Breaking the Normal Life Mentality

I naturally abandoned my normal life mentality when I realized my WOW Factor created opportunities to be used by God.

Blog Sub-Category: Breaking Cycles & Comfort Zones
Part 2 of My Struggle to Life-Work Balance Series
5 minute read

Growing up, I dreamed of having a normal life. I wanted a regular job, a regular family, and live a comfortable life. One of the reasons I chose to study engineering was because I knew a four-year degree would be a sufficient amount of schooling to stay on track to this comfortable lifestyle. Little did I know, deciding to become an engineer was the first step down an irregular path.

Shortly after I began college, I realized I had a WOW Factor. I would introduce myself to someone and they’ll go ‘WOW, you’re an engineer!?’ or ‘WOW, you just moved to a new state without knowing anyone!?’ or ‘WOW, you went through THAT and still have joy!?’. In other words, it’s when people applaud me for doing something out of the ordinary. However, it’s easy to get distracted by the applauds of people (and my own low expectations) and forget I’m living to please God. I can’t just sit around comfortable abusing my WOW Factor. When I realized my WOW Factor created opportunities to be used by God, I naturally abandoned my normal life mentality.

High School-To-College-To-Industry-To-40YearsOfWork-To-Retirement Pipeline

I’ll just refer to this as the Normal Life Pipeline. As an African-American student leader, the School-To-Prison (S2P) Pipeline was the only pipeline I was concerned about avoiding. However, the fear of entering the S2P pipeline (and/or reinforcing the negative statistics) scared me into thinking the Normal Life Pipeline was #goals. Now don’t get me wrong, I recognize and I’m thankful for, Affirmation Action systems that help keep the youth out of jail and off the streets. We actually need more of these programs, but they are not sufficient alone to achieve holistic Life-Work balance. Affirmative Action systems highlight what a successful life could look like for me and typically promote the Normal Life Pipeline to get there.

After a ton of trips, falls, and detours along this ideal path, I realized I was happy living life my own way and at my own pace. I spent 3 years in community college. I spent an extra year completing my bachelor’s degree so I could co-op. I also took a 15-month break from engineering after college. Now I’m going into full-time ministry, prepared to live the rest of my life in purpose, and concerned about the legacy I will leave. I call this my WOW Factor-To-WOW Factor Pipeline. #Goals

Office Day Job

I used to LOVE working in an office. Normal office jobs made me feel important and like my life was in order. They aligned with the idea that I needed to compartmentalize my life. My home, mind, spirit, relationships, etc. could all be a hot mess; but when I put on my suit, heels, and go to work, I suddenly have my life together. This past year, I kept my hair short, wore little to no make-up or jewelry for this very reason. I knew I was preparing for an important engineering career that would require me to look the part. Now I desire to feel the part, before looking the part.

Work 8 Hours a Day, 40 Hours a Week

Structured, full-time work is as normal as it gets in this society. I began to think outside the box in this area when I started brainstorming work I could do from home while raising kids. When I first moved to LA, I lived with entrepreneurs who also had a networking marketing business. This helped me redefined my idea of job security by understanding the benefits of having multiple streams of passive and residual income.

Love, Marriage, Kids

WHERE?? lol

When I was younger, I thought I was going to start having my 5+ kids at age 22! hahahahaha I had to learn that I couldn’t build a family until I built myself! I’m grateful for my desire to start a family young because it pushed me to find my purpose young. Now that I’ve got it, I’m willing to wait on my purposeful family that will add more WOWs to my WOW Factor life.

God has given me so much peace and confidence about my mission that discomfort feels comfortable and abnormal feels normal. My WOW Factor allows my extraordinary God to use me in extraordinary ways. Everyone reading this has a WOW Factor. I encourage you to identify it and stop thinking you have to live a normal life! Let me know what your WOW Factor is and how you are NOT abusing it. Send me an email, leave a comment, or take the conversation to social media (Twitter or IG) with #UCWOWFactor and tag me @UCUnfiltered!

My Prayer

“Father, I know you are a WOW God and nothing normal is about you. Thank you for wanting to do extraordinary things through me on Earth. After you created the heaven and earth, you probably thought WOW.1 After you thought of every person, you probably said WOW.2 Give me the wisdom and confidence to use my WOW factor for your glory. I pray that you reveal each person’s WOW factor and they have the strength to live outside of normal. I’m forever in awe of your power. Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog! Next, I’ll be discussing how I broke the mentality of what work looks like.

