My son has a fascination with hands. When my husband plays with him, he will wave his big hands over my son’s little face and baby boy starts squealing with joy! He will grasp at my husband’s hands like they are the most captivating and magnificent creations on the earth.
Out of all the colorful, blinking and noisy toys that he has, his favorite thing to play with is Daddy’s hands! I can recall summers playing with (and drinking from) the water hose in my grandmother’s big back yard. My cousins and I were happy with very little. In childhood, it didn’t take much to satisfy me, but society has done a superb job injecting me with the poison of being insatiable. Watching my son got me thinking about how many things I take for granted. He made wonder why I’m so difficult to satisfy in my adulthood. I began to take inventory of the things that I wanted to start showing more appreciation for… and I decided to share my list with you! Enjoy!
This is one of my favorite things to call people out on because I deal with it myself. Whenever someone gives me a compliment I am quick to throw it back like, “no girl, YOU are pretty” instead of just saying “thank you!” I deflect and run from compliments. Sometimes I will say thank you but with a shyness or a weird tone… almost like I’m saying “really? what? me? are you sure?” I grew up hearing women around me deflect compliments and put themselves down. I remember internalizing a comment made by a boy I had a crush on in 7th grade that went something like, “you would be so pretty of you had hazel eyes.” Ughhh. Backhanded “compliments” like that seem to be easier to believe about ourselves for some reason. We have to take back the ability to receive compliments and talk about ourselves in a positive light! Our daughters, sisters, nieces and friends are watching! As women, let’s start being more confident in accepting the appreciation thrown our way by people around us!
Cringe alert! I understand my sister, you always want it clean. You want things in their place and to feel at peace at
the end of the day. One thing I love about my mom is that her home is always in pristine condition when we go to visit. My parents are empty nesters, so she does a great job of keeping the house neat and tidy. When my siblings and I visit with our children I cringe for her. Furniture is moved, things get put out-of-place, toys are everywhere, and that pristine condition is devoured in a sea of Pampers, pacifiers, Pack and Plays. It doesn’t bother her, though. That mess means that life is happening, and while it’s frustrating, I know she wouldn’t trade a clean house with no grandbabies, for a home filled with the laughter and messes of her kids and her grands. There is often much beauty in the chaos and we should understand it more.
“But, I have 19 kids, a full-time job, I’m a farmer, a personal chef, a stay at home Mom and a CEO at a fortune 500 corporation.” I know that all sounds ridiculous but this is how we sound when someone says we need to make time for ourselves. Self-care is crucial to doing the zillion things on our To-Do list well! When you’re on an airplane, the stewardess gives the instruction that in the case of emergency, place your oxygen mask on first then assist those around you. You know why? You have to put your mask on first because if you pass out then the people around you who need your assistance will not be assisted. Self-care may mean different things to different women and that’s fine! For me, it sometimes looks like getting my nails done and getting my favorite drink from Sonic (I’m a simple woman). Or sometimes it looks like me doing full face make-up and going out with my girls. Whatever it means to you, don’t use life, school, kids, work or anything else as an excuse not to take care of you. Put your oxygen mask on girl!
Uh oh, we getting real now. Do you have ideas about how to make things more efficient at your school, job, at home or in your marriage? Are you afraid to put your ideas into motion? Are you like me and struggle with the fear of failure, people pleasing and performance? Is this starting to sound like an infomercial ad? Sorry! But seriously, I challenge you to step out and take a risk. Calculated or not. A few weeks back I was venting to my brother, who I affectionately call, Sensai (on account of his wisdom and ability to teach REALLY well) and I was crying about ideas that I tried in the past that failed and how it discouraged me from doing things. I was telling him that I felt like people gassed me up then didn’t really support me when I started pursuing my ideas. He told me two things, first, change my language. He said he didn’t want to hear me say “I failed” anymore because apart from a school classroom failure isn’t a thing in the real world. We try to measure success and when things don’t work out the way we hope we call it a failure but in reality, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. Change your language! You’re not a failure. Second, don’t measure your success based on the response of other people. This is hard for me because a lot of the things I do involve people. But my brother and husband both have repetitively reminded me that other people can not determine your success. If no one read my blog, would I still be satisfied in using the writing gift that God has given me? I have to set goals that glorify God and not man. It’s hard, and it takes a lot of thought, prayer, and courage but you can do it too! Pursue your ideas!
