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LaRhonda McLemore



The Lessons Before the Blessing

LaRhonda McLemore

Copyright © 2017 by LaRhonda McLemore

Printed and bound in the United States of America

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system with the exception of a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a newspaper or magazine without permission from the author.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, King James version unless otherwise noted.

Book production by True Vine Publishing Company

P.O. Box 22448

Nashville, TN. 37202

www.TrueVinePublishing.org

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615-44Books

For more information about the author or the book, visit:

www.thelessonsbeforetheblessing.com



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank my mother (Hi, mommy). Although, we bump heads a lot, we are so much alike, hahaaaa—I LOVE YOU! You inspired me to take a different route. I was literally “motivated by circumstance” to beat the odds, rise above the non-sense and break those generational curses in order to start tapping into those generational blessings. You are a very strong individual to rear six girls and one boy by yourself. I know it was rough and sometimes people don't give you enough credit. You could've taken the easy way out, but you birthed all seven of us. All those times I was being hard on you because I knew you were capable of doing a whole lot more, but I was often reminded by the Man upstairs to extend grace just as He extends to all of us each and every day. You are my heart, and I will forever have an unconditional love for you for giving me life.

To my father, I MISS YOU ohhhhhhhh so much….words couldn't express. I have so many things to say to you, but I’ll save it for my journal. You left way too soon, but God needed you to come home. I appreciate you for instilling in me the hustle, the drive and a heart for others. You always made a way, literally--lol. I was always thankful for whatever you decided to give. If I could give it all back just to spend a day with you, I would. I LOVE YOU POPS! rest in peace!

Granny, RIP. Thank you for the knowledge, the beautiful ring on my 21st birthday and the laughs. I will see you again one day. I love you!!! This book is for you and my pops’ legacy, which was building and breaking generational curses - just like I promised.

To my sister Johnika, my #1 fan, my ride or die, and the first person who introduced me to a Bible scripture. Thank you for always being a listening ear and the calmer version of myself (lol, I wish). I always looked up to you when we were younger; I still do, which is why I always ask for your advice. When I’m ready to make a drastic decision, I always ask, “Well, what would you do sis?”. I love my nephew. (Hi, Shawn Shawn—TT loves you). Stay beautiful and focused. Stop worrying so much. WE WILL ALWAYS BE GOOD, because God has our back. Seek beyond what you see. It’s waiting on you. Remember that you teach people how to treat you. Thank you for always having my back no matter what. I love you best friend and big sis!

To all of my siblings: Jamiya, Sabin, Makiya, Shalonda and Sherman, I love you all so much as well as my nieces and nephews, because of you all, I will always have a friend. I know you guys didn't always understand why I didn't show up to all the cookouts or all the events, but I was trying to remain focused on finishing school and writing this book. Thanks for understanding and the motivation! I want to encourage you all to go after your dreams and purpose. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not good enough, because you are enough!

To my big brother, Anthony, I love you man. You've always been there for me. I have always looked to you as a father figure, especially when pops passed away. Thanks for taking me to church with you, for listening, kicking my butt when I was not on my stuff and the many conversations we had about life and family. You are one of a kind! Never forget that. Keep striving to be the best father, brother, son and grandson you can be. I love you big brother!

To my oldest sister, Angelica, you are still crazy. I guess certain things never change. My love for you is unconditional. You've always been a hustler; it runs in our veins. Keep pushing and stay focused sis. I see you doing big things in the future. Allow no one to remind you of your past. God is not done with you yet. Love you and my nieces and nephew. Don't give up on them, they need you.

To Raven, Raymond, Kea, Justice (my favorite), Destiny, Kewanna, and Moss, I love you guys. I know life has been hard for all of us, but remember it’s easy to blame our parents for our current problems. I’m not saying they are perfect – no one is. I know it gets really hard at times, but you have to keep God first, take responsibility for your actions, and chase after your dreams and purpose. He’s not done with you all. Stop making excuses and go get what's waiting on you! Love y'all!!

To my significant other, thank you my love. You’ve helped me become a better me with your constant support, encouragement and the many conversations. I’ve learned so much from you.

