“Standing Out vs. Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb”

Something has been troubling me for a while now, so I figured I might as well get it off my chest and end this year with a bang. I see a lot of people who believe they are Standing Out (and that’s great); however, I have also noticed that some who see themselves as Standing Out are actually Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb – Big Difference!

Standing Out means to be very noticeable. While Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb is often used to describe someone who is very noticeable, usually because they are unusual or inappropriate.

Why is this so important? I’m glad you asked! Many of us are embarrassing ourselves because we believe our inappropriate actions are causing us to Stand Out; when they are actually making us Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb. We are blaming the world, the system, the devil, other people, and everyone else for our missed opportunities, when the real culprit is staring back at us from the mirror.

Example of Standing Out – You are admired for how well-rounded you are. You have the ability to shift, as needed, contingent upon the setting. So, if you are with family and friends, you know it’s okay to be a little more relaxed. When you are at work, you understand you are there to work, but are not opposed to participating in office fun during special occasions. You have learned and accepted there is a time and a place for everything. You understand it’s not about losing yourself, but about exercising self-control.

Example of Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb – You are loud and boisterous by nature (this is me), and this is fine when you are around family and friends. However, you insist on behaving this way regardless of your environment, even in business and more professional settings. Your attitude is “I’m not changing. This is who I am.” You take no thought for how your behavior may affect/disrupt others around you. Your actions are far from professional, or mature for that matter.

Example of Standing Out – You have your own unique style of dress. It’s different from many, but it is tastefully put together.

Example of Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb – Your thoughts are “I’m not worried about what others think about me,” when you leave the house looking disheveled and poorly dressed on a regular basis. Then you get offended when people don’t take you seriously when you are dressed as such and trying to conduct business. It’s unfair to expect them to take you serious, when you didn’t take it serious enough to dress for the occasion.

Example of Standing Out – Your very presence shifts the atmosphere without you saying a word. The purity of your heart and the Light that shines through you is magnetic, causing people to be drawn to you.

Example of Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb – You have to be (need to be) the center of attention, no one else, just you. You actually get upset if someone else is getting more attention than you, and you accuse them of trying to steal your spotlight. Then, you shamelessly do whatever it takes to be noticed, and you are so unaware, that you actually believe you are Standing Out. Nope, you my dear, are Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb.

Moment of Transparency: One of my good friends and I had this discussion last year, except we were critiquing ourselves. We are both loud by nature, and we are surrounded by others who are usually loud; but we both agreed that just because that is our nature, doesn’t mean we can’t work on being mindful of our settings and learning to use our “inside voices.” The same for appearance. My style is VERY DIFFERENT and that’s okay, but I had to accept that there are times when I have to “tone it down a little;” and that doesn’t change who I am; I get it. I also had to accept that it is NOT okay to continuously come out of the house unkempt. There is no excuse for me because I have everything I need to look presentable, especially as a lady. This is all a part of growth/maturity.

So, That Settles It. Take the rest of this year and do a self-assessment. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to Stand Out or Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb. Trust me, Standing Out will open doors for you, but Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb will get some doors slammed in your face. You’ve been warned. The choice is yours.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Rom. 12:2 NLT).

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“Reflection”

I know everyone is getting excited about the coming new year. We are already seeing social media posts about how 2020 is going to be Great; just as we saw similar posts leading up to 2019. People are busy setting goals, completing vision boards, hosting strategy sessions; which are all great, I do these things too. But, before you throw this year away, perhaps this is the perfect time for Reflection. Instead of going into the new year making the same mistakes from this year and years past, why not learn from those mistakes? Aren’t you tired of going into a year with great expectations only to end that year disappointed over and over again?

I was recently a guest on JSpirationsLive, and during the interview I was asked the following question:
We often talk about Reflection or reflecting; how does reflecting and looking back differ? Do they?

My response: Looking back is thinking about something that happened in the past.
Reflection is a sincere examination of oneself. It involves the willingness to face and acknowledge our mistakes, failures and shortcomings. Without reflection, it is impossible to know yourself, your purpose and more importantly, which areas of your life require regeneration (being restored to a better, higher, or more worthy state).

I challenge you to make time for Reflection.
~Acknowledge and appropriately address any area of your life with which you are not pleased.
~Get reacquainted with yourself and your purpose.
~What has changed? How have you grown?
~What, if anything, needs to be realigned?

