Sunday, March 9, 2014

Single Women Series: Guard Your Heart

One of the very first things I did when I bought my home was have an alarm system installed. It was important to me to have an extra line of protection for my valuables. And for my LIFE! I made sure I didn't cheat myself. I had every door protected, and I was adamant about having motion sensors in all the key places throughout my home that would trigger the alarm if there was any movement once the system was armed. I test the system with my security provider regularly because I want to make sure it's working properly and that it's ready to respond if there's ever a problem. I'm VERY serious about protecting myself and the things I've worked so hard for. My livelihood rests in my home. My peace is at home. In fact, there's no place I'd rather be more than my home. It's where I'm secure. It's where I rest. It's where I have the most intimate times with God. I don't willingly invite strangers into my home because it's my safe haven, and I don't want just anyone in my most cherished place.

You should see me when someone I'm not expecting rings my doorbell. I become my own guard dog. I have windows in my house that allow me to look out at the front door to see who's there, but whoever's standing out there can't see me. How perfect is that?!  When that doorbell rings, I thoroughly examine the front stoop from the window. Nine times out of ten, I won't even open the door for an unannounced visitor, but if I do, I talk to them through the locked storm door. I'm not opening up my home to them. I don't care who they are. I don't care what they're selling. I don't even care if they're trying to alert me about something happening in the neighborhood. I don't know them, and they're a threat to my safety. My friends laugh at me because they know I will let that door bell ring, honey. LOL! (Literally; I am rollin' as I write this) I can be sitting right in my living room, watching TV or reading or whatever, and I'll just let the uninvited patron ring and/or knock on. I don't flinch. I don't even care that they're out there. I just don't do uninvited visitors.

Oh, how abundant were the knocks at the door when I first moved into my neighborhood!  My house had been on the market for some time, so when I moved in, it was quite evident to everyone who was already living on my street. And apparently, it was evident to people who "work the neighborhood" too. Guys were constantly knocking to offer their yard service. I had cable representatives trying to sell their stuff. I had visits from insurance reps, home alarm system reps, tree guys... They all wanted business at my home. I had fliers and business cards tagged to my door, and some were even left on my car. They were swarming bees! But regardless of their relentless pursuit, my safety was priority.

And I'm sure I'm not the only one who takes these cautionary measures. We all protect something to this extent. We all have something or some things that we hold dear and go to great lengths to secure. Why, though, is it so seldom our hearts? Why don't we guard those with such intensity...especially in relationships?

Many women feel like every guy who "knocks on their door"--at the mall, or at church, or when they're introduced to them by a friend--deserves their attention. They feel like if he asks for their time, they should oblige. If he asks for their number, hey...why not? If he tries to "holla," they let him. Why? To see if it will go somewhere, maybe? Or because they want to have someone give them some time and attention? It could be a little bit of both, but I can promise you it's mostly the latter. And every woman, at some point or another, has been there. I'll be the first to admit.

Too often, women will have some guy around just to get attention. They'll allow any guy who "works the neighborhood" to enter their most cherished place--their heart. Those women don't know that their heart IS their home. They don't know that their heart is the center of their being and because they "live there," they MUST protect it. They don't know that they should, as the Word of God says, guard their hearts ABOVE ALL ELSE. They should guard their hearts with all diligence, for it is the wellspring (a source or supply of anything) of all the issues of life.
(Proverbs 4:23)

Not every guy should be invited in just because he knocked.

Think on this...

Proverbs 15:13 NIV says: "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit."

Have you ever been heart broken from a relationship gone sour and found it difficult to do normal, everyday things? I mean, you were so hurt that you could hardly pay attention when life was going on around you. You couldn't eat. You couldn't sleep. Every thought was of that relationship--good times, bad times, how the break up happened, what he was doing at that very moment you were thinking of him... It's because your heart was sick, and when your heart is sick, it affects everything within, around, and about you.

On the contrary, I'm sure you've experienced extreme happiness at some point or another.  I'm talkin' about "walking on clouds" type happiness. Have you ever felt, as Pharrell puts so perfectly, like a room without a anything is possible?  That's because your heart is happyyyyyyyy! And when your heart is happy, likewise, it affects everything within, around, and about you. We have to consider who we allow into the center of our being, knowing that anything that happens in the relationship has the potential to affect EVERYTHING else.

