“The Blessing”: Keeping Things Scriptural and Simple

I hope Summer is going well for everyone so far. It’s been one ride of a year. A year with much change. Much thought. Much that has been brought to the surface that has needed to be discussed for years, decades, and longer. It’s important in the craziness, depth, and intensity that we keep ourselves centered on what matters most. As a Christian, for me that is Christ. It is His Word and what He created me to be here for. It is about co-creating with Him a life in which I use my voice well and write what He has placed in my heart. It is about loving others and living a life in which I know when my time comes that I left NOTHING on the table.

If life hands me lemons, I want to use them as decorations while I am developing the plan to turn them into something amazing. ~Shell Vera

Part of this mission to live with leaving nothing on the table is a focus on keeping things simple. I don’t want to get so caught up in my plans and thinking that I write the script. I’ve done this before and it’s not fun when life doesn’t cooperate with what I’ve written. Instead, I have enjoyed living the past 2 years in a state of prayer and creation in which I truly ask God each day what there is for me. I ask Him to open my eyes to see the people in my life who need me, who I can connect with that day to make the day the best it can be. To hear the words I need to ensure I don’t miss out on anything that is purposed for my perfect life. Some days, I mess up. Some days, I do well. Regardless, I love knowing that I am not living anymore focused on what is way out in the future but what is there for me today.

In his sermon this past week, Pastor Steven shared the background of how the song “The Blessing” came to be. It’s a powerful story for those of you who feel that time is passing you by and that you are behind schedule. Sometimes God’s schedule isn’t your schedule. As I listened to the story about how it came to be, it encouraged me about where I am in my life. During this time of being stuck inside, versus choosing to be inside, I have been going back to scripture and thinking about God and His word more than ever. I have been very careful about who I listen to and what I am doing with the information that comes in. I’ve been thinking about the purpose of the gospel, the reason for the church, and my place within it during this time when people need the love of God and his Word as it was truly shared more than ever. There is just too much hate and opinion being thrown around.

As I went through the past week, I kept hearing God say “Keep it scriptural and keep it simple.” The song “The Blessing” does just that. It is based fully from scripture and is praying a blessing over all of us. It is not adding to the Word to say something that isn’t there. It is God’s heart to our ears. And I pray that as we finish out this year and as we walk into whatever our new excellence (or your new normal, if that’s what you want to call it) will look like, that we can remember His prayer for all of us is to feel His love in and presence. Blessing looks different to all of us. Blessing arrives differently to each of us. As we learn what it means to us, and realize it actually has little to do with finances and a certain standard of living but more with the attitude in which we receive and live, I pray we will each realize that regardless of where we can go, what our current reality is, what rights or privileges we have, what we feel we lack, how much further we have to go, that we can walk out each day with full appreciation for TODAY and all that is within it.

If we focus on keeping things scriptural and simple, we can’t go wrong. We would realize that when we follow what the gospel truly preaches, what the message Jesus taught truly said, we wouldn’t have a lot of room for opinion and argument, just a truly beautiful love for others that would create change, equity, and a world where we could celebrate humanity and that God loves us enough to create us all instead of feeling ashamed by what some of our brothers and sisters, fellow humans, are saying. When we look at why things were said and at the cultural contexts and apply them to today, we have no room for hatred but all the room for true, unconditional love that allows God to do the real work in people as they surrender to Him, not us.

I leave you with some of the renditions of the song and video responses that have blessed me.

~Shell

This is the first version that was released at church one morning:

This version gave me chills!

And I loved this one too:

Here are some others examples of the response to this simple yet powerful song:

Going Full Time with your Side Gig: A Fireside Chat with Damaly Shepherd

I was able to sit down with Damaly Shepherd back in January and she has been wowing me since! We sat down for this Fireside Chat to talk about going full-time with your side gig, the power of sticking with a goal, the importance of personal growth, and how to ensure you are being mentored even if you can’t afford a coach. The chat is chock full of helpful information for those on the brink of going full-time with their side gig as well as those who aren’t sure that going full time is right for them.

Damaly shares how she got involved in photography, why being passionate doesn’t have to be a requirement to be successful at something, and how she had the courage to leave her job to go full time in photography. In the talk, we leave nothing on the table when it comes to real talk about the fear that comes along with going full time or the two sides of the passion discussion and whether it’s needed to be truly good at something! Listen in today to see what you can take away from it and apply to your life and career.

