Wednesday, December 27, 2017

For 2018: Pulling and Stretching

2017 has been one for the books.  In my record book, this year is listed as one of the most trying, taxing, draining years I've had in a LONG time...maybe in a lifetime. This year, I've been stretched in every possible way, in spirit, in finances, in patience, etc. I know everyone likes to hear prosperity gospel around the new year like, "I'm gonna be a completely new person when the clock strikes 12!" If you're looking for that type of post, then this one is not for you. I can't speak for anyone else, but MY 2017 was the type of year that would either make a person stop trusting God altogether or rely on Him COMPLETELY. As hard as it is, I'm choosing the second option because as much as I've been stretched this year, I also feel as though I'm being pulled...toward something different, something greater. I'm not sure what that "something" is, but Hillsong United's "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" has been on my heart for weeks now. If you've never heard of Hillsong, what rock have you been living under?! Their music will take you straight to the feet of Jesus (Warning: Don't play it while driving. It'll be hard to concentrate on the road while sobbing uncontrollably). Anyway, the poignant lyrics of "Oceans" are currently on repeat in my spirit:

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my savior

Hillsong United - Zion (2013) / Amazon

As I listened to it, I felt led to pray this prayer. It might just be for me, but I felt like I should share it, in hopes that it blesses someone else:

Lord, I've been stretched thin this year, but now, I stretch my hands to You. I surrender. Guide me to my purpose and use me wherever and however You see fit. Where You lead, I'll follow. Tear down the borders of my trust so I can be led by You even when things don't make sense. Even if the waters You lead me into look troubled or murky, even though I can't swim, strengthen my faith and give me the courage to go anyway. Position me to move, and prepare me to go forward without hesitation. Thank You for what You've done, what You continue to do, and what You have yet to do in my life. I trust You no matter what, and I believe that every promise You've made to me will be fulfilled in Your perfect timing. In Jesus' name, amen.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited for 2018. I pray it will be a year filled with faith and new beginnings. Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Wait: The Unlisted List

In the last few posts, we've been talking a lot about Adam and Eve. We began the conversation with how "Adam" keeps his "Eden," and then segued into how every specific "Adam" is responsible for inviting a specific "Eve" into his garden. If the last two posts ruffled your feathers, you might want to buckle up for this one. Fasten your seatbelts and let's address the real elephant in the room: The List. Ladies, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. Whether you've written it down or kept it to yourself, we all have a list of physical and character traits that we'd like our "perfect" "Adam" to have. We say, "He's gotta be this tall with this color eyes, this haircut, this job, and make this much money per year (because his money is our money and my money is my money...but that's a whole different can of worms 😂). Oh, and it would be nice if he could carry a tune, too." Then we have the audacity to put it in prayer form, complete with, "If it's not too much to ask..." and seal it with a fervent "Amen!" Sis, if you read the description above and subconsciously inserted extremely specific details, we've got work to do.

Transparency moment: Earlier this year, I was the girl who prayed that prayer, asking for a guy who was straight out of a fairytale that didn't exist. I even went as far as to list comparisons to other men I saw in the public eye. My list was like,

1) Loves God.

2 through 10) Height, looks, occupation, salary, etc.

11 through 42) Does [insert task] like [insert name here].

Then I saved the list in my phone. I left it there for a month or two, discussing it with people I trusted, and they told me that it was "solid" and "practical," but it wasn't sitting right in my spirit. First of all, I was thinking about it way too much, and secondly, honestly, some of it was shallow. So I did some soul searching. I asked myself if I'd check off most of the boxes on my own list. I checked off a few, but for some of those "boxes," the answer was a resounding NO. For others, it was more of, "I'm working on it." That evaluation taught me a few things. It taught me to separate standards--realistic, important things that could make or break a marriage--from things that weren't absolutely necessary, but would be nice to have in a partner. It also taught me that I shouldn't be so hard on myself, and showed me that the same grace I give myself (and more importantly, the same grace God gives me) is extended to the man that He has destined to be my husband. That's why I deleted that list--because God is God. He knows exactly what and who I need, and He has already created a mate for me...even if I haven't met him yet. I'll admit, I still have a list. You'll find it in my favorite scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (NIV)

Whoever and wherever my husband is, I pray that he will have experienced this kind of love before he meets me, because this is the kind of love that only God can give. When you know for yourself that this kind of love exists, you won't settle for anything less. While I know my marriage will never be perfect, I pray that it will reflect the One who is.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Wait: The Eden Invitational

In last week's post, I ended by saying that after looking at the condition of a man's Eden and making sure his table was sturdy and had an extra chair, I could pull that chair out myself. I'd like to expand on that metaphor because after I posted it, I realized that statement could be read as emasculating. I didn't mean it that way at all. Yes, I am capable of pulling my own chair out, because (and I say this humbly) I know the value that I can bring to a man's table. There's a catch, though: Before I can even approach the table, I have to be invited to it.

Genesis 2:21-22 reads:

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh.

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (NIV)

In the last post, I emphasized the man's Eden because Adam was already in Eden and Eve was given to him while he was asleep. She didn't have an Eden. The Eden was presented to her, and she was presented to Adam. That's why I said that as a woman, the table should already be prepared before I get there. The proverbial chair was already there too, and Eve just took her rightful place in it. In other words, ladies, it's the man's job to prepare your place at his table. It's not our job to go up to Adam and ask him if we can sit beside him. He has to see the placeholder with our name on it and invite us to sit with him.

That's the significance of Adam being asleep: God had to open his eyes so that he could see what was right in front of him. Even after Adam saw Eve, it was still up to him to take the initiative to invite her into his Eden. I think that's where we as women mess up. We shouldn't just settle for anything that looks good. Even if it looks like Eden, it might not be your specific Eden. What if every time it doesn't work out, it's not because of anything we did or anything that the guy did, it's just that we're in the wrong Eden? No two relationships are the same, so what would work "perfectly" (and I use that term loosely) for one couple may not work for another couple. Every Eden is different. Ladies, have you ever considered that maybe the reason all your previous relationships failed was because you were trying to be Eve to someone else's Adam? Fellas, every woman you see is not your Eve. Keep your eyes open, but be selective.

A word to the wise: Sisters, you are the Eve to a tailor-made Adam. Know your worth. Don't just run up to every table that looks good and try to sit in the first empty chair you see. Seek God and ask Him to make room for you at a table where you will be valued, respected, and loved. Brothers, prepare your tables accordingly, but know that every woman is not fit to sit beside you. Be intentional in the cultivation of your Eden, and trust God to send you the Eve you need. Together, your garden will flourish and your fruit will be ripe.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Wait: Suited or Booted? To Help and Be Helped

Source: Instagram - godlydating101

The first time I saw the picture above, I literally laughed out loud. It was funny at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how disturbingly profound it was. It's an example of why marriage is one of the most important decisions we will ever make. It's also an example of why fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Single men, what kind of table are you preparing for your future wives? Single ladies, what are you bringing to that table? Let's ruffle some feathers.

Genesis 2:18 reads, "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'" (NIV).

In the King James version of the same verse, God says He will make a "help meet" for Adam. Ladies, if we desire marriage, then as wives-in-training, we need to learn how to be help meets so that when we meet "the one," we'll know how to adequately assist him--but first, he has to meet a standard and need help in his purpose. This means that he needs to discover his purpose before he is given someone to help him with it.

