Monday, December 5, 2016

When My Daughter Became a Mother

The date was Wednesday, March 30th, 2016.  I sat along the edge of my bed munching on my nightcap – a Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Almond ice cream bar.  I was engulfed in tranquility being I had attended my regular bible study that evening as well.  I heard a knock on my bedroom door.  It was my daughter.  She entered my room and strongly suggested that I sit in my “Jesus chair,” the chair I sit in when I am studying the word, reading the word or praying.  Right then, I knew something serious was about to be said.  I replied “Nawwww, I think you better sit in that chair. I’ll stay right here.” With blankness in her eyes, she broke the news “Mama, I’m pregnant. “  I stared at the wall and said “This has got to be an April Fool’s joke.”  I turned to face her and tears were streaming down her face.  No, this was not an April Fool’s joke.

As a mom, I always rehearse in my head how I would react if my kids told me certain things, not really knowing if I would ever actually be in the situation.  Unexpected pregnancy was one of those situations. I didn’t want to be the kind of mom who exploded or reacted in anger or disappointment. I’ve come to learn that there are certain situations that are what I call “make or break” parenting moments. In these moments, how we respond as parents can potentially make or break our relationship with our children.  I pulled her to my bed and as she cried on my lap, I prayed for her and with her.  On the inside, I was filled with fear and anxiety because I didn’t want her to ever experience the hardships of single parenting, especially at the age of 20.

The next several months were challenging.  My daughter endured 12 weeks of sickness, weight loss, low iron, for which she had to get weekly iron infusions, and overwhelming emotions about becoming a mother.  One thing she said to me when she told me she was pregnant was “Mama, I am not going to put the responsibility of my baby on you.” Friends, she meant every word of that.   Despite her challenges, she transformed right before my very eyes.

On November 30th, 2016, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Kylee.  Kylee’s birth didn’t instantly make my daughter a mother.  My daughter became a mother well before then. Her behavior changed.  Her attitude changed.  Her life changed all before she gave birth. On March 30th, the day we learned she was pregnant, her life became all about her baby and nothing less. That’s the day my daughter became a mother.   As I stood by her side and helped her deliver her beautiful daughter, I was filled with inexplicable joy! I know what it takes to be a mother, the rewards and sacrifices, and now, my baby girl was giving birth to her baby girl.  Three generations in one room, each depending on the generation before her.  Motherhood is a high calling, one that can only be filled through total reliance on God. After all, it was God who said in His word “Children are a gift from God; they are his reward.”  Psalms 127:3 TLB


The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Out of the Abundance of Her Heart

Earlier today, I was reading Proverbs 22.  I got to verse 14, which says “The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit; He who is abhorred by the Lord will fall there.”  I then checked the cross reference scripture and it lead me to Ecclesiastes 7:26, which says “And I find more bitter than death The woman whose heart is snares and nets, Whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God shall escape from her, But the sinner shall be trapped by her.”  I stopped and thought about how many men I’ve run across who are either married to or are dating bitter women.   It’s heart wrenching to see. I’ve seen how venom spewed from their mouths will tear down a man! Mostly when I am moved to write, it’s to encourage my sisters in their growth as women. Today, I am moved to help men who may not realize they are headed for trouble.  I do not claim to be a counselor or a therapist, but I will share what I’ve learned. 

1.       Listen to her when she speaks. Listen to her intently!  Ask God to open your ears so that you may HEAR and your eyes that you may SEE.  Luke 6:45 says “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”   Women are natural carriers. We give birth so we are designed to carry.  What she is carrying in her heart and spirit will come out in her speech.  She may not directly speak negativity to you but listen to how she speaks TO people and ABOUT people.  Pay attention to her tone and how she verbally handles issues. Now, we all may have an off day or a moment of slip up.  What I’m speaking about is a consistent pattern. The impostor can only hide behind the mask for so long. 