You remember that show, Girlfriends? Think of the people who would have been on that show with you! You know your girls… the always-there-when you-need-em, boost-you-for-any-reason, build-you-up-so-high-you-feel-like-Beyonce, understands-you-with-a-look, can-fight-and-disagree-with-you-but-will-never-leave-you, tell-it-like-it-is-
with-love, will-call-your-mama-on-you-or-just-call-her-to-say-hey, will-smack-someone-else-for-calling-you-their-best-friend, will-shut-you-down-if-you-ever-forget-how-amazing-you-are, love-you-forever-and-then-some… girls. I know who mine are! My girls and I always make a point to link up when we are all in the same place, even it’s only for a short time. These girls are my safe place. They are my people. They are the ones I can go to when I need to cry, laugh, sit in silence, or be ratchet with. If you are a woman and don’t have your girls, I would pray for some who get you! Cause once they get you, they got you and you need that! Ya know what I mean?
I recently had a meltdown with one of my “safe place” people. I had a hard day and was desperate to know what God expected of me as a mother. I was struggling hard with perfectionism in motherhood and in being a wife. I was reminded that hard days are going to happen and it doesn’t benefit me to put unrealistic expectations on myself. I’m not going to be the perfect wife or mother and perfection shouldn’t be my goal. Being a godly wife and mother is my goal and when godliness is the goal, other “human made” expectations go flying out the window. When godliness is the goal, along with the desire to be like Jesus, comes a better understanding of the unmerited grace and mercy that we have received from him and walk in daily. When godliness is the goal, freedom is the reward.
If this was a few years back I would have a serious issue writing this one. I used to struggle with thinking that there were no more good men left in the world aside from my brother and my father. As I have walked with Jesus, he has done a work in me that I used to think would be impossible. I appreciate men. I don’t feel the need to preface that with the word “good” because if a man is a man you will know. Manhood, like womanhood, is not based on a measure of age but of character. You don’t become a man at a certain age, but when your mentality shifts from selfish to selfless. I have started to appreciate the men in my life and men everywhere who take care of business and love their women and families with the passion and protection given by Jesus. Manhood is so amazing. I hate the stigmas on TV that paint the picture of manhood as a bunch of stupid, lazy barely-there men who would be hopeless without their wives. I praise God for my Hubby (pictured) who constantly breaks the stereotypes I see in mainstream media. I am grateful to have a man like him to teach my son that manhood is not what TV says it is. I want my son to know that he is a valuable Prince, loved and coveted by his heavenly Father beyond what he can fathom. I want little boys to grow up thinking with the mind of Christ instead of being told that it’s okay and normal to just think with what’s in your pants. It’s not okay. As women, let’s celebrate and love our men well as wives, daughters, sisters, aunties, mothers, and friends, and not like we are their lords. Let’s leave that part to Jesus.
Society has all these awful names for women who are single. A spinster, Cat-lady, Miss Independent, prude, old maid… and the list goes on. If anything is taken for granted as a woman it’s definitely singleness. Being single is a special time in your life. Your responsibility is to you only. You have time to do things and pursue dreams that may be more difficult to pursue later in life. You have time to get to know you. Disclaimer: none of these things should be used as reasons to NOT get married but they are very important things to embrace in singleness! There is no time like singleness and life only gets busier with each passing day. Enjoy the time you have to get to know yourself. Pinpoint the things you love and the passions you have cause they matter! Learn your weaknesses and if you desire a mate one day start to understand what it means to love sacrificially through relationships with family and friends! It will make life so much simpler down the line.
It’s hard. We’ve all been there. Between a rock and a hard place and somehow get it fixed in our minds that no one will help us or that we don’t want help. We call it a handout or say we don’t want to be a charity case but in reality, there are usually people all around us who WANT to serve us when we need it and even when we just want it. The main person I struggle to ask for help from is my Husband… ya know the person whose role it is to help me! I struggle to ask him for help because I have this complex that makes me feel like I have to do everything perfectly all by myself. I discovered that I had this trait in KINDERGARTEN. One of my elementary school friends and her mom tried to help me clean up this massive pile blocks and I wanted to do it by myself. When my friend would reach for the blocks I would say, “I need to do this alone!” The girl’s mom told her daughter, “let the rude little girl clean by herself then.” While yes, she was P-E to the T-T-Y, I was kinda being a jerk too and now my post-kindergarten self has learned how to let people help me even when I think I don’t want it. Whether we are in a financial bind, an emotional rut, or a spiritual drought, there are always people who want to get in there with us and help you clean up the mess. Let them.
