Thankful Through The Strom: Minaa B.

Minaa B. is a NYC based wellness therapist and author of the book Rivers Are Coming. She is a mental health advocate and freelance writer for various publications and shares words of insight and encouragement on her Instagram account @minaa_b. 

Tell me about a time in your life where you felt as though you were going through the storm?
Earlier this year I found myself going through what felt like a tumultuous season. My depression began to flare up and I found myself struggling with issues related to my self-esteem, confidence and having an overall desire to get through life. Depression is something that I have battled with since I was 6 years old. As a young adult I had to go to therapy to learn how to manage my symptoms, and unlearn a lot of negative behaviors and thoughts, that were associated with it. So earlier this year when I found myself struggling again, it was something that was hard to deal with but rather than ignore my mental health I sought treatment and began to take medication for my condition.

At that point in your life was being thankful second nature?
At the time it wasn't easy. And that is because depression does a really good job at stealing your joy and reminding you of your hardships rather than your blessings. My head was in the clouds most of the time and it felt like there was no way out.

When did you find yourself finding hope through your circumstance?
I got right into action when I became aware that my depression was severe. As I mentioned before, I got on medication and I also created a treatment plan for myself that included self-care, community and honest reflection. Being on medication gave me the boost that I really needed and I was able to see my life from a different perspective and work on myself. I began to feel hopeful in knowing that I wasn't giving up on myself the way I normally would in my past. I found hope in my ability to push past the stigma that society has on mental health and antidepressants, and I did what was best for me and my health!

How did focusing on the good change your situation for you?
To be honest, I found so much good purely in my depression. That was the good for me. By being depressed I was reminded of how resilient I am. Humans have the power to bounce back from anything. And we don't know how capable we are unless we are willing to let life hit us with it's storms and find the courage to bounce back from it.

What are you most thankful for now?
I'm thankful for my struggles. Through this season I learned that my struggles don't define me; they equip me for the journey.

What advice would you give to others who are going through the storm?
Remember that humans are resilient. We are wired to face storms but we are also equipped to go through them. Don't let your mind plague you with stress and worry. Instead, fill it with joy, praise, and reminders that you are built to face any hurdle life throws at you.

With Love,
Minaa B.



Jo is a 20-something year old, from Queens, NY and is now residing in Florida. She dedicates her life to raising her baby boy Liam. Jo is an incredible Youtuber. Her videos give you insight to her amazing family, cool crafts, costume ideas, and much more. Jo has a love for God, and a genuine love for people.   

Tell me about a time in your life where you felt as though you were in a storm.

One point in my life when I felt I was in a storm began in December 2008. I was in a terrible car accident where I suffered from a broken spine, several fractures and lacerations to my face. If my spine would’ve broken an inch higher I would have become a quadriplegic. I was also informed that while in the ambulance my heart stopped beating and I had to be resuscitated. I had to learn how to walk, sit and do other daily things all over again.  Aside from the excruciating physical pain, mentally I was suffering as well. I had to hear from several plastic surgeons that from 1-10 my case was 100 and that they rather me see another surgeon. I became depressed and angry at God. I kept asking Him why would He save me when my heart flat lined, with my face like this with people constantly staring, little kids pointing and my body being in a tremendous amount of pain when He could have just let me die right there instead of keeping me like this. This specific storm lasted until 2011.

At that point in your life was being thankful second nature?

Honestly, being thankful through the storm didn't come easy to me. Through the grace of God, seeking Him, Him conditioning me that is what has changed my heart. Now at this point in my life I can say that is what I'm doing. Every morning I decide that no matter what anyone says, or whatever happens that today is the day the Lord has given me and I will rejoice and not take it for granted. Some days my back will give out and I will be in pain but then I look at the bigger blessing. I'm grateful that I can walk and take care of my son. When my son is throwing tantrums, and driving me crazy, I'm grateful for his life and that's he's healthy

When did you find yourself finding hope through your circumstance?

