Saturday, October 24, 2015

Being Mary Jane....

“You deserve more than the words ‘I love you’”, he said.

This past Tuesday was the season premiere of “Being Mary Jane,” the drama series starring Gabrielle Union portraying a young, single, black, successful woman who is climbing the ladder of success while stumbling down the stairs of love.  It was a season three premiere that was simply one word: AMAZING!! Many have negative comments toward the show, but I find it to be refreshing and relatable. Yes, she slept with a married man, only for one season, though! No, she is not perfect. And yes, the eye candy on her show is truly worth the watch! I use to want to be a journalist. Her strive toward success is inspiring, and I find that her relationship struggles hit closer to home than I expected.

I attempted to tweet throughout the show but just couldn't keep up with all the great quotes that were catapulting from the actors mouths! The writing was great. The story line was real, and I was left thinking and questioning things in my own life, even after it was all over. I can’t really say I feel that way after Scandal and Empire. I’m just saying! (sips tea)

One particular scene, my favorite scene, was between Mary Jane and her youngest brother. As they sat on her bed discussing the real reason she experienced a loss of control of her car and, therefore, ended up in a car accident, he simply shared the truth.  She overheard her ex-boyfriend and best friend discuss a sexual relationship they had, and in shock, she ended up swerving and hitting a pole.

Her brother was sincere and honest in letting her know that the man she thought she loved wasn’t willing to fight for her.  Her ex boyfriend was the love of her life and the man she desired to marry, yet they just couldn't seem to work it out. Mary Jane was always the one reaching out and fighting to make it work, yet his fight seemed to be non-existent.  Her brother explained that because he grew up accustomed to everything being given to him, he didn't have to fight or work for much of anything, let alone a woman and a relationship.  He didn't deserve her.  He said, “you deserve more than the words ‘I love you’.”  

As Mary Jane began to rationalize and defend him, like only women can, she stated, “I simply just  want to be loved and for a man to think of me as someone he couldn't live without.”  I almost cried! The truth of that statement pierced straight through my heart.  What woman doesn’t want to feel that way? What woman hasn't sat and fantasized about the day a man would say that to her? And what woman hasn’t heard a man say the words “I love you” and “ I can't live without you” and experienced heart break all in the same breathe.  

Words are just that, words.  They can only hold so much weight before they fall to the waist side. It takes action to keep a word afloat and alive. I’ve struggled for a long time, taking the words of a man and not requiring much action. I too, like Mary Jane, desire love and attention. I desire to be someone’s everything.  Simply hearing certain phrases would make my heart smile and meet a need that longed for affirmation and attention, yet feeling empty when the action behind the words never came to full fruition.  I found myself settling with the words just being good enough, but deeply desiring more. Did I deserve more? Were the words just to be enough?  Will I find anyone better?

The truth of the matter is, yes! I deserve more and words are not enough.  Mary Jane deserves more. Yes, even her fictional character who inadvertently represents many women, deserves more!
A scripture says, “ you can recognize them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.” (Matthew 7:16).  To recognize means to watch and then acknowledge.  We must require a man to show us how he feels about us and not just tell us what he thinks we want to hear. And when he shows you, believe him! It’s like a game of spades. His actions are his two, his words are his “possibles”. His words come with doubt, but his actions come with certainty.   

You deserve more than the words ‘I love you’.  You are worth the fight. You are worth the wait. You are worth the time. You are worth the work. You are worth it.  You deserve every action of the phrase “I love you”.  They say faith without works is dead. I would also venture to say that love without works is simply non-existent.  Just ask this guy named Jesus. His action spoke loud and clear, and are still speaking today! (John 3:16)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Are You Ready?

This is a guest post by Dawn Sanders. She is a writer who blogs about overcoming adversity and building a life you love. She lives outside of the Washington, DC area and serves as a minister at a local church. She has served as a great example in my life. You can read her blog, follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.