In our season of singleness as women, God prepares us to help our husbands by instilling in us how to help others in our everyday lives. Helping others helps us to discover our purpose, which is VERY important because in marriage, two people--and two purposes--become one. So, when I meet a potential spouse, I will automatically evaluate him to see if his purpose lines up with mine. If he's not sure of his purpose, then I can't be suitable for him, which means he needs to be booted out of my life. My husband has to have a purpose for me to work with in order for the marriage to work.

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." - Genesis 2:15 (NIV) 

When I was younger, I paid attention to the things a man would want to accomplish in the now, thinking that would give me some insight into who he was as a person. As I've matured, I've realized that long-term goals are more important. Are his dreams and goals tangible? Are they God-ordained, or for personal gain? Where does he see God taking him, and most importantly, is he making realistic steps towards that? I see it like this: Before God presented Eve to Adam, He had already assigned him to the garden of Eden. According to Webster's dictionary, the word eden means "paradise," and in other sources, it is linked to words meaning "fruitful and well-watered." Ladies, when you meet a man, your focus shouldn't be on how much money he makes or the car he drives. Instead, look at the condition of his "Eden."

From now on, I don't want a man to just tell me what kind of plant he has planted. I want him to show me that he's watering that plant. If he's adequately watering it, then I can be the sunlight that's needed to help it grow even more. In order for me to help him, though, I need to see a crop that's already being cultivated so I know what and how much to add to it. I'm not saying the man I marry has to dot every "I" and cross every "T". I don't expect him to have it all together, because I'm still getting it together myself, but I do expect his table to be sturdy enough to stand on its own, and I expect to see an extra chair. I can pull the chair out myself. 😉

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

#WednesdayWisdom: The Y.E.S. Exchange (Part 5)

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. Today's nugget of #WednesdayWisdom is another YES, one that I think is a summation of all the others. So far, we've covered a lot of what happens when we give our yes to God. When we yield to Him, He causes us to triumph. He equips us to be strong, and He allows us to see beyond our "right now" as He shows us who we are in Him. Before He does all that, though, we have to commit to one very important thing: we have to relinquish control. It's so easy to think we're in control of our own lives because God gives us free will, but the thing is, that free will is the choice to submit to Him. This is the final installment of the Y.E.S. Exchange:


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

I referenced this scripture in my very first "official" post on this blog, but I felt led to revisit it. As I mentioned at the beginning of the Y.E.S. series, you've got to learn to trust God even when things don't make sense--even when you don't have your own understanding to lean on. And if you feel like you do understand exactly where your life is headed because you planned it out already, don't be surprised when God wrecks your plans and says, "You gone learn today!" He can do that. He's God. You do have the free will to choose a path for your life, but seek God and make sure you're making the right choice. That's where the YES comes in, because even the right path will have some unexpected turns and tunnels. The good news is, those turns and tunnels are only unexpected to us. God knew they were coming when He created you, and He has already planned accordingly. So, choose the path, asking for guidance in your choosing, and then trust God to lead you. Your YES will always lead straight to His promises. #WednesdayWisdom

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

#WednesdayWisdom: The Y.E.S. Exchange (Part 4)

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. This week's nugget of #WednesdayWisdom is yet another Y.E.S. acronym, a word on self-love. The Y.E.S. Exchange continues.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. - 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)


Last week, we discussed how submitting to God's will means seeing your circumstances through a faith-filtered lens. When you view your situation through God's eyes, the mountain has to move. The same applies to the way you see yourself. We've all had moments where we've felt imperfect, inadequate, less than, because we live in a society where the standard of beauty has been reduced to artificial body parts. People are obsessed with having the perfect physique, measuring their worth according to number of social media likes. The good news is, we don't have to worry about reaching unrealistic standards. God has already set us apart.


In case nobody's told you lately, you are royalty. You're worth so much more than all the likes and comments on all your social media sites combined...and then some. When you're a child of God and you're walking in His will, you can walk confidently knowing that you have a purpose, regardless of what the world says. You are enough for what and who God has called you to. You are incredible, because you were handcrafted by a magnificent God who loves you beyond comprehension. His love for you can never be measured. He can use you whether your selfie got 3 likes or 3,000. You are wonderful because you were made in His image, and regardless of how you feel, smile every time you look in the mirror, because His light in you cannot be hidden. If you're struggling with self-love, thank God for loving you and ask Him to change the way you look at yourself. Make a conscious effort to see yourself through His eyes. When you let His love for you teach you how to love yourself, your whole life will change. #WednesdayWisdom

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

#WednesdayWisdom: The Y.E.S. Exchange (Part 3)

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. Today's nugget of #WednesdayWisdom is putting the music back into Music, Message, Messiah, drawing inspiration from scripture and song. This is the third installment of the Y.E.S Exchange.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

My favorite song from Travis Greene's latest album, Crossover: Live From Music City, is a track entitled "See The Light." I've had it on repeat since the album released in August, hooked on the out-of the-box mix of Travis' eclectic sound coupled with elements of his churchy South Carolina roots. The song's feel-good vibe, enhanced by Isaiah Templeton's soaring high notes and Geoffrey Golden's distinctive power, makes even the most rhythmless dancer want to move (I'm speaking from experience 😂). Lately, though, I've been paying less attention to the beat and more attention to the lyrics.

Travis Greene - Crossover: Live From Music City (2017) / Amazon
"Darkness seems to be all around me / Searching for what my eyes cannot see..." These are just the first two lines of the song, but they led me to another Y.E.S. acronym, this time, with two S's:


Travis proclaims in the chorus, "I can see the light coming!" but here's the thing: It's so dark around him, he can't actually see the light yet. He's "Searching for what my eyes cannot see" because his faith knows it's there. This is the revelation. Yielding to God's will means trusting what we can't see with the naked eye. (Y)ielding (E)ngages (S)piritual (S)ight. In this context, the word engage means to employ or activate. The natural eye sees what's microscopic; its view is limited to the small things in front of us that only look large because we have magnified them. The spiritual eyes are telescopic. The same way we use telescopes to see planets and stars in the night sky, we can use our spiritual eyes to see BEYOND seasons of "night" and darkness that we face. Giving God your YES means seeing your obstacles through His eyes. Remember, He never said the weapons wouldn't form, He just promised they'd never prosper. Sometimes God allows darkness in your life because it causes His light to be ILLUMINATED. So, next time you're faced with a mountain, tell it, "You've already been moved!" Activate your spiritual vision! #WednesdayWisdom

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

#WednesdayWisdom: The Y.E.S. Exchange (Part 2)

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. Today's nugget of #WednesdayWisdom is a continuation of the Y.E.S. Exchange.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. - Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

In last week's post, I introduced the Y.E.S. Exchange acronym, (Y)ielding (E)nsures (S)uccess. This acronym explains how the path to success begins with a choice to yield, or submit, to God's will for your life. When you yield, He'll yield (provide) to you the necessary tools to reach your destiny. This week, I've discovered a new YES formula (thanks, in part, to Travis Greene's sermon this past Sunday at Forward City Church):


Pastor Travis covered a lot of ground in that message, but one thing in particular really stuck with me, and I took it and ran with it. He said, "The devil always sends resistance to anything that's progressing and moving forward." Remember how I said there's no fine print when we say yes to God? That's true, because the end result will be victory--that's the kind of God we serve--but we have to work to get to that end. (Y)ielding (E)nsures (eventual) (S)uccess, but (Y)ielding (E)ntails (S)trength because your YES doesn't guarantee that the road to success will be easy.

