Defying expectations

Defying Expectations

This blog post has been turned into a podcast which can be accessed here.

I defy the expectations of a Christian woman.

I’m 35 years old. Single. Never been married. I don’t have any children. Many people within society would automatically assume that something must be wrong with me. I expect that type of scrutiny from those outside the Church, but it’s especially annoying when it comes from other so-called Christians.

There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that commands women to get married or have children. Being married does not validate my existence as a woman. In fact, if you read in 1 Cor 7: 8-9, Paul was encouraging people to refrain from marriage. Again, he wasn’t stating that it was a sin to get married but it is best if you do not. Hence, why Christ, John the Baptist, Paul, and other saints did not get married. Apostle Paul warned people about the additional trouble marriage can bring.

Most people fail to realize that some of us are single because we choose to be. For example, I’m too busy enjoying my life…as is. I love living in a jet setting type of lifestyle. If my bank account would cooperate with me, I would be constantly traveling. I thoroughly enjoy learning new languages (I speak Spanish), cultures, etc. Plus, I thoroughly enjoy my profession (I heart all things digital marketing). I would love to teach more virtual and in-person workshops, but again that pesky bank account issue…;)

I know that in order for a marriage to be successful BOTH people have to be strong independent people that are both willing to come together as one. I have yet to meet someone who I feel would match my lifestyle goals and desire to live a Christian life. Until this happens, I’m not in a hurry to get married. If it happens, it happens. Marriage is NOT to be treated lightly. When you lead a fulfilling lifestyle, you tend to look at the glass half full not empty. Therefore, if I found someone who matched my vibe I’d be open to marriage.

So many people these days treat marriage like a pair of shoes. You can always get another pair if you don’t like them anymore. This is NOT the type of mindset that neither I nor my future husband will subscribe to for our marriage. I want us both fighting the good fight to cleanse our soul and keeping our focus on pleasing God. This will inadvertently ensure that we have an awesome marriage.

If this person exists, I’m sure God will allow our paths to cross one day. Until our paths cross,  I’ll continue living the extraordinary Christian life all by myself plotting my next vacation destination.

Now I’m sure some folks are already freaking out thinking, “Well, you can’t wait too long if you want kids.” Thank you for your concern about my ovaries, but it’s really none of your business. I’m quite aware of my age. Now, here’s the beautiful thing, drumroll, please… I have no plans on having children.

I absolutely love my life the way it is. Some may consider it to be “selfish” to not have children.  It’s not selfish to not have children. It’s selfish when you have children and don’t take care of them. I’m always amazed when the very same folks who question my decision to not have children are the same ones who end up leaving them with their grandparents to raise, stick them in daycare, or some type of boarding school when they don’t need to do so, etc. They do not take time to raise their children but look down on folks like me who refuse to follow in their footsteps.

Having children is a lot of work.  I do not want to have this responsibility. Again, if you desire to live the type of Christian lifestyle that I lead (always on the go), children do not fit in the game plan. What works for you, does not work for me.

I’m living the extraordinary life God gave me. I suggest you do the same.

Be sure to subscribe to Hustle in Faith’s podcast on iTunes or on Google Play Music.

How to React to Life’s Curveballs

How to React When Life Throws You Curveballs-LTJ​You can access the audio of this podcast by clicking here.

I love the beginning of the New Year. It’s literally a fresh start. A chance for you to right your past wrongs. You can make goals and create routines to help you stay on track.

Although you don’t have to wait an entire year to better yourself, there’s something exciting about seeing the calendar reinforce that you are literally on Day 1 out of 365. I’m especially excited to see what 2018 has instore for me because 2017 was full of more downs than ups. After being on my job for 6 years, I was laid off.

I take comfort in the fact that I KNOW that I’m going to be just fine. Mainly, because God gave me the much needed push I needed to create Starengu.. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason (Ecc. 3) and that God causes all things to work together for our good (Rom. 8: 28).

He knows that you learn more through the storms of life than you do in the sunshine. Life’s storms help us build character, if we seek God’s help. The storms that I experienced in 2017 demonstrated the  areas in my life that I needed to rebuild.

God exposed a lot of negative traits that I had developed and been harboring over the years. Many of these traits may seem innocent, but if you allow them to linger and grow they will easily bring you down.