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Meredith Kaltenecker, blog editor

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Genesis: 2:1-2]
2. [Jeremiah 29:11]

Misunderstanding Value In The Workplace

If I go to work without confidently knowing my self-worth, I may believe my worth is in my work.

Blog Sub-Category: Breaking Cycles
Part 1 of My Struggle to Life-Work Balance Series
6 minute read

The concept of value (which I will occasionally interchange with worth) is the most important yet complicated part of this series. Even though this was one of the last things I completely understood, I hope it’s not for my readers.

About two years ago I received my first full-time civil engineering offer. My title was Nuclear Engineer II and my salary was more than my mother makes as a registered nurse with 16 years experience. I knew when I received the offer I wasn’t going to take it. However, I took several days to let it soak in. I called my parents, posted on social media, and even asked school advisers if I should negotiate the offer. That week I felt more important and valuable than I ever had before. That week I clearly confused my work-value with my self-value.


When I think of my work-value (how much I’m worth in the workplace), some things that come to mind are my resume, salary, net worth, position, and power. These are some tools that people use to identify and measure my work-value. Work-value is normally contingent upon what work a person does and the demand of said work. Clearly, Beyonce has a higher work-value than I do.


The self-value I’m talking about has nothing to do with my work-value. As I searched for universally accepted tools to identify self-worth, the best thing I could come up with are core values. Core values are great and I believe every person and business should have them. Personally, they are my favorite discussion topic during an interview. However, I know my self-value goes even deeper than my core values.

If I go to work without confidently knowing my self-worth, I may believe my worth is in my work.

To attain Life-Work balance, I had to not only understand both my self-value and work-value, I couldn’t confuse the two like I did so easily in college. Here are..

3 Things That Helped Me Understand My Value In The Workplace

1. My self-value is rooted in Christ

My self-value stems from understanding my identity in Christ, not engineering. Since engineering is a valuable skill, I have to renew my mind daily to remember it is only part of my unique qualifications. Engineering is a gift that gives me unique opportunities to be used by Christ.1 God helped me understand this through a sermon at One Church Los Angeles called: You Are Not Your Gift.2

Even though I knew God, I didn’t fully value myself like God values me. I was living with identity issues mainly because I was uncertain how my design (i.e. my race, gender, and upbringing) was a part of my purpose. I will discuss how I came to understand my self-value as I cover more Unique Design blogs. For now, I will reference some material below that significantly helped me identify my worth in Christ.3,4

2. Pay doesn’t equal value and respect

As a woman entering an industry dominated by men, it’s easy for me to jump on the feminism bandwagon and demand equal pay as men. However, as I understand my value more, demanding equal pay isn’t the approach I want someone else to value me. In my intro blog, do you remember what I said about the work environment conducive to personal success?  “.. an environment where I am valued and respected for who I am.” Most feminism would just slap a period after valued and demand a promotion/pay increase. Not me. I believe God created all mankind in His image and likeness and he values every person on earth the same.5 I’m interested in (or creating) work environments that respect and value each person for who they are. I believe that the companies that understand and respect people for their differences, will naturally convert that value to wages appropriately. I have no interest in working for a company that is forced to like me. I wouldn’t want a husband or serve a God who is forced to love me. So I’m not settling in the workplace either.

3. My work-value is based off my resume

In order to get my work-value right, not only does an employer need to respect me, they also must consider my skills and experience. Most employers won’t pay me my true work-value, but rather the value of the work they employ me to do. From a business standpoint, I get that. However, as I move through my career I must understand what I’ve learned from my experiences and be able to communicate that and potential value to an employer.

No one taught me work-value better than the CEO of a small project management company I met in Los Angeles at a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) event. She is an African-American business owner, wife, and mother who desires to honor God in every aspect of life. She instantly became a role model. She temporarily hired me for two separate projects; both only lasted a few weeks. All she needed me to do was organize and format information in Microsoft Office and ensure she addressed all the proposal requirements. This woman paid me like an engineer to basically be her assistant. When she sent me the offer letter, I thought for sure she made a mistake. She did not. She made it very clear to me that since I had a degree in engineering, and she wanted to hire me, she was going to pay me what I was worth (not what the job was worth). Mind blown.

My Prayer

“Father God, please help me as I strive to live out my mission to end cycles of poverty through empowerment, embracement, exposure, and service. I pray this blog empowers readers to know, love and be themselves in the workplace. God help us value ourselves like you value us. Give us the wisdom to know how our experiences qualify us for other opportunities. Thank you for setting the standard on love and giving us the choice to love you with our whole hearts. Thank you for knowing and loving us before we even knew and loved ourselves. I’m forever in awe of who You are. Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog! The next part of my life-work balance series will be published next Thursday (1/5/17). Wishing you a Happy New Year and prosperous 2017!

