This weeks guest post is from my dear sister, Raquel R. James
Thinking of thanking, and actually thanking, two totally different things. There were times this year where I had to remind myself to do less thinking about it and more doing. 2018 has been a very interesting year, filled with challenges that certainly tested my ability to be thankful in the midst of the storm. You would think that when God calls you to do something once you’re engaged in the process of accomplishing the task at hand it would be a breeze. Right? Wrong. You see as you embark upon the journey of purpose you learn that indeed the weapons form. Thank God they never prosper.
The year started with the Holy Spirit leading me, strongly leading me, to finish writing a book that He had long ago told me to complete. With a hard deadline quickly approaching, a new work from home job with ten hour work days and way too little pay, being surrounded by my super loving, but very busy, and seldom quiet family did not make writing a book the easiest thing to do. That didn’t matter. It still had to be done. Can we say all nighters? And no I don’t mean the fun girl talk and decadent dessert all nighters. I mean prayer, and Spirit led writing and research type of nights, vanilla chai tea and sugary almond milk creamer type of nights, Lord I’m tired, but I’m gonna get this done type of nights.
During this season I often had to remind myself that it was just a season. I also had to stop and take a moment to be grateful for the many things that seemed like obstacles, but were truthfully blessings. The Holy Spirit told me 30 years ago that I would be an author, a New York Times best selling author to be exact. The only problem was I hadn’t yet written a book. So, the first thing I had to be grateful for was the mere fact that the first part of that had come to pass. I am now an author, and truly believe that the New York Times best seller component will soon be manifested. That low paying work from home job served its purpose for the time that I had it. It was my only source of income as I struggled to grow my business and be intentional about God’s calling on my life. My super loving, very busy, seldom quiet family makes me strive to be better daily. They love me without pretense or conditions and they support my vision so much that they serve as my team when it’s time to get things done. Not only do they give of their time, they also give their money and their skills; no strings attached. Those all nighters, they served as quiet time for me to hear from God, uninterrupted, and complete that task I was given. My first book, BETTER, Not Bitter Baby, Becoming The Woman You’re Called To Be… 22 Days of Affirming Truth, was published in April of this year.
Now if I’m completely honest, I was not walking around screaming, “Oh Lord I’m so grateful!” each day as this was all going on. Some days I was whining and complaining. Well, it wasn’t whole days, it was more like moments throughout a day. Then I’d have to give myself the proverbial, figurative, slap in the face as a reminder of the many blessings I had to be grateful for. If that slap in the face didn’t work I’d text or call my sissy, Shannon, to whine for a moment. She’d give me some encouragement and I’d move on with my life.
I’d like to tell you that writing the book was enough of a reminder to simply be thankful at all times, but sometimes you need additional reminders. Oftentimes, those reminders come with, or in the form of challenges. Writing the book and those obstacles that were really blessings, hmph, the smallest of my obstacles for this year.
Did I forget to mention that one daughter was in the process of finishing college and the other (and my son-love-and-law) were expecting my third grandchild. Yeah, there was a lot going on. So, my third grandchild, my first granddaughter, was born in June. Soon after her mother, my oldest daughter, began to battle postpartum depression (PPD) that manifested as panic attacks, sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, and OCD. Yep, all of that falls under the PPD umbrella. All of the previously mentioned challenges/blessings were simply preparation for this huge obstacle in our lives. Yes, I said our because although this was certainly my daughter’s challenge, it was a family battle. We went to war against the enemy with, and for, her.
That meant many more all nighters. Initially the all nighters looked like praying over my daughter throughout the night, sleeping next to her, watching over her to know when to start praying when she awoke. Then it became a combination of rotating baby shifts with my son-in-love-and-law so that my daughter could sleep. As I write this I’m reminded that I hadn’t pulled an all nighter in years prior to writing my book; didn’t think I still had it in me. God needed me to know that I could. He prepared my mind and my body before my granddaughter came. How good is God?! Yet another reason to be thankful in spite of. Not only had He prepared me physically and mentally, He kept me where I was needed during a season when I thought I needed to move. In fact it was a season where I wanted to move. Heck, my entire family wanted movement prior to PPD showing up. However, we quickly realized that God had us in position for what was to come. So, as we battled this beast, and make no mistake about it PPD is a beast, we were actually able to stop and thank God for His sovereignty and for covering my family when we had no idea what He was doing or why He had done it, until that very moment.
You see, had I moved when I wanted to I would not have been in position to support my family in the way that I needed to. Had I gotten the high paying job I wanted, in a nice office, I wouldn’t have been able to accommodate the swift life change that allowed me to be by my daughter’s side 24 hours a day. Lastly, I look at the struggles our family endured during this season and can clearly see God’s hand and His plan. My God. My God. When I tell you, He brought us through to get us to… whew! PPD was simply a necessary tool to bring our family closer together and bring about changes in my daughter, in ways nothing else could. This experience also assured that my daughter truly knew God’s heart for her and His purpose for her life.
He is mighty to be praised! Do you hear me?! He taught us all how to be grateful in the midst of any and every storm for a number of reasons:
- No matter what is going on He is ALWAYS present.
- No matter what, there is ALWAYS purpose in the storm.
- No matter what, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.
- No matter what, God is ALWAYS worthy to be praised.
- No matter what, God will ALWAYS get the glory.
So, today, no matter what you’re going through be thankful for the lessons and blessings that are sure to come as a result of whatever you’re facing. Most importantly, be thankful that even in your struggles God is still God, Jesus still sits on the throne, and He is going to bring you through this test with a mighty testimony of His love, His grace, and His mercy. As you go through this month of thankfulness, don’t just be thankful in spite of, be thankful because of.
Be blessed & encouraged,
Raquel R. James is committed to serving as a catalyst to transformation in the lives of ladies dedicated to changing the trajectory of their lives as they define what next, what now. She is an LMSW, a Master Lifestyle Strategist, Transformational Speaker, Author of BETTER, Not Bitter Baby…, Creator of Jammies and Jewels, and the Owner and CEO of Raquel R. James Unlimited, LLC. In addition, Raquel is an Authorized Relationship Program Leader and Certified P.I.C.K. a Partner and Marriage L.I.N.K.S. Instructor. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University in New York.
You can purchase her latest book, BETTER, Not Bitter Baby… as well as BETTER, Not Bitter t-shirts here. Single ladies be sure to join Raquel at her 2nd Annual Jammies & Jewels, New Year’s Eve Edition; click here for more info. You can always connect with Raquel via Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to drop by her website as well.