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Taking Hold of Greatness: Being Willing to Take Steps Backward

“Sometimes doing great work requires taking several steps backward.”         ~CANDICE COATES

I don’t know of a single human being throughout the span of time who has not desired some level of success and greatness.

I am not talking about the greatness that world conquers sought, the empty success that only leaves you with an insatiable high for more in all the wrong ways, the kind that leaves victims wounded, and bloodied in your wake.

I am talking about the great work of authentic meaning and self-expression. I am talking about that work that comes from an honest and sincere heart, that one that you can whisper to God with a smile and say, “We did good, eh?”

Be it your art, your writing, your marriage, your conquering of the daily grind whereas you force yourself to say, “This is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it! I will do well today no matter the odds, no matter the discomfort.” This is the great work I speak about.

It cost. It takes time. But it is worth it.

As a writer, one of my greatest desires was to be published, to share the fruits of my imagination with others, and beyond that, to be self-sustaining financially through my craft.

Sometimes I get so eager to share my written works that the desire to forgo proper editing and revisions tempts me with an itch that I can hardly bear not to scratch.

Editing takes time, sometimes that time is spent in rewriting one’s ‘masterpiece,’ completely … this is taking several steps back. The finish line that was only a few strides ahead now seems so far away.

One moment, you believe you are finished with your work only to realize you have to go back to the starting line, or close to it, in order to actually achieve the goal you were aiming for.

The beauty of taking these steps back lay in the wisdom that was gleaned from the first attempt, your dry run. Taking steps back and aiming for the mark a second time lends you an advantage you did not have before.

When we aim the second time, or the third or even the twentieth, we know how to consider the ‘winds’ around us because we have learned to consider them.

Greatness is worth every detour. It is worth every tear. It is worth all the strain.

Take your steps, step back if you must, but continue to move forward. Greatness is just ahead.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Revised from July 20, 2015

How to Make Waves in Life: Stepping into New Seasons

“If you don’t dive in, you’re not going to make any waves.” ~Somebody Awesome

Let’s be honest, basking in the presence of something beautiful is a wonderful thing, but being fully submerged within it can be so much more fulfilling and exhilarating.

It’s similar to being at the pool, or the ocean on a hot summer’s day. You’re never truly refreshed until you have taken the dive in! The same is true for us and any advancement that we would like to have in life.

Talking about an idea or a plan is a wonderful thing, but until you take a dive and actually start implementing the things you are talking about, you are only basking in its beauty.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” ~PSALM 34:8

Consider that this truth is relevant in every area of our lives, especially in our walks with Christ. The deeper we go in Him the sweeter we find Him to be, the more we realize how awesome and worth the cost are our walks and faith in Him.

But we would never know this to be true if we never took the ‘dive’ with Him in the first place.

Diving ‘in’ to new places, new seasons, new relationships, new levels, and calls,  can be a scary thing. Wading in and testing the ‘waters’ is wise, but don’t let that become a barrier either.

If the Lord has given you His blessing and ‘go ahead,’ take courage, faith, and take your dreams and run with them. Dive in. Make the wave!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Revised from April 29, 2016

The Secret of the Stars: Reaching For Your Dream

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new discovery for the human spirit.” ~HELEN KELLER

The only ingredients that you need to fail in this life are Fear, Doubt, and Pessimism. All three of these are the poison that saps out our creative power and imagination.

When Christ Jesus created the heavens and the earth, He did so by speaking. He spoke from His imagination. Proverbs 23:7 says as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs further goes on to warn us that we will live by the fruit of our lips and above all else, to guard our hearts for out of it flows the source of our lives. (PROVERBS 12:14, PROVERBS 18:21, PROVERBS 4:23)

When our hearts are filled with pessimism and doubt, we speak with negativity and bring forth the fruits of failure. But when we speak with faith, when we allow ourselves to dream, imagine, and do by faith, we are giving life to victory. We are positioning ourselves to conquer!

We live by the fruit of our own lips (PROVERBS 12:14). We have to speak on purpose with purpose so that every bite of life is filled with planned delight!

Christ Jesus also tells us that we can do all things through Him and that nothing is impossible to him who believes! He said according to your faith, be it unto you! (PHILIPPIANS 4:13, MARK 9:23, MARK 9:29)

What are you believing? What are you saying about yourself? There are no limits to them who believe. Nowhere in God’s word does He say “you can’t” but He does say that “you can!”

