God has great plans for us. But, you probably already know that. It’s the final destination or what some of us consider to be our purpose that has many of us confused. But, I am learning that I am discovering my purpose … Continue reading
My Paternal Grandmother
March is Women’s History Month. We (women) are amazing!! So, I couldn’t let the month end without a post dedicated to women. I thought it would be fitting to share my top 4 biblical heroines with you, along with the characteristics that make them women worth emulating. These women did what was right and had faith in God’s ability to work things out.
Abigail – 1 Samuel 25
Abigail was intelligent and beautiful (25:3). She stepped up when her husband messed up and brought him good and not harm. Although Abigail married a wicked man (25:17), God blessed her because of her faithfulness. A husband is supposed to be his wife’s covering, but Abigail stood in the gap for her husband (25:18, 19, 23 – 34).
Queen Esther, as her title denotes, was royalty. But, she wasn’t just a figure head. She was obedient, (2:10, 20) and she listened to instruction (2:15). She was beautiful inside and out (2:2 and 2:7). She was compassionate (4:4) and a hostess (5:4-5, 6:14). She protected her husband (2:22) AND her people – the Jews (7:3-6 & 8:5-8). Esther was brave (4:16, 5:1) and patient (5:3-4, 5:7-8, 7:2-3, 8:5).
Hannah – 1 Samuel 1 & 2
Hannah’s heart belonged to God. She knew the power and importance of prayer (1:11, 12, 1:26). She kept her promise to give her son (the blessing she prayed for for years) to the Lord (1:20).
Ruth exemplified selfless devotion to Naomi, her mother-in-law. She was faithful/committed, loyal and loving (1:16). She was hardworking (2:7, 17), obedient (3:5) and kind (3:10). Most importantly, she was noble (3:11). See Proverbs 31:10 – a wife of noble character is worth more than rubies. Ruth was blessed by God (4:13) because she was a blessing to Naomi (2:11-23).
Last but not least – Sarah. She was loyal, submissive (1 Peter 3:6) and fearless. She was faithful, and she trusted God. She was also beautiful (Genesis 12:11), so much so that Abraham asked her to tell Pharaoh (Genesis 12:13) and Abimelek (Genesis 20:1) that they were sister and brother instead of husband and wife. Sarah was trusting – left everyone and everything she knew because she trusted God’s plan for Abraham and trusted that Abraham would do what was necessary to fulfill that plan.
Faith is the bridge between your despair and your breakthrough.
These women all possess characteristics of the Proverbs 31 Woman. They are examples to us, particularly Sarah. She was the first Proverbs 31 Woman. 1 Peter 3:6 discusses holy women of the past who put their hope in God – meaning they had faith and they trusted God. Peter says that those women of the past are Sarah’s daughters. We too are Sarah’s daughters if we follow her example – live upright lives, behave fearlessly and trust God. Despite believing in God, the women had temporary moments of unbelief or skepticism (just like us). If you read their stories you will see evidence of these flaws (e.g. Sarah’s impatience and unbelief). However, God was able to use each of them – flaws and all – the same way he can use us. We are Sarah’s daughters!
Warning: This post is a little lengthy (900 words), compared to my more recent posts. I apologize in advance. This series consists will consist of 5 posts (all shorter than this one) 🙂 . I pray that the posts are enlightening and encouraging.
Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, Relationship Evaluation Day, Single Awareness Day, or whatever phrase you use to refer to February 14th. I was supposed to post this on Valentine’s Day, but I didn’t get a chance. Valentine’s Day is a day full of emotions – happiness, excitement, sadness, depression, etc. Many people spent Valentine’s Day with their true loves. Others spent it alone. But, what about those of us without society’s definition of true love? Are we waiting on it? We wait for phone calls, birthdays, vacations, etc. No one likes waiting, and rarely do we choose to wait. So, why do we say we are waiting on love? (Questions to ponder – I’ll talk about my answers to these in the upcoming posts.)
When we were growing up, our parents were constantly telling us to wait for this or for that. As parents, they told us to wait for our protection. Waiting for anything helps us learn to delay gratification. Some learn the lesson immediately; others learn it eventually and still others never learn it.