  • Follow me on social media @UCUnfiltered
  • Browse my website and read my first two blogs:
  • An awesome way to join/support my mission is to become a Blog Review Crew member! Click here for more information and how to sign up.

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Meredith Kaltenecker, blog editor

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Proverbs 18:16]
5. [Genesis 1:27]

Self-Value References

2. [You Are Not Your Gift by Ebenezer Quaye]
3. [Joyce Meyers’s The Confident Woman Devotional]
4. [A Woman’s Worth by Joshua Eze]

Series Intro: My Struggle To Life-Work Balance

Screenshot 2016-12-13 at 5.50.26 PM.png
I hope I don’t get in trouble for this meme lol

Blog Sub-Category: Breaking Cycles

I have lived in LA for 15 months and I seemingly have nothing to show for it. I haven’t been ‘stackin’ my paper’, networking with celebrities, partying my 20s away, etc. Instead, I’ve been focusing on my personal growth and confronting my strongholds. This is the first time in my life my relationship with Christ has truly been my number one priority. God has blessed me tremendously because of it by revealing to me why I was created.

I worked SO hard to understand and love who I am that I refuse to not be that person every day! I’m going to love, laugh, share (not force) my faith, organize, problem solve, etc. because these are the things that make me ME! If I can’t be myself at work, where I spend over a third of my waking hours, how can I truly prosper in life? God promises me in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” While standing on that promise, I’m going to share with you what ultimately motivated me to create this blog: my struggle to work-life balance. However, I’ve more appropriately renamed it: Life-Work Balance (meaning My Life At Work).

Yup, I want to make it crystal clear moving forward that MY LIFE and personal success will always come before MY WORK and professional success. They aren’t even on the same level. My job is only a part of my life. So while my Life is my personal ministry (which is being developed through this website), my internship with Engineering Ministries International (EMI) is my Work during this season. EMI will bring the work balance to my Life. With EMI I can use my current skills to serve while I’m developing skills that are useful for my life. I know God called me to work with EMI because it is an environment uniquely designed for me to personally and professionally succeed.

I believe that personal success in the workplace is when I can confidently love myself and be myself in an environment where I am valued and respected for who I am.

Understanding how to value my personal success in the workplace was a long and painful process. Therefore, this series will contain the following cycles (not necessarily in this order) that I had to mentally break through in order to reach personal success in the workplace and attain Life-Work balance. As I discuss each topic, I will update this list with the corresponding blog link.

Broken Cycles

  1. Misunderstanding value in the workplace.
  2. Breaking the normal life mentality.
  3. The idea of what work has to look like.
  4. The idea that I have to be whatever my boss wants.
  5. The idea that happiness, joy, respect, etc. is not required in the workplace.
  6. The idea that Work-Life Balance, Affirmative Action, etc. are sufficient alone.
  7. Thinking I have to prove something/ I owe someone something.
  8. The general understanding of what success is.
  9. Thinking I have to learn from or follow the path of other ‘successful’ people.
  10. The best way to help people is to first ‘make it’.

These ideals were often reinforced by others around me. As I identified and attempted to break through each cycle, the spirit of the enemy(Satan), kept telling me I was a loser, weird, stupid, difficult, etc. I broke through about three of my cycles before I had a mental breakdown from riding the fence. I was trying to professionally succeed before I was personally successful. I was trying to ‘fake it until I made it’ and ended up falling flat on my face! BUT GOD! That low point was exactly one year before God called me to this ministry. Now I am stronger, wiser, and throughout the next several weeks I will boldly share how I overcame these mental hurdles.

My Prayer

“Father, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to focus on you and not worry about the things of this world.1 You have shown me every day this past year that I have NOTHING to worry about. You are Jehovah Jireh (my provider) and consistently provides everything I need.2 You are Jehovah Shalom (my Prince of Peace) and provides comfort in the midst of discomfort.3 You are Jehovah Rapha (my healer) who is able to heal every emotional and mental state that doesn’t reflect who you are.4 I am forever in awe of your power and grace. Amen.”

Thanks for reading my blog!! A new part of this series will be posted every Thursday! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and I hope you remember that God loves you!

Special thanks to Blog Review Crew member: Meredith Kaltenecker, blog editor

With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤

Bible References

1. [Matthew 6:33]
2. [Philippians 4:19]
3. [Isaiah 9:6]
4. [Psalm 73:26]

Why I Ugly Cry

*Now, I know this is kind of lengthy; but considering that my blog is called Ugly Cry Unfiltered I believe it’s justified ^_^.

