Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 Year in Review: What I've Realized...


Just a note that beginning Jan 2013 I will no longer post to this blog. This summer I started my Ms. Travel Chic ( blog so I will be posting from their now. It's my brand:) If you are a subscriber, hop over and sign up for Ms.Travel Chic to keep getting my posts by email. I will blog mainly about travel but also incorporate faith based and life update posts! Evolution is a good thing:) Now on to this post....
Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 
Ecclesiastes 5:18

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven Ecclesiastes 3:1

I’m always excited about the end of a year! Why?

1. Gives me time to reflect on all the great (and not so great) things that happened

2. It marks my birthday! (NYE baby in the house!)

3. I get a chance to hit RESET

At the beginning of this year I decided not to make any resolutions. Instead I just decided to be more fearless, confident, positive, focused and enjoy all that life was going to bring my way. I wanted to be open to allowing God to work in my life without giving him all my rules and demands. So as the year comes to a close I'm thinking back on the great year I've had and what I've realized:

I've realized: 1. Good friends are a blessing

As I've gotten older I've learned to use the word friend loosely. This year I had to let some people go. I didn't make an announcement, I didn't "unfriend" them on Facebook, I didn't block their number. I just simply limited my communication and moved on. Some people I just grew apart from some I purposely separated myself from. I decided I was no longer going to allow some people to be attached to my destiny.  I used to be that girl who was validated by my friends, always needing a group around me, always running to them for advice, always expecting them to support me. That girl is now a grown woman who has come into her own. Now when I think about my REAL friends who I know will be there for me no matter what, I can count them on one hand and I'm perfectly okay with that:)

I've realized: 2. God REALLY can dream a bigger dream for you than you could ever dream for yourself (Thanks Oprah)

In May of this year I started my own marketing consulting company (I still work full time too). I wish I could tell you about an awesome business plan I put together, mentors that helped me get started and big time clients that came to me but I cant, it all just kind of "happened". I knew I wanted to use my passion for Marketing in a different way than what I was currently doing but I didn't know how and frankly at times doubted my abilities. So I just prayed. 

Then I made a connection with a guy who was looking to promote his newly released book. Before I knew it he was asking for my advice, which I gave and then he asked "How much do you charge for your services?, how can I hire you?" WHOA! I remember sharing with a friend what was going on. He reminded me of what I prayed about and to "not despise the days of small beginnings"(Zechariah 4:10), so I just went with it. Before I knew it I was drafting contracts, booking events and attracting more clients. This year I've been interviewed on the radio (listen here), expanded my client base, made great connections and got my client booked on a national radio show! Mind you I still don't even have a website yet lol. God is AMAZING, I can't even keep up with all HE is doing in my life. God has shown me I've got even more great things (beyond my business) on the inside of me that he wants me to share with the world. It can be scary at times thinking about the vision he's given me and the opportunities coming my way but I'm finally able to embrace it and keep dreaming big!

I've realized: 3. The path to finding true love has to begin with self love

So umm yea my love life.. *deep heavy sigh*. Lets just say this, I'm so glad God blessed me with the strength to overcome because the men I've dealt with in my past..frankly, I should be in the crazy house and hooked on Xanax! This year I ended a "relationship" (although I really could never call him my boyfriend *eye roll*) , briefly dated a few guys "below my standard" (desperation is from the devil) and started happily seeing a guy I'd been "crushing on" only to basically drive him away because I got "in my feelings" and went crazy (not cute!) Look, this ain't been no easy ride!
However sometime this past Fall I realized I cant keep doing this. This is getting old, and so am I! I own a responsibility in the slight dysfunction that is my love life. I decided it was time to dig deep and get to the root of my "men issues". I didn't have time to book Iyanla Vanzant to "Fix My Life", so I prayed, spent hours on the phone with my sisters (they're a blessing), took GOOD advice from friends and sought WISE counsel. I also got comfy in the self improvement section of Barnes and Noble. No shame! These reads transformed my mindset : Ms.Typed, The Gifts of Imperfection and Mastery of Love. (I highly recommend) 

What I realized is that my issues are unfortunately rooted in having an absent father. Although we reconciled when I was 18, it was frankly too late, he passed from cancer when I was 21. Not having him around all those years lead to insecurities, feelings of unworthiness and a fear of abandonment. Aside from my "daddy issues", feelings of shame because of weight gain and carrying guilt from past mistakes were all uncovered in my self discovery. Put all that together and add in a man with his own issues, a successful relationship it does not make. 
Being transparent about my issues isn't easy but since I'm now free from the opinions and judgement of others, I'm willing to do the work to become whole. I don't just want a man to have one because that's easy. I actually want a secure, positive and successful relationship and that begins with loving me more. 
"Truth, forgiveness and self love are the path to healing" ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
In the last few months I've met some good guys and have been able to keep my emotions in check. So I feel I'm rounding out this year better than where I started:-) So I didn't find "the one" this year. Maybe I already know him, maybe I haven't met him yet. I don't know and I'm no longer worried. What I do know is that forgiving my father for not being there, embracing my imperfections, knowing my worth and letting go of my need to control only brings me closer to my "Happily Ever After." I will be a wife one day, but there's no need to rush, I'm still a work in progress. Until then I'm enjoying the journey of dating and remembering to love myself every step of the way.

