Monthly Archives: April 2015

[new chapter, same Author.]

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful birthday messages and well wishes! Sometimes I honestly wonder if I’m doing any good in the world or if I’m just “staying busy” — to know that I am appreciated by friends and family really let me know that I am being a positive light in the lives of the very same people who shine and minister to me! So thank you!

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This year, I will begin the journey of being more open to dating, love, and excitement. I will work on saying ‘no’ a little more and dial off of ‘people pleasing’. I will stop making excuses and make the sacrifice to walk in my purpose. I will accept that I may have some sleepless nights due to the fact that I am a hustler, plain and simple. I will focus more on my health and STAYING healthy. I will learn to rest when I need to. I will learn to run from the things and people who are not good for me. I will continue to work on my flaws so I can be the best Jocelyn I can be!

Looks like God is writing a very intriguing and prosperous 27th chapter!

– Joc

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**The Road To 27** Post 7 of 7 – The Present Looking To The Future

** The Present Looking To The Future **

DAY 7

What can I say but THANK YOU GOD! Being 27 feels amazing because I’m officially beginning another year of this precious life of mine. As you have found on this journey with me, I KNOW how precious life is, and how fleeting it is. I have no time to get hung up on the demons of the past. I will continue to grow in faith and godly wisdom. But most importantly, I will continue to live a life that is pleasing, honorable, and acceptable according to Christ who lives in my heart!

Even this past weekend, I was reminded by God of how important and vital solid relationships are in my life. Most of you may have noticed that I began to chronicle my time at the AOC Festival 2015 last week. I’ve been planning this particular weekend ALL year, and was looking forward to it; despite that the fact that I was going to the festival alone. I didn’t really know any of my close friends that love jazz enough to spend $150 on tickets —  so I didn’t think to ask.

Fast forward to this past Friday — every thing that could go wrong DID (including my GPS/WiFi kicking out and me getting lost in Downtown Durham ALONE with no one around). Out of anger (an emotion I haven’t felt in awhile) I basically said to heck with it, and drove back to my hotel (30 minutes away) asking God — why did half of my ticket money just go down the drain. He didn’t answer me right away, but allowed me to run into MORE mishap until I found myself amongst friends. By that time I’d calmed down and ended the night on a good note as the four of us went out for a much needed dinner. His ‘lesson’ was starting to sink in.

Saturday morning arrives. I was borderline awaiting more misadventure with open arms; because at that point, I resolved that whatever God is going to allow to happen (or not happen) that day — I was going to be fine with it.

Wouldn’t you know….right on cue things fell through (again), but you should know that I was just as happy and content as I could be!

HOW?!?

Because God held a mirror up to my face to show me that even on my “vacation” I was still “doing too much” and not leaving anything to the imagination. I was operating more like a robot instead of taking this time to rest up from work and truly enjoy time with my friends. I had already wasted one day, and I didn’t plan on wasting another one.

All day Saturday it rained, and things I’d planned to do didn’t happen — but the day still turned out perfectly. While wandering around Raleigh, I stumbled onto the BBQ restaurant I’d been looking for for almost two years, I was able to do a little shopping, AND I was able to get a few extra winks of sleep. Yes I missed hearing the jazz artists I paid close to $150 to hear, but what I got in return was SO much better!

I got a day of quality “Joc” time, and night of fun and love with the people who love me most — and THAT is why I am even more thankful for the blessings God has given me more today than ever before!

….

I want to say thank you to everyone who has offered up some sort of great wishes. Even if I’m not your favorite person in the world, I thank God for you too!

So beautiful people, continue to enjoy this day and live your life in excellence! Here’s to another year ya’ll — now I’ll greet you with a cyber sparkling cider toast!

#NawlinsJoc

ps. Thank you to Rich Griffis for photographing my beautiful birthday photos, thank you Jasmine LaToya for my rad make up, and thank you Rashaad McNeil for all of the behind the scenes work you’ve done! Love you guys! G-O-D, hold it down!

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**The Road To 27** Post 6 of 7 – God

Despite what anybody says or believes, God (YAWEH, the same God of Israel that worked in the Holy Bible as well as today) is the reason I am here.

Point blank. No argument. It just is. I can never show enough gratitude for that.

While some people spend their time wrestling with the questions “Well why do we have to serve Him anyway?” — “Are we mere slaves?” — “Surely there must be a higher purpose for us than that?”

— I spend my time walking with The Holy Spirit, praising God for being Who He is and the wonderful blessings He’s bestowed upon my life.

