Reflection

DESERT ADVENTURE

Over time I’ve learned that constant reflection is necessary to keep me grounded.  This morning, while preparing my children for school after a long fall break, I reflected on how far God has brought me and my family.  As I think back, He’s brought us a long way in all aspects of our lives.  I was overjoyed with simply knowing that alone.

It’s so easy for us, Christian or not, to get overwhelmed in the desires of our hearts or even desiring what others have.  We always want the next best thing, but don’t understand that sometimes God just hasn’t blessed us with it because we are simply not ready to receive it.  We must humble ourselves and realize that we are exactly where God needs us to be in this moment.  Nothing more, nothing less.  There is purpose in the things that He denies us or postpones.  We simply need to trust God and His timing.  Just remember that God’s blueprint for your life is much greater than any plan you may have created for yourself.

When I talk about reflecting, I’m not just speaking on material things.  I can still remember years ago and even last year dealing with depression, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts.  I’m elated to say that those things that had me bound no longer have rule over me.  I thank God for my peace of mind.

Take the time out to reflect on where you are right now, where you’ve been, and where you’re going as this year comes to its close.   Think back on where you were in life just one year ago at this time.  I bet you have a lot to thank God for.  Remember those things and keep them close to your heart.  Give God the glory, honor, and the praise for bringing you through.  I thank God for healing, restoration in my marriage, growth in my business, and I thank Him for giving me purpose in life.

Change your mindset and your outlook on life to believe that God is a provider.  You’ll soon find yourself worrying less and trusting Him more in every aspect of your life.  Any doubts in your mind should be removed and replaced with peace just knowing that He’s got your back and there is no way you can lose in a winning game.  Continue to reflect and remember the testimonies formed from each trial you’ve faced and remain faithful.  He’s brought you a mighty long way.

Investing your faith in God is like planting a seed that will soon grow into greatness.  Your mustard seed of faith being planted on His word can grant you so much fulfillment in life as long as you continue to water and soil it with love.  Trust and believe that this life is a growing process.  Reflect on your seed.

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Mission Monday

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So, it’s Monday….most people’s least favorite day of the week.  At this point, you’re either laying in bed contemplating on what excuse to use in order to get out of work or you’re swallowing the huge pill labeled “ADULT” and proceeding to go about your day.  As you scroll your timeline, I’m more than sure you see a lot of “Motivation Monday” posts on Instagram and Facebook, but do they really motivate you?  Are you really going about your day with an extra boost of energy ready to conquer the world after reading it or is it just worth a quick double tap?

What’s your mission today?  What goals do you plan on crushing?  What giants do you plan on slaying today and everyday afterward?

 

I read the following in my devotional this morning:

“We should be on a mission and that mission is to be who God intended us to be as we live and work in His world for His glory.” -‘What is My Mission’ (via the Bible app)

Yes, to those of this world, Mondays can be a drag, but as God’s people, we must be joyous in each day that we are blessed to receive and do the work that God intended for us.  We have to have the intention that everything we do is for God and give everything nothing less than what He would approve of.

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.” -Psalms 90:17

Start the week off the right way and be ready to be on a mission for God.  Get up.  Plant your feet on the ground and push through anything holding you back.  Devote yourself to God each morning and have a conversation with Him.  Dragging your feet is not an option anymore.  There are too many blessings to be had and souls to be fed for us as believers to continuously push the snooze button.  Just being present and allowing His works to shine through us can make a huge impact on others.

What’s your mission?

 

Hair Does Not Define Me

My Strands Do Not Define Me

With the coming of fall, which is my favorite season of the year by the way, I decided to grow out my fade and let my curls pop again.  My main reason for chopping my hair off for the umpteenth time was because of hair loss associated with symptoms of Type One Diabetes.  I had bald spots galore and my hair literally fell out in clumps.  Rather than sulk over lost strands, I decided to embrace being without hair and I became even more confident with myself.  It was a bold move to go completely bald, but I loved every minute of it. I learned to love myself for who I am and not my hair.  Being a “Baldie” was fun and so much easier as far as maintenance is concerned.  It has been so liberating and I felt the most confident with no hair at all.  I have so much respect and love for those that for medical reasons do not have the option to just grow their back.   I got a chance to walk in another woman’s shoes.  I was able to get an understanding of how it feels to get those awkward looks and stares from people who have no idea what my hair journey was and to look them in the face with a smile.  Now, I’m ready to take the plunge again and enter yet another hair growth journey.

