Renetta Garrison Tull - Online

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

California Dreaming - Overcoming the Imposter Syndrome

I am currently in California, attending meetings in Palo Alto. My first day caused me to reflect upon all of the things that I always tell my students: "Don't be shy," "Participate in the conversation," and "You belong." It's interesting that even as an adult, I suddenly had a touch of the "Imposter Syndrome"! I was in a meeting outside of my discipline, and other than two colleagues, I was with people whom I didn't know, in a very unfamiliar place, among unfamiliar conversation. So I took a deep breath and since I have been in this position before, having gone to many conferences, I introduced myself and within minutes felt like myself again. I'm thankful for all of the practice throughout the year and for remembering that I'm not supposed to have fear anyway (2Tim 1:7)! The next day, my colleagues repeated told *their* colleagues, "She's our Assistant Dean, she has the money." It was then that I smiled again and remembered that I had a worthy place in the room!

So this message/post is to my students. Sometimes, even when I get up to the mic to speak before a crowd, I still get those little butterflies and hope that my voice won't shake. But even in front of a crowd of thousands, I remember my dreams where I am standing tall and confident, and I'm always grateful that my prayers are answered when my voice comes out and sounds clear as a bell. I may drill certain ways of doing things when I'm teaching you soft skills that must accompany your scholarship - "Stand tall, " "Project your voice," "Give more eye contact," and more. And perhaps when your turn comes, you may not be one of the few, or the only woman, or person of color in the room. Hopefully, it won't matter. But whether it does or not, always remember your training, your worth, and that you are there for a reason, even if God is the only one who knows the purpose.

For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (I Timothy 1:7)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Making Friendship Intentional

This morning I went to to see what topics they had for the day, including the daily Bible verse, and I ran across this article on friendship. The article talks about 4 guys who are friends in college and rather than disperse after graduation, they make a pact or a covenant to remain the best of friends and to keep each other encouraged. In other words, they made a pact to always have one another's back.
I like that.

I move a lot and I travel a lot. So I don't have a chance to do a lot of "girlfriend" things that I used to do back in the day. I miss it sometimes ... the opportunity to stop at a girlfriend's house and just plop down on the couch, kick off the shoes, and just talk. But I appreciate the strong friendships that I have and am grateful for their support.

I have one friend in New Jersey who has been "my girl" since 3rd grade! So we've gone through parent controls, wanting to rebel, trying to keep good grades up, going places where we shouldn't have been, boyfriends and the friends who are boys (there is a difference), and so many other things. Now, as adults, we've had to go through sicknesses and deaths of loved ones, sadnesses that come along with life's challenges, and trying to keep each other encouraged when things just don't go right! We also celebrate when things go well, when accomplishment are made, and when goals are met! I deeply cherish the fact that she can "hear" the unwritten inner thoughts in my texts, and "see" the unwritten expressions when I call and can tell exactly what I'm thinking. It's so funny when we're talking in code in public (since there are some things that you just can't talk about aloud when other people are around) and we always know exactly what is going on.

I have another friend who always gives me "the look" and the "the smile" especially if something isn't going my way. Her eyebrows will raise and she'll say "Ooo KAaay" ... and I know that means "get a grip" or "get yourself together" or "Yeah, right." I laugh just thinking about it. It's always good to have people who will love you and keep you in check.

This makes me think of the verse in the Bible that stresses having "good counsel." Psalm 1 in the King James Version talks about not walking in the counsel of the ungodly. I think that the Amplified Bible's version says it the way that I feel it:
Psalm 1:1
BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.

For me, this means that my friends are going to have my back and they're not going to encourage me to do something that is ungodly. It's a blessing to have friends to remind you to take the high road and to have integrity at all times and in all situations. And even though these may be core values and I think that I would never do something that would be "that bad" anyway, it's good to have friends who pray for you, love you, and determine to be the human warning signs that help you not to slip. It's also a blessing to have friends who go through life with you. Life can be challenging. Unexpected "darts" can come your way. But thank God for friends who will laugh and cry with you, walk or sit with you, and hold your hand or hug you, through the ups and downs.

The best feeling of all is experiencing the happiness of a friend. When she's in love, her engagement, graduation, her wedding, the birth of a child, promotions, celebrations of goals, anniversaries, and more. There's something so special about seeing your friend smile and be genuinely happy. To all of my friends, I love you! To my sisters-in-law who have become sisters and friends, I love you! To all who are reading, may you have friends in your lives who love you too!

Dedicated to all "sista-friends," girlfriends, and acquaintances who will soon become friends.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Those of you who have been reading my blogs know that music really moves me to reflect, contemplate, and even to act. The latest song that I wake up to is Israel Houghton's POWER OF ONE.

Here are the words, they speak for themselves.

What if it all depended on me. To change the world? What if my only responsibility was to change the world. To change the world?