DAY 6Since my 20th birthday, I have learned to spend the first part of my special day praying it in before I do anything else. I am humble enough (and will continue to be) to know that without God breathing life in me, I wouldn’t be able to do or enjoy anything else. He is the reason I breathe. He is the reason I have been blessed with great parents. He is the reason I have family and friends to enjoy my time with, He is the reason I have a job, He is the reason for literally EV-ER-Y-THING in my life and on this earth. My birthday is not a time to celebrate myself, but to celebrate the God that made this life; and it’s a GREAT feeling to know that even though God doesn’t physically ask, “Jocelyn, did you notice all that I’ve done for you? It would be nice if you thanked Me ya know, just a little gratitude.” , He doesn’t have to ask me! I will give thanks to Him freely when that dial hits 12:00 AM (If I’m not asleep, ya’ll know I go to sleep early lol)

I never in a billion gagillion zaphillion years would’ve thought I’d be a this point in my Christ walk at THIS age!

See, I had this plan growing up right:

Step #1 Do all my dirt and sinning while I was young

Step #2 Slow down in my 30s

Step #3 Completely stop in my 40s and share my testimony

Step #4 Become a old mother in the church and tell kids about how it was when I was young

I lie to you not! This is exactly the foolery that my old wayward self used to come up with! But Christ stepped in there and hit me with the Dikembe Mutombo like “No No No — I didn’t die so you can willingly keep living in sin! Not in My house!”

I’ll admit, it’s a little embarrassing to know that it took so many warnings to get me on the right track, but I’m glad God sent them! At the rate I was going, I wouldn’t have made it to 25 ANYWAY! God did some fast acting, put Jesus on the play and sent The Holy Spirit in to take it to the hole for a slam dunk! And BOY did He score! Here I am, coming upon 27 years old, with a further understanding of Christ than most people my age, and I count that an honor and a blessing!

When I finally turned back on the right path, I took a cue from Solomon and began praying for godly wisdom. It’s something I continue to pray for even now. And you know what, I’m so thankful that the Holy Bible was left here for us, because if I didn’t have that to look back on, I would be flubbing us this life all to pieces.

Nevertheless here I am, just hours away from my 27th birthday and I’m excited and grateful! God is wonderful, and amazing, and all of the above!

Hey…..I’m almost 27 ya’ll!

#NawlinsJoc

Photo shot and edited by Rich Griffis (www.richgriffis.com)

[photo by Rich Griffis ]

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**The Road To 27** Post 5 of 7 – Health

I know health is an awkward thing to reflect on the week of your birthday, but hey, it’s something that’s important to me!

From the second I was conceived, I battled and fought to have a healthy life. When my mom was in her last trimester, doctors could see that something “wasn’t right” with me. In the eighties, technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now, so basically all they could do was speculate.

On the day of my birth, it was discovered that I had a massive brain tumor that prevented a large portion of my skull from forming. To make things even more perplexing, I was the first case in US history to have a brain tumor connected to ANOTHER arachnoid cyst, which rested in my throat. Doctors were flown in from overseas and it was predicted that IF I survived the first day or so, I would be nothing more than a common vegetable. After not being able to even HOLD me after I was birthed, those doctors sat there and told my parents (as I lie in the UNC Chapel Hill Hospital NICU) that I would never walk, I would never learn to speak, and that I would never to be able to do anything more than stare up as they faced a lifetime of changing, feeding, and cleaning me. Can you IMAGINE how that felt?!

Needless to say, I’m here typing this blog, so OBVIOUSLY God had much better plans for me! I am so thankful for praying parents and family!

As I grew, I was in and out of the hospital for check ups, maintenance, and a few other minor things (given the enormity of my first diagnosis) — but other than a few tussles with asthma, I was as good as gold!

One thing always rested heavily on my mind though….would I be healthy enough to ever have my OWN children?

DAY 5

If you have met me over the past 10 years, you would probably think of me as a head strong, determined, career oriented, “I can do bad all by myself” type person. The truth is, that’s not at all who I am. My number one goal/desire in life (and always have been) was to be a wife and mother (emphasis on the mother part). I am still striving daily to advance in life and excel in a career that makes me happy, but it doesn’t take the place of family. To be honest, I am totally find with being a housewife and working from home if it means I can spend more time with my future kids. One issue with that according to my neonatal surgeons…. is that the shunt doctors wired throughout my body runs through the entire length of my torso — thus on paper, make it risky to carry a baby.

Let me stop right here and say that though I’ve battled suppressing these negative thoughts throughout life, I have learned to lean on God in faith through Jesus Christ my Savior who made it possible for me to even come to God’s majestic throne and ASK for a miracle. So whatever God’s will for my life is, I believe wholeheartedly, that it will include me being a mother SOME WAY, some how. Ok…now back to the reflection…

Toxic thoughts began to knock at the doors of my mind at an early age saying “Who is going to marry someone who needs so much medical care?” and “What man will want a woman who can’t bare children?” and “If you want someone, you’ll have to settle.”, and “You might as well just cope with being single forever, because it isn’t medically possible or safe for you to have your own children.” — the lies continued on and on.

