Criticism, Empowerment, Family, Family Values, Women

Cater 2 U

Cater 2 U

You’re likely familiar with the lyrics above and recognize them as the 2004 hit “Cater 2 U” by Destiny’s Child. Although a commercial success, the song was not without criticism for its message of female servitude. Its message was described as everything from “seriously sexist” to “cringe inducing.” While there are those who ranted about the song derailing female empowerment; as with any controversial topic, it also had its supporters. In its defense, author Emma Gannon wrote, “It’s OK to want to be attractive to men AND be considered a feminist.”

Fast forward to 2016 where we revisit this debate anew. This time in the form of an article written by newlywed blogger Amanda Lauren, entitled “Staying Hot For My Husband Is ESSENTIAL To A Successful Marriage.” Amanda, who coincidentally can pass for a “Becky with the good hair,” states, “When my husband gets home from work, I love to make him his favorite cocktail.” She goes on to add, “One of the most important things I do to make him happy is to be the woman of both his fantasies and reality. If my husband wasn’t turned on by me, we couldn’t have essential intimacy.” Yes. ‘Essential intimacy’ is the equivalent of “Drunk in Love.”

Amanda acknowledges that she and her husband are probably not the poster children for millennial marriages, and she’s right, according to a Pew research on millennials’ attitudes about marriage. When asked about what kind of marriage leads to the more satisfying way of life, the Pew found that 72% of Millennials chose the model in which the husband and wife both work and both care for the household and children. It’s unlikely that those who favor this egalitarian model of marriage would support Amanda’s views.

Not surprisingly, Internet bullies crawled out of their holes to tar and feather her with comments that are incredibly too vulgar and cruel to bear repeating. Some of these remarks would have you believe that her article was about the benefits of sacrificing babies, instead of the innocuous thoughts of a woman about failure-proofing HER marriage. Thankfully, there are those who remained civil even in their disagreement. Many of them commented that she was too early in her marriage to understand that this is a simplistic outlook of matrimony.

A famous millennial who might empathize with and support Amanda’s more traditional view of marriage is Ayesha Curry. Ayesha, the wife of NBA superstar Steph Curry, makes no apologies for being her husband’s most vocal supporter, or for her focus on their marriage and their children. In the tweet to launch the greatest feud since the East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry of the 90s, Ayesha commented that she keeps her “good stuff” covered for her husband.

AC Tweet

In response, some – a lot – of men on Twitter raised her to the status of black Madonna (Michelangelo’s) and used her as an excuse to crucify women they deemed “hoes” who weren’t “marriage material.” Many women, on the other hand, took offense at being measured by the Ayesha litmus test. Do you cook? No. Are you your man’s loudest cheerleader? Most times, but I’ll let that dummy know when he messes up. Are you willing to be a lady in the street but a freak in the bed? I can dress however I choose to in public and still be considered a lady. A woman with those answers would fail to be an “Ayesha material wife,” which is wholly unfair.

Whether a feminist or a womanist, the backbone of these movements is the ability for women to define themselves how they choose. Women like Amanda and Ayesha can choose to cater to their husbands in a way that others might not, and that’s their prerogative. Just as it’s the right of others to approach their vows differently.

We can make the case that keeping one’s self “tight” does not guarantee a spouse will remain faithful (paging Halle Berry, and, allegedly, Queen Bey). But with the divorce rate in America projected at 40-50 percent for couples entering their first marriage, what does it hurt for Amanda to do what she thinks is right to help ward against that? I don’t know. It’s not my place to make that call. Her marriage. Her approach.

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Love is not resentful…

This summer my pastor did a sermon series entitled The Many Shades of Love that covered the following topics: Loving Our God, Loving Our Neighbor, Loving Our Brothers, Loving Our Family, Loving Our Rebels, Loving Our Failures, Loving Our Addicts, and Loving Our Enemies. Although each topic centered on its own books, chapters and verses, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 connected them all.

This morning in my time with the Lord I read 1 Corinthians 13 and kept returning to verse 5, “. . . it [love]is not resentful.” Unsure why that particular passage was resonating with me today even though I’ve read it numerous times, I continued with my devotionals that included Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest.