My Ugly Cry:

“Is the result of an emotional equilibrium balancing pain and joy. I remember my past experiences while simultaneously knowing that they equipped me for a greater purpose still to come.”

If you would’ve looked at my life in January of 2015, you probably would’ve said I was on the path to, what society deems as, ‘success’. I was a 24-year-old black Christian female from Buffalo, NY. I was getting ready to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and become a regional leader for a national engineering organization. I was considering a full-time position at a nuclear power plant with the title: Nuclear Engineer II. I was considering attending graduate school for my MBA or structural engineering. It looked like all my dreams were coming true and I was about to live ‘the good life’. A life many people from my background don’t even imagine living. Right out of college I was going to have a great job, do meaningful work, have status, and more money than I had ideas to do with it. Everyone would classify me as a good role model and positive statistic just based on my resume. I should’ve been happy. I should’ve at least been content. Someone is reading this confused why I’m implying I wasn’t.

While everything looked great on my surface, I was dying on the inside. I began to realize that during the last several years, I struggled through two separate battles. One battle was to get the education to qualify for a ‘successful’ life. However, I want to discuss my personal battle. The battle to be me. This battle was harder and resulted in many more failures. This battle challenged my morals, character, integrity, fears, hopes, dreams, insecurities, strengths, weaknesses, etc., like never before. Two years ago I began to realize two things about these struggles that ultimately moved me to act.

  1. If I was going to truly be happy in life, my personal battle had to be more important to me than my professional battle.
  2. Secondly, there was almost a direct correlation between both battles. The more I won professionally, the more I struggled personally.

The path to ‘success’ I was on would have led to money, power, status and held my soul for ransom. The world reminds me daily that being black, even with my education, may get me killed. The world reminds me daily that because I’m a woman, even with my education, I still may not receive the value and respect a man does. The world reminds me daily that because I needed and benefited from affirmative action, I better focus on winning my professional battle. The world reminds me daily that my Godly heart may hinder my ascension up the corporate ladder. I realized that I was going to always struggle to personally succeed if I really wanted to diversify and unite the world through corporate America. I began to question everything I was told, thought I knew and thought I wanted in life.

  • Why do I have to sacrifice my personal success to excel professionally?
  • Do I have to compartmentalize my life?
  • If I choose to honor God with the money I make, does it matter if I honor God while making the money?
  • As an entry level professional, do I really have to settle for any job I can get?
  • What if I’m challenged on my job to do something God wouldn’t be pleased with?

God revealed a lot of these answers to me the summer after I graduated. My desire to fully understand what my purpose in life prior to entering the work field was so strong, that I intentionally positioned myself to receive, understand and walk in my purpose. I disconnected from my norm and began to seek God through teachings and situations that would force me to grow. This looked like: relocating to Los Angeles, finding flexible employment, praying for transformation through every sermon/encounter with God, etc. While in LA, I asked questions I never knew I needed answers to.

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What does success mean to me?
  • Why am I the way that I am?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • Is Engineering Ministries International’s (EMI) mission my mission?

Believe it or not, God answered all these questions and a lot more. I’ll be interning for EMI as a Civil Engineer in their Colorado Springs, CO office starting January, 2017. To support my missional work click here. I’ll spend 2-weeks during the internship in Zambia, Southern Africa. God also gave me my own specific purpose and mission in life. A mission I’m uniquely designed and qualified for. A mission to help end cycles of poverty through service, empowerment, embracement, and exposure while armed with God’s love and wisdom. God revealed all this while at the 2016 EMI conference through a series of ugly cries. No seriously, my face was scary and tears soaked my face at times. My ugly cry is the result of an emotional equilibrium in my body. I remember my past experiences while simultaneously knowing that they equipped me for a greater purpose still to come. I was ugly crying so hard, that the tears looked like stripes on my face. While admiring my ugliness, God reminded me that ‘By His stripes, we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus’ death is a happy ugly cry effect! Jesus didn’t die for Himself, He died for our sins. However, we can rejoice because we are no longer slaves to sin! Thank you Jesus! God promised to give me strength and confidence to live out my mission every day. My Ugly Cry bracelet (which is intentionally brown like my skin) reminds me of that promise and I wear it every day.

So I am here, Ugly Crying with confidence each day as I live out the many promises of God. I invite you to explore my website and join my mission to help end cycles of poverty while armed with God’s love and wisdom.

With God’s Love,

Jamara Beard ❤