- It’s easy to focus on what you don’t have but time better spent to reflect on what you do have.
- We’re always existing in two states at the same time; a place of gratitude for God’s past blessings and a state of anticipation for future promises He has shared with us.
- It is better to live my truth than a lie with someone else.
- Singlehood is lonely, but peace of mind is comforting.
- God uses the unlikeliest people to move us through our journey and closer to our purposes.
- There is victory, confidence, and joy on the other side of our comfort zones.
- My transparency may help someone else find their truth.
- Everyone doesn’t need to like me; God will surround me with the friendships and support I need.
- It is so freeing to be yourself.
- When you want to give up, know that there is purpose in your pain and other people’s blessings are attached to your perseverance and victory.
The 10-year mark since my car accident and traumatic brain injury fell during my Tokyo trip and on the same day as the royal wedding but I would be remiss if I didn’t reflect on May 19, 2008, and how far I’ve come since then. I’m grateful for the life I’ve been able to live since May 19, 2008. I went from possibly not living to see my high school graduation to graduating high school on-time with my class, to graduating Magna Cum Laude from college, working for 4 years in local news production, completing 1 year of a top-tier full-time MBA program, and traveling the world along the way. I speak a lot about my accident, so I’ll keep it short and reflect on 10 truths I’ve realized over the last 10 years:
I’m the middle child of 3 and I love it. While you may be the oldest, youngest, or even an only child…in a way you’re in the middle too. This point has become very clear to me as I’m in business school. On the one hand, I’m reaching above me to set up networking chats and meet and greets and on the other hand I’m being sought out for conversations about getting into business school and what it’s like once one enrolls. I’ve realized our time in the middle never stops. We’ll always be striving to advance while also propping open the door for those coming behind us.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27
Our spiritual growth is a continual journey of where we are, where we once were, and where we are heading.
“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.” Philippians 3: 13-14
Commentary (Life Application Study Bible, New International Version): Don’t dwell on your past. Instead, grow in the knowledge of God by concentrating on your relationship with him now. Realize that you are forgiven, and then move on to a life of faith and obedience. Look forward to a fuller and more meaningful life because of your hope in Christ.
The truth is we are always developing, and always growing into the person God would have us to be. Let’s keep running the race and encouraging those on the track with us. Let’s give it all we got and keep running til the end.
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4: 6-8
Since January I’ve been riding my bike to school a few days a week (thank goodness LA “winters” are mild!) and it has been an interesting experience. Prior to this year, I probably hadn’t ridden a bike in years. I bought a used mountain bike and it’s getting the job done but for a few weeks I was doing more work than I had to. The bike was in the wrong gear. I was peddling like mad but not getting anywhere. I felt slow and ridiculous on the sidewalk, praying no one I knew saw me passing by. Ok I’m being a bit dramatic, but I definitely wasn’t getting to class as efficiently. I had a suspicion I should shift my gears but it was awhile before I went from thought to action but when I did my biking experience was vastly changed. My commute to school was cut in half! When I went up to the next gear, my strength was greater utilized, and I was getting to where I needed to be faster.
The whole process reminded me of our relationship with God. How often do we exert excess energy/waste time when it could be so much easier? What are we resisting that while challenging could be the best thing for our lives? As scary as it may be to shift to the next gear…what blessings could we be missing out on because we’re not stepping out on faith?
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
And with faith there will always still be challenges but an eventual reward.
“…Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. They were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11: 35-40.
So as we’re riding through life it is important that we continue to shift gears and grow in our faith.
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement. And God permitting, we will do so.” Hebrews 5:14, 6:1-3
Now that I’m back in school full-time and not working, I have become much more resourceful. $17 for a spiral notebook at the campus bookstore? I think I’ll just scrounge together my unused paper from last semester. $500 a semester for a parking pass? I think I’ll buy a used bike and get my exercise. The examples go on and on; and, they go beyond money.
Recently, I’ve had to complete tasks that have really tested my resources. Things I always had the capacity to complete but probably wouldn’t complete if I had the choice to hand off to someone else like assembling and installing a new hubcap for my car or navigating the administrator portion of the business school website to create and share a campus event. These recent tasks showed me that I’m capable of so many things if I actually try. Instead of asking some guy for help I could (thanks to Youtube) properly install my retention ring and find where the valve stem was or figure out a new website interface. The new tasks also taught me independence and reminded me of the confidence that through God all things are possible.
“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3: 4-5
This newly discovered independence must be necessary for something God has tasked for me in the future. As I look toward to the future, to be ready—I must strengthen my knowledge and study of the Word.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3: 16-17
Not only will the Word equip us, it will bless us.
“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” Proverbs 16: 20-21
I’ll be the first to say my confidence isn’t always rock solid, but I feel a sense of security. Just as light can expose blindspots and blemishes I believe a challenging environment will expose a shaky sense of self-worth and confidence.
“ ‘I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who build a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed, and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:47-49
LA is vastly different from anywhere I’ve ever lived but I feel relatively the same. My wardrobe hasn’t dramatically changed, makeup, and ok my hair did change but not because of peer pressure but the gentle prodding of my new hair stylist ;D Nonetheless I don’t think I’ve been swallowed into the warp that can be LA. It seems daily I hear conversations of people fretting about weight, clothes, skin…the list goes on and on. It’s like so many people are striving for their own version of their ideal person. It can honestly be a toxic environment.
