Lessons I Have Learned 

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Lessons I Have Learned 

In two days I will reach a milestone in my life as I become inducted into the half-century club. That’s right, I will celebrate 50 years of life and I am excited! Not many people would be excited about turning 50. But every birthday is a cause for celebration in my opinion. 

As I prepare to officially bid farewell to my 40s I wanted to share a few lessons that I’ve learned and would share with my younger self. 

1. Forgiveness is never about the other person. 

2. Just because you can do or say something doesn’t mean that you should.

3. Expectations will lead to disappointment and/or resentment.

4. Joy and happiness is in God’s hands. Never expect another human to do what only God can do. 

5. The biggest lie ever told is the one you tell yourself.

6. Someone is always watching you. Be mindful.

7. The ministry of silence is golden.

8. You cannot and will not please everyone. Stop trying!! 

9. If you wait until you have enough money to do the things you want life will pass you by. 

10. It’s ok to be mad at God. He can handle it. 

11. Spend money on experiences not stuff. 

12. Perfection is an illusion. 

13. Peace is priceless. 

14. A mother is God in human form. 

15. Unconditional love doesn’t just stop. If it did we would all be in trouble. 

16. Life without your mother is hard. And you will spend your days trying to exist where she doesn’t. But you can do it. 

17. At some point you will have to stop blaming everyone else and get real with the person staring back at you in the mirror. 

18. You will make mistakes. Some of them repeatedly. But every day God wakes you up is another chance to get it right. 

19. Have the conversation….no matter how difficult it may be.

20. Share your story. Someone needs to hear it. 

21. Sex is overrated. Wait. 

22. Girlfriends are priceless. Treasure them. 

23. Do not be afraid to express what you need and want. If you don’t no one else will. 

24. You really do teach others how to treat you. 

25. You are a black woman. Always be proud of that.

26. Comparing yourself to others is meaningless and will cause you more harm than good.

27. God made you, quirks and all. Embrace who God made you.

28. Love yourself. Your complete self. 

29. Do not live life afraid. Take risks. Step out of your comfort zone.

30. Live and love with no regrets.

31. Don’t close yourself off to love because someone hurt you. 

32. Smile every day.

33. Laugh every day.

34. Cry when you need to.

35. Eat the right foods. Exercise. Get the proper amount of rest. Take care of your body because you only get one. 

36. This is not a dress rehearsal. Enjoy life!

37. Every birthday is a gift! Celebrate! It’s better than the alternative. 

38. Be serious about and committed to your finances. 

39. Do not be afraid of change. It’s often necessary in order to grow. 

40. Your worth is not determined by the degree hanging on your wall; the amount of money in your bank account; the square footage of your home; the type of car that you drive; or the designer label sewn into your clothing. 

41. Everyone is not going to like you. And that’s ok. 

42. Do not spend years of your life dating. If marriage is your goal date with a purpose. 

43. Be grateful.

44. Be content.

45. Be kind.

46. Be compassionate.

47. Show mercy.

48. Show grace. 

49. Invest in yourself and others.

I never imagined myself at 50. I could not see that far. But here it is and I am looking forward to what God has in store for the second half of my life. 

Hotep 

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Letter To My Daughters Ex

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Dear Son,

Let me begin by saying I do not apologize for the tone of this letter. As a mother it hurts my very soul to see my daughter hurting and therefore I need to make sure that you understand clearly what I am saying to you. 

When my daughter first brought you to meet me I have to be honest, I had my reservations about you. There was something about the way you carried yourself that said you were arrogant, self-centered even. Oh, you weren’t rude to me in anyway; I’m an old school mother so I was not going to allow that. But your disposition caused my mother intuition to kick into high gear. I’m sorry, you’ve never heard of a “mother’s intuition” have you? Well, let me just say it’s much stronger than a daughter’s intuition. It has to be for when daughter’s bring jokers like you home. But my daughter, she liked you. I could tell by the sparkle in her eyes. The way her face lit up when she talked about you. She had an extra spring to her step and she took extra care (more than normal) in her appearance. Oh yes, my daughter was smitten, but I saw right through your charade. And I knew it was only a matter of time before my daughter saw you too.

I’m sure my daughter told you that I don’t like you. Oh we have had many spats about you because I’m not one to hold my tongue. But as a mother I understand that I have to let my children find their own way. I have to let them make their own mistakes. Even if that means watching them get hurt. So while my daughter knew how I felt, I never once interfered. The times she’d come home crying I would hold her in my arms silently praying to God to open her eyes so that she could bear witness to the devil inside of you. 