So, for the past few weeks I have been dodging making my usual appointment to the beloved barber shop and opted to wear wigs to work and a hat or head wrap over the weekends.  I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I did text my barber once to see if I could get a cut, BUT he was booked, so needless to say I did not get that haircut.  I purchased my very first straight-haired wig to change things up to avoid going through that “awkward” stage, you know, that point when your hair just looks unwearable…when it’s growing in 100 different lengths and you look like who did it and ran away.  Yea that stage.

When I debuted the new look, I received an overflow of comments with my “drastic” change of appearance, which was to be expected, but some of them kind of upset me. The way society and people in general are when it comes to the standards of women’s beauty is wrong on so many levels, especially as a woman of color.  I actually had a male co-worker give me a compliment on the new wig and then follow up with stating that I no longer looked like I stuck my finger in a socket, referring to a curly wig I wore previously.  The amount of anger and frustration I had when I received that comment was indescribable.  As the days went on, I received more and more compliments from men and women alike on how good I looked and that they preferred me with long straight hair.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to receive the occasional compliment, but when I realized how much more acceptable my appearance was with straight hair, opposed to curly hair or none at all, it upset me.  It’s sad to say that even now, when natural hair is becoming more accepted, there is still an underlying stigma of unacceptance for what naturally grows from our scalp.  Some days I just wanted to rip the wig off and rock my one month of hair growth with no lining and thin edges.  That awkward stage is no joke y’all lol. There were days when I would walk confidently with my picked out fro or voluminous twist out and get the side eye as if my hair was untamed or unkept. There were days of me being completely bald and I would be asked if I had some type of cancer or asked why I would cut off my beautiful hair.  I’ve stated in previous blog posts that I am not my hair.  My hair does not define who I am or what I believe.  My hair does not define how I feel about myself.  This natural hair journey is so much more than hair.  It has taught me a lot about who I am, flaws and all and I’ve gained so much confidence in my own inner beauty that I refuse to allow others to determine what beauty looks like for me.

Regardless of what people think, I love to change up my hair and I’ll continue to do so.  It’s fun and it allows me to express myself freely.  I’ll definitely keep you updated on my growth journey as time goes on.  What are your favorite protective styles or ways to promote growth?  Have you experienced any type of backlash for your choice in hairstyles in the workplace or in general? Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments.

 

Back to school tips for the mom on a mission

Tips for the Hustling Mom

So, by now the school year is well on its way for many. We’ve depleted our bank accounts on school supplies, uniforms, shoes, and accessories.  We’ve spent late nights washing and styling kinks and curls, laying edges, and early mornings at the barber shop for that perfect lining.  We’ve cried our tears of either happiness of lower grocery and light bills or the sadness of seeing our babies head into another year of growing and learning. So now what? How do we maintain our sanity and structure during this school year without losing our cool?

I’m going to be honest and tell you that when it comes to being organized and maintaining structure during the school year, I’m not the one.   My girls are heading into the second month of school and I can tell you that it has not been easy at all from the long nights of homework and chores and the early mornings of…well, just early mornings (I’m not a morning person at all).  This past month has definitely been a struggle for this mamma.  Don’t get me started on the dreaded carpool line or pushing a smile through to greet teachers when all I want to do is crawl back into my warm bed.  I’ve been a one woman show lately with a recent change in my husband’s work schedule and here are just a few things that have helped me along the way for the last few weeks.

Pray Consistently

First and foremost, prayer is essential not only during the school year, but every day, all day.  We as parents have got to ensure that our children are covered continuously.  Too much is going on in the world these days that praying is a must.  Instill in them that no matter who is watching, they should always pray.  Instead of being embarrassed, they should be a light unto others and may even influence someone else at the lunch table.  I pray with my girls before we leave out in the morning and make sure we say our prayers before bed.  They never let me forget to make sure we pray before the night is over.  We pray for grace and favor with good grades in school, good behavior, and that we all come home safely.  Of course, we pray for dad and travelling mercies as he’s on the road during the late nights and early mornings.  Consistent prayer is the true key to keeping things afloat.

Make preparations ahead of time

This may sound cliche and I’m sure many of you already do this, but not all of us are “Susie homemakers.”  This is a task that I’ve only just gotten into the habit of doing not only for my children, but for myself as well.  Making preparations for pretty much everything ahead of time has turned out to be pretty beneficial and narrowed down our time getting ready in the morning.

