Category Archives: Life 101

Got Love?

So here is a little food for thought. It may be heavy and kind of “in your face” but I am done with superficial Christians living their superficial lives and presenting to the world that this is what Christianity is all about.

Christianity is not about performing “good deeds” and then being done with the person that the deed was done for, it is not about telling people that you are going to pray for them yet not having a praying bone in your body, it is not about wearing a certain type of clothing or not wearing make-up, it is not about being one person to the world while you are a different person behind closed doors. It is about being transparent, it is about serving others and continuing to build relationship with them, it is about displaying the character of God in the good times and the bad.

How can you display His character if you don’t know Him? How can you know Him if you don’t spend time with Him? This is why relationship is so important. Relationship requires us to be selfless, to forgive and to put others’ needs before our own. This world has gotten it so twisted and we don’t understand or hold relationships sacred anymore.

Religion has been intertwined with the Word, lies have been mixed with Truth, for a very long time and it’s about time we started to acknowledge it, address it and change it. If you are a born-again believer you need to begin seeking the Lord for understanding, as it pertains to His Word, because true understanding can only come from Him.

How can we love if we walk in pride?Some of us have been walking in pride for so long that we do not even realize we are in it. That’s scary but it’s the truth and I know because I was once the most prideful person anyone could have ever met but thank God for deliverance!

Pride and love cannot and will never mix; they cannot exist together. You cannot unconditionally love anyone if you walk in pride because pride forces us to love conditionally. God’s love is not conditional. Jesus did not die for us to love others conditionally! His love is so unconditional that we cannot wrap our carnal minds around it, which is why He tells us that our minds must be renewed. This truth may go over certain ones’ heads however, some things can only be received by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit that is. This is a continual process, not a one-time deal.

Don’t take my word for it, read the Word and seek the Lord in everything that you hear, see and do.

There is always something to learn, something to receive and something new that God wants to reveal to us through His Word. It is only when we do what it says in Matthew 6:33 and “seek first the Kingdom” and seek the wisdom, understanding righteousness of God, that our minds can be renewed, we can be delivered from bondage and we can walk in liberty and unconditional love toward all. Peace and love, family!

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Delayed or Unanswered?

I met a young man while shopping.  He and I began talking and he happened to say something that would later send me on this journey of intense study and prayer.  He had recently gone through a very hurtful breakup with the mother of their infant daughter and said that he thought she was “the one” and now he was in a place of questioning and doubting God since he felt like God didn’t answer his prayers to be with this woman forever.  I’m sure many of us can relate to this type of doubt and unanswered-prayeruncertainty, in our own lives, in some way.  However, I could sense that this was much more than your typical doubt, if you will.

In the short time that we spoke, which was about half an hour, I learned more about this young man than I learned about many of my friends during our first few months of friendship.  I also believe that this young man walked away with a newfound faith and a certainty that he had longed for, for a lifetime.  To God be the glory!  You see, I am not the kind of person that believes in sugarcoating this thing called faith; I am not going to paint out a life spent with Jesus to be a life free from pain, struggle, tears or hurt.  However, as long as there is breath in these lungs I will forever let you know that in the midst of the pain and the tears, there will always be an indescribable peace and an unspeakable joy that can only come from Jesus.

Back to our topic, delayed or unanswered?…  When I was growing up, my grandmother, who was a mighty woman of faith, used to say, “Baby girl, there will always be times when God seems distant but that’s when you have to stand a little firmer, pray a little harder and trust a little longer.”  I’m not going to even lie and say that I understood what she meant by that but as I’ve grown up, had a family of my own, and continued my own walk with the Lord, I have begun to understand many of her words a little bit better.  349_1920x1080_angel_vs_demon

You see, we all have times when we want to give up or we feel stagnated in some part of our lives.  I’m sure many, if not all, of us have had times when we have prayed to some ‘higher being’ and things just didn’t pan out the way we thought they would.  It is very easy to stop believing, to stop trusting, and to give up on faith during those times but that is the trick of the enemy.  The enemy wants you to believe that there is no God or that God is not listening to you but that is a lie from the pit of hell!  The truth is that God does listen, God does care and God is real!

There are times when we, as parents, avoid giving our own children things that will harm them or take them off of the path that they are supposed to be traveling on.  If we, as parents, think about our children in this way and want to prevent them from ever being hurt in any way, what do you believe the God of all creation thinks about concerning us and our well-being?

DISCLAIMER: I take full responsibility, retaliation and backlash for the following statement: I honestly believe that there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer; there is either yes or no.