This talk about waiting takes me right into the True Love Waits (TLW) initiative and other abstinence pledges. We were told to respect ourselves, save our virginity for our future husband and to focus on God. When I was 13 or so I discovered True Love Waits and I embraced it. I still have my ring and the bible. We’ve all heard about TLW. Even if we didn’t take the TLW pledge, our parents told us waiting until marriage to engage in sexual intercourse showed our respect for God.
A few years later I met my first “real” boyfriend. I don’t know what made me use quotes around real. You might be asking, “What made him real?” 🙂 I don’t know (shoulder shrug). Maybe it’s because we dated for almost 7 years; he was the first guy my parents allowed to come visit at our house and the first guy they let me go on double dates with when I was 16; he transferred to the college I attended; my friends became his friends and vice versa. Maybe those are the things that made him “real.”
Needless to say, or maybe I should say, I fell (well, that seems accidental) jumped off the TLW band wagon. I have since recommitted myself to a life of abstinence. I started jotting notes about TLW a few months ago when my church was in the process of planning a TLW ceremony for the youth and young adults. I was asked to speak to the group about TLW. I agreed because as Christians, we are required (I believe) to share our testimonies. I debated about what I would say, how I would say it and how it would be received. As I stated in the welcome letter, I don’t think I’ve had to deal with any very difficult moments in life, but there are areas with which I’ve struggled. I used to consider myself better than the girls who slept with any and everybody, had one night stands, etc. because I was just having sex with my boyfriend. In God’s eyes there was no difference between me having sex with my boyfriend and someone else having sex with their one night stand. A sin is a sin.
When I initially embarked on the TLW journey, I thought I’d meet a guy in college and be married by 21, just like my parents. I didn’t think I’d have to “wait” long. But, I didn’t meet my spouse in college. In fact, my boyfriend of 7 years and I ended up breaking up when I was in law school. But, I jumped ahead of myself. After a few years of dating, we told each other we no longer needed to wait on true love because we had found it in each other. We said that we didn’t have to wait because we were going to get married anyway. We talked about marriage a lot. But, we didn’t get married after college. He wanted to, but I wanted to continue my education. A shock coming from the girl who wanted to be a stay at home mom… I went to graduate school and hopped back on the TLW band wagon. It worked. I was excited. Then, I was introduced to a guy who stopped dating me because I was abstinent. I was hurt at the time, but now I know I am stronger because of it. I resumed waiting after that relationship. There have been other relationships since those. But, through it all, I have decided that waiting is what is best for me, AND more importantly, it is what God wants for my life (Romans 12:1,2).
What I have learned/ am learning while waiting:
- The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak;
- After being in a physical relationship with a man, it is hard to return to the relationship, the second time around without sex;
- Avoid situations that will cause you to succumb to your desires;
- We do not face any temptations that others haven’t faced;
- Don’t compromise your beliefs and standards for anyone; and
- Being diligent in church attendance, bible reading/study and prayer are IMPORTANT!
Peace and blessings!
P.S. Stay tuned for Part II.
This morning during his sermon, the pastor said, “God’s ‘I will’ is enough!” Mind you, that wasn’t even a main point of the sermon; but, when he said that phrase, it resonated with me. I could no longer hear the chatter and movement going on around me. I thought, “You know what, it’s enough for me too.” In fact, it’s more than enough. The Phrase “I will” is found throughout the bible. Those “I wills” are promises from God. When I was a child my parents bought me a book called A Promise is a Promise. That book talked about the importance of keeping promises. As I got older I learned that people break promises, not always because they never intend to keep them. Sometimes broken promises are the result of overextending themselves or changing their minds after the promise has been made. I digress…
God’s “I will” is a promise that we can count on. We don’t have to worry about Him changing His mind or making a promise He knows He has no intention of keeping. People will disappoint you, but God never will. God calls us to be faithful. When we have faith, we can speak God’s “I wills” or promises over our lives.
I have listed a few verses of scripture (from the NIV) that include promises from God in the form of I will. As always, I pray that the verses encourage, uplift and motivate you.