Unfortunately sometimes, death and other unforeseen circumstances can cause our hearts to be sick, and we can't keep those from happening, but God tells us to guard our hearts because there are some train wrecks--relationship train wrecks--we can prevent. If guarding our heart wasn't necessary, He would've never told us to do so. It starts at the heart. Guard it! You control if you'll have a happy heart and cheerful face, or a heartache and crushed spirit.

Let me suggest these for the next time some guy comes "knocking on your door".

1. "Peek out the window" and study him for a spell to see if he's even worthy of your time. Don't be so desperate to have somebody around that you invite in someone who you know isn't even worthy. Just because he knocks doesn't mean you have to answer. For instance, if a man approaches me smoking, I don't have to stop and think about that. It's a NO off top! I'm not going to try and talk myself into being his savior and helping him to quit smoking because that's not my job. Jesus is who saves. Not me. He had that habit long before he approached me, and it's a sho nuff nasty habit that I can live without. If a man comes up to me cussing and carrying on with foolishness about fighting and clubbin' and anything associated with that lifestyle, I don't even have to think about that. He's not for me. I live a life for God. I live and breathe Jesus, and me hookin' up with someone like that is the ultimate unequal yoke. That's light and darkness. The two can't walk together; they don't agree. I can't be so hungry to have someone around that I'll negate who I am. You can think you'll stand strong all you want, but I believe the Word when it says "bad company corrupts good character".  I know aaaalll about that, honey. Been there. Done that. I know how to guard my heart from that mess.

2. If you see, after peeking through the window, that he's worthy of your time, "talk to him through the storm door" for a while. He still has to present his case. He's aware that there are other people "working the neighborhood" (even if they're not) for the same business, so he'll be crafty.  He has to be if he wants to make the sale. It's your job to get as much information as you can about the product he's offering. Know him by watching him interact with others. Ask around. Ask him if he's on Facebook (or other social media) and "friend him". If you see and/or hear things that don't line up with who you are, let him go on about his way. Don't lie to yourself saying those things don't matter because you'll be hurting yourself in the long run. That's a train wreck waiting to happen. Be real with YOU! Tell him you're not interested. Simple as that. Be okay with leaving these guys right where they stand. Your heart is too valuable to have them hanging around in your most cherished space. You and I both know that the longer they hang around, the more you become acquainted, and the more you build emotional ties and memories. When you have guests over and entertain them in your home long enough, they get comfortable and want to stay. Don't allow that. GUARD YOUR HEART! And don't forget to "unfriend" him and be DONE!

3. Is he still around after the storm door? Are you okay with what he's presented? Take what he's presented and do your homework. That means PRAY! No one knows the heart of man like God does, and if you really want to know, ask God. He'll show you what you need to see, and tell you what you need to know. In a few of my own "storm door" situations, I shut myself off from the brothers for a few days--no communication--and just spent time with God in fasting and prayer. I wanted GOD to show me who they were. I know emotions can sometimes get in the way, and I don't want an emotionally-led relationship. I've had those. I want a Spirit-led one. I'm not interested in a man seeking me out to be his girlfriend, or someone he can kick it with. I'm interested in a man seeking me out to be his wife. When God showed me in those times alone with Him that those guys weren't for me, I didn't even hesitate. My heart was being guarded from the foolishness. I politely let them know that I didn't think we would work, and I went on with my life.

4. Know that you have a responsibility to guard  his heart too. If you KNOW this man is not the type of man you want/plan to marry, let him go. Don't string him along because he's buying you dinner or because he's showing you a good time. That's not fair. You're intruding in his home now. Don't allow him to make a space for you in his home when you don't plan to stay.  You don't want anyone dragging you along, now do you? Yes, guard your heart, but guard his too.

For those of us who are saved and living a life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is the alarm system of our hearts. He speaks to our hearts and tells us when something isn't right.  If there's an intrusion or if what's before us presents some danger, we'll "hear" a  siren, and that alert is designed to make us take action to either protect what's ours, or remove ourselves from the danger. Heed the warning. If you don't allow the Holy Spirit to guard your heart and you ignore the alarm system, expect intrusion. Expect damage. Expect loss. Expect to feel violated in your own home.

You can guard your heart now, or not. If not, expect to pay for it later.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Perfect Shape

I remember, quite vividly, the very first time I got my eyebrows arched. Boy, I fought it to the death! I DID NOT want to get them done. You see, the women in my family have been blessed with natural arches over our eyes.  I thought sure if I let somebody touch my eyebrows, they'd ruin them. I was totally fine with smackin' a lil' Vaseline on 'em to keep 'em tamed, and going on 'bout my business. I didn't need to do what everyone else was doing with the new eyebrow arching trend anyway because I made (and make) it my business to defy trends. I purposely go left when everyone else goes right, as far as trends are concerned. Plus, getting my eyebrows done would mean more maintenance for me--something else I'd have to keep up with. I had found every reason under the sun not to get my eyebrows done. Ha!