And then that day came. My daughter was devastated. She was heartbroken and I was mad as hell. I wanted to find you and hurt you like you hurt my daughter but I knew that this was her cross to bear. My only responsibility was to soothe her while God mended her broken heart. To this day she still has not told me exactly what you did, but I suspect it involves another woman. You see, I know your type. You think you are God’s gift to women and everyone you bed is another latch on your belt. And now my daughter is hurt. 

But what has angered me and caused me to write this letter is that you are taking advantage of my daughter now. You ended the relationship. You chose to be with other people. You wanted to be free to sow your wild oats. But why must you continue to lead my daughter on? You know how she feels about you. You know that she loves you. You know that she’s hopeful that the two of you will reconcile. And you continue to have sex with her. When she calls you crying you fill her head with empty words. You fill her head with empty promises. You tell her you love her and how much she means to you but they are lies. You are only telling her what she wants to hear because you only want one thing from her. You call yourself a man, then leave my daughter alone. You don’t care for her. Because if you did, if you really cared for her you would walk away and allow her to heal. If you were a man, you would think of her above yourself and your own self-gratification. 

I hope you take heed to my advice. I hope you look beyond yourself and if you really care for my daughter, walk completely away. Allow her to heal. Allow her to go through her process. In other words……be  a man. 

Signed,
A Mother Who Loves Her Daughter 

Let’s Talk About Sex Baby! 

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Let’s Talk About Sex Baby! 

Ok, now that I have your attention, welcome! In the 90’s my favorite female rap group Salt-N-Pepa recorded a song titled “Let’s Talk About Sex.” The song promotes safe sex, as well as looks at the positive and negative sides of sex and the censorship that sex had around that time in American mainstream media. Since then there have been dozens of songs recorded centered around the subject of sex, each one being more raw than the one before. But as many songs there are written; as much as it’s shown on television and the internet; are we really “talking” about sex? Are we as free sexually as we appear to be? Or is it all a facade?

I recently watched a video of a young man discussing the virtual symposium, Single, Saved, and Still Wanting Sex; hosted by author DiShan Washington. While the video is humorous, it also has a very real component that is not being talked about: the fact that there are a large number of Christian men and women who love the Lord, have chosen a life of abstinence, yet still want sex. Or as Ms. Washington puts it; “Holy and horny.”

Someone reading this may be bothered by that. Bothered because (1) sex is much like the topics of religion and politics….off limits; (2) their own hang-ups and ideologies makes the subject of sex taboo; or (3) it’s believed that a person who loves God regardless of their religious beliefs should be so grounded in their faith that the desire for sex is gone. No one who loves God should be “Holy and horny.”

But my question is, why not? What does my love for God have to do with desiring sex? And why isn’t this a topic discussed more openly in the church? Why do we avoid this topic when a large number of church goers are single? Single Christians who love the Lord and are struggling to remain abstinent. Single Christians who are one date away from throwing in the towel and tearing off their clothes.

As a single Christian woman it’s important to me to have an avenue where I am able to discuss my struggles without being judged or beaten over the head with the Bible. I want more out of the conversation than “just pray” or “read your Word.” I know all of this. I am wise enough to know that prayer changes me in the midst of a struggle and wise enough to know that the answer to all of life’s woes is in God’s love letter to humanity. But sometimes there is a moment where I just need to talk about it. Sometimes I just want to have open dialogue, a no holes barred conversation about sex and all that the topic encompasses. Sadly, I once had someone quote 1 Corinthians 7:9, “But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” REALLY?! At the end of the day I know that the decision to remain abstinent is mine. But when we can’t even talk about it or we can’t discuss it without making people feel bad about how they are feeling, then we have a major problem.

On the other end of the spectrum are young adults……13 and older who are either already engaged in some sort of sexual activity or thinking about it. If the church is not discussing it and parents are not discussing it, then where will our children get answers to their questions? We must reach that place of freedom where we can discuss sex openly. We must stop shaming and judging those who are struggling. We must stop condemning those who may fall. And we absolutely must talk to our children and young adults about sex, because they will get the information, it just may be the wrong information.

Sex is a gift from God; a gift that he designed to be enjoyed in the context of marriage. But if we are afraid or unable to have a conversation about it, then we run the risk of attaching shame to something that God intended for us to enjoy in the proper context.

