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Humpday helper: what did you get Jesus for His birthday?

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. – 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NIV)

Let us pause in our haste to create the perfect holiday memories, lest we forget Jesus is the reason for the season!

It’s Christmas Eve good people! While we are bustling around making last minute purchases to cross off the names on our respective lists, have you thought about what gift you will offer our beloved and risen Savior tomorrow? After all, it is the day we celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus. If we fail to pause and consider what we have been offering, and will offer in the coming days, to Jesus we will miss the mark. Spending excessively is not your gift to Jesus. Buying gifts that will soon be forgotten is not your gift to Jesus. Nor is feeling sorrowful about what your bank account doesn’t allow you to purchase. Your gift to Jesus should reverence Him. When we think about all that He has done these past 11 months. Our gift offering is the way our daily walk changes in response to God’s unmatched mercy and grace.

It’s not too late to do a little last minute reflection. It’s never too late to praise and adore Him. He’s worthy! You’re blessed! I invite you to join me: think, thank, praise and plan your gift offering 🙏 Merry Christmas to all!

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Texture > Styling product

“Excuse me miss! I love your hair, I want mine to look JUST like that! Which products do you use?” Not to brag, but I have this exchange with women (and the occasional man) on nearly a daily basis! Usually I am passing someone on the street, pumping gas or standing beside someone in the checkout line. These instances aren’t ideal teaching moments, so I offer thanks for the compliment, list my most frequently used products and continue on my way. What I really want to offer is the simple truth above: texture > styling products! Yes my beloved fellow naturals, texture is greater than styling products. This is a truth I had to embrace shortly after my big chop. When I say greater, I mean that the texture of your hair will have a more pronounced impact on the finished look of any style you desire than the styling product(s) you apply to coax, lull, coerce or beat your hair into submission.

As a new natural, I was doing all that I could to fall in love with my twa. My hair was about an inch long (in most places) and I was determined to have the perfect curly wash and go! I had not come to terms with the reality that my texture of hair was not the same as that of other naturals.  I did not understand that applying products could enhance my curl pattern but they could not create perfectly spiraled ringlets if I did not possess the DNA necessary to have such curls.  Here I was buying [insert product names suggested by “YouTube hair icon of the week” here] products, using them in the perfect sequence, crossing my fingers, speaking positive affirmations over my fro and all that jazz and still I didn’t have “the look”. Much to my chagrin, nothing I applied to my fro made my “curls pop”!   After walking around with gunk in my hair, not so patiently waiting for the curls to activate, I had an epiphany!  None of the products worked because, I did not (nor am I ever likely to) have curls! I have kinks, I have coils, but curls…not so much!

Accepting my texture gave new perspective.  I focused less on wanting my hair to look like someone else’s and more on learning what my hair could do.  The end of this year will mark the fourth anniversary of my big chop. I am so in love with my hair at this point, it’s comical to think that I ever wanted it to look any other way. It’s thick, coarse, kinky, coily and absolutely gorgeous! Even when I’m feeling frustrated with the amount of time it takes to care for my hair, I wouldn’t trade it in for a different texture if I could. Moral: forgo the urge to buy an endless supply of products in hopes of a specific look. Search instead for products that promote the health of your hair. Learn to love your hair texture! There’s freedom in acceptance.  Pictures below 🙂

Blow out!!!

Blow out!!!

Styled by stylist Roseline at Too Groovy

Styled by stylist Roseline at Too Groovy

Awesomely present!

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God is just awesome!  No really! Pardon the grammar, perhaps you can chalk it up to southern charm, but ain’t God awesome y’all?  He truly is worthy of awe and wonder!  While listening to a sermon from an awesome woman of God, Mrs. Priscilla Shirer, I felt the hairs on my arms raise as she taught.  Click here to view this sermon.  I am beyond in love with Priscilla’s ministry!  It’s such a blessing to my life and she is the type of Godly woman I pray I am becoming.  I listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos of her sermons weekly.  In this particular sermon, she taught from Luke 24.  In that text, two men, in route to their homes in Emmaus, are featured.  These men are so preoccupied with events of the past (and probably also somewhat fearful of the future) that they do not even initially realize that they are in fact walking with Jesus!