2.       Don’t be swayed or moved by physical appearance.  I know you all tend to be visual creatures and appreciate beautiful things and beautiful women. There is nothing wrong with that. However, you must not be moved by it, meaning, her looks shouldn’t drive you or pressure you to stay in a potentially volatile situation. That's seduction and it's a destroyer.  Proverbs 5:1-6 speaks of the dangers of being infatuated with the outer appearance of a woman. Spend enough time with her to see what's behind the outer beauty.  An ugly heart and an ugly attitude ruins "pretty."  

3.       Know that you can’t change her. You are not her savior. Therefore, you cannot rescue, save or deliver her.  That is not your job. If she starts to make demands of you that put you in position to be her “everything,” there will be problems.  It may feel good to be needed and wanted but you were not put here to be crushed under the weight of someone else’s unresolved hurt.

Guys, I encourage you to dig into God’s word and build YOUR identity according to who God says you are.  There was a time in my life when I thought that men didn’t hurt like we hurt.  I’ve come to discover that this is far from the truth.  Learn how you’re supposed to be treated. Learn how you’re supposed to treat women. Don’t be in a hurry to be with someone or you’ll open the door to be swallowed up in the deep abyss of confusion.  Allow the Lord to lead you to a woman who will add value to your life.  The Lord always adds and multiplies. He’s not into subtraction and division.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nothing Is Impossible With God

The events of the last week brought me face to face with something that tormented me for eighteen years. For those of you who've been reading about my life know that I was bound by a soul tie. For those of you who don't know, let me give you a little history.

When I was sixteen years old, I met "Adonis".  He was what the world calls "my first love."  By allowing him to be my first sexual partner, I had no idea what I was opening myself up to. We dated until I was almost twenty years old and during that time, I became extremely attached to him in ways that I later realized were a detriment to my progress as a woman.

For eighteen years after the relationship ended, I was tormented mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Inside of me battles were taking place and I was continually on the losing end of them. On the outside, no one could tell, or at least I thought they couldn’t. The world often says "you'll never get over your first love." You know why? Because you are soul tied and that’s not something to be happy about.  The more I grew in Christ, the more I understood why God intended for our first sexual encounter to be with our spouse. This is the only person God intended for us to have that level of connection with.

In 2012 I wanted to be free...FOR REAL! I was tired of the dreams, the discontent in my soul, tired of feeling like I was a failure because it didn't work out, and tired of being harassed by the devil.  Enough was enough! Before this moment, I had no idea how much I was bound. All I knew was that I needed help to break free and to get over that time period. I turned to the one person who I knew could do it--God. I asked Him one question, "God, should I go to therapy?"  The answer to that question and my freedom came from His word.

John 14:26 Amplified Version says this "But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you."  My eyes and spirit locked on the word Counselor. Friends, I went to therapy with the Holy Spirit! I had therapy in the world once so I knew the protocol. Every spare, alone time minute I had, it was spent in therapy. In my car, on walks, in the shower, it didn't matter!  I didn't care what time of day it was. For three weeks, all I did was talk with the Holy Spirit and He talked back. He broke the chains that were gripped around my soul! I knew I was free but I also knew my freedom would be tested.

Three years have passed since that moment when God let me know that I was free. However, I had to learn how to walk out my deliverance. The torment tried to resurface on several occasions, but I didn't yield to it. Every time I yielded to freedom, I gained a new level of strength, strength I'd come to need over the last week.

As I stood in the presence of "Adonis" this week, what once made my heart palpitate and my breathing nearly stop, empowered me to give God praise! See, "Adonis" was not the culprit. It was the deceit and torment of the enemy that had me trapped. So many other times, I thought I was free but I was not. When I meandered around the same room as he, there was no weight tied to me! For the first time in two decades, I was not moved! My mind stayed still. My thoughts were in check. My physical body was at peace. I now had soul harmony instead of the anguish of being soul tied. Glory to God! Hallelujah! God can and will break EVERY chain if you allow Him to. Did she just say "allow" Him to? I thought God could do anything. He can and He will but only if you let Him.