On the path to success, we have to be able to discern and differentiate between what (and who) was sent by Satan versus what (and who) was sent by God. Testing will come from both, because Satan wants you to break before you reach the promise, and God wants to see if you're strong enough for where He's about to take you. Either way, you'll need strength because the distance between your initial yes to God and your promise land is a training ground, a process, however short or long, that will prepare you for elevation. It's important that you don't quit, no matter how long you've been in this stage! God knows where He's taking you, and guess does the enemy. Keep in mind that just as God knows in advance how important your Kingdom assignment is, Satan knows a threat when he sees one. So when you give God your yes, expect to be attacked on every side. That yes activates resistance, but it comes with the territory that God is in the process of enlarging. While you're going through (and you WILL get through this!) take comfort in knowing that while God didn't say the weapons wouldn't form, He DID promise they'd never prosper. 💪🏾 #WednesdayWisdom

***One more thing: How fitting that this week's post is inspired by Travis Greene, just like my very first (official) post was one year ago. Music, Message, Messiah turned one year old November 4th! When God literally woke me up out of my sleep last year and told me to reopen this site and start writing, I had no idea what He was up to. I'd left it dormant for two years, but somehow I knew this was "not your average blog," and ironically, I chose that name "randomly" back in 2013. One year of consistent posts (and a name change) later, I'm so grateful for what He has allowed me to share on this platform. I pray that my content has blessed those who read it as much as it has blessed me to write it. May the messages always be simplified, the music be diversified, and most importantly, Christ be glorified. Here's to many more blog birthdays!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

#WednesdayWisdom: The Y.E.S. Exchange

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. Today's nugget of #WednesdayWisdom explains how God will give you His "yes" when you give Him yours.

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." - Psalms 143:10 (NIV)

This is the Y.E.S. exchange:


God gave me that acronym back in 2014, but I've been led back to it several times in the past three years. Looking back, I realize that God typically brings me back to it whenever I'm in a season of transition, so maybe this post is just for me. Anyway, most recently, it's been echoing in my spirit for the past two weeks, so I thought I'd share it here. I pray that it reaches whoever else needs to hear it. Yielding ensures success. It's proven every time.

The word yield has two definitions: 1) to surrender, submit, or give in, and 2) to produce or provide. By the first definition, when we do what we're told to do, what we're called to do, it always pays off. It might not pay off exactly when you think it should, but that's part of the surrender. You're not the one controlling it. God is. When He tells you to do something, to go somewhere, to follow what looks like an unmarked trail, you do it. You go, no questions asked, even when you don't know where or how or why, even when nobody else is going there or doing that, even when they say it doesn't make makes sense to God. Go.

That's what I got out of the acronym the first time it came to me, but it's even more profound now that I've realized it's double-sided. (Y)ielding (E)nsures (S)uccess because God answers your YES with His. Yielding also means providing, so when you yield to His will, when you submit to His vision for your life, He will give you His YES in exchange for yours, and yield provisions for your journey. Look at it this way: In life, we sign contracts for a lot of things--cars, houses, etc. When we sign, we have to remember to read the fine print to make sure we know what we're getting ourselves into. The good news is, there's no fine print with God. We don't have to know what we're getting ourselves into because He ALWAYS causes us to triumph! He'll never call us to something He won't bring us through, so we can move when He says move without worry of where the resources are coming from or where the road leads. Our paths have already been set. God's promises are yes and amen. That means, YES, He has it covered, and AMEN, it's already done! Give Him your yes and He'll do the rest. Trust Him.

When Your Spirit speaks to me,
With my whole heart I'll agree,
And my answer will be yes, Lord, yes!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

#WednesdayWisdom: Heart Strings - All-access Pass?

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. Today's nugget of #WednesdayWisdom is a word on the body's most important muscle: the heart. Who, if anyone, gets an all-access pass to yours?

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. - Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Given the way the world works these days, it would be so easy to use the above Bible verse to close yourself off from relationships, both platonic and romantic. So much of culture and society glorifies being a one-man-show, the idea that we don't need anybody else and we can do everything by ourselves. The way the world works can cause us to think that we are the only ones who have our own best interests at heart, and teaches us not to set ourselves up to be "played": taken advantage of, used, hurt, etc. Of course no one wants to be played, but if we're honest with ourselves, we don't want to be alone either. Yes, it is true that at some point in life, you will be faced with the reality that everybody doesn't have the same heart as you. You can't expect everyone to treat you as nicely as you treat them. Here's the kicker, though: Even after you come to terms with the fact that you will never be treated EXACTLY the way you want to be treated, you still can't close your heart off to people in fear of being hurt, because as Christians, we are called to love everyone as Christ does. It's a tough but necessary pill to swallow. Yes, absolutely, guard your heart. Making yourself accessible to everyone can be detrimental to your emotional and spiritual health; however, make sure you know the difference between a guard and a wall. Guards can be let down, but walls, made of brick and mortar, are sturdy and designed to keep everything out. Don't protect yourself from being hurt so much that you end up hurting yourself. Sometimes, your "protection" can keep you from something great. God knows what and who you need in your life. Stop being afraid and ask Him to help you put yourself out there. Ask for discernment and trust Him enough to open your heart and let the good stuff in. #WednesdayWisdom

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#WednesdayWisdom: Stay In Your Lane

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. Today's nugget of #WednesdayWisdom is a word on comparison: Stay in your lane!

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

- Psalms 139:13-16 (NIV)

We've all had a moment (or several) in our lives where we're doing something we love, something we do well, and as we're enjoying it, someone else comes along who does it "better" according to society's standards. Newsflash: In everything you do, there's going to be someone "better" than you, and someone else who wishes they were as good as you. Don't worry about them. Just be YOU. Stop looking for people to validate you and tell you how great you are. Walk in your greatness & believe in yourself. Someone else's success is not a threat to your own. Another person's gifts and talents don't diminish yours. You're still enough even when they're great. You're still enough when you think they're getting the level of acknowledgement that you deserve. There's enough room for both of your gifts to be necessary. Don't get intimidated in your lane when you see a newer, more expensive car riding beside you. If that car is merging into your lane, so what? You're both going in the same direction. Even if the other car gets there before you, when you reach YOUR sweet spot, nobody will be able to do YOUR thing exactly the way YOU do it. Keep your eyes on the road, and don't get distracted! The only person you're competing with in this race is the version of yourself you see in the rear view mirror. God has tailor made your gifts to fit your purpose, so doubting your gifts means doubting Him. He hasn't forgotten about you. He knows exactly where you're going, and exactly when you'll get there. Your "arrival" time is not an estimate; your location is permanently programmed in His (G)odly (P)ositioning (S)ystem. Stay in YOUR lane, in YOUR position, and watch God work when it's your turn. In the meantime, turn on some worship music in your car and give Him a destination praise in advance. Claim the promise ahead of time! #WednesdayWisdom

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

#WednesdayWisdom: Saying No to "Yes" Men

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. Today's nugget of #WednesdayWisdom is a word on friendship: how to say no to "yes" men.