Recently, a mentee asked me to write a post for ladies-in-waiting. Her request took me back. Don’t get me wrong. I am waiting, but not specifically for marriage. I am waiting for the next big thing in my life—whatever that may be. It may be marriage; it may be something else entirely. Whatever my next blessing is though, I want to be ready to receive it.
That is my challenge to singles and anyone else waiting for their next big thing: Get Ready! I say this because you don’t want to delay your harvest or worse—miss it all together because you were focused on or distracted by something else.
That almost happened to me with Reggie. When Reggie came along, I was involved with another man. So, I didn’t notice Reggie at first, but he noticed me. When Reggie told the story, he said God spoke to him about me being his wife the first time Reggie saw me. Instead of approaching me though, Reggie watched me to see what kind of woman I was, and if he liked what he saw. Reggie liked what he saw, but unfortunately, I was unavailable.
The gentleman that Reggie was, he didn’t go any further. Instead, Reggie decided to have a few more conversations with God. These conversations led Reggie to wait for one of two things to happen. Either God would end my relationship with the other guy or God would show Reggie someone else.
Thankfully, for Reggie and me, God ended my previous relationship. However, it took three years. Three years wasted because of my distraction by someone else.
The magnitude of this mistake really comes into focus when you consider the pain I experienced in the previous relationship, and that Reggie and I only had four years together—two before marriage and two after—because of Reggie’s unexpected death due to a heart attack. I could have been happy with Reggie, because we were very happy, rather than hurting with someone else.
It all could have been avoided if I had been focused on getting ready. I circle back to this because that is what Reggie did. Yes, he waited on God, but Reggie didn’t spend that time just sitting around moping or complaining because I was unavailable. While he waited, Reggie worked on himself.
There are several nuggets to be mined from this story. Here are three:
1.) Focus
Rather than focusing on what you are missing (i.e. marriage or a mate), focus on what you can do to prepare for your blessing when it arrives. This works when waiting for anything, not just marriage. For instance, I mentioned in another post that writing a book was one of my writing goals. I still believe there is a book in my future, so writing this blog allows me to hone my writing skills while helping others. This allows me to do something positive in the present while preparing for something else positive in the future. Sounds like a win-win to me! Focus on what you can do to prepare for your blessing when it arrives. 
Focus on what you can do to prepare for your blessings when they arrive #AreYouReady
2.) Patience
The key to patience is having the desire in the right place in your heart. Reggie was patient because he was in control of his desire to get married. His desire wasn’t in control of him.
Allowing your desire to control you makes you a victim of your circumstances. Then, you are reactive rather than proactive. On the other hand, proactivity gives you choices so you can take advantage of opportunities and seek alternatives. That way, you can make the most of today.
Reggie demonstrated his control over his desire when he didn’t react to God telling him I would be his wife by approaching me while I was involved with someone else. Our God is a God of Order and that would have been out of order. Alternately, Reggie was proactive by watching and praying.
“If you’re proactive, you don’t have to wait for circumstances or other people to create perspective expanding experiences. You can consciously create your own.” – Stephen Covey
Another reason to be patient is that your heart’s desire may be closer than you think. Remember Reggie noticed me. I just didn’t know it. Had I been ready we could have moved forward in our blessing that much sooner.
The key to patience is having control of your desire rather than your desire controlling you. #AreYouReady
3.) Distractions
Don’t allow distractions to get in your way before, during, or after the wait. While working on this blog prior to announcing it earlier this week, many distractions tried to pull me off task. In fact, the attack came on all fronts: home due to a leak that caused an unexpected renovation, family in the form of my mother’s hospitalization and following healthcare, and work’s ongoing demands. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy our blessings (John 10:10). Don’t let him do it.
Another way Satan attempts to distract is with a counterfeit. You know what a counterfeit is, right? An imitation designed to cheat you out of your blessing. Often you don’t realize it is a fake until it is too late—after investing too much in it. That is what happened with the relationship I was in when I met Reggie.
Now, some of you may think, how will I know if s/he is Mr./Ms. Right if I don’t explore the relationship? To that I say, do what Reggie did: watch and pray. Check the person out before jumping in. Doing that would have saved me a lot of time, not to mention pain and heartache. The signs were there before I ever went out on a date with that guy that he wasn’t the one for me. I just ignored them. Now, I follow Maya Angelou’s advice: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them, the first time.” 
Don't allow distractions to block your blessings. #AreYouReady
These three mindsets served Reggie well while waiting for me. They enabled him to wait three years for his harvest, and I am oh so glad he did. So much so that I believe if you follow his model, you will be glad you did too.
Until next time,
P. S. Check out the rest of this series: Part two switches gears to what we can do to improve our relationship skills, part three continues with what we can do to improve our emotional health, part four shares what we can do to improve our physical health, part five moves to what we can do to get ready in regards to our finances, and part six concludes with what we can do to grow spiritually.
Questions: Are you focused or distracted during your season of preparation? How so? Where is your desire in your heart? Does it have control of you? Or are you in control of it? What can you do to gain control over it? Please respond by clicking on the Comment, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest buttons below.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Just One of 'dem Days!