- I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all people of the earth will be blessed through you. Genesis 12:3
- I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised. Genesis 28:15
- I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. Leviticus 26:9
- And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:15
- He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation. Psalm 91:15-16
- So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
- See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not see it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19
- Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4
- Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:14
- I will save you from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the cruel. Jeremiah 15:21
- 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. Jeremiah 29:12 – 13
- Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
- I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
- I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. John 14:18
- And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
- I will never leave or forsake you. Hebrews 13:5
- Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners and purify your hears, you double – minded. James 4:8
God’s I will is a promise. Stand on God’s promises. When you are having doubts or your faith is low, remember that GOD’S I WILL IS ENOUGH!
Peace and blessings!
I thought about doing a post on this topic a few nights ago after I got off the phone with a friend who cautioned me on the dangers of having a platonic friendship with a man I dated in the past. He advised me that although I may no longer have feelings, the guy might hope there is a door, window or crawl space that he can come through. The day after our conversation, when I was out at lunch, I heard Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” And, for those who know me, you know I took that as confirmation that I should write something about the “just friends” phenomenon of our generation. This phenomenon is marked by close opposite sex friendships between single men and women.
Continuing a friendship with an ex – boyfriend is dangerous. I can admit that. However, I believe it is easier to have a “just friends” relationship with an ex – boyfriend with whom you never had intercourse than an ex with whom you did have a physical relationship. But, of course, there are exceptions to every rule. More than just continuing friendships with boyfriends after the relationship has ended, there is an ever – increasing popularity of platonic friendships between single men and women.
Due to the relaxed, often blurred lines of friendships, many of us have close friends of the opposite sex. Sometimes, we treat our male friends like our girls, just with more testosterone. You hang out, you spend time together, and you share things. As a result, a certain level of intimacy develops…and then feelings begin to change. Our friends may ask us about “so and so” because we talk about him or hang out with him a lot. As a result, we’ll say, “Oh, him; we’re just friends.” You keep telling yourself that you all are just friends. But, your actions and reactions say otherwise. We’ve all used the phrase “just friends” in reference to a friendship before. Sometimes a woman will say “we’re just friends” in all sincerity; other times, there is a desire for a romantic relationship.
In today’s society, where creating relationships is somewhat easy; fostering and developing healthy, appropriate, God – honoring friendships can be somewhat of a challenge, especially when we sometimes have selfish motives behind the friendships. God wants us to have happy, healthy friendships that are edifying for us and glorifying to Him. We must pray that God gives us direction about our friendships. Pray that He gives you the desire and ability to cultivate friendships that honor him. Remember to pray with confidence. If we ask anything according to His will, he hears us and will give us what we ask for (1 John 5:14–15). Friendships that honor God are certainly according to his will for our lives. In cultivating our friendships, particularly opposite sex friendships, we should focus on serving and encouraging others. These are both things of which God approves. This will ensure that God is honored and is the center of the relationship. When God is not the center of these relationships, Satan enters, and emotional and physical boundaries are pushed or crossed. We (all Christians) are instructed not to awaken love until it is time (Song of Solomon 8:4). Men are instructed to treat younger women as sisters, with absolute purity (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
A few months ago I had a conversation with this same friend about a young lady who wanted more than a platonic relationship with him. From that, we discussed how women are emotional. Yes. We. Are. 🙂 We also discussed how women can over-think things. Yes. We. Can. A lot of women over-think everything – from what a certain look meant to men and everything in between. I’m definitely guilty of over–thinking a lot of things. But, this is where my need to SURRENDER comes in.
When we (women) have platonic relationships with men, we are normally the ones who want more than a “just friends” relationship. But, there are times when the man wants more than the woman is willing to give. Sometimes a person can do something out of Christian kindness, but that same action can be misunderstood as something all together different. What one person sees as a kind gesture, innocent text or comment can be misconstrued as romantic interest. You may say that it isn’t your fault that another person misunderstood. But, often times, we can sense when someone likes us as more than “just a friend.”
As Christians, it behooves (I adore this word; one of the TAs in law school used to say it a lot) us to be straightforward about our lack of interest in a person, especially when it is clear that he has more than friendship on his mind. If you are the one being kind and whose actions are being misunderstood, make it plain. Let him know that you appreciate his friendship, but that you aren’t interested. Of course, you should say it a little nicer than that. Ultimately, I don’t think any man will be upset with you for being honest. It is better than allowing this “friend’s” feelings to fester and grow for weeks or months, when you know you don’t feel the same way. Isn’t that what you’d want? This same concept applies to dating relationships. I believe in dating intentionally and with a purpose. With that being said, once you learn that the person you’re dating or getting to know has characteristics, traits or beliefs that are contrary to yours and that you CANNOT deal with, stop dating them. I know the lure of having companionship is strong, but we have to pray to overcome that lure. There is no need for placeholders in our lives. Wednesday, I had this conversation three different times with three friends about their situations – very ironic.