This chat really helped me look at the passion argument from another side since I’ve seen Damaly’s work and LOVE IT! Since meeting with Damaly for this chat, she has written a Medium article that went viral, added some new facets to her business, and recommitted to her mission of writing as well as sharing things visually. I get excited each time I learn of updates she is incorporating in her business as she, like the rest of us, pivots to account for the changes in how we are able to interact with one another right now.

Hear about her August sessions here:

Visit her site and check out her work today!

You can learn more about Damaly at https://www.damalyshepherd.com/

Find her on social media at:

Thinking of sharing this on Pinterest? Here’s some pin:

Damaly Shepherd 1
Damaly Shepherd 2
Damaly Shepherd 3
Damaly Shepherd 4
Damaly Shepherd 5
Damaly Shepherd 6

This post is an updated and edited version of this post from my creative lifestyle blog: The Essential Creative.

Being Still versus Being Stagnant

While filming videos about voice discovery and reading my poetry, I started rambling to my videographer (the talented La Chale Renee). She started filming and this is what resulted.

Don’t mistake your stillness for stagnancy. It’s okay to not be hustling and not be gaining new clients. With all that has happened in the past few months, it is ABSOLUTELY okay to sit back, listen, and have complete peace that you will be okay in your business and life by taking time to rest and refuel. Like Jesus in the boat during the storm, the world can be going chaotic around us but if we know that we are doing the Father’s business, we can have absolute peace.

~Shell

“Interruption” by Brandon & Cornieta Whitfield

Seldom do you read a book about a subject most people won’t talk about and realize you aren’t the only one in the world who experienced a heartbreaking situation while also being inspired to move forward in new ways. With most books, you walk away knowing you aren’t the only one but having few steps to put into action. Or you walk away with steps to implement but very little assurance you really aren’t alone. “Interruption” is different.

From the moment you begin reading this book, you are welcomed in Brandon and Cornieta Whitfield’s world. You sit with them and walk through one of the toughest trials and learn how God showed Romans 8:28 to be true in their life. You feel their pain and cry tears with them as they share with you the pain they experienced as Cornieta miscarried their twin babies. And you get to see how God turned their mourning into dancing as they arrived on the other side of the loss…but I won’t ruin for you how that happens.

In full disclosure, I saw an early copy of this book as a voice discovery coach. In fact, Cornieta was the one who showed me this was a gifting of mine, as she was one of the first people with whom I looked at a book and instead of wanting to ghostwrite parts of it or drastically edit it for her, I instead wanted to share thoughts and help her see where she wasn’t fully sharing her own voice in the ways she did when on stage. She was ALREADY a phenomenal woman and speaker at the point she asked me to read this book, and our work together was focused on helping her expand that within her book. I believe working with her helped me become the coach I am today because she affirmed through the work she put into the book after we talked that the guidance was helpful and she was able to use her own voice in new ways and bring Brandon into the story more while also sharing a broader look at how their miscarriage translates into many experiences you have had in your own life, even if you’ve never experienced such pain.

But don’t let me seeing an early copy fool you into thinking that I had much to do with how this book turned out from a writing standpoint, because that would be misleading. You see, Cornieta and Brandon are a perfect example of a strong power couple who work together in all areas of their life and overcome struggles together. When I read the final copy, it was like reading a different book! I was so pleased with the final version and how they shared their story with the world in a way that relates to loss for each of us.

To launch their book, Cornieta and Brandon held a virtual book launch in which they brought some of their friends on with them to talk about interruptions…and talk we did! For an hour and a half, we had some great conversation with the couple about interruptions we’ve experienced, biblical stories relating to interruptions, and how we bounced back. Interested in hearing it? Listen here.

Did you notice that for their book launch, they barely talked about their book?! That is the kind of character these two have off the screen as well. In real life, they walked through this pain SUPER publicly and with grace. They put others first while going through one of the deepest, scariest, and faith-testing tragedies we can go through and did so with such dignity and truth. I watched them not knowing all that was going on and saw them before, during, and walked with them after as they launched their church and grew the family God was bringing them. In their pain, they were able to help people from all walks of life who were hanging on by threads at time. Their experience led them to be able to lead others through pain and talk with them at real levels, in ways pastors seldom do.

I highly recommend this book. I don’t get any royalties and I purchased my copy of the book. I am sharing it with you not so my clients can do better or be more known, but so you can be changed and healed. I want that to be SO VERY CLEAR. This book is a must read for everyone. Even if I had never seen a copy of it and was not a part of it in any way, I would be sharing it with you today because I believe in it. That’s why I waited until now to share it: I wanted to ensure I’d read it and digested the final version before sharing it with you.