“You don’t want a drink?” he asked.

It was just one of ‘dem days.  It’d been a rough week, and it didn't help that, on this day, it was “that time of the month.”  I felt some type of way about EVERYTHING! My back was hurting, I was feeling lonely, and anything anybody said to me made me feel emotional and somewhat bothered.  My poor patients, particularly the old men, didn't stand a chance. I was not in the mood for the sly compliments and daily request for me to be their “personal caregivers.” Today wasn't the day!

Did I mention I was feeling lonely? So I decided to take myself out on a solo date. Why may you ask? I’m really not sure.  The ironic thing is, I was actually supposed to have a date that day, but it fell through, so I assumed that maybe I needed to be with myself for a bit.  Maybe do what so many other women are doing these days, “date myself.”

I finished up with my patients a bit early that day and after going grocery shopping, I decided to take myself out to Chevys, a TexMex restaurant in the area that I hadn't been to in a while.  It was a Thursday afternoon and I was craving quesadillas with chips and salsa. Table for one, please!

Can I just say, solo dates are for the birds! Who came up with that concept!? I mean, I get it. You want to know that you can treat your own self and spend time with yourself and be one with yourself! Listen, I can do that all by my lonesome in my own home! Do I have to go out in public and be solo?  It was just a bit awkward, on top of the fact my phone died, so I seriously had to be by myself! Thank goodness they were showing football on the televisions because, did I mention, it was just a bit awkward! I felt like my waiter kept giving me looks and assuming someone else was going to join me.

Now, I will say it was a bit peaceful because the bar area was not packed and my food came out quite quickly. I was able to “woosah” my day away with salsa, chips, and quesadillas. I truly wanted a drink, but I was headed to a meeting at church and let’s just say, I didn't want to lose my collar that night! But, it was definitely a strong consideration!  A nice frozen strawberry margarita would have done me just right! But there’s that whole ministry, boundaries, wisdom, discernment piece that kicked in all at the same time. I abstained! Growth! Y'all don't know when to shout!

So as I drove to church blasting Monica’s “Just One of ‘dem Days”, I really thought to myself, solo dates really aren’t that bad. The concept can be a bit much when women talk about buying themselves flowers, dressing up, and actually going on a date by themselves! Now that I just wouldn't do! But some much needed time away with yourself wouldn’t hurt every now again.  In actuality, it could be the best thing for you; just having peace and silence with yourself and truly enjoying your own company.  I’m clearly not a man, but a woman who is comfortable with herself and finds joy in who she is outside of other people is so attractive!

I’m actually planning a solo trip to Philadelphia at the end of the month. I’m headed there to do a fashion show and decided to make it a weekend trip. On top of the fact that I love staying in hotels, I’ve never been to Philly, so I look forward to that time in the city.  I do plan to connect with friends that I know in the area, but I will definitely be spending a majority of my time with myself, maybe even catch a train to New York City! Ok, maybe that might be a bit much, but hey, I’m on a roll here!  And hey, I may even meet “Mr. Right” on my solo-cation, because ladies, what a man finds even more attractive is a woman who is by herself and not surrounded by a bunch of women! Don't miss your blessing by always being in the crowd!

So, I think I’ll leave the flowers, wining, and dining to my man, whoever he may be, but at the end of the day, it's all about knowing, loving, and accepting you in your own space and time.  I always ask myself, “Would I marry me?” “Would I date me?” and even simply “Would I want to spend time me?” And the answer is simply and emphatically, Yes!!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

It's Cuffing Season!

“Just know you may get cuffed," he said.