So, That Settles It. Set aside some time this month for Reflection. Don’t just look back, but sincerely examine those things that may have hindered you during this year. If you make this common practice, you won’t have to wait for a new year; you will be too busy pursuing purpose and enjoying your success throughout the year, every year, now henceforth and forevermore.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6). 

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“Runaway Slave”

One day I woke up and decided: This is the day. I’m just going to do it. I knew the master wasn’t going to let me go without a fight, and I knew if I tried to run and got caught, the master would kill me to set an example for any others who were contemplating running. Still, there was something inside of me saying, if you stay here, you’re dead anyway. If you know anything about slavery, you know this was the case for many runaway slaves. Most runaway slaves fled to freedom in the middle of the night, often pursued by barking bloodhounds.

I made up my mind: I’m going to run and keep running and not look back. I don’t know what lies ahead of me, but it cannot be any worse than the hell I have endured thus far. Was I scared? Yes, but my disgust with my living conditions at that time weighed more heavily on me than my fear of the unknown, so I ran. I had some help along the way. I encountered many hardships. There were times I thought I would die. There were times I prayed for death, but something pushed me to keep running. Then one day I looked up and I saw a sign that I was free…

What you have just read is a snippet from my first book: Runaway Slave; Run and Don’t Look Back. My official release/launch is Friday, October 18, 2019 (about 2 weeks away) and I am beyond excited. Not only am I excited for myself, but I am also excited about all the people who will be set free after reading this book. I am excited about the lives that will be transformed after reading this book. I am excited for the people who will be encouraged by reading my book, and they too will start (and finish) that book they’ve been wanting to write. I believe and decree this is the first of a series of books that shall come forth.

So, That Settles It. Did I mention that I am excited? Because I am so excited. Let me encourage you: Whatever it is that you KNOW you are supposed to do in this season, do it! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I procrastinated with this book. I started it about two years ago. I kept picking it up and putting it down. I continually asked God if He was sure He wanted me to do this (shaking my head at myself); and each time, His answer was a resounding “YES.” I will leave you with this:

  • Set your goal
  • Stay focused
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Keep going
  • Don’t stop
  • See it all the way through
  • Finish what you started

Stay tuned for more details about my book: Runaway Slave; Run and Don’t Look Back. As we get closer to the launch, there will be giveaways and free promotions. If you haven’t done so, remember to subscribe to my blog and stay connected.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him ( 1 Cor. 2:9 KJV).

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“Run and Don’t Look Back!”

As I prepare to unveil the biggest thing I have done in my life, thus far (Big Reveal Coming Soon), I took some time to reflect on the events that helped get me to this point. I thought about the times I felt defeated and the times I felt as if I was on top of the world. Then, I remembered a word I received from the Lord on January 14, 2018: “Run and Don’t Look Back!”

It doesn’t matter if we start out slow, the key is once we start, to keep moving and don’t look back. Have you ever tried to run while you were looking behind you? Not only is it difficult, it’s dangerous! You could injure yourself; you risk getting off course; and you will undoubtedly work harder than if you just keep looking forward. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by trying to compete with anyone else; run at your own pace. Keep your eyes on the prize!

Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2 TLB).

To sum it up, here are some things to remember as you work towards realizing your goals:

~Once you start, don’t stop.

~Let go of regrets from your past.

~Don’t allow fear to control you, or dictate your actions.

~Stay focused.

~Keep moving forward, and don’t look back.

~Remember, not everyone is a cheerleader, some are spectators, others are naysayers; and some are being inspired by watching you.

So, That Settles It. Stay Tuned because I have a HUGE Announcement coming up within the next week! My prayer is that my sharing encourages you to step out in faith and do what God has called you to do. Run and Don’t Look Back!

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV).

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“Can You Handle It?”

There are many who desire fame and fortune; to be world-renowned; to be a household name, and there is nothing wrong with that. My question is:  Can You Handle It?

Recently, I have been stretched a little more than usual. With increased responsibilities at work, more exposure (work) for my business, family, friends, church, and another project I am working on, it seems there’s always something required of me. As I was reading Matthew 9 in my bible, it gave me a great illustration of how Jesus had to deal with multiple events, oftentimes one right after the other, but He never complained and He executed with so much Grace.