When I came upon this section, “never disregard a conviction that the Holy Spirit brings to you. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to bring it to your mind, it is the very thing He is detecting in you,” it became clear why the bible passage stuck with me. I was being convicted by the Holy Spirit.

Unsure of the nature of the conviction, I went into prayer asking God to search me and bring to my understanding what needed repentance and change. I don’t know if you’ve ever asked THE holy and righteous God to reveal a sin in you, but it’s frightening. What was He going to find?

Turns out that what He found in me wasn’t exactly new. He’d brought it to my attention before but I guess I hadn’t resolved it to His liking, so He brought it again. What was I resentful about? I resented having been a supportive friend to two people who turned around and deserted me at a time when I needed them most.

In 2013 I had a very invasive surgery with complications that left me in the ICU for almost a week. The people I considered my closest friends were not there to support me or my husband as we went through this emotionally draining time. As D and my mom waited hours for me to get out of surgery, other friends that I had known for a lot less time and those who lived thousands of miles away were constantly checking in and supporting him via text. The two who should have been there, weren’t. Although local, they never came to see me in the hospital or at home while I was recovering. Years of friendship and they barely made an effort. Treated me with about as much warmth and care as you’d show a passing stranger.

For two years I’ve been holding on to that resentment and distanced myself from them as a result. Though I tried to move past it, my heart was hardened. Which is why when one of them went through some troubling times not too long ago I did not reach out and was not there to support. I’m ashamed to admit it.

When you leave things incomplete, God will keep bringing them up to you until you resolve them. I’d sought forgiveness from God, but never from the ones who hurt me. If you don’t know God, you’d think it insane to ask forgiveness of those who offend you, but that’s just what we’re asked to do. I needed to ask forgiveness for holding a grudge and not letting go. It’s not unsurprising that the Holy Spirit convicted me of it again.

Without Christ in me I do not have the love that is patient and kind, that does not envy or boast, that is not arrogant or rude. The one that does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth. The love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

With Christ in me I do. And it is Christ that I need to help me let go of that resentment. To let me forgive once and for all and to make peace with what happened. By myself I can’t do it. As believers, we know that at times the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

But that’s no excuse to stay complacent and not aim to grow spiritually. The God that elected and saved me did so that I should no longer live, but that He should live in me. The God who lives in me is the LOVE of the bible. With Him I will live His Love and be able to show it to those who have hurt me.

I pray that if you’re like me and struggling to live God’s love, you’ll seek Him for the strength to do so.

Love

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You can’t always get what you want. And that’s not a bad thing.

Life is quite funny.

By God’s grace, D recently found a new career opportunity in NY. What this means is that after six years of what was supposed to be a year of living in New Jersey, I’m heading back to Brooklyn and taking this Jersey Boy with me. His friends think I’m elated. I’m happy, but it is bittersweet.

When I first moved here I was sad and upset at having to leave NYC, but took comfort in the fact that it would be for only a year. 365 days. When it became clear that year would extend to four, I was bitter and disappointed. Thankfully, two years into living here, I was led to my current church – a blessing God knew I needed but wouldn’t have gotten if He hadn’t moved me to the other side of the Hudson. I had been away from God for a long time before that and was slowly (think tortoise steps) finding my way back. God placed me where I could get the support of an uncompromising bible-teaching-believing-practicing pastor and fellow believers to grow in my walk with Him. Fellow believers who helped me move past the guilt of turning my back on God and accept the forgiveness He offered after I came back in broken repentance.

I am happy for this new challenge ahead of us and the opportunity to change, shape and make a real difference in the neighborhoods of my childhood, but I am sad as well. In addition to my church family, my in-laws have made Jersey a home for me. Where there was no true emotional connection to the state when I first arrived, I must say that it now holds a special place in my heart that is uniquely its own. One that even New York can’t ever touch. How can it? This is where D and I started our married life. Jersey is forever tied to those memories.

Some may not believe me, but I am very grateful for the way life turned out. I am thankful that God overruled my wants and led me to follow His will.