So yes, another year has passed and I didn't get engaged or married , have a baby, get a big job promotion or lose those 35 (ok, 50!) pounds. Instead I started a business, indulged in wine and food in the Tuscan countryside, bought a timeshare, discovered my life purpose, learned the gift of goodbye, experienced personal breakthrough and fell in love with ME again. This was THE BEST YEAR EVER.

2013- LET'S GO!

Ready for 2013? Leave a comment!

Wishing you blessings and prosperity:) ~ Toya Nicole
2012 Highlights via Instagram:)

I fell in love with Cabo, bought a timeshare and kissed a dolphin!


Spirit lifted and hope renewed at Joyce Meyer Women's Conference with Sarah.


I explored Italy and London with great friends!

 I had a photo shoot. Fancy!

 I attended some great concerts


I embraced my natural hair and changed it A LOT:)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Slow Down ©

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." (Matthew 6:34 MSG)

Do you ever feel like your rushing through life? I do. 


My mind actively stays in overdrive. I'm always thinking ahead of the moment. Planning for the future without taking time to acknowledge my present. Skimming over an email. Preparing a response before even receiving a reply. Checking my phone every 2 minutes. And don't even get me started on my mastery of multi tasking! I know I'm not the only one who can watch TV, check Facebook and Twitter simultaneously, eat dinner and talk on the phone ALL at the same time! 
(Get a visual: This is my life) Then I wonder why I can't remember anything. Yikes!   

I was recently reading a devotional I receive daily in my inbox.  A couple sentences in I could see this was a "word" I needed to hear, so as I often do I started reading fast and found myself jumping ahead searching for the good parts and takeaways. I mean after all, who really has TIME to read an email in its entirety?? (wink) As my eyes started to skip down a few paragraphs I felt in my spirit God saying: "Slow down! I need you to get this!
So, I slowed down. 
I needed to read that devotion line by line, word for word and meditate on it so it could sink deep within my heart and soul. If not I'd forget what I read no more than 5 minutes later and a week from now still wonder why I'm struggling in that area.   
As I finished reading and tried to sleep, I pondered on Gods words. I knew God wasn't just asking me to slow down reading an email, he was asking me to slow down my life, more importantly to be settled in my heart and spirit. 
I was immediately lead to Matthew 6:34, in the message translation the first few lines are impactful:  
"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now..." 
God longs for us to stay in the moment! Not to think about what is ahead but to focus on the now. As one of my friends always says, God often tells her to "Get somewhere and sit down!” So true.   

We miss out on so much joy worried about the drama tomorrow may bring. 
We miss opportunities to cultivate new relationships because of the fear people may hurt us. 
We fail to make lasting memories with our loved ones because we busy ourselves with work and social activities. 
We miss hearing the voice of God because we drown him out with music, TV and gossip.    

As the rest of Matthew 6:34 reads "..and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes" 

God doesn't want us worrying about our future, rushing through our seasons in life or consumed with anxious thoughts.   Let’s all be challenged to slow down, be patient and be present in life.   


Sunday, September 9, 2012

He is Here ©

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show 
you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom... (Proverbs 3:5-7 NLT)
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalms 34:18 NLT)

Confession: I have FLAWS! (shocker, huh?:) I tend to trust people too easily. I'm emotional. I'm gullible and easily fooled. I 
was actually voted "Most Gullible" in high school! (not kidding!) Well 13 years after high school I still often find myself being 
"duped" or "caught off guard" in life. Because of this I often pray for DISCERNMENT and REVELATION. Left to my own 
heart and mind I would make a complete disaster of my life so I consistently ask God to show me the who, what, when and the 
where. I trust that wherever God is leading and ordering my steps I can confidently follow.

