I looked at my kids and told them I have no idea what I’m doing…

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As a parent, I’m a yeller. Not by choice, but a quality I inherited from both of my parents. I always told myself when I had children, I wouldn’t do that, because I know how yelling made me feel, but it just happened. What’s interesting is even while I’m fussing my body will tell me to “calm down.” My voice cracks or I start coughing or just feel tired. But the yelling happens again.

Lately, there has been a lot of hostility within our home. The three of us have noticed it, but we didn’t know exactly how to fix it, and my patience was too thin to sit down and talk about it. So, things escalated.

During service today, we went up for prayer, and as usual, this woman of God hit every nail on the head with her prayer, and I didn’t say a word! This is another way I know that God is real! She prayed for our relationship as mother and daughters, our communication, our intentions and interactions with one another. She even spoke words to the girls that just brought me to tears. I’m tearing up now just thinking about it. Y’all God is real, and He is good!

When we left, we had an errand to run, but we didn’t get out of the car. We sat and talked. And I did something I know some mothers before myself wouldn’t dare do with their young children. I explained, apologized, and asked for their forgiveness. I explained my reasoning. Why it’s important that they take care of their chores, Why it seems like I’m so hard on them and why I created the process that I created for our home. I gave them an opportunity to speak and share their feelings, understandings, and misconceptions. And I learned that my methods weren’t effective because they felt like they were bad kids, or that I didn’t want to be around them anymore. They were emotionally breaking down and that showed in their actions, but I saw it as unexplainable defiance.

I’m learning that it’s of the utmost importance to allow children to express themselves freely without concern of being in trouble if what they say doesn’t please you. Our charge as parents is to raise them to be successful (whatever successful looks like to them) adults. Not to simply follow orders from those before them, but to help them understand the reason certain things are important and why they should make them habits and to think for themselves. It’s important to allow them to gather their thoughts and not feel pressured that they’re not talking fast enough, or they aren’t eloquent in their speech. They are children and may not know exactly what they are feeling, so it may take some additional effort on your part, or probing to help them better explain, but it’s necessary.

I had to tell them, because they may not have grasped, this is my first rodeo. I haven’t been a parent before, and I haven’t had the responsibility of raising pre-teens. What’s even a little more challenging is I’m a single mom, so I get to be the disciplinarian and the nurturer. My girls are twins and have very different personalities, so learning what I can say to one, and what I shouldn’t say to the other also has its challenges. On top of balancing responsibilities that span outside of the home. And I’m not going to always do things right, but I’m willing to learn.

We even talked about their punishments and how they prefer to receive constructive criticism. And we came to some agreements. The goal is to have a harmonious home. This should be our family’s place of solitude and peace, and as of late it has been the exact opposite, but at the end of the day, we love each other. We want each other to grow and be the best they can be, so we’re willing to work on it.

I’m making a commitment to meditate on Ephesians 6:4 NLT

“Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”

I want my children to grow up and be great people. I want them to want to call and visit me while they’re away. I want them to bring my grandchildren to see me. I want them to consider me a friend as they grow older. This won’t happen if my anger or control push them away. A change needs to occur in all of us, and I believe today was a springboard to an even more amazing relationship. We bind poor maternal relationships in the name of Jesus! Amen!

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The Thin Line Between Preparation and Infatuation (Idolatry)

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As the idea for this blog initially came to me, I thought it was going to be an extremely long, detailed explanation of how to determine whether your preparation was becoming an idol in your life. After reading more about pursuing God whole heartedly, that idea changed pretty significantly. 

