Don’t Give Up
To commemorate my 30th birthday here’s 30 pieces of advice I would have given to my younger self.
1. Genuine love IS worth waiting on.
2. Put it in God’s hands.
3. Relax God is in control.
4. If you’ve done your best there’s no sense in beating yourself up over it if it didn’t work out.
5. Always look at the bigger picture.
6. In tough times ask God what He wants you to learn from it.
7. You do more than most & work harder than you or others give you credit for. So it’s okay to have more fun!
8. You don’t have to make room in your life for ANYONE who is belittlingly you.
9. If the ball is in someone else’s court leave it there until they pass it back.
10. Open up your eyes and look around you. You’re holding it down.
11. Encourage yourself in the Lord more.
12. Let go of false guilt. Most of the time things are not what they seem.
13. Get back to basics. Spend time in prayer everyday.
14. Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)
15. Celebrate you more.
16. If you think you’ve missed out on something…think again! God’s plan is perfect. His timing is perfect. It has no holes and no mistakes. So if you missed out on it rest assured it was apart of God’s perfect plan.
17. Check up on and spend more time with your family.
18. Make more time for yourself.
19. And we know that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)
21. Most of the time people are not who they’re cracked up to be. How many times have you discovered this to be true.
22. God didn’t bring you this far to leave you now. Have faith!
23. Go for what you want.
24. Do the things you enjoy more.
25. You know God’s voice by now so knock it off and listen!
26. Look less at your surrounding circumstances and more at God.
27. If you ever find yourself worrying about how you’re going to make it remember God said in His word that He would meet every need.
28. God doesn’t lie and He doesn’t go back on His word so hold on to the promises of the Lord.
29. Don’t just listen to the words…Peep the game.
30. Don’t quit God is not through with you yet!
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
I filed for unemployment some time ago. But I hadn’t heard from the Department of Labor regarding their decision about whether or not they approved my claim. I had been contemplating applying for a customer service position I saw on Craigslist at a digital printing company. But every time I tried to go through with applying, something on the inside of me told me not to. As the days passed, I got more and more anxious. Not hearing from the Department of Labor for so long was driving me crazy. The more I thought about applying for the job the more I heard God tell me not to. But according to my common sense I needed money and therefore I should apply. There was a war going on inside of me. Eventually my common sense got the best of me. I applied and got an email to come in for an interview. On the way to the interview, something said,
I disregarded it and went anyway. The interview went fairly well and I got the job. I discovered my unemployment insurance claim was approved on my start date. On my way there God warned me once more,
“Turn around and go back home.”
It troubled me but I brushed it off. My first few days were okay. My nerves were a little rattled because it was another office job and the one I was at before didn’t turn out too well. Fortunately for me there was another person in the office who worked with me and she answered any questions I had. Eventually I got the hang of things. But a few weeks later she resigned and the reason why God never wanted me to work there in the first place became more and more apparent. A small business, most times it was just the owner and myself there. There were times when I walked into the office and the owner undressed me with his eyes and as if that wasn’t enough he would sometimes say, “You’re looking sexy today.” It made working there so uncomfortable.
I thought about talking to him about it but with just me and him the office I felt that anything could happen. So I decided not to say anything. But one thing was for certain. I wish I would’ve listened to God. I regretted not doing what God asked me to do in the first place. Now here I was in another unfortunate situation, my unemployment gone all because I let my common sense undermine what God said.
I worked diligently to get my company off the ground, in order to get out of my current situation. While working there we had Actress Nhadya Salomon and Film Producer Rich McKweon on the show. But you better believe once my tax refund came I was out of there. I decided to live off of that until I figured out what my next move would be. We went on to cover the United Cerebral Palsy Women Who Care Luncheon and the Mental Health Association of New York City, Where there is Help, There is Hope Gala.
Not knowing how I would pay my bills and not staying in the same place for too long was starting to wear on me. The jobs I found on Craigslist never lasted that long so I didn’t want to search for employment there anymore. I prayed and asked God to show me how I could make money through Ayana Productions. It wasn’t absolutely necessary for me to be rich, but I wanted to make enough money to at least sustain me. But with each passing day the weight of the bills increased on my shoulders. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and there I was looking for another job on Craigslist.