Select the week’s worth of outfits and uniforms and iron them ahead of time.  The simple task of picking out what to wear can sometimes become time consuming in the morning when you can’t find that matching sock or you notice that your favorite blouse is wrinkled.  Make sure that all of the essentials are laid out with each outfit for yourself and the kids, including jewelry and even hair bows.  I’m telling you from experience that having to hunt down even the smallest of items can take up a large amount of time.  Every second counts!

 

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Pack lunch the night before.  I allow my oldest daughter to pack her own lunch.  It gives her a sense of responsibility and she chooses what she puts in her lunch bag, so I know she’ll eat everything.  I also meal prep my lunches for the week.  This saves me a lot of money verses eating out everyday.  I may create a post specifically geared toward meal prepping in the future.

Meal preparation is essential for my household for both lunch and dinner.  I choose to take advantage of my weekends off and throw some food in a crock pot and in the oven for the week. Sometimes I’ll prepare more than one meal and even freeze some of the food for another time.  I also buy pre-seasoned meats, and packaged sides sometimes to make things a little easier on myself.  Now, this does not happen every week.  As much as I love to eat, I’m not a fan of cooking and sometimes I just don’t have the time.  I keep hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and lunch meat handy for those nights when I need to fill little bellies quick like when there is bible study or a parent/teacher conference.  Sometimes I even make breakfast for dinner like grits and eggs or even pancakes.  As long as they eat and are satisfied, I’m happy.

Unwind Before the Grind

I allow my children a chance to calm down and relax a little before starting up homework.  My girls are in school for eight hours, so when we get home, I let them have a small snack and play for a while to unwind.  I find this helps when it comes time to do homework and they’re not as frustrated with completing the task of getting those motor skills going.  It also allows me to unwind from my work day and be able to move forward with “mommy mode.”  During that time, I usually start on warming up dinner and I check my e-mails.

Don’t stress the small stuff

I remember running around like a mad woman years ago when my oldest first started school.  I use to stay up until the middle of the night mopping floors and scrubbing toilets just to maintain the household.  Yes my house was spotless, but I lost out on sleep and time with my children.  So now, I don’t stress over things that can be done the following day.  The goal in the end is to make sure that my children are fed and bathed, hair combed, homework is complete, and they have clean clothes to wear.  I make sure that I put time aside to just sit with them and talk about their day.  I learn about their new friends at school or any concerns they may have and let them know that I’m available and I’m listening.  I never want my daughters to feel as though they were put on the back burner.

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The amount of time and love you invest in your children will yield so many great things in the future.  Keep pushing for an amazing school year and continue to speak life to yourselves and your children and they make steps to becoming scholars.  It won’t be easy, but it is always worth it.  Leave a comment below and let me know what tips and tricks you use to the ball rolling during the school year.

 

 

Tuesday Topic- Uncomfortable Conversations: Depression

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“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. …For You are the God of my strength…”

-Psalm 42:5, 43:2

This month on the “Tuesday Topic” we’re discussing depression.  Depression is definitely a topic that leads to uncomfortable conversations in today’s society.  I’ve been seeing this topic slowly come to surface more and more on social media, which is a good thing.  It needs to be discussed.  There are more people dealing with depression than you’ll ever know.  Some don’t even know they are dealing with it themselves. It could be your best friend, co-worker, or even your spouse.  Depression is something that needs to be understood and dealt with carefully in order to fully see healing in that area of a person’s life.

For most people, depression is one of those things that they just don’t deal with.  It can be perceived almost as an invisible creature that doesn’t really exist, as if it were the “Boogie Man.”  It’s constantly brushed under the rug along with other happenings that often occur in the household that are left on the hush, such as eating disorders or molestation.  We’re told to close our closet doors and cover up our truths with our security blankets in the hopes that it would somehow just go away with the rise of daylight.  Depression is a silent monster that seeps its way into spirits without a trace of its entry.  It is a spirit that is not of God.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, depression is defined as follows:

a state of feeling sad :  dejection anger, anxiety, and depression (2) :  a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies bouts of depression suffering from clinical depression

Depression can occur in any woman at any time for several different reasons.  It can be caused by abuse, medications, conflict, death of a loved one, genetics, major events, personal problems, illness, and substance abuse.  So basically, it can be caused by almost anything in life at the drop of a dime.  Some are more susceptible to depression than others and it can take a toll on all aspects of one’s life.  According to an article from Mental Health America entitled Depression in Women,  “approximately 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year and about one in every eight women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lifetime (2017).”  Depression is NOT a normal part of life and it must be dealt with, but delicately.

