I celebrated a milestone birthday in March (40!!!).
One week and 2 days ago I submitted my final paper for my MBA – FIVE YEARS in the making!
This morning my boss surprised me with an early celebration: My 15-year anniversary at my company (which is actually one month away)! I already ordered my gift. I don’t waste time! 🙂
….and in the mail, my regalia for my MBA graduation later this year!
What will happen next? I don’t know, but I am giddy with excitement! I sense that God is reminding me that all the years of hard work, dedication, determination and sacrifice are about to help me “hit the jackpot!” When we are faithful to God, He will be faithful to us. He has never failed us.
Although all these exciting things are happening, just like everyone else I have areas in my life that I wish I could change right now. But I am not as panicked as I was a couple days ago. My discouragement is waning and fading. He is sending me help because He knows what my needs are before I even mention them, and that is some “blessed assurance” RIGHT THERE!
Thank You God, for helping me to get here. A single mom, a divorcee, celibate and sold out to You and to Your purpose, preparing for what’s next, I humbly bow to You and acknowledge the significant role You’ve played in my life up to this moment. I know that more is in store, and that You won’t leave me nor forsake me. THANK YOU for life, health, strength and peace in the midst of chaos and distractions. You have surrounded me with wonderful people. Thank You God for supportive friends, family, coworkers and others. Thank You FOR everything, DESPITE everything! I am in awe of who You are and of ALL You have done, all You are doing, and WILL DO!
Now that I am single again, I realize that I was not prepared to be a wife the first time. I have spent the last few years preparing for my future husband. Here are some of the ways that I’ve been preparing:
I faced the pain I experienced because of my failed marriage and divorce. I also took responsibility for my role in its failure. This meant that I had to evaluate each situation that occurred, and realize that we both made choices that caused the marriage to fail. This was the beginning of my long road to healing.
I sought godly counsel from experienced leaders, and I also sought professional counsel. This was an important step in preparing for my future. I had to process the events that occurred in my past to understand where I went wrong (and why I made those choices) so I would not make the same mistakes again. I also learned not to own issues that did not belong to me, as some things that happened were not my fault and I had to accept that. I also read (and re-read) many Christian-based books on preparing for marriage, including “Can You Do It Standing Up: A Different Position on Relationships” by Kenny Pugh. Reviewing books I read in the past has been very helpful, as I look at the information now with a fresh perspective and a healthier mindset.
I stayed single. This means that I did not get involved in a relationship during my time of emotional healing and heart-mending. I thought I needed to be involved with men a time or two, but God stepped in and ended potential disasters immediately.
I began to journal. My journaling started as an open diary of sorts on social media. As my readers commented on my posts, I became encouraged and my emotional burdens began to ease. After many requests, my posts evolved into my first published book where I shared many of the lessons I learned.
I have a mentoring couple in my life. I was blessed two years ago when I was assigned as a mentee to a happily married couple with adult children. They have been married for about 50 years, and they relate to me well. The wife and I have a special relationship. We are both busy, but we make an effort to greet each other weekly (we attend the same church) and update each other on special milestones and celebrations. I am blessed.
I discovered who I was. I lived most of my life based on what I was told, or based on what was expected of me. These expectations even affected how I wore my hair and how I selected my wardrobe. As I learned what mattered to me (regardless of others’ opinions) I discovered the REAL me, which was TRUE FREEDOM! It was refreshing to unveil my true self, who was unknown to most of us, including me! I am now more in-tune with my emotions, my boundaries, my likes and dislikes, and what I truly desire in my future mate.
I am taking better care of my body. I am making an intentional (and meticulous) effort to take care of my appearance and grooming. It matters how you look every time you leave your home! I am also making an effort to eat more healthily than I used to. I am still working on exercising consistently. (sigh) I plan to maintain these habits even after marriage, as it is important to maintain visual appeal and I want to live a long, healthy life. 🙂
I am now more open to learning and embracing new things (and new people). Going out to meet new people, seeking to understand different perspectives and embracing new experiences makes life richer! This level of activity also opens the door to meeting eligible single men who may be like-minded. You never know where that can lead! :))
With consistent prayer, Scripture reading and meditation added to the steps outlined above, I am preparing for that special day when I will stand at the altar before God, my new husband and witnesses, and say with full assurance “I Do.”
I have never broached the subject of my hair before.