I landed a gig working for a non-profit organization raising funds to prevent companies from lobbying politicians in order to continue fracking. I worked outside. Which was fine except it was the dead of winter and it was unforgivably cold outside. Putting in an eight shift asking people for donations didn’t exactly make me enthusiastic. Most people didn’t want to stand outside and talk to me about the environment much less anything else and I know because I used to be one of them. I used to be one of the people too busy to stop and listen to what somebody had to say. Now I was on the other side of the fence. The people who I came in contact with either scurried inside to their offices or to a nearby café to get a nice warm drink. But it wasn’t all bad. I did get a few donations. Unfortunately it wasn’t up to company standard so…You guessed it. I got laid off. This time I was quite relieved because I didn’t have to stand out in the cold asking complete strangers for donations any longer. In the end what was facing me was the task God wanted me to complete a few months back and that was to finish typing the feature film script my mother wrote.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold for that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
By now I had four shows under my belt. I felt pretty good about that considering the circumstances. But I couldn’t shake the anxiety that I felt every time I walked into that office. I told my friend about what I was going through and she talked me into working with her at her job. I thought to myself that anything would be better than what I was going through. Yet something in my gut told me working with her wasn’t a good idea. But I went to the job interview anyway and I got a position as a customer service representative. I put in my two weeks’ notice. However my anxiety attacks only increased when I started the other job. They were so bad that I couldn’t understand the work for the life of me. The pain in my stomach was so severe that I spent most of my time in the bathroom. I needed to get out and that’s exactly what I did. I left the job not sure about how I would pay my bills but the relief of not having to go back there ever again was so great none of the circumstances bothered me. I went home early and prayed for hours. I hadn’t prayed that way in a long time. My circumstances were so loud that I couldn’t hear God speak. The anxiety attacks, bills and concerns about my job consumed me so much so that I lost fellowship with God.
Never let your circumstances cause you to lose fellowship with God.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
God gave me a peace even in the midst of my extenuating circumstances. He gave me strength to carry out the next episode. I had the pleasure of having Actor and Model Jarrel Cudjoe on the next episode of the show.
When God says Yes don’t let anybody tell you No
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
On the verge of hitting rock bottom, I was naturally eager to speak to my new editor about my first news assignment. I got my writing samples, a cover letter and my resume together. I sent it to her by email assuming that she would get back to me right away. But then a day went by and then another day. I didn’t hear from her. Two days can feel like a lifetime when you’re low on cash. So I decided to follow up with her by sending another email. Then another two days passed and nothing. I certainly didn’t want to be a pest but I didn’t exactly want to give up either. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what God was doing and why He was allowing this to happen. But one thing was clear. I know I heard God say Amsterdam News.
In prayer I expressed to God that my back was against the wall and I was confused as to why things were going the way they were going. But God spoke to my heart and told me to keep trying. So I persevered and a few more emails and telephone calls later, I got my first news assignment.
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God has already prepared the way. All you have to do is trust and obey.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.
By now I was down to a weeks’ worth of money and my refrigerator stopped working. I had to get some form of income right away. I was in a place where I had to depend on God. Each day I asked God for direction in terms of employment. Then suddenly, one day, God whispered in my ear, Amsterdam News. You have to love it when God gets specific with you. I got to work right away. I prepared my writing samples and my resume and I personally took it up to the office. I’ll never forget my first day there. Apparently the staff was having some kind of celebration. I walked in on that hot July day and right in front of me were staff writers eating cake, laughing and talking. I hardly felt like this was the appropriate time to barge in with my resume and writing samples. But I had a limited amount of money and I was in no position to be choosy about the circumstances. To my left there were steps leading up to an office where there were staff members busy at work. I decided to take my documents there instead of the party. I explained to a gentleman there that I was looking for a writing position.
“Are you looking for an internship?” “No I’m looking for a paid writing position,” I replied. “Well you have to speak to the editors. I think they should still be downstairs.” One of the interns nodded their head in agreement. “Yeah try talking to Elinor. She’s the Editor in chief.” I thanked him.
I turned around and with every single step I took, I dreaded walking into that office interrupting the celebration for my job search. I almost walked out and went back home. At the last minute I turned back around. I knocked lightly on the side of the open door and apologized to the woman sitting there. She was so laid back and down to earth. I never would have guessed that I was speaking to the Editor in Chief, Elinor Tatum. With her mouth full of cake, we had a brief conversation about my writing abilities. In the end she suggested that I contact the hard news Editor. She handed the contact information over to me.