Anything you desire from God starts with a quality decision, a choice, even the choice to be free. We can say anything with our mouths but it's the heart that tells the truth. In those three weeks, the Holy Spirit got to the root of the issue and God plucked it up. (Matthew 15:13) The truth was ugly but extremely liberating! For nearly two decades, I walked around frozen in time on the inside. Friends, don't let the enemy continue to lie to you and tell you "it's too late for you" or "you'll always be this way." I don't care how long it's been or how deep the issue is, NOTHING is impossible with God. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Confessions of a Single Woman: It Was Not Their Fault

We know how the conversation goes:

"I don't have a man. Is something wrong with me?"
"Girl, no. Nothing is wrong with you. You are fine just the way you are."
"Thank you. I thought there was something wrong because I don't have anyone and they never seem to stick around."

Then the conversation continues with pointing out all the flaws in the guys we've dated and so on. Do you mind if I make a confession? Something was wrong with me and my singleness was/is not their fault. In the world of dating, so many times we like to point out the wrongs of the people we date. I came to the realization that I had to take responsibility for my own dumb actions. Take a walk with me as I expose myself…flaws and all.

Most of you all probably know that during my twenties, I was in an abusive marriage. I came out of that marriage with a very rebellious "get back at them" attitude. I sought to hurt every man that came my way because of my unresolved hurt. In doing so, I subjected myself to men who were smarter at "the game" than I was. In the middle of the game, I decided to change the rules. I wanted a committed relationship but with so much hurt and confusion, I was ill-equipped to make a choice for a mate. I was in no position to do so but you couldn’t tell ME that. I was the girl men called when they couldn't be with the one they wanted to be with...and I let them. I was the one who had intimate relationships with them with no attachments…and I allowed it. During all of this chaos nobody ever told me that I had a choice. My longing for love and acceptance made me feel and think as if I had no choice but to accept what was being offered to me.

Let’s fast forward to my thirties. While I was no longer giving myself away and allowing myself to be used, I still had deeply buried hurt but I kept convincing myself that I was alright. I thought I was okay to try it again since I had matured on the outside. I started dating someone who I quickly thought was "the one." The red flag showed up on the first date and more were soon to follow. But guess what I did? I ignored them. Why? BECAUSE I WANTED TO. Did you hear that? I said BECAUSE I WANTED TO. I convinced myself that what I was seeing was "not really what I was seeing." The desperation for my desire to be married caused me to explain away all that God was showing me—signs that I wasn’t the only one he was dating. I kept going, hoping it would all change. I was afraid to walk away and say "no, this is not working for me and this is not what I want." MY responsibility in this was to walk away when the first red flag showed up. I allowed myself to remain in a situation that left me with more garbage.

I am now 41 years old and still learning. My relationship with God has strengthened tremendously and with that strength came the revelation of the role I played in all of my relationships. The common denominator in those relationships was one person, the same person-me. Ladies, you can't short cut your way through this. God has to be the one to heal and restore or you will keep going around the same relationship mountain over and over. Until you fix your faulty system, you will continue to settle for the same kind of man. He may come with a different wrapping paper but the package contents will be the same. It took a while to get to this place of freedom and I am very grateful to share what I’ve learned:

1. Sex is for marriage. Period. There was a time in my life where I thought I had to "give it up" because I was trained with the belief "that's all he wants so I might as well..." NO! God taught me that I had a choice. I had a choice to honor Him by honoring my body and His commands. I belong to Him so I can't freely give this away. It's reserved for my covenant partner, my husband.