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." - Proverbs 27:5-6 (NIV)

I don't know about y'all, but I need some more positive, encouraging friends in my life. I've always had a small but strong circle (if you're reading this, you know who you are), but in this season of my life, I find myself desiring friendships that, above all else, push me closer to Christ. As an optimist, I naturally gravitate toward positive people, but as I'm growing in my Christian walk, I'm looking for "lifters": Those who lift His name on high and who can effectively lift me up in prayer. Good friends should edify one another, hold each other accountable, and offer constructive criticism. I've always prided myself on being the blunt friend. I try to always tell my friends the truth, even if it hurts, because it'll help them in the long run. Be careful here, though. Tell your friends what they need to hear, not what they want to hear; but when you correct them, correct them with love. Constructive criticism can be tricky. It's not just what you say, but how you say it. You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Don't correct so harshly that your relationships with others become negative, but be honest with people. I'd rather have a friend tell me I'm doing something wrong than to "protect" my feelings by not correcting me & letting me mess up. Don't surround yourself with "yes" men who sugarcoat stuff. If they don't tell you when you're making poor choices, they're not true friends. Those "no" friends who say 'No, that's not a good choice, situation, person, etc.' even when you don't want to hear it, those are the ones who care. Find those friends and keep them close. Lift and be lifted. Iron sharpens iron. #WednesdayWisdom

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

#WednesdayWisdom: Encouragement for Encouragers

Do you know what today is? It's hump day! Here's a little #WednesdayWisdom to get you over the hump: You can't pour from an empty cup.

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
for each one should carry his own load." -Galatians 6:2-5 (NIV)

We all know at least one person (or maybe we are the person) who is always giving of themselves: their time, energy, love, encouragement, etc. and never asks for anything in return. This is a word of encouragement for encouragers. Self-care is necessary. It's great that God gave you motivation and inspiration to share. That's a gift! It's wonderful to be able to take a walk in someone else's shoes...but don't forget to take those shoes off at the end of the day. You'll be exhausted if you leave them on; they weren't designed to fit you in the first place. Empathy is a beautiful thing, but problems can arise if you find yourself consistently shouldering other people's pain in addition to the things you're dealing with in your own life. Carrying other people's burdens is Christ-like, but please, find balance. Find people who can pour into you as you pour into others--and if you can't find anyone to pour into you, pray and ask God to refill your cup. Help others, yes, but remember to take a break and recharge. Make time for yourself. You can't run on E. Put good in, get good out. Be the encouraged encourager. #WednesdayWisdom

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

#WednesdayWisdom: Humility

Happy hump day, everyone! I'm back after a brainstorming hiatus. I've been trying to think of creative ways to revamp the scope of this blog. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I post a little blurb on there (almost) every Wednesday using the hashtag #WednesdayWisdom. I used to do #MotivationMonday, and I still do from time to time, but I figured we all could use a small nugget of inspiration to get us over the hump. This week's topic is humility.

"A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor." - Proverbs 29:23 (NIV)

God can't fill you if you're full of yourself. When you get to where you're going, when you feel like you've reached your peak, don't forget who allowed you to get there. Reflect and reverence the One who made it all possible. Give the gifts He gave to you back to Him, and do so with your whole heart. You might feel like you have it all materialistically, but remember, without God, you'd have nothing. Make time for Him, even if you feel like you don't need anything. You'll always need Him, and if you think you don't, He'll show you otherwise. Make gratitude your attitude and watch Him bless you even more. God rewards a grateful heart. Humility and thankfulness will take you places. #WednesdayWisdom

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Shedding Light on the Issue: The Music Collaboration the Church Wasn't 'Ready' For

Last Friday, Tasha Cobbs Leonard released her third studio album, Heart. Passion. Pursuit. I was excited for the project because I'm a fan. I, like so many other gospel music lovers, have been rocking with Tasha since her debut album, Grace. Her single "Break Every Chain" is a staple in a Christian music library. Over the past week or so though, and especially over the weekend, saints have been up-in-arms about a track on her newest album called "I'm Getting Ready" featuring rapper Nicki Minaj. On the track, Minaj, who is signed to popular rapper Lil Wayne's record label, Young Money, spits 16 bars about how she "leveled up" from food stamps to jet skis and "more ice than Gretzky" because of God's favor and in spite of her haters.

Tasha Cobbs Leonard - Heart. Passion. Pursuit. (2017) / Amazon

Before I give my opinion on this collaboration, I need to clarify: I'm not one of Nicki Minaj's "Barbz" (that's what she calls her fan base). I don't know every song of hers, but I'm also not going to pretend that I didn't ever listen to "Superbass," "Moment For Life," and "Right Through Me," because a few years ago when I was a teenager listening to secular music on a regular basis, that was what was popular. And yes, I am aware that her stage name pays homage to menage a trois...and yes, I know what that means in English. With that being said, I support Tasha's decision to include Nicki on this album. Why, you ask? Simply put, this song, those 16 bars alone, could open a door for people in the world to see something they've never seen.

The song says:

God's doin' a new thing,

Get ready for overflow!

I'm getting ready to see

Something I've never seen

Some people who have never seen Jesus, but have seen Nicki Minaj will listen to/download this song just because she's on it. Yes, she's rapping about material things, but she's also acknowledging the God Who gave them to her. It's not conventional praise, but it's praise nonetheless. Psalms 100:1-3 (NIV) reads:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Praise is not reserved for use only by the sanctified, holier-than-thou Christians who have been saved since they were a twinkle in their mother's eye (Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. We all know at least one "super-saved" Christian 🙄). ALL of the earth is supposed to praise Him. It is He who made us, all of us, even those of us who don't know Him, and even Nicki Minaj. We can't judge her praise just because it doesn't look or sound like ours. In fact, we should encourage her to praise her own way more often.

I've seen so many Christians posting 2 Corinthians 6:14 to justify why this collaboration is wrong. They all say, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness" (NIV)? I'd like to present John 1:5 as a counterargument: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." As believers, we should be so confident of the light that shines within us that we can venture out into the dark places without fear. Going into the darkness to pull people out doesn't mean we'll get sucked in. If our faith is strong enough, we will not waver. The Church as a body needs to learn how to walk beside its brothers and sisters in the world. If we're not willing to go into the darkness in the first place, how will we ever bring more people into the light? Hear me out: I mean no disrespect to classic gospel music whatsoever. I love it, but I've been saved 17 of my 23 years. For the most part, the old-timey handclap doesn't work on my generation. We need to do something different and meet them where they are.

Nowadays, most pastors wouldn't even let a woman who dresses like Nicki Minaj into their sanctuary, and that's problematic. First of all, it's not their sanctuary, it's God's. Secondly, people who dress like Nicki Minaj are the main ones who need Jesus! If Nicki Minaj is the only one blessed by her own verse in this song, that, in itself, is major! If somebody listens to "I'm Getting Ready," downloads Heart. Passion. Pursuit., and then decides to go to church on Sunday for the first time, then Tasha Cobbs Leonard has done her job. If the people of the Church are the hands and feet of Jesus, we've just extended a huge hand to those who are still in the world. My prayer is that they grab His hand and never let go. I hope this song causes an overflow we've never seen  an overflow of souls won for the Kingdom.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Wait, Part 9: Patiently, Purposely, Playing for Keeps

I've had a LOT on my mind in the last few weeks since the Married and Young Challenge ended. Completing the challenge, which, in total, spanned two weeks, has catapulted me into a season of self-reflection. As I shared before, for the past few months, I’ve felt God positioning me for marriage, so when I stumbled upon the 5-day challenge, I took it as a sign that God was about to send me my husband. Instead, God was like, "LOL, no. I'm about to show you, YOU!" As I began sharing in the Facebook group and tuning in to the daily video teachings, I quickly realized that this was something that would challenge me far beyond a 5-day span. It was a wake-up call, a lifestyle change that encourage me to seek God more consistently and to check my motives on why I was seeking Him. Soon, I found myself shifting focus from future husband to past, present, and future self.