Let’s take a look…

And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:1-2 ESV).

While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well (Matthew 9:18-22 ESV).

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district (Matthew 9:27-31 ESV).

As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel” (Matthew 9:32-33 ESV).

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction (Matthew 9:35 ESV).

Can You Handle It? Let’s see…

Answer the following questions truthfully.

  1. As soon as you get to work/home, people are waiting for you, requiring/demanding something from you. Can You Handle It?
  2. How many times do you get interrupted during the day? While you’re in the middle of doing one thing, someone else needs you to do something else. How often are you pulled in multiple directions? Can You Handle It (gracefully)?
  3. Can you do it in secret? When people point to you, will you point to Jesus? Can You Handle It (not being about you)?
  4. Your plans are sometimes delayed (or put on hold), so you can help someone else. Can You Handle It (without complaining)?

So, That Settles It. I know this post may seem like just a bunch of scriptures, but as you read it, you notice that many of these events took place one right after the other; as Jesus was in the process of doing one thing, people were coming to Him and asking Him to help with something else. Many of us would have caved under that much pressure. Here’s my advice: We need to build up our endurance; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, so that we can handle whatever we are tasked with while doing the work of the Kingdom. Scripture tells us in Luke 12:48, “to whom much is given much is required,” and as we can see from the preceding scriptures, Jesus had to be prepared to serve back-to-back-to-back. My question to you is: Can You Handle It (today)? If not, let’s not be so eager for the spotlight, that we omit the endurance training and risk missing the Promise of God.

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised (Hebrews 10:36 ESV). 

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“This is Really Happening!”

There was a time when I thought, “This isn’t going to happen.” Then there was a time I thought, “Well it could happen.” Then there was a time I thought, “It just might happen.” Now I’m saying, “This is Really Happening!” Because it is!

What changed? I changed. I changed my way of thinking as well as what I speak.  Oftentimes, especially when we are facing difficult situations, we tend to focus (and speak) more of the negative and not so much of the positive. Sure, it may seem impossible, but the impossible is no problem for the God we serve. We all have a choice to either see the glass as half empty or half full. We can choose to view challenges we face as either obstacles or opportunities. Whichever one we decide, that is what we will see.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light (Genesis 1:3 KJV).

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so (Genesis 1:11 KJV).

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Genesis 1:26-27 KJV).

Notice, He spoke it and it appeared (and it was so); but He also created.

This tells us two things: 

  1. If we speak it (good or bad) it will happen.
  2. Some things we have to create (we have to do more than just speak).

Didn’t God create us in His image and in His likeness? So, why are we selling ourselves short? All the Power, Strength, and Creativity we need, for whatever it is we want to accomplish, is already in us. We just have to believe it, speak it, then create it. Remember, even in our weaknesses, God’s strength is made Perfect. We must also remember that we can do ALL THINGS through Christ Who strengthens us (2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:13).

So, That Settles It. For the remainder of this year, I challenge you to change the way you think and what you speak. Where there was once doubt, believe and speak Faith. Where there was once fear, believe and speak fearlessness. Where there was once “I don’t think I can, believe and speak, “I can and I will!”

Before you know it, you will hear yourself saying, “This is Really Happening,” because you will see the manifestation.

For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37 KJV).

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“Lender and not the Borrower”

Have you ever been so tired when you got home that you didn’t want to talk to anybody? You vowed if the phone rang or a text message popped up, you were not going to answer. But, the phone did ring, and for some reason (despite your internal protest), you felt a nudge to answer. On the other end of the line was someone who desperately needed to talk, who perhaps needed a listening ear, or who needed wise counsel or prayer. At that moment, you made a decision to lend strength to someone else in their time of weakness, even though you were tired.

A couple of years ago I started declaring, “I am the Lender and not the Borrower.” It wasn’t long after I commenced making this declaration that I began to see the manifestation. I was able to lend money to people, sometimes without receiving repayment.

My friend asked me recently (jokingly as she was setting me up to ask a favor), “Shawndell are you the Lender and not the Borrower?” I laughed and answered, “Yes I am!” As we were talking and joking, I thought about how long before I was able to become the Lender financially, I was already lending to people in so many other ways.