Just to ensure we’re clear, an idol is:

1. an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.
2. any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion (Dictionary.com)

Is it just me, or does it seem like when you’re single, EVERYONE else is in a relationship or getting married? UGH!
In these times it’s easy to diligently read the articles like: “How to get a man and keep him” or “Why aren’t you getting asked out?” or “10 ways to make him love you”…
The problem with these articles is they usually focus on how you should dress, assert yourself, or even change who you are to be noticed and accepted. I have not seen one of these get-yourself-a-date-quick messages talk about staying in your purpose and being patient.
We have to remember, we are believers in a sin-filled world. Most of what we see on the newsstands does not glorify the God we serve. While it’s convenient to pick up a magazine while we’re standing in the checkout line, as my previous post depicts, “Not Everything Is Beneficial.” We have to understand the perspective of the article is not for someone striving to live more like Christ. 
Now for the juicy part…
How to determine whether your preparation has become an idol.
1. If you are spending more time reading pre-marital or marriage material, sitting with married people asking questions about how they knew their spouse was “the one,” or dreaming about/ planning your wedding day (and night), than you are reading the Word, serving, and being in God’s presence, it’s become an idol.
That’s it!
Matthew 6:19-24 talks about storing your treasure in heaven. By being infatuated with marriage, we are placing our hope in a union that may not be in God’s will for our lives (I know that’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth.)
What happens if we spend most of our time focused on marriage, and how to be married, but it never happens or happens a lot later in life than we thought it would? We would have used valuable time that we could have been serving God, and being His hands and feet, in feelings of discontentment because we didn’t have something we wanted. Being anxious about something that was never guaranteed to us. 
After storing your treasures in heaven, Matthew 6:25-34 talks about not being anxious. The passage ends with this:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Vs. 33-34 ESV).
I truly believe the more we seek Him, the more our thoughts and desires line up with the plan God has for our lives. 
This concept is not just for the singles looking for marriage, but for anyone who is spending more time focused on their wants and dreams, than God Himself. Even if God has given you an idea, you have to intentionally stay connected to Him in order to know which way He wants you to go next. It is easy to get consumed in executing the vision, but without God, the vision can easily sway from what He wants, to what you want.

If we believe the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), then our joy is in, and comes from, Him. Not a relationship nor marriage (or whatever else we’re hoping for.)
Be encouraged.

what’s wrong with me?!?

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I was having a conversation with one of my sister-friends, and I was talking about how someone I met had so much potential, but then he just fell off the radar. I was disappointed because I liked a lot of the qualities he had and we had several things in common. For the life of me though, I couldn’t figure out why I was having to guess whether he was interested. His actions and his words were polar opposites!

So in our girl’s talk I continued with, “I can’t help but think, what’s wrong with me?!? But I know there isn’t anything THAT wrong, I’m not crazy. I have a lot to offer!”

After we talked a little about it and got off the phone, I had to encourage myself just a little more, and I did so in four steps!

Step 1: 

There is nothing wrong with you because you’re single!!!

Singleness is not a curse!

The longer we think of singleness as being a curse, the longer we will focus on a desire that God has chosen not to fulfill yet. God tells us, He knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11), just because we don’t know every step of His plan does not mean that our desires have gone unnoticed.

Step 2:

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”

Are y’all ready? I’m calling this step the “Ruby Principle”

Just because someone takes a ruby to the pawn shop because they needed something the ruby wasn’t providing at that moment, doesn’t mean the ruby is any less valuable.

It means the person who owned the ruby didn’t see the long-term value in what they had. They needed something quick. They couldn’t see the value of the gem because they were focused on what it didn’t give them at that very moment.

Your worth will not diminish simply because someone doesn’t see it. 

Step 3:

What is your purpose?

We are each on this journey to fulfill the purpose (or as I tell the kids at church, the job) that God has given us. That should be our number one priority. In that process, we are going to impact lives, save souls for Christ, show love to those who are feeling unloved, and be Christ’s hands and feet! Some of us have put our whole lives on hold waiting to “do” life with a mate. When that wasn’t God’s intention for us. He never said, “Women, you can’t live up to your purpose without a husband.” Or “Men, you’ll definitely need your helpmate to fulfill your calling, so don’t even try until you find her.”

Are you occupying yourself in the Lord?

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:32-34 says, “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lordʼs affairs—how he can please the Lord… An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lordʼs affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.”

I don’t know about you, but my purpose has me really busy right now… that’s not including my girls and what they have going on, do I really even have the time to entertain someone?

Step 4:

Scripture. 

Reading God’s promises to us. His word that never changes. 