Through the challenge, I learned that God still has to perfect a work in ME and get ME right(eous). I need to be walking right, talking right, and praying right--LIVING right--before He sends me Mr. Right. I honestly wasn't planning on continuing "The Wait" series, not because I didn't have anything to write about, but because I had, quite frankly, too much to write about. My thoughts were so all-over-the-place, I didn't know where to start...until I tuned in to the noon service at First Baptist Church of Glenarden yesterday. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I LOVE FBCG! I watch online almost every Sunday. Anyway, as soon as I heard the sermon's title, "The Benefits of Patiently Waiting," I knew I had to write about it. Please bear with me as I gather my thoughts.

I'll be the first to admit that one of the hardest parts of the Christian walk is learning to stand still and wait on God. We think we know what we want, and we want instant gratification. We want to reap the benefits of progress without having to go through the process. The 5-day challenge, in conjunction with Pastor John Jenkins' message yesterday from Psalms 40:1-5, showed me why the process is necessary. Pastor Jenkins taught from the New King James version, but I'll be referencing the New International Version.

Psalms 40:1 reads, "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." The NIV says, "turned to me," NKJV says, "inclined to me," but Pastor Jenkins took it a step further: "God is leaning in your direction." He explained that leaning is more personal. You are special to God. There are 7 billion people in the world, but because He cares about YOU specifically, He leans in and turns His ear to YOU to hear your prayers. So, if He hears, why isn't He moving now?! God doesn't move as rapidly as you want Him to move because He's examining your posture. He wants to see how you sit in your singleness. Are you uncomfortable? Squirming? Crooked in compromise? Slumped over in complaint? If you are, don't be surprised if He makes you wait longer. Waiting means having an attitude of expectation. Stick with God and do it His way. Don't do what your flesh wants to do. Patiently waiting means recognizing that your time has not come yet. God is a God of alignment. He makes everything line up when the time is right. You can try to rush Him all you want. Just know it won't work until it's on His timing.

Psalms 40:2

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."

This was Pastor Jenkins' second point. "God will bring you up to set you up." When you're in a place you can't get out of, only God can bring you out. You cannot bring yourself out of singleness...well, you can, but you shouldn't. Remember, His timing! Before I go any further though, I'd like to emphasize an important part of this analogy. Your singleness is not a "slimy pit." It's not a dungeon, and you're not trapped in it while everyone else lives happily ever after. "He set me on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." Singleness is not punishment, it's purposeful! God uses our singleness to establish a solid foundation in Him. We need to learn to stand firm alone before He gives us someone to stand beside in matrimony.

Psalms 40:3-5

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

These 3 verses tie into Pastor Jenkins' third and final point: The new song.

When you are fully content in waiting, regardless of what you're waiting for, God will give you a new song to sing that praises Him. In the case of singleness, that "new song" will be marriage. From now on, I'll look at my singleness as the time God is taking to finish writing this new song. While He's writing it, I'll rejoice in the things He has already done for me, because He's already done too much for me to list. I'm learning to be satisfied with just God because I want my single season and my life as a whole to be an example of why people should serve God. I want my marriage to be a testament to how He rewards those who patiently and purposefully wait for His timing. If people watch me play the waiting game, not only will they see the beauty of the wait; they will also see me rewarded. And my reward after the waiting is not just marriage. If I play my cards right, my reward will be eternal life. I'm playing for keeps.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Wait, Part 8: Computer Love (Phone Fast Update)

Image source: Facebook 

Yesterday, I watched a replay of Pastor Jamal Miller's video "God, Deal With My Other Lovers" in the Married and Young 5 Day Challenge group (TODAY is the last day to join the challenge! Click here to join!). I didn't catch the broadcast when it was live, but it felt like it was just for me. In the message, Jamal talked about how we all have other lovers that threaten to take up too much space in our that only God is supposed to occupy. He explained that we may not be having sex with these "other lovers," but we are still physically invested in them. Whether we realize it or not, we literally and figuratively take these other lovers to bed with us. They abide in our minds and hearts.  At first, I thought, Okay, I'm good. I definitely don't have any other lovers. I've never even been on a date. I didn't think the message applied to me until Jamal said that his "other lover" was marriage. He became so obsessed with marriage that he pursued it harder than he sought God...and he even started praying more--in an unhealthy way--to use God and church as a means to get it. Wait a minute, I thought. These lovers aren't always people? Uh oh. Suddenly, I knew what my other lover was--my cell phone.

You probably think that's crazy, right? Well, you're right, it is, but let me explain. I've had a cell phone since 2006. I was 12 years old. Back then, all I used it for was calling my mom, grandparents, and a handful of close friends. As technology evolved, I joined MySpace, then Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram...and I've kept the latter 3 in my pocket and beside my bed for several years now (and November 2016, I added this blog to the mix, so I'm on my phone even more now). I find myself checking my phone every 2 minutes or so, and I get overly excited when I hear the "ding" of a text message or other notification. My phone is the first thing I pick up in the morning and the last thing I put down at night. I have a Bible app on my phone, but I don't utilize it nearly as much as I should. To be honest, I was spending more time with my phone than I was with God. I had to break the habit.

As I get older, I'm learning that if I'm expecting God to move, I need to show Him how important He is to me. Usually for me that means amping up the praise and worship, but this time, I felt like I needed to do more. As I shared in a previous post, from Tuesday to Thursday of last week, I did my first fast ever...a fast from my phone. I turned my phone off for four hours each day (baby steps 😂). But seriously, I cut out distractions and gave God more of my time, and I've seen a drastic change in my prayer life in such a short time. He sacrificed His life for us. The least I could do was give up something small for Him. No text, tweet, status, or post will ever be more important than hearing from God. He deserves more of me...more of all of us. That brief phone fast taught me a lot of things. It showed me that I don't need my phone as much as I thought I did, and it showed me that above all, I need God more than anything. Tomorrow is the official start of the 5 Day Pray For Your Future Spouse Challenge, and I want to make sure I'm ready. Let us pray:

God, as we begin this challenge, help us to understand that while we should pray with our future spouses in mind, our primary goal is to grow closer to You. During our prayer time(s), help us to put down our phones and cut out distractions, focusing not just on our desire for marriage, but our desire to be filled and used by You. Help us to pray earnestly and unselfishly, thinking beyond just physical characteristics we look for in a mate. Guide us to request only the character traits of a spouse who is led by You and who worships You wholeheartedly; and through their worship of You, may they also honor us. In the five-day span of this challenge, equip us to effectively cover our spouses in every area of their lives, even if we haven't met them yet, and help us to continue covering them all throughout our married lives. As you perfect the hearts that are meant to love us, perfect our hearts and turn them toward You so that we may be used for Your glory in singleness and in marriage. Let our lives and our unions be a reflection of who You are.