Would love to hear stories of how your life took a path contrary to what you wanted but that turned out to be exactly what you needed.

Proverbs 19 21

#TBT from 2011

Same old story, different couple. 20-something Brooklyn Girl enjoys the highlights and pitfalls of everyday single life without care or thought to settling down. Brooklyn Girl meets New Jersey Boy online and thinks New Jersey Boy is funny. She’ll go out with him. Time goes by and BK Girl realizes that Jersey Boy is awesome. She’ll keep going out with him. More time passes and both BK Girl and Jersey Boy realize they want to keep hanging out with each other.

Jersey Boy proposes to BK Girl after a series of comical errors. BK Girl screams “Holy Crap, We’re Engaged!” before saying yes to nervous Jersey Boy on bended knee awaiting an answer.

BK Girl makes it clear to Jersey Boy – “THERE’S NO WAY I’M MOVING TO NEW JERSEY!” Jersey Boy agrees, but secretly wonders if maybe BK Girl doesn’t understand the meaning of compromise.

Jersey Boy starts the search for NY job. And he searches…and searches…and searches. Jersey Boy realizes NY job market is a bust. Makes more sense to keep current NJ job.

Jersey Boy agonizes over how to tell BK Girl that the stress of the reverse commute would eventually cause him to drive his car off the Brooklyn Bridge. BK Girl and Jersey Boy separately contemplate living apart while married – both agree that’s probably not the best idea. Jersey Boy nervously brings up subject of moving to Jersey to BK Girl.

Seeing the writing on the wall, BK Girl makes Mandelaesque sacrifice and leaves the bright lights of NY for the humdrum life of Jersey — at least temporarily.

What was supposed to be a one year stay has now turned into three with one more to go before Jersey Boy can be settled in his field.

With humor, BK Girl tries to embrace her current refugee status while dreaming of the day she can return to her homeland.

Join her on this cross-state journey as she embraces her life in Jersey while still maintaining her New York roots.

bklynjersey

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Sausage and Herb Stuffing: Thanksgiving Recap.

Anyone in a food coma? I was pretty good today only eating a single serving of each dish — well, dessert doesn’t count.

Had a lovely dinner (is it dinner when you eat at 3ish?) with my in-laws (♥ them!). Sis-in-law made her amazing mashed potatoes and mom-in-law made her smack-your-mama-tasty pumpkin pie. I made the laughable version of Barefoot Contessa’s sausage and herb stuffing. I was so careful to follow the recipe and it still didn’t come out like hers. In fact I had to add more chicken stock after it baked for 30 minutes because one cup was just not enough. I was very disappointed with the dish but everyone else seemed to enjoy it. It was great to see my father-in-law go for seconds.

Here’s a pictorial recap of my day. Would love to hear about yours, or just about your day if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. This is the WORLD Wide Web, after all, and not just the AMERICA Wide Web. 🙂

Night.

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Prep Ingredients

sautee

Final Dish1

Thanksgiving Table

pie a la mode

mom-in-law's pumpkin pie

oreo cake

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Thanksgiving Manners.

Show me a Haitian without manners and I’ll show you the devastated parents and grandparents wondering where they went wrong.

To “old school” Haitians a person’s manners (or lack of) is a direct reflection on the family that raised him/her. Good manners is indicative of a loving home with parents who cared enough to teach right from wrong. Bad manners…well, bad manners signals a need for pity. It elicits a shake of the head followed by a “podyab” or a “poor baby”. Bad manners is proof that you were dealt an unfair lot in life.

Which is why, even though we’re adults, my mother would still take a switch to our behinds if my siblings and I ever forgot how we were raised. God forbid we should walk into a room without properly greeting those already there, or we should ever stay seated while an elderly person stands nearby. We’d better be quick to explain that we offered and the person declined.

Tomorrow D and I head to my in-laws’ for Thanksgiving, and one of the many things I’m thankful for is my mother teaching me that you don’t visit someone’s home empty handed. So along with cake and ice cream, we are bringing the stuffing. Stuffing that I’m making – and NOT from a box.