When I was a freshman in high school I got into wearing makeup. I liked it because it “hid” what I believed were my
flaws. (Looking back at pictures of my 15-year-old flawless skin I was trippin’ hard). I didn’t really believe I was pretty because I had this image of what beautiful looked like. One day I was getting ready for bed, washing my makeup off and when I was drying my face my brother walked into the bathroom to ask me a question and stopped mid-sentence and said, “wow, you’re even gorgeous without makeup… what am I going to do to keep the boys away?” Of course, I cried because I didn’t feel that way about myself, but I should have! That comment and many others from him and my Daddy helped to affirm me and remind me that my beauty isn’t determined by who is on a magazine cover (especially when she doesn’t look like me). Even more than realizing how physically beautiful you actually are, do not let your adorning be external– but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:3-4).
There is power when women can lay down the competition that is infused into society and encourage other women. No one can encourage you the way a woman can who has been in your shoes. No one can relate to your struggle to break that glass ceiling or what it feels like to fail as a mom like another mom. If you struggle to have valuable relationships with women, I implore you to ask God to search your heart to know why. Then find a trusted woman friend and walk through that with her. I guarantee you are not alone in that! You are not the first to think that it’s “easier” to be friends with guys. You’re not the first to think women equal drama. That may be your experience but there is power in putting those stigmas under your foot and pursuing good relationships with women. You need it more than you think. Remember you need some “safe place” women in your life!
There’s this rule that you never ask a woman her age after about 30. I love that at the crisp age of 88 years young my grandmother, who we call Ima, boasts about her age! She has lived such an amazing life raising up three kids, seven grands and seven great grands (six on earth and one in heaven), having not one but two successful careers as a teacher and a nurse, and not to mention being a pillar in her church and community for decades! She is my SHE-Ro. This kind of healthy and impressive list of accomplishments doesn’t happen in a short time. As she tells me about her life, I notice that her eyes are dimmer now than they once were, but they tell stories and have seen seasons change. They have seen segregation, cotton fields, and Whites only signs, but have also seen black people on television, her black children and grands be successful and even seen a black president elected to office. Her hands are weaker now than in her youth, but it’s because they are tired from all the dreams they held on to for years. They can rest now because groundbreaking achievements have been in their grasp. They are gentle and fragile from years of cradling babies as her sweet voice cooed back at them. Her legs are slower now, but it’s because they have stood for freedom, walked for justice and created paths, so the people behind her didn’t have to struggle the way she did. Her laughter is etched into the lines around her mouth. Her tears have flown into the creases around her eyes for years. Her body, nearly a century in age has birthed life and watched the faithfulness of God through the ages. Beauty like this isn’t found in youth but in old age. There is such a mystery to life in her smiles. I so long to know the wonders of the times that she has experienced. That’s why I embrace aging. You should find your reasons, then learn to embrace it too.
Lastly, remember whose you are. You are not your own, but you are the daughter of the King of Creation. You will eternally belong because you belong to the Author of Eternity. You are a part of a royal priesthood and all of the things that make you perfectly and beautifully you were implanted there when God spoke your being into existence. You were created for eternity with the Lord and His grace, love, and mercy beckons you even when you don’t perceive it. Like a Daddy reaches down to his fallen and hurt child, your heavenly Father reaches to you. Will you embrace Him in return and allow Him to be present with you? Your place as a daughter will rule your womanhood and motherhood. Your place as a daughter will shape your perspective about yourself and the world. When you are confidently a daughter, affirmed and loved by your Father your world is brighter. If you have you have never known the love of an earthly father, I can’t image how hard that is (also, you can share mine if you want!) but the peace that comes from submitting your fears, flaws, doubts, hangups, trials, and dreams to the Heavenly Father, simply cannot be matched even by the best dad on earth! Don’t take your daughter-ship for granted because your Father surely doesn’t.
You are beautiful. Fearfully and wonderfully made. You are valuable and your life, from first breath to last, matters so deeply.
Keep pressing sister! Your tomorrow’s will be even more awesome than your today!