Monthly Archives: July 2015

Blessings of a Father

Standard

Allow me to introduce to you my father. My biological father. The man who partnered with my mother to create me. If memory serves me correctly this is the first time I’ve shared a picture of him. He wasn’t my favorite person in the world and by the look on my face I am sure you figured that out. Or maybe it was that hideous dress my mother had me wear. Not really sure, but I digress.

father-page-001

This photo was taken in 1979 (that’s what is written on the back of the picture). It is actually the only picture I have of my father. People use to say I look like my mommy and then they see a picture of my father and say, “ooohhhhhh.” I guess it’s not so bad to be his twin. But this blog isn’t the world’s introduction to my father. It’s about the blessings I never received from my father.

I make every effort to feed my spirit in the morning. Something to encourage and motivate me for the day’s journey. This morning as I listened to the podcast of a well known pastor, he talked about the blessings of a father. He discussed how vital a father is to the emotional growth and development of his children. The pastor said that fathers need to speak life, validate, show affection and tell their children how proud he is of them. Children long for this and need this and when it’s not received it can affect the child well into adulthood. This made me think of my own father and how his inability or unwillingness to do the things discussed by the pastor caused all sorts of dysfunction in my life.

You see, I believe a father is his daughter’s first love. He is the first man she will ever love. The relationship a daughter has with her father lays the foundation for every relationship in her life. It’s been said as a daughter begins to date; every boy or man she meets will be compared to her father. The father sets the standard early and is ultimately a role model for what manhood looks like. Unfortunately the example I was shown was everything but positive.

father and daughter

I remember my mother telling me that my first word was not mommy or daddy; it was Robby (what most people knew him by). My mother said I would call my father’s name as though I were his wife. She told me that he would walk into a room and my face would light up and I would lift my arms and motion with my hands for him to pick me up. Mommy said I was daddy’s little girl.

Sadly I remember none of this. I don’t have all bad memories, however. I do remember fun trips to the beach and fun times in the car when my parents would act as though they were NASCAR drivers. There was some laughter and a few good memories but somewhere something changed and those good memories that I had were replaced with bad, painful, and hurtful memories. Those good memories turned into such an intense hatred for my father that when people would ask me about him my response was, “If my father was lying in the street with a bullet to the head and my blood was the only blood to save him, he would be dead.” You’re probably thinking that was harsh….or mean….or just plain evil. Whatever your thoughts are about it, it was my reality for more than 20 years. It wasn’t until I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior that I realized I needed to forgive my father; not for him but for me. And so I bless God that He has healed me of the hatred and unforgiveness I harbored for my father.

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” ~ Matthew 6:14-15 (The Message Bible)

But as this is my season to allow God to do a work in me that will prepare me for the man He gives my heart too, I felt it important to acknowledge that every bad decision I made in terms of men is a direct correlation to the relationship I had with my father. For years I searched for the love I did not get from my father in other men. From my very first boyfriend to my last relationship I gave of myself and hung on the words of men who would eventually reject and abandon me. Because I lacked what my father should have given me, I placed myself in some very compromising situations…which I now regret. My father failed to validate me so I looked for it in men and sometimes people in general. My father failed to tell me he was proud of me. My father failed to speak life into me. So I looked to men to fill the void my father left. My father failed at being a role model by which I could base my relationships off of. In essence, my father failed.

FAILED

But on November 7, 1999 I was introduced to my Heavenly Father. My earthly father failed to do what a father should but my Father in Heaven loves me; He cherishes me; He protects me and values me. He died for me. God has healed me and is healing me so that I no longer look to a man or anyone else for false love and validation. He has loved me before I was formed in my mother’s womb and told me in his love letter to me that I am the apple of his eye. He has shown me what a man should look like (his characteristics). God models for me the characteristics that my father should have modeled for me.

But even though my father failed at what he was chosen to do, God has promised that because I am in him, I no longer have to be without a father! Even though my earthly father failed me, I know my Heavenly Father never will!!