2. Love yourself. I did not say be a lover OF yourself. That's called pride and God can't stand pride. Most of us who've been battered and bruised in relationships ended up those relationships because we didn't love ourselves. We were looking for someone to do it for us. We cannot expect someone to love us if we don't love us. God IS love and until we allow Him to teach us and show us, we won't recognize it when it shows up. We will continually settle for the counterfeit. I allowed a man to keep having intimate relations with me even after he told me "I'd never marry you because you have kids." Love doesn’t do that or accept that! I truly didn’t begin to love myself until my late thirties. The love I have for me grows more and more every day. Loving myself taught me to choose God first. In doing so, I choose happiness, peace, stability, joy, and His way of doing things. I am not competing for the attention of a man. I am not allowing a man to TAKE from me. Loving me means allowing God to fill me and pour into me daily. No man can do that.

3. Dysfunction attracts dysfunction. A jacked up man is going to look for a jacked up woman. He's just going look for someone who appears to be a little less jacked up than he is. Ladies, hear me well! Please do not expect a knight in shining armor when your stuff is not together. Earlier, I mentioned giving myself away to men who only wanted sexual encounters. Some of those guys were men who had it together on some level but I never made it past the bedroom. I was NOT the one they took home to meet mama or to be introduced to their friends. I allowed it and took whatever I could get from them. My transformation took some time but I learned that I have to be the kind of person I want to attract.

4. Deal with your issues. Although confronting pain is hard and uncomfortable, it is very necessary BEFORE you enter into a marriage. I was carrying a whole lot of undercover pain. I was depressed, financially struggling, no self-esteem, controlling, and angry. I was looking for a man to rescue me from myself. That is not his job! I mistreated men because they weren't rescuing me. Ladies, it is unfair of you to carry all that garbage into your future. If you keep ending up with the same kind of man, please go look in the mirror. You're staring at the problem. So many of us have faulty systems comprised of wrong ways of thinking, believing, acting and choosing.

5. Know who you are. You cannot build your personality, likes and dislikes around the man you are dating. Nobody ever said to me "Tamara, it's okay to be who you are." Under no circumstances should you date anyone if you don't know who you are and they don't know who they are. A committed relationship is NOT the place to figure out all that. I often found myself changing to fit a man’s expectations because of my deep fear of being left or abandoned again. Now, I'm not saying be so rigid that you can't learn anything new but what I am saying is at your very core, you should know who you are. Know and believe you're beautiful! Know and believe you're special. If you don't yet know that, do not engage in a relationship. You will use a man to build your beauty, thus giving him the power to tear it down.

Friends, I've made a lot of mistakes all birthed out of brokenness. I talk a lot about being made whole. Brokenness corrupts relationship choices and behavior. Some of us have been abandoned by our fathers, molested, cheated on, lied to, abused and mistreated. Some of us have done the abusing and mistreating. Let's be real! Some of us are a mess and even if we can't articulate what we feel, our pain often manifests itself in our relationships. I made the decision to stop holding the men accountable for my failures. I had a role and a choice in those decisions. My ex-boyfriends don't owe me anything! They don’t owe me an apology or explanation. I find no fault in them! As long as you feel like your exes owe you something, you'll keep trying to make your current boyfriend pay a debt he didn't create.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Don't Despise the Wilderness - 'Tis the Season to be Jolly

It's a nice, summer August evening. The breeze is hitting my legs and the side of my face as it flows in from the Gulf of Mexico. My thoughts linger back to the season I just left - the wilderness. It was a season where I learned how to fight, how to submit and surrender when it hurt, and how to be precisely obedient to God. Most importantly, I learned that my heart was a proving ground for God.

