Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Psalm 23: A Dialogue

This post is probably the most out-of-the-box piece you will ever read on this blog. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to write about this week, and this--poem? Prayer? Conversation? I'm not really sure what to call it--caught my eye as I was scrolling through the notes in my phone. In the past week and a half or so on social media, I've seen several people saying they don't know how to talk to God. Well, this is an example of one of the many ways I talk to Him. I wrote this a while ago, at a time when I felt like He was silent. When I don't know what to say to Him, I often use scripture as a starting point. That was the case here. As I spoke the following words aloud, I took time to actively listen, and wrote down what I heard in reply. The more I wrote, the more realized God hadn't been quiet at all...I just hadn't made time to hear Him.

Psalm 23 Cross /

This is "Psalm 23: A Dialogue"

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Me: But Lord, this is not what I want! I asked You for what I wanted a long time ago and You still haven't given it to me. What have I done wrong?

God: You have asked Me for what you want. I will give you what you need...on My timing. Trust Me.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Me: But Lord, his pasture, her pasture, their pasture looks so much greener than mine. My flowers refuse to grow and my grass hasn't been watered in months! And I thought You said the waters were still. I'm drowning here!

God: Your life jacket ensures that you will everlast. Trust Me.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Me: Why is the right way always the hard way?

God: The right way is the road less traveled. Keep going. Trust Me.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Me: I will fear no evil. I will fear no evil. I will fear no evil...wait, wait for me! God, it's too dark! I can't see You! I can't see You! Don't leave me!

God keeps his eye on the sparrow, but remains silent.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Me: Where is my table? Do you know how painful it is to watch your enemies eat while you are hungry? I've been pressing, and pressing, and pressing, and oil. My cup feels so empty.

God: I am not finished filling you up. Your time of harvest is coming sooner than you think. Trust Me.

Me: I trust You, but...

God: There is no lack in Me. Seek Me first and your pastures will always be green (greener than some and less green than others', but keep your eyes on Me, not them). Your path, although riddled with valleys (to strengthen faith and character) will be righteous, and no weapon formed against you will ever prosper. Trust Me.

Me: I trust You, but...

God: It may seem as though your enemies have the upper hand, but fear not. No ear has heard, and no eye has seen the heights to which I am taking you. As for your oil, your fruit is not ripe yet, but in due season, you will reap what you have sown. Trust Me.

Me: I trust You, but...

God: Then surrender. Rest in My grace. Goodness and mercy will follow you if you follow Me. Stand on what I promised you.

Me: I trust You. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in Your house forever.


I don't know who this post is for, and I apologize if it's all over the place, but whoever it's for, I hope it encourages you. If you feel like God can't hear you, don't give up. Keep talking to Him. He hears. Turn your ear toward Him and listen for His voice. Your prayers are not in vain. Trust me, I know. I've been there. ❤

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

#BeNotDeceived: God-sent vs. Counterfeit

"O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." -Walter Scott

Ladies, when you think you're ready to be found by the one, it can be hard to distinguish God-sent from counterfeit. If you find yourself caught up with a counterfeit, you could end up getting caught in his lies. Sometimes, the counterfeit can look like the God-sent. That list you made of everything you want in a mate? The enemy saw it too. He'll send you a man that's "packaged" just the way you like, and make you think he's everything you prayed for and more. When you least expect it, he'll flip the script, and your dream guy will turn into a nightmare. If you're not careful, you'll confuse the faux Boaz with the real thing, and lose yourself in the process. So, how can you tell the difference? 1 John 4:1 says, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God..." Verse 5 reads, "They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them." Simply put, you will be able to separate God-sent from counterfeit because the proof is in the fruit.

If they're whispering sweet nothings (commitments, dreams, goals with no follow-through) in your ear, you'd better run while you can. Those promises may sound good, but they're empty! Don't get so wrapped up in a man's words that you forget to pay attention to his actions. The counterfeit talks about making power moves. The God-sent puts his words into action. Actions will always speak louder than words, but it's up to you to listen.

The counterfeit will do just enough to make it seem like he's not a counterfeit because his purpose is to distract you from yours. He might go to church every Sunday. That does not make him a Godly man. Does he offer to lead you in prayer? Encourage you to go to bible study with him? Is he reflecting God's light outside of the four walls of the church? The counterfeit pulls you away from God. The God-sent draws you nearer to Him. How does he act with his friends? Does he curse like a sailor, or does he recognize that he is in the world, but not OF it? Does he honor your boundaries, the "dos and don'ts" of the relationship, or does he pressure you to compromise? Does he invest wisely, both monetarily and in terms of time and effort? Are his investments producing a positive return? Does he treat you like the queen you are, or is his tone just a little condescending? Does he speak life into you, or is he draining life out of you?

These are just a few questions you should ask yourself during your dating season to make sure you're dealing with the real deal. If you're not sure about your guy, pray about it and ask God to help you hear Him clearly. He wants what's best for you because every Godly marriage enriches His Kingdom. Trust Him and obey His voice.

"Deceived" webinar flyer / Married and Young

In addition to prayer, if you really want to weed out the counterfeits, you should sign up for Married and Young's FREE webinar. "DECEIVED: The Lies Women Believe in the Pursuit for Love" is basically a women's conference where powerhouse speakers Natasha Miller, Dr. Kamilah Stevenson, Real Talk Kim, and Phineka Friend will help you walk in discernment in your single season. The best part? It's 100% FREE.