My best friend, Chantel, who is a BEAST with eyebrow shaping, assured me, however, that she was simply going to "clean them up".  She explained and demonstrated how she'd follow my natural arch to do the shaping. She told me my arch would always be there, but she would be removing some of the wild hair around the perfect shape to enhance my already beautiful eyes. It certainly took some convincing, but I let her hook me up.

2008 - Chantel and I after my first eyebrow arching
I'm wearing a sticker that I got from my students earlier that day. :-)

After Chantel, who lived 14 hours away, I refused to let anyone else touch my eyebrows because what she had done was perfect. I trusted her. I'd seen her work. I knew she wouldn't mess me up because she loved me and she wanted me to look fly. So, for years, I touched them up myself by just plucking the wild hairs from around the perfect shape, but that got old...and painful...and I was jackin' myself up every now and then. A hot mess! I needed a professional. And after 2 misses, I finally found a hit! She is the BIZNISS! (Can you tell I teach 7th graders?)

At my most recent visit to my new "eyebrow lady" (Ha! I love that), she hooked me up as usual. Home girl waxes and tweezes to perfection! While she was waxing, we made small talk about her new baby and my students and other things we know about each other. Then, when she finished, she handed me that mirror (my favorite part), and I looked and saw that perfect shape. I just shook my head with approval and told her, "I wouldn't dare let anybody else in this shop touch my eyebrows. You just do them so perfectly."  She replied, with her usual sweet smile...

"That's because you trust me."

And the Holy Spirit took over right there.

He began to speak to my heart and tell me that life can have the perfect shape for those who trust Him. God can "shape" and "clean up" anything we trust Him enough to "shape" and "clean up". And He wants to, but we MUST trust Him to do what He MUST do to "shape" and "clean" us up.

We can try to shape and clean "it" up ourselves, but we can't always see what He sees, no matter how close we are to that mirror. He has the perfect view of us when we're laid back on that table. As He stands over us, He's perfectly positioned to get that perfect shape. And since He's the one who designed our "eyebrows" anyway, He knows best how to maintain them.

The waxing can be uncomfortable, but it's necessary for that perfect shape.  The tweezing can be a bit painful, but it's necessary for the perfect shape. God's shaping of us isn't always pleasurable, and sometimes it's down right tough, but it's necessary for that perfect shape. And if we trust that His hand knows EXACTLY what it's doing, even when it hurts, the end results are beautiful!

And sure, the wild hairs of life will pop up every now and again like wild hairs do, but the professional knows exactly what to do to make the perfect shape appear again.

My eyebrow lady is able to maintain my eyebrows' perfect shape because I trust her to do what she does best. I don't make any suggestions. I don't take the wax from her hand and try to do it myself. I don't grab the tweezers to pluck my own wild hairs. If I did any of that, I'd be in her way. So I don't even move. I'm completely still when she's at work on me.  And this is what God wants of me . And this is what He wants of you. Trust Him to do what He does best. Be still, and stay out of His way. He knows the shape of your life and the shape of your circumstance. He has the right tools and the perfect view and position to work on you.

Will you let Him make perfect shape of your life?  I can assure you He loves you way too much to mess you up.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Why I Started This Blog

My testimonies are plentiful. I'm favored. I'm grateful. And God's doing too much and saying too much for a mere Facebook status.

When He does it, I share it.

When He speaks to me, I speak it out.

A blog will allow me to speak on His goodness in its entirety rather than in a bite-sized snippet. *bows head to thank technology*  My hope is that readers will be encouraged by what I share...encouraged to CHOOSE righteousness, and encouraged to live a life that pleases God. That's it.

Oh, and maybe one or two of my friends were praying about me starting a blog. Y'all did this! God's been talkin' EXTRA loud lately, stamping out my stubbornness to NOT do a blog because I felt like everyone else was. Y'all know I'm a rebel who goes left when everyone else goes right...the rebel who REFUSES to join the Twitter and Instagram community because it's "trendy". LOL!

Single Women Who Desire to Do Marriage God's Way: I've lived your story. I'm living your story. I am your story. There will be a lot for you here. As He pours into me, I'll pour out to you. We'll be enlightened, encouraged, and challenged together. He's always in my ear for you...

Stay Tuned!