For the past 2 weeks I was led to start praying for discernment and revelation in the area of my relationships. Because I've 
been betrayed and hurt by friends and boyfriends in the past I'm quick to ask God to show me who he wants in my circle, 
who I need to cut out and reveal peoples motives. I took this area before God daily in my prayers and quiet time. 
So I shouldn't have been too surprised when last week I experienced a difficult interaction with a friend. My intuition was 
telling me something was "off" and within days truth was revealed and disappointment followed. Initially I found myself very 
much "in my feelings”: emotional, upset and confused. As I came down from my emotional high (and a good nap!) I was 
reminded of my recent prayer request. Discernment and revelation. That's exactly what God gave me. The “revelation” 
wasn’t pleasant but it was indeed an answered prayer! My answered prayers aren't always packaged as pretty as I would like
but they do always have purpose.

The recent situation has made me grateful for a couple of things: 
1. For a God that listens and answers prayers 
2. For the holy spirit (a*k*a*) intuition, to alert me when something is wrong. 
3. For pushing me closer into fellowship with Christ. 

Once I peeled back all the layers of disappointment and confusion, I found that Jesus was at the center of it. God is always 
right in the middle of the hard stuff. He uses difficult situations to draw us closer to him, and remind us why we NEED him as 
our Savior! His consistent presence comforts and gives me peace in the midst of any disappointment. 

If you are facing disappointing circumstances search for Jesus right in the middle of it. He is there. In him you will find the 
peace, strength and confidence you need to keep pressing. 

~Toya Nicole 

 Music: Kari Jobe "You are For me" posted by @karijobe on YouTube

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Keep it up ©

The LORD is our protector and glorious king, blessing us with kindness and honor. He does not refuse any good thing to those 
who do what is right. LORD Almighty, how happy are those who trust in you! (Psalm 84:11, 12 GNT)

...But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. 
At just the  right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:8, 9 NLT)


Have you ever felt God calling you to do something you felt was impossible? Asking you to sacrifice the one thing you 
always said you couldn't do without? Giving you a vision or dream that you felt incapable of fulfilling?

**raises hand**

It was this time last year that I went through this very experience. (I blogged about it here Part 1 and here Part 2
During that season of life God was hitting me left and right urging me to "get it together" and revealing to me the
purpose he had designed me for. I surely felt in my own strength I couldn't do what he was asking nor did I feel
worthy of any of it. Yet because of my love for God and desire to please him and no one else. 
I decided to do two simple things: 1) Trust 2) Obey. 

Now as I reflect over the past year, it only takes about 5 seconds max for my eyes to start welling with tears of
joy. God has taken my life on such an AMAZING journey that I'm left speechless at times. You see where I 
am in my life now is nowhere remotely close to where I would have imagined. None of it was in MY plans. 
This time last year I'd never wrote anything and frankly didn't "get" blogging yet because of HIM I now have not
one but two active blogs! (I started a travel blog in June) and have been asked by others to write articles on various  
topics. At the beginning of this year I lead a women's bible study and just recently tapped into my entrepreneurial 
side and started my own consulting company in May. But more important than any blog, recognition or additional 
stream of income has been the way God has healed my heart, restored my confidence and placed me on a path of 
purpose. I firmly believe that if I had chose to ignore rather than obey God, I would still be stuck in the same old stupid 
pits, entangled in sin and living a mediocre life.
Now I realize that all that time I was living miserably and beneath my potential, God had a PERFECT plan for my life and 
I only needed to trust, obey and cooperate with it! It hasn't been easy but I'm overjoyed to be living a more fulfilling and 
purpose driven life that continues to place me in the perfect position to receive more of his favor, goodness and 

There's a popular quote used a lot as it relates to the struggle to lose weight:  
"I'm not telling you it's going to be easy - I'm telling you it's going to be worth it.”  ― Art Williams © 
The same can be said for our faith journey. Doing the right thing when wrong seems so popular, striving to walk 
blameless in a sin sick world, and choosing to remain pure when temptation arises will certainly not be easy. There will 
be times where one can feel isolated, misunderstood and overlooked. However while the world may disregard your 
obedience and faithfulness, know that God is looking and is well pleased. As Psalms 84 reminds us, God wants to reward 
us with favor and honor for remaining faithful in him and walking in obedience. Don't be discouraged. Keep walking the path 
which God has set before you. Keep believing in the impossible. Keep praying in faith. Keep studying his word. Most of all keep 
trusting in him and let God amaze you. I promise it will all be worth it!
~Toya Nicole

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Don't let the trash pile up!