As Priscilla explores the text, I couldn’t help but question: How could they be with Jesus and not even know it?  Surely, if the Messiah himself is in their midst they should recognize it!   Then it dawned on me, I too am guilty of missing God’s presence in my everyday life!  I too have forgotten that our God is awesomely present! He is at work in the minute details of each and everyday!   When I am careful to tune in, I can readily recognize His awesome presence! Psalm 46:1 tells us that our Lord is with us through the Holy Spirit.  I love the NIV translation of this verse! The descriptive language ever present helper, means that there is never a time we are without His guidance. We are never without His presence, we are never alone!  What a comfort to know that even at our lowest points, even when we do, say, or think things we are not proud of, even then–He is still there: aiding our every move!  Even when we find ourselves gripped with fear, if we will simply continue in faith, He will show himself faithful to deliver us time and time again.  Now that’s a peace-inspiring promise!

My 30th birthday is drawing near!  I am excited about this milestone but in all transparency, I have struggled at moments feeling as though I am not on course (more about that in a future post).  My personal challenge, and I invite you to join me in this, is to be PRESENT for the present!  Instead of rehashing events passed or rehearsing days that have yet to come I will strive to be present right where I am.  God calls us to trust Him with our future.  If we honor Him in what we do today, He will ensure that we are positioned for the future.  Being present for me means taking stock of all that God is doing in my life right where I am.  It means recognizing His provision right here, right now in the midst of rocky circumstances.  It means praising him in the middle of this season of uncertainty and being grateful that he is awesomely present right where I am trusting that He knows exactly where He is leading me!

Heavenly Father, I thank you for being that ever present helper described in Your word!  I thank you for being with me every second of every day.  Without You dear Lord I am lost but through You nothing is too difficult.  Help me to be mindful of Your grace, mercy and loving protection as I go about my day and remind me to call upon the power of the Holy Spirit when I need help this day.  Amen.

Humpday Helper–Choose Your Target!

Photo May 06, 9 40 54 PM

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. (Isaiah 26:3)

Do you find yourself in a constant state of worry or anxiety? God has not called you to fear any person or thing (2 Tim 1:7) Are you perplexed and confused about which route to take? Please know that confusion is not of God! (1 Cor. 14:33)

Let Isaiah 26:3 be a remedy for your troubled mind. In this verse the word of God says  You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on YouBecause he trusts in You (NKJV). I also enjoy the AMP and MSG translations of this verse. Click the links to read both translations.

Where are you focusing your attention today? Know this: If your attention is focused anywhere other than on the Lord you are off the mark!

God has promised perfect peace.  Perfect in that His peace is pure and unsullied by the mess the devil seeks to use to clutter our minds.  Take note of the limitation in Isaiah 26:3 (emphasis added above).  This peace is given to those whose spiritual crosshairs remain fixed on the Master of our faith. Choose your target wisely this day, fix your focus firmly on our God and enjoy His peace.

Snip, snip!

Guess who faced her fears?  That’s right!  I trimmed my own ends!  Even though I usually maintain (wash, condition, and style) my hair on my own, I had never trimmed my own ends.  There was something incredibly daunting about taking a pair of scissors to the beloved fro!  Especially considering the way I butchered my big chop (more on that in another post).  In the past, I would go to a professional stylist to do the trim. When I visited salons, stylist would often tell me that they need to straighten my hair to get the most accurate trim.  While I understand this reasoning, it really doesn’t suit my lifestyle.  I don’t like the hoops I have to jump through to maintain straightened natural hair.  I don’t straighten my hair often (no more than twice each year) so the hair is very resistant to straightening.  Often times, it reverts back at the slightest sign of moisture.  I also have found that no one is as gentle with my hair in the de-tangling process as I am.  I am extremely tender-headed and I worry that all of the tugging and pulling weakens my hair, not to mention giving me a headache.  Plus, there is always a substantial risk of heat damage as a result of the straightening process.  I don’t know about other naturals, but I worked far too hard to grow this hair to have one decision to have it straightened ruin it!