I was reminded of the times I chose to lend my ear to a person who just needed someone to listen, without judgment or advice, (Hence the scenario at the beginning of this post). I’ve lent my time to people who needed me to be there. I’ve lent my talents, even when I knew someone else would take the credit, or that I wouldn’t be compensated. I’ve had to lend my heart and walk in love to people who weren’t capable of repaying me (including my enemies).

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:31-36 ESV).

So, That Settles It; short and simple this month. As heirs of the King of Kings, we are called to be the Lenders and not the Borrowers. I challenge you to think outside of the box. By no means am I suggesting that you let people take advantage of you (use wisdom and  discernment). There are so many other things we can lend, not just money. We can lend our hearts, our ears. We can lend hugs. We can lend our time. We can lend wise counsel. Let us lend even when we know the person(s) receiving it may never repay us. Lastly, let us never forget all the times we were the borrowers (the ones in need)!

Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to him (Hebrews 13:16 TLB). 

 

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“I Have More Time…”

Recently some friends and I made plans to go to the movies. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate being late! I like to be there before the previews start. I want to be seated, have my snacks, and ready to enjoy the feature. My friends are the exact opposite. They think they have an extra 15-20 minutes (because of all the previews) before the movie starts; but as they learned, it’s not wise to always assume you have more time. This time when they came into the theater we were already 15 minutes into the feature presentation. Then they wanted to try and disturb us by asking what they missed. “So sorry you should have been here on time like the rest of us.”

Are you like my friends? Ask yourself: “What opportunities could I possibly forfeit as a result of always thinking I Have More Time?” One of the saddest things I’ve done is reflect back on time I wasted. For example: There are several projects that I should have completed by now, but because of procrastination (and some fear), there’s still work to do. Now, I have to pray that I am still in God’s Divine Timing and that I didn’t miss any opportunities as a result of always believing I Have More Time.

What are you putting off right now that you could work on, but instead you keep telling yourself “I’ll get to it?” What are you waiting for? We believe we have (and are entitled to) more time, and while we trust and believe God for long life, we shouldn’t waste the time we have been given. Then, when we realize we’ve missed opportunities, if we’re not careful, we find ourselves in the woes of what could have been if we would have… 

Time is a precious commodity, so we should spend it wisely.

So, That Settles It. Stop telling yourself, “I Have More Time.” Let’s not waste any more time. Whatever it is that you believe you were created to do, get busy doing it!

Write that book!

Start that business!

Start that blog!

Go back to school!

Let’s become better stewards of time.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14 ESV).

**By the way, if you haven’t seen the movie, “Breakthrough,” make your way to see it today! Such an Amazing movie based on real life events.**

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“Comfortable With the Uncomfortable”

Don’t you just wish you could receive all the blessings of God without going through any tests or trials? Don’t you wish we could have a “Purge Day” every now and again, a day without any consequences for sin and disobedience? Me too! I have even talked to God about this, and I am pretty sure I heard Him laughing hysterically.

I don’t know anyone who enjoys the idea of being Comfortable With the Uncomfortable, but this is how we learn to fully trust God. This is what causes us to gain patience and confidence in Him. It also builds character in us.

As Believers, discomfort comes to be a way of life; and we are still expected to counsel and minister to people who may reject what we have to share. We still have to stand for what’s right, even if we have to stand alone. We still have to live Holy, even if it seems like no one else is.

God reminded me of the scripture: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death (Philippians 3:10 KJV).”  I am willing to bet I am not the only one who skipped right over that part about the suffering.

We want to reign with Christ. We want the blessings and the favor, but we tend to forget…

If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us (2 Timothy 2:12 KJV). 

Believe it or not, it also encourages those who are watching us (trust me, they’re watching). They see us facing difficult situations, yet we continue to reverence God; we continue to praise His name; we continue to give Him the Glory, in spite of our situation. Now, those onlookers who may have wanted to give up are encouraged because of our faithfulness. It gives them the strength and the willingness to endure.

So, That Settles It. Remember, anyone can Praise God in the good times, but who will still trust Him when things aren’t going so well? Is it you? Will you be an example to others on how to become Comfortable With the Uncomfortable?

We don’t want to mislead people and cause them to believe that this Christian walk is always sunshine and flowers; we have to show them how to dance in the rain.

We are saved by trusting. And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don’t yet have; for a man who already has something doesn’t need to hope and trust that he will get it. But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently (Romans 8:24-25 TLB).

 

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