In Jesus' name,


For a recap of the previous message shared in the challenge group, click here.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Wait, Part 7: Married & Young Challenge (Extreme Makeover, Holy Edition - In Security)

Image source: Facebook

This afternoon, Monica Umunna, Married and Young's Director of Product Development, shared a word on insecurity in the 5 Day Challenge group. She discussed how both the man and woman in a marital union should be secure in who they are BEFORE God sends them a spouse. She alluded to the story of Samson and Delilah in the Bible, emphasizing that Delilah was able to subdue Samson because he was not secure. In Judges 16, Samson falls in love with Delilah, who was sent as a decoy by the Philistines so that they could find the secret to his strength. He resisted her 3 times, but on the fourth time, she used the fact that he loved her to get him to reveal that his secret was in his hair. It was easy for her to break him down because he wasn't secure in who he was. As we pray for our future spouses, we also need to pray for a spirit of discernment. We need to make sure we won't be so blinded by love (and lust) that we can't distinguish between who was sent by God to help build us up and who was sent by Satan to break us down.

I've often heard my single girlfriends say, "I'm tired of being alone! I need a man who completes me!" And when they find the man (First mistake: they don't wait for God to SEND him to find them!) I was saying, when they find the man, they completely re-center their lives to revolve around him, cutting off ALL their friends (some of whom they've known their whole lives) and their self-worth hangs on his every word. That's not healthy at all. Ladies and gents, your significant other should complement (and compliment!) you, but it is NOT his/her job to complete you. You should be whole with or without him/her. If you're not, you should probably re-evaluate some things...starting with your relationship with God. The reason Monica stressed the importance of finding security in God is because God is the only One who can make you whole. Go to Him when you are broken. When your self-esteem is low, only God can help you truly know who and Whose You are. Having a husband/wife cannot make YOU believe that you are enough. You have to walk in that truth BEFORE marriage. If you don't, you'll find yourself relying too much on your spouse's approval...and you could find yourself walking alone. Let us pray:

God, help us to see our singleness as a remodeling process. Help us to find peace in knowing that the reason You are making us wait is because You are making necessary repairs, finalizing the renovations in our single lives. Help us to understand that a work has to be completed within our own houses before You add on a spouse. In our single season, affirm who we are in You so we can stand on a firm foundation. Help us to be strong in singleness so that we can be stronger together in matrimony. Lay in us a groundwork of unshakeable faith so that we may be adequately prepared to weather any and every storm that marriage may bring. Let our lives and our unions be a reflection of who You are.

In Jesus' name we pray,


For a recap of the message shared yesterday, click here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Wait, Part 6: The IlLUSTrious Life

Image source: Facebook

Today's discussion in the Married and Young 5 Day Challenge group was Pastor Jamal Miller's most transparent one yet. The topic he tackled today was lust. He explained that everything good isn't God, and used himself as an example, speaking candidly about his struggles with pornography addiction. Jamal revealed that he's had problems in this area since he was 12 years old. While it was "good" that he abstained from having sex with his wife until marriage, what he was doing wasn't godly because he was using masturbation as a coping mechanism, as a "safe" replacement for sex and as a refuge when times got hard. Jamal also made sure to emphasize that lust is not always sexual. For him, it was also dangerous emotional connections he was making with people and just self-control in general. He prayed for God to send him a wife because he thought that marriage could fix his addiction. and when he actually got married, he realized that marriage wasn't the solution. The solution was God.

That was my main takeaway point from the message this morning: Marriage is not a cure for anything. One thing I've struggled with in my Christian walk is social media. I think I subconsciously lust after experiences. What I mean by that is, sometimes I find myself scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,  YouTube, etc. and saying, "Oooh, this person traveled to this place this week!" And, "This person met [insert celebrity name here]!" Or, "I wish my hair was as long as this person's." Or, "This person seems to have it all together. I wish my life was like that!" Recently, I've been scrolling and thinking, When I get married, my life is gonna be great! My husband and I will get to [insert everything I've seen every seemingly-perfect, wealthy married couple do on Instagram]! And even with this blog, I was getting way too caught up in how many people read each post and how many people liked what I said, literally and figuratively. It got to the point where I was like, "It's been up for three hours, and so far, nobody commented, only 25 people liked it on Instagram, and 15 people clicked the link to read it." It was consuming me, and for a little while, I asked myself, "Am I really called to do this?" I needed to step away and take a break.

Yesterday morning, Jamal talked about how he was spending too much time on social media, so engrossed in his phone that he couldn't actively listen to people during face-to-face conversations. When he said that, it was like God basically barged into my house, sat on my couch, and kicked His feet up, because that's exactly how I am with my phone. People  speak to me in real life and I just completely tune them out because I "have to" compose the perfect I never want to get to the point where God is trying to speak to me and I tune Him out, so I took Jamal's advice and went on a 4-hour social media fast from 6-10pm EST. I was prepared for it to be difficult, but surprisingly, I kept it turned off for FIVE hours instead of four (Don't laugh lol). This was HUGE for me. I didn't even really miss it. I'm doing it again tonight and tomorrow night. I'm serious about this "less of me, more of Thee" thing, and I need to prove it to Him. A "lit" social media account and the number of followers on my blog doesn't determine whether or not I'm called to be a writer. Marriage won't fix the parts of me that need fixing. Marriage won't automatically guarantee a perfect life. Following God will guarantee everlasting life, and that's what matters. Let us pray:

God, help us to put You first above ALL things. Don't let our lust for sex, married life, or someone else's life distract us from our pursuit of everlasting life. Help us to focus less on who follows us on social media and more on following You. Help us to realize that the only validation we need is the 'yes' you give us, and help us to be satisfied in that. While we wait for You to send us a spouse, and even after You send them, help us to crucify our flesh everyday and submit wholeheartedly to Your will. Let our lives and our unions be a reflection of who You are.

In Jesus' name we pray,


For a recap of the message Jamal shared yesterday, click here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Wait, Part 5: Married & Young Challenge (Plumbing Issues + Why You're "Worth Being Worked On")

Image source: Facebook

This morning in the Married and Young 5 Day Challenge group, Pastor Jamal Miller spoke about the heart. This discussion tied nicely into yesterday's word about perspective, but took things one step further. Now that we know God can see us from all angles, we have to be willing to let Him dig deeper to get to the root of what needs fixing. We have to let Him examine our inner plumbing and unclog our hearts. Once our hearts are fixed on God, He'll send us the gift of our future spouse...but He has to take us through some things first.

I clicked on the video without looking at the title, so I didn't know what scripture Jamal would be teaching from, but as soon as he started speaking, I heard the lyrics to Tamela Mann's "Change Me" from her 2016 album, One Way, ringing in my spirit:

Tamela Mann - One Way album art / Amazon

Change me, O God
Make me more like You
Change me, O God
Wash me through and through
Create in me a clean heart
So that I may worship You

I love this song. I sing it all the time and watch covers of it on YouTube to see if anybody can do it justice, because let's be honest: NOBODY sings it like Tamela can! I knew the lyrics were borrowed from Psalms 51:10, but it wasn't until I spoke the words aloud instead of singing them that I realized that they are actually a very powerful prayer -- a prayer that we shouldn't pray until we are 100% sure we mean every word.

Change is good, but it's also scary because, well, it's change -- new and uncharted territory that we haven't explored before. We don't like change because it forces us to have to relearn everything, so we get comfortable in that job, that town, that person, that sin, because it's what we're used to. A lot of times, we don't feel God moving in our lives because we're afraid change is going to hurt. This morning, Jamal assured us that it will be painful. And ironically, the scripture he alluded to was Psalms 51:10 *cue goosebumps*.