The last three years were nothing like I've ever experienced. I am believing God for manifestation of something big, big to me. While going through this season, the Lord showed me that my heart wasn't right. It wasn't ready to receive what I am believing Him for. Assuredly I say to you, had this thing manifested prior to my wilderness, I would have made it my God, just like the children of Israel and the golden calf. (Exodus 32:8)

The dust has settled. The dirt is calm. That season is over and I came out a better woman, a healed woman and a delivered woman. Friends, if you are in the wilderness, don't despise where you are. There is no getting to the Promise Land without it. As the sun sets on this beautiful beach this evening, it signifies the end of one day and the beginning of another one. The sun has set on my wilderness season. A new season is upon me and I declare 'tis the season to be jolly!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Even in Death

Earlier this week I posted on FB "Death has a way of making you come face to face with your issues...then telling you to get over it." On Sunday, March 1st, my grandmother passed away. What grieved me the most was the lies I allowed the enemy to plant in my head and grow, lies that my presence was not important to my family. Belief in those lies caused me to always make excuses for why I couldn't attend family gatherings and coming up with reasons not to just stop in and say hello. Even the week before she died, I went to see her but only for a few minutes because the lie was now deeply embedded in my heart that my presence wasn't important.

Friends, life is so precious. The enemy wants all of us to believe we don't matter and that people really don't love us like they say they do. Truth is, HE doesn't matter and HIS presence is never welcomed. There are people in this world who love us and enjoy our presence. The spirit of God lives in us and that automatically makes us welcomed wherever we go. God may give us the right words to say to a family member or bring the right meal to someone who just wants to fellowship.

As we prepare to bury my grandmother in a couple of days, I've purposed in my heart not to let any more moments slip past me. In my sorrow, the Lord ministered to me by simply saying "but you're here now." I will no longer allow the enemy's lies to control the way I live my life. The love, peace and presence of God is meant to be shared because that kind of love cannot be contained. It has been "shed abroad in our hearts." (Romans 5:5 KJV) Let us not forget the love, fellowship and wisdom being poured back into us, like the time she looked at me when I was 14 and said "You're gonna make somebody a good wife one day because you like to help people."  YES!!! I'm going to let THAT truth take root, sprout up and grow!

I'll miss her stories, her spunk, and her zeal. I'll even miss hearing her make a fuss. Even in death, she is still teaching me! Rest in glory Grandma Lula.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Confessions of a Single Woman: I Didn't Know How to Act Around a Man

Yes, you read that right! I didn't know how to act around a man...that is, a man who liked me and I liked him. Now, if I didn't like him or he didn't like me, I was cool.  But if there was a mutual "likeness" going on, I had a problem!  My emotions and feelings went into overdrive, as did my controlling, fearful side. So, I had to ask God why was I like that?  The answer was simple: I wasn't used to being treated well by a man and I didn't know how to "relate" to one either. Come again God?

As He took me back over my life, my relationship encounters with men were almost always sexual.  What I didn't realize was that this pattern was training me to deal with men in three ways: sleep with them, cut them off, or wait for them to leave. Every man I ever dealt with relationship wise fell into one of these three categories. Now, this excludes men with whom who I was genuinely friends.  But all the other ones could be placed there.

When I gave my life to the Lord and set out to be delivered from fornication, I did just that. As the years went on, I stayed away from relationships which meant that I didn't learn how to really act. I simply suppressed it all. I desire to be married but I didn't realize how much learning I have to do. Ladies (and men), when you have overwhelmingly experienced negative things in your relationships, you will HAVE to allow the Lord to transform you by the renewing of your mind and rebuild you. You will also have to allow Him to move you past the old and let Him do a new thing. Friends, it may not be an easy process but it will be a necessary one. At first, the ways and behaviors you learned will push their way to the forefront because they are dominant.  They will continue to be dominant until you learn to yield more and more to the ways and behaviors of God.  Don't be dismayed!!! I got good news for you!  The Lord is a builder!!!!!  He WILL rebuild you! How do I know this? Because Jeremiah 31:4 says so!

As a new calendar year approaches, I encourage you to start TODAY! Don't dismiss the last few days of this year as unimportant.  In the natural, before anything is built, plans are drawn up. Jeremiah 29:11 speaks about the plans God has for us. Let the Lord rebuild you according to His plans, which are laid out all through His Word. Hallelujah!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!