What is your dream? Go and make it a reality. Slay your giants, for they will come, but remember you are more than a conqueror because you have faith and believe! Genesis 11:6, Matthew 17:20.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Revised from November 13, 2015

A Time to Grow & A Time to Rest by Briana Lassiter

This week I was having a conversation with the Lord and telling Him how sorry I was that I haven’t made a lot of progress in my life or grown much lately.

It’s been a difficult few months and life has not felt full of sunshine and rainbows.

He startled me with His response as He asked me “Why do you think you need to grow right now daughter?”

Recently He’s told me how much He dislikes it when I answer without thinking about what He’s asking me so I stopped and thought carefully for a minute.

I came up with nothing and finally answered, “I don’t know Lord.”

“What season is it?” He responded.
“Winter, Lord?”
“Yes. It is winter. What is growing now child? Nothing. Nothing is growing right now because it is not the time for growing.”

As I realized that day in my talk with Jesus, there is a season for everything, and sometimes you are not in a season of growing and it is time to do something else.

Over the next week, He began to give me clarity about what He actually expected of me and how I would best get through this time in my life.

He shared some characteristics of the eagle and how it was created to fly, no; soar high above tumult and how it does not flap its wings to soar, there is an element of rest in its act of flying, and He shared how the Eagle represents part of His nature and how as His child, He wants me to reflect that part of Him, the part that moves by abiding in rest.

Friends if you are struggling through this part of your life, I pray God gives you the wisdom to discern what season you are in and how He wants you to get through it successfully.

I pray you let go of your own expectations and beliefs you have for this time of your life and allow the Holy Spirit to carry you through however is best.

Whether it is your time to contend or grow or rest, you can be sure your Father will make it plain to you and help you navigate through every season He brings you to.

By Bri Lassiter

Bri Small headshotI’m married to my dearest friend of 8 years and mom to an energetic 6-year-old. My greatest joys come from traveling with my little family, cooking for appreciative recipients, learning herbalism and natural medicine, and every experience I get to have in prayer ministry. I’m an avid tea and book lover and can’t get enough of either. I love Jesus and the daily adventure that comes from walking in friendship with him as he arranges and rearranges my story.

Waging War with the Right Tools: A Word on Effective Advancement

“There are many plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s counsel will prevail.” ~PROVERBS 19:21

Idon’t know what to do. I seriously don’t know what to do.”

These were the words I recited more than a few times during the 2019 year. I don’t know about you, but last year was a year and season of gaining new territory, creatively, physically, mentally, relationally, and spiritually.

These are all great places to take possession of land but I also felt like, not only was the year truly moving at an accelerated pace but that some of the difficulties, trials, and tests I was facing were far out of my realm of knowledge or understanding. My head was spinning.

Though joyful and often times happy, I was overwhelmed. I was anxious. I was out of my element. None of my usual ‘go-to’s for success an any of the aforementioned categories were working.

I literally told the Lord I didn’t know what to do and He was basically like, “Of course not. This is new territory AND the enemies here are more strategic, they are different but I AM the same yesterday, today and evermore.” (HEBREWS 13:8)

That truth was the perfectly timed ‘aha’ moment which only made me press in deeper to our Heavenly Father and let Him whisper to me the wisdom needed for my new inheritances and the roads ahead.

HE IS THE SAME YESTERDAY TODAY AND FOREVER!

Before I dive into the big ‘aha’ that the Lord lovingly shared with me, I want to take a moment to further expound on the truth that no matter where we are in our pursuits of calling, vision, and destiny, no matter where we are in our faith-walks, and no matter what enemy of our soul or circumstances rears its ugly head, our LORD is Victory, He is our Banner–Yahweh Nissi, then, now, and forever.

What does it mean for Him to be our banner? The Banner represents who the people are. God’s banner over us is love (SONGS OF SOLOMON 2:4). He will fight for His beloved (EXODUS 17:14-16). And because He has already declared the war finished from the cross (JOHN 19:28-30), done from the throne of Heaven in eternity past, present, and future (REVELATION 21:6) we know that every enemy is already under our feet ( LUKE 10:18-20)!

There is nothing and no one that we will ever face, no ‘new devil’ no matter what level of faith you’ve unlocked, that can defeat you because Christ has already defeated them. Once you are firmly established in this truth you will be able to apply the next.

DISCERNING WHAT TO USE AT THE RIGHT TIME

As I said, I spent a lot of time last year fully aware that I had stepped into a new dimension but the tools of faith and action that produced change were not working like they used to.

