Christian, emotional, faith, Family, Friends, Friendship, Love, prayer

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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What Will You Give? #GIVINGTUESDAY

While you never need a day to give, it’s nice to harness the power of social media to encourage generosity. The focus of #GIVINGTUESDAY is on providing financial support to amazing organizations that focus on vital social issues such as poverty, education and hunger.

I encourage you to visit Charity Navigator, GuideStar and other vetting sites to learn about the important work organizations of all sizes across this country and abroad are doing. Organizations that you can support. I also encourage you to search for nonprofits in your own neighborhood that are striving to make your community better.

While giving a financial donation is important, don’t forget that as human beings we’re built to give so much more: give your time, give a hand, give a word of encouragement, give a smile, and give an ear (actively listening to someone who just needs to talk can make a world of difference). Learn from Christ and give of yourself. There’s a #joy attached to giving that can never be measured.

Today I give

…thanks to my heavenly Father and give Him the glory that only He deserves.

…a meal to someone who would otherwise go hungry by supporting Feeding America.

…spiritual nourishment to those who need Christ by supporting my local church to spread the gospel.

…my fellow Boy Meets World dorks a smile by sharing this Buzzfeed post about Cory and Shawn’s reunion. (Still have to watch this episode.)

What will you give on this #GIVINGTUESDAY?

From: http://www.givingtuesday.org/

WHAT IS #GIVINGTUESDAY?
We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

GiveTuesday_700x

cory and sean

december 2014

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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

NaBloPoMo_November

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11 + 22 = 33 (My Birthday!)

Today’s birthday theme was “things I like”. My husband was sweet enough to plan a day of activities that I would enjoy. I managed to take pictures of only the places below, unfortunately, as I’m still learning my new phone. Thankful to be blessed with another year, and grateful to have a partner who cares about my happiness. Happy birthday to anyone else out there celebrating! #Twinsies

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Christmas ❤ is real!

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Spicy chicken (no pickle), waffle fries and cookies and cream milkshake—-yummmmm!!!

 NaBloPoMo_November

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Married? No Opposite Sex Friendships for YOU!

If I didn’t have friends of the opposite sex, I’d have very few friends left.

I grew up with a gaggle of brothers, male cousins and uncles so it naturally extended to my friendships. My comfort level around men was second nature. Excluding the ones I was crushing on (and my childhood bully), I’ve always been my most comfortable self with them. Never worried about being judged for my hair, my clothes, or my looks. I was simply part of their crew. The little “sister” they clowned around with, sought advice about girls from, played dominoes and UNO with, and whose company they simply enjoyed without any stress or drama. With them, I never felt awkward.

Which is why I tilted my head in curiosity at (my girl! ❤ her!) Mary J. Blige’s most recent comment about opposite sex friendships in her marriage: “All females for me, all guys for him. There’s none of that, ‘Oh, that’s my female friend, Oh, that’s my guy friend,’” Blige said. “No, not in a marriage, I’ve never seen that work.”

She’s not the first person to stand on the side of ‘no’ to the question of whether men and women can ever be just friends. But I still don’t get it. My husband and I both count opposite sex members as best friends. At our wedding he had a Best Woman and I had a Man of Honor. Were we supposed to terminate two long-standing, supportive friendships because of unnecessary insecurity? What sense would that have made?

Simplistic or not, in my head you either trust the person you’re marrying, or you don’t. Trust the relationship, or don’t. If the stability and longevity of your marriage depend on banishing opposite sex friendships, perhaps your foundation wasn’t strong enough to begin with.

Just my two cents. What’s yours?

trust11

NaBloPoMo_November

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Teenage Memory

This #TBT post is from a 2011 post about a memory from my teen years.

misfit

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I was a gangly *no curves to save my life* and dark-skin teen who always had her head buried in a book. Not exactly the Kim Kardashian beauty of teenage boys’ lustful dreams. Their rejection hurt, but what really cut deep was being rejected by boys who should have liked me – black boys. But they didn’t. There was nothing special about me in their eyes. I wasn’t fair, I did not have light eyes and my hair wasn’t especially long. I was JUST black. Nothing exotic in my genes. Greater than the sin of being homely and black, I had no butt to speak of. No junk in my trunk. No “onion” booty: described by Urban Dictionary as a “booty that looks so good, it makes grown man want to cry.”

Those awkward teenage years were exacerbated by the bully who made it his business to torture me. My bully was an overweight and and pitch-dark boy who girls found unattractive and tended to overlook. As author Richard Sennet points out in Respect in a World of Inequality, the condition of “not being seen” had produced in him “a desire to avenge.” And I was the target of his vengeance because he saw in me his most hated feature. Every day he was forced to confront the thing about himself that caused him the most grief – his skin color.

As a teen I didn’t have the foresight to understand that his problem was not with me. I was simply an easy target. His anger was rooted much deeper. His real issue stemmed from generations of black self-hate that was encouraged during times of slavery when the darker slaves were relegated to picking cotton and working in the fields while the lighter ones (those who more closely resembled their European masters – usually as a result of interracial rape) were able to remain in the house as servants and had the opportunity to be educated. Why we play the game of who carried the heaviest burden is beyond me. Slavery is slavery is slavery. But that’s another topic for another day.

Anyway, I internalized his treatment of me and spent years chasing the standard of beauty that I was sure he and others would value. I used skin bleaching creams religiously, seared my hair straight with hot combs and relaxers, and prayed fervently for the type of butt that black boys would appreciate. Imagine being God and listening to those heartfelt prayers.

It wasn’t until years later (hello Black Studies classes in college!) that I had the strength to confront my demons and work through the self-hate. While I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity, I’ve often wondered whether my bully had the same chance. I hope so, but who knows. You can’t combat issues you never acknowledge. As they say in AA (or so TV tells me), the first step is admitting you have a problem.

***

What’s a memory from your teenage years?

NaBloPoMo_November

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