Sign up here, and watch tomorrow, February 22nd, at 9 EST/8 CST.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How to Survive Singles Awareness Day (feat. MAJOR.'s "Why I Love You")

I'm almost 24 years old, and this is my 23rd Valentine's Day as a single woman. The last 22 Valentine's days didn't bother me much, but this one is different. Last year, right before my 23rd birthday, it was as if someone flipped a switch inside of me and triggered a desire for marriage. Ever since then, it's been weighing on my mind pretty heavily. I've heard other singles alternately refer to this holiday as Singles Awareness Day, and I didn't realize how SAD that was (pun intended) until I really became aware of my singleness. It's weird. One minute I didn't care, and the next minute, my singleness hit me like a ton of bricks.

As I continue my single season, I'm trying to figure out exactly what it is I need to be doing while I wait. I'm working on myself in a lot of ways, because I always say that I want to become the woman God wants me to be, but I often wonder, am I becoming the woman my future husband needs? That's something I hadn't considered until very recently. The next logical thought that followed was, how can I become the woman my future husband needs if I haven't met him yet? The answer is, of course, found in God. As I was meditating on this idea, He dropped a song in my spirit--a secular one at that: MAJOR.'s 2016 hit, "Why I Love You."

MAJOR. - "Why I Love You" - single (2016) / Amazon

(Before we continue, I know what you're thinking. Yes, I'm going to be cliché and reference this song on Valentine's Day. Yes, I am listening to it as I type this, and yes, I will be a cliché crybaby when this plays at my wedding. Moving on...😂)

Verse 1:

I found love in you

And I've learned to love me too

Never have I felt that I could be all that you


It's like our hearts have intertwined into the

perfect harmony

Love is, first and foremost, found in God. Who better to teach us how to love ourselves than the One who first loved us, the one who loved us before we were a twinkle in our mother's eye? When He tells us who we are, we hesitate to believe Him because the world tells us otherwise. Often, we feel like we can't measure up to who He calls us to be, but how can we be anything less than wonderful when we were made in the image of the One who cannot be measured? When we intertwine our hearts with His, He will give us our desires because our desires will match His will for our lives.

Verse 2:

I found love in you

And no other love will do

Every moment that you smile chases all of

the pain away

Forever and a while in my heart is where

you'll stay

One of the most profound quotes I've ever read is a line in Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower: "We accept the love we think we deserve." We are undeserving of a love as perfect as the kind God gives us, but that perfect love should raise the standard for the love we expect to receive on earth. I'm not saying we should expect our significant other to be perfect, but we should expect that person to be an earthly reflection of His love for us. When He smiles on us, our pain turns into praise, and our fears turn into faith. We should, in turn, seek to be with someone who makes us feel safe.

These are just a few things I pulled from the song. It simultaneously reminded me of the kind of love I am given and caused me to anticipate the love that I hope will find me...and then I got it: If this is the love I want, this is the love I have to give. I don't know how much single time I have left, but however long God will have me to wait, I'll do my best to be a reflection of Him. I'll reflect His light not only because He calls me to do so, but because that is the type of love my future husband deserves. I might not know who he is yet, but I may as well get a head start.

Dear future husband,

When the God in me speaks to the God in you, we'll realize that we are stronger as two. Until "I" becomes "we," I'm letting Him work on me. We'll be better together than we are apart, but for now, He's making space for you inside of my heart.

My heart is preparing itself to be found by you. I hope that when you find it, you'll stay forever and awhile.

With love,

Your future wife

Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Taste of Your Own Medicine: For The Christian Creative

I've been feeling really self-reflective lately. As I was thinking about what to post this week, I started contemplating the weight of my gifts. I've previously opened up about trying to increase readership on this blog. I've always said that I want more people to read my writing because I believe God gave me this gift to share it with the world. I still don't have a large audience on this platform, but I still believe that it can get to where I want it to be...eventually. Recently though, my focus has shifted from external numbers to internal repair--more specifically, self-help.

Pill bottles / Safe Medicine Disposal

Every so often, I have these bursts of inspiration where everything I'm thinking/feeling spills out of my fingers onto my memo page in a stream of consciousness. The following questions are the result of my latest musings. I think they're questions that every Christian creative should ask themselves at least once in their lifetime:

Am I so busy trying to make a mark that I'm missing the mark? I often say that when I die, I want my gifts to be used up, but am I using enough of my gifts on myself? Am I applying what I write, what I speak to my own life? I'd hate to get to Heaven and hear Him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. You've drawn men to me, but you forgot to use what I gave you to treat your own stuff..." The bible says we're the light of the world. A city on a hill. Our light cannot be hidden...but do we become so consumed with not being hidden that we forget to self-apply the word that is hidden in our own hearts?

What if my ticket into heaven depends not on how many souls I brought to Christ, but on whether or not I used my talents to minister to myself? What if I'm pouring a little too much into them and not saving enough for myself? Is my stuff for me? Or is it selfish to hold onto what God gave me to share? Am I doing it backwards? Should I taste test it before feeding it to the masses? Is He still glorified by the parts of my gift I keep for myself? I know someone out there needs what I've got, but who needs it the most, me or them? Am I my own target audience? Who am I talking to?

I wrote out these thoughts exactly as they flowed, and I was able to glean one cohesive idea from all of them: As Christian creatives, God gives us our gifts so we can use them to help others heal. Should we use them to heal ourselves before we spread the message? I think the answer is yes. Christian artists, in whatever capacity you operate, whether you're a singer, songwriter, blogger, poet, motivational speaker, etc., look inside your gift and take what you need first. If God gave you something and told you to share it, chances are, you needed it the most in the first place. You are allowed to give yourself a taste of your own medicine.