Let's go back to the analogy of unclogging the heart. Has your sink drain ever been clogged? If so, you probably tried to fix it yourself before calling a plumber, right? Some Drain-O should do the trick. So you pour the whole bottle of Drain-O down the sink and continue adding more sludge down the drain for the next two weeks or so, only to find out that the Drain-O didn't fix anything the first time. The clog is even worse than before, so you bite the bullet and call the plumber, even though you really didn't want to pay the extra expense.

It's not a pleasant experience, but it sounds familiar, doesn't it? Too often, we try to fix our problems ourselves. We tell ourselves to suck it up and pretend to be okay, and the drain just continues to clog up until the sludge is almost visible under the surface. We don't want to call the plumber (God) because we know He's going to pull it out of us, and if it hurt going down, it'll be even more painful coming back up. It will cost us something, and we really don't want to pay the extra expense of being uncomfortable. Well guess what? It's necessary. And your expenses have already been paid.

Yes, change will hurt. In order to allow God to change us and make us more like Him, we have to come to terms with those things that are clogging our hearts. As Jamal shared this morning, it won't feel good during the process, but on the other side of the process is the living water of God that will be able to flow freely through our hearts (John 7:38). When we allow God to fix our plumbing, we can start drinking His living water, and in learning how to live for Him, we'll learn how to love like Him. This will eventually apply to our relationships with our future spouses, but in the meantime, we need to learn to love ourselves and our neighbors, our communities. As painful as it will be, we have to look inside ourselves and realize that we are "worth being worked on."

Let us pray:

God, I open my heart to You. You knew the ins and outs of me before I ever did. You know what needs fixing. Help me and everyone who reads this to surrender and accept the change that is necessary in order for us to be pleasing in Your sight. Help us to know that we are worth being worked on, and help us trust You to complete that work. Time and time again, we've tried to fix things ourselves, and time and time again we have failed. We like to think we've got it all figured out, but the truth is, we need You. Help us to understand that needing You is not an "extra expense" because You've already paid it all on the cross. Deal with us and show us how to deal with life. Unclog our hearts so that we may learn to love ourselves and others, and eventually, our future spouses, in a way that glorifies You. Let our lives and our unions be a reflection of who You are.

In Jesus' name we pray,


For a recap of the message Jamal shared yesterday, click here.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Wait, Part 4: Married & Young Challenge (Perspective Prayers + Avoiding Idolatry)

Saturday, I joined a Facebook group called M&Y Saved and Single (5 Day Challenge). This group, run by husband-and-wife team Jamal and Natasha Miller, co-founders of Married and Young, includes singles from all around the world who are preparing for marriage. This FREE challenge, which begins July 31st, is designed to teach those of us in a season of singleness how to pray for our future spouses (even if we haven't met the person God has for us yet). As I mentioned in my last post, I've been thinking about marriage a lot lately. Since I was a little girl, I've always pictured myself being married (and yes, I AM that really annoying person who already knows what colors and music I want for the reception 😂), but this is...different. I've never had a "right time" set for marriage, never a specific age "requirement" to be married by. If you had asked me at 21 or 22 if I was ready for marriage, I would've resoundingly said NO. In this first month and a half of 23, though, something has shifted. I'm not dating anyone, and I don't even see any "prospects" on the horizon right now. To some, this may sound "crazy," but I feel God positioning me for marriage.

Image source: Facebook
I joined Jamal and Natasha's challenge group by happenstance when their live broadcast appeared in my Facebook feed. When I signed up, I felt excitement coupled with a sense of peace that I've never experienced before. I'm not afraid of where God is getting ready to take me, I'm just optimistic about the future. The challenge hasn't even officially started yet and I'm already being blessed by the nuggets of wisdom and encouragement that the Millers and various members of the group are posting on the Facebook page. Before the challenge officially starts and we begin praying for our future spouses, Jamal and Natasha are giving us a kick-starter course on how to get ourselves right spiritually before God brings us the right person.

This morning, Jamal shared a powerful word about perspective, explaining that we need to humble ourselves before God. We need to recognize the one-sided lens through which we see ourselves and acknowledge that because God is omnipotent, He can see us from every angle. Once we recognize that, we have to open up to see ourselves the way God sees us, so He can repair the broken areas before He sends us a spouse.

Jamal also touched on another subject that really resonated with me: How to separate earthly, spousal love from God's love. He explained that in relationship with our spouses, we need to be careful not to place the selfish burden of supernatural love on to our natural spouse. They shouldn't have the responsibility of providing us with a love that only God can give. That's deep! It made me think of something I saw on Instagram Sunday night. Ironically, one of my favorite poets, Jackie Hill-Perry, made a short video geared toward--of all things--women praying for God to send them a husband. Right in my wheelhouse. The clip had a playful tone to it at first, but then, Hill-Perry became serious. She said:

"Sometimes you hear the saints talk about the type of husband they want [and they say], 'I just need a man that's going to love me with all his heart all his mind and all his soul.'...This is the thing: We do want spouses who love us well, clearly, but if that's all we're praying for, that's not enough. What you have to pray for is a husband that loves God more than he loves you, because it's his love for God that's gonna make him love you well.

I think some of these women don't realize what they're saying when they say [they want a man who loves them with his all]. So you want to be an idol? You want to be a golden calf to a man? That's not what you want. You don't want a man who worships you. You want a man who worships God, and through his worship of God, he honors you."

This is exactly what I've been praying about.

Marriage has been weighing on me heavily in the last month or so, but I'm being careful not to be consumed by the idea of it, especially since I've never been married before. If I blow the idea of marriage out of proportion during my season of singleness, it may be harder to appreciate the union that God gives me. No relationship is perfect. My goal is to approach this season with realistic expectations. Let us pray.

God, I come to You asking for guidance in this season. I feel You shifting me towards something new, telling me to position myself to be married. As I and other singles reading this begin to prepare for covenant, I pray that You will open our eyes to the areas we need to work on in our own lives. And while the work is being done within us, we trust that You are also preparing the heart of the one You designed specifically for us. Help us to learn not to question or rush You. Help us to surrender our lives and desires to Your will, knowing that You know exactly what and who we need. And when You send us our future spouses, help us not to worship each other or the idea of marriage, but to focus on You, the One who knew us before the beginning of time, the One who loves us better than anyone on earth ever could. Most importantly, let our lives and our unions be a reflection of who You are.

In Jesus' name we pray,


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Friday, July 21, 2017

The Wait, Part 3: The Hook-Up on REALationships (feat. Bruno Mars' "Marry You")

I've been thinking about marriage a lot lately. I'm not necessarily ready to get married right this second, but it's been on my mind heavily in the past couple of months. On my 23rd birthday last month, I shared my views on abstinence, and I've also discussed how to stay encouraged while God has you on reserve. In this installment of "The Wait," I'd like to speak to something that troubles me. This is "The Hook-Up."

Image source: Inner Bonding

Since I knew I wanted this post to be about marriage, I took some time to try to think of some songs about matrimony. One of the first tunes that came to mind was "Marry You" by Bruno Mars, from his 2010 album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans. I was 16 when this song came out and I absolutely LOVED Bruno Mars. I still do. I remember riding in the car blasting it at top volume and belting, "Just say I dooooo-ooooo-oooo-oooo!  / Tell me right now, baby!" It was so catchy, one of those songs that made you feel happy inside. "Who cares, baby? I think I wanna marry you!" Yes, I still remember all the words. But I'm not 16 anymore. Back then, I wasn't thinking about marriage. Re-visiting that song after I've lived a little more life has caused it to take on a whole different meaning for me: a not-so-happy one.