He is a father to the fatherless….” ~ Psalm 68:5 (NIV)

As I am writing this blog I am reminded of a story my favorite Air Force Chief told me. He arrived at work one morning looking distressed. I said, “Chief is everything ok?” He responded with, ‘I am doomed.’ I asked why? He proceeded to tell me that his daughter announced that unless she met a man like her father she was never getting married. I said, “That’s awesome Chief.” He said, ‘How is that awesome? She’s never leaving my house!’ I said, “It’s awesome because you did your job and you did it well! You mirrored for her what a man…a husband looks like. You set the bar high and that is a compliment.” He places his head in his hands and says again, ‘I am doomed.’

The dialogue with him was funny, but the matter is very serious. Fathers please model for your daughters what a man is. Love her, validate her, and show her affection so that she does not spend years and tears looking for it in other men. Set the bar high so that she will expect other men to treat her as her father did. And please let her know that you think she is beautiful inside and out. Tell her often! You are already her first love. Make her feel cherished and give her a positive image of what that means.

Advertisements

FIERCLY INDEPENDENT OR JUST PLAIN OLE NIAVE?

Standard

strong black woman

A friend recently married the love of her life. While I was not part of the wedding celebration (physically), reading the nuggets that she shares about her relationship has truly been a blessing to me. Recently she shared that she was having one of those days that makes us long for its end. As I lived that day through her words, one sentence pierced my very soul……

It feels amazing to not have to figure everything out anymore.

I am paraphrasing her statement but that is the gist of what she said; it feels amazing to not have to figure everything out anymore. I thought about that statement for a moment. I allowed the words to dance in my head until they rolled sweetly from my lips and I found myself repeating them aloud…..

It feels amazing to not have to figure everything out anymore.

Ok, you are probably wondering by now where am I going with this. I am so glad you asked. Gentleman, how many of you have heard a woman make this profession? I bet quite a few of you have! Ladies, how many of you have said to yourself or someone else, ‘I don’t need a man to do anything for me!’ HAHA, I see your hands on your hips and your necks rolling around as you say it! How many of you have heard your mother, aunt, or any other woman announce to the world (or at least to anyone who would listen) “I don’t need a man to do nothing for me!” Maybe I’m the only one. Maybe I’m the only who with as much attitude as I could muster declared to the universe that I did not need a man to do absolutely nothing for me, while at the same time professing that I wanted to be married.

Well, I’m here to tell you something you may not know— the devil is a ball faced liar! And that statement is a lie from the pit of hell!! Maybe it was age, growth, maturity, life, or a combination of all of those things that has helped me to realize that even though I can do this without a man, I no longer want to and I’m not ashamed to say so. When life shows up—and at some point she always does—I can only imagine how amazing it would be to not have to figure it out alone (whatever it is at the moment). Through job loss, death, borderline homelessness, and sickness, not to mention just every day stuff, I was alone. And before anyone gets all deep and spiritual on me, yes Jesus was with me. I know this because he said he would never leave me nor forsake me. But this is a real blog, telling a real story, so let’s just be real. Remember the movie Diary of a Mad Black Woman? There was a scene where Shemar Moore’s character told Kimberly Elise’s character that all she had to do was wake up in the morning and he would take it from there. COME ON!!! YES!!! All I have to do is wake up (God has that covered) and not have to figure everything out on my own?! I’ll take one of those for $200 Alex!

Far too often women are taught and sometimes forced to be strong and independent. We are taught to rely on no one, particularly a man, to do nothing for us. Sadly, some women are taught it’s a sign of weakness to admit that they do need a man’s help sometimes. Maybe I don’t need him to pay my bills. Maybe I don’t need him to buy me shoes. Maybe I don’t need him to catch the mouse….wait; I do need him for that. But I do need him. I need his presence when things are hard. I need his wisdom when I don’t know what to do. I need his comforting touch when I’ve had a horrible day that has completely brought me to tears. I need his reassurance that no matter what everything will be alright. I need him to pray with me and for me. I need him to wash me in the word of God. And I am not afraid to admit it.

So to my #DearFutureHusband, if you are reading this blog, please understand that while I am strong and independent, I am not so strong and independent to admit to you that it feels so amazing to not have to figure everything out anymore.

Phobia of Commitment

Standard

fear of committmentAs I continue on my journey of healing, rediscovering who I am, and growing into the woman God designed me to be, I also have to take those long hard looks at myself in the mirror and ask myself some very tough questions.  One such question is, “what is it about me that attracts men who are either afraid of or not looking for commitment?  What from my past…what spirit is on me that continues to lead me to these types of men?”  Some would say it’s not me at all.  But I believe that if I am consistently attracting the opposite of what I want then there is something within me that needs to be addressed.