Man-Praying-at-DawnMany times, it is not that God has not answered our prayers.  Many times, God has either answered the  prayer with a “No” and that is why it feels like He did not answer us because He has answered in a way that we were not really expecting or open to.  And, sometimes, His answer is “Yes” and everything works out the way we thought it should or even better.  What we have to remember is that everything will be answered in the end so, whether or not we understand God’s Will, we can rest assured that we will fully understand everything (the good, the bad and the ugly) that happened, in this life, when we get to eternity.

My goal, in every post that I write, is to make you think, not to change your mind or belief, just to give you something to chew on.  If you happen to get something more out of the thoughts written into this blog that is wonderful but the goal is to really just present a new perspective about very real issues, subjects or questions that we all may have thought about at one point or another.

College: Is it really necessary?

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Some friends and I were talking a few days ago and we happened to get on the topic of college. That conversation was probably one of my favorites since I love talking about and understanding the impact that our choices have on our lives and on society as a whole.

So, one of my friends said that he and his wife feel that having a college education is very much needed to get to where you want to be in this life. A few of my friends were torn in what they truly believed or had no real opinion about it one way or another. The majority of my friends felt like most of their parents expected them to go to college and obtain a degree and, as such, they knew they would require this of their own offspring as well. I was joined by only one other friend who felt that while a college degree is great to pursue it is not absolutely necessary for lifelong success.

I’m of the belief that when the Lord has called you to a particular thing He will open the doors – that you will need opened – to get you to where He’s called you to go. God can, will and has already given you certain gifts that will help you on your journey of life. One of my dearest friends, who barely finished high school and is one of the smartest people I know, has a very evident gift of knowledge. A gift of knowledge, for those who don’t know, is having a mind that is able to figure out, quickly learn or just plain know things that most people only know if they’re “formally” taught those things. This is the way that the gift has manifested itself in my friend however, I am sure it can manifest itself in other ways as God wills. All in all, this IS a real gift that can make a person look – and sound – college educated without actually being so.

I understand that it is the goal of colleges and recruiters to enroll as many students as possible. That is their mission and their job and I’m not mad at them for taking their jobs seriously and holding their position in high regards. I’m appreciative to these institutions for being here for the many people who can, will, have been called and do desire to attend college. What frustrates me is that we, as parents, are not truly in prayer for our children and for our children’s futures. What grieves my heart is that we are not consulting God – in everything that we do – in how we are raising, what we are speaking and how we are guiding our children. Since my belief is that not everyone is supposed to go to college, it makes no sense for those individuals to go and put themselves in the position to incur student loans and other debts for an education that they will either never fully use or walk down a path that they’ve not been called to in the first place.

No wonder why so many college students change their majors on average 3 times before settling on one. We are sending our children into the world and expecting them, at 18 years old, to have a well thought out, surefire plan so that we can feel good about sending them out to begin and fulfill that plan. We are not setting our children up for success but rather for failure. If we will be real, we can all see how this is sending a message to our kids that conformity is better than being distinct. This message says, “Don’t have your own dreams, goals or vision, just do what everyone else is doing and be what everyone else is being and everything will be fine. Oh yeah, and God doesn’t need to know about this but you can bring Him along for the ride!” Are we serious?!?

I said all of this to say that it is up to us to understand how we are gifted, know what we have been called to do and to be obedient and walk in that calling and our own individual purpose. I know of so many people who believe if you do not hold a college degree, that you are uneducated and/or unintelligent and thus not on their level. This could not be further from the truth. I also know of those who believe so deeply in being college educated that if, for some reason, they are not able to attend college their identity and self-worth suffers. I was one of those people but thank God for grace!

As you can see, this is one of those topics that I could talk about for hours. It intrigues me, indeed. But enough of my thoughts on the subject, I’d love to get a real dialogue going. Go ahead, chime in and let me know your perspective.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart!

There are some days that you would never want to live over again. Then there are those days that you relive year after year, and you absolutely wouldn’t trade those moments for anything in the world. This is one of those days for our family… Those “good” days…

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Today is my second daughter’s birthday. She turned 10 years old today. It seems like yesterday that I was pregnant with her and experiencing some of the craziest emotions I’ve ever experienced in my life, up until that point at least. My husband, at the time, and I had just found out we were expecting again and he had also just received his first orders to deploy to Iraq within a couple of months.

I remember being scared out of my mind because not only were we in unknown territory, due to being stationed at Fort Campbell, KY and only being there for about 3 weeks before finding out we were with child, but my husband was leaving American soil and actually being sent to a foreign land where soldiers were being killed left and right. Nervous? Scared? Honestly, I think I was more petrified than anything at that point.