So, I decided I would do the trim myself.  Then the doubts crept in. What if I messed it up?  What if I cut too much? How would I trim the back?  I can’t see back there! My thoughts were racing and I nearly talked myself out of it.  Then, I resolved that I would trust myself, wooo sahhhh *cues the zen music*  If I could teach myself how to care for and style this kinky/coily mane, then surely I could teach myself to trim!  So, I went to school!  That’s right!  The school of YouTube 🙂  I watched about 30 minutes of video snippets of women trimming their hair and decided to grab my sheers, say a prayer, and eliminate the dead ends and single-strand knots.  Check out the pic below to see the results.

Image

To say that I am pleased would be a major understatement!  Thus far, I’ve experienced a significant reduction in tangles and I feel that my hair looks better.  Dead ends and single strand knots are like weeds in your fro, they link onto (tangle) with healthy strands of hair causing breakage.  Similarly, split ends result in breakage as well.  The good news is that these fro’ nuisances can be contained when you are proactive about the health of your hair.  I plan to trim once every 3 months and dust the ends of my twists as needed during regular washes.

How do you maintain your natural hair?  Do you do your own trimming or do you use a professional stylist?

More About Green Smoothies

In an effort to have a more streamlined morning routine I did a great deal of food prep over the weekend! I cut and froze (in sandwich bags) fruit for 2 work week’s worth of green smoothies and had the bright idea to blend spinach as well.

Here’s a look at my blended spinach.

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I tried the blended spinach and was very pleased that I was able to cut step one (blending greens with liquid) out of my usual smoothie process. I simply poured the liquid into my smoothie container each morning adding frozen and unfrozen fruit, flax seeds, and protein powder before blending. This has proven to make the entire process quicker! I am sure this may seem like a minor time saver, but if your mornings are anything like mine a few minutes can make the difference between steady flowing traffic or standstill. This morning commute struggle is real!

This morning’s yummy green smoothie contains the following: spinach and water liquid blend, 1 frozen banana, 6 frozen strawberries, 1 pear, 4 peach slices, flax seeds and a scoop of vanilla flavored whey protein. YUM!

A quick view of the mountain of produce I tackled for operation food prep 🙂

food prep

Humpday Helper–Avoiding Covetousness

HHCovet

There is extreme danger in having a covetous spirit.  In 1 Samuel we see the Israelites beg for a king to be like all the other nations  (1 Samuel 8:19-20).  Had they forgotten that they were God’s CHOSEN people?  (Deuteronomy 7:6)  Had they decided it would be better to fit in than to stand apart?  Know this: God calls us to be set apart!  He has a definite plan, purpose and place for each of us that rests only within His will (Ephesians 2:10, see also Jeremiah 29:11).  Your place and purpose cannot be filled by any other person.  Similarly, you cannot successfully fill the spot that God has designed for your neighbor.  A covetous spirit, always envying and desiring what others have is not of God.  Should you find yourself longing for what others have, or what they appear to have, remind yourself that such behavior is displeasing to God.  The mature believer strives to be content with what God provides (Philippians 4:11).

Do not confuse contentment with complacency!  Gratitude for what God has given at this very phase of your life does not mean that you are to abandon the vision of what God has promised to do for you or through you in the days, weeks, months, years to come (Philippians 1:6).  God has not forgotten and neither should you!  Await the fulfillment of His promises with patient expectancy.  The blessings others receive were not tailored for you.  There is nothing worse than wearing a garment tailor made for someone else.  Trust God to adorn you in His timing.

Let’s squat!!!

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Challenge!!! I love a good challenge! Don’t you? In an effort to live a lifestyle of fitness, what better way to build lasting habits than to challenge yourself daily. I’ve recruited several friends to do this challenge with me and I hope you will do the same! It’s day #1, lets squat!

(Green) Smoothie Life

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*Taps mic* Ahem! I must confess, I am obsessed, yes obsessed, with green smoothies! These little gems help me kick off my morning and they are the latest addition to my Pescetarian diet (more about my diet in a future post). It all began with a holiday gift, my Magic Bullet blender and a little time on Instagram. I saw several pics of these smoothies others were preparing for breakfast and I decided to try blending my own. I’m hooked! Not only do I fill the smoothie with yummy goodness, but it also helps me not feel light yet full. In times past, I would feel lethargic once the work day began after eating a heavy breakfast. It’s also a good way for me to ensure I’m taking in adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. My smoothie is quick and easy to blend and it fills me up, I usually drink it in the car as I ride to work in the morning. While I vary the other ingredients almost daily the green base (kale, spinach, or a combination of the two) never changes.