To the rest of my family and friends, thank you for the encouragement - negative and positive. It was definitely fuel that I needed in order to complete this project. May God bless you all.

LaRhonda



DEDICATION:

This book is dedicated to my younger self with the intent to uplift, inspire and encourage someone who has ever felt like giving up, or second guessed what God has place within them. Go after your dreams! Do not give up or give in. Keep fighting until your last breath. God has placed something within you that no one can take, but He is waiting on you to water and nurture what He has planted within you even before you were thought about being conceived. He’s waiting on you.

I would like to thank God, first and foremost for keeping me. I could've been a lot of things, but You chose me. You chose me to be the example for a lot of people. It was very hard trying to be that shining light within a dark world, but You knew You could trust me to deliver Your message. There were many nights I questioned You. I asked “Why me?”. At one point of my life, I wanted to return the very thing You blessed me with, because I was too afraid and didn't feel worthy enough to deliver Your message. However, You reassured me, and gave me confirmation. Thank you Lord.



Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1: Change Your Fixed Mindset:

Lesson #701: “The same old thinking. The same old results.”

Chapter 2: Grow Through What You Go Through

Lesson #702: “Faith Grows Better Under Attack.”

Chapter 3: Removing Clutter to Embrace the New.

Lesson #703: “Make Space for New Blessings.”

Chapter 4: Generational Curses or Generational Blessings?

Lesson #704: “Even Though They May Be Dead and Buried in the Grave, Their Iniquity Sticks With You.”

Chapter 5: God Does Not Consult With Your Past to Determine Your Future. So, Why Do You?

Lesson # 705: “You Can't Move Forward While Looking Over Your Shoulder.”

Chapter 6: Your Journey is Your Journey. Don’t Compare. Love Yours!

Lesson #706: “It’s the Same Street, Just Different Turns.”

Chapter 7: Resilience

Lesson #707: “While You Are Trying to Figure It Out, God Has Already Worked It Out.”

References:



Introduction

When I was growing up, I thought the way we lived was a normal way of living life. We lived in section 8 housing in Franklin, Tn. In my opinion, when my mom decided to move to Nashville, things changed for the worse. My mom began to have more children. Money was tight and we saw less and less of her. After a while, my siblings and I learned to survive by taking care of ourselves.

I remember being at my best friend’s aunt’s house, getting a roller set in my hair. My oldest brother called me to deliver the news that my father passed away and to get to my father’s house as soon as possible. I was attending McGavock High School. It was my senior year. My dad passed away from an overdose of cocaine. At 17, losing my father was the worst thing that could’ve happened to me. At that age, I needed advice about men, life and family. I was about to be a woman.

I recall my very last conversation with my father. I was working at Mrs. Winners (my very first job) where I walked in the rain, sleet and snow. My father told me that he missed me and wanted to spend some time with me since I was very busy. I told him I would make time and to hang out soon. Now looking back, if I had known God was going to take him that soon I would’ve moved with urgency. I thought he would always be there. He overdosed two months later. Though I was considered the strong one in my family, I still felt a part of me was missing.

During my first semester in college, one year later, I received a phone call from the Department of Human Services informing me that my mom tested positive for crack cocaine. If someone didn't come and pick up my younger sibling, they would go into states’ custody. At that time, it was seven of us, six girls and one boy.

My mom was never married to my dad or any of my other sibling’s dads. In fact, all seven of my siblings have different fathers. I used to be ashamed to tell people that. I was embarrassed. We grew up in poverty, which I didn’t discover until later on in life. We moved a lot. At one point we lived out of our car and stayed in a homeless shelter that soon ran out of space.

They offered us the option to stay in a chapel, but my mom decided on sleeping in the car since she felt uncomfortable. After a while, my mom’s addiction became worse, and soon it became apparent that she was giving up on life. I took full custody of my two younger siblings. After three years of being in my custody, the oldest decided to have a baby. At this point, my mom had completely checked out. She started to operate as if she had no children. She was in and out of prison, partying, from dope house to dope house, and from one man to the other. I had to financially support my mom through her highs and lows. At one point, she lived with me and my siblings after being released from prison. She had nowhere to go. By this time, I was 22 with three kids, in college, working two full-time jobs and trying to run a business from a two-bedroom apartment. I had thoughts of quitting and ending my life, especially when things started to get really rough. I didn’t want to live and pondered what it would be like if I were not alive. People had no clue of the adversities I faced.