As I continued to pray and bring this to the Lord He, in response, gave me a vision of a swiss army knife. As the vision of the knife unfolded the memory of a phrase He’d been speaking to me for over a year came to mind as well, “You have everything you need.”

The Lord then said to me, after showing me the knife, reminding me of His word that I have everything that I need, that the knife is useless with every part activated. 

I will say that again, the knife is useless with every part activated. If you need the knife to cut a piece of rope but have the can opener out the screwdriver released, the corkscrew, pointing, the file at the ready, you have made your knife of no use. It is cumbersome and hard to handle.

What the Lord was saying to me, and to you is that we need to discern which thing to use and when. Our Father did not send us on our faith journeys ill-prepared. He has given us the tools we need to tackle our transitions, but we must seek His discernment to know what to use at the right time. The methodologies of yesteryear or even yesterday may prove inefficient and ineffective in this new place of divine transition.

I think our transitions over the last year have gone and are going so fast and so much is happening at once that we are not only frazzled but as a result, have our guns blazing when a gun may not be the tool we need to utilize at this moment and that is why we’ve been so ineffective in our warring.

SEEK HIS COUNSEL

What we must do from this point on is simple. We must make our plans for further advancement in our new territory BUT we must seek the Lord’s council with every step we take. The instructions He gives you may not make sense for the moments you are in, but we must do like Asaph, but go beyond, and strike the ground with arrows if we intend to win our battles and be and inherit all that He has for us in this new dimension (II KINGS 13:14-19)!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Preparing to Prosper in What Looks Like a Drought

Scrolling through the Stories feed on my author’s Instagram account, @candicecoateswrites, I came across a comedic meme that read, “So in the middle of the Civil War, someone was like “You know what this country needs? A delicious steak sauce.“.”

If you are not familiar with what steak sauce I am talking about, it is good ole’ A1 Steak Sauce. Now here is the thing, the sauce, which started to get more widely known in 1862, was actually created by a European chef in Europe and wasn’t even introduced to America until 1895.**

Although not American in origin, and actually created three decades before the Civil War, the idea and even deeper truth behind the comedic meme still stands.**

What is that meaning? That we must be willing to create and pursue our vision even in the midst of tremulous times. We must have the faith to plan beyond the drought.

NOT HINDERED BY THE MOUNTAINS

A beautiful example of this can be found in the life and love story of Black American Nurse in the U.S Army, Elinor Powell, and her husband-to-be, German WWII P.O.W, Frederick Albert.

With war still raging in Germany, Frederick being a P.O.W in the state of Arizona, and Elinor being a Black Nurse in the American Army in Jim Crow’s south, the likelihood of these two people seeing a worthwhile future beyond such hateful circumstances doesn’t even seem realistic.

But with faith, anything is indeed possible.

Here is Frederick, at 19, and forced to in Hitler’s army, captured and a prisoner of a war he did not want to fight in, now on foreign soil far from home, completely cut off from the freedom and privilege he had once known. He is working in the mess hall, doing his assigned duty when in walks 23 year old, Elinor, a Black Nurse, and he is captivated!

As Alexis Clark tells it according to the accounting of their sons said, Frederick sees Elinor, leaves his posts, walks up to her and tells her that, “You should know my name. I’m the man who is going to marry you.

Okay, wow! Not only is this statement just extremely bold under any circumstances, but he is a prisoner, speaking to a woman who because of her ethnicity is prohibited by law to be with him, and even if she were White, their fraternization would be an act of treason.

And yet and still, with all of these things facing them and more, Frederick and Elinor chose hope, faith, and to plan for a future beyond the circumstances they were facing.

They pursued their vision for the future in the face of Jim Crow, Nazism, war, age, normalized racism and oppression, and I am sure the list could go on.

SEEING BEYOND THE CIRCUMSTANCES

Can we, like Frederick and Elinor, like Joseph of Genesis, like many of our elders and ancestors who faced insurmountable odds, and gained success because they believed and purposed for success, choose to trust God and the Words of His promise, and plan for our futures, far beyond the current circumstances that contradict what we are purposing to see?

Can we do as the Lord Jesus told us, and believe that with the smallest ounce of faith we can look at our mountains and tell them to get out of our way (MARK 11:23)? Can we, like the comical meme, decide to make a world-changing steak sauce even though it seems people currently can’t afford to pay attention much less the price for a steak?