O.o

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know this is laughable. Manners I have in abundance, but my cooking skills are in short supply. *Shrugs* I didn’t learn everything my family tried to teach me. We’ll see how this turns out. I’ll post the final product here.

Are you cooking? Share what you’re making. Pictures are always invited.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving – and don’t forget the ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’.

formal-place-setting


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Ferguson: Verdict Aftermath.

By now you know the officer who shot Micheal Brown, Jr. was not indicted.

How could he have been when the law is written in such a way that allows for the broadest interpretation of reasonable imminent threat? Meaning that officer Wilson was free to shoot to kill because he reasonably believed Michael Jr. posed a threat to his life even though the teen was unarmed.

I have never been a police officer and never involved in police work, so I can’t say what it’s like in a time of heightened danger where you’re facing a having to take a life in order to save your own. I imagine it’s heart stopping fear wondering if you’re going to make it home to your family. However, where is the reasonable danger to you when you are the one who is armed? When you are the one brandishing a loaded weapon? Where’s the threat when you’re armed, it’s broad daylight and your opponent is running away?

Police officers are an integral part of our community and serve a vital role in maintaining order and protecting us as citizens. As such we are to support them and make every effort to keep them safe while they keep us safe. The problem is when the law – as it does now – dismisses the protection of citizens in favor of the protection of law enforcement. Isn’t there a better balance? Isn’t there a way to reasonably protect the lives of officers without sacrificing the lives of young men of color? Don’t their lives have value as well? Are there not mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, extended family and friends whose hearts would be shattered if they should lose their lives? Or is the life of a poor kid of color so worthless that there shouldn’t be anyone to mourn for him?

I was slapped in the face today by someone’s angry Facebook rant towards those who had the nerve to seek justice for Michael Brown, Jr.: a thief, the person exclaimed. While we can debate the veracity of that video released by the Ferguson police department, that doesn’t get at the heart of this issue. It doesn’t get the point this person is missing. Whether or not he had taken those cigarillos did not warrant being gunned down like an animal. I’m sorry, not like an animal. PETA would never stand for it. So why should we as human beings place any less value on another human life?

Because he did a stupid thing that he would have likely learned a lesson from had he not been killed? Because making a mistake at 18 means that his path was set for life with no chance for redemption? How many of us now productive members of society would have carried a vastly different legacy if our lives had been cut down in our teens or young adulthood? Who knows what contributions Michael Brown, Jr. would have made to this world? What husband he would have been? What child he would have guided and raised? What changes he would have made to his community? What productive member of society he would have become?

We don’t know because he was never given the chance because of a system that’s broken. A system that tolerates an officer refusing to carry a taser because it’s bulky and uncomfortable. When that same bulky and uncomfortable Taser could have meant doing his job without taking a life.

The allowance of excessive force when an officer reasonably believes his life is in immediate danger is flawed. It’s like using one permission slip for every single school trip when your parents only meant it for the trip to the planetarium last month. Shoot to kill should not be a blanket permission slip. You can’t be free and clear to shoot someone who is unharmed and moving away from you. There’s zero logic in that.

Our system is broken. It’s broken. And until we make systemic changes we won’t ever get justice for Michael Brown, Jr. or any other ones that came before him, or any who will inevitably come after him.

And I have to tell you, I just don’t have any more tears in me to cry for another life that doesn’t  need to be lost. And I don’t have any more ways to encourage my 21-year-old brother that he matters in this country. That all our brothers by blood matter. And that all the boys who look like him but are not related to him matter. I don’t have it in me anymore to have to tell him he’s too young to give up on change. That he’s too young to accept defeat and to accept things as they are.

If we don’t change this system, older sisters like me, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, girlfriends and wives will start to run out of excues to justify this country’s  (OUR country’s) treatment of black men.

change

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33 Random Things I’m Thankful For.

To cap off my lovely birthday weekend here’s a list of 33 random things I’m thankful for.