During my self-examination, God made me aware that if I had continued down the path that I was on, I would never be able to gain access to all the blessings He has instore for me. I know I’m not alone, so I wanted to share these traits with you in case you also need to make some…ahem…adjustments as well.

Blaming God for your adversity

Oftentimes, people assume that Christianity means that you aren’t going to experience any advertising pain and suffering. This couldn’t be further from the truth. God allows it to rain on the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45). Christians can handle whatever life throws at them. In fact, God warns us that we shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter trials (1 Pet 4:12).

Instead of being surprised we should seek comfort in the fact that God will provide us with the strength we need to overcome the troubles we are certain to face in this world (John 14:27). God is a loving Father. He would never allow members of the royal priesthood  to suffer defeat (1 Pet 2:9). However, there is a requirement. God can only protect those that obey Him (Matt 10:28).

Speaking negative words

Whenever someone is going through a tough time, many people (myself included) feel overwhelmed. We tend not to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Therefore, I go out of my way to help by speaking words of encouragement. However, oftentimes I fail to take my own advice. I don’t give myself the same encouragement and compassion that I give others. I’m horrible at cheering for myself.

I have a nasty habit of unfairly comparing myself to other people. The sad thing is that I don’t even do that right-LOL I belittle my talents by unfairly comparing my weaknesses to the strengths of others. “I can’t do this because (insert ridiculous excuse).” Excuses are nothing but lies and deceptions from Satan.

If God placed a desire in your heart then it’s up to you to go for it. Before proceeding, make sure you know how to tell the difference between a desire and a burden? The way you can test to see if something is a true desire is by looking at whether the thoughts of not having that  object, person, or situation cause you to feel anxious, fearful, upset, etc. because you haven’t obtained your it. If it does, this is not a desire! It is a desire disguised as a burden. Anything that you wish to obtain that has a negative connotation attached to it  is not from God.

God’s gifts are perfect (James 1:17). They will never cause you to feel negative. However, He can’t give them to you, if you’re constantly allowing negativity to take control of your soul. Our words have power. The mere fact that God literally spoke the world into existence is evidence of this fact.

Therefore, if our life is constantly filled with negativity, take a step back and assess your vocabulary. The words you speak could be the culprit that is causing your troubles. Once you start rebuilding your vocabulary with words of faith, you’ll be amazed how quickly your dreams are going to start to manifest.

Having a lack of faith

Hindsight is 20/20. There are so many events in my life that I chalked up to being  a “coincidence.” They weren’t coincidences. Even though the situations were different, the message was the same. God was trying to get my attention. He saw that I was headed down the wrong road.

I was letting fear and impatience stop me from living the extraordinary life Christ had in store for me. I tried so hard to find the “perfect job.” I would find a job, finally make traction only to end up getting laid off. This cycle went on for a couple years and I remember my mom encouraging me to start my own business. I didn’t think it was possible, but I gave it a try.

I had some clients but not enough to sustain it without working my full time job.  My business failed miserably. I should not have been surprised when it failed. I was relying on my own resources (i.e. my talent) instead of God’s. My first business failed. It wasn’t because I didn’t know what I was doing, but because I didn’t have enough faith in myself and that God would help me turn it into a successful business.

My lack of faith is something that God has been trying to show me over and over throughout the years. I’m so disappointed in myself that it took this long to recognize the fact that God created a variety of scenarios in my life. All of these were done to demonstrate that I had nothing to worry about and that He would take care of me. However, I was too dumb to realize the lesson He was trying to teach me. Had I not focused on the circumstance I would have been able to easily identify the main lesson that He wanted me to learn…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (1 Phil 4:13).

It’s ok to make mistakes

I REALLY hate making mistakes. I strive for perfection in all aspects of my life. There’s nothing wrong with this mindset provided you have a balance. I did not. It had literally gotten to the point that I was starting to feel like my own worst enemy. I had a bad case of analysis paralysis.

I would gather so much information, but then when it came time to make a move I never felt 100% confident. This was wrong. My desire to not make mistakes was inadvertently causing me to make mistakes.

God knows that we’re going to stumble during our journey in living the Christian life. Yet, it’s comforting to know that perfection can be achieved provided our life reflects Christ’s obedience and righteousness. If we’re trying to live the Christian life then we need to relax and let Him lead us.

