mom or anyone. My grades began to fall and I wasn’t the same person anymore. I had supporting teachers who would talk to me asking me if everything was okay, because they noticed a change in my grades. With the help of staying after school and make up tests, I was able to pull my grades back up. Time seemed to be moving slower than usual, and with time, changes with my body began to happen. I was scared. The first thought came to mind was that I have a disease, and was going to die. I went to the hospital where I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant and I had Chlamydia. I could hear the sound of my heart beating, and I felt like a bomb had gone off in my head. I cried my way home and for many days after. I tried to terminate the pregnancy and my life on several occasions. I told myself that my life was over, and I truly thought it was. My doctor told me the side effects of having Chlamydia and how it could affect my unborn child life. I finally found the courage to talk to my mom and let her know what had happened and explained that I was now pregnant with a child I never asked for. I thought she was going to be angry, but she held me in her arms and told me everything was going to be okay and that whatever I decided to do she was there with me every step of the way.  

I graduated high school and took a year off from college. I have two beautiful 5 years old twin daughters that I love each and every day and a degree in Human Service after deciding to keep the babies. My life didn’t turn out as planned, but it turned out to be much better than I hoped.

I'm married to a man who loves me and my daughters like nothing else in this world.  I have a mom who supported me through it all, and God who held me in his arms and never once let go.  

My advice to you, especially our teens, BE CAREFUL and SPEAK NOW. I thought no one would have believed me, and I thought I was alone, but remember you are never alone. When you find yourselves in dark days, pray and talk to an adult. If you find it hard to talk to them, write a letter. If I had went to the cops or an adult, maybe I could have helped the next female victim out there, but I will never know. Be encouraged and stay in good faith for when one door closes another opens.  

I always told my daughters you are more than a conqueror, but now I can tell them you are I-Female.   

Still pushing forward Hallie
“You are I-Female”
You Are Never Alone
J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2 / I - F E M A L E M A G A Z I N E  





Ms. Z’s Traffic Report

 As I opened my eyes this morning, I felt proud of the way that I have been handling and dealing with all the circumstances in my life. It has been really hard trying to stay focused on the task at hand sometimes, due to quite frankly, the personal problems in my life. I have separated from my wife and she recently informed me that she filed for divorce. I’m okay and have come to terms with it being over; however I must admit that the loneliness at times can really get to me. There are times when I  feel that I can and want to go out there and seek things and individuals that I know can take that feeling of loneliness away, but something inside of me keeps me convicted from doing so.  I had a great, yet busy Saturday and was feeling as though I wanted to take the term, Turn Down For What, to a new level. Just as Lil Jon is mimicking my thoughts of what I was about to decide to do, all of sudden the conviction inside of me always seems to set in just as the beat is about to drop. Again, I was proud of myself, but more importantly, I was happy that God convicted me.  After eating breakfast and completing hygiene necessities, and watching my online church service from Baltimore, I decided to go to church. As I’m sitting in my seat at church, glancing at this week’s highlights, I suddenly began getting and becoming very distracted. I know what made me distracted, but unfortunately that’s between me and God.

After putting the highlights down, I actually decided to go outside the sanctuary for a second to take a phone call. After taking the call, I walked back in the sanctuary and sat back down to hear a word from God. I thoroughly enjoy hearing the word of God flow through Pastor Cedrick Brown, internationally known within our church body as Pastor C. I couldn’t wait to hear it. With all the crisis and battles, nah! With this war I’m fighting, I needed to hear the word! A word from God! I needed to eat! As I sitting in the seat listening to Pastor C explain about our missionary from South Africa, Joyce Ray, I all of sudden remember that she is speaking today. When I realized that I would not be listening and hearing a word from Pastor C, quite honestly, I became instantly annoyed. Some of you may say, well why did you become annoyed and the reason is simple, I didn’t come to hear Joyce Ray speak. I came to hear Pastor C speak.  After discovering this new information, I plotted and contemplated what I was going to do. I decided to text my boy Roderick, who drives the church van, to see if I can ride with him, as he makes his rounds to pick up some of the members who have transportation needs. He texted back and told me to meet him out in front of the church in 5 minutes. After gathering up my belongings, I made my way out of the sanctuary. Just as I am opening the doors, my dear friend Ms. Z smiles at me and follows me out of the sanctuary. While in the corridor, Ms. Z questions me on why I am deciding to leave. Due to our close and honest relationship, I simply told her that I didn’t come this morning to hear no Joyce Ray. I continued to tell her that due to all the situations that I’m currently facing, I needed to hear a word from God. Ms. Z continued to persuade me that I needed to stay and that I needed to hear what she was going to say. She told me that I needed to be here. I told her I’m leaving and that I would call her later.