Can we believe for a future that the Lord has said He has planned that is good and prosperous? (JEREMIAH 29:10-13)

I dare say yes!

As you set your thoughts, hearts, and actions to seek the Lord and plan for the future ahead, the future beyond the current moment, be encouraged by ISAIAH 54:

“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities. “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.” ~vs 1-4

Stretch out. Make room. Plan for more. Plan ahead. Greatness is on the other side of your today. You just have to believe and prepare for it!

To see an interview about Elinor and Frederick’s story, you can find it on Youtube. To purchase a copy of their story, “Enemies in Love: A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance“, by Alexis Clark, you can do so by visiting Amazon.com.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER! 

**Facts about A1 Steak Sauce were gathered from Cook’s Info.Com

Falling in Faith: The Beauty of the Balance Beam

“Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up…” ~PROVERBS 24:16

Two decades ago, I was a young woman still in her teens but fully adult. I was finally in the world on my own–away from home in undergrad studying art–and learning who I truly was in Christ when the usual comforts of the familiar were nowhere to be found.

The choices I made were my own. Where I went, who I hung out with, what I ate, how much detergent I put in my laundry. All the choices–all my own to make.

I am grateful that at the very beginning of that path the Lord seemed to shine with a brighter and more defined light than He had been before. No, He was not distant from me before, but things were much clearer.

We walked even closer than we had been before but how He began to relate to me was much different. I was growing. I was now an adult. Things were different and with that shift, there were some major truths that had to be established in order for me to grow into the woman I am now.

The first thing the Lord expressed to me was that my time in undergrad was not just a means for me to gain a degree and land a nine to five and a 401k.  This time was a time of transition, a time for me to cease to be the ‘little girl’ dependant upon the culture and opinions of my family, but to become Christ’s woman, completely rooted and grounded in His call and purpose for my life and destiny.

The second thing He established was my place in Him, my position, and path, and the ease to always walk in it.

“There will be times in your walk to where I (Jesus) am leading you that you will stumble off the path. Simply get back on and keep walking. Keep moving forward.”

He illustrated this to me one Spring day while I was leaving the university library. Now to give you a visual, the library is sat upon a hill with a long ramp on both sides of the main entrance.

Daily I would walk up one of the ramps, and daily I would walk down. On this particular day, I walked along the edge of the ramp as I made my descent to the lower part of campus en route to the cafeteria. The edge of the ramp was maybe three inches high, forming a balance beam of sorts.

I made it midway down the length of the ramp until I lost my balance and slipped off into the grass. Just as quickly as I had slipped off, I stepped right back up on the balance beam edge of the ramp and continued my trek downward.

But just at that moment, I heard the Lord whisper a question, “Candice, what did you just do there?

I remember frowning at the question, seeing it as bizarre, but still answered. “Lord,” I said, “I slipped off the edge into the grass and then I got back onto the edge and kept walking.

Exactly!” He responded. “Just like you did with this ramp, do that in your faith. There will be times in your walk to where I am leading you that you will stumble off the path. Simply get back on and keep walking. Keep moving forward.

Get back on and keep moving forward.

Get back on and keep moving forward.

GET BACK ON AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

Fellow Creatives, allow me to offer this gift of being established on a firm foundation as we take our steps into new years and a new decade. We, as the new creations in Christ (II COR. 5:17) and His righteousness (II COR. 5:21), are going to face different challenges, struggles, letdowns, and disappointments. We are going to make decisions that may cause detours or delays. We are going to encounter opposition to our callings and fog that threatens the clarity of our dreams, vision, and destinies.

…We might get off track. But the glory of God is that by His free grace all we have to do is get back on track and keep moving forward.

The Word of God tells us that we will stumble and we may fall. We are at times going to wrestle with uncertainty, our faith may wain but it will also burn brightly and even rage like an inferno if we simply keep moving forward.

I am so grateful that the Faith of God in Christ is that of child-like faith. I am grateful that His grace is free unto all who believe. For because of that faith and grace we are made able to get back on and keep moving forward no matter how many times we fall or miss our desired mark.

So, make your plans. With the direction of the Holy Spirit, plot your maps for the next years of your life, the next project that you have in mind, the book you intend to write, the ministry you intend to launch. And do so knowing that if and or when you stumble out of the path to your destiny all it takes is a step back up and the willingness to keep moving forward!

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion

Plan BIG!: A Word on Vision Casting

“When God is your partner, make your plans big!” ~ D.L MOODY

Plan BIG!