Let me be the ONE. To start a revolution. Let me sing my song to the people of the world. It all begins with. ONE


What kind of love can conquer disease. And change the world. And change the world? What I can do to make poverty history.

And change the world. And change the world. And change the world?

Let me be the ONE. To start a revolution. Let me sing my song to the people of the world. To the children of the world. It all begins with ...

Please don't turn away. Let your voices rise. Put love on display. And make a difference now. I believe you and me. Can make a difference now. Oh oh oh.

It all begins with ONE.

What are your thoughts?

On Amazon:
(Lyrics courtesy of

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Forever Chasing After You

Every now and then, something really strikes me ... about the world, about trying to see the world as God would want me to see it. I was talking to a friend yesterday about a favorite song, Tye Tribbett's "Chasing After You." The lyrics are:

(Lyrics are written by Tribbett, Stevens)

Verse I
Each and everyday I will seek your face
My soul is crying out for more, I want more of you
I won't be satisfied nor content of where I am
So I will apprehend till I'm captured by what I'm after

And I will go from faith to faith
From glory to glory (2x)

And I'll forever be chasing after you
I'll be chasing after you (2x)

Verse II
I will press towards the mark
for the prize and I won't faint
there's one thing I desire
and that's what I'm going for
I can't continue life day by day
growing dry
I need to be with you (Jesus)
I'll seek where you are

And I will go from faith to faith
From glory to glory (4x)

And I'll forever be chasing after you
I'll be chasing after you (7x)

And I will go from faith to faith
From glory to glory (3x)

(I'll never get settled. I'll always want more Jesus! I'll always be chasing after you!)

And I'll forever be chasing after you
I'll be chasing after you.

[Online LYRICS from]

We were particularly talking about the need to "follow hard after God" because life can be hard, life can bring us challenges, and we don't want to put God in a box and just limit Him to being just one thing for us when He has so much more. We used the analogy of being in a room with God, a small room ... and the room is nice, but it's safe ... and yes, God is there. But what if God wants you to go outside, and experience so much more of Him, outside in the full world where he has created everything in the universe, outside where you have the chance to experience his love and power on a much deeper level? In these times, we can't afford to just take a small piece of what God wants for us when He is opening up His arms to give us so much more ... we just have to go there and accept it.

The part of the song that says "I can't continue life, growing dry" really resonates with me. This says to me that sometimes, we just go through life on a daily basis in a "willy-nilly" way ... in other words, we just let things happen to us. But we have a chance to be so much more proactive. "Be intentional" as my pastor says. "Don't miss kairotic moments," he says. Those moments in time that are special when God accomplishes something major, but moments when you have to respond.

There's a mother/son team in our church that does the most moving dance to this song. It really touches your heart because his movements really give you the feeling of running after God himself ... just to be close and be with Him and in His will.

I'm writing this note, far away from my church this morning. I'm on assignment in Puerto Rico and since I am not in church ... and it's Sunday, I decided to review some of my notes from services at my church. I was reading through the notes from our New Year's Eve service, Dec. 31, 2008. This service was titled "God's Time Made Personal" and it talked about quantitative moments in time that pass (Chronos time) and those special times where something is qualitative (Kairos time). But the thing that really hit me was the last scripture reference of the sermon, it was Phillipians 3: 12-14.

Philippians 3:12-14 (King James Version)
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

This was significant to me, because as I was talking to my friend last night (she's in NJ, I'm in Puerto Rico and it was a 2 hour phone call!), I was playing the song from the website. The words in the song talk about how "I will apprehend" and how I will "press toward the mark." And then it was right there again this morning in my scripture review! Verses 12-14 of the 3rd Chapter of Phillipians! When I was a little girl, my Dad told me that if you start hearing the same spiritual and scriptural theme over and over again from different sources, pay attention, because God is talking to you. I always remembered that. So my eyes and ears are perked up now ... because, I didn't mention that the mother/son team danced the dance last Sunday evening, which was a few hours before I got on the plane to come to Puerto Rico. Hmmmm!

So, now I need to look at this Phillipians passage more closely. And while I'm looking, I'm playing the song in the background, even as I write! What does it say in other versions?

Let's investigate the New King James:
Philippians 3:12-14 (New King James Version)
Pressing Toward the Goal 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Hmmm. What about The Amplified?

Philippians 3:12-14 (Amplified Bible)

12 Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.

13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.

How about The Message?

Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message)
Focused on the Goal 12-14
I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.

So that's it! I press, I move forward, I seek Christ ... and the beautiful thing is that He will reach back out to me!! This is so significant for me, especially now. Because while I love working in Puerto Rico right now, I (even as an adult) am missing home. So God is here ... I chase after Him, and He'll reach out to me. That's such a comfort. But I can't stop. I have to keep on going. I have to move forward to seek the things that God wants me to seek, to seek HIM personally ... with a fervent passion. So as I am realizing that God is speaking, and wiping tears, I say "Thank you Lord, for reaching back to me."