It was two years prior to my move to LA that I first contemplated the idea. I was speaking to one of my cousins who already lived here about pursuing a career in entertainment. I had applied to several positions with no real traction taking place. Looking back I’m glad I came to LA in 2017 and not 2015. 2015 Marilyn didn’t have a clear idea of what she wanted to do in entertainment. 2015 Marilyn didn’t have the grit or desperation to succeed. 2015 Marilyn didn’t have the drive and wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices. I believe if I came to LA in 2015 I would have gotten swallowed in the warp. And in those two years between the idea of moving to LA being planted in my head and me arriving, God grew my leadership skills, team-work skills, and confidence in Him; all things I would need to succeed in LA. His timing is perfect.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Because my confidence is in the Lord and not my outer appearance or social status I’m able to renew my strength and soar.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m four months into my MBA program and there have already been some long nights; some days in class when my confidence is low but I try not to wallow in these moments but press into God.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what he asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15
So I encourage you to press into God and resist any temptation you may face in falling into your “warp.”
There is peace operating in your purpose. I’m not quite there yet but I’m closer than I’ve ever been.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
Commentary: True peace is different from the world’s peace. True peace is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control.
It’s exciting to expand my Entertainment network and seek out new opportunities. I’m happiest whenever I’m immersed in Media be it a new film or a series I’m binging online. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be immersed in it and see which area I will be operate in.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3
If you’ll let Him, He’ll guide you. I believe just as God can provide for your physical and spiritual needs He can provide for your professional needs as well. It’s been amazing to see the people I’ve been able to meet and the connections I’ve been able to make. Just in the last two weeks I’ve met Devon Franklin, film producer and production company owner and Natasha Foster-Owens, the VP of Production at HBO and one of the few African-American women executives in Hollywood. Each are such trailblazers and its awesome to soak up their energy and get their jewels of advice.
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13: 7
As competitive as the landscape may seem or hard it may appear to break in, I’m trusting God for success and you should too!
“Observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in His ways, and keep his decrees and commands, His laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” 1 Kings 2: 3
I feel like I’m on a roller coaster.
Strapped into a thrill-seeking ride is how I would describe my experience in business school so far.
There’s a lot of emotions on the ride: excitement mixed with fear but also an assurance that everything’s going to be ok.
The initial shock of moving across the country to the second largest city in the country and returning to school is wearing off.
Even though things can seem hectic at times and I get overwhelmed with the course load and social obligations, I thank God every day for the opportunity.
I'm thankful because I know even when you’re walking in His promises things aren’t always going to be easy.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11: 8-10
Above all else, I’m enjoying the journey. I don’t want to rush anything; I want to soak up every moment of this incredible ride.
“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8: 15
Riding roller coasters can be some of the scariest rides in the park with their tight turns and unforeseen drops. But we don't have to be afraid because we know the Designer and He wouldn’t let us get on the ride without knowing how it would end.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139: 14,16
Hungry Hungry Hippos wasn’t a game I played a lot growing up but the game immediately came to mind when I was thinking about an analogy for how I want to approach achieving God’s will for my life. I don’t want to miss out; I want to obtain everything He has for me; gobble up all the blessings.
If you’re unfamiliar with Hungry Hungry Hippos it’s a game where you try to grab as many marbles as possible. (In the game you’re competing against other players but for the purposes of this blog post we’ll pretend you’re playing by yourself.)
As far as those “marbles” I’m thinking of them in terms of spiritual fruit, closeness with God and walking in His will, not necessarily material things like houses, cars, clothes, etc.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6
I want the most marbles from life; I want to live the life God intends for me to live; fulfill my purpose.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
So I’m moving forth in confidence, boldly pursuing God and asking for grace and favor along the way.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11
The latest season in my life has me venturing to LA for grad school. It’s a big city, big move, and big adjustment going back to school but I’m leaning on my faith.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
So I encourage you to be confident, pursue God and get your marbles!
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16: 13
I'm not one for spring cleaning but in making my move to California I've decided to forgo shipping my furniture and start fresh aka sell/donate/giveaway everything but basically my everyday clothes.
As taxing as the process was it was also surprisingly cathartic. The process became very simple when I realized a lot of items I hadn't touched in the two years I lived in Louisville; be it a dress that hung untouched in my closet or a box that collected dust in my storage unit.
It was harder to let go of some things that held memories but I realized in giving them away someone else could have new memories. Some of those "memories" while good at the time have grown sour...why hold on to a dress I last wore to a formal event with an ex? Should I hold on to a dresser drawer I walked by for 2 years and didn't use?
Covetousness and or not letting go of things is something I have to work to counter each day.
“‘Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12: 15
As scary as it is to start fresh I know it has purpose
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; so you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43: 18-19
I can't wait to see the new memories I make in California!
“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:3
God is still doing the improbable.
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1Corinthians 1: 27-31
That scripture beautifully illustrates my grad school journey.
Going into the process I knew I had a pretty well-rounded application with my college transcripts and work experience but I knew my test scores would be my Achilles heel.
Let’s be honest…with my test scores I shouldn’t have been granted an interview much less been offered a fellowship covering tuition and fees but God.
But God was in the midst.
I took the GRE three times and each time I knew my score was below the average for accepted students into USC Marshall School of Business. But I leaned on God and in faith pressed forward with my application.
After 5 months of work it was decision time…would I still submit my application even if I didn’t think it was top-notch?
I think at this point the enemy wanted me to quit; to not even try, to stop short of the finishline. But I preserved in faith.
“My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 74: 26
It would be a month after I submitted my application before I was contacted for an interview and another two months before I would be awarded my fellowship. But God came through.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
I hope my journey encourages you to continue on the path of whatever you are working on and remember God has the final say!
Hi! I'm Marilyn!