After embracing and saying goodbye, I went outside to meet Roderick. When I got outside, I didn’t see him. I know he told me 5 minutes, but due to my conversation with Ms. Z, it had been about 10 minutes or so. I waited for a couple of minutes because I was under the impression that when someone says 5 minutes, it usually is longer than 5 minutes. After waiting an additional 5 minutes or so, I called Roderick to see where he was. He told me that he stopped by and when he didn’t see me outside, he had to leave, as he had other passengers to pick up. He also told me that he wouldn’t be able to come back and get me. Feeling disappointed, I decided to go back inside. Once inside the sanctuary, I didn’t really have a choice but to sit next to Ms. Z. As she was laughing, I told her it was her fault that I missed my ride.

At first, as I’m listening and right on cue, I began to tune her out. I already expressed earlier that I needed to hear a word from God, not necessarily Joyce Ray talk about her experiences in South Africa. Then the strangest thing started happening. As she is talking, no matter how much I try to continue to tune her out, I couldn’t do it! It’s like something pierced me as I became interested and engaged in what she was talking about. She told the story about Balaam and the donkey, or better yet how Ms. Z. says Balaam and his ass, and how it relates to her life. For those who don’t know like I didn’t know, basically Balaam, who was a sorcerer, was sent to curse the Israelites just as Moses was leading them toward Canaan. He was promised by the king that he would be paid handsomely once he completed the task. God warned him not to carry out the mission, but he proceeded anyway. As he was riding his donkey to carry out the mission, the donkey, all of sudden, stopped moving. This upset Balaam, as he beat the donkey and instructed the donkey to proceed. As Balaam was riding the donkey to carry out the mission, again the donkey, all of a sudden, stopped moving. Infuriated, Balaam again beat the donkey and instructed the donkey to proceed again. As Balaam rode the donkey, again the donkey, all of a sudden, stopped moving. Balaam began beating the donkey again. As Balaam was beating the donkey, all of a sudden, the Lord spoke through the donkey. He asked Balaam why he was beating the donkey and what had the donkey done for him to beat him three times. The Lord showed Balaam why the donkey had stopped 3 times. The Lord had sent an angel, which scared the donkey and caused it to stop.

It was at this point in Joyce Ray’s testimony that she revealed that her life, as well as the lives of others, is all about the ability to handle and be obedient to the turns, the turns of life. I wanted to hear a word from the Lord, but in my ignorance I assumed that I could only hear that word through my Pastor. I had fallen victim to a humanistic belief and truth that I am strongly against. I focused more on the title than the power of testimony. The wonderful thing about God is even when we try to outsmart and take the reins and attempt to take control, He shows us how ignorant we are and engages us into auto pilot.  His will, will be done, no matter what. I needed a word from God and that was what He gave me. He knew before I ever knew that I needed to hear what Joyce Ray had to say. He also knew that I would resist. Even when I tried to sabotage and leave, He orchestrated the interference that lead to a trickle-down effect that eventually brought my behind back in the church. Not only back in, but back in sitting right next to the one who He summoned to provide the interference. No matter how much we assume the position and attempt to control the course of which way to go, God will always orchestrate a traffic stop to inspire you to relinquish control.  God is the compass of our lives. Let Him provide the direction. Just drive! I love you all! Be Blessed!