Hotep

 

Roadblocks 

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On my way to work this morning I came across a roadblock. A busted water main caused flooding and traffic was being detoured. I was not familiar with the road on which we had been detoured so I was following the car in front of me relying on the driver to get me back to the main road. 

Image courtesy of jasongordon.org

Life can be like that. We can find ourselves cruising along nicely and then we come across a roadblock. Job loss. Death. Sickness. Divorce.

Image courtesy of CBC.

 These roadblocks often force us to detour off the road we were traveling on. At this point we have two options: allow the detour to deter us and keep us from reaching our destination. Or follow He who said that he has a plan for our lives.

Image courtesy of Dr Linda


Image courtesy of Clipart Kid

I choose the latter. The roadblock didn’t catch him off guard. And he knows the best route to get me back on the main road. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your pathsstraight.” 

~ Proverbs 3:5-6

Hotep 

Black Love: Remembering Gerald and Theon

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Black Love: Remembering Gerald and Theon

February is the month that African Americans celebrate Black History Month. “Black History Month also known as National African American History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history.” Those such as Booker T. Washington, Madam C.J. Walker, Crispus Attucks, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and the first black president, Barack Hussein Obama.

February is also designated as the month of love. A time that we express our love to the special people in our life. And on this 26th day of February I want to designate it as Black Love Day. This idea won’t be picked up by Hallmark and it won’t receive national attention; but it will always be the day that I celebrate black love. You see, it was the day that Theon Dixon from Kinston, North Carolina married Gerald L. Smith Sr., from Baltimore, Maryland.


Gerald (affectionately known as Butch to his family and friends) and Theon met in 1965. The story is told that there was an instant connection between them, as though they had known one another all of their life. But Theon was already married to a man name Henry. And so Gerald and Theon lost touch with one another. If Gerald were alive today, he’d tell us that he never forgot Theon and had hoped that one day their paths would meet again. And as chance would have it, their paths did meet again many years later….1980 to be exact.

Theon was divorced from Henry and raising her two children in Baltimore. I am not exactly sure of the circumstances that reunited Gerald and Theon, but I do recall Gerald sharing with me many years later that once he found her again he was determined to not let her go. And so Gerald and Theon began dating and on February 26, 1987, Gerald and Theon became husband and wife.

Sounds like the makings of a storybook romance doesn’t it? The reality is there would be challenges and struggles on top of challenges and struggles and many believed that their relationship was dysfunctional and would not survive. But through the tumultuous, stormy, bumpy ride of the relationship, I like to say that the love they had for one another sustained them.

Admittedly, I was one of those persons who wished that the relationship would end. And I was also one of the people who did not celebrate their marriage. In fact, I did not attend the wedding. But as the years went on and I began to see the miracle working power of Jesus Christ transform my mother and my stepdad, my perspective began to change. I began to see two people who loved one another and who were committed to one another, defeat the odds and the obstacles. If Theon were alive today she would tell you that there were days she prayed that Gerald would just leave because he got on her nerves. And she would also tell you that God’s response to her prayer was, “You asked me for that man and my grace is sufficient.” Gerald’s response to Theon’s prayer, “I wasn’t going anywhere.”

And so Gerald and Theon lived as husband and wife for 23 years until the Lord called Theon home. One year and eight months later Gerald would join his wife in heaven.

I celebrate my parents today on their anniversary. I imagine them in heaven slow dancing to Stay In My Corner by The Dells as they celebrate what would have been their thirty year wedding anniversary.

 

As I remember my parents and reflect on their covenant, I pray that my husband shares the same level of commitment to our covenant that I do. I pray that we will share the same mindset that divorce is not an option and by any means necessary we will be determined to work through together the curve balls and challenges life can throw at us. That is what my parents did. Yes there were days they did not like one another. Yes there were days they asked the infamous question, “why did I get married? (At least my mother did)” Yes there were days they were not sure the marriage would make it to the next day. BUT, they were committed to one another and they were committed to their covenant.

And so I raise my glass today and salute my parents in heaven Gerald and Theon Smith on their thirty year wedding anniversary.

Happy Anniversary mommy and Mr. Butch. I love you.

 
~ Chocolate Chip

There Is A Balm

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Singleness is a time to reflect. Singleness is a time to be restored. Singleness is a time to heal. Singleness is a time to discover who we are and what we want. Singleness is a time for renewal of the mind, body, and spirit.  Heal. Restore. Mend.