Up until my first year out of college, I was able to keep thinking positive as I rose above those negative thoughts and denied them access into my psyche. But after a brief bout will illness in 2011, these thoughts exploded back onto the scene with a vengeance. I would literally sit in my room and cry….just cry. All those terrible “doctor’s predictions” came knocking louder as anger tried to rest in my heart as I witnessed these hoodrat chicks (just being real here folks) and TODDLERS pop out babies they didn’t take care of or didn’t even really want. I even found myself getting upset at some of my friends who’d had babies out of wedlock — because here they were venting to me about the struggles of having a child, when I would GLADLY take on that struggle if it meant being a wife and a mother. (those feelings are now gone by the way)

It’s taken some years, but now — here upon year 27 — I’m on the path to continued healthy living! Emotionally and physically. I am trying to keep my weight down…I’m adopting new exercise plans…and I’m focusing on healthy eating. I have now resolved those emotional issues that once plagued me (and work at it daily), I haven’t had any serious health problems (and I don’t plan to) and most importantly, I realize that whatever man I marry will have to accept me for my past, where I am in my present, and be willing to create a future together with me — however and whenever we are blessed with our children.  ❤

#NawlinsJoc

Photo shot and edited by Rich Griffis (www.richgriffis.com)

[photo by Rich Griffis ]

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**The Road To 27** Post 4 of 7 – Family

Family —

….can’t live with em, can’t live without ’em!

I hear this statement used so often — but it’s really SO true to life!

I’d have to say that my family is an integral part in how I was able to turn out so good thus far (no glory, just truth). If I didn’t have the support of so many family members over the years, I’d probably be in a psych ward locked up in chains somewhere. Serious stuff!

Even though there are probably millions of cousins and distant relatives I have no clue exist, I can still feel their love.

Though I may be awkward at expressing it sometimes, and don’t call for long talks about everything, what I want my family to know is that I don’t love them any less. Growing up, I always depended on my parents to drive me to family gatherings and take me to visit relatives. I also depended on my parents to do all the calling and deciding on whether they were going to “let me speak during the phone call for a few hot seconds” — so as I grew older, I never developed that “call” bug. I am the only one on BOTH sides of my family who grew up in Wilson — so I never had cousins to really play with like the rest of my family. AND on top of that, I didn’t have any brothers or sisters younger than me (my sister is much older than me) so I didn’t have anyone my age in my family that I could really exercise those habits with.

DAY 4

Now that I’m older, I tend to shy away from phone calls and revel in face-to-face interaction. The problem with that now is that we all live so far away and our schedules collide! I literally have like 5 days off for vacation, and I have to pick and choose who to visit. It’s not ideal, but I’m figuring things out!

With me being a single, black woman, I’m very aware of the dangers that could present themselves while traveling alone; so that’s another thing that I have been figuring out. But nevertheless….I feel the warmth and love from my family and I want them to know that I love them and am inspired by EACH of their stories every day! Whether good or bad — I learn something from it.

I first realized how much of a treasure family is when my first few grandparents passed away. It hit me, that all of the time I was waiting on my parents to take me to see them or call them — I passed up on precious memories that we could’ve been creating. Now that I’m on the brink of experiencing year 27, I am going to continue to focus on nurturing my relationships with my sister and her family, my grandma, aunts and uncles, cousins, and godfamily too! Near and far, I’m striving daily to be a better ** insert the ____________**

#NawlinsJoc

Photo shot and edited by Rich Griffis (www.richgriffis.com)

[photo by Rich Griffis ]

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**The Road To 27** Post 3 of 7 – Friends and Relationships

** Reflections on Friends and Relationships **

I was actually debating whether or not to even reflect on this because I could go on forever. But for your sakes (and attention spans) I won’t take long.

These past 27 years haven’t always lent themselves to the best friendships and relationships until just recently. Since as far ago as I can remember, I’ve always wanted “friends of my own”. I know that sounds neurotic, but being the miniature tv addict I was, I wanted a core group of friends like the ones on The BabySitters Club or Harriet the Spy. Up until middle school I had those friends — but heading into high school some of the people I thought were closest to me, actually weren’t as loyal as I thought.

Wait. Let’s back up to the beginning and cover relationships. 

DAY 3

My little adolescent/tween view on relationships and dating was the same as my friendships. Since the day I and three other girls in my kindergarten class were molested by classmates (who were clearly exposed to too much sex), my view on relationships was flawed. From that point on, all I wanted was a boyfriend who would protect me (as my father strove to do each day), and grow into a husband that loved me like the Disney princess my parents always told me I was. I failed to realize that NO ONE under the age of 18 or 20 is truly equipped to protect ANYONE — they’re just learning to handle themselves. I remember the night I told my babysitter what had happened, I was scared to my tiny 5-6 year old core! Now that I’m really taking time to think on it, I was more embarrassed than anything because I didn’t want my parents to think I was ‘fast’. That’s why none of you have probably heard about what happened until this very second. I took all of that trauma, bottled it up, and carried it with me all the way until high school and college. Because I didn’t allow myself to really form the right view on relationships (despite the wonderful example I had in my parents) I was naive, too trustworthy, and felt like I could read people a little better than I actually could.  This led to me making MANY MANY bad judges of character and a few bad choices in boyfriends.