I started to drink heavily to mask my pain. (I feel that we all medicate ourselves when we are going through, some more visible than others). Some addictions include over eating, sex, prescription drugs, street drugs, cutting, alcohol and indulging ourselves in our work to appear that things are actually okay. Whichever your poison, please be mindful of the damage you may cause to yourself and ultimately to someone else. The chapters within in this book will shine a light on many challenges I overcame by the grace of God. I choose to turn the challenging parts of my life into opportunities, life lessons and blessings. My purpose in life is to help others do the same. I pray you enjoy.



Chapter 1
Change Your Fixed Mindset:

Lesson #701
“The same old thinking. The same old results.”

Synopsis: Changing your mindset is a critical part of redirecting your future. Having a changed mindset also helps with being able to receive the lesson in the midst of difficulties. Changing one’s mindset is about renewing your thought processes, shifting from the old way of thinking into a new way of thinking. It's also about knowing that when things "go wrong" our reactions to those situations play a massive part in how we will directly deal with the situation at hand and how we will allow the situation to affect us in the now and then. After a shift in mindset, then you realize that just because the situation is not good, it doesn’t define your destiny. It’s all about perspective. However, the key is to decipher the positives in all situations, good or bad, to identify the lesson and learn from those disguised circumstances.



A very important lesson I recall learning was the same old thinking produces the same results. Sometimes our issues aren't the problem, but in fact our attitudes towards certain issues. I'll be the first to admit that I had a horrible attitude in the past. I walked around as if I had a chip on my shoulders. I thought the world owed me something. Since my youth, I have felt a calling on my life. I knew a change was needed in order to fulfill that purpose and assignment. I needed to change my way of thinking. I felt if one is not careful of how one thinks that ultimately one will become what he/she thinks.

We are shaped by our thoughts. We are told at an early age that our thoughts are powerful, that one day, we will become what we say. If you say something often enough, you may start to believe it. As the Chinese proverb says, “Our beliefs become our thoughts, our thoughts become words, words become actions, our actions become habits and our habits become our destiny”. What we think, good or bad, forms into words. Those words leave the mouth into someone’s ear. Those words create an action just as our thoughts create words. Words and thoughts can either motivate or destroy.

Once I started to change my mindset, I was reminded of my childhood. I delved deeper into the origins of my negative thinking. I realized it started way before I even had an understanding of the world. My mom did not encourage me or help me feel beautiful. Instead she was often critical. My mother expressed negative things about her children, including appearance and character. She instilled in us that family was important, and we should always look out for one another. I wish she would have told us we were beautiful and we could do anything in life. She forgot to encourage us, love on us and teach values and life lessons. Building your children up with positive affirmations so that your children know that you love them is imperative.

Though my mom has grown and blossomed into a different woman today, those automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) had a huge impact on my life. Those words shaped me into the person I am today. Positive thoughts are important. The past may shape your life, but it doesn’t define it. For example, when my siblings and I were younger, if we didn't do something that met my mom’s expectations, she would call us stupid or slow. Those words inhibit.

One can’t put negative thoughts into the universe and expect something positive to come back.

REMEMBER: When you're going through difficult seasons, pay close attention to your thoughts and words.

The enemy will play games with your mind. He will make-up scenarios in your mind that do not exist. He will tell you that there is no way you will make it out of your situation. He will try to convince you that you are better off dead. We have to remember that all the devil’s victories involve someone's misery.

Marianne Williamson is an author and international lecturer on spiritual, personal and political issues. She says it best: “You must learn a new way to think before you master a new way to be.” Changing your mindset is a crucial part in controlling your future. When you change your mindset you start to take control of your future, which in turns changes your life. When you change your thinking, you change your beliefs. When you change your beliefs, you change your expectations.

When you change your expectations, you change your attitude. When you change your attitude, you change your behavior. When you change your behavior, you change your perspective. When you change your perspective, you change your life. I replaced every negative thought with a positive affirmation, scripture or quote. A wise person once said, “Your mind is like a garden. Your thoughts are like seeds. You can plant flowers or you can plant weeds.” Just because negative seeds were planted when I was younger, didn’t mean I had to water and nurture them.