If you think you’ve never gotten a sweet note from an admirer, you’re wrong, the Bible is the sweetest letter you’ll ever read. And although it was transcribed by people, it is from God himself, and unlike man, God will never let you down. 

Here are some scriptures I went to for encouragement:

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter‬ ‭3:8-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:3-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Just to name a few. 

God knows what He’s doing. For those who desire to be married, singleness is a situation where trusting Him and His plan are of the utmost importance. Especially considering “desperate times call for desperate measures.” You’re not desperate because you’re single, that leads to acting in ways that you normally wouldn’t to get attention, or get someone to stay. This goes back to the “Ruby Principle.” It just takes being reminded some times, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Be strong. Be focused and as always,

Be encouraged.

Fear and Afflictions

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Interestingly enough I have a fear of being alone. Those closest to me may not have ever heard me say that, but I’m sure they can think back to instances where that fear was apparent although unspoken. 
The fear of being alone has lead to unhealthy relationships, unaccomplished goals, and a lot of emotional pain.

In the attempt to keep people around me, some times I wouldn’t be my authentic self. I’d change who I was, or I’d do what was necessary to appease those that were easily offended as to keep them around. I would go above and beyond for them, attempting to prove myself as the worthy friend or girlfriend they should hold on to.

But the reality is, everybody doesn’t share my fear. They aren’t worried about being alone, so they are not going to go to the lengths that I would in order to keep me around. They weren’t afraid of losing me like I was them. Same goes for dating relationships. They were not concerned about me leaving them. I was the one concerned about them leaving me, no matter how bad the relationship was.

Needless to say I’ve struggled, and recently has been no exception.

I was reminded of the story of Job this morning. 

As afflicted as this man was, He never cursed God and he kept his faith! Even when his wife told him to just curse God and die (Job 2:9).

He lost EVERYTHING! His wealth. All ten of his children at once. EVERYTHING! And although his wife was there physically, she wasn’t there in the way he needed at that moment.

Through it all, Job rejoiced while in mourning, “…Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart…” Job 1:21 NIV

Now let’s look at this, naked doesn’t just mean with no clothing, but alone. Even my twins were born separately 😳…

In his time of intense suffering, Job didn’t reach out to his friends crying and looking for help, advice or comfort. He didn’t call his pastor, the elders of the church, or the prayer line. 

He praised God!!

He kept his faith. 

“…The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 NIV

Our desire should be to be like Job. Full of faith in all circumstances believing that “…all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬. Even if that means being alone for a while. 

We (and by we, I’m talking to myself too) need to stop filling voids in life with people, and allow God to fill those voids the right way. We need to trust Him, because He loves us and knows exactly what we need (see Psalm 139:1-18.)

We need to understand that everyone is not meant to travel our whole life journey with us. We will have to let some people go in order to fulfill our purpose in life (and did God even say we were supposed to be friends in the first place?)

As alone as Job must have felt in this situation, he still had a desire to praise God in his afflictions. Simply, he knew where his help came from (Psalm 121:1-2).

When you’re feeling alone, be cautious when running to your friends for comfort, understanding or a shoulder to cry on. They are human. Eventually, they will let you down. And oftentimes it’s when you feel you need them the most. Run to God. Humbly crawl to Him like the woman with the issue of blood (see Mark 5:25-34.)

He will be your comfort. He will give you understanding. He will be the most comfortable set of arms to rest in as you cry to Him. And most importantly, He will direct you down the RIGHT path to help you get through your situation. 

The Bible also tells us in 1 John 4:18, that perfect love casts out fear! We cannot feel that perfect love that only God can give to us if our relationship with Him isn’t solid. 

Just like relationships in the natural, they take time and dedication. Are you dedicated to strengthening your relationship with God in order to cast out your fears?

Be encouraged.

The Healing Process

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I watched a video of a friend who gave this revelation:He’s currently going through chemotherapy and his doctor asked him if he wanted to store his sperm. When he asked his doctor why, he was told that  after chemo, if he impregnates a woman, the baby would likely have some type of disability or even die.