If you own a blender or are in the market to purchase one I encourage you to give green smoothies a try! Here are two helpful tips for happy blending (1) Blending my greens and liquid (either soy/almond milk or water) FIRST helps to turn the leafy greens into green liquid. The first few smoothies I made had visible leaf bits because I just dumped everything in at once, no bueno! Still yummy but not as easy to pull through a straw :-). (2) I’ve found that freezing some of the fruit makes the smoothie just frosty enough that I don’t have to water it down by adding ice to make it colder. Try something new, it won’t disappoint! I promise you want to be about this smoothie life!!!

What About Your Goals

Goal picGoal setting excites me! Perhaps I am corny (shrug) but I enjoy sitting down with a pad and pen to sketch out new goals and refine my existing goals. I like to end each year reflecting on my progress over the previous 12 months and charting what I will do for the next 12 months. Last year, a few of my closest friends and I set out on what we called the “quarter living” plan. We set goals for the first (January-March), second (April –June), third (July-September) and fourth (October-December) quarters of 2012. I found that approaching the year in three month bites was easier to digest. This year I will continue using this system and to kick off my 1st Quarter Living I am segmenting my goals into categories: spiritual, personal (Professional/social/service/etc), health, and financial. I will expound on a few of these areas below.

Spiritual

I want to continue spending quality time in prayer and studying the word of God this year. I believe that my time spent with God in prayer and while studying His word is the most effective use of my time. I am happier and more at peace when I make prayer and individual study time a top priority in my life. This quarter I will endeavor to give God the first fruit of my day. That means rising early to pray and read my bible each day. I am also keeping a journal of revelations I have during this time. A friend of mine and I have started a Bible in a Year reading plan. Many churches challenge their member to read the Bible in its entirety each year.

In the past, I have started these reading plans but never seem to complete them. I am prayerful that this year I will be steadfast. I do not want to walk around uncertain about the contents of the bible. I had a guy friend who would often remind me what Christian were the only “club” whose members were willfully ignorant of their “handbook.” That jab struck a nerve with me at the time because I proudly called myself of Christian but truthfully I was very ignorant of the contents of the bible. I knew a few popular scriptures that I heard my grandmother repeat while growing up and I knew all the Christian clichés. You know “too blessed to be stressed,” “too anointed to be disappointed” yada yada. However, I lacked true knowledge of scripture. Even after that conversation I didn’t delve into biblical study because I was intimidated by the thous, thys, shalls and shants. What a difference time makes! In time, I discovered biblical translations that I could digest. I began to talk to mature Christians and sought their advice on how to study the Bible. I began to attend weekly Bible study at my church and began to seek a deeper understanding of God’s word. Studying has blessed my life tremendously and this year my goal is to read the entire Bible.

Financial

I was raised by recovering consumers. My parents made many financial mistakes over the years and learned some of life’s toughest financial lessons the hard way. As such, they took a firm stance in my youth and firmly taught the importance of saving money and fiscal responsibility. I was required to save ten percent of any money I earned or was given. Unfortunately, I have not carried those good habits into adulthood. This year, I’ve set a savings goal. I saw this interesting challenge while scrolling Instagram (my latest guilty pleasure). Now that I have solicited a couple friends to join me in the challenge and I’m ready to watch the savings grow! I’ve never heard of anyone regretting saving money, with that said I invite you to join us! Open a new savings account, deposit a couple dollars and watch it grow!

Health

If the Lord spares my life and the creek don’t rise, I will celebrate my 30th birthday this year. I am positively ecstatic about this milestone! My 20s have been incredibly enriching and I can only imagine the lessons that will unfold in my 30s. If I’m blessed to see 30, I want to saunter into the next decade of life in the best health. This means being healthy within and outwardly. I recently began working out regularly and I plan to run a 10K again this year in April. Last year, I got injured during the run and did not run my best race. This year, I plan to redeem myself and finish the entire race without stopping. I adopted a pescaterian diet a few years back, this year I plan to continue this diet while being more attentive with food choice by selecting foods that will give my body the nutrient it needs.

What goals do you have for the year 2013? What plans have you set in place to meet those goals?

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