To make a long story short, he ended up leaving right before Thanksgiving that year and the holidays definitely were not the same without him. I ended up going to visit my family back in Illinois and the day after I got there we had a beautiful and healthy, yet tiny, 4 lb 8 oz baby girl. I had gone into labor prematurely. The doctors all said that it was due to me being stressed about my husband’s safety and now having two children, instead of just the one, to care for alone if anything were to happen to him.

I don’t know what caused me to go into labor early but I do know that this is definitely one of those days… Those good days that I will always remember and hope to never ever forget.

New Year’s Message

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Last year, 2015, was pretty tough for my family and I but we made it through. I know this had nothing to really do with us but it had everything to do with God holding us through the trials and storms. I don’t usually make New Year resolutions because I think we can sometimes go way overboard when making these “promises” and we end up either saddened by our lack of commitment or angered when we mess up. As such, I have gotten into the habit of doing a vision board at the beginning of each year. I have not completed my vision board for 2016 yet but many of the key points, as of right now, point towards career development and developing my spirit-man more this year. I guess you could say that 2015, with all its bumps and bruises, made me appreciate life more and has made me want to fulfill my purpose a lot more now than ever before.

While I am not much into making resolutions, I do believe in allowing God to reign in my life and inviting Him to take my mind, my heart, my life and to mold it into something that He can be proud of. So, my “resolution”, if you will, is just to be more like Him. To listen like He listens, to forgive like He forgives and most of all to love like He loves. Many things are easier said than done but this is my commitment to my family, to my friends and to everyone that God will allow me to influence, in any way, this year and for years to come.

So, here’s to 2016! May it be the beginning of the best part of your life! May you know love like you have never known before, know peace and joy like you have never known peace and joy before and be healed like never before. No matter what may come your way, in this new year, my prayer is that you will allow the Lord to see you through to the other side. For weeping can only endure for a night, but joy must come in the morning!

Happy New Year to you and yours! 🙂

True Strength

“Stop trying to be strong and embrace your weaknesses.”               – Pastor Jeremy Deweerdt

We are doing a series at our church. It is entitled ‘Rescue’. In this series, we have been talking about how God rescues us out of many seemingly hopeless situations and how, ultimately, we are (or have been) rescued to be a rescuer (for others). It has been simply amazing and very much eye-opening and life-changing for many, myself included. Today’s message was ‘Rescued from Hardships’. As you can imagine, this is something that many of us have faced at one point or another and something that we may currently be facing as I write this post and as you read along.

There was something very profound that was said in the message that really hit home. Obviously, there were many other great things that were conveyed in this message but I will only touch on this one for now because it honestly made something in my spirit shout “Yes!” My pastor had a number of different hardships that he hit on during this message and then he said the quote above and I knew this was a topic that I needed to do a post on.

Many times, when we are going through difficult times, we try to work things out in our own strength. I cannot begin to tell you how true that has been, in the past, for me. As believers, when we are going through a storm and we say that we “don’t feel God’s presence or strength,” it is many times because we have our hands in the situation and are trying to “fix” it in the way we want it to be fixed. Now, how true has that been for you???

Personally, I have experienced many people that talk about the perceived “strength” of men and women who have found themselves in the role of a single parent. While I do agree there is a strength that shows up in this type of situation, there is also a place where that strength is usually drawn from. I, myself, don’t like to have people tell me how “strong” I must be to have 6 children and to be parenting them alone because I know that is not the truth. My strength, as I have acknowledged before and will continue to talk about until the day that life leaves this earthly body, comes solely and fully from the Lord. I do not parent these children alone because God is my rock and my “co-parent”, if you will. He provides for ALL of our needs. His strength is made perfect in my weakness and I could do nothing without Him. I would not be able to love, guide and care for even 1 child, let alone 6, if it were not for the Lord loving, guiding, caring for and giving me the strength that I need, and being my strength, every single day.

It is kind of funny, to me, that we acknowledge the strength of single parents or the strength it may have took for someone to face their biggest fear and we fail to acknowledge where that strength comes from or what exactly true strength looks like. We are not always quick to acknowledge the strength that it takes to make a marriage work and to parent your child(ren) with your spouse, or the strength it takes to resist temptation, or the strength it takes to be obedient and remain in the will of God, or the strength it may take to continue working a job that you may absolutely hate in order to provide for your family, or even the strength it takes to confess and admit a wrong that we’ve committed against someone. One of the things that I’ve learned, is that we all have weaknesses and strengths. I’ve also learned that many of us like to focus and display our strengths for all to see, while we steadfastly hide our weaknesses. It may be something that we grew up being taught or it may be because we just don’t like those parts of ourselves. Listen, I get it! I grew up being taught to never let anyone see my weaknesses too but I think we need to understand that our weaknesses make us who we are, just as much, if not moreso, as our strengths. And that is okay!