I recently read a blog titled, Fellas, Stop Waiting So Long to Get Married!  The author of the blog addresses the expectations that men have and how to reset their outdated ways of thinking.  It was a very informative and enlightening read but the author’s first bullet point is what struck a nerve in me and inspired this blog:

  • Belief in marriage – You (men) must have a value system that believes the institution of marriage is something that is good.  This valuing began in your childhood, most likely from your family.

When I first read this statement it was like sirens started going off and lights began flashing. I became captivated by that proclamation and immediately took a trip down memory lane.  I thought about the engagement that was called off. I thought about the plans that were made. I thought about the things that were said. I thought about the number of times I entered a Zales jewelry store and tried on the ring of my dreams. I thought about the number of business cards that were collected that had the serial number of said rings.  So many thoughts crossed my mind that all culminated into one painful thought: “why in the name of all that is holy am I not married?” I’ll tell you why, because I have dated men who said they wanted marriage but the reality was, they did not.

engagement ring

Now, I know what you are probably wondering.  You are probably thinking is it possible they just did not want to marry me—and you have every right to think that.  And while I do not have an answer to that question I will say neither of them are married to date.  So who really knows? But what I will say as I continue my trip down memory lane is that there were other conversations that should have raised red flags but did not.  The “other conversations that contradicted the marriage conversations.  Conversations such as, ‘why do we need a piece of paper to define what we have?’ Or the conversations that went from “when” to “if I get married. And let’s not forget the endless dissections of the failed marriages of others and how marriage is outdated and does not work.  All red flags that I ignored because I was “in love” and thought they would eventually change their mind.  Well they did not and here I am.

But all is not lost. I learned some very valuable lessons.  But more importantly I see what God saw; I was not ready to be a wife that would glorify God, and they were not the man God wants to give my heart too.  The bigger issue to be addressed was it was time to stop doing it my way and allow God to have his way in this area of my life that I had not surrendered to him.  It was time to take my eyes off a relationship with a man and focus on the most important relationship I will ever have—my relationship with God.  It is only by this relationship that I will ever be able to develop into a wife.

My journey of healing has introduced me to opportunities that I see as divine intervention; all part of the Master’s plan to move me beyond healing to wholeness.  One such opportunity is being introduced to the work of author Cheesette Cowan who wrote a book titled How to Cultivate a Marriage Mindset.  Seeing myself in the author’s own journey has caused me to have several jaw-dropping aha moments.  One such moment came after reading this:

“Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a {true} wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”

Why then are wives so hard to find? I will tell you why, because so many women are looking and waiting for a man to label them as a wife, when the reality is Jesus is your husband and in order to be found as a wife to your natural husband, you must be first found as a wife to Him. You see, we have to realize that this scripture describes a woman who is already walking, operating and excelling in the role of a wife when this man finds her.  She is already a wife.  She is not waiting on him to find her so she can then start acting like a wife. Ladies, this is why our marriage to Jesus is so important.  It is only going to be under His loving care that you begin to be molded and adapted into the wife that a man can’t help but notice.  Understand that a wife is just a woman until someone calls her a wife; and the only someone who can make that name call is God. Why? Because it’s only by His design and molding, not your husband’s, that a woman develops into a wife.  A woman is what God created you to be by nature; a wife is who He shapes you to be for purpose.”

In those commitment phobic relationships that I thought I wanted, God knew that I was not ready because I had not yet surrendered to Him to be shaped into a wife for purpose. God kept it from happening because he knew that not only would I had been hurt in the process so would others.  I realize that my desire for marriage is divine and because of this God needs to make sure that I am really ready because he has a greater purpose beyond my limited thinking.  When God says it is time and he reveals the man he has given my heart too there is nothing or no one that will be able to stop it.

bible

“What God has joined together let no man put asunder.” ~ Matthew 19:6

Don’t Trip!