 

Recently a friend’s illustration revealed to me how I have given pieces of myself away in relationships. She took a piece of paper and began to tear it. Each time she tore the paper she said it represented pieces of me that I have given to men over the years. Him. Him. Him. Him. When she had but one small piece of paper left she said that piece of paper was all I had left to give to my husband because I’ve given so much of myself away already.  Ouch.

 

tearing-paper

 

tears

While that revelation was painful to hear, I am reminded that there is a Balm in Gilead.

 

“There is a balm in Gilead

To make the wounded whole;

There is a balm in Gilead

To heal the sin-sick soul”.

Jesus is my Balm in Gilead.  His blood is the balm that is applied to my life to Heal, Restore, and Mend.  I love Matthew Henry’s commentary about the Balm in Gilead.  He says, “God is able to help and to heal.  The blood of Christ is a balm in Gilead, his Spirit is the Physician there, all-sufficient; so that the people may be healed.”  I am reminded of King David who the bible says was a man after God’s own heart.  Yet we also know that King David dealt with his own sin.  But even through his challenges and difficulties David knew that God was able to restore him.  In Psalm 5:12 David writes:

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you”.

  Psalm 23 also reminds me that God will restore what I have freely given away:

“He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

 My friend’s illustration was painful to hear.  But I rejoice knowing that God loves me so much that he heals, restores, and mends all that is broken and damaged in my life.

“What can wash away my sin……”

Hotep

His Gift 

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His Gift 

I am reading a book by Debi Pearl called Created To Be His Help Meet: Discover how God can make your marriage glorious.  Because my desire is to be married, I have been gleaning wisdom through scripture, books and listening to the wisdom of married couples.Beyond  just being married and being a wife however, my true desire is to be a godly wife. I desire to do marriage as God intended. I desire to be my husband’s crown. I desire for my husband to be proud to call me his wife. But I realized years ago that I would not see the manifestation of my desires with the mindset I had. And so the journey began to learn what kind of wife God desires me to be. 

First, I was introduced to Cheesette Cowan and her book Cultivating A Marriage Mindset which solidified for me that my way of thinking needed to change before I entered into a marriage covenant. And now Debi Pearl is showing me through God’s word and her experiences how to “appreciate the gift of my husband with a thankful heart that produces joy and wisdom in me and my home.” 

In chapter 1 the first thing that leaped off the page for me were these words, “A wise woman doesn’t take anything for granted. She is thankful to be loved and seeks to make herself more lovely.”  

As I read those words I wondered to myself, “how many times have I been guilty of taking someone for granted?” We mistakenly assume that a person is going to be around forever. We make the mistake of thinking that we have time.  I thought of my past relationships and how and it felt to be taken for granted. It is not a pleasant feeling. But we have a tendency to (maybe unknowingly) place our careers and sometimes other people over those we love. We think because we are married to them they should understand and/or they are not going anywhere. But that way of thinking could be setting us up for failure in our marriages. So when I ask God to make me into a wife, it is also my prayer that he gives me the wisdom to not take my husband for granted. 

Part B of the above quote says “she is thankful to be loved and seeks to make herself more lovely.” A dear friend once told me that being a wife is a gift from God. I had never looked at marriage that way but hearing her say that had an impact on me then and has left a lasting impression on me. 

 I was also reminded of conversations I’ve been privy to where women did not see it necessary any longer to go the extra mile to look nice for their husbands. 

We hear that men are visual creatures. And every day our husbands see women who are visually attractive to them. So the question I ask myself is, should he not also come home to his wife and find her looking lovely? 

While dating we pull out all of the stops. We don’t want our boyfriend to see us in sweats or that raggedy tee shirt we love so much. We make sure our hair is neat and we keep our mani/pedi game tight and we have on our lip gloss or maybe our face is beat to the gods. Bottom line, we go the extra mile to always look lovely for our boyfriends. But once we get married we adopt the attitude that he should just accept us as we are. I disagree. 

I am not competing with any woman my husband will see throughout his day, but I also don’t want my husband seeing these other woman who have taken time with their appearance, only to come home and see me looking as though I just rolled out of bed. The same effort I put into dating him, I want to put the same effort  into keeping his interest after we are married. 

In the book Debi Pearl confirms what my friend said years ago: “God gave Adam the most precious gift a man will ever receive-a woman. 

“And the Lord God said, it is not good that man should be alone; I will make a help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18) 

And then God “brought her into the man” (Genesis 2:22). 

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22) 

I decree that I  am my husband’s most treasured gift. One that he will cherish and thank God for every day. 

Hotep