I am of African and European descent, but you can already guess what part of my genes dominate my hair texture. I used to HATE getting my hair combed as a little girl. That was before chemicals or heat ever touched my scalp. Every other Saturday they would “come for me” to take me to the sink to get my bushy, very thick hair washed. It was a crazy ritual that took almost half a day. Wash, condition, rinse, towel-dry, grease, comb (with repeated slaps from the comb – ugh), twists and bantu knots (we call them “chiney bumps” in Jamaica). If we’re wearing bangs the next day to church, the bang would be perfectly parted, a piece of paper would be twisted and turned into a make-shift roller, the bang would be dampened and super-oiled then wrapped for a set. That night we would wear scarves to not mess up our hair. (Me and my sister went through this grueling ritual together.) On Sunday morning our bangs would be carefully unwrapped, our bantu knots unknotted and pulled into one or two puffy pony-tails with ribbons and we would be ready for church.
If you read “It’s My Life and I Live Here: One Woman’s Story”, you saw where my mother joined my dad in the United States and left behind her two older daughters (me and my younger sister) with my grandma. (Mommy took our youngest sister with her.) Before Mommy left for the U.S., she took me to a hairdresser for my first perm. I was so excited – until the chemicals ROASTED my scalp! I was horrified at the experience. I loved how straight and long my hair became after each perm, but I hated the torture I endured each time. I had the same hairdresser for five years until I moved to the United States with my sisters to join our parents.
As I grew older and became responsible for my own hair appointments I began to experiment with my hair. I chopped it low on the sides and back and kept hair on top, I tried streaking to get highlights, I twisted or braided my hair numerous times, and so on. I enjoyed precision bob haircuts, angle bobs, finger waves, the flip, you name it, I’ve done it:
Then I went through a painful divorce.
At the time of my divorce, I looked in the mirror and realized that I did not really like who I saw. All my life, up to that moment, was based on what others thought of me or expected from me. This included my hair and appearance. I was very plain, and I really did not want to perm my hair anymore. I tried a more conservative approach to changing my hair, which was to grow it out by braiding. I braided my hair for 1 year. After they pulled my braids out for the last time and I saw the damage to my hairline, I decided at that moment to “chop it all off”. The lady asked me about 5 times if I was sure this was what I wanted to do, as my hair was shoulder-length at that moment. I told her I can’t think of any other way to do this. So this was the result:
I was a bit nervous, as I knew that people (including fam) would talk. But at that moment I decided that I would be BRAVE and be ME! I always wanted to stop perming my hair, and this was my chance to stop! No braids, either. I started thinking of the major benefits. No more long prep time in front of a mirror to style hair. No more mandatory trips to the hair salon that took all day. Financial FREEDOM! So I started shopping for hair products to keep it moist and fresh. It was so easy to maintain that I ignored all the statements that many would make. I was happier. I felt like I could adequately represent myself and not put on an image to please others. Soon I began trying colors to give it a different look, and I even allowed it to grow higher at times:
I LOVED IT!
After wearing it short for 3 years, I began to wonder what my natural hair really looked like. The short version was very manageable (still thick, but manageable) so I figured a longer version would not be too difficult to maintain. So I started growing it back last year:
Today, my hair is a reddish-brown and much longer. I have been stopped more times than I can count to be asked: “Who did your hair?” I get a kick out of the responses when I tell them “I did it!”
There is a song by a famous artist entitled “I am not my hair”.
For me, that is partially true. My hair is only a part of who I am, yet it plays a huge role in demonstrating who I am. I am free to be me, regardless of what others may say. I LOVE my look, and I am thankful that I gave myself permission several years ago to be ME.
Thank you to all who love me regardless of how I wear my hair.
I’ve been reading, studying, reflecting and observing thoughts on sex outside vs. within marriage. This is a HUGE controversial topic even among Christians, so I want to share some of my thoughts on this subject.
I believe that many of the issues we face in our relationships today stem from how we handle them from the start. We may see someone we “like” and we get curious and strike up a conversation with them. We may like their car, their clothes, their personality, the fact that they are educated and/or earn tons of money, they are well-known or some other outstanding feature. But do we spend the time in getting to know the REAL person before we move any further with the relationship?
Do we know how they handle setbacks or disappointments?
Are they responsible?
How are they under stress?
Do they love children?
Are they kind to people whom they don’t need to be kind to?
If they manage people, do their direct reports cringe when they speak to them?
Are they up to their eyeballs in debt (without a good reason)?
Are they STILL married (or are they separated)?
Sometimes we bypass a lot of these important points so we can get to the “good part”: SEX. Isn’t that the purpose for hooking up with someone else, anyway? Right? Well, yes and no.