In my own personal experience, depression can feel like drowning in a river while tied down with cement blocks.  I’ve felt immovable and lifeless during the state of depression.  It feels like intense pain inside disguised as comfort.  It feels like being sucked into quicksand and falling into an unknown sunken place of darkness filled with doubt, anger, sadness, and low self-esteem.  Depression is a constant battle that I’ve fought continuously in my life and I still do at times.  It’s something that hurts my soul and somehow leaves me breathless.  Sometimes, as I find myself crawling out of my “sunken place,” I slowly slip back down with my arms stretched out helplessly, but I find that others don’t quite understand.  I’ve only recently expressed this to my husband, but there is still a disconnect when it comes to explaining the feeling.  It’s like I’m yelling at the top of my lungs, but only the sound of silence reaches the tip of my tongue.  It’s hard to fully describe or explain what the feeling is to someone who has never felt it.  To someone else, it may be just a phase that can be cured with a little prayer.  Yes prayer works indefinitely, but I would often find myself hiding away from my faith in the comfort of my depression when things got tough or just hard to deal with.  I would see myself at a standstill as the world around me is continuously spinning uncontrollably.  My faith during these times was tested immensely.

So how do we overcome depression?  How do we assist others that we are close with that feel like they are battling depression alone? Support from others is key whether it’s by giving a person space or being by their side every step of the way.  Either way, you are supporting that person by respecting their wishes within reason.  Do not ignore signs of depression and do not sweep it under the rug.  So many take this topic lightly and don’t realize that depression can easily lead to suicidal thoughts.  “Over 90% of people who die by suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder (WebMD, 2016)”.

For some people, alone time and space is necessary for healing. It allows them to sort through their thoughts and emotions to enable them to push through the process.  Sometimes they just don’t want to be bothered.  They know what they need to do and how, but it just takes time to get out of that dark fog.  Some prefer to just be alone in their bubble, so allow them that time for healing whether it’s in the course of days, weeks, or even months.

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Others may be seeking support and understanding from loved ones.  They may need someone to be a listening ear to let out any pain or frustrations they may be dealing with while in their depressed state.  A pillar of utmost support is needed without judgement. Hold that person’s hand every step of the way and be present.  Understand that it will not be easy.  What is not needed, is negative energy, or being told that it’s a phase or to just get over it.  You see, depression is not so simple for those who are in the midst of it.  Coming out of depression is truly a process and staying out is even more of a task.  Being depressed can really mess with a person’s mental and spiritual state.  The state of depression can have a person off track in their spiritual walk with God in a major way.  Each day that they fall deeper, they can find themselves further away from Him.

Between  molestation during my childhood, a time of separation in my marriage, diagnose of a disease, stress, doubt, and low self-esteem, I felt completely broken to a point where only God could put my pieces back together again and He is… one by one, piece by piece.  While finding my way out, I’ve made bad decisions that led to even worse mistakes.  I remember nights of sleeplessness to the point of insomnia because of deep depression.  There were days when I just could not function at all.  I felt incapable.  I felt worthless.  I was to the point where I felt as if my presence was no longer needed on this earth.  Through many trials, I had to realize that my life did have a purpose and I was needed.  I had to pull through the pain, hurt and frustration in my life and turn it into something I can use.  I realized that all I was going through was a test and I needed to pass in order to see a true breakthrough in my life.