I began finding hope in my circumstance around 2010. Out of desperation I began crying out to God for hope and peace for my life. I also asked God to restore my face if possible. Slowly God started revealing Himself to me. I found a plastic surgeon who promised although it may take years and several surgeries that he wouldn't give up until I was satisfied with my face. I started relying on God and seeking Him more.

How did focusing on the good change your situation for you?

Focusing on the good helped me see the bigger picture and helped me enjoy life again and have hope for the future.

What are you most thankful for now?

Right now, I'm most thankful for the personal relationship I now have with the Lord, my son Liam and my husband Sabino.

What advice would you give to others who are going through the storm?

My advice to others going through storms right now would be to seek God wholeheartedly. First, tell God what's going on then ask Him for His peace. "I can't do this on my own, Holy Spirit help me." Then when you're not reading His word listen to worship music. Fill yourself and your home with His presence. Then thank God, praise Him through your circumstance, it's not easy but when you give God your burden He will give you His peace. Mathew 11:28 "Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

I would like to thank Jo for sharing such a powerful story with us. You can follow her journey here:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lifewith_liam_/?hl=en
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3IhvAin8z2-dteCZBlsFBA



Thankful Through The Storm: DaShawn Francis

DaShawn Francis was born and raised in the infamous Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of  Brooklyn, NY. After giving his life to Jesus in 2010, he felt that his life was meant for more than the ways he had previously been living. He quickly found a church in the Glendale, Queens neighborhood, in which he would spend the next 5 years learning and being trained in urban ministry by leaders and mentors. It was there that he found his passion for like: people. What started as an outstanding love for teaching and shaping young children grew into a passion to lead people of all ages. DaShawn's voice on social media platforms, as well as other avenues provides a boisterous and encouraging freshness that is uplifting and challenging. His words are often woven with Christian principles that even the layman can appreciate. Currently, he is actively pursuing a life of missionary work at the Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, TX. In  his free time, he enjoys talks with his many siblings, Torah observant research, and classic movies.

Tell me about a time in your life where you felt as though you were in a storm.

It'd be easier to tell you about a time when i WASN'T in a storm, haha. Man, these last few 18-24 months have been the toughest of my walk/life with Christ yet. I'm still in my storm. A lasting one. From lust, being disobedient, sleeping around in the church, being hurt by leadership in the church, finances amok anger, battling deep depression and suicidal thoughts, to struggling spiritually but trying to remain saint-like in a household where I'm the only believer and trying to maintain an example of Christ- I can say that this was a year that I finally broke down completely. I've dealt with each of these things individually, but never all at once. I shut down. I felt rejected by the church and thus rejected by Yahweh.

At what point in your life was being thankful second nature?

Oh, man! You'll laugh when you read this, but that hadn't happened until about a week and a half ago! I finally got to the place where I prayed, "Your will be done" and actually meant it. That awkward moment when you think you're at rock-bottom and then - BOOM! - sike, a trap door. That's what it was like. I had hit the lowest low, and then found myself finally finally finally meeting Yahweh. I felt Him saying, "Well it's about time!" All that to say, I became thankful when I became desperate.

At the best, most financially stable point in my life, had you asked me if I'd eat food out of the garbage, I would've looked at you like you were crazy. But back in 2013, when I was broke and starving and ACTUALLY eating out of the garbage, you couldn't tell me anything. My point being: when you're DESPERATE you don't care how you look; you don't care what you have to do to get what you need - you just do it. I got to the point where I was so desperate and degenerate that I finally cried out to Yahweh and said, "Okay, I'm here. I'm broken. What do I need from You and how do I get it???? I don't care what I have to do! I just want out of this hell." 

When did you find yourself  finding hope through your circumstance?

Hope. Man, that's a word I've found and lost the definition of countless times. My problem was that I had my hope in the wrong things. I'd say it was in Yahweh, but only because it was he right thing to say.