Standard

at the cross

World renowned comedian, television host, radio personality, actor, and author Steve Harvey, performed a standup comedy show called, “Don’t Trip…He Ain’t Through With Me Yet.” For those familiar with Steve’s routines you know that he can be pretty raw with his material.  But what a lot of people do not know is that Steve is also a Christian and in 2015 he was invited to perform at Megafest, a four-day event presented by renowned evangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes.  In the routine Steve touched on subjects such as family, marriage, faith, and his relationship with God.  Steve is frank about the fact that he is still a work in progress (as we all are) and people should not trip about nor question his relationship with God.  In other words, be patient because God is still perfecting him.

In the church there are a few cliché’s that are used by Christians who are trying to justify or explain away (for lack, of a better term) a mistake that they have made.  Some of those cliché’s are, (1) I’m still a work in progress; (2) God is still working on me; and my all time favorite (3) God knows my heart.  While these statements are over used and dare I say abused, they do hold some truth.  Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work will complete it until the coming of Christ.” What this means to me is that the work the Lord is doing in me is the process of sanctifying me and making me look more like him.  It is also a reminder that not only is God working on me but also all who are in Christ Jesus.  Therefore I must be cautious in my criticizing of others because they too are being perfected.

But also I must be mindful about being critical of my own life…mistakes I have made.  I am encouraged by 2 Corinthians 5:17 which tells me, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are becoming new.” This is encouraging because it gives me hope that when I make mistakes, God is still working on me.  I had to remind myself of that recently.  I had to remind myself that as long as I occupy this earthly body, I will make mistakes.  I am not immune to them.  But God bestows such an amazing gift called Grace upon us that allows each of us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and continue to press toward the mark of the price of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

grace

I have heard it said that history will repeat itself until the lesson is learned and let’s just say, history is repeating itself in my life.  But if I believe that God is all-knowing then I also must believe that he knew I would be writing this blog, about this very thing, on this very date.  He knew history would repeat itself in my life and he has already made provision for it.

So now how do I bounce back from this mistake?  Where do I go from here?  The first thing I must do is acknowledge the mistake; confess it to God and ask God for forgiveness.  The bible tells me that God is so amazing and so awesome that once I confess it to God, he will case it as far as the east is from the west, and he will remember it no more (Psalm 103:12).  Secondly, I have to put forth the effort to not do whatever it was I did to get here.  By any means necessary I must do whatever it takes to change.  Third, I must find and study what God says about the issue.  This step is essential as it will replace all of the wrong thoughts with God’s thoughts.  In doing this I will begin to clear the way for total restoration.  Fourth, what are the triggers, bad habits, etc., that got me here in the first place?  Whatever they are, I must find an accountability partner that will help me to stay on track.  I also need to setup boundaries in my life that will make it darn near impossible to repeat this mistake again.  Next, seek counsel!!  I desire someone who is able to speak into my life and provide a fresh perspective on how to fix my brokenness.  In addition to seeking counsel, I need to make sure I surround myself with persons who will not ridicule me but rather encourage me and help me to do what is right.  Finally, I must understand that a commitment is required for real change.  The issue is not going to be resolved overnight. There are no quick fixes.  The bible tells me that the Christian life is not a sprint, rather it is a marathon.  So I must be committed to the process for the long haul.

I am a work in progress. God is never caught off guard and uses each of my mistakes to make me a better person.  One of my favorite scriptures says, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” The caveat to that I believe is, not even the weapons I formed against myself will prosper.  So like Steve I say to you, ‘don’t trip—He ain’t through with me yet.’

perfecting_holiness_graphic

Facebook Is Turning Into Cyberbullying Headquarters

Standard

CYBERBULLYINGFacebook is a social networking website that makes it easy for people worldwide to connect and share with family and friends online.  Its creator, Mark Zuckerberg designed the website to be used exclusively by college students.  However, today Facebook is the world’s largest social network with more than one billion users.  Facebook is used for many things.  Users can send instant messages and post status updates to stay in touch with family and friends.  Content such as photo’s, links to videos and websites and more can be shared instantly.  Job postings, inspirational messages and lots more are shared via Facebook.  Facebook is a great tool and can be lots of fun and informative.   However, I have to be honest; I was hesitant in joining the online community.  I had a number of friends who were already actively participating and were trying to convince me to join in on the ‘fun.’ And as I think about it, I cannot recall what the cause of my reluctance was. But it is said that hindsight is 20/20.  So if someone were to ask me today if they should join Facebook (though I can’t imagine anyone would given its popularity) I would warn them that Facebook can be addictive and very distracting.  But even beyond that I would also warn them of the cyber bullies on Facebook. Yes, you read that correctly–cyber bullies.  Cyberbullying is the use of cell phones; instant messaging, email, chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to harass, threaten or intimidate someone.