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Of course the ultimate cure for depression is God.  He is always the answer and the cure.  During my times dealing with this, God and His word were the furthest things from my mind.  I found it easier to just sit and sulk rather than to push through and lean on His word.  I would feel the spirit tugging on me to get on my knees and pray or dust off my bible and see what the Lord had to say about my situation and I would turn a deaf ear to it all.  Now, I’m not at all saying that breaking out of a depressed state is easy, but what I am saying is that with God there is ease.  His word is the complete handbook for the ins and outs of our life’s daily struggles.  I find so much release and relief in His word.  Daily, I would make baby steps to find my way back on track.  I would immerse myself in song, journaling, and devotion to keep my mind steadfast.  I’ve used sticky notes around the house with positive reminders and scriptures to get me through the day.  I constantly reminded myself that the storm I was going through was temporary and that God would pull me through as long as I had faith in Him.  I wouldn’t allow the devil the satisfaction of using my soul as his playground.  I smiled through my rough days and encouraged others as I encouraged myself.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things”

-Philippians 4:4-8

Don’t think for a second that you are alone in this.  Regardless of your situation, God is available.  He is listening to your prayers and requests.  He hears your cries.  Be encouraged and keep pushing through, whether it be a loss of a loved one, difficulties in the marriage, or issues in health, He is the only way out.  It may seem like it’s hard right now, but just know that this is only for a season.  Jeremiah 29 verses 11 and 12 states, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”  God’s plan for your life does not end here in this moment.  If you have fallen in depression because of fear or guilt, please know that God is not mad at you.  Your mistakes are not who you are.  They are your testimony of where you have come from, not where you’re going.  He created you for a purpose whether you see it now or not.  You are needed.  You are loved.  You have purpose.  You are capable.  You are enough. Trust, believe, and know these things.

“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

-2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18

Have you ever dealt with depression? If so, how did you deal with it? 

 

Merrium Webster: Definition of Depression Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/depression

Recognize the Warning Signs of Suicide. (2016)  Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior

Depression in Women (2017) Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-women

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day Buying Guide

Father's DayBuyers Guide (2)

Father’s Day is less than a week away and your sitting here still at your computer wondering what to get that special guy in your life.  No worries.  I’ve got you covered.  I’ve come across some awesome small businesses created by some  amazing women that can take care of that issue for you.  Guess what?  These gifts won’t break the bank and you’ll be coming back for more.  Let’s take the time out this year to support those in our community that don’t get the recognition they deserve when it comes to the phenomenal work they put in behind the scenes each day.  Below are a few of my favs that are offering some pretty dope products for Father’s Day.  Check them out and let me know what you think.

  1. Mess In A Bottle- Dad Mug, Dad Shirt  www.messinabottle.com

 

  1. Silksations Creations Regal for Men Body Butta & Body Scrub

www.etsy.com/shop/silksationscreations

Regal Scrub

  1. Crafts By Meesha- The Dad Box https://www.facebook.com/craftsbymeesha

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4. Fleurty Wick Candle- Hand poured soy candles “Man Cave Collection” www.fleurtywick.com


5. Koils By Nature- Natural Men’s Care Products

http://koilsbynature.shopgate.com

6. Keys of Beauty- BeardTiFULL Beard Oil

www.keysofbeauty.com

7. Monnie and Me

 t-shirts, Mugs, & aprons

http://www.monnieandme.com/

Prayer

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Prayer:  “A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” – Merriam Webster Dictionary

Prayer is the way we communicate with God.  He hears our prayers and He hears our cries. He also speaks to us through our prayers.  The bible talks about praying without ceasing. 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Praying without ceasing does not mean that you must be on your knees with your eyes closed at all times speaking to God.  It simply means that you are constantly keeping your mind steadfast on Him.  Don’t look at prayer as such a strict or uptight form of speaking to our creator.  Talk to God in actual conversation as you would your father on earth. Involve Him in your everyday practices.  Speak to Him about your struggles, reveal to him your innermost thoughts.   Praying without ceasing should be compared to living and breathing.  The two go hand in hand. If ever worry or fear comes upon you, prayer should be the first thing that comes to mind.  When you are thankful, encouraged, or going through a storm, prayer should be constant.  Prayer can be a small “Thank you Lord,” to a full out session of prayer and praise, eyes closed and body bent. Prayer is a way to show that you put all of your trust in God at all times with all situations.  When you pray you are letting God know that you place your life in His hands and that all is well with Him.  When you start to pray less, you begin to put more trust in yourself which can lead you astray.

Prayer is not only a time to talk, but a time to listen as well. The Lord knows the desires of our hearts. He knows what our needs are.  We must take the time to sit in silence and listen for His voice.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

-Matthew 6:7

Listening for God’s voice allows Him to reveal to you his vision and desires for you.  He begins to birth a purpose inside of you that you never could have imagined.  He uncovers the blueprint to reach higher heights and deeper depths in your life and the lives of others.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation of shadow of turning.”

-James 1:17