Accept the consequences

Even though we all make mistakes, we must be willing to accept the consequences. However, there are some “mistakes” that cannot be undone. When we encounter these type of situations, we have to be willing to accept the consequences. Saying I am sorry doesn’t always undo every mistake.

For example, let’s say you stole a shirt. When you get caught (emphasis on when), you may apologize to the store owner, but there are still consequences to your actions. The store owner may state that you to go to jail. The store owner is within his right to do so.

Even though you may be truly remorseful for the sinful act that you committed, you have to accept the consequences that come with wrongdoing. Consequences are attached to our behavior to reduce or completely eliminate the chances of you repeating that sinful deed.

Expecting instant gratification

I’ll be honest. Patience is one of the few virtues that I have never mastered. I’m more patient with others, than I am with myself. If I do task  ‘A’ then I immediately expect to be rewarded. Life does NOT work this way! In fact, there are times when you do the right thing but you aren’t rewarded for your good deed until years later (oftentimes through a completely different channel than the one you expected!). A thousand years is like one day to God (2Pet 3:8).

God’s primary concern is making sure that your life actually reflects the life of a Christian before He blesses you. If it does, then you can take solace in knowing that He will bless you. God already knows that He’s going to bless your endeavors; therefore, so timing is not of the essence to Him.

This has always been a tough pill for me to swallow. Especially, when I’m surrounded by people who don’t work as hard as I do, but still prosper in their endeavors. It makes me angry. There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry, but you can’t let it turn into sin (Eph 4:26). When I get upset, I have to remind myself to calm down. Why? My focus should be on God, not these people.

Again, I don’t know what those folks did to get to where they are in life so I need to stop being envious of them. Plus, you don’t even know if what those folks claim they have or do is legit. Bottom line, if you aren’t willing to completely do what they do, then you need to stop looking at what they do that is causing you to be envious of them. Remember, the grass may seem greener on the other side but it still needs to be mowed.  

Stop being naive

Just because people smile in your face doesn’t mean that they like you. There are some very devious people in the world. I have had my fair share of being taken advantage of because I made the mistake of thinking that everyone was sincere like me. My parents raised my sister and I to be kind and to help people. I assumed that other people were raised like us. I was naive.

This world is filled with horrible people who are a couple fries short of a Happy Meal. I think their mission in life is to make as many people as they can feel as hurt and miserable as they do. While dealing with these types of people, I learned that you may not be able to control their actions, but God gave you the ability to control your reaction.

Sometimes, if you’re like me, you don’t want to believe that the person you thought was nice is a jerk. In situations where you’re confused, ask God to help you. However, many of us (myself included) cause ourselves unnecessary pain and suffering when we ignore the signs that we asked God to show us. Don’t allow yourself to be so enchanted that you miss the evidence that God is giving you. You know deep down when someone has shown their true colors. It’s up to you to accept the reality that you see.

Living in the past

I have been struggling really hard with this one. There’s something incredibly heartbreaking about getting older and realizing dreams that you have yet to fulfill. It hurts even more when you are able to pinpoint the exact situation in the past that could have changed the course of your life.

There were so many things that my mom tried to warn me about but I just didn’t understand it at the time. I keep wondering, “What if I did (insert action)?” My life would be so much better than what it is right now. Regardless of whether this is true, you can’t continue to allow your past regrets to rob you of your present opportunities.

If we don’t focus on redeeming the time that we have now, we’re going to unnecessarily add additional burdens and regrets to our life. Acknowledge your past mistakes and learn from them. Just because your life took a detour does not mean that you can’t get back on track and live an extraordinary life.

What’s next for me?

These are the 8 negative traits that I plan on conquering this year. I have let negative traits infiltrate my life far too long. I refuse to let them control my life anymore. This year is going to be a brand new Tosha (Eph 4:17- 24). My main goal this year is to be more proactive in identifying and removing ALL aspects of negativity from my life.

I plan on accomplishing this feat by doing the following every day:

  1. Completing my grateful notes
  2. Completing my spiritual checklist

Doing the aforementioned will help me to stay on track with trying to live the Christian life. Satan has stolen enough from me. It’s time to start reclaiming the gifts God has instore for me.