Purchase the book here and be sure to leave a review when you are done. Both the Kindle version and the paperback are available through Amazon.

Follow them on social media at:

YouTube

The River Danbury

Or either of the Instagram accounts shared above.

When Me Becomes We

If we had to use names instead of pronouns how would conversations changes? This thought has been running through my mind since I heard the news of George Floyd’s murder. I did what I know best and wrote out what I was feeling and thinking. This is not complete in that I am listening and learning more each day, but I commit to being part of the conversation AND solution.

Right now I am listening and allowing other voices to be amplified while mine becomes more quiet. This will not affect my commitment to show up for myself but will pivot how I am doing so. It’s important that when we have a voice we use it while also being aware of who else is speaking and listening to them as well.

For everyone out there who is confused on what to do or is feeling the deep sadness and anger of this event, please know now is the time that you can dig deep on what you are feeling and really look into how you can be part of the solution. This month, I am reading books about racial relationships and looking into local organizations that are part of the solution and finding out how I can do more because that is what I feel called to do. Your calling may be different. Know your calling and act upon it because THAT is what you will be held accountable for.

~Shell

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Your Biggest Supporter

I am stepping in front of the camera more often these days. It’s partly an exercise to become more comfortable with my body and accepting myself where I am, as I am, how I am, while also creating a documented trail for myself of the transition from this level to my next level. It’s also about using my voice in ways to connect with people better and to be my own best client. To SHOW you instead of just telling you how you use your voice and do so in a way that engages you to join in and share your thoughts and change your life, whether we work together or you just stop by to read the posts and talk on social.

I’ve been behind the scenes for so long that stepping back out front has been less than comfortable. I enjoy supporting YOU and lifting YOU up. But one day I offered to jump on the phone with a wonderful brand strategist and designer I met and one of my questions for her was why her social media didn’t line up with the great work I saw on her website. It was good and beautiful, but inconsistent with the level of effort that clearly went into her website. When she mentioned a lack of time, I heard myself say, “I know I am not one to talk, but we should be our own best client.”

OUCH.

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The Execution that Gave Life

The day had not gone as planned. It was supposed to be an easy execution for a man who had been in prison since he was a youth. No flaws. No hitches. Just another day on Death Row. But the prisoner spoke up at when given the chance to say some last words. Instead of the usual, “I didn’t do it. You’re killing an innocent man,” this man said something that had long been written as a clause in his case, causing a delay. The prison guard called the warden, who called the judge, who reviewed the file and commanded the prisoner be given a stay of execution while he reach out to the family to see what to do. Everyone in the room became angry, shouting protests:

“He is a horrible murderer!”

“He cannot be set free.”

“He will do it again.”

“What are you doing? He surely has not changed.”

Everyone, that is, except for one woman. The prisoner was on death row for horribly mutilating her after brutally torturing and murdering her husband. If anyone within the room had a right to be angry, had a right to scream and yell, it would be her. Yet the woman sat quietly staring at the prisoner through the glass as tears streamed down her face. Amidst the chaos, she seemed completely at peace.

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Interruptions…How Do You Deal With Them?

Have you been dealing with life’s interruptions? We all have been struggling in various ways, even if we’ve been super productive while dealing with this current situation. Tonight, to launch their book Interruptions, Cornieta and Brandon Whitfield, Pastors of The River Church in Danbury, CT asked their friends, including me, to talk about how we have dealt with life’s interruptions. Join us by watching below while the video is still available.

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You Are Exactly Who You Need to Be

I hear so many people talk about all they need to do to become the person they want to be. I’ve been there too! Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps you are EXACTLY who you need to be so you’re positioned for the opportunities that help you become all you’re becoming?

Two years ago, I deeply desired marriage and having a family again. If I had been given the man of my dreams at that time, we’d be divorced by now because I still had a victim mindset and was distrusting and insecure. I didn’t believe anyone could love me or that I had value for anyone. I was only good at work and even that wasn’t going well because I wasn’t fully living out my purpose.

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What She Became…

This was a poem written in response to a prompt on Pen & Pendulum’s IG page. Prompts are a great way to improve your writing skills. I have never responded to a writing prompt online but recently became involved with some writers who are inspiring me to hone my craft.

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