"My hope is in You...but I kinda still want this, Lord."

I laugh when I think of my old prayers. I found hope when I realized that Yahweh is really Elohim. Like, He's REALLY God. And He's not JUST God, but He's a Father. I had a warped reality and understanding of what a father was. I had to get in the Word and READ about what a father was, and learn that there are bad fathers and good fathers. He was the latter. It's a cool thing to read and sing, but when you get the revelation from the Holy Spirit that He's actually your Father - and a good one! - boy, does your hope soar! My problem was never ever ever an, "Is God real?" thing; it was a, "Man, is He really FOR me, though?" type of thing. Once I realized that He was, it changed things DRASTICALLY. 

How did focusing on the good change your situation for you?

Focusing on the good allowed me to show both myself and Yahweh that not only was I grateful, but that I trusted Him. Trusting Him allowed me to make room for more. I don't care how many times you pray a prayer, if you don't believe it, He doesn't believe it. The Word says, "..without faith it is impossible to please God"..so I went and got some! I decided that I would read about who He said He was and BELIEVE Him! As I focused on and became thankful for what He's done already, it helped me to think, "Well, He did that before; why would He listen and ignore me now?" It sounds so simple, but it took a while to manifest. 

What are you most thankful for now?

I am most thankful that Yahweh isn't like me. More than anything, He has shown me His patience. He showed me that He'd wait as long as I took (and that I should do the same for others). He showed me that no matter how many times my lack of trust and faith called Him a liar, He still loved me and knew I'd get it right. He showed me that no matter how often I'd lie, cheat, fornicate, or doubt, that He's unmoving and unchanging. He showed me that no matter how much I'd go back on my word, His Word was unfailing and unwavering. He's not who He is based on who I'm deciding I want to be today.

What advice would you give to others who are going through the storm? 

Hold. On.
Man, don't you lose that grip. I've gone MONTHS just barely holding on to the thinnest thread on His robe. It happens. You never know when it's going to end, but you know that He's real and that He has the answer. 

Get. In. The. Word.
Not a sermon, not a devotional, not a Christian book written by your favorite pastor, not a blog (no offense, Jo). His loving, breathing Word. Read about who He is, and see that He is good. If you don't believe, cool; that can be worked on. That's a different problem. But if you know that you know that you know Yahweh is real, it's simple: just remember who He is. When I was at my lowest, ready to jump off the ledge of a building, pleading for a sign and for Him to let up a little, I couldn't do it. I just knew for sure that He was real. I just did. And as hopeless and broken as I was, I just couldn't get the image of His face out of my mind. I knew He was real, so I knew that I couldn't end things on my terms. I even felt like a wuss because I'm like, "Dang, DaShawn, you can't even do suicide right??" But I knew the God I had experienced before, and I knew the God that I was constantly reading about. 

In the Old Testament, our patriarchs would build altars out of stones so that they'd remember when and where they met with Yahweh whenever He did something miraculous. My modern-day equivalent to that is journaling. The enemy comes to ROB. He wants you to think that what you experienced before is a lie or not as big as your brain is remembering. He wants to rob you of your experience - and quickly too! But when you're in the next storm and you're looking back, reading your own words, no lie from Satan and no doubtful thought of your own can tell you that the God you serve didn't meet you. Journal it. Write down every word He says, every good thing He's done, and just know that He isn't a liar.

Embrace the storm.
Don't ask for it to end early or for you to get taken out abruptly. You'll be the same 'ol weak, struggling, masturbating, broken, lying, untrustworthy degenerate person you were before the storm. Know that He SEES and HEARS you, and that as a Father, He wants to intervene SO badly, but He can't because it'll cripple you. The answer, the freedom, the healing, the money, the breakthrough will come when it's supposed to. The purpose of the storm isn't to get out - it's to get something out of us.

I would like to thank DaShawn for being so honest, and vulnerable. It is not easy to be as transparent as he was in this interview. I pray that this post gives you hope, and encourages you to be thankful through the storm.