Chemotherapy is intended to heal someone from cancer. It’s a process that’s very draining, tiring, some times frustrating, yet significantly life changing. 

It’s intended to be a good thing, because it’s battling the sickness within you, but while you’re going through it, it’s rough.

Just like the healing process we have to go through when we’ve been hurt, especially after a break up. 

We have to go through this process to be healed, but it hurts. We often times have to revisit areas where we were betrayed, lied to, cheated on, or physically hurt. We also have to revisit times where we acted out of character by things we may have said or done. It’s tiring because in those times we cry endlessly. We have to go deep into our past to see why we accepted the relationship, or why we continue to date the same person just with a different face. But the entire process is life changing, and we’re usually never the same after.

If we do not acknowledge and be intentional about the healing process, we will produce something damaged.

After one of my break ups, God clearly told me this man wasn’t my Adam. But I loved him very much. I didn’t want to accept that. Regretting that I didn’t take him back, I would go back and forth to him thinking I messed up. My lack of acceptance of God’s “No” ended up causing him heartache because I would come back, we’d start to reconsider a relationship, and then I’d feel the conviction of going against God, and I’d turn away from him again. 

I needed healing, but I was allowing my feelings to convince me that I was going to be lonely, that I would never be with someone who treated as well as he did. 

In the process of me seeking God for healing and battling my mind, I produced something damaged… him. I hurt him repeatedly in the process because I was going through a period where I needed to be alone, but I didn’t want to be. I never intended to hurt him, but the popular saying is true, “Hurt people, hurt people.”

Not allowing ourselves to heal takes a huge affect on not only us, but those we interact with mentally, and makes all of us question our value:

Why didn’t they stay?

Am I not good enough?

What could I have done to make them stay?

The thing you must ask yourself is: was I heathy entering this relationship? Was he/ she healthy? As much as we probably don’t want to admit it because they’re a cute face, if someone just got out of a relationship, they’re not healthy.

A few other questions to consider:

Were you seeking God BEFORE entering that relationship? Were you paying attention to red flags early on? Were you knowledgable about what you wanted? Or did you acknowledge what you needed, and did they possess those qualities? Were you asking him/ her the right questions to get to know them? Did you honor God in your relationship? Did you stay sexually pure?

Answering no to any of those questions is setting your relationship on a rocky foundation. And when you’re solely searching for validation, affirmation or companionship, that foundation is bound to crumble.

Stepping aside to heal doesn’t mean you’re not capable of being in a successful relationship. It does mean that you want a relationship that will last, not just something temporary that feels good. You’re concerned about your well-being, and the other person who is involved. 

Store your heart away for some time as God takes you through the necessary therapy to be fully restored.

Be encouraged.

Your impatience WILL NOT intimidate God!

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Revised: October 2016

It has been a little while since I’ve posted, and for good reason. I got a job!!! Yes on top of being a mother, student, volunteer, and working my own business – I got a job. It is a huge blessing!

Anyway, I have had this topic on my plate for a little while, and it is about time I share it with you all!

When this came to me I had to laugh at myself (it is truly the best medicine, if you’ve never done it you have to try… you won’t be disappointed.) There have been countless times I’ve tried to do what I thought was best for me and each time I fell flat on my face!

Why is that so funny?

It’s funny because we do it to ourselves TIME AND TIME AGAIN! We rush into things God never said we are ready for and then wonder why our hearts end up hurt in the end. Uh… we weren’t supposed to be in that position anyway! HELLO!

How many times have you rushed God? Or said, “Ok God, I’m going to do [insert activity here] now, and I’m expecting you to bless it because it’s what I want.”

✋🏾 Yes, I am guilty.

If God’s plan was for you to be single until your mid 30s, He doesn’t care if you see someone attractive and strike up a conversation at 23 and think it’s going to change His plan for you because you have good conversation.

Just because the relationship was smooth, and you didn’t have any major issues doesn’t mean that person is meant to be your spouse.

I strongly believe that we each know, deep in our hearts if the person we are dating is meant to be our spouse. If they aren’t, there’s a little uneasiness about us, we tend to feel unsure, or that there’s something missing. Ignoring those feelings because your “biological clock” (that doesn’t exist by the way) is ticking, is impatience.