Bruno Mars - Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010) album art / Amazon

The song opens with the chorus:

It's a beautiful night, we're looking for

something dumb to do

Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you

Is it the look in your eyes, or is it this 

dancing juice?

Who cares baby, I think I wanna marry you

Right off the bat, this song trivializes marriage as "something dumb to do," and it sounds like the speaker is drunk and just seeing his love interest across the room at a club since they're drinking "dancing juice." They speak of marriage with an air of nonchalance: "Who cares, baby, I think I wanna marry you."

I know "Marry You" is 'just a song,' but this concept is disturbing when we take into account that the relationship described in this song actually happens in real life. This generation's view of love is so skewed. It's sad. Our society has been tainted by hook-up culture. We're all about instant gratification when it comes to relationships and so many other things. Emotional connection and communication isn't important anymore. Nowadays, everybody wants to skip learning about each other and go straight to sex.

The Spouse House / TLC - DCL

I was watching a fairly-new show on TLC the other day called The Spouse House, where singles are put together in a house for 60 days, and if they're not pairing up almost immediately, they get "evicted." Basically, it's 'fall in love now...or else.' I paid close attention to one couple in particular who had brief history years before the show, and a conversation they had led to one of the biggest epiphanies I've had in life thus far. The woman asked the man if he loved her. He said, "I was attracted to you sexually before the show. I'm attracted to you physically [referring to her looks], and I'm starting to be attracted to you emotionally. I'm falling in love with you." That's when it hit me. This is why a lot of relationships/marriages don't work: Men are attracted to women sexually first, then physically, and THEN emotionally. And a lot of times, they think they're ready to marry based only on sexual and physical attraction, oftentimes not even giving themselves time to form an emotional attachment at all. So they tell us women what we want to hear because most of us look at attraction first from an emotional standpoint, then physical, and THEN sexual...the complete opposite of how men approach attraction.

So when Bruno Mars sings,

If we wake up and you want to break up

That's cool

No I won't blame you

It was fun girl

He probably really means it. It was "fun" for him, because 1) he was drunk, and 2) he wasn't emotionally invested in her. Chances are, it wasn't "fun" for her, though, because by that point, she's probably developed feelings for him (at least on some level, assuming the hangover has worn off). There are so many things wrong with this picture.

Often, relationships fail because people simply aren't on the same page: One or both parties fail to clearly outline ALL the expectations they have for the relationship FROM THE BEGINNING. This is why, in my opinion, it's best to wait until marriage to have sex. Sex opens up a big can of worms, making people think they feel emotions that they may not actually feel for each other. Make sure what you feel for the person is what you truly feel in your heart, and not just how they make you feel in the bedroom.

Image source: Pinterest - Loveless Galleries

I've spoken about relationship goals in a couple of posts on this blog, emphasizing that we shouldn't pay too much attention to a lot of celebrity couples because we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. I said we shouldn't look at couples like Ciara and Russell Wilson, Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin, etc. and think that what they have is perfect, because it probably isn't. While I don't think it's healthy to idealize these relationships and try to emulate them in every aspect, I think it is okay to look at what they showcase on social media and pay attention to the ways they do love right. The snippets of their relationships that we see appear to be proof that the right way is the Christ way. Love works for both of these couples and so many others (Kirk and Tammy Franklin, Warryn and Erica Campbell, Travis and Dr. Jackie Greene, Willie and Patricia Moore, Jr., William and LaTae McDowell, Jamal and Natasha Miller, John and Aventer Gray...the list goes on), because they keep Christ at the center. I look at their love and take notes of bits and pieces of things I want in a relationship, everything from family values and how they pray for and with each other to how they nurture and appreciate each other's gifts. I don't want a relationship EXACTLY like any of the couples listed above because no two love stories are the same. However, there is value in seeing positive, achievable relationship goals while I wait. Here are a few of my REALationship goals:

1) I want my marriage to be a positive projection of the love my future children will deserve, in life in general and in their own marriages.

2) I want my future children to see a love that is attainable, a love that endures, but I also want them to see that love is not all fun and games. It's hard work and commitment.

And most importantly,

3) I want my marriage to be a reflection of Christ's love.

If it wasn't sent by God, I don't want it. I want something real, and I won't settle. For now, I'm content with waiting on His perfect timing.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

As Pictures Speak (Inspired By Beleaf In Fatherhood)

I'm a blogger, but I'm also a poet. I started writing poetry about three and a half years ago as a hobby, but I soon realized it was more than that: It's one of my gifts. I find myself struggling with writer's block a lot, so I like to challenge myself to look in unconventional places for inspiration. A couple weeks ago, I was scrolling through Facebook, and I saw a father's day advertisement from As I Am. It was a video where a black father was doing his son's hair and speaking affirmations over him. I  was moved by the ad, which eventually led me to the Beleaf In Fatherhood YouTube channel.

As a YouTube junkie, I'm always looking for more vloggers to watch, especially content creators of color. Representation matters! After watching about three videos featuring stay-at-home dad/rapper Beleaf (Glen Henry), his wife Yvette, and their three adorable #ChocolateBabies, Theo, Uriah, and Anaya, I was sold. Superb editing, cool music to vibe to, and most importantly, the Henrys are Christian. I subscribed and followed the family on all their social media accounts, including Instagram, where they share beautifully candid photographs of their adventures. Browsing through the photos, I found myself working through my writer's block.

One photo in particular caught my eye. It's a simple black-and-white shot dated September 2, 2016, with the caption, "Besties," featuring Theo and Uriah, shirtless, bright-eyed, and smiling. The boys are smiling in nearly every picture on all of the Henrys' Instagram pages,  but for some reason, the purity and innocence of the picture moved me. Suddenly, I knew why.

"Besties" / Instagram

As a writer, and more specifically, as a black writer, I feel compelled to write primarily about the experiences that Black people face--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Black men don't usually smile in pictures. As I began to write, I thought about the significance of that, and the result was the following poem, "Black Boy, Smiling."

Black Boy, Smiling

For now, black boy, in the innocence of youth, you smile in every picture. In stark contrast to gravity-defying, dark brown hair and smooth cacao skin, teeth, small and white, spread apart knowingly in anticipation, to make way for the big boys in a few years. The teeth, solid and sure, are prepared for the fall. The smile, yielding and unguarded, is not.

For now, black boy, your smile bursts confidently from your face in bouts of pure joy, like stars across the clearest night sky, but if the world has its way, your smile will be conditioned to hide its brilliance, and your lips will learn not to speak, but to become black hole. If you let it, the world will teach you to swallow sadness and fear, bottling it up in a permanent lump in your throat, so pride can never go down easy.

For now, black boy, in the innocence of youth, everything and nothing is black and white. For now, everything is simple, and you don't know the difference. You don't see color, and everything around you is vibrant and promising. One day, you will realize that more often than not, promises are broken. Gray areas exist. And everything, to some degree, is divided into black and white. On those gray days, I pray that you remember the magic your smile possesses, and that you will somehow, in spite of, find the strength to keep that smile from falling.

A picture really is worth a thousand words, I guess. Sometimes, it's worth more than that. It's amazing what God gives us when we listen as the photo speaks for itself. May Theo and Uriah Henry, and every black man who was once a black boy, always remember that his smile is one of the most powerful things he owns.