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we 
take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, 
and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of 
praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

So I must confess that at times I can be a tad lazy when it comes to cleaning my home. This past holiday weekend
was filled with days of sleeping in and hanging with friends, so cleaning was NOT at the top of my list. 
By Monday, my kitchen sink and trash was piling high with leftovers. When I walked in my home, I was 
overwhelmed by the smell; something was in the trash with a strong scent. Ugh, “Gotta remember to take the trash
out”, I thought. However, the trash bag really wasn’t full and I have this thing where I feel like I'm wasting a trash 
bag if I throw it out and it's only half full. I'd rather it get to the "almost spilling over" top before taking it out so I 
know I got full use of the trash bag. Crazy, I know. Either way instead of immediately taking out the trash, even though 
it was a slight smell, I let 2 more days pile up, yep to the tip top, and then I finally took it out.
That same night, God spoke to me in my dreams. "That's how your mind works. You fill it with negative, ungodly and 
unpure thoughts which are like garbage, and just like the trash can, the more you pile on the stronger the smell. 
Pretty soon the scent can overpower your home, get in your clothes, then wherever you go the smell goes and you 
become a walking, talking garbage can. You put garbage in your mind then garbage will come out of you" 
After those two days of walking around with the trash smell, I almost got used to it; I knew it was in there smelling
 but my senses became numb to it. That’s the scary thing, when we allow ungodly, dirty and negative thoughts to pile 
up in the receptacle of our mind, we become numb to the effect they have on our life and others. Our mindset, attitude and 
even our talk can become filthy. Negativity and Ungodliness just becomes a way of life. Not good.
Through this revelation, I knew God was telling me to stop letting so many negative, ungodly and unpure thoughts pile 
up in my brain.  Instead he wanted me to immediately throw them out as soon as I recognized them to be wrong. Just like 
the trash.
2 Cor 10:5 directs us to take "captive" every thought and make it obedient to Christ. 
Captive means: to take under control or restrain.  
When these thoughts come on us we should take them under control to MAKE them more like Christ. 
If we think too long and hard about anything it can and will overtake us. So if it's anything we are going to focus on, it needs
to be on GOD and his promises.  "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and 
admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

We may feel like we can’t control the thoughts that enter our mind, but we can overcome them by studying the word and 
committing his promises to memory. Read your bible daily, listen to worship music often and keep note cards with scriptures 
nearby. As soon as a negative thought comes quickly throw it out and replace it with a fresh thought from God. 
Whatever you do, just don't let the trash pile up :-)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Who do you THINK you are?

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully
 and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. 
(Psalm 139:13, 14 NKJV)

I've got evidence 
I've got confidence 
I'm a conqueror 
I know that I win 
I know who I am 
God wrote it in his plan for me 

I know my identity, my name is victory!!  
Lyrics to "My Name Is Victory" By Jonathan Nelson & Purpose

I recently finished up a small group bible study on "Trusting God" by Girlfriends in God ministry. In our last week of 
study there was a powerful devotional by Sharon Jaynes. In it she spoke of her struggles with infertility and how 
through it all she was still able to rest in the great plans God had for her life. Her "aha" moment came when the Lord 
told her to look up the meaning of her name. When she looked up the meaning of her name it actually meant - a fertile 
valley near Mount Carmel. While her doctors report read infertile, God reminded her that he made her fertile before she 
was even born. Read the devotion here:

I was very encouraged from her devotional and while she didn't prompt us, I decided to do my own research on my 
name. I'm often embarrassed to say that my mother actually did name me after "THE" LaToya Jackson **sigh and 
rolls eyes** It was a pretty and popular name at the time so against my grandmothers wishes she jumped on the 
bandwagon! Considering this, I didn't have high hopes for what I would find BUT when I looked it up, I was blown away. 

LaToya is actually of Spanish origin and means "victorious one" and "woman to be praised/honored" and the icing on the cake??? Well, my middle name, Nicole is of Greek origin and means "people of victory"!!! So my name literally is VICTORY!
So that means every time my name is spoken God is allowing victory, praise and honor to be spoken over my life. That simple discovery silenced all my doubts and insecurities that weighed heavy on my heart for years and erased away all the "labels" that others had placed on me.

So, I'm no longer embarrassed about my name nor do I find it a coincidence that my mother named me LaToya Nicole.
You see God knew before I was formed that due to a birth injury I would face doubt about my physical abilities. He knew that my father would abandon us, leaving me to struggle with insecurities and self worth issues. That my desire for perfection and control would leave me feeling like a failure when life didn't turn out the way I wanted. So he gave me my name to remind me of who I REALLY am! Before I could even speak my name he had already called me to be a Victorious woman, worthy of praise and honor. For that I am forever grateful.

Now when the enemy says "You're not worth it" I can confidently answer back, God says "I'm a woman meant to be praised" and when I'm believing God for breakthrough in my life and he tells me "It will never happen" I can confidently say “Its already done, I have the victory".

So who do you THINK you are? Discover what God says about you FIRST. Know that he took careful consideration in forming you, you are not an accident, you were created for a purpose and a plan.