Your friendships should bring you joy, not anxiety as a result of unrequited love or unwanted attention. God is not a God of confusion. He is a God of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). I have learned that while opposite sex platonic friendships between single men and women can be difficult at times, they can also be rewarding, as long as God is the center, boundaries are set and both parties are emotionally stable enough to handle the relationship.
There are three takeaways here: (1) pray for direction as to whether you can emotionally handle platonic relationships with people of the opposite sex; (2) if you know a friend desires a romantic relationship, but you’re not interested, let him know; (3) if you are the one who is longing for more, take a step back, pray and guard your heart. If it is meant to be, it will be. Note to self… 🙂
Peace and blessings!
P.S. Be sure to check out this week’s recipes – almond flour, zucchini bread, tomato basil bread, lentil stew and black bean burgers.
P.P.S. I have finally posted my reading list. Check it out here.
I will be 30 in about 5 1/2 months. I knew that there were some things I wanted to do, but I just didn’t know what. I knew that I didn’t have any desire to complete 30 different things before my 30th birthday. I listened to my friends’ lists. I Googled 30 before 30 and got well over 100 hits, some of them blogs. A few sites that I came across that had interesting before 30 lists were – Glamour, Huffington Post and Stuff Steph Does. The lists were very detailed, but they just weren’t for me. So, I have finally decided on the things I’d like to do before I turn the big 3 – 0. 🙂 My list isn’t long. It isn’t fancy. Instead of trying to create a list of 30 things, just to say I did, I have created a list of things that will make me feel fulfilled upon completion. My list started off with three things and then it slowly began to grow. It doesn’t include any adventure sports or exotic trips. Although, my oldest friend (our parents were friends while we were in the womb) is supposed to be planning our 30th birthday trip. My list includes things that will make me a better, more well rounded person. Without further ado, here it is:
1) Read 30 books
So far, I have read 12 books. I’m behind. By now, I should really be at 16. But, life sometimes gets in the way. 😉 I have a stack of books waiting to be read by me in my den. I’ll get to them eventually. If anyone has any book suggestions, I’m all eyes. (get it?) As I read the books, I will choose some to review.
2) Perform 30 random acts of kindness
I am a firm believer that we serve God by serving others. As such, I will perform 30 acts of kindness for strangers (or at least people who aren’t my close friends). After all it’s super easy to be kind those we already know and love. Performing these acts of kindness will encourage others to show God’s love and perform good deeds to pay it forward (Hebrews 10:24).
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
– Shirley Chisholm (first African American woman to be elected to Congress)
3) Try 30 new recipes
It’s no secret that I like to cook. Since I am getting a late start on this 30 new recipes idea, I will have to try 6 new recipes a month, at least. As of today, I have tried 6 new recipes – 5 of the 6 were desserts. 😦 I have a horrible sweet tooth. That is why I bake and give the goodies away. But, I’m off to a good start on the number of recipes. Healthier options (homemade black bean burgers, potato & leek soup and some type of salad) will be coming next week.
4) Loose 30 pounds/ Be healthier
A few months ago I decided that I wanted to loose 30 pounds by June. All this baking isn’t helping that goal. And actually, 30 pounds, just kind of went with the theme. In my mind, 30 pounds seems like it would be too much. But, we’ll see. So far, I’m down 15 pounds! Woohoo!! My weight doesn’t matter that much. My true desire is to be healthy. God wants us to be healthy. Our bodies are temples. If we are healthy, we are better equipped to do the work that God created in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10) I have a picture in mind of what I want to look like again. I have made it the background on my phone to remind me.
5-6) Make a Peach Cobbler and Bread from scratch
The peach cobbler and bread will do nothing in the way of helping me loose weight and be healthier. But, it will be a great experience. Making bread and cobbler are just things I think I should know how to do as a woman. Don’t judge me. LOL My mother makes the best homemade cobblers. So, I’ll be using her recipe.