REMEMBER: You are the CEO of your mind, body and soul, so be mindful of the things you plant and feed it.

As the scripture says, “you will always harvest what you plant” (Galatians 6:7). As Earl Nightingale says, “Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.” In other words, be mindful of the seeds you plant because whatever you plant will eventually grow.

I realized that my thoughts were very powerful. So are yours. When I had thoughts about suicide or negative thoughts about my parents, I had a choice to think negative or positive and to act on those thoughts. Remember, you are the CEO of your mind. You control what goes in and what goes out. You are not a garbage can. Don’t allow waste to come in and pollute your mind. Positivity is a choice. You can either continue to play the victim of your circumstance or you can be the hero of your own life. You can take control your thoughts or allow your thoughts to take control of you.

If I would have listened to the noises and allowed so-called friends and family to define me or my circumstances, I wouldn’t be here today. When something bad happens in your life, the people who give the most advice are the individuals from whom you may have to disconnect. The people who say the least and do whatever they can to help you and your situation are the people you need to keep.

It's about knowing and understanding that within every disaster there is a positive lesson to be learned. When your faith is tested, “your endurance has a chance to grow" (James 1:3 NLT). Your circumstances should motivate you. You should be motivated by circumstances. You have to avoid "can't" thinking or other negative language, even if it's coming from other individuals such as your family and so-called friends. Whom you surround yourself can determine your success.

I made a decision based on my consequence after living through many years in disappointments and dysfunction. That choice was to take advantage of what was create, redirect and set the tone for my environment and my life regardless of what was happening. I also made a promise to myself that I would carry a positive attitude into every situation.

It was not always easy to remain positive or have a positive attitude and mindset. However, it was definitely worth it. You can't allow the noise or opinions of others to mute your inner voice. You have to believe that the life that is set before you isn't by happenstance. Everything that is happening in your life is on purpose and for a reason.

We may not always understand what has happened to us, and that’s okay. Once I accepted the cards that I was dealt, I started to see the changes within me. The atmosphere changed. The people started to change, and the things that once worked my nerves were no longer an issue. Things started to shift for me for the better, and I was excited. I stopped going to certain places. I even stopped hanging out with certain people. It’s amazing how you can change one thing about yourself and other things start to shift for the better.

I've realized that people will try to count you out and put you in your grave before you're even dead. People will talk about you whether you are doing well or bad. But don't allow those things to define you or stop you. Don't allow those things to define where you are going, because you are enough. Your circumstances do not define you. Your choices do not define you. God doesn't judge you based upon what someone says about you. He judges us based upon what we do.

In life, sometimes, our loads may seem heavy. At one point, my load became so heavy that I wanted to end it. I realized that God didn’t give us the mindset of struggle, the mindset of fear, the mindset of doubt, the mindset of unworthiness, the mindset of debt or of death. God didn’t give the mindset of negativity. We carry around so much weight that God doesn’t intend for us to carry. Don't carry that weight alone. Give it to the Lord. When we are weak, He is made strong.

Don't worry about the noise, keep focusing on the Lord. We all have a purpose and potential inside of us. Sometimes, we just have to dig a little deeper and fight a little harder. We have to P.U.S.H a little further to get where we are going (Press Until Something Happens). We must first change our "fixed mindset". If I think negative thoughts, filled with judgment and resentment towards myself and others, then my actions will follow my thoughts to receive that in which I focus on.

As Randy Pausch said, “It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand”. We have to eliminate the “woe it’s only me mindset”. He went on to say, “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop other people.”—not you.

We are all facing obstacles, adversity, hardships and trials. You make the choice to be successful in life—yes, the choice to be successful in life. Successful people know that they are responsible for their lives, no matter their starting points, weaknesses, or past failures. We were all born with gifts and talents. You just have to give up that "fixed mindset". Robert Greene says, “The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways”. You have to invest in yourself, spend an allotted amount of time on a daily basis to develop a "growth mindset", acquire new knowledge, learn new skills and change your perception so that it can benefit your life.


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