Maintain your God given purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement.
I was riddled with doubt and under the attack of the enemy by the second episode of the my news & entertainment series. But the fact remained. My back was against the wall. I had shaken all the trees and had no other options. God was a the only way out.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Satan was beginning to attack my environment. I did just about all of my work from home and I was attempting to turn my basement into an office space. I moved my printer, my laptop, my desk and my equipment to the basement. Not long after, the basement began to flood more than ever before. Not willing to let it break my stride, I continued to work. But the opposition didn’t end there.
Unfortunately, on the street where I lived, I had some neighbors that were never that great at keeping their yard clean. But as soon as I began to do the work that God instructed me to do the litter they dropped increased. So much so that half the street was lined with trash. Pretty soon even the alleyway was overwhelmed with garbage. I mean chip bags, candy wrappers, soda cans, beer cans, you name it. Some of my other neighbors and I tried to clean up the trash but it became too much for us to keep up with. Before I knew it, the street was being overrun by wild animals. I could hear them scratch on the walls while I was trying to work. It was nerve-racking.
I decided the best thing to do was move everything back upstairs and pray. By now the fact that I had wild animals that seemed to be hell bent on getting into my home, my depleting funds and the possibility that perhaps I shouldn’t have quit my job seemed too much to bare.
1 Peter 5:7
Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
I prayed and laid my worries and concerns at God’s feet. It was a definite relief. I then made more of an effort to look at God and not the circumstances. It was then that God renewed my strength and I was able to cover a Guinness Book World Record event of the world’s largest piñata and tour the Air and Space Intrepid Museum.
Sometimes when you’re praying and waiting on a word from the Lord, you don’t always feel God or get an answer right away. But don’t fret. God has not abandoned you.
I came back from the 2011 Essence Music Festival excited about the footage I acquired. I planned the first episode of my news & entertainment series, decided what clips would go where, what I would say, put it all together and uploaded it to the internet. I promoted the show on every social networking site I could think of. But then a week went by and the views were not where I hoped they would be. So I promoted the show more but the numbers hardly changed. I was afraid. I had quit my job, had a limited amount of money and my camera and laptop were sub par. I didn’t have the equipment to do the job God told me to do. Questions and doubts raced through my mind. Did God really tell me
to start this company? And if He did then why isn’t it yielding the kind of financial results that will sustain me?
I got back on my knees and prayed. I asked God why He was allowing this to happen. It was at that moment that I couldn’t quite put my finger on what God was doing.
Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? It is not I, the LORD?
Now go; I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.”
I had fallen prey to the circumstances surrounding me. But I had to remind myself that God wouldn’t tell me to start this company if He knew I couldn’t be successful. I continued to pray on a daily basis worked on covering my next event.
Sometimes when God wants to make a change in your life, He makes you uncomfortable with where you are.
“You still work here?” a client of mine said to me in disbelief. Lowering my head in shame I replied, “Yes.”
I applied to what felt like every job in the book but I got no response. A recent college graduate, I felt helpless. I was fed up and knew it was time for a change. Months later, I was having a really tough day at work. I
passed one of my co-workers and grumbled under my breath “I’m so sick of this job.” Then she stopped me and asked me “Do you think God wants you to be unhappy with your job?” I shook my head no. “Then you need to take a chance and fall back into Him.” At that moment I felt God tug at my heart. It was undeniable.
I went home that day extremely excited with those words ringing in my mind “Take a chance and fall back into Him.” Not sure what my first course of action would be, I decided to pray. I expressed to God that I was at my wits end. I told Him that I shook every tree and I didn’t know what else to do.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
I was praying every day and it wasn’t that God wasn’t answering me. I just couldn’t believe the answer. I never considered starting my own media company. I didn’t have a lot of money, limited equipment and I was afraid. But I stepped out on faith anyway, quit my job and covered my first event in New Orleans, Louisiana…The 2011 Essence Music Festival.
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
Putting God first when you’re running a media company is no easy task. I mean let’s face it. You’re going up against one of the largest and most powerful platforms in the world. The media world as a whole has an agenda and it is not Christ like. Join Ayana Productions on our journey as we make God our first order of business!