DaShawn can be reached via email at dsl.francis@gmail.com or on Social Media using the following handles:
Twitter: not_gregsbro
Facebook: DaShawn Francis
Instagram: yesimblacknoyoucanttouchmyhair


Thankful Through the Storm

Photo by: F. Romero

But the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them walking on the sea. -Matthew 14:24-25

Jesus spoke to them saying. "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid" - Matthew 14:27

I am sure that this months theme comes to no surprise to you as we celebrate one of my favorite holidays; Thanksgiving. I try to live my life being thankful for the many blessings surrounding me. Family, friends, life, health, strength, the list goes on and on.

But you see the thing is, it is extremely easy to be thankful in the good times. Of course while everything is going the way we would like for it to go, being cheerful is second nature.

But what happens when we face a storm?

This life that we all live can guarantee rainy days. Not one of us are exempt from experiencing pain, sadness, or stress. We all have a choice when it comes to how we handle these situations. Now I do not want this to be an "easier said than done" kind of post. Trust me, I have been through the storm several times in my life.

It is NOW that I am learning, and putting into practice how to not only be thankful, but to praise God through the storms that come, and will resurface in this life that I am living. I've found that when I focus on what I have to be grateful, and thankful for, the storm doesn't seem that cloudy after all. 

You know I like to keep it real with you guys, cause ya know "Real recognize real!" My husband and I went through a point in our marriage where we were not connecting emotionally. Because I am an emotional being this devastated me. I would spend hours of my day focusing on how far apart from each other we felt. I would replay conversations in my head over and over again. I was draining myself and making the whole situation worst.

And then I was reminded that there is always something to be grateful for. I began to thank God for the things that were going well in our relationship. The more I began to focus on the positive, the more I saw change. Although it was stormy, I forced myself to be thankful for what was good.

The opening quote is from one of my favorite bible stories. The disciples were on a high. They just witnessed Jesus do one of the most told miracles of the bible (three fish and five loafs of bread, five thousand people fed.) I'm sure they were on a natural high, loving life, but little did they know a storm would soon come.

The bible says that after the miracle was performed, the disciples all got in a boat to their next destination, when suddenly a storm hit. The boat was long away from the land, and was beaten by the waves. Man I know when I'm in the storm the waves can feel like they are literally smacking the crap out of me. You can only image how terrified the disciples were. 

But then the bible says "He came to them walking on the waves." The very thing that was beating them up, Jesus was walking on, like the boss that he is. He could've swam, or even floated, but I like to think that he walked on those waves to show them, and us that he was and always is in control of the very thing that they felt was bringing them down, and slapping them around. 

Through your storm you can find courage and strength in the fact that Jesus is in control. He is above your storm. Now if there was anytime for a praise break it would be now.

*Cue Music*

The disciples are human so of course they were like "Yo bro, a ghost is coming at us." (paraphrasing) And they were afraid. This shows that you can be walking with God on the regular like they were, and still in a moment of distraught, forget who he is and what he is capable of. It also shows that it is natural to know God, and still have a little fear... but then Jesus says;

"Take heart; it is I, do not be afraid."

Now Jesus could have said "Uh hello, ain't ya'll see me perform that miracle earlier? You still have the nerve to be afraid? Don't you know I'm good?" But instead he is so gentle. He is so comforting. 

Let's be thankful that in the mist of the storm, we know Jesus is controlling the waves, and he will never give us more than we can handle. Let's be thankful that he cares and is always waiting to say "Do not be afraid."

As I shared earlier, I too go through storms, and they can be extremely discouraging. But I firmly believe that finding something to be grateful for, even if it's the clothes on your back, can bring you joy in the mist of the waves.

Let's work together to make this not just a November thing, but an all year around thing. Find something to be grateful for, and even if you have to remind yourself of that one thing one thousand times a day, push yourself. A little thankfulness goes a long way!


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