My goal, as a mother, friend and woman, is to teach my children that we all have weaknesses and to not pressure them to ever feel like they have to be perfect, because that is a goal that we can never truly reach on this side of heaven; and to embrace my weaknesses, so that people not only see my strengths but also realize that I am human, I have flaws and that I am, by no means, perfect, although I may appear to be. 🙂 Let’s begin to acknowledge and understand where our true strength lies.

A Revolution Of Support

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One of the best feelings in the world is, quite possibly, knowing that you’re supported by the people you love and are fond of. There is nothing like it! Imagine for a moment, you had another horrible day at work and you decide you are going to resign and start your own business. You get home and call a friend or speak with your significant other and during the conversation you reveal that you are planning to quit your job and move on to something that makes you happy and gives you purpose. Your friend/ significant other begins to tell you how stupid your idea is and tries to discourage you from going after your dream. Does that make you feel good? Does that make you want to continue to be friends or in a relationship with that person? Is this type of behavior and response building you up or tearing you down? My point exactly.

There are so many wonderfully creative, talented and capable people who never reached their greatest potential because they were fearful, hindered or never allowed or encouraged to go after their dreams. What a tragedy! Seriously, how sad is that? I believe that some of what keeps up from reaching our greatest potential is because we do not truly know and embrace who we are and what we are passionate about. How would it look if every one of us understood our God-given gifts and talents? Even more, how would the world be changed if every one of us followed our dreams and did something that we were passionate about? I think this type of teaching must begin in the home with parents and partners encouraging each other to make, keep and reach their goals. It seems that children, and adults alike, nowadays are being told what they cannot do rather a-team-is-jeffrey-benjamin-quotethan being encouraged to do the impossible.

There is a generation of people who feel entitled but are not motivated to change the world and serve or give back to others. This, my friends, is a serious problem. Many of us are all about numero uno and we could care less about the dreams and aspirations of others around us. Therefore, we do not generally encourage one another to excel in new things. I  can remember, growing up, being very afraid to tell people what I wanted to be when I grew up because it was very unrealistic, especially in the community that I mostly grew up in. However, I had a grandmother who inspired me and encouraged me to dream big and never stop striving to make those dreams a reality. It is because of this support and love that I began to believe that I could be a writer and that my name would be known around the world. You can say that my dreams are very big, almost impossible according to most, but I know who I am now and I know the talents that God has given me and now, I graciously walk in those gifts and talents.

Encouraging our children – the next generation – is an absolute must! If we sit around – as parents, educators, society – we stand a chance of our future being stifled and our children never knowing what it means or what it looks like to dream and to have those dreams come true. What kind of legacy are we truly leaving to our children and other future generations? If we do not teach our youth now, then they will not feel obligated to teach their children and future generations will perish. The Bible tells us, in Proverbs 29:18, that, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…“. This shows us that we have to be supportthe ones who will stand and make that vision for our own homes, lives and the world in its entirety.

We have become a selfish generation and I think it’s about time for that to end. We are seeing the aftermath, everywhere, in today’s society. From women fighting and backstabbing each other on most, if not all, of this country’s reality television shows to politicians – living in their own little worlds – having no real concern about the people, the state of our economy and other world matters. There needs to be a shift in our society. Despite what many may believe, that shift can indeed start with just one person. I am that person. I will be that person. This is a call for us to stand up and support one another, fully and freely. A call to stop being so self-centered and self-absorbed that you do not realize the dying and hurting world around you. How will you contribute to this call?

TBT: Live Your Dream

I was sitting here wondering what I should write about today and I ended up thinking about a guest post I wrote, that was published on a fellow bloggers’ blog site, about 9 months ago. It was entitled “Live Out Your Dream”. The contents of this particular post are basically self-explanatory when you read the title but I encourage you to read it and apply it to your life, in whatever way you see fit.Dream

With it being throwback Thursday and all I figured now was as good a time as any to introduce to some, and reintroduce to others, my philosophy on life;  my passion and reason for doing what I do (i.e. blogging/writing); and to just offer you some encouragement for your day, week and year. So, without further ado, why not take a few minutes to sit back, kick up your feet and head on over to the Happy Pretty Blog to read this “throwback” post.

Happy Thursday, Word-ies!