Those of us who are Christians believe that God created us on purpose, with purpose, and for a purpose. We are not randomly roaming the earth to see what we can get our hands on and what we can do to occupy our time and attention until we die. There is a reason for our existence. There is also a purpose (or several purposes) for marriage.
Definitely one purpose for marriage is being fruitful and multiplying and replenishing the earth (aka having children).
Another purpose for marriage is to demonstrate the unselfish love that God has for us, as shown by the biblical analogy of Christ and His bride, the Church that He will return to take with Him to heaven (spotless, without wrinkle or any other tarnish). As couples live out this real-life example, they learn to love unconditionally, to forgive each other every day and to be merciful, patient and kind in various scenarios and settings. One person may feel like walking away from it all because of daily challenges and stressors, but like our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are to remain loving, consistent and faithful regardless of the circumstances.
Then there is the purpose of social responsibility, where the man is leading and teaching a family to become more beneficial to society. Education, the value of hard work, and the daily walk of commitment to loving one woman and raising their children into productive adults keep the wheels of society turning for generations to come.
If we race past the cautionary moments (see the examples listed earlier) or ignore the purposes that marriage serves, how will we be able to keep a marriage going? Unmarried sex does not guarantee that a relationship will last. I will hasten to say neither does married sex. What keeps relationships together is the foundation on which everything is built.
If a relationship is built on surface things (such as prestige, power & “toys”) then it cannot last. Even if both people manage to get married, life happens and over time the relationship will crack under pressure and eventually crumble. Life happening can include the loss of loved ones, or birthing children with disabilities, or the loss of a lucrative position at a global corporation, or just plain ol’ LIFE! Some of these situations will knock even the most solid person off his/her feet.
So what is the tie to sex and all of this? The context of sex in a relationship is what matters here. If sex is the only thing that ties two people together, then the relationship is doomed from the start. If a lasting relationship is what is desired, then getting to know the other person in various contexts is what is needed and should be pursued FIRST. Many of my friends are stating “friends first”, and I totally agree. Get to know the person first without the pressure of sex or romance. Who is this other individual? Let’s get to know them first.
God gave us the gift of self-control, but many of us will not acknowledge it or use it. We can control how we approach sex. Because sex drives are SUPER-strong, it’s best to know how to handle it before it goes beyond our control. Spending a lot of time alone with someone we are just getting to know is certainly not a great idea. We can have discussions but let’s be wise about where we meet, what time of day, etc. so we are only having discussions and spending time to get to know the person – and nothing else. It really is possible, even in 2012, to get to know someone without getting naked. In fact, sex clouds our objectivity about a person, so we may tend to rationalize red flags and forge ahead with a doomed relationship anyway because of the bond we created through sex.
Being accountable to others who have our best interest in mind is another fantastic way to keep things in the right perspective. When we know that the person will ask us the hard questions, we will want to be able to tell them the truth as they ask. Having a discerning person (one who can see ahead) as a mentor is a definite plus. They can help us remain aware of potential issues that can take us off-course.
Having strong self-esteem means I won’t need to indulge in sexual intercourse so I will feel loved. And testing the waters ahead of time to see if we are sexually compatible also means that we do not trust the God who made us (and who knows us intimately). He knows how to meet every need that we have, so why would He not know what He is doing when He provides us with a spouse for life?
Relationships that are founded on building a strong foundation first will be able to withstand the tests of time. This strong foundation is especially important when sex cannot happen between partners (e.g. illness, childbearing, times of prayer that both parties agreed to, or travel).
There is so much more that can be said on this subject but I think I will end here for now.
I have been divorced for a few years now, and during the first couple years I was NOT even remotely interested in dating again, much more getting married. I knew I would do so eventually, but it was too soon to consider it.
Fast-forward a few years and I realize that the time I took away from dating was the best thing I could have done. I spent time pursuing another degree while working on various aspects of my life. I am not ashamed to say I sought professional counseling as well because I was intent on being healed, delivered and set free from much of the emotional baggage I was dragging around behind me.
As I approach the completion of my MBA degree (YAYYY!!!) other exciting things are beginning to appear on the horizon. God has kept me all these years and I am truly grateful. When I look back on this phase, I want to look at it as my time of exponential growth and development in all areas of my life.
My first book has “taken off”, and I am truly thankful for the lives that have already been changed. I look forward to meeting many of you who took the time to read and comment on how you were impacted. “It’s My Life and I Live Here: One Woman’s Story” chronicles many personal events that shaped who I am today. I am thankful for the power of prayer and for the healing hand of God upon my life.
I am READY for what’s next! Please keep stopping by this blog, as I will continue to share when I can.