WHEW — did you get all of that?! Ok, let’s keep going and put it all together.

DAY 3 PART 2So here it is, 2010. I’m out of college, full time in the work force, and secretly damaged from all that I’d been through. It was serious, painstaking work attempting to really trust ANYONE — even the friends that were still sticking with me. By 2011, things with the last guy I dated blew up into oblivion and all I could do was just cry out to God…why me?! Why am I always the one getting lied to?! Why do these people insist on chipping away at the last bit of kindness I can muster up?! Why do people insist on misinterpreting my well meaning friendship? Will I be alone and friendless forever?! (dramatic I know, but this is what honestly went through my mind — it made for great poetry though, I’ve got notebooks full!)

That’s when God began to answer the prayers I’d prayed for so long! I began reconnecting with old friends, gaining new ones, and while my dating life was pretty much non existent, I was allowing God to heal me from my past hurts. Now, here I am on the brink of my 27th birthday surrounded by the best friends I could have ever wished for — and can testify that God certainly gave me double for my trouble! The dating life is still — eh — but hey, at least I can say I am free from the bondage of relationships’ past AND I’m looking to get my feet wet in the dating pool again! I’m looking forward to a wonderful future with great friends, an awesome boyfriend (whoever that will be), and a wonderful life!

#NawlinsJoc

Photo shot and edited by Rich Griffis (www.richgriffis.com)

[photo by Rich Griffis ]

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**The Road To 27** Post 2 of 7 – The Past

SURPRISE!!! I couldn’t wait until Thursday to get out all that’s flowing in this noggin of mine!

So here I am with my first birthday reflection.

** Reflections on The Past **

With my Christian family upbringing, you would think my past would be filled with tarrying services, overseas missionary trips, and young adult years that looked a little something like The Duggars…. eh,that wasn’t the case.

First things first; my parents are the best parents God could’ve ever gifted me and raised me exactly how they should have! They made sure I grew up to not only LOVE the Lord, but truly desire a relationship with Him. The best part about it was that they didn’t cram ‘church’ down my throat and say “we do this just because, now shut up and sit down, hallelujah.”  They would infuse God into my life by playing Christian AM and FM stations Saturday mornings while we sat down for breakfast. They bought me books and cds for kids to make sure I had fun learning about the bible. They explained to (and showed) me the importance of going to church and treating people right.

I had these two amazing examples of how to navigate life, but by the time I’d reached my late teen years, I struggled to get a handle on the one thing that could either propel me to greatness or ruin

— the strength of my own will.

If I wanted to do something, or wanted it done a certain way, I was going to exhaust every possibility and every avenue to attain it. Granted I needed this strong will to fight for my life as a newborn, as well as excel in school; I eventually allowed it to take on a darker purpose. I allowed the strength of my will to overpower my better judgment, which eventually led to me making terrible choices in friends, relationships, and ultimately damaging my witness as a Christian. By the time I had reached my senior year in college, I was a serious social drinker, I partied too much, I was sexually active with whoever I was dating at the time, I was poorly coping with being a survivor of rape, I was dealing with the emotional wreckage of surviving being killed in a car crash, and on top of all that, struggled daily to ignore the call of Christ on my life because “Joceyn’s will” didn’t include living a seemingly boring Christian life before the age of 25.

That’s the ironic thing about the devil and human nature ya know? The very traits God gifts us to strengthen us, are the very tools that are capable of corrupting our true purpose, and derailing us from our best destiny.

It took almost dying (again) and a very bad health scare in 2011 to really get to me open up my eyes and realize that hey, I’m not normal. I never WILL be normal, nor do I DESIRE to be normal – and that’s a great thing! Normal people are followers. Normal people blend in with the crowd. Normal people live their lives always focusing on what they don’t have and never satisfy their thirst for validation.

Jesus already sealed my status as extraordinary when He died and rose for my sins. He took on the weight of my sins (before I even committed them) so I can live life blessed by the earth and people He created. It was never intended for me to live a ‘normal’ life, but to live inspired by others and in turn inspire the world by showing it how precious life is. These past 27 years haven’t been an easy road, but I am learning and growing each day to know that, while I’ve messed up in the past, I need to use the lessons and knowledge God has given me to move forward in greatness as a woman of God, a future godly wife, and a future godly mother/grandmother/etc.

#NawlinsJoc

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