I was talking to a male friend one night and I offered to stop by to visit because he wasn't feeling well.
He works late so the hour in which I would have stopped by was not the most appropriate time to make a visit. Back in the day, and actually still today, it would’ve been called a “booty call” hour.  With all good intentions, my motives were pure and there was no getting around his late work schedule. Although he was joking, I came to realize, as strong as I proclaim myself to be, it’s been awhile since I’ve experienced the affection of a man and It was a setup like no other. And if I can be VERY honest, it was a test I was probably not going to pass! I contemplated, prayed, and decided to stay home and cuff my pillow instead!

I recently learned of this term “cuffing” during a church meeting. Go figure! The presenter jokingly shared possible topics for small groups, one of them being the “Cuffing Season” group! I was intrigued and immediately took to my Google search to look up this new term. And lo’ and behold, good ole’ never ceases to give meaning to unusual words and terms. Allow me to share their definition for more clarity:
“During the Fall and Winter months people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves, along with the rest of the world, desiring to be "Cuffed" or tied down by a serious relationship. The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity causes singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.”
As a single person, cold wintery days, particularly snow days, awaken the yearning for a “boo thang” to snuggle against. Not to mention when you have to go to work in those snow days and he can shovel out your car! Amen! And it's football season! It’s nothing like spending time with a man, wearing his sweats and oversized t-shirts, cuddling while he shouts and scream for his favorite team, all the while you’re asking, “so what’s first down mean again?”
As a Christian, the season of singleness brings various emotions, particularly during the Fall and Winter months. Loneliness and desperation are real emotions that run rampant amongst single persons. It’s a struggle not to cling or “cuff” yourself to someone just to appease your desires and yearnings.  You’re fighting just to abstain and keep your “holiness” intact. So what do you do?
First, be honest about your feelings! It’s important to acknowledge your current state of emotion and yearnings to God and to close friends. God desires that we share every part of ourselves with him. Of course, he already knows, but it's something about audibly announcing your feelings into the atmosphere so that God can encompass and surround you with the peace, comfort, and love that you need at that moment and throughout. It's equally important to announce your feelings to others who can support, pray, and keep you accountable in this season!   
Second, stay busy and flee! Find other activities that will keep your mind occupied and focused on things other than relationship seeking and sulking. The gym has become my new hang out spot! I can work out all my pent up aggression and burn calories all at the same time!! Hanging with friends and doing group activities can ease your discontentment and unsettledness as well. Taking the time to discover and focus on your purpose and passion will definitely occupy a chunk of your mind, space, and time! But, the truth still remains, you want a relationship, not just a Fall/Winter “boo thang,” and that’s ok too.
If and when you do meet someone, it's important to set up realistic and obtainable boundaries that both you and your mate can agree upon. House dates may not be the best idea even though it's 20 below outside, and the sun goes down by 5 o’clock! Talk about a setup!  Keep it out the house. Ladies, this may also cause the brother to have to spend a little extra cash than expected, but you're worth it and so is the outcome! It's called sowing and reaping!
Accountability is another key in this thing called dating. My friends and I decided to text the hashtag “Cuffing Season” whenever we found ourselves struggling to abstain.  My friend actually used it the other night while she was out on a date. We immediately called her, talked with her and prayed. We checked in again at the end of the night just to make sure she went home alone, and she did! It's real out here in this season!  
Now, whether you take heed to the accountability is always where the trouble lies.  “But I just wanted to cuddle” is always the last confessed words after "it" goes down. The question then remains, how bad do you want to please God and have a relationship after his heart? And if you’re seeking to be married, how bad do want to be a wife and not just a convenient “cuddle buddy?”
And one last note to my ladies. Most of the time all we really want to do is actually just cuddle, but we know most men may not be able to just do that. We can't become selfish with our own desires and negate the struggle and desire of the man.  Set your boundaries and keep them! At the end of the day, you are your brother's keeper!
The term “Cuffing Season” just gives a title to a life-long struggle single persons encounter throughout this journey until God drops your mate at the appointed time.  Throughout all seasons, the desire for companionship and intimacy are ever present.  As Christians, we must maintain our purity, cling to God’s principles, and walk this life out before others. We must set an example in this earth no matter what the season.
Is it a bit difficult, cumbersome, frustrating, extra, weird, etc.? Yep! But is it also worth it, and a blessing? Absolutely! Waiting and claiming are still right and bring God glory.  And just for the record, don't beat yourself up if you fall or slip. Cling and “cuff” to God’s word. Your season isn't up yet!