God knows that we live in a sinful world, but He left Christians His peace. We can take comfort in knowing that God left us the armor we need to protect ourselves from the trials and tribulations of this world (Eph 6:10-18). The question is, “Are you willing to wear it?”

Be sure to subscribe to Hustle in Faith’s podcast on iTunes or on Google Play Music.

The Curl Revolution Chicago Book Launch Party

The Curl Revolution Launch Party

Christmas came early for me this year because I got to attend the Chicago book launch party for Michelle Breyer’s new book, The Curl Revolution. 

In case you aren’t familiar with Michelle Breyer (seriously, where have you been?!), she is the co-founder of NaturallyCurly.com. Words cannot begin to express how much the NaturallyCurly site has helped me.

NaturallyCurly The Curl Revolution Michelle Breyer

Michelle Breyer and me

I have fight the power type of curls aka a mix of 4B/4C hair. Today, there are a lot more products, style tutorials, etc. geared towards helping Type 4 curls but it hasn’t always been this way.

When I was a kid, I remember hating my hair in its natural state. I went to a predominantly white school, so needless to say, my hair was yet another way for me to stand out when I wanted nothing more than to fit in with the crowd. I got a relaxer when I was around 13 so my hair would be more “manageable.” That relaxer sure didn’t leave me feeling relaxed!

In fact, quite the opposite. Every time I got a relaxer I had to deal with an irritated scalp. I kept telling myself to, “You have to get used to this, so get it together. ” I had talked myself into thinking the irritation and pain I experienced from the relaxer was like some weird sort of character building exercise.

Obviously, I know better now. Looking back on this decision to get a relaxer makes me laugh because I played sports. My hair still ended up into a weird half straight, half afro type of deal which often left my hair even more difficult to manage than had I just left it in its natural state.

I did this for several years.  However, in 2008 I started developing very dark dry scaly patches on my neck and behind my ears. It absolutely freaked me out! I didn’t know what was going on so I went to a dermatologist. She then proceeded to tell me that the relaxer had triggered an eczema flare up. My dermatologist (who also happened to be African American) told me that I needed to go natural or get used to this being a possible side effect from using a relaxer.

I distinctly remember sitting in her office on the verge of tears because I never knew how to do my hair. That was the whole reason why I got the relaxer. I asked my dermatologist what I should do and she told me that I needed to grow out the relaxer and wear protective styles.

I left the dermatologist’s office feeling so incredibly depressed. I didn’t know how to do my own hair. Plus, I was on a budget so going to the shop was not an option. I already knew my hair type would most likely get charged extra. Everything I saw on TV was geared towards white women with straight blond hair or encouraging Black women to get a relaxer. If I was going to do this natural hair thing, I had no choice but to embark on my natural hair journey all by myself.

Little did I realize that I was not alone. NaturallyCurly was one of the first sites I found that provided me with the ability to connect with other curlfriends, find products and styles that would work with my hair type. NaturallyCurly literally introduced me to a whole other world that  I NEVER knew existed.

Learning how to do my own hair was definitely a learning curve (heck, I’m still trying!), but at least I had curlfriends that I could share my frustrations and triumphs with in a forum that catered to our needs.

NaturallyCurly Hair Products

Santa knew exactly what to bring his favorite curlfriend!

NaturallyCurly played a significant role in my natural hair journey so I definitely wanted to express my love for NaturallyCurly at The Curl Revolution Launch Party. As soon as I walked into the party, I was instantly greeted by Michelle and fellow curlfriends. It was so nice seeing that many curlfriends with various curl types in one room!

I got a chance to meet Michelle and express my gratitude for the NaturallyCurly’s site. Michelle was super nice and of course has beautiful curly hair! She was genuinely interested in gaining more feedback for the site and allowed us the opportunity to exchange stories only curly haired girls would understand. During the event Michelle  explained to us why she created NaturallyCurly and wrote the Curl Revolution.

As if this event wasn’t already amazing, I was not expecting the amazing goodie bag that they NaturallyCurly gave us. The goodie bag we received was like hitting the jackpot. DevaCurls, Aunt Jackie’s, Ouidad, Curlformers, etc. are go to brands for curlies.

I’m very happy that I got a chance to attend this event. Regardless of what curl pattern you have been blessed with The Curl Revolution book was meant for you.

Be sure to subscribe to Hustle in Faith’s podcast on iTunes or on Google Play Music.