The Bible says in Psalms 90:10, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; …” Now understanding that with sin in the world, that time is not guaranteed to us. But we were built to live long lives (you must take care of your body though – eating healthy, exercising, all of that good stuff!) Abraham and Sarah had their first child when they were 100 and 90, respectively. The babysitter that cared for me when I was a child had her son at 45. If you’re anxious about having children and feel it cannot happen for you unless you’re married by the time you’re 30, you have officially placed a limit on God.

For the record, YOU CANNOT LIMIT THE LIMITLESS!

God is not man, therefore He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19) AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, He CAN do the impossible! The unimaginable! The extraordinary!

If He could bless Abraham and Sarah, even after their disobedience, surely He can bless you too and give you the desires of your heart.

One thing I find extremely interesting; what if God’s plan was for you to have [insert your desire here] by now, but because you were so caught up in your “biological clock” and making things happen for yourself (because God wasn’t working fast enough for you) YOU have now postponed or even canceled the plan God had for you… I really want you to think about that.

I’ve thought about it.

That relationship you’re holding onto because you’re afraid to be “lonely”, that job you haven’t left yet because you “can’t afford that pay cut”, that grudge you haven’t let go of because “they were in the wrong”…

God is God… you are human…

Unlike your co-workers, children, family, friends – you CANNOT intimidate Him! Stop trying! All you are doing is hurting yourself. Delaying the blessings that God wants you to have! He doesn’t want to see His precious children hurting, lonely and lost. We first need to be complete in Him, THEN He can start pouring out our desires.

It takes work, it takes prayer, it takes God to make this transformation in your life. Read the love story He wrote for us (the Bible), learn it so you can meditate on it and remind yourself in those troubling times, and most importantly LIVE IT!

If you’re following God in everything you do, you will be in the right place at the right time in order to receive the blessings He has intended for you.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Be encouraged.

Surface Christians

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Generally when we initially come to Christ we make a significant attempt to change our outside appearance (many times based on the awkward looks we get from other church members), but what happens when we aren’t just as concerned about what’s happening inside of us?

The bible tells us we wrestle not with the flesh, but with powers and principalities (Ephesians 6:12).

If we are fighting daily battles with forces beyond our flesh, how can we survive if we’re only manicuring our flesh, and not getting in connection with those powers within to strengthening our inner man?

Yes, we see you every Sunday at church. You’re dressed to impress and you’re lifting your hands in worship during praise. You may even have a tattered bible with notes written in various colors that you’ve taken during different services, but that does NOT exclude you from spiritual warfare!

I can say these things because this was me. I would attend church, even serve in different capacities, but my heart remained wicked. My inner man remained unchanged. I was still the same selfish, lustful, angry person I was without Christ. Although I dressed modestly and even changed the type of music I listened to, I was looking very “Christian.” But inside I was so weak! I would crumble during spiritual attacks like a dried glob of mud in your hand. It didn’t take much pressure for me to fall apart. 

Surface Christians are more concerned about how they appear to other people-in the natural… but what about how they appear in the spiritual realm? 

This could’ve been just me, but how often do we hear a scripture during a sermon, highlight it, and never go back to read more and really understand, and accept, what’s written? 

In an impromptu bible study with one of my sisters, as she’s reading, I’m looking at my bible thinking, “All of this is highlighted, I should know this!” But it was as though I had never heard those words a day in my life! I was shocked, amazed and appalled all at the same time because I had never just sat and read it for myself to gain a full understanding of what this Christ-like life is all about! 

Again, I had been living on the surface! 

No wonder I felt weak… I was! There is so much power in the Word, that so many of us miss because we are not diving deeper. My reason for “surfacing” may be different from yours, but they are all forms of disobedience. God did not equip us with the same power He gave Jesus, for us not to use it!

Talk about a much needed revelation! 

We do NOT believe just for the title of being Christian, but we are charged to use what God has given us to bring glory to His name. We can only do that by going deeper. Don’t be content living on the surface.

Be encouraged.