With the birth of social media news now travels rather quickly. Within minutes of a breaking story, millions of people have been made aware of it via Facebook and are reading and posting their thoughts and opinions about it.  But you know the old adage; “opinions are like…..everyone has one.” However, that in no way stops us from sharing our opinion on anything we have a view about.  But what many of us fail to remember is that everyone is entitled to their opinion and we should respect everyone and their opinion.  It’s ok to disagree.  It’s healthy to disagree.  Healthy disagreements open the lines of communication and allow us the opportunity to become better acquainted with one another.  Lately though, I’ve witnessed anything but.  I’ve read posts and comments of people who threatened others.  I’ve seen name calling and just complete discord coming from adults on events ranging from the Baltimore Riots to the most recent church burnings.  Races are spewing hate towards one another and one that personally ruffles my feathers; the constant bashing of one’s spiritual beliefs.  What is ironic about all of this is that the same individuals who are exhibiting cyber bullying tendencies would absolutely lose their mind if their child was the victim of bullying of any kind or an active participant.  So why then are we the adults, not living by the same example and standards that we expect from our children?

scratching-head

Recently during meditation a thought was placed in my spirit; “we have become some of the very things that we hate.” We speak against bullying and become upset when we learn of a child being bullied. However many of us have become what we hate.  Respect is twofold.  We expect others to respect our opinions and therefore should respect the opinions of those who disagree with us. Respect does not resort to name calling, bashing or threatening of any kind.  Respect does recognize that we are all different and have different opinions. So what can we all do to exercise more tolerance when our opinions differ from that of another?

  • First, we should seek to understand.  Before attempting to convince someone that our way of thinking is correct and theirs is wrong, we must first remember that we all come from varying backgrounds and experiences and beliefs.  So for many of us our thought process comes from what we were taught and what we have experienced.  Therefore we should all take the time to seek to understand everyone before resorting to cyber bullying.
  • Once we have taken the time to understand the other person’s opinion, we should consider the possibility that if we had journeyed the same road as those whose opinion differs from ours, is it possible that we may have the same opinion.  Suppose you were born and raised in America and the person you are listening to was born and raised in another country. Or you were raised in the big city while the other person was raised in a small town.  Once you consider that the two of you were raised differently, ask yourself “What if I was raised in another country or in a small town?”  You may begin to see how the tables could easily be turned.
  • Next, everyone believes their ideas are correct.  Therefore we must be careful not to say someone is wrong.  At the end of the day, our ideas could be just as wrong.
  • In seeking to understand, let’s also seek to learn from one another.  Ask yourself, “Do I think this way out of fear?” Allowing ourselves to learn from others just might open our eyes to something that we have been afraid to see.
  • Patience truly is a virtue. As a Christian I believe that patience is one of the Fruit of the Spirit.  Therefore I strive to exercise patience in every situation.  When someone states something that we know is really wrong, we must be patient and instead of trying to force our opinion upon them we should explain with reasonable arguments why they are wrong.  For example, if a person is use to stealing you can reasonably argue the point what would they do if someone stole from them?
  • In becoming more aware of my opinionated self, when I am unable to address the situation respectfully and with patience, I will avoid it altogether.  I have learned that everything is not my fight and I do not need to voice my opinion on everything that is posted.  It has been hard. But so necessary.  If one or more persons becomes disrespectful and insists on imposing their opinion on you, it is best to walk away from the situation to allow the other person (and yourself) to calm down.  If a happy medium cannot be found it’s safe to simply say, “We can agree to disagree” and let it go.
  • Your opinion, your way of thinking, is it helping or hindering you in life?  Have you been successful with your way of thinking? If not, seek out coaches or mentors that can help you see what you may be missing.

At the end of the day we all desire to be heard.  And that is perfectly normal and fine.  But in our desire to be heard we must also desire to seek understanding and respect that not everyone will think as we do.  Social media should not bring stress or negativity to our lives; and the moment it does we must make a decision to change or step away.  You won’t miss anything; I promise.