You’d think that that exhortation would make every person who heard it celebrate with a motivated fire for action when in reality it makes a lot of people shrink back in fear and hide under the heavy blankets of safety and mediocrity.

Dreaming is not so much of an issue for most of us. But dreaming big . . . well, that has the power to not only knock the wind out of many of our sails but sink our boats completely.

Like me, I suppose you are wondering why that is. If we are honest with ourselves we would have to admit that insecurity and the scrutiny of others are what holds us back. The old ‘what will people think?’ phrase acts as the perfect glitch in our plans of action.

The very thought of failing in front of others, especially those who’ve minimalized our former dreams with the constant song of ‘you can’t,’ strikes us immobile. Them witnessing our former failed attempts doesn’t help either.

But is any of that really a reason to shrink our globally-sized visions down to something that only fills a shoebox? Are our past ‘failures’ really messages that we are not able to achieve the impossible?

I dare say NO!

If nothing else our past ‘failures’ are signs that we are indeed able to succeed? Why? Because even when we aimed for the moon and didn’t even leave the atmosphere, we still have the gumption to load up for another shot.

We are indeed meant to plan big, and along with that, we must rest in faith that every seeming malfunction has a glorious function for our good. We learn from every step we take. We are strengthened by every closed door. We can actually become better with ever affront against our determination.

Isaiah 54:2-4 says, “Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited. Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.”

Dreaming BIG is a gift, a costly gift. It means we will have seasons and moments when we look foolish. It will require us to cast out our nets just one more time in faith even though we’ve been fishing all night and caught nothing. (Luke 5:3-7) But when Jesus is directing our casting even when the progress looks minimal the process is optimal and so is the final outcome if we stick with it.

What we must realize is that the God of all Creation has big dreams and plans for each of us. When we trust Him as our Father we are then positioned by faith to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11). His thoughts for us are all GOOD and PRECIOUS  and they outnumber the stars and the sand (Psalm 139:17-18).

But part of seeing these dreams come to pass rest in our willingness to dream big, plan even bigger and allow the Giver of Dreams Himself to guide us on the journey. (John 15:5) “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

There is nothing that is too big for Jesus to do and when He is our partner there is NOTHING we cannot do! (Philippians 4:13)  But it requires us to believe in and on Him, and take great leaps of faith.

But then, that’s all it takes.

So dream, plan and do it BIG! He’s got your back.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*Revised from June 2016

Planning Your Future With Godly Direction

“I had big plans for the future, but the future had bigger plans for me.” ~CANDICE COATES

The book of Proverbs tells us that man makes plans but God’s purpose is what stands (PROVERBS 19:21). In the book of Jeremiah, the Lord states that He knows the thoughts and plans He has for our future, thoughts to prosper us and give us hope and a good end (JEREMIAH 29:11).

Knowing these things it’s easy to take your stance on one of two sides of a coin; either to plan without including God or to make no plan at all and expect Him to do all the work.

What Proverbs and Jeremiah are saying together is that yes, we should make plans but we have to leave room for God to do His thing in us too. We have to let Him lead and edit our steps for the best results. Isaiah even says that His Spirit will instruct us in the way to walk in (ISAIAH 30:21).

Ephesians agrees with this notion, that when we share our plans and allow Him His way, He will take our little and do something far greater than we ever could have imagined (EPHESIANS 3:16-21)!

So, 2020 takes the spotlight and welcomes each of us into a new year and decade, make your plans, set your course, but allow the Lord Jesus to drive you on your way to greater success than you could have imagined!

*Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

*Revised from October 14, 2018

~Poeima, Poetry in Motion

Cherishing Every Minute

Time is really the only capital that any human being has and the only thing he can’t afford to lose. ~ Thomas Edison

The Prophet Moses wrote in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” The year of 2019 has come to a close bring forth the complete end of not only a year but a decade.

No matter the challenges, the victories, or the many detours that we have had to face, the very fact that we have been blessed with favor to step into this new season is evidence that Christ Jesus is not done with us yet!

My prayer for this new year and decade of 2020,  is that each of us would take to heart what we still have left to sow during this time and all of the blessings that are ahead. Let us make good use of the time we have, numbering each day, loving the ones around us, and creating like the world’s existence depends on it!

Let us remember joy, remember to celebrate each small victory, remember that there is healing in tears and health in laughter. Let us remember that we are created for so much more than just being workers. We were created for life and living and let that Godly pursuit be our greatest legacy.

*Revised from December 2, 2016

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!