1. My salvation. Nothing in life could ever matter without the security of eternal salvation. I’m thankful God used my grandmother to lead me to the church where I eventually came to accept Christ as my personal savior. I am by no means perfect, and in fact I’ve fallen short more times than I’d like to admit, yet I’m blessed to know that nothing can separate me from the love of God. My salvation is because of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus and not of my own merits.

2. D, who is happy to indulge my desire to jump in the car, pick a direction and see where we end up. In fact, he is a willing participant. Today we ended up in a cute, tiny slice of Americana called Millerton (NY).

3. Great food. Whether it’s a spicy chicken sandwich at a fast food joint or a grilled octopus dish at a Michelin rated restaurant, I’m thankful for the meals that make my stomach happy.

4. Speaking of food, I am ever thankful that even though my family was considered working poor, my siblings and I were always fed. It wasn’t until adulthood I came to realize my mother willingly sacrificed her meals to keep us fed. I don’t ever take for granted a full – heck even a partially full – fridge, and never miss out on an opportunity to feed someone. When 1 in 6 people in this country face hunger, the opportunity is ever present. Feeding America can help you find a food bank near you if you’d like to lend a hand, or if you’re in need of a helping hand.

5. Cheap makeup brands that let me try out red lipsticks. I don’t wear lipstick and never red lipsticks, yet I had an itch to try one recently. NYC 320 Mahogany is a winner.

6. My siblings – both by blood and by marriage. Of course I love them because they’re family, but I also really like them as human beings. Each unique personality brings something of value to this world and to my life.

7. Christmas decorations with lots of lights. I am the weirdo who will stand outside your house taking pictures. Accept it as the compliment that it is.

8. The Internet. In the last few days alone I’ve googled the correct temperature to cook chicken (350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes), the start and end dates of Hanukkah 2014 (Dec 16-24), and Ian Ziering’s age (surprisingly, 50). How is that possible? How old was I when I was watching 90210? Anyway, technology is an amazingly convenient tool.

9. Hairdressers. Making me presentable since 1999.

10. Puppies. All that cuteness just brings a big ol’ smile to my face.

11. Pedicures. Specifically pedis at my favorite salon. Such a great way to relax and hide out from the world for 45 minutes.

12. Working for a company with a mission. With as much time as I spend at work, I’m thankful I can at least say it’s to serve a greater purpose.

13. Sanity. Enough said.

14. Physical health. Enough said.

15. Friends who care about me and my husband. Last year I had a health scare and it was great to see how certain friends rallied to support D knowing he was remaining strong for me. I’ll never forget that.

16. Funky glasses. Fun eyewear helps me make the most of terrible eyesight.

17. Contacts. The next best thing to laser surgery.

18. A love of the written word. Reading and writing.

19. Coffee and tea. Spent some time at a Harney & Sons tasting room today. So good.

20. Spiritual leaders who take seriously the role of shepherd that God has called them to be. Those who know that they will have to give an account to God for the spiritual well-being of everyone He placed in their care. Hebrews 13:17 and James 3:1.

21. A good night’s rest.

22. Coconut and Olive oils. Talk about multipurpose use. Good to eat. Good to moisturize. Best value ever.

23. Pretty/interesting/unique notebooks and journals. I’ve kept a diary since the 5th grade when Ms. Romain gave me Anne Frank’s Diary as a graduation gift. I can never have enough of them.

24. Four seasons. Even winter.

25. A huge big world to explore. So many places to see. So many dishes to try.

26. Smoothies. The best way to get nutrients from all the good-for-you ingredients I’d rather not eat. Although I still can’t bring myself to add bananas. *Shudders at the thought of eating them.*

27. Secret Santas. I’m always excited to participate in SS exchanges and look forward to creating a package that my person will enjoy.

28. Online banking.

29. My mother-in-law’s pumpkin pie. Yum.

30. My mom’s legume – eggplant, chayote, crab, conch and beef – and rice with fresh beans.  Sooo good.

31. Legs that enjoy walking.

32. Protective cases for phones.

33. Love.

Millerton Oblong

Main street

Terni's

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Book drop ted

Book drop blue

Bench

Tasting room

Harney and Sons

Mussels

Dessert menu

Dessert

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