7) Complete a 10K
When I say complete, I mean jog,walk or crawl across the finish line. I’m participating in my first 10K – the Cooper River Bridge Run – in Charleston, South Carolina in April. So, to condition, I’ve made a commitment to run/walk 3 miles every Saturday and Sunday. I’ll increase the distance every few weeks. It was a chore last Sunday. I’ve been on the hunt for jogging partners. So far, I have two!
8) Truly Surrender
SURRENDER is my word for the year. It is my goal to truly surrender EVERYTHING to God. In just two weeks, I feel as though I’m surrendering, particularly in my love life. I was bought at a price. Therefore, my life is not my own, and I can’t plan my life based upon my whims and desires. (Jeremiah 10:23). So, through June 1 and beyond, I will be still and recognize God’s authority over me and my life. (Psalm 46:10)
9 & 10) Design a Logo & new name cards
Designing a logo and new name cards are related to passionately pursuing my purpose. In pursuing my purpose I am going to dream vividly, think abundantly (Ephesians 3:20) and pray boldly (Ephesians 3:12).
11) Clean out my garage
If you saw my garage, this goal would speak for itself. LOL Currently, my garage is organized chaos. Some would disagree with me on this description. But, oh well. It’s my garage and my post. 🙂 I want to get rid of the chaos and just leave it organized. I started working on that earlier this week.
12) Make something I can wear
Making something I can wear has always been a dream, and it seems so practical! My mom is an awesome seamstress! She used to make all of her clothing, and when I was small she made all of my dresses. I’m going to try my hand at a skirt that I will wear during my photo shoot next week. I bought my fabric a few days ago! (A picture of it is below.) I’m really excited about the photo shoot!! A Savannah State Alum will be the photographer. I’ll post pictures.
Ivori inspecting the tulle
13) Send more handwritten notes
I like sending and receiving snail mail in the form of handwritten notes and cards. I get this from my mama too. 🙂 There is nothing better than coming home after a long day and finding a note in the mail from a friend. I have three friends who send me random notes and cards in the mail. I appreciate them for that. Over the past few months, I have gotten better about giving or mailing scripture cards, thinking about out you cards and notes of encouragement to my friends and family. The power of life and death is in the tongue (and the pencil). For me, it is all about letting people know that they are appreciated. My friends inspire me to be a better person. Not only does it makes me feel good to encourage and inspire others, but God calls us to do just that (Hebrews 3:13).
Some of these projects are already in progress. Follow my recipe and reading progress on the corresponding tabs at the top of the page.
Peace and blessings!
Be present in the moment, right here, right now. We are constantly thinking about that new job, new purchase, new relationship. The desire for the next big thing keeps us stressed and future oriented, so much so that we can’t concentrate on the greatness of today and the goodness of God’s current blessings. My pastor always says, “God is good in his greatness and great in his goodness.” This is so true! But, we often miss just how great he is when we are busy focusing on what is coming next. It’s like being in a conversation with someone when you are so busy focusing on what you want to say next that you aren’t listening to what is being said to you at that moment.
Life is not a waiting room. Think about how impatient and frustrated some of us get when we are waiting to see the doctor. We carry that frustration and impatience through life when we think that God doesn’t hear our prayers, that he has forgotten about us and when we are impatiently waiting for the next new thing. When we think that life will be better once I get ____, we are not focused on the right here, right now. When we are so focused on the future, we forgot that the present is a gift and that tomorrow is not promised to us.
God will take care of our respective futures. We need not worry. He promises to perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) We have to start being content with what we have. God will never abandon us. (Hebrews 13:5). Take courage and believe these promises from God. He is NOT a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind (Numbers 23:19).
You don’t know about the grass on the other side until you get there. But, the thing is, you may never get that thing you desire. It may not be in God’s plan for you. But, does that mean your life is any less abundant or fulfilled? Of course not!! We should all do as my friend (Ms_CharlieB) always says, “Be present in the moment.” The grass IS green – right here, right now. God is with you – right here, right now. He hasn’t forgotten about you. If he said that he would do it, it will come to pass! (Click HERE to hear God Has Not 4got by Tonex.)
Peace and blessings!