"Catch me while you can" is what I always say, and the ones who do, I appreciate so much, because I am on God's tour right now and never know when I will be packing a bag on the next flight out of town. This fall I traveled
and this is a map of my adventure.
I left a few days before Hurricane Irma made her way to the shores of Florida. I went north, I went west to California and the Pacific Northwest, I came back east to D.C., NYC and then to the Bible Belt... I arrived back home in Florida a couple of days after Thanksgiving.
When I think about what I got to experience and how it all took place, I can only bow my head in gratitude to the Lord for orchestrating such a whimsical, out-of-the-box kind of fall... With all the traveling there must be some really incredible stories that took place, right?
But I thought I'd share about 5 of the most fascinating people I had the honor to meet the last couple of months. Because, well they are that spectacular, that unpretentious and that big of a deal... and they all have one Thing in common.
If I can introduce you one day, I will... and so here they are:
(In no particular order)
Wikipedia will tell you she is an American activist, author and former state representative in the Georgia House of Representatives. She is also a niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and daughter of civil rights activist Rev. A. D. King and his wife Naomi Barber King.
She is a Fox News contributor and a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives...
But I'll tell you she's a fiery, passionate, laid back beauty that loves God and loves people.
The way we even met was literally... well God.
But it started with a random phone call.
I can’t even tell you how we went from strangers to sisters in .2 seconds. She and I have this kindred spirit and I think it started from us both being singers, loving music and having this undying passion for people.
A couple of weeks later, we met in person in our Nation's Capital, and stood on stage together as 50,000 people worshipped and prayed for our country. We ate dinner together and celebrated life and the mighty move of God that most people in America don’t even realize is taking place.
Why is Alveda one of my 5?
Well, before she ever laid eyes on me, she knew this young white girl like her own, and she said to me,
“You are my Esther and I am your Debrah”…
I didn't know until that day, but the Deborah and Esther relationship is something special. What they could not do on their own, they will be more than able to do and accomplish together. God's calling them His dynamic duo because their impact is greater together.
They are women of valor and truth. And they’ve been handpicked by Heaven for this time.
She called me her Esther and I am honored to call her my Deborah.
10.11.17 Brooklyn NYC
I woke up 11 stories high in soft white sheets, and a smile on my face. I grabbed my phone, and there was a message with a link to an article that had just come out that morning at 6:02am.
The title to the article:
BlackRock earnings easily beat Wall Street expectations as assets jump to almost $6 trillion” (read article here)
I clicked on the article and scrolled, but it wasn’t really apparent to me that today, I’d be meeting with someone from the world’s largest financial firm, literally.
In fact I was so oblivious to the chances that article in particular came out that VERY morning, that I credit my ignorance for helping me not pass out from nerves.
My funny Uber driver got me to the city just a few minutes early and naturally, like any business woman would do right before a big meeting with someone from the world's largest financial firm, I went in to a local French bakery and bought myself a pumpkin macaroon, enjoyed every crunchy, chewy "pumpkin-y" cinnamon bite and inhaled the sounds of the city while I waited for the clock to strike noon.
What was going through my mind while I waited? Well, the bazaar WHY behind my meeting, because surprise y’all,
I wasn’t investing my money or assets unfortunately.
Now, I don't know what you picture the Managing Director at the world's largest financial firm to dress like for a lunch meeting, but I will put money you can find him in a pair of simple charcoal slacks and a cashmere purple sweater, hipster framed glasses and a smile.
...You know, the most unpretentious "work fit" on Wall Street.
Don’t bet me on it, because I'd keep all my money. That's what he wore at our lunch a few blocks from the beautiful tall building over 6 trillion dollars is being traded at every day.
My new friend and favorite NYC lunch date Randy Robertson, is the Managing Director at Black Rock Financial Management, based in New York City. Being the savvy business woman that I am, I obviously knew EXACTLY who Black Rock was when someone introduced us (insert eye roll emoji and embarrassed emoji… I did NOT have a clue).
I was meeting Randy to share with him my story
and about the mission of Save The Storks.
I think we both came to lunch assuming the risk (well, Randy was probably, risk of his time), and by the time dessert was offered, we were both refreshed that genuine authentically good people do exist and were adding each other to the portfolio.
After our lunch, Randy was gracious enough to walk me through the Black Rock lobby filled with the aroma of Starbucks coffee and business men (whatever you imagine them to smell like - a lot of aftershave), through security and up to a floor that hosted more trading than your brain could imagine. He found a conference room for me to host my “Women Crushing ItWednesday” 5 minute devotional talk LIVE for a platform called Synced Culture.
To the people tuning in online it looked like just a plain ‘ole conference room…
Yes, a plain ‘ole conference room in the world’s largest financial firm.
The reason Randy is one of my 5: Because his unpretentious, humble spirit and story of "success" threw me for a beautiful loop and it was nothing I ever imagined. His thoughts on life and hope for "important things" I assume do not line up with the typical wolves that roam the halls of “the street” and other places alike.
I asked Randy what he hated and loved about his job, and I also quickly found he developed inclusion in his workplace before it was in style.
I wanted to know how hard the wolves bite.
Randy’s kindness is one for the books and probably a potential “award” that could be presented at the annual “Wall Street Financial Guys” award show … There probably wouldn’t be a lot of contenders but that’s not the point.
Randy Robertson, he’s the guy.
And If you have money to invest or need a fun lunch date, I know somebody.
Have you ever met someone from the Royal Family?
I haven’t, but I am assuming I know exactly what it feels like already because it’s how I imagine it felt when I met Ms. Pat for the first time. When I think about Ms. Pat I start to giggle because this lady is the most unpretentious woman I've ever met and yet her resume will impress any man on Wall Street, in Congress or running Hollywood.