How to Ruin Your Child in 7 Easy Steps

oas_9781621885054_270I am on this journey of reading different devotionals and books. I had not been able to read as much as I’d like to however, lately, I have had this “extra” time on my hands and decided to fill that time with God and with reading. It has been truly refreshing. Recently, I was sent a new devotional, through my Bible app, and I decided to check it out. It was entitled “How to Ruin Your Child in 7 Easy Steps”. Yeah, it was a little weird to me too as first but I promise you I am not making this up.

Usually when we think of having children and raising them, we typically don’t think of harming them and we definitely don’t entertain the thought of ruiningSeven-deadly-sins them. However, as I was reading through this devotional, I began to understand how we really can (and do) ruin our children and make life harder for them, and ourselves, than we may realize. Obviously, this devotional is Biblically-based and, as such, often refers to passages of scripture or sin that opens the door to a parent or guardian ruining their child.

So, here’s a little history (or cheat sheet) on the 7 deadly sins, which is hard-work-vs-lazinessultimately what is used to show how we can ruin our children. The seven deadly sins can be found in various books of the Holy Bible. Here is the breakdown:

  • Lust – to have an intense desire or need: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed
    adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
  • Gluttony – excess in eating and drinking: “for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (Proverbs 23:21).
  • Greed – excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness (interest in acquiring money or other material things): “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19).wrath
  • Sloth – disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous: laziness: “The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19).
  • Wrath – strong vengeful anger or indignation: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
  • Envy – painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage: envyjealousy: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2).
  • Pride – quality or state of being proud: inordinate self-esteem: haughty or puffed up: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”
    (Proverbs 16:18).

As you can see, many of these sins are not things we would normally greed-quotes-1consider to be that bad (or that big of a deal) but God looks at these traits differently than we do. Sometimes we are operating in these things and we do not even know it. Even when someone tries to point these things out in us, many times, we will accuse that other person of being mean or insensitive or just plain wrong about us. Sometimes that may be true but what if they are right about us? Then what?

We often hear people complaining about society and how the world isn’t like it used to be and our youth are not as respectful, compassionate, thoughtful as they used to be but let me pose this question to you. Do
you understand that many of these complaints stem from the way
someone was raised?

pride-quotes-8God has given us, who are parents in any way, the responsibility to raise our children to become the adults that we want to see them become. Raising a child is more than just providing for them financially and physically but it is guiding them spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It is giving them opportunities to make mistakes while they are still under your guidance and care so that you can correct them and help them to understand why something is “this way” and not “that way.” I would encourage any of you that have been given the opportunity to impact the life of a child, in any way, to read this devotional. I truly believe in the saying, “when you KNOW better, you DO better.”

I Can’t Breathe

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The recent headlines of young black men and boys dying at the hands of white police officers is astonishing to me. Recently, there was another African-American mother who came forth about her young son’s sudden death. Apparently, there was a call made to the Cleveland Police Department about a little boy who was in the park with a “gun”. This little boy, Tamir Rice, was only 12-years old and in the sixth grade. From the looks of the video, it seems that this officer was not informed, or simply did not care, that this was a call about a little boy and NOT a grown man. I say this because literally seconds after the officer arrived on the scene, he drew his gun, shot and killed young Tamir. All of this definitely has me asking what is really going on?

When is enough, enough? If people don’t wake up and realize that racism is still alive and well in America then they are doing themselves, and everyone around them, a great disservice. There is such a thing as white privilege and it is becoming more and more prevalent in this world that we live in. I love everyone and teach my children to do the same so there is no hate coming from here. Please hear my heart… There is something to be said when young black boys and men can have their lives taken without thought. This is a problem whether we want to admit to it or not. It’s sad to say but if these same things were happening to young white boys and men, this would not even be a conversation because it would have been addressed by now.

I think that before we can move forward as a country and as a people, we must first address the elephant in the room. It seems that no one wants to talk about this which is probably why, all across the world, many young people are protesting. There comes a time when change must happen and when that does not happen on it’s own, there are those who will make it happen. What I see is a reenactment of many a movements back in the days immediately following slavery. During the times of Civil Rights protests and Dr. King’s dream. Our young black mens’ dreams are dying right along with them and I do not understand how no one else sees this as a problem.

As the mother of 2 black sons, I am appalled at how careless these officers can be and still get away with it. They get to continue on with their lives while these young boys and men are gone, never to be able to laugh again, speak again, DREAM again. How is this okay? Why are more people not concerned about this? What makes it so that certain people’s lives are seen as more valuable than others? A change needs to come and I truly pray that it will come in my lifetime.