(She has been an advisor to the White House for the last 6 Presidents )
Dr. Ware served as a political appointee, consultant, and/or a board/committee member in six U.S. Presidential Administrations: Presidents Jimmy Carter (National Endowment for the Arts); Ronald Regan (National Endowment for the Arts); George H. W. Bush (Director of the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services); Bill Clinton (Collaborative Working Group on HIV/AIDS and Women - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services); George W. Bush (Executive Director of the US Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Health); and Barack Obama (White House Office of Public Engagement- Committee on African Affairs).
Her voice is delicate and full, and the more passionate she gets the more her vocal chords quiver. She is dressed for high tea or a meeting in the Oval Office at all times, sits up straight and will quickly step in to bring order, reverence and purpose to any conversation.
One evening we were chatting about the next step in making an impact in this country on several fronts… She turned to me, in only the way she can, and said, “Haley, you’re my go-to white girl.”
I did a little dance inside and smiled big… a dream come true! Haha! I’ve always wanted to be the “go-to white girl”! I think I’ve been that my whole life, and for Ms. Pat to say it, well.. I just wanna do something amazing !!
Why is Ms. Pat one of my 5?
Well, although she is a devout Christian and does not compromise her beliefs or convictions, her compassion and love for the gay and homosexual community through her works nationally heading up the AIDS and HIV department is so evident and real that she was actually the recipient of the “Hero Award” a few years ago. They presented her the award because, although they know “Ms. Pat doesn’t agree with their lifestyle”, her absolute crazy love for them surpasses all religious, personal, racial, sexual or emotional preferences and has impacted their community in a way only they understand.
"She never let one of us go without the medication or care we needed."
It was an award most people wouldn't even know about , let alone win it.
She adopted me as her granddaughter, so that’s cool :)
What all started as divine appointment turned into a Sunday afternoon post-church lunch, with a waiter that looked identical to Collin Kapernick and America’s coolest pastor.
Now, we’re not talking “leather jacket, beanie, skinny jeans” cool pastor.
We’re talking dreads, a soft tee, ripped jeans and, well… thats it. That’s all you need when it comes to a guy who’s promise to himself was never to pastor a mega-church. Funny when we tell God our plans right?
Daniel Fusco is one of the most humble friends I’ve ever had and his pure passion for just sharing the Gospel of Jesus is contagious.
He won’t tell you that he was invited along with 30 of the most influential pastors in America, to meet about how to deal with and lead the racial divide and tension going on in our country right now, or that he is literally leading thousands of people to truth on his online network jesusisreal.tv
Why is Daniel in my top 5?
Well, if Jesus was living on earth today (which He is, in spirit, I know I know…) physically, I would assume that he’d probably dress similar to Daniel and a lunch with Him would be pretty close to a lunch with Daniel. Except Jesus would probably order fish, He seemed to like fish... I mean according to Bible stories. Haha jk jk.
Daniel Fusco is “the next big thing to watch” in America, if there is anything like that as far as ministries go...
Daniel is the guy.
Back stage at The Capital: Washington D.C.
“Do you live in Nashville?” He asked.
(Wondering who the heck this tall (like 6'3/6'4), slim, longer silver haired man was talking to me,
I chuckled )… “Nope, I don’t.”
“Well, you should probably move to Nashville” he answered back
Leaning over with his hands shaped like he was holding a kaleidoscope and peering into it, his voice got higher in pitch and actually a little convincing,
“Yep, God’s got His eye on Nashville. Something special is happening there.”
Me: “Oh Yeah? What are you, a pastor?” I asked with a grin on my face (still wondering who the heck this guy is randomly talking to me)
Him: “Well, I guess I’d like to consider myself a pastor but I’m not.”
Me: “Ok, then who are you?”
Sighing like he just got found out, “Well… I’m Ricky Skaggs, some people know me for my bluegrass music”…
insert shocked face emoji …. I mean, you may have no idea who Ricky Skaggs is, but let me educate you really quick.
He's one of the most decorated Grammy award Winners in our LIFETIME… (google him for fun)
I don’t know what happened but the next 45 minutes he stood there, with people buzzing all around us, and told me everything God had just told him to say to me. He told me that God was restoring things for my life and that I would sing again.
At one point he asked if he could pray for me.
He laid his hand on my throat and right there in the back stage he asked God to open up my vocal chords to sing His praise again. What he didn't know was that I had lost hope in my gift a while back,
but how divine, the Lord would use a stranger, to restore hope in my life...
Why is Ricky one of my 5?
Well, he told me that for the last however many years, his least favorite part about fame and touring, was how he hated to sign autographs and meet fans, because he just wanted to get out of there and head home to relax.
But he share with me how God changed his heart ...
and now, he loves it because he sees things differently.
He will stay 4 hours, praying and encouraging his fans after a show, whatever, however long it takes.
He knows the WHY behind his mega success and it impacted me in a way I can’t explain.
Ricky Skaggs y’all …
THE COMMON DENOMINATOR:
Each one of these people, at any time, can have "the VIP treatment" at the snap of a finger, access to the best of the best and know the who's who...
But that is not what they are after.
You see, each one of them have tasted success and know the unlimited resource for joy and fulfillment is not found in their contact list or their bank account.
Their identity isn't in the crowds that hear them speak or
the clients that approve of their performance.
It's not in awards or credentials, or the "pent house, VIP, first class" in life.
Through individual experiences, loss, tragedy and life,
God has shown them bigger things and brighter ways.
They have seen the true heart of joy and it's nothing more than the treasures of your heart and where they lie.
It's not all it's cracked up to be and to compromise your JOY and purpose for money is never worth it. When you stay true, stay grounded and stay purposed, God will use